Links 3/1/2020

An expert’s case for nuclear power Vox

Dicamba litigation against Bayer, BASF poised to explode, lawyers say USRTK (skookum red). Monsanto Roundup Trial Tracker.

Landmark Win in ‘Fight for Habitable Future’ as Jury Refuses to Convict Climate Activists Who Presented Necessity Defense Common Dreams

Welsh woman declares vindication after ‘guerrilla rewilding’ court case Guardian

The Scottish parliament approved plans to make period products free for all women CBS

France bypasses parliament to enact pension reform FT. I understand that the lovely Tuileries gardens were once a palace…

Waiter, there’s a fly in my waffle: Belgian researchers try out insect butter Reuters


#COVID-19 is most definitely a white swan. This important thread (dk) is worth reading in full:

It’s interesting that “erosion of trust” came as a surprise to “national security and bioscience experts.” What world have they been living in?

Covid-19 — Navigating the Uncharted Anthony S. Fauci, H. Clifford Lane, and Robert R. Redfield, NEJM. The whole piece is worth a read. Based on the data we have, an important qualification, this:

The overall clinical consequences of Covid-19 may ultimately be more akin to those of a severe seasonal influenza (which has a case fatality rate of approximately 0.1%) or a pandemic influenza (similar to those in 1957 and 1968) rather than a disease similar to SARS or MERS, which have had case fatality rates of 9 to 10% and 36%, respectively.

“May ultimately” is doing a lot of work. Caveats delivered, this is the message that Fauci would have conveyed on today’s talk shows if the headless chickens in the White House hadn’t, well, muzzled him (to mix metaphors badly). Meanwhile, the Democrats gear up for another hysterical snipe hunt. Diddling while Rome burns!

I have the coronavirus. So far, it hasn’t been that bad for me. WaPo. In the absence of good numbers, a solid understanding of transmission, and an obvious, well co-ordinated national effort, a story like this is just another heart-warming anecdote and not helpful.

Wash. state sees 1st virus death in US, declares emergency AP. Ditto, from the other direction. Speaking of Washington State, what’s Bezos doing about all those Petri dishes in his warehouses? We know the desk jockeys can’t fly, but what about the workers?

* * *

The United States badly bungled coronavirus testing—but things may soon improve Science. Key paragraph:

A faulty reagent in a test kit distributed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has hampered efforts to find and confirm COVID-19 cases.

CDC Revises SARS-CoV-2 Assay Protocol; Surveillance Testing on Track to Start Next Week GenomeWeb. Key paragraph, about that reagent:

The agency has been working on two possible solutions to a problem with the N3 reagent in its emergency use-authorized test initially reported on February 12th. The reagent is intended for the universal detection of SARS-like coronaviruses, while two other reagents in the assay are specifically for detection of SARS-CoV-2.

So, in the midst of a pandemic, we’ve introduced a requirement to test for viruses that aren’t the cause of the pandemic? This reminds me of the F-35, another “universal” platform, where every service crammed in its own requirements, and so the aircraft became the gold-plated tub of lard that it is. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that similar institutional imperatives drove the “universal detectIon” requirement, sad to say.

* * *

We Don’t Really Know How Many People Have Coronavirus Elizabeth Rosenthal, NYT

How a First-World Country handles #COVID-19 testing (1):

How a First-World Country handles #COVID-19 testing (2):

(@AskAKorean is well-worth a follow.)

A big coronavirus mystery: What about the children? The Harvard Gazette

* * *

“This Crisis Will Spill Over and Result in a Disaster” Nouriel Roubini, Der Spiegel (J-LS). We do not need more specificity in the medical data to start thinking about knock-on effects in both the real economy and the financial economy. Read all the way to the end.

Federal Reserve: Coronavirus poses “evolving risk” to the economy Axios

* * *

Flu season appears to be on the decline, state’s weekly flu tracker shows Buffalo News. This is interesting:

According to recent reports, flu season kicked off early in New York. It was so widespread across the state in January that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo directed the state Department of Health to begin enhanced monitoring of hospitals through an emergency data system to ensure that hospitals would have the resources to fight a surge in serious flu cases resulting in hospitalization.

In Erie County, reported flu cases more than doubled each week of December 2019, climbing from 29 new cases the first week to 345 cases the last week of the year.

It would be interesting to know if #COVID-19 spread under cover of the existing and expected flu season, as it did in China.

Will Coronavirus Slow Down In The Warmer Months Like Flu Season? HuffPo

* * *

Millions of uninsured Americans like me are a coronavirus timebomb Carl Gibson, Guardian. And so:

News you can use! Thread:


In Depth: How Early Signs of a SARS-Like Virus Were Spotted, Spread, and Throttled Caixin (!).

China factory index hits record low on coronavirus FT

The Koreas

Kim Jong Un warns of ‘serious consequences’ if coronavirus hits North Korea The Hill


What Happened in Delhi Was a Pogrom The Atlantic

Imran likens Delhi riots to Hitler’s anti-semitic pogrom Pakistan Today

Exclusive: Indian refiners plan to wind down Venezuelan oil buys in April – sources Reuters

Brazil’s Petrobras starts sale process for stakes in gas unit, oil fields Reuters


The U.S.-Taliban deal is promising, now what? Responsible Statecraft (Re Silc). Trump, Man of Peace. Gad.

The Taliban Peace Deal Might Have Been Had Many Years and Thousands of Lives Ago Spencer Ackermann, Daily Beast.

Trump Transition


(The account is no random Twitterer; MMTers, check their bio.)

Trump’s Coronavirus Response Bedeviled by Missteps, Raising Risk Bloomberg

Coronavirus Spending Bill Could Be Used to Cement Spying Authorities The Intercept. Never let a crisis go to waste. “Schiff is increasingly being viewed in the House as a potential successor to Pelosi as House Speaker.” So there’s good news, then.

Marine general orders removal of Confederate items at bases ABC

A paranoid militia infiltrating Texas police is bent on rebellion, ‘ready to rise up’ Fort Worth Star-Telegram


Biden romps to victory in South Carolina Politico. Same issue with Warren’s debate performances: Where and how does Biden leverage his bump at the polls between now and March 3, Super Tuesday? More:

Note to Sanders stans: Avoid triumphalism.

Billionaire Tom Steyer quits Democratic primary race NBC. Good for Steyer, when he could have stayed in and muddied the waters. Idea:

I’d rather have newspapers that weren’t squillionaire vanity projects. Still, this could be better than nothing.

Star Trek has a lesson Bernie bros need to hear: We’re not ready USA Today

Our Famously Free Press

Republican mega-donor buys stake in Twitter and seeks to oust Jack Dorsey – report Guardian. Here we go again. Remember how great the blogosphere was before Facebook — and, ironically, Twitter — killed it?


Your Man in the Public Gallery – Assange Hearing Day Four Craig Murray

Guillotine Watch

Wealthy Jump to Private Jets to Duck Airlines and Cut Virus Risk Bloomberg. I wonder if the Acela is still packed…

Class Warfare

Economist Anne Case on America’s ‘deaths of despair’ — and how to tackle them FT. They are being tackled; by malign neglect at the very least.

Promises All the Way Down: A Primer on the Money View Law and Political Economy

What if the Government is Just Another Firm? (Part 1) Economics from the Top Down. Part 2.

William Gibson on the apocalypse: “it’s been happening for at least 100 years” New Statesman. On Gibson the PMC whisperer, see NC here.

DrDrunkenstein’s Reign of Terror Slate

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. The Rev Kev

    “I have the coronavirus. So far, it isn’t that bad.”

    What a banker. I was just wondering earlier when a piece would be published saying that Coronavirus would not be so bad to get and here we are already – courtesy of the Washington Post. So he and his wife were on the SS Plague Princess and got a lift back to the States where he realized that he had it and went to the back of the plane. Did they tell the passengers seated next to him to get themselves tested and to self-quarantine after arrival?

    So then he gets all this you-beaut medical healthcare that would be unavailable to most people and I would be interested to know who picked up the tab for his little stay and treatment. He may have thought that Coronavirus was not so bad but the guy from Oz who was from his ship and died today may have begged to differ. To me, this guy is like Pete Buttigieg saying that ‘Hey, I went to a war zone – in Afghanistan – and it wasn’t so bad after all.’ Other people’s experiences may differ.

    1. Sam Adam

      Look at Iran for how bad COVID19 really can become. It’s become clear that the virus was circulating in the population before elections but the government sought to minimize a response. Airport employees are collapsing gasping for air, deaths are spreading including whole hospital populations and mass graves are being dug.

      1. xkeyscored

        “It’s become clear that the virus was circulating in the population before elections but the government sought to minimize a response.”
        I think that part applies absolutely and entirely equally to the USA.
        Whole hospital populations and mass graves to follow? Maybe not; US sanctions have hurt Iran more than the States.
        Both governments have handled the situation ineptly so far, and no government has handled it well in the sense of successfully snuffing it out. South Korea was arguably the most capable and well-prepared, but I hear their health system’s getting overwhelmed.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Singapore has been doing sterling work too but countries like Thailand are hiding their Coronavirus deaths in their reported pneumatic deaths. Some countries like the US don’t test so you never know what the true picture is.

          1. MLTPB

            Indonesia has none, and people continue to question.

            I read at the Guardian (their live coverage as of today) of an official who said, if we dont have cases, we dont have cases.

            As for testing, if the US were at the similar stage as Korea, we could compare whether we’d be testing more, catching superspreaders that way. We can also ask, before their nation’s outbreak from the church at Daegu, were First World Korea testing like they are now? Is it a case of different stages calling for different responses?

            In the UK, they talk of unretiring doctors, some calling, and others objecting those calling, Dads Army. Again, different situations call for different responses. Secondly, the issues seem to be 1. Lack of respirators, and 2. Getting enough doctors – this for a country where everyone is covered. Thirdly, some doctor in the Guardian article mentioned something about doctors not being able to work extra shifts leading them to retire. What is that all about?

            1. paul

              There is a problem that most retired doctors will be 60+, seemingly the most vulnerable to mortality from this condition.
              Not many will have experience of epidemic conditions/procedures.
              It reminds me of the constant idea floated, that when there is a problem, we’ll use the army.

              1. MLTPB

                The age is a good point. I was thinking about that.

                Maybe young intern physicians….or robots???

                1. paul

                  Robots! Touchscreens!
                  ATMs, supermarket self checkouts and fast food joints are a wonderful vector for transmission.
                  I doubt your future democratic billionaire misanthropist nominee,bloomberg, has interfaced with any of these.

            2. Ford Prefect

              Respiratory support systems are expensive, take up space, and require maintenance. Its basically the same thing as buying a small car. Hospitals will only buy what they think they have a ready market for over the next 1-2 years. They don’t have stockpiles.

          2. xkeyscored

            Re Singapore’s success: Could be the heat. There’s still little sign of it spreading in hot countries, though it’s certainly spread to quite a few. Such spread as there has been in Singapore may well have occurred in air-con environments, so the outdoor conditions may not be relevant. I’ve never been there, but I gather many wealthier Singaporeans live in near constant ‘controlled climates’.
            Skipping through this article, Coronavirus: 4 new cases confirmed in S’pore, 3 linked to Wizlearn Technologies cluster; 2 more cases discharged, I notice a cluster at Wizlearn Technologies, which looks very definitely heavily air-conned or ‘climate controlled’, with others linked to Wizlearn employees, a bank worker, a domestic help, oh and “Yong Thai Hang health products shop, the Grand Hyatt Singapore, a Seletar Aerospace Heights construction site, and the former clusters at Grace Assembly of God and the Life Church and Missions Singapore.”

            We’ll find out soon enough. If the heat don’t stop it, expect little solace from the seasons.

          3. clarky90

            To the NC commentariate intending on social distancing, once the first covid19 case is in your community or county.

            IMO, Start practicing now. A dry run so to speak. It is not easy distancing from old friends. It can actually be painful- bad manners. No kissing, shaking hands sharing food or utensils, sharing vehicles……….Explain to them what you are doing and why. (“I am NOT snubbing or shunning you, rather I am ….”)

            The business of carrying tissues for button/smart screen pushing is daunting. There is much organizing. Changing of decades of habitual behavior. Much harder than I imagined.

            I have been using the self checkout rather than have a checkout person handling everything I buy. I have stopped going to church, laughter yoga, the gym, coffee with mates….etc. It has taken me weeks to get used to this new, anti-social way of life.

            I still haven’t worn a mask to the supermarket. Nobody here does, but I will when others do. It is a signal to say I am concerned, and also a reminder to not touch my own face. It also explains, to others, why I would cringe (run from) someone coughing or sneezing.

            Start practicing now, while a failure or a misjudgment has small/no consequences. (The person at the checkout has (just) the flu (not covid19) and coughs on their hands or on your food) before handing you the receipt.

        2. Krystyn Walentka

          I was speaking to a very close friend who runs an AirBnB in a University Town. About a month ago she hosted a Chinese woman who flew directly from China for two weeks. At some point during that time the woman told my friend she had a flu.

          Last week my friend came down with one of the “worst flu’s she has had in her life”.

          My friend is pretty sure she and her family had the COVID19. Wiating a few weeks for the cases to explode there.

            1. Ford Prefect

              You would have to track and report. That requires work and effort. You would also need the capability to test which was severely rationed.

              My suspicion is that it is well embedded in the US and increased testing over the next 2-3 weeks will show that.

              1. Cuibono

                No but testing has been available for patients like this one who met the STRICT Criteria

    2. cnchal

      > We Don’t Really Know How Many People Have Coronavirus Elizabeth Rosenthal, NYT

      > Will Coronavirus Slow Down In The Warmer Months Like Flu Season? HuffPo

      > A big coronavirus mystery: What about the children? The Harvard Gazette

      So far, no answers to basic questions as we keep reading, yet air travel is still going on guaranteeing the virus get’s spread far and wide.

      > The United States badly bungled coronavirus testing—but things may soon improve

      May, is doing all the work.

      Flying around = Total Fail

      1. MLTPB

        Scientists just cancelled their big annual international meeting in Denver originally set to start tomorrow, with an expected attendance of 10,000 physicists and scientists.

        These are people who practice science and know a lot.

        They talk of postponing local elections in the UK (same live Guardian coverage this morning).

        An association asked March Madness games be played in empty arenas.

        Cui bono analysis might suggest the current government benefits from playing up, not down the number of cases, leading to postponed elections. We are not seeing that. More likely, what we are seeing is what is occurring here, if not instantaneously.

        1. cnchal

          It is the only way that I see, to contain and then eradicate this thing.

          Step one. Stop movement of people.

          Step two. There is no step two if you don’t do step one.

          Step two if step one is done first. Focus scarce resources at finding and controlling localized out breaks. This buys some time for all potential carriers to be identified and quaranteened without them unknowingly travelling and infecting fellow travellers.

          At a glance, Seattle is a hot zone now. Flights from there to anywhere can have an infected person on board, never mind the potential multiplication of people that are infected just walking through the airports, to catch their next flight.

          I think it extremely unwise to let this thing run wild through the population, and are far better off dealing with this as an emergency shutdown of the systems of mass transit, particularly aircraft travel. Do it right, now! For once.

        2. Foy

          Mmmm 10,000 scientists cancel their conference in Denver but the Formula One Grand Prix in Melbourne on 15th March is still going ahead. Those mechanics must know something that the scientists don’t.

          1. MLTPB

            The staff at the Louvres museum voted to close for one day, maybe more (I haven’t followed up on it).

            But voters showed up yesterday.

            And the Super Tuesday primaries are expected to go ahead, with scientists participating, presumably.

      2. rd

        Re: CDC response and testing

        Engineers and others have a fundamental mantra “Perfect is the enemy of good”. It can also be phrased “Perfect is the enemy of done”. Basically, going though endless evaluations and revisions to achieve the ideal outcome generally prevents something ever happening at all. It appears this is what happened with the CDC test for the coronavirus, where they added bells and whistles to the point the whole thing came crashing down and was non-functional.

        Please note this mantra is different from “Ship it now”. This latter phrase works if consequences of failure of low, but not otherwise. Instead, you want to clearly state the fundamental requirements that something needs to achieve and focus on achieving those. Lots of people will want to hang doo-dads off of it, but they get in the way of the primary purpose. If they have value, they can be added at a later date.

        As an engineer, I am generally a fan of something resembling single purpose things that are done well and efficiently. Most multi-tool functions don’t work particularly well for a dedicated purpose, so there is no point in adding them on early in the process. If it really is important, then it usually makes more sense to develop a second single-purpose tool for that second function. There is a reason that you see far more single-purpose tools for sale at a good hardware store than a multipurpose tool like a Swiss Army knife.

        BTW – good analogy to the F-35 above. That is a classic multi-tool gone wrong. They would have been better off with separate land-based, sea-based, and VTOL planes. They could have specified key elements (armament systems?) to be uniform but fundamental airframe/engines needed to be different.

        1. Monty

          I expect it was simpler than that. My guess: Some crony no-bid the contract and fucked up. NBD!

    3. xkeyscored

      “three of us who had been cordoned off would fly to Omaha (with our spouses, if they wanted to come along)”

  2. Samuel Conner

    This item is near the top of my home page news scummary:

    The President is, of course, charging his detractors with “politicizing the coronavirus”.

    In reflection on this affirmation of the obvious, the thought occurs:

    “Just because it’s true doesn’t mean you aren’t projecting”


    I worry a little about what might happen if the old trusty “Bush lied; people died” gets purposed for the present situation. I’m not confident that every candidate is going to be able to say this properly and, English phonological rules being what they are, the potential for aberrant and unhelpful spellings is practically incalculable. I think it might be very damaging to the D cause were one of the candidate to emit something like, “Here’s the Deal: Trump dyed and people sighed”.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        Good suggestion, one shared by Mudhoney a couple years ago!

        Kill Yourself Live

        When I kill myself live
        I got so many likes
        Go on give it a try
        Kill yourself live
        You’ll never be more famous
        You’ll never be more popular

  3. Steve H.

    New datapoint on global temperature. January shows as white = average for 2020, but the contrast makes the point pop, does it not?

      1. freedomny

        I do – has all most most recent studies that were done. It’s a bit (understatement) depressing though.

        1. xkeyscored

          I don’t read it (think I know the one you mean), so I don’t know what alarming news they’ve been reporting. But I’ve noticed quite a bit of alarming news about the Arctic being linked to by Nature Briefing recently, and they’re generally quite reliable, peer reviewed, etc. Wildfires, temperatures, methane, ocean overturn wotsits, albedo changes spring to mind, with noticeable use of “tipping point’ and ‘feedback loop’ potentially now or soon.

          1. Aumua

            What’s happening in the Arctic is not good by any stretch, but that guy (who is not a scientist of any kind) often crosses the line into wild speculation and doomerism. He’s got Guy McPherson on there on a regular basis, and McPherson also regularly quotes Arctic News as a source so… it has an element of doomer porn in it. Just something for people to get a thrill from and a feeling of being in on some ‘big secret’. That kind of thing bugs me, and it bugs me that it’s becoming more en vogue on NC recently.

            1. mrsyk

              Thank you for the comments. I very much appreciate them. I try to read it with a critical eye.

  4. Charles D Myers

    What if the corona virus went through the US last year?

    How many people are actually tested with flu like symptoms?

    I had something strange in November of 2019 that seems like the symptoms the man on the boat is having.

    Tightness in the chest trouble breathing.

    Maybe the Chinese are less exposed to stuff like this and their immune system reacts differently.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      At this stage, anything is possible as there is so little certainty about anything to do with the virus, but everything I’ve read from those studying the genetic make up of the virus is that they are pretty certain that it originated sometime around October ’19 in the Wuhan area.

      Having said that, there is a meme (or theory if you prefer) circulating around Chinese social media that the disease originated in the US and was brought over by a US military observer (deliberately or accidentally, depending on the version you hear) during the Wuhan World Military Games in October last year.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Well, that “theory” sounds like a Chinese Communist Blood Libel to me. ” The Americans did it. The American plague-bringers”.

        If the ChiComs and their social mediabots can convince enough Chinese that ” the American plague-bringers brought us the WuSARS” . . . they may want war with America. Are the ChiComs and their social mediabots prepared for the consequences of that?

        1. Procopius

          Trust me, since long before 1949 the Chinese have hated Americans as much as they hated the other barbarians who humiliated the Celestial Empire. The Americans, after all, benefited from the “unequal treaties” as much as the Europeans and “the dwarves from the East.” They are not so foolish as to indulge in war for such reasons. “Swallow the teeth and blood.”

    2. xkeyscored

      Plus too many doctors and labs in the US who’d have cottoned on and spoken out. The USA does still have a First Amen, even if it is shrinking with every passing year.

    3. Ignacio

      I very much doubt it was SARS Cov2 unless you were coming from Wuhan since it all started more or less those days. To be sure, there are more than a hundred of virus that could do more or less the same. I passed in November a three week cough, which was archetypical of rhinovirus. There are about 100 serotypes of rhinovirus, add some dozens of adenovirus, Flu (A, B or C), a couple of coronavirus (not SARS), SRV, bocavirus (relatively new), paramyxovirus…

    4. rd

      Not that may people are actually tested for the flu. Typically, less than 100,000 actual flu tests are done per year:

      Most flu diagnosis is from symptoms:

      So the US only actually tests about 1% of the suspected flu cases every year. Much of that is done as organized screens, like polls, so they can understand what is actually circulating instead of it being truly diagnostic for treating a patient.

    5. Darius

      In the spring, I had a cold that completely knocked me out. I used to tough out colds and keep up my normal activities. This one had me dizzy and achy, and feeling like my head was a brick. I could barely get out of bed for several days. Strangely, I never had a fever. It took about a week to get over.

      1. pretzelattack

        i had something like that last year. i thought it was the flu but it didn’t respond to otc meds; i got a flu shot but it kept coming back. i had a fever though, so that was different.

  5. Wukchumni

    Housing bubble part deux peaked awhile back and has been in retreat, just as the sharing gig that kept prices up on account of absentee owners buying homes they certainly didn’t need is about to go kaput, game so over.

    It’ll be a different kind of foreclosure frenzy as not so well heeled would-be Hiltons head for the hills.

    And then there’s the traditional real estate market, who goes looking to buy a home in the middle of a plague?

    1. xkeyscored

      Vulture capitalists.
      “Just sign here and we’ll pay your medical, well at least funeral, costs. Promi – cough, cough – sssss.”

  6. Wukchumni

    ‘Panic King‘ would make for a great moniker, and I keep seeing photos & videos of people that sure look like they’re panicking by overpurchasing, or preparing for a picnic with a few hundred invited.

      1. Wukchumni

        I like to watch what makes us tick, and something as visible as a mad dash rush for Tickle Me Elmos or Beanie Babies are instructional, but at the end of the day, just a plush toy.

        This rush for staples has much more bearing, and as mentioned yesterday, when we humans can’t have something, it makes us want it all the more.

        1. Eclair

          ” … when we humans can’t have something, it makes us want it all the more.”

          Like the men’s underwear and socks kept on locked display shelves in Walmart stores. It’s just a marketing ploy, as in premium pricing a tasteless beer to boost sales.

          1. Wukchumni

            Keeping the homeless from ‘panic stealing’ their flavor of ‘staples’ is a whole different set of circumstances than squeezing 7x 24 packs of Charmin and claiming them yours and depositing them in your cart, to the dismay of those unable to play along, as inventory got wiped out.

            Here’s a handy photo/video record of whats happening worldwide, in terms of panic buying.

            Coronavirus: ‘Panic buying’ hits supermarkets around the globe


        2. skylark

          It’s called psychological reactance. When people are told they can’t have or do something, they react to the perceived loss of control, both emotionally and behaviorally, by doing exactly what they were told not to do, especially if they feel it’s unfair. My ex-husband is a master of it.

      2. marieann

        Thanks for this great music.
        We have been prepping for 50 years, only back then it was called stocking up during the sales. My bible was “The Tightwad Gazette” it was chock full of good ideas to save money and shop smart. Not all boomers were wealthy….many times my grocery money ran out when there was still items on my list.
        We just kept up shopping this way so we are well prepared to manage a few weeks quarantine if needs be.

        1. kareninca

          I loved “The Tightwad Gazette.” It was life changing. My parents were a little too old to be Boomers, and they spent constantly (on “responsible” things, but they spent nonetheless). So I did not really have many Depression era examples. I was simply stunned to find out that one doesn’t have to live up to one’s income.

          “The Millionaire Next Door” was helpful in the same way.

          So, those books helped me and my husband a lot. But times have changed. Everything is so much more expensive now, compared with income, than 20-30 years ago. Even if a young person followed Amy D’s thrift precepts to perfection, they would not be able to save in the same way.

    1. ShamanicFallout

      Indeed- the herd is spooked. And a huge potential problem is that in this country, banks, insurance companies, phone companies, you name it etc., cold not care less if we/ you are economically hit by coronavirus lockdowns or closures or whatever. The good ole US is like Paulie’s restaurant in Goodfellas- ‘trouble with the bill? F**k you pay me. Oh, you had a fire? F**k you pay me. Lightning struck the building? F**k you pay me”

  7. The Rev Kev

    “Covid-19 — Navigating the Uncharted”

    ‘The overall clinical consequences of Covid-19 may ultimately be more akin to those of a severe seasonal influenza (which has a case fatality rate of approximately 0.1%)’

    I saw this point in a Peak Prosperity video with the Belgium Health Minister saying that they had enough beds and sufficient treatment capacity and an expert was debunking this. The expert said that with the common flu, about 0.2% of people get into a serious enough condition that they require hospitalization.

    With Coronavirus, about 16% of patients require hospitalizations. The relationship between the two is a factor of 80! So if in a normal flu season a hospital might see 10 patients requiring hospitalization in a given period, with Coronavirus you would see about 800 going to that hospital. Yeah, big difference.

    1. Samuel Conner

      16% of all infected, or of those diagnosed? It’s not clear to me that we understand the distribution of symptoms very well. I would be very surprised if this turns out to be no more dangerous than seasonal flu, but I think that the current consensus 2% mortality rate may be significantly high.

      The current cumulative #died/(#died + #recovered) for “mainland China other than Hubei province” (Hubei excluded as having very incomplete reporting of #cases and #recovered) is, as of midnight 2/29 US time, 1.03%, and the ratio for “newly reached end-state (died or recovered)” in last 24 hours is ~0.3%.

      Eyeballing the numbers (there are roughly 13000 “confirmed cases” in China ex Hubei, of which about 10500 are classed as “recovered”). The remaining cases seem to be “clearing” pretty rapidly, with few new deaths. I think it highly probable that the cumulative #died/(#died + #recoved) will fall below 1.00% in coming days.

      Agreed about the problem of overburdening limited critical care facilities. Even if the new virus were no more deadly (per infected patient) than seasonal flu, if it is more contagious, there will be more infections, and even if the ratio of infected people who “need in-patient care” is no higher than for seasonal flu, if the total number of patients is significantly higher;… this additional burden on a system currently structured for past seasonal flu epidemics would seem to warrant significant concern.

      1. Ram

        Infected Vs diagnosed argument sounds hollow. Even 0.1 percent mortality claim of seasonal flu is percent diagnosed . More than numbers it’s China’s response which tells the story

        1. campbeln

          More than numbers it’s China’s response which tells the story

          They freaked the [family blog] out and locked down 10% of humanity. What’s that saying… Actions speak louder than words.

      2. ambrit

        The Chinese have been requarantining previously “recovered” patients as some now present as reinfected, or not really recovered after all. Whether these patients have a full blown relapse, a new infection, or are just showing a high virus burden, no one knows yet. This is worrying because evidence keeps cropping up that this pathogen is transmissible without obvious symptoms. If it is transmissible after so-called ‘recovery,’ then we are in dangerous waters indeed.
        I keep thinking about the 1918 Spanish Influenza pandemic. It was the second round of infections that did most of the killing. With Coronavirus, we are still dealing with the first round of infections.

        1. Wukchumni

          Imagine the Spanish Flu, but with an instant rumor mill with infinite reach vis a vis this contraption?

          LOS ANGELES (AP) — In a Koreatown restaurant known for its beef bone broth soup, the lunchtime crowd Friday was half its normal size. The reason was a virulent rumor about a customer with coronavirus.

          Han Bat Shul Lung Tang was one of five restaurants that lost business after being named in posts on a Korean messaging app that warned a Korean Air flight attendant with the virus had dined there during a layover in Los Angeles more than a week ago.

          “It’s fake news,” owner John Kim said, and he had proof. His restaurant was closed at the time because of a water leak, a fact confirmed by the Department of Public Health.

        2. MLTPB

          That is an important question.

          And since it only takes one new patient to start a new outbreak, if you want mass testing, you have to test everyone, every minute…. repeatedly, if reinfection is possible.

          Not enough to test 100,000 or whatever a day, telling those negative, you are all good now.

          By giving a false sense of security, it could worsen the situation.

        1. urdsama

          Only if one accepts the numbers coming from the Chinese government.

          To date, they have provided zero evidence that their data should be trusted.

          1. Samuel Conner

            That is certainly a potential failure point of this analysis.

            One can hope that we will learn more from the progress of the epidemic in more open societies, though I’m not entirely easy in my mind that the US will turn out to be one of those. The anger at the news flow that appears to be emanating from the top of the executive branch gives me pause. Hopefully the individual state health departments will less vulnerable to command pressure than I fear the Federal public health bureaucracy might be.

    2. xkeyscored

      You could have added ordinary ‘flu doesn’t require full-on biosecurity procedures and so on. Ten times more time, effort and risk per patient on top of those numbers. (Or whichever numbers are right; I don’t think anyone’s sure yet.)

  8. xkeyscored

    COVID-19 is most definitely a white swan. It’s interesting that “erosion of trust” came as a surprise to “national security and bioscience experts.” What world have they been living in?

    The same world they were in pre-Sept 11 ’01, I guess, when despite numerous films and their own training exercises involving exactly that scenario, it supposedly came as a bolt from the blue beyond.

    1. Bill Carson

      So Trump could triumph in the eyes of Americans by naming a country responsible for COVID (whether it is true or not) and bombing the heck out of that country? Hmmm…..

      1. xkeyscored

        Millions of USians tweet “We ❤️ The Don!” from their FEMA death beds as mushroom clouds rise over Iran?

    2. clarky90

      “Grab Your Bits and Shoulder Your Kits, We’re Going In!”

      March 1, 2020
      Raúl Ilargi Meijer

      “The virus is a spark, not the cause, and it is breaking down the last reinforcing bonds holding the global system together. If the ruling class had not been debasing our societies and parasitizing their citizenries for decades, our social resiliency to this pandemic would be much higher. High energy production costs, low demand, and low consumption have been masked by systemic financial fraud.

      Instead of innovation, we have spent decades investing in a Potemkin economy. We are about to find out that, despite all our mathematical abstractions and sorcery, the hardcore material basis of our economies rules supreme……”

      “………Another likely outcome is that the American health profiteering system will finally be shown for the utter social failure that it is. The infection is liable to spread in a country where people refuse treatment because they are afraid of bankruptcy. Finally, if the virus is not contained, it could very well affect the U.S. elections…..”

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        “Thank God for small favors” . . . ?

        Hopefully the Global WuSARS pandemic will exterminate Free Trade and will burn the Globalonial Corporate Plantation all the way down to the ground. Hopefully we will move into a world of basically sealed-off National Economies with as little necessary-evil trade as possible.

      2. Procopius

        Back when a lot of people were hoping for a public option, I guess 2010 when Max Baucus was scamming the Democrats into thinking they could get one, just one, Republican vote, I read an article explaining why the other industrialized countries were able to create universal health symptoms. Basically, it was because their earlier system made it easier, especially in wartime. During the Blitz, the British government had to nationalize the hospitals and draft the doctors because there was no way the wounded civilians could pay for treatment. So, when the war ended, there they were, with all the hospitals already owned by the government and all the doctors already on salary. Made it easy to just turn it into the National Health Service, which is now being destroyed by the Tories because cruelty is the purpose.

  9. xkeyscored

    Welsh woman declares vindication after ‘guerrilla rewilding’ court case Guardian

    Wonderful! She spent over twenty years replacing a Sitka spruce plantation in County Cork with native broadleaf trees – birch, hazel, oak, alder, crab apple and rowan.
    Does she have a crowdfund thingy for chipping in with her legal costs or replacement chainsaws?

    1. PlutoniumKun

      She is a hero, although the judge seemed baffled by her explanation for what she did. The area around Bantry in West Cork is full of oddballs of the best type.

      1. New Wafer Army

        Nothing odd about what she did. The oddballs are the environmental terrorists who planted the sitka spruce!

      2. Laughingsong

        I know a few in Clare as well. Himself and I, when we talk about going home (more and more often) talk about settling near the Burren where these people are, even though he’s a Dub.

      3. chuck roast

        It’s prolly all that wicked cool fresh air blowing in from 3,000 or so miles. That would anyone an oddball.

  10. rob

    So ,USA today; is using an analogy from “Star Trek” to poo-poo on bernie sanders’ right to compete for the nomination.
    Just like everywhere else I am hearing…..
    either the silence of bernie’s standing in actual votes…With more prognostication of “polls” and “what the people really need is” from all the buffoons who have zero history of being right about anything.
    The propagandists are in full meltdown mode.
    the story is…
    No one wants bernie…. (and certainly not any policies he is talking about) and ; the ones that do are ignorant and short-sighted….
    ” They will destroy the world if they get their way…… It will be the end of american exceptionalism. ”
    Voting for bernie ( and CERTAINLY SUPPORTING actual progressive ideas) Will NEVER be able to beat a trump… onslaught…… YAK!

    The constant drip of negativism… The democratic machine is trying to hold onto their establishment control….
    The democratic machine is as deplorable as the republican machine… and is beyond any hope. They all need to be purged.

    But who knows…. if history is any guide….. Bernie is a trojan horse too. The establishment is like water…. trump is the establishment… and so may too be bernie…time will tell..

    But as far as a direction… the Policies and IDEAS are what is key… not the personalities..
    Like on the healthcare front…
    The attack ought to be on the fact that this corona virus threat, means that the US hodge-podge healthcare system with it’s holes, is a liability to our security.
    All of this piecemeal medical care for profit, which excludes people on an economic basis; will make this country worse off . It will mean the public health will suffer. All the people who become sick, and can’t afford doctors bills, or even taking the chance of crazy bills from our predatory health care system, will do as they always do….. keep up as they can.
    This ought to be a slam dunk for those who want a universal single payer health care system… This story is made for the single payer crowd… to highlight the need for public health aspects to actual national security.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Even if blue America is ready for Bernie Sanders, red America is not. Purple America is not. Most of the country is not there and trying to drag it there will tear it apart. You must not do this. It is too soon. Someday, perhaps, America will be ready for what Bernie Sanders and his movement have to offer. But not today.

      Less expensive, more effective “healthcare” for everyone and affordable college will absolutely tear this country apart!!!! Don’t do this to us!!! We’re not ready!!!! Have a heart for all the reds and purples who need rationing to LIVE!!!

      Jeez, Louise–get a frickin’ grip.

        1. Arizona Slim

          And here’s an on-the-ground rejoinder from Tucson. This just in from the campaign:

          Please Note: Location has changed for the campaign’s kick-off barnstorm today because so many people RSVP’ed! We apologize for the short notice. We have relocated to the Whistle Stop Depot at 127 W 5th St. Activities start at 2pm.

      1. Brindle

        Bernie Sanders proposes policies that reduce the fear levels of most of the populace. The constant state of anxiety and fear that hundred of millions of people in this country live with is a permanent fixture of the neoliberal state–and that will continue with Biden and continue with Trump.

        1. Cuibono

          All fear all the time. It is what sells things. It is what keeps us tame. It is what keeps us mute. It is what makes us sick. It is what we need most of all to end.

          1. Rod

            Bumper sticker on car in Food Lion parking lot Friday night:

            “Scared People do crazy things”

              1. Observer

                And since so many eye glasses are/were made in China, I am told, it’s best you get those glasses you need soon, since no one knows how products got produced overseas, and what’s working (or not) in the marketing chain

      2. Darthbobber

        The writer apparently thinks we have loads of time available. How quaint. It’s later than most of the Sanders people think, and WAY later than the go slower believe.

      3. lyman alpha blob

        The author of the article is very eager to conflate parasitic corporations with actual people, while ignoring every metric that does show what the people actually want.

        You know what I’d really like to see? All the health insurance execs out of work after M4A gets passed. But rather than just throwing them out on the street with some bootstraps pep talk, I’d really like to see a Sanders administration offer those execs $80k or so per year in unemployment compensation, guaranteed for 5 years minimum. And them watch them complain that its far too little to live on.

        1. kiwi

          The executives likely have golden parachutes. No need for unemployment compensation.

          Golden parachutes should be outlawed.

        2. cripes

          lyman alpha blob


          Hell to the naw.
          I collected the maximum unemployment after 2008 crash I think of $420 weekly and I was ecstatic to get that.

          Those bastards shouldn’t even collect a dime under the “major misconduct” clause anyway. I don’t give a damn if they complain. Is there no work? Let them clean bedpans.

          The worker bees should get retraining and financial support maybe 2 years, even they bear some responsibility for executing (pun intended) claim denials, improper billing and coding leading to the deaths of tens or hundreds of thousands over a few short years.

          We have an entire nation living under extortion and death threats by a criminal cartel protected by the courts and the legislators. And I mean the hospital corps and doctor practices that too often get a pass as we rail against the pharma crooks.Where are the RICO indictments?

          Today wouldn’t be soon enough to clear out the medical industry rot.

          1. lyman alpha blob

            I wasn’t very clear there – the reason I picked $80K for five years is because that’s what I think everyone should get, whether they made that much to begin with or not. If Sanders does manage to get elected and enact his agenda, some industries are going to take a hit and people who lose their jobs need to be taken care of.

          1. Procopius

            It’s always seemed strange to me how the people who implement training programs are obsessed with coding. Or is that a myth? Surely the Bureau of Labor Statistics has a listing of the currently most in demand jobs. Surely they have such lists for localities, at least at the state level, possible down to the county level. Why are job training programs so bad?

      4. Darius

        It’s blue America that will have the most trouble with Bernie. The liberals are having a fit. Red America needs healthcare. So does Blue America, actually, but not People Who Matter.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      The alien leader in the Trek episode was known for his major reforms. The episode was about colonialism and decolonialism and expectations about how countries should be, not domestic politics anyway. Star Trek isn’t known for its subtlety, but it’s probably lost on USA Today.

    3. The Rev Kev

      I know the TNG Star Trek episode that he was talking about and it was called “First Contact” and it was quite good. If you were a progressive thinker on that planet – Malcor III – it sucked big time though and one went with the Enterprise when it left the system rather than stay.

      I myself would be talking about a different episode called “A Taste of Armageddon” from the Original Series. A planet called Eminiar VII has been waging a 500-year space war with its neighbour. Only that both sides were so afraid of the catastrophic deaths that they let computers run a simulated war with ‘casualties’ having to report to disintegration chambers and it never stopped until Kirk destroyed the computers.

      It is the same here. The article says ‘A vote for Bernie Sanders isn’t a vote for a return to honest government and peace, it’s a vote for class war.’ Well it is already a class war only there is only one side fighting it as Warren Buffet admitted. The other side, us, has been reporting for their deaths through lack of healthcare, secure jobs, problems with addiction, lack of education, etc. Sometimes the only way to start winning a one-side game is to kick the table over.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        I believe the episode “Inner Light” from the StarTrek with Picard may be closer to the future ‘We’ are working hard to reach.

        Without Bernie running for President I think an episode from Futurama might be most fitting.

        1. Jason Boxman

          I think that’s probably one of the best episodes of Star Trek, ever. I found a track of the flute being played somewhere on the Internet a few decades ago, don’t have it now. That was from a different episode later in the show mostly though.

        2. Laughingsong

          Not sure that’s a good analogy? Their sun caused their extinction didn’t it?

          I whistle that flute tune all the time, it’s lovely. This episode is also the first and only time I saw Patrick Stewart’s son.

          Sorry off-topic but us trekkers can’t help discussing great Trek episodes….

          1. Jeremy Grimm

            Their sun did indeed cause their extinction. In our case, our ‘betters’ may cause our extinction. I would not liken our betters with our sun — but the way the story ends could be much the same for our species and many others.The analogy fits in another way — there was nothing the people of Katan could do to save themselves and although there may be some way we might save ourselves I am beginning to wonder what that could be.

            1. Laughingsong

              I would say also that In the episode, the leadership’s response trying not to create a panic seems typical. Funny how they want us to dirty our diapers over fake crises like RussiaRussiaRussia or UkraineUkraineUkraine but not Coronavirus. I guess that’s how one can tell what’s serious and what isn’t these days.

              Looking for that tune on YouTube I was amply rewarded with this:


        3. MLTPB

          As I wrote below, and rhe comment is more relevant here, the Star Trek episode I keeping thinking of is Miri.

      2. Dave

        The star trek thing was so insane. How did single payer become this weird ideology from outer space? I remember being a Young Democrat in college back in the 80s and just kind of assuming that democrats were all for single payer and mass transit, or something. Sue me for being dumb, but it has only been in recent years that I’ve come to realize that most of our progressive leaders straight up don’t support progressive policies at all. I do honestly feel stupid! But ” won’t be fooled again. “Rate

        1. Procopius

          The word “progressive” has been debased in modern language. In practice it now means “conservative,” in the same sense William F. Buckley, Jr., used the word “liberal.” For a while, the New Deal liberals who were shunted aside by the Democratic Leadership Council, used “progressive,” since the DLC people claimed the name “liberal,” meaning the same as WFB. I guess we now have to rely on “leftist.” I sometimes call myself a Revolutionary Socialist, although I really don’t know what their platform was, but basically I’m a FDR Democrat.

      3. lyman alpha blob

        Any Star Trek fans out there familiar with Iain Banks’ Culture series? The books are set in a post scarcity society where everyone’s needs are taken care of, similar in many ways to Star Trek’s Federation. The society is humanoid, but earth people are not part of it.

        Just finished the novella The State of the Art which has the Culture showing up over 1970s earth to observe and decide whether to make contact. After watching all the wars, disease, rotten politics, etc. on a planet with more than enough to go around, they eventually decide humanity isn’t really worth talking to and just fly away.

        1. Jessica

          Iain Banks Culture series is brilliant.
          When we have star ships like that, one of the first ones has to be named Iain Banks Lives and Cancer Is Dead.

      4. Liberal Mole

        I didn’t want to be enraged so I didn’t read the article. But Sanders just sent out an email saying the campaign raised 46 million in February.

    4. Chris

      Fake quotes using the same argument presented in the article:

      “I know you progressives want us to consider black people as the equal of whites, but so many citizens just aren’t ready for that.”

      “I know you young people want women to be able to vote, but think of all the traditionalists who will suffer if we let that happen too quickly.”

      “I realize that we do place a value on secularism in the US, but too many people are too homophobic to consider gay rights as anything other than endorsing sodomy.”

      “Think of all the insurance professionals in the medical field. They haven’t had enough time to adjust to new equally profitable careers before we throw them into a world where medicare for all exists.”

    5. MLTPB

      The Star Trek episode I keep thinking about is Miri, the one about only the children survived a disease, and every (living) kid was pre-puberyy.

      1. LifelongLib

        IIRC the disease was the result of a failed project to extend everyone’s lifespan. Instead the virus extended the lifespan of pre-pubescent children but killed them when they finally entered puberty.

    6. Oh

      Used to think that USA Today was a decent, unbiased newspaper until I read this. The neoliberal who wrote this opinion piece is so full of it. He does not wants to admit that there’s a class war already. He dares to invoke a SF series to make his case. What a clown. No wonder USA Today is filing for bankruptcy.

    7. martell

      Biden 2020: Because Star Trek. I honestly cannot think of a better reason.

      But why stop there? Other things we can learn from TNG: using money to make money is ugly and primitive, almost as primitive as believing in God or gods. Also, matriarchy is really bad news for men’s fashion. Remember Jonathan Frakes in Amazonian lingerie? Cannot be unseen.

    8. Alex morfesis

      Berning the truth, the usa2day author is a Republican and a never Trumper (although based in his regular losses in appeal court, he might be a member of the trumpery club) who now wants to shed his wisdom and ethics on the world and talk about “noble”… This from a lawyer who ran a borderline scam hijacking corporate type URL’s and using phony addresses to avoid service (Google scholar his name). Now it is not a bad thing Chris lost almost all his appeals over the years, as he is a self proclaimed “appeals” lawyer, and most of his appointments apparently had to do with beyond evil humans doing

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        Did someone make sure to send a box full of Tribbles to the usa2day author? Are Republicans like Klingons?

        1. Massinissa

          Nonono, clearly Trump republicans are awful evil Romulans, while their siblings the Vulcans, also known as Polite Suburban Republicans, are the enlightened beings we should adopt all the policies of and allow into our not-socialist democratic party/federation. /sarc

    9. Matthew

      If this country is so degenerate that providing a decent living standard to its citizens will destroy it, then burn it to the ground and best of luck to whoever takes over.

    10. FriarTuck

      There’s another Star Trek episode that came to mind reading this editorial. Specifically, Star Trek Voyager 5×01: “Night”

      Voyager encounters a race called the Malon, whose entire society is dependent on antimatter reactors which produce tons of waste that emits Theta radiation. Due to this waste, the Malon are visibly sick, with sores on their skin, and aliens are discovered within the waste dumping grounds whom are equally sick.

      Voyager offers technology that would allow the Malon to cleanly recycle the waste from their reactors. Instead of accepting the technology, the Malon attack Voyager – reasoning that such technology would devastate the order of their lives; millions structure their lives on the risk and reward of the dumping of antimatter waste.

      By the end of the episode, Voyager decides to seal the dumping grounds with a barrage of photon torpedoes. At the pivotal moment, Janeway says, “Time to take out the garbage.”

      Unlike Voyager, the solution to our problems aren’t solved with a barrage of photon torpedoes (or their current equivalent – I hope). But those who profit from the current order must equally see that the modern order is causing harm and immeseration – and that the only reasonable and just path is to destroy that order and remake something new.

      Yes, one option is to turn away from solving these problems. And it sickens me that even the author acknowledges that the future Bernie is offering to pursue moves towards the ideal utopia of the Federation(!) – but he rejects it.

      Pleading the case that turning away is the only “reasonable” option is disingenuous at best.

  11. The Rev Kev

    “The Taliban Peace Deal Might Have Been Had Many Years and Thousands of Lives Ago”

    It occurred to me reading this article that there might be a little bit of good coming out of the Afghanistan occupation/war. The US and its Allies were in Vietnam in force for seven years but in the end were defeated by the Vietnamese. There has been a reluctance by the Pentagon since to acknowledge that they lost that war. So since the 80s I have been seeing this legend arise that the Pentagon could have won the war but the American people failed them by not keeping up the war effort. Usually the role of the press and the hippies are slated for extra blame. I have seen this legend on display in an Australian Army show back in the 80s too.

    So here we have the Afghanistan war that has been going on for nearly two decades. True, in a desert/mountainous region instead of a jungle but still a guerilla campaign. Each US soldier cost a million dollars a year to keep there and the full arsenal of American weaponry was deployed short of nuclear weapons. But in the end, the US joined that list of countries that broke their teeth on Afghanistan. So my point is that the US has been in Afghanistan nearly three times as long as Vietnam but could not do it so now we know that that Pentagon legend was wrong. It would not have mattered if the US had been in Vietnam until the mid 80s, they still would not have won. That myth can be put down now.

    1. Wukchumni

      The folly of using being in the ‘stanbox for nearly a couple of decades, would be akin to Putin occupying Nevada and it’s endless basin and range terra firma, precious little of which is of any strategic value, and everything had to be flown in, all supplies, sundries, soldiers, gas, etc.

      Halliburton must’ve known their fixed floating game would eventually have to be closed down and relocated to another hot LZ, I earnestly hope we can find another country to invade, hopefully one w/o i.e.d.’s and loose loyalties, something like the Bahamas, or Djibouti-merely because i’d love to hear that word said repeatedly.

      The last war we ‘won’ was the first Iraq War, mainly because we declared victory and left. The demon that was the Vietnam War had been exorcised, and an old Tony Orlando hit resurrected with blue ribbons tied around many an oak tree, and did you see our precise pinpoint bombing attacks, stand tall America!

    2. xkeyscored

      Two decades of war on Afghanistan?

      Brzezinski: Yes. According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahiddin began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan on December 24, 1979. But the reality, closely guarded until now, is completely otherwise: Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.

      B: Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter, essentially: “We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war.”

      In other words, the carnage in Indochina was seen not as a failure, but as a model for future foreign policy. It just needed outsourcing.
      And now the USA is expressing concern about human rights in a Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. After supporting the Mujahiddin and then the smack dealers of the Northern Alliance.

      1. Olga

        In his book, Magnificent Delusions, former Pakistani ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani explains how what eventually became a plot to lure USSR into Afghanistan was hatched by the-then PK leader, Zia-al-Huq. ZAH’s initial motivation was to undermine AF, so that the country’s leadership would not start making territorial demands against PK (the Duran line and all that).
        The icing(s) on the cake – dragging in the USSR would also confirm PK as a staunch anti-communist defender in Asia – and provide an avenue for more funding from the gullible west. (Never mind that PK’s main ally has always been China.) The US swallowed up the idea (remember, it was still licking its wounds after the defeat in Vietnam, to which the USSR greatly contributed). So it was pay-back time.
        It was agreed that the money would flow from and through Saudi Arabia. Providing funds to the mujaheddin to escalate their fight against the Kabul govt. and its progressive policies started well before the July 1979 signing of the memo by Carter. The plan was well under way by then.
        The USSR did not “invade” AF; it was invited in by the AF govt. (similarly as in Syria) to help it fight against the conservative, militant forces. USSR’s leadership spent almost a year debating whether it should send forces into AF. Finally, they did, most likely unaware that this was just a part of the plot. The rest is history…
        And true, the use of militant, Islamic factions by the west to achieve its goals became a model for future efforts to destabilise various countries. (Though, it should be mentioned that UK’s successful co-opting of the Muslim Brotherhood in late 1940s-early 1950s to be used for UK’s goals may have served as an example.)
        (Also, RK, the US’ war against Vietnam started in 1945, when it agreed to fund most of the French war against V. (the official confirmation finally came via the PBS V. war series) – so, in reality, the US waged a 30yr war against that country, not seven.))

        1. xkeyscored

          IIRR, the UK played a significant role in 1945, making sure the Viet Minh didn’t take the south before the French could reorganise themselves.

          1. Susan the other

            Yes, I’ve read the Brits were really pushing us to get over there. Not just for their own interests in Indonesia (prollly banking swindling and contraband). Unlike the French who didn’t see it coming until Dien Bien Fu (Sp?) That dreadful loss to the French happened in Laos, not VN; the coast of SE Asia was not the gold mine – that existed back closer to the mountains and jungles. The French had investments in rubber plantations, that were important but not nearly as important as opium, hash, and gold. And Rev-K, the only reason we say we coulda won the VN war except for our people going berserk is that we coulda. They had a plan to use nukes. The lesson here is clearly, Don’t start a war unless you’re willing to go against humanity and use nukes. In Afghanistan it is actually useful to just maintain an outpost. We aren’t really leaving.

            1. xkeyscored

              Would even saturation nuking have let them ‘win’ (quite apart from the nuclear winter it’d have caused)?
              Some Vietnamese would have survived somehow, and would they have given up? And would any USians have wanted to go in afterwards to boldly plant the US flag in a radioactive wasteland where any survivor’s likely to kill them?

              1. JBird4049

                The Cold War was an actual war complete with actual battles; it was fought by proxy because almost nobody (at least if they were sane) wanted a war in which American and Soviet forces fought each other directly.

                As for Vietnam and Afghanistan, the sad thing to note is that both the Americans and the Soviets took actions from the beginning to make them lose. Backing corrupt, oligarchic or dictatorial regimes because they would be obedient, and often using the there is no kill, but overkill as a strategy.

                So they ensured the continuation of bad governance and waged war on the general populations of those countries. Why did anyone think they were going to win?

                1. JTMcPhee

                  In regard to both those Imperial adventures, I still am hoping for someone to articulate what the Empire would have “won,” what would have constituted “victory?” They were both just insertions, invasions, and escalations followed by desultory departures, leaving bodies and trillions of dollars behind, with all the stuff that goes on with industrialized warfare — huge wealth transfer, big profitable construction projects with lots of contractors getting rich, constantly revised doctrines and “aims,” lots of promotions for incompetent Brass, lots of opportunities for things like the CIA to run their super secret scams including drug trade and other means to fund activities like overthrowing other governments.

                  The particular actions the Soviets and US actually took that “made them lose“ were just a selection from a Chinese restaurant menu of actions, all of which would “make them lose.’ Even nuking Vietnam and Notagain?istan would be losses by most calculations.

                  The only way to “win” this kind of game is not to play. But there’s no fun or profit in that, now is there?

            2. Procopius

              Susan, you’ve got the right idea, but a bit garbled. Yes, the Brits were strongly urging us to help the French reclaim their colonies. It was the Japanese, not the British, who prevented the Viet Minh from taking Annam, as it was known then, and at the request of both British and American (and, I suppose, French) authorities. They simply continued their occupation until the French army arrived and they went back to Japan. The Brits had colonies in Malaya, which then included Singapore; it was the Dutch who colonized Indonesia. The Brits were occupied with their own “communist” insurgency and didn’t want to see the Viet Minh succeed because it would encourage their own rebels. According to current maps Dien Bien Phu (Phu sounds like poo) is in Vietnam, but it’s so close to the border it may have been considered Laos at the time. In the ’90s I met more than one Army officer who made that claim that they could have won if only Congress had not stabbed them in the back and Nixon let them down. Of course, it would have required drafting as large an Army as we had in World War II.

              1. xkeyscored

                It was the Japanese, not the British …
                I’m fuzzy about what Annam was exactly, and the Japanese played a significant role after their defeat, but:

                Upon Gracey’s arrival on September 13 to receive the surrender of Japanese forces, he immediately realized the seriousness of the situation in the country. Saigon’s administrative services had collapsed, and a loosely controlled Viet Minh-led group had seized power. In addition, since the Japanese were still fully armed, the Allies feared that they would be capable of undermining the Allied position. Furthermore, Gracey had poor communications with his higher headquarters in Burma because his American signal detachment was abruptly withdrawn by the U.S. government for political reasons; it was a loss that could not be rectified for several weeks.

                Gracey wrote that unless something were done quickly, the state of anarchy would worsen. This situation was worsened by the Viet Minh’s lack of strong control over some of their allied groups.[7] Because of this, the French were able to persuade Gracey (in a move which exceeded the authority of his orders from Mountbatten) to rearm local colonial infantry regiments who were being held as prisoners of war.

                Gracey allowed about 1,000 former French prisoners of war to be rearmed. They, with the arrival of the newly formed 5th Colonial Infantry Regiment (RIC) commandos, would then be capable of evicting the Viet Minh from what hold they had on the Saigon administration. Gracey saw this as the quickest way to allow the French to reassert their authority in Indochina while allowing him to proceed in disarming and repatriating the Japanese.

                During the following days, Gracey gradually eased the Viet Minh grip on Saigon, replacing their guards in vital points with his own troops which were then turned over to French troops.[8] This procedure was adopted because the Viet Minh would not have relinquished their positions directly to the French.[9]


    3. ObjectiveFunction

      if the US had been in Vietnam until the mid 80s, they still would not have won.

      It’s really impossible to prove a negative as you know, RK. But as I’m also sure you know, popular (leftist) insurgencies in the 1950s-1980s lost about as often as they won. A Communist military victory in the South, absent a political victory driving full US disengagement, was hardly a guaranteed outcome.

      1. Post-victory, the PAVN leadership admitted that their manpower situation from 1968 to 1970 was utterly dire. Simply put, in spite of US body count inflation, People’s Army troops were being killed significantly more than they were killing (even though they were drawing enough blood to sap US will to persist). That badly degraded their combat effectiveness.

      2. the (brutal and vicious) Southern strategic hamlets program was working as intended, hindering PA ability to recruit in densely populated areas. Main force ranks were increasingly made up of Northerners (who lacked local relationships), and also of younger and younger local conscripts. These desperate measures were materially alienating the war-weary host populations.

      Unlike today’s Afghanistan, where the ANA still has no autonomous ability or will to take or govern the sparse, rugged areas dominated by the Taliban who essentially *are* the local population and rulers, the South Vietnamese ARVN was slowly and clumsily building a pacification infrastructure in the dense agricultural zones. While huge swathes of hills and jungle might be ‘liberated’ zones, most of the population and economic production remained under government sway. The officials might be corrupt SOBs, but they were locals. And Phoenix was, umm, disappearing alternate candidates….

      3. Also attested by PAVN leaders post liberation, by 1970 PA units just couldn’t sustain offensives outside their base areas. Fortunately for them, the Americans were also reaching the end of their tether, and pushing the ARVN into aggressive ops like LamSon 719 and the Parrots Beak that were far beyond their competence or will, and it showed.

      4. So it is possible, though impossible to prove, that had the Americans kept in enough troops to forestall a Northern invasion and kept the ARVN running for about 3-5 more years (true, all highly unlikely in the political context of the time, but stay with me), the VC insurgency would have receded into the hills, as did the Malay, Thai and Burmese insurgencies.

      5. So there might still be a South Vietnam today, just as there is a South Korea (a dirty war continued there for many years after the 1954 ceasefire). Worth it? Ask the Koreans, but also the Salvadorans and Guatemalans….

      1. periol

        That’s an awful lot of maybes.

        Eventually, the US would have still lost. Staying an extra 3-5 years to “win” would have turned into staying until they kick the Americans out.

        If we had stayed, I have no doubt the best case scenario for Vietnam would have been what happened (and is happening) in Kashmir.

      2. JTMcPhee

        ObjectiveFunction, this Vietnam veteran (1st Cav, ‘67-68) asks for a definition of terms. Simply put, how do you define “victory?”

        The US military’s own compendious Dictionary of Military and Related Terms fails to define the word, does not define the word “war” even though they use it hundreds of times in various contexts.

        It does not define “success” though also use it repeatedly, like here:

        completeness — The plan review criterion for assessing whether operation plans incorporate major operations and tasks to be accomplished and to what degree they include forces required, deployment concept, employment concept, sustainment concept, time estimates for achieving objectives, description of the end state, mission success criteria, and mission termination criteria. (JP 5-0).

        And the definition there of “insurgency” fits pretty precisely what the US imperial adventures consist of:

        insurgency — The organized use of subversion and violence to seize, nullify, or challenge political control of a region. Insurgency can also refer to the group itself. Op. Cit.

        “If only “we” had done all these other things, given the degradation [in so many ways] of the Enemy [another one of those frequently used terms that is not defined in that Dictionary], we would have achieved Victory.” Defined just how?

        In the present context, “we” did everything the generals could come up with (granting they were and are crappy at their Warfighting tasks) and still the thing we call for shorthand “the Taliban” will shortly displace the puppet government the Empire has propped up in Kabul to facilitate the corruption and wealth transfers that are such a big black part of what passes for “war, American style.” “We” even continue some personnel management activities that got their start in Vietnam: “ The Drugs That Built a Super Soldier—During the Vietnam War, the U.S. military plied its servicemen with speed, steroids, and painkillers to help them handle extended combat.” Still going on? Of course:

        So what “victory” or “success,” other than the defined-down claim that “what we got is what we wanted, see, in exchange for $2 or $3 trillion and hundreds of thousands of dead,” could have been “won” in either Vietnam or Notagain?istan?

        I find it fascinating, how low-key and third-page the news announcements about how “we” are signing over the country to the Taliban have been. No parades for the damaged veterans of “Operation Enduring Freedom” or all the itty-bitty included operations archly named by Tough Brass, like “Operation Relentless Strike.” Maybe in a couple dozen years, after the movies and other propaganda have buried the reality.

        Even the Grauniad has taken notice of what this war (again, term undefined, with constantly morphing “places we just have to conquer and hold,” and chameleon “success criteria”), looked at dispassionately, is largely all about: “ How the heroin trade explains the US-UK failure in Afghanistan — After 16 years and $1tn spent, there is no end to the fighting – but western intervention has resulted in Afghanistan becoming the world’s first true narco-state. ”

        “I love the smell of opium cooking in the morning. It smells like Victory!”

        1. Anon

          Thank you for your service, JT. I’m a non-veteran contemporary of yours.

          While the US military continues to claim the Vietnamese deaths during the war were in the 100’s of thousands, even the mostly Gingoist PBS documentary “Vietnam” (Ken Burns) allows in the last seconds before credits roll, on-screen text indicating that the count is over 2 million. Some cite numbers even higher.

          Defining “victory” in “body counts” is never a good choice.

        2. JBird4049

          “…still the thing we call for shorthand “the Taliban” will shortly displace the puppet government the Empire has propped up in Kabul to facilitate the corruption and wealth transfers that are such a big black part of what passes for “war, American style.”

          “Somoza may be a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch.”

          Often when helping to install a new leader, even a leadership class, Americans and others do not think of having at least somewhat uncorrupted, competent, and popular, or at least acceptable in the general population, which is needed, if they want to win any civil conflict. But, no. They always choose the biddable over the competent and popular. Also, if you are going to ruled by some murderous regime, do you want to be by foreigners or by someone of your nation?

          1. JTMcPhee

            I recall a conversation with a Vietnamese gentleman during the Vietnam thing. The GI is tellling him of the virtues of representative democracy that we were fighting and lying and killing his people to “bring to them.” He asked (probably Socratically) what that democracy entails. The earnest GI talks about the regular popular elections of the legislature and executives that govern “the people.” “So,” he says, “we do have elections here. Every several years we have the chance to as you say turn the bastards out. But the way it works here, only bastards ever get on the ballot. So every couple of years, we have the chance to remove what we call ‘full’ politicians from office, and replace them with ‘empty’ ones. [I forget the Vietnamese terms for ‘full’ and ‘empty.] So the ‘empty’ politicians then burden us with demands for bribes and fees and outright theft, until they have their several estates and cars and the rest, until they start to get ‘full,’ when the corruption drops back to a more moderate level. So leaving the ‘fulls’ in place, election after election, seems very wise to us.

            “Why should we want to institute such a system as you have in the US, where you turn over your representatives so frequently, so they never get ‘full?”

            Obviously we Earnest USians have reached the level of political structure and function that obtained in South Vietnam (and has apparently reconstituted itself all through the united country since.) Two million or more dead Vietnamese and 58,220 dead Americans and thousands of tons of bombs and artillery rounds and millions of pounds of Agent Orange expended, for what? So I can buy slacks and shirts at Walmart and Target labeled “Made in Vietnam,” and the US Imperial Navy can do joint naval operations with the Vietnamese navy in the Gulf of Tonkin?

            1. Janie

              JT, thank you for your well thought-out comments. I’ve read a fair bit about Nam, trying to figure out how we were so badly duped – Stanley Karnow, Best and Brightest, Neil Sheehan and so on. We lived in the midwest in the sixties with nothing but conservative media and rah-rah patriotism. Took too long for some us to wise up. And here we are, still playing the same game. It’s time to quit playing.

              1. PlutoniumKun

                The best explanation for how the ‘best and the brightest’ were duped was actually written before the war – Graham Greenes ‘The Quiet American’. When I read it I had to check multiple sources to confirm in my own mind that it was actually written in the 1955, his (fictional) depiction of how the US would get drawn into an unwinnable war by well meaning smart guys is uncannily accurate. The most recent film version with Michael Caine is also pretty good.

        3. Procopius

          I believe the definition of victory was given in an Army Field Manual, but I’m unable now to remember the number, possibly FM 3-0. Essentially, it said “victory” is destroying the enemy. That’s still pretty ambiguous, but at the time it was well understood that it meant destroying the enemy’s will and ability to resist, or imposing unconditional surrender on them. Complete annihilation. We were never going to be able to do that, but there actually were (and , I think, still are) Army officers who believed that if we had carpet bombed Hanoi and invaded the North we could have done it. I don’t think they knew about the 1,000 year resistance of the Vietnamese against China.

      3. Plenue

        The Strategic Hamlet Program ended in 1963, before the US even officially deployed combat troops to Vietnam.

        Your claims seem very suspect.

        1. ObjectiveFunction

          Guys, I’m not making moral judgments here, merely (with respect) challenging RKs assertion that the South was doomed to lose no matter how long it took. In insurgencies, as Mao noted, both sides have a clock ticking on their support and viability.

          You are correct, I used strategic hamlets as hasty shorthand for the alphabet soup of pacification programs: ‘Ruff Puffs’, CORDS, Chieu Hoi, Phoenix, etc., whose core objective was to prevent or at least hinder the bulk of the population from sustaining the People’s Army. While results were mixed, it definitely had a very material military effect, in addition to all the suffering it imposed. Again, this is based on what the victors themselves said after the war, that it was a very near run thing, and a good thing the US gave up when they did.

          When popular insurgencies lose, it’s invariably due to stalemate and exhaustion of the supporting population. As an average peasant, you might admire the valor, patriotism and ennobling vision of the People’s Army cadres. But after 6+ years of bombing, economic disruption, exactions, dead sons, and then they come one night to conscript your frail 12 year old, the revolutionary spirit starts wearing thin.

          This weariness is what prevailed in El Salvador and Guatemala, even though the insurgents enjoyed overwhelming popular support against brutal oligarchs. It has also happened in Syria, hastened by the jihadis killing off anyone less fanatic than them. The crappy ancien regime starts looking ok over time.

          So why is Afghanistan different? Because the pain threshold of the Pashto rural population is epically high. In spite of the nightly menace of the drones, people live at much the same autarkic subsistence level as before, with minimal commerce. Harsh Sharia law and the rule of chiefs and imams are what they know. The Taliban aren’t fanatics, they’re a variant on the status quo. No invader, including the Mongols, has ever turned the pain meter high enough to make these people submit. Conclusion: leave, now. Let the borders be redrawn by their various neighbors carving off the Tajiks, Uzbeks, etc. And if the Chinese come in, more fool them.

          1. Jessica

            Another reason for the failure of the insurgency in Syria was that it was massively homicidal, if not genocidal against the Alawites and others who were not Sunni Arabs. Most of those who supported the Assad government knew that losing meant death for them, their families, and their communities.

    4. John k

      We gave up bc the draft generated too much oppo. Might still be there if had been volunteer.
      And prior to Vietnam gov was held in high esteem. Afterwards came Reagan and neolibs to dismantle gov.

    5. VietnamVet

      I agree. I knew the Afghanistan War was lost the first year when ABC ran a Pentagon fluff piece about two Special Forces Soldiers patrolling a walled village looking to capture a bad boy; the local Haji who had made the pilgrimage to Mecca.

      No different than Chinese Airborne unit patrolling through Waco TX next year to detain Baptist Rotary Club Members if there are any left after decades of Neoliberalism decimation of community service. Whenever the movie “Red Dawn” is mentioned liberals hate it. But, it is the best and saddest movie I’ve seen about how an American insurrection will play out in Las Vegas, NM.

      The USA is about to be hit by a pandemic and an economic depression all at the same time. This is not wild speculation. Only God can prevent it. Run by an incompetent government dedicated to enriching the wealthy; the splintering apart of the States is almost guaranteed. Corporate democrats will blame Communist Russia for everything. Republicans will declare the status quo is has never been better. But only restoration of democracy, good government and the rule of law can prevent an uprising.

  12. PlutoniumKun

    A question for the commentariat on Covid-19.

    I’ve seen a number of references (including in the twitter thread above) to analytical studies that indicated that closing borders and restricting movements has no impact on the spread of a disease like this and may be counterproductive. Some of the references are to high level journals (the ones I chased down are behind paywalls, maybe there are others). This seems entirely counter intuitive to me. Can anyone explain out there why this is the current best advice?

    1. The Historian

      I’m no expert but I can think of a couple of common sense reasons:
      1. No country produces everything its people want or need any more. What would Great Britain do without its tea? What would the US do without its coffee? Where does your country get the bulk of its medications? or raw materials? And as we know from the Black Death, it wasn’t immigration that passed on the disease – it was the traders – the people bringing goods to Europe. So how are you going to get these goods to your country without people to deliver them?
      2. How do you close all the borders? People always find a way to move and they will continue to do so.

    2. Clive

      It is important questions like this which make me wince in despair at the apparently ceaseless attempt by our shared culture to turn any semblance of rational, informed, neutrally-minded debate into a panicky-shriek’athon with the volume set to “11”. There may well be earnest attempts made by people with the specialist subject knowledge to do this. But as you probably discovered, you try finding it in all the noise.

      The best information I can find is the WHO. Yes, I know, that WHO. But nevertheless it seems the best of a bad lot.

      Here’s one they made earlier

      High population mobility across porous borders

      West Africa is characterized by a high degree of population movement across exceptionally porous borders. Recent studies estimate that population mobility in these countries is seven times higher than elsewhere in the world. To a large extent, poverty drives this mobility as people travel daily looking for work or food. Many extended West African families have relatives living in different countries.

      Population mobility created two significant impediments to control. First, as noted early on, cross-border contact tracing is difficult. Populations readily cross porous borders but outbreak responders do not. Second, as the situation in one country began to improve, it attracted patients from neighbouring countries seeking unoccupied treatment beds, thus reigniting transmission chains. In other words, as long as one country experienced intense transmission other countries remained at risk, no matter how strong their own response measures had been. Cultural factors also need to be incorporated into any considerations.

      The traditional custom of returning, often over long distances, to a native village to die and be buried near ancestors is another dimension of population movement that carries an especially high transmission risk.

      This brings up some important points. Poverty is a factor in some cross-border movements so whether, or not, economic factors are at work should be taken into account as to how well, or not, tolerated cessation of population movement might be. But the another aspect worth consideration is how control measures in one country can be undermined in another by cross border movement.

      I also recommend that the WHO’s Situation Reports can be made part of one’s daily reading diet — yes, usual caveats and, ah-hem, health warnings apply. But it’s the best source of non-fake news facts available, or at least fact-like reporting. You get, of course, more questions than answers (such as the huge divergence of mortality rates between, say, China and the SS Plague Princess). But at least the numbers are as trustworthy as they get and the analysis is (mostly) plausible.

      I can’t finish here without returning to the WHO report in my first link above, to add a follow-on piece of wisdom for everyone to digest:

      Public health messages that fuelled hopelessness and despair

      In the face of early and persistent denial that Ebola was real, health messages issued to the public repeatedly emphasized that the disease was extremely serious and deadly, and had no vaccine, treatment, or cure. While intended to promote protective behaviours, these messages had the opposite effect.

      There does seem to be an emergence of a whole “hopelessness and despair” cottage industry. No doubt for some, it is profitable — either financially, politically, or, perhaps, both. I for one will have no part of it.

      1. Steve H.

        In the areas I’ve looked at (limited sample), WHO adheres to precautionary principles more than mainstream US sources. Multiple sources and critical thinking seems to be best.

        The US has a real problem with regulatory capture, skewed toward high profit from scarce pharma solutions. WHO (and the UN) offer more practical solutions for conditions on the ground. (Taleb’s “Principia Politica” applies here.) For example, US response to parasites in impoverished southern states seems willfully ignorant.

        If Pence really has become the sole official source for Covid-19, has this lack of trustworthiness gone to singularity?

          1. MLTPB

            It’s not so bad.

            Even after 1956, after that motto, we have landed on the Moon, and sent out many missions into space.

            1. polecat

              Hey. Maybe Veeger could be coaxed to make a swing back into the neighborhood, and STER•I•LIZE Terra un Firma ..

              .. just to be sure.

              1. MLTPB

                At the time, it was a giant leap for mankind, perhaps away from the Vatican, though we cannot say that for sure. Just a giant leap.

          2. JBird4049

            Oh, I trust God, but the narcissistic incompetents? In the United States? Those who are in control of our governments’ (Federal, state, and municipal) responses to the many health problems especially to epidemics like Covid-19? Please, don’t make me laugh.

            Honestly, whatever sparks of the divine that might be available to them is blocked by their arrogance. Failing ever upwards into greater positions of power, prestige, and wealth just might make a person arrogant.

        1. Susan the other

          Pence is the perfect fall guy. He’ll keep absolutely quiet about everything and just give us his nauseating bible blabber. In the meantime, Trump can pull all the strings he wants, including paying for what needs to be done by emergency decree of one sort or another. If things get totally out of control he can blame Pence and god; if everything succeeds he can take credit. I’d feel sorry for Pence if he weren’t so intellectually void and downright disgusting.

          1. Wukchumni

            Up until this point, I really felt as if I was the teflon man, anything the President did heretofore really didn’t affect me in any way shape or form, what me worry?

            This act of a most selfish man pulling this stunt to save his sorry hide while effectively doing nothing, is a complete dereliction of duty and then some, although the Donkey Show sure helped by emasculating themselves just as the virus was coming to the forefront, leaving no political levers to leverage with.

            Its pitiful watching other countries drop everything else, and get going on testing/quarantines, etc. while we fiddle around with a narcissist @ the helm.

            1. Monty

              The unspeakable truth is that they have done the math, and figured this is the least expensive and /or path of least resistance. Any lives lost are tragic, but unavoidable.

              1. clarky90

                “The Great Neo-Leap Forward”! The stuff of an “existentially sad” teaching moment. Sad, so really, really sad…. really…But, “i,modernity”!

                Will TPTB end up writing the History of the 2020s?

          2. Yves Smith

            Lambert has made the point that Pence is the only person in the Administration who could close the megachurches. But I can’t see him doing that.

      2. PlutoniumKun

        I can see it making more sense in Africa, where shutting borders would cause more problems than solutions, but it makes no sense to me that in more advanced or autocratic nations, where borders can be shut, that this would not significantly slow down the spread and intensity of the disease. It would also of course reduce the opportunity the disease to spread within aircraft and buses, etc. This is why the advice seems to make very little sense to me, although it seems to come from reputable sources.

        The one study I did read indicated that travel restrictions didn’t prevent the number of cases, but did slow down the spread – surely this is highly desirable from the point of view of ensuring some level of preparedness. This is why I don’t understand the conclusion. I wonder if they are making an error in extrapolating from something like ebola in Africa to a more contagious disease in more advanced countries.

        1. xkeyscored

          Some of the reasoning I’ve come across for not closing borders was definitely and explicitly based on Ebola, where the migrants are also entirely different – dirt poor labourers etc vs international air travellers. Plus it’s easier to bribe or sneak your way across many a third world border than it is to get into Europe when they don’t want you. With open borders, they say, contacts can be traced and so on. Except with so many places and cases, it may soon be impossible to do so, even in highly developed countries.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            Thats possible. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve seen perfectly good science taken out of context to justify policy, or the limitations of the study not being understood, even by other scientists.

            1. Monty

              “There’s little to no evidence that shows that cancelling events would effectively prevent or slow the possible spread of the virus, so all the events getting cancel is just based on fear.”

              To which Nassim Nicholas Taleb replied,”One heuristic. Whenever you hear “evidence based”, expect probabilistic fraud.”

              Sounded like something Lambert might say!

            2. xkeyscored

              Latest I’ve heard on the radio, it may have been in Washington State for weeks, which’d presumably make contact tracing well nigh impossible. Someone comparing genetic sequences of recent Washington strains with US patient zero or something, deciding they’re closely related.

              How long ago was Iran being slagged off for incompetence and worse? Huh.

              1. MLTPB

                Thanks for that info.

                Could it be like the N Italian cases, that the Jan 23rd Wuhan lockdown was too late?

                I thought the question with Iran was about the actual number of cases, suspecting manipulation, not incompetence.

                1. xkeyscored

                  That was my ‘or worse’. And in the US doesn’t every official mention of the virus have to be vetted by Pence now, or something like that?
                  Motives won’t matter much soon, anyway. Intentional, incompetent, or one masquerading as the other – looks like a well established cluster(f).

          1. xkeyscored

            It bought time. Which some nations clearly didn’t take advantage of, though it’s not clear there’s a lot anyone could have done to stop it.

            1. MLTPB

              Some reports suggested the Italian cases trace back to mid January, before the Wuhan lockdown.

              If so, it was too late in that case.

              The Iranians cases – the lockdown might have helped, but was an opportunity missed. That is, it somehow made it’s way to Qom, after the lockdown, though we dont know at this time.

      3. xkeyscored

        Thank you, Clive. That sort of summarises what I can make of it, with similar experiences to PK’s of digging around in journals and getting paywalled without encountering many hard, evidence based reasons, but occasionally coming across contrary recommendations, or eminent epidemiologists saying we just don’t know or it’s a bit late for all that anyway.
        The WHO does seem to have some of the better advice, with your caveats plus the interesting way China’s been praised for effectively sealing off entire cities and regions, while other countries are urged to keep their borders open.

        1. MLTPB

          Look at Daegu, N. Italy, and Iran.

          We have many cases in many nations traced to N. Italy.

          And the same with Iran..2 in Austaralia came from there, in addition Iraq, Lebanon, China, etc,

          So far, I. have not read any that spread from Korea, except maybe the flight attendant from Korean Air. That seems unusual.

          1. VietnamVet

            South Korea is sheltering in place. You cannot catch the virus if you are not exposed to it. The infected can only transfer the viruses to the uninfected by going out. Until there is a vaccine the only methods that work against the virus are medieval; isolation, washing hands, and good health. The rest is palliative and very expensive. An effective quarantine run by a good government slows the spread giving time to the uninfected so they can make it to next year and get the vaccine.

            With Anthony Fauci onboard, the Trump Administration has decided stand pat and fight the virus with the minimum amount of money possible. They are not going to quarantine Seattle unlike Wuhan. If the PR works and the victims are blamed, the Administration is betting that no one will notice that around a million little people died of respiratory failure. The wealthy will only lose 3 trillion dollars in stock market losses that the FED will replace sooner or later.

            Most important is no new taxes on the rich.

        2. Anon

          digging around in journals and getting paywalled without encountering many hard, evidence based reasons

          I use my local community college library web service to do research. It allows me to access most academic journal/publication for free. It seems the college library URL is recognized by these journal sites and allows access. Call around and see if your local library has similar arrangements.

      4. Basil Pesto

        last month when a discussion of maps came up I mentioned a book I have with various maps in it, including one which mapped the spread of ebola in west africa. Since it’s so germane to the above, here it is.

        Actually a bit inaccurate as the map shows travel patterns before the outbreak. Curiously, the map itself doesn’t indicate a particularly large amount of cross-border travel, but given that the data was obtained from mobile internet, which presumably not everyone has access to, it may well be a problem of methodology. One can nevertheless see a lot of travel to places closely situated
        to national borders.

      5. dearieme

        “at least the numbers are as trustworthy as they get”: but that may not be trustworthy enough to be worth anything.

        I suspect that the scale and nature of the Chinese government’s actions imply that the problem is far worse than they are prepared to admit to. That would be consistent with your remark “the huge divergence of mortality rates between, say, China and the SS Plague Princess”.

        For data that might be trustworthy – S Korea, Singapore, maybe Italy?

    3. Steve H.

      > Global travel bans did little to stop the spread of the virus, but instead only amplified the downward economic pressures and undermined international cooperation on the virus. Recovery was slow to non-existent in this environment. Bans were easy to enact, hard to repeal. 7/n


      Mostly I’ve seen it as secondary effects, not purely epidemiological. Long latency and individuals moving quick with high R0 the problem (see horse and barn door). The China lockdown seems to have had success, even taking into account sourcing issues.

    4. Ignacio

      I would say that restricting movements and closing borders could have an impact but if it was done preventively, given epidemiological characteristics of SARS Cov2. The problem is that you should have closed borders and restrict movements well before any detection and be very strict (and do a lot of harm for a long period). In Europe, in order to be operative a border closing, it should have been done AT LEAST two weeks before the Italian outbreak was shown to explode. So, should have we closed borders in advance before any putative outbreak was detected? My guess is not. Once the Italian outbreak exploded it did not make sense to do that. Only mitigation can work now.

      1. MLTPB

        I think Putin closed Ruusia’s border with China before our travel restrcitions.

        Finding it not entirely effective, I assume, he then added later to bar entry of Chinese citizens, probably entering Russia through other borders.

        To be really effective, consistently, and uptodate, I think he should consider expanding the list to include Iran, Italy, and many oother nations.

    5. Jeremy Grimm

      You might try poking around [] — the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, Medicine — a US site, not .gov but the National Academy often seems to find justifications for what the government desires as policy [The NAP has several publications promoting a “gathering storm” in the need for more STEM graduates]. Try a search on “pandemic”. You will need to create a login to download pdf files for free [– but paperback and e-book publications are a little pricey].

    6. clarky90

      My understanding; It is important to tease out the infection rate as much as possible, so as to flatten the curve. It is better to treat 100,000 very sick patients over a 12 month period, rather than treat the same 100,000 over a 3 month period. (made up numbers for illustration only). That is why boarder control, social distancing, proactive diagnosis, prepping, sheltering at home (especially for compromised and old people) is the way to go. Look to South Korea and Singapore as examples of “best practice”.

      Why? (1) Not overwhelm the health infrastructure (hospital beds, ICUs, ambulances…medical supplies…) (2) Not put hospital staff (doctors, nurses, cleaners, technicians, nurse aids, x-ray tech, lab tech…..) under intolerable pressure, ie 18 hour days, 7 day weeks. They then face a much greater risk of THEIR own infection by covid19. When you are extremely tired, you get sloppy with personal protection practice. Lack of sleep, stress and poor nutrition predisposes a person to catching virus. A healthy, happy, appreciated health care staff (ambulance drivers, security staff…. NOT just specialist doctors with gold plated health insurance!) is paramount. (3) If the virus sweeps through the greater community too quickly, “The workers, The workers……The workers….” will stop delivering, stacking, maintaining, fixing, responding….. Suddenly the “well” people, who are doing all the correct practices (social distancing etc) are at risk from social disorder, no water, no electricity, no internet/phone…Plenty of people will be too sick to work, but not sick enough to go to the hospital.

      “…analytical studies that indicated that closing borders and restricting movements has no impact on the spread of a disease like this and may be counterproductive…”

      What they are really saying is “The dog ate my homework, and I have brought in a bag of the dog’s feces to prove it!”

      The only creditable data is from South Korea and Singapore. It is very recent! Nobody believes the other “data”. How do you analyze “a mystery”?

    7. BobW

      Transport within countries, too. Trains, trucks, etc. The last stop is nearly always unloaded by hand, and of course shelves are stocked by hand.

      I made a grocery pickup order today, nothing shown as out of stock. This may increase the number of hands on the groceries, but eliminates my contact inside the store, so it may be a wash.

      Doubling up on orders now, both in volume and in time. Ordering more canned goods than ususual. A slo-mo prep.

    8. Eustache de Saint Pierre

      According to the Lancet ( Feb 27 ) contact tracing is the most important factor in keeping a lid on the virus, followed by isolation. The Italians unless they have since succeeded failed to find the initial contact, which could be why things have gotten so serious there.

      It doesn’t strike me that the above would help with that method, but what do I know ?

      if history is anything to go by, we as a species rarely deal with these things very well & I don’t see any signs that we will do any better this time, particularly as the public sector has been seriously undermined.

  13. CH

    USA Today: We’re not ready to implement things that the rest of the developed world has treated as a matter of course for over 50 years.

    Why do I suspect we will always be “not ready?”

    1. flora

      The same headline could have been written in 1860 about another issue. Not a snark. Half the country, or more, was/is ready to implement change.

    1. Ignacio

      In Sierra Nevada (Andalusia, Spain) very similar in many senses to California’s Sierra Nevada. Drought is also evident and the snow pack at highest peaks (3,500 m) is quite light. A friend of mine from Granada currently in Sacramento says the climate there is quite similar to that in Granada or Madrid.

    2. Laughingsong

      Same here in western Oregon, blocking ridge keeping all the rain to the north. In the 2-week forecasts so far this year, rain would be slated, only to be prevented again by that effin ridge rebuilding.

  14. Joshua Ellinger

    Boy, the “Star Trek: We’re not ready argument” doesn’t even get to the level of well-meaning slowpokes in the civil rights / gay rights movement who were “Think about how hard changes is for these old folks”. It is like — “Hey, my buddy is robbing your house but don’t confront him because it might cause a fight.”

    We’ll never be ready. The way you become ready is by nominating people like Sanders. Losing. Nominating more people like him. Losing. And eventually, when things have gotten bad enough, you win.

    As George Bernard Shaw said “Nothing is ever done in this world until people are prepared to kill one another if it is not done.”

  15. The Rev Kev

    “A paranoid militia infiltrating Texas police is bent on rebellion, ‘ready to rise up’ ”

    But the question remains unanswered – do those militia make good cops? Their ‘Declaration Of Orders We Will Not Obey’ sounds like a respect for the US Constitution and not treating the American people as an occupied people. So you do wonder-

    1. The Historian

      Sadly what they say and do are two different things. I wonder how many of those rules they would obey if they ever got into control and what they would do to people who would oppose their power.

    2. xkeyscored

      This is undoubtedly a crude stereotype, but Texas cop always brings to my mind white guys with bullwhips and sunglasses overseeing mostly black chain gangs. Communist control of Hollywood plus my gullibility, I expect. I gather in reality they hang round outside mass shooting zones until it’s safe to enter.

    3. Alfred

      The whole list is Confederate. Item 6 is recognizably a reference to the incident in Charleston Harbor in 1861. Item 4 posits the principle of States’ Rights, perhaps with special reference to the occupation of Maryland during the ensuing unpleasantness. The recurrence of the word ‘American’, without defining it, is (to my southern ear, at least) an obvious dog-whistle. The fact that the declaration is on a website demonstrates that its intended audience is by no means limited to Texans, and indeed may not even be composed principally of Texans.

  16. Monty

    Since the CDC seasonal flu death numbers are a statistical estimate (based on everyone dying of respiratory diseases in the ‘flu season’, rather than the number of people who actually died of flu), isn’t it possible that around the same number of people are going to die as usual, except Covid-19 will be the cause? e.g. the population susceptible to dying of respiratory disease, (due to environmental issues (cold, wet weather), preexisting poor health or weakened immune system), who were going to die if they got ill.

    1. eg

      Good question — a friend of mine with an amateur interest in epidemiology suggested that this was the case in Toronto with SARS back when: that the number of people who succumb to respiratory diseases was, in most years, fairly constant as a fraction of the whole population. Obviously there are outliers, like the Spanish Influenza

    2. Dan

      isn’t it possible that around the same number of people are going to die as usual, except Covid-19 will be the cause? e.g. the population susceptible to dying of respiratory disease, (due to environmental issues (cold, wet weather), preexisting poor health or weakened immune system), who were going to die if they got ill.

      I believe you’re summing up the view of a large segment of the dissident community in molecular biology. Peter Duesberg was saying much the same thing about HIV. I think their views deserve a wider audience. But then I’m just a layperson.

  17. Wukchumni

    Took a hike yesterday with a couple friends that work for the Silver City Resort in Mineral King, and we were discussing Covid-19 and the effect it’ll have on their business, and one thing about global travel, was there hasn’t been much need to go to Europe for Americans, just visit our National Parks instead. When I take the free shuttle bus within Sequoia NP, sometimes i’ll hear half a dozen lingua francas at once, jibber-jabbering away, very cosmopolitan.

    The resort doesn’t open until later in May, as its closed for the winter.

    Foreign visitors made up about 1/3rd of their clientele, so that’ll be gone, and if the shunning of public places continues apace as per air travel, why wouldn’t that include hotels/motels & restaurants?

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      Movie theaters, arena/stadium sports and concerts, too.

      Was speaking with the wife of a 60s southern rock legend a few years back, saying that “I have no idea how musicians who aren’t in the very top tier make a living these days.” She agreed, saying her husband made all his money 40 years ago, “when people would wear out their albums and buy new ones.”

      For the musician absolutely dependent on a series of smaller venue gigs, it’s going to be a hard row.

      1. Lemmy Caution

        I’m wondering what effect the Covid-19 scare will have on the 2020 Democratic primary race. The smart thing for the politicans will be too cancel all rallies, speeches, meet and greets, appearances, etc. Especially since some of them are squarly in the at-risk category.

        1. WobblyTelomeres

          I can hear Trump now. “We have to cancel our rallies because of the Democrat’s hoax.” Not.

          1. MLTPB

            I have to believe the DNC is working on plan B, or maybe a more apt name is plan C(ovid) for the party convention, giving reports about March Madness games, the big scientist conference, and local UK elections possibly delayed.

            1. polecat

              At the very least, those not ‘tested’ will be barred from ‘infecting’ the convention imps proper !

        2. flora

          Hizzoner will buy lots of TV ad time telling us how he, he himself, is the right billionaire at the right time to answer the call to manage this crisis. Bet on it. (Surprised mayo pete hasn’t done this already. ;) )

          1. MLTPB

            One thing though, he may be right that this is the key issue going forward.

            And in my opinion, should have been more prominent in the Freb 7 debate before New Hamphshire, to put on record any differences with the government approach, early on.

            If so, at least give him credit for picking out the key issue, even now.

        3. MLTPB

          In the State of Washington, they are looking at a few cases.

          And their primary is coming up.

          How will that play out!

            1. MLTPB

              If it prevents some, or many, from going out to vote, an argument can be made that they have been deprived, unless everyone can do so by mail. Is that the case there?

              1. judy2shoes

                Everyone votes by mail, postage paid. I put mine on my mailbox for the postman to pick up.

                1. polecat

                  Will ballot receivers be donning full-on hazmat … ??

                  “Oh damn ! It’s too bad all those Bernie ballots disintegrated in our delegated sterilizing ‘solution’ … what a sham e”

                  1. WobblyTelomeres

                    I will be a poll worker Tuesday. Far right precinct. Still, I plan on having two bottles of hand sanitizer on my table. Smiling, as I wonder how many truly believe CV is a Pelosi/Shumer plot when it comes down to it.

                    FWIW, a guy I have known for 36 years, a confused native American Republican who, strangely, defends slavery (his ancestors walked the Trail of Tears), loudly asked why there was a socialist poll worker during the last election, pointing at me. A guy next to him joked about shooting me. I asked, direct quote, “Are you threatening an election official? ” They quieted down very quickly, at which point I burst out laughing. Fun times. :)

          1. skookum red

            Our WA State ballot has a peculiar option to select uncommitted delegates. It looks like a vote blue no matter who option and/or a sneaky way to legitimize the superdelegates. I researched and found this:

            Party spokesman Will Casey says Democrats requested the option in part because of the earlier date of this year’s primary.

            “We recognize that there might be a significant portion of Washington voters who are very committed to voting against the president and are dissatisfied with the way he’s governed the country, but might not have made up their mind between our wealth of very attractive candidates,” Casey said.

            If the “Uncommitted Delegates” option gets at least 15 percent of the vote, the party will send delegates to the DNC who are not committed to specific candidates. Those delegates would choose a candidate at the convention in July.

      2. Polar Donkey

        I have been watching the virus news since around the first of the year. Around 3rd week in January it looked like it would be a pandemic to my untrained eye. I work at restaurant and basketball arena. Hoping to just make it through season. Asked people running arena 3 weeks ago are y’all thinking about what happens if it gets bad. Blank stares. Last week I asked if the NBA has said anything to arenas about Coronavirus. Nothing. Yesterday, I sent videos of soccer games in Italy with no one allowed in stands and France banning any event with more than 5,000. Finally got a response “Do you think it will be bad?” YES. Arena will be closed to public in very near future. This weekend will be the last ” normal” weekend in the U.S. for a long time.

        1. MLTPB

          Is that just one particular arena, or all NBA arenas? An opinion, or from some knowledgeable source?

  18. Craig Heldreth

    The William Gibson article is pretty good.

    What Gibson’s klept are already so well established may not bode well for the future of the planet, but they do make interesting subjects for a writer. “I’ve been curious for years,” he says, “about exactly what it is about a global climate change message that seems immediately to attract the ire of conservatives. My suspicion is that by its very nature, it suggests that the most effective response to it would be if we had something akin to the implied world government in the very first Star Trek series… the United Nations, but with teeth.”

    The creator of Star Trek, Gene Rodenberry, suggested that the world government “came into existence in response to some grave, very near-potential species-wide planetary disaster”, Gibson explains. “And that’s how we finally cleaned up our act and started running the planet in a fair and sensible way. So of course, that’s anathema to someone on the Ayn Rand end of the scale.”

    For some reason I am reminded of the interview with the Russian defector where he said idiots like Jane Fonda were the first ones they are going to shoot when they take over. (Yes I know he was being paid by the CIA when he said it.)

    Anyway the thing that stands out to me about William Gibson is he was spending weeks-long periods vacationing in Europe in his early twenties which must be really nice but that lifestyle is definitely out of my price range. Also out of the price range of >99% of the people I have ever personally known.

    1. Winston Smith

      World government was also an idea that Isaac Asimov presented briefly in one of his “Robots” novels

      1. Procopius

        I still think “Caves of Steel,” where everybody is underground because the surface is hostile, is a plausible future, but it’s going to happen with a couple billions deaths.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      I don’t have a link — I do recall an opinion piece in the Nation that suggests the World Government idea as an implication a need to deal with climate change. I also recall some mention of ties between the idea of World Government and “Limits to Growth” though I don’t recall whether the idea came from a supporter or detractor of Limits. As various ‘trade’ deals go through we approach a de facto world government of Corporate Cartels devoted to pulling out the support pillars and burning down the house.

      Gibson is mistaken about “what it is about a global climate change message that seems immediately to attract the ire of conservatives”. They are not concerned about a world government “with teeth”. They are concerned about who runs the world government with teeth. Gibson is confusing Libertarianism and Neoliberalism. Neoliberals readily use Libertarian arguments against government control when it suits their case but they have little problem with government when it is firmly in their control. [And what is a conservative these days? The label seems to fit Neoliberal fellow travelers who hope to be included among the beneficiaries of the plunder, or just people mystified by our Media.]

    3. xkeyscored

      I’ve been curious for years as well. I have encountered conservatives etc who explicitly make the world government claim. I also think they feel responsibility for climate change (“if it is real”), as they were the main advocates of the get-ahead consumer lifestyle and ever-growing economy behind it. It can’t be easy to spend your whole life doing what you thought was right, only to realise it was trashing all you hold dear.

      1. periol

        Evangelical Christians who are believers in end-times eschatology have long predicted a world government coming with the Anti-Christ, during the time of Tribulation, before the rapture (for the pre-Tribbers anyways). Any sign of impending world government is seen as the growth of evil in the world, and something to be opposed. For many of these folks, the UN is definitely of the D3V1L!!!

        I suspect much of the knee-jerk “conservative” reaction over the years comes from this demographic.

        1. Duck1

          I’m sort of riffing here, but my recollection is that the Birchers considered the UN a world government. (Think Impeach Earl Warren days). Of course McCarthyism found a nest of communists in the Roosevelt regime (/s), so the UN was obviously a communist plot. Or at least this was how I apprehended it as a 7 year old. So, good times, the children and grand-children of Birchers barf out the same messages. I think someone named Koch was a funder of the Birchers so that ties everything together contemporaneously. To put it another way, the right wing nuts lack creativity .

          1. Procopius

            Fred C. Koch. I think he was only a co-founder, but am too lazy to look it up. He got rich from building oil refineries in the Soviet Union.

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      Odd, the worldometers site gives me nothing on Covid-19, a blank page except for the advertisements, but works fine for the Population tab. I’ve tried refresh several times, always the same result.

      Is this part of Pences’ crack down on information as the best way to get rid of the virus (make it illegal to talk about – problem solved as in NK)?

      The JH site still works at least for me.

      1. xkeyscored

        I found the same – lotsa ads for cheap hotels in Lapu Lapu, Siem Reap & Phnom Penh, but nowt else.

        The “Cases outside China (ROW = Rest of World)” graph on this site has a distinctly hockey stick look about it. Last data on graph for 27 Feb, though it looks like it’s rising less steeply since; it’ll probably get updated tomorrow.

  19. The Rev Kev

    “The Scottish parliament approved plans to make period products free for all women”

    And in the interests of equality in the matter, all men should receive free condoms too from the Scottish Parliamnt. Since women would be receiving the benefit of these as well, it would be a two-fer!

    1. xkeyscored

      Isn’t that heterocentric?
      Where I am, sex workers get given condoms by the handful by NGOs and so on, though the government and police have mixed attitudes towards the practice, sometimes using condom possession as evidence of prostitution. If you ask me, if they want to do something useful for a change they could look for prostitutes not in possession. That’d at least make some sense.

    2. ambrit

      Be very careful what you ask for RevKev.
      A lifetimes supply of condoms must be pricey. Much cheaper and more effective to mandate prepubescent ‘reversible’ vasectomies.
      Then, in the interests of full on sexual freedom, make the personal infection by an untreatable sexually transmitted disease a capital offense. No mitigation or parole. Clean up our public spaces!

      1. HotFlash

        Well, there was also Robert Heinlein’s advice: “Put ’em in a barrel and feed ’em through the bunghole until they’re eighteen.”

    3. Bud

      No, free toilet paper would be more democratic and wouldn’t discriminate against men. Sewage treatment is a public good, how about the other end of the process?

      1. xkeyscored

        Toilet paper. One thing the western world holds dear. Mentioned in every article about virus panic prepping.

        1. HotFlash

          Option 1:) You don’t need a whole bidet, which is expensive and space consuming. Here is a shattaf, a hand-held sprayer, Cheap (under $100), install it yourself in about 15 minutes with a t-joint, many different types available just about everywhere plumbing is sold. WalMart has ’em, there is even a travel version.

          Option 2.) Cloth wipes. I use a nice white cotton flannelette (made in France!), torn but not hemmed (after a couple of washes the fringey edges are stable) and I made enough that I only have to wash mine about once a week and still have lots. Used wipes go into a stainless steel step-on can next to the toilet. I put ’em in The Machine (thank you, washing machine!) at night, wait for the water-soap-bleach to fill the tub, let them agtitate for a few minutes, then turn it off to sit overnight. Run the rest of the cycle in the morning, Bob is my uncle. See also this lady You don’t have to love Jesus, or even trees; this is really pretty easy.
          3.) Not ready to convert your toilet or go all el shattaf? *Any* spray bottle will do fine, you can make it spray upside down by simply removing the straw attached to the sprayer’s innards. Follow up with cloth wipes, ‘real’ TP tends to mush. In your hand. Think about that.

          Actually, we use both options and so toilet paper is quite unnecessary.

          1. Duck1

            Fond memories of the cloth based diaper services I used in the 1980’s. A certain tangy quality to the air as they aged. (Was it once a week PU?)

          2. Bill Carson

            Yep! I’ve had a toilet-mounted bidet for more than a year, along with the family cloth. Love it and would never go back.

  20. Burritonomics

    Re: An expert’s case for nuclear power

    From the article(italics mine): “…we need a licensing pathway within the Nuclear Regulatory Commission whereby a microreactor design and factory could be certified as safe — similar to how the FAA certifies airplane designs…”

    Well, that’s very reassuring!

  21. Wukchumni

    Air New Zealand’s Grabaseat is releasing 1000 domestic flights at just $9 one-way tomorrow morning.

    It comes two days after the airline slashed fares across the Tasman to as low as $69 in a bid to fill seats and just hours after it’s halved the number of flights to Samoa.

    Chief revenue officer Cam Wallace says the domestic fares, which are available from 9am tomorrow, are in response to softening demand as a result of coronavirus.

    “On Monday we’ll be offering these absolutely outstanding one-way fares to all of our 20 domestic destinations,” he said.

    On Friday Wallace said customers could get some “ridiculously good deals” on flights across the Tasman, citing one-way fares from as $69 on flights from Auckland to Melbourne as an example.

    “Like all airlines we have seen some softness in demand on routes like the Tasman where we now have some empty seats due to travellers mainly from Asian destinations not connecting between New Zealand and Australia.

      1. Wukchumni

        You ought to give it a whirl, and as it for now they only have 1 confirmed Covid-19 case, so you should be aces.

        It’s late in the summer, but grab some of those $9 in country flights and take a look around. NZ looks nothing like Aussie, kinda more like Tahiti running into Ireland en route to Switzerland with a final stop in Norway @ the fjords.

        It’d be similar to what I did in the early 1980’s when Air NZ offered fly anywhere in the country 2 week passes for $249.

    1. Bernalkid

      So logistically they need to preposition these planes for profitable flight route so fill them as possible and be ready to upcharge the rubes. The invisible hand.

  22. Pelham

    Re David Sirota’s advice to Steyer to buy newspapers and have them clobber the fossil fuel industry: I share Lambert’s concern about Daddy Warbucks types owning the media, but basically that’s all we’ve got now.

    More troubling, I’m not seeing much in the way of serious discussion about what needs to be done about American journalism. I have my own ideas, but they all involve lavish, politically untethered, perpetually guaranteed government funding for a new breed of national and regional newspapers (ink on paper only) run entirely by journalists that would range ideologically from far left to far right in perspective. Subscriptions to any or all would be free to anyone over the age of 12. Thus journalism would become in fact what it has been in effect, the Fourth Estate.

    The mandated absence of any online presence (except for subscription services) stems from the now well established fact that the internet, broadly regarded, is a deadly poison. Which isn’t to say the online world is devoid of little islands of sanity and insight, like this one. But overall, yes, it’s cognitive hemlock.

    1. flora

      Breaking up the media monopolies and cartel concentrations is a good idea. Why is it sensible for 4 giant corporations to own almost all the print and broadcast media today? It’s not, unless one has the libertarian/ laissez-faire mindset that business should be left alone to do whatever it can, however it can to increase profits and market share. Break up the stranglehold of the near monopolies, and news outlets will increase and even flourish, imo. We might even get real reporting again as media compete to break important stories, instead of the media stenography we now have.

      1. John Zelnicker

        March 1, 2020 at 10:16 am

        Many years ago the FCC had limits on the ownership of TV and radio stations. I forget the exact numbers, but they were in the low double digits, like 10 or 20 at most.

        It was either Carter or Reagan who eliminated those rules and allowed the concentration of ownership we see today.

        1. inode_buddha

          Reagan. It was called the Fairness Doctrine. Anything that Reagan didn’t get done, Clinton did. That was when I knew the fix was in.

          1. Dr. John Carpenter

            Close. Removal of the Fairness Doctrine cleared the way for the conservative takeover of AM radio by doing away with the concept that opposing viewpoints must be given equal time. The Telecommunications act of 1996 was what removed limits on TV and radio station ownership and allowed the near monopoly we have today. Reagan tossed the layup, but Clinton sunk the basket.

            1. Duck1

              the problem is they can drop a large amount of money at a moments notice given the liquidity of america financial markets
              used for so much good . . .

    2. Lil’D

      Steyer may be an enlightened oligarch… but he will eventually be replaced by a more typical sociopath…
      And the oligarchs will retain the media control

  23. flora

    About Tesla – buy a second hand car could have it’s software extras turned off. Apparently, some of the extra features the original owner pays for get turned off by software unless a new ‘subscription’ is paid for by the second owner.

    ( In the case of Tesla’s autopilot, that might be a good thing. /s )

    The incident illustrates one of the additional uncertainties that comes with buying a used Tesla, or any other car for that matter, which can have features added or removed via a software update.

    1. kiwi

      I’m sticking with my ’97 honda for now…then I’ll get my ’65 mustang in gear, I guess.

      But I’m sure car businesses are working to eliminate all old parts one way or another. Business may as well use the communications/insurance model of continuous price gouging for everything else they produce. But Musk is such a creative marvel!

      Businesses are now in the business of creating continuing misery and enslaving us for all of our income.

    2. Ignacio

      Kind of similar to Apple. So Musk considers that not only smartphones but cars are like toilet paper.

  24. Milton

    I stopped reading the William Gibson interview when he seemed to be full in on the Russia election interference fantasy. I guess a writer with an imagination as remarkable as Gibson’s would find a kinship with the Russia Russia Russia narrative.

    1. urblintz

      Me too.
      Bat-poo loony anti-Putin agitprop.
      All that time in London infected his mind with rabid anti-Russia prions.

      1. MLTPB

        Speaking of bats and Ruusia, recently I read that bats migrate, perhaps those in Siberia, which is thawing, untrapping ancient lifeforms, or viruses which are not living.

        Can those bats move, could the have moved to central China?

  25. John

    Biden winning by that much in South Carolina is super depressing.
    Don’t they know anything about what he did in the Senate for all those years?
    Like write the bankruptcy bill?

    If he is the nominee he won’t be able to draw crowds, at all. Just like Clinton couldn’t.
    Who knows how many on the Left will refuse to vote for him. I certainly won’t.

    And Trump will be coming after Hunter like he’s #1 on the FBI Most Wanted List.

    Trump will be the winner in Nov.

    1. John Anthony La Pietra

      They’d rather give us someone they want us to vote for and not get him than give us someone they don’t want us to vote for and get him. . . .

      1. Samuel Conner

        Let’s hope that the objective evidence of Sanders’ electability continues to strengthen in coming months. “Bernie can’t beat DJT” is the only plausible justification, me thinks, for a backroom deal to deny him the nomination if he earns “only” a plurality of pledged delegates.

        If, going into the Convention, Sanders leads or is near leading the Ds in polling on hypothetical head-to-head vs DJT, are they really going to argue that the Party needs a “unity candidate” who a) didn’t run in the primary and b) has not been tested in polls vs DJT?

        Perhaps if we start seeing polls of hypotheticals involving prominent D people not currently in the primary field, funded by opaque big money groups, that will be evidence that a “fix” is indeed being prepared.

        1. John Anthony La Pietra

          A good point. Maybe those polls are more likely to be taken as we get closer to the John W. Davis Memorial 103rd Ballot in Milwaukee. Or maybe Bloomberg is paying for some now, so he can figure out which new candidates are most cost-efficient for him to back when he gives up on being the nominee himself and settles for deciding who it will be (and who they’ll pick to control the DNC for him).

          OTOH, if and when such polls are taken, I hope we we hear of them first — not from the pollsters — but from bloggers asking each other, “Did you get polled about X jumping into the Democratic primary?” . . .

          1. David Carl Grimes

            Why does Biden rack up the votes even though he clearly has dementia? He says stupid things like 150 million Americans died from guns in the last 10 years. He told an audience he was running for Senator.

            So how come he’s not sinking in the polls and he still wins SC by a wide margin? Are African Americans that loyal? This does not bode well for Bernie in the rest of the South.

            1. polecat

              Because they’re all just f#cking with us, openly .. and in our faces !

              And, when you have the likes of say, Senators like Feinstein, who not so very long ago, wanting to codify into law .. that ‘only’ state approved stenographers be allowed to lie .. opps, sorry !.. ‘report the kNews’ .. thus leaving any genuine reporting to be treated like the plague it isn’t .. is it any wonder that the public has increasingly, little regard for boarding the dictates of it’s ‘lostleader-ship’ ?

              A pox on all the elites CONdescending cruising attitude !

        2. Deschain

          They’ve ignored all the evidence to date, which should be more than sufficient. No amount of evidence will convince them short of 50% + 1. Even then I worry.

        3. Copeland

          “Bernie Beats Donnie” *

          *I read somewhere that Trump hates being called Donnie/Donny.

    2. flora

      As someone else noted, I never understood why the Dem estab was so eager to force early SuperTuesday voting in what used to be called ‘the Southern primary’, when most of the states will vote GOP in the general. When the Dem estab calls it their ‘Southern firewall’ I wonder if they mean ‘firewall against insurgent candidates. Firewall to protect the estab’s choice for the nomination.’

      1. John

        The Democratic elites will be to blame when Trump wins in November.

        I’m pretty sure that millions of Americans on the Left will not vote for “Steal your lunch bucket and give it to the rich” Joe.

        1. chuckster

          The Dem elites were to blame when they told us to eat the Hillary Sh^t sandwich in 2016. But they managed to turn it around to blame Russia and Bernie. When The Senile One loses do you think 2020 will be any different?

          .Buttigieg 2024. He’s tanned, rested and ready to go.

          1. flora

            Of course.

            Unpledged delegates exist really to make sure that party leaders and elected officials don’t have to be in a position where they are running against grassroots activists.

            – Debbie Wasserman Schultz

                1. workingclasshero

                  All the more reason for big money to pille on his campaign and send a message to other candidates not named bernie s..

                  1. Duck1

                    Somebody needs to customize those private jets like the Munster vehicles from the sixties. A flying coffin, or hearse, imagine . . .

                  1. flora

                    Thanks. It is sad. The Dem estab is more interested in crushing the populist/progress wing of the party than beating T, if beating T means winning with Sanders. imo.

                  2. judy2shoes

                    I couldn’t watch the video, but I did read the synopsis below it. Even worse than Joe’s fumbling was Trump’s making fun of him at the Cpac meeting. The democrats who are pushing him to make this run are craven, souless, heartless creatures. And that’s the kindest thing I can say.

              1. judy2shoes

                Tim Canova ran as a democrat against DWS in 2016 and lost. Election shenanigans. Tim repeatedly asked to inspect the ballots, was stonewalled, and then finally he sued. The elections supervisor, Brenda Snipes, destroyed the ballots before she was legally allowed to do so. Canova ran as an independent in 2018 and lost again. Information on Tim can be found in the first link, and information on the crooked (and now former) Broward County elections supervisor, Brenda Snipes, is in the next link. Snipes, a democrat, has gotten off scot free.



            1. polecat

              Yeahhh, from the “I can have you fired!” mealy-mouthed orifice of the Awan bros BFF!, right ?

    3. Phacops

      I just plays into my very low esteem for southerners who have plauged our nation for far too long.

      1. Librarian Guy

        I was a little depressed this morning knowing how the Media Elites will spin Gramps Joe’s victory– Not much comfort on Eschaton, where the Liz Deadenders keep fantasizing that she’ll surge or win because she’s “better” than Bernie (not so rough, supports and not denounces Late Stage Capitalism).

        2 Links cheered me up– the first is far more substantial–

        The RealClearPolitics polling shows Bloomie splitting the Joe vote in sh#^thole Southern states that’ll never go Dem in the general anyway, like Oklahoma and Arkansas– Thus if the Elites are planning a brokered convention, the tool Bloomberg will more likely sabotage than fix the machine.

        And, I hope Liz has a tiny bit of actual progressivism & supports Sanders for the nom, but I’m surprised this post-mortem of her campaign from yesterday hasn’t already been shared here (maybe I just missed it?)

        Link 1–

        Link 2–

        Yes, National Review is despicable, but blind squirrel> acorn.

      2. judy2shoes

        I just plays into my very low esteem for southerners who have plauged our nation for far too long.

        Way to scapegoat and stereotype. Lots of good Southerners on this site AND in the South. “Our nation”?

  26. Big River Bandido

    I’m a sometimes Acela rider between Boston and New York. Last few weeks that 4PM train has been packed.

    1. JacobiteInTraining

      My Mom is heading home today on the Amtrak (west coast) from what was actually a pretty great visit up at the mountain cabin – if a little on edge due to the coronavirus since this area (King/Snohomish county WA state) is ‘developing’. She was going to keep an eye to see if she starts seeing people with masks.

      We’ve got the first death (yay WA?), and now that they are testing more they are…surprise…finding more cases. There is a State test facility in Shoreline WA that is now supposed to be testing 24×7, but if I am not mistaken that only started on…get this…last friday. Until then it seems they were doing the CDC recommended ‘only test those w/serious symptoms + travel to region that had cases’.

      In addition to a Kirkland care center that has several cases and a lot of likely cases – and is apparently going to get a 10 person CDC team responding – something like 25 firefighters and several police are in quarantine in that area because of their earlier responses to the carecenter before testing indicated positive. Several local students testing positive, although a supposed ‘false alarm’ (cancelling school for 2 days Thur/Fri while sanitization of campus took place) at the very high school the boy goes to. Woohoo!

      I am completely not surprised as the Lynnwood WA area, and surrounding environs, has a huge Korean & Korean-American population so it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to determine that any SK infections would be highly likely to wander in to our area rather soon.

      News says the State testing facility can manage the extravagant rate of — 200 tests a day. Sure is refreshing to compare those numbers against SK’s 10,000 drive through tests a day. :)

      1. MLTPB

        1. Testing more now, and finding more cases.

        2. Have reason to think ther may be more cases, therefore testing more.

        I think there is a balance here, and also reinforcing the two.

      2. PhilK

        Back in the days of SARS, I was working at a famous huge software corporation in Redmond. Its cluster of campuses had 12 or 15 cafeterias, and I was reasonably sure that every one of them was being used by people who had been on some other continent during the previous few days.

    2. polecat

      Enter a coach, any coach .. in full WHO mode, and I can almost guarantee you’ll have free run of the train .. with Plenty of elbow room !

  27. pjay

    Re William Gibson and “PMC whispering”

    That New Statesman article nicely reinforces Lambert’s earlier evaluation of Gibson’s political cluelessness (at best). It also points to some lessons that have become all too obvious by now in our era of Trump/Putin derangement. First, accomplished individuals who appear knowledgeable and prescient in some areas can be idiots in others. Second, such “accomplished” individuals make the most *useful* idiots, so it behooves the powers that be to try and co-opt them by bringing them into the club. From the article:

    “Gibson has a surprising story about Russia. In the late 1980s, a little-known but highly influential think tank, the Global Business Network, started bringing together experts on the future to advise governments and corporations on the decades ahead. Gibson was one of its seers. Its annual meetings would be accompanied by tours of places its futurologists wouldn’t otherwise see… Gibson says the GBN arranged for him to meet with FBI agents who were involved with the Russian security services, and that they told him about their plan for dealing with corruption in the post-Soviet economy, a plan they called the “self-cleaning oven”. “They were simply going to let it run, let these guys kill each other off, and when things had calmed down, they’d step in.”

    So in a sense Gibson has been an elite “insider” for a while. With “insider” friends like these, it’s easy to see why he accepts the establishment propaganda that Putin was simply the winning oligarch (or “klept”) whose wiles were underestimated by our poor, naive intelligence community, and whose “reported attempts to influence the 2016 US election [were] ‘the most cost-efficient black op in human history’…” But of course he is a critical thinking liberal — not like those redneck “Midwestern teenage boys” who probably support Trump and liked Neuromancer for the wrong reasons.

    1. Olga

      It was my sense, too, that he hung out with elites a bit too long not to accept (or have to accept) the anti-R narrative (or, maybe it was all those FBI agents he spoke to).
      There is a line about his being born in 1948 and moving to Canada in 1967 – no context provided, but perhaps it was a way for the 19yr-old to evade draft? If yes, he may have had to work over-time to be accepted back into the good graces of U. Sam.
      As for the anti-R spin, this has a bit of history:
      “In this way, Jimmy Carter – a former Georgia governor with no elite political connections – got the “Russian collusion” treatment in 1976 as he sought the nation’s highest office. “Aides say Carter is courted by Russians,” crowed the New York Times, claiming the candidate’s advisers were unsettled by a bevy of “Soviet Embassy officials” making contact, “expressing interest in the Presidential race and implying that they could possibly pursue policies that might influence the outcome.” The article featured much pearl-clutching by “experts on Soviet affairs” claiming they’d never seen anything like this devious outreach.
      “I think they have been trying to tell us that they see Presidential politics as an opportunity to interfere in our politics, and that they see an ability to influence the outcome,” an anonymous aide told the Times, which devoted a single line to the fact that the campaign had also been courted by French and British diplomats.”

      1. Carolinian

        Thanks for link.

        The notorious right-wing John Birch Society would go on to accuse Kennedy of “befriending our enemies” – including Russia

        Birchers all working for MSNBC now?

      2. pjay

        Thanks for the RT article, which provides a number of historical examples to demonstrate that the “Russian collusion” charge is certainly nothing new. It has long been trotted out by (1) conservative politicians for partisan political purposes, and/or (2) elements of the defense/intelligence community whenever Presidents stray the least bit from the “inter-agency consensus.”

        But I had to laugh at the description of Jimmy Carter as “a former Georgia governor with no elite connections.” In fact, Carter was groomed and selected by Rockefeller interests and the Eastern Establishment. This is well-documented and openly discussed today. As a new member of the Trilateral Commission he was literally tutored by its Executive Director, one Zbigniew Brzezinski, who played a fairly significant role in his administration as I recall. Once elected, nearly all of his top economic and foreign policy appointments were Trilateral/CFR members.

        The Kabuki theater of “courting by Russians” charges does sound familiar, of course. But a much more significant similarity between current events and those of the 1970s is the underlying intra-elite conflict behind this surface phenomena. Then, as now, there was major conflict within the foreign policy and intelligence community between the ‘Team B’/Richard Helms right-wing and the more “moderate” internationalist Establishment; and within the Carter administration itself there would be major division between right and centrist (Brzezinski vs. Vance, etc.) — as there would be under Obama. Then, as now, this battle was played out through efforts to control the media narrative. Then, as now, most people only saw the Kabuki.

        One difference: unlike Hillary, I don’t think Carter had much support from the Hollywood elite, liberal media, or hip novelists.

        1. pretzelattack

          i dont think he had support from democratic party insiders, who certainly comprised part of the eastern establishment. don’t know about the rockefeller republicans who had been kneecapped by reagan team.

  28. diptherio

    For chess fans out there, if you haven’t seen them already, the Women’s World Championship was about 100X more exciting than the Men’s. Also, check out the St. Louis Chess Club’s Cairns Cup coverage on the Youtube. That was another great women’s tournament with some great games in it. Especially notable was young American Carissa Yip defeating World Champ Ju Wenjun in Round 8…with the black pieces, no less.

    1. Kurt Sperry

      Seems very odd to have separate chess competitions for men and women. Are women for some reason uncomfortable playing against men?

      1. pretzelattack

        it does. it’s an historical anachronism that has lived on. a few women eschewed these and played and play with the guys, some do both i think.

        1. Wukchumni

          I heard chess is really feeling the pinch, after a bishop had it’s way with a pawn, and the board had to pay off a big settlement.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Yes I often wonder the same, one day you check your bank account and through no fault of your own it has 9 zeroes. What then shall be done?

        You’d have a few hobbies you could now pursue with a vengeance. Sailing a superyacht. Your own Formula 1 team. Chasing girls. Fine food. Art.

        After those it becomes a matter of character and beliefs. Do you have any? You might decide to do something good, or you might decide to be a climate denier or try to overturn Roe v. Wade.

        I’ve always felt The Crisis came down to the morality of individuals. A banker selling toxic mortgages to grandmothers for example: was even a vestigial sense of Right and Wrong, that he/she was supposed to have learned at church or in civics class or on Mom’s knee, simply missing?

        So I guess the answer is sociopathy, we’ve paved the way for it to run wild in individuals, and that eventually got writ large in our institutions and laws and culture. Get Rich And Let The Other Guy Die Trying.

        1. urblintz

          I heard that Bloomberg was worth 6 billion in 2003 and 60 billion in 2018… and that most of the gain came as a result of QE. Does that sound right?

        2. inode_buddha

          If my bank account had an extra nine zeroes tomorrow, I would immediately set to creating and or unifying workers co-ops all around the Great Lakes and throughout the Rust Belt, sufficient to create a “parallel economy” much like Sander’s parallel operation. Said co-op structure would provide all the necessities of a dignified and healthy life similar to the Sears catalog of the past. Said organization would be worker-owned and controlled like a credit union, people would be paid in credits and spend credits on items that they produced.

  29. David Carl Grimes

    I was listening to this podcast on Peak Prosperity’s Featured Voices. The guest was James Wesley Rawles who runs the popular disaster and emergency preparation website A lot of the discussion focused on masks and how to decontaminate yourself. Some of the measures sounded extreme – the kind of measures a biohazard worker would do in a lab full of infectious diseases.

    One of his main points is that the US healthcare system can easily get overwhelmed. It only has 900,000 hospital beds or roughly 3 beds per 1000 people. If cases spike up like in China, there might not be any room in any hospital anywhere and the only option would be to tend to the sick at home. So he’s suggesting buying $20 nebulizers or $100 oxygen concentrators so that you can more or less treat yourself at home. Of course, these are no substitutes for ventilators or iron lungs but anything would help for the moment.

    China has more hospital beds than the US: 4.2 beds per 1K people. South Korea has 11 beds per 1K people and its healthcare system is starting to get overwhelmed.

    He also said that if all hell breaks loose, you don’t want to be known as the guy with all the food stocks. People will raid your house. So all those rich dudes who prepared for the zombie apocalypse in fancy bug out silos will be sitting ducks. A modest low profile is best. It’s also best to set aside stocks for charity or barter.

      1. David Carl Grimes

        Just the number of beds. Ventilators are usually in the ICUs, so the number is far less.

        1. MLTPB


          The number of beds is one issue.

          Equally important, I think, is numbers of doctors and nurses. In the UK, they talk of unretiring doctors. That could be a problem in many countries.

          More important is the number of respirators, I believe. And the shortage is worldwide.

          I believe the quote from a WHO official, (CNBC, among other media organizations, I assume), is hospitals around the world are ‘just not ready.’

          1. Monty

            I read a couple of things yesterday about the way the US CDC accounts for seasonal flu deaths and hospitalizations. Apparently just 500 people actually die of flu every year, according to death certificates. The rest of the massive CDC number is people who died of respiratory illnesses that may have been triggered by flu, but importantly, nobody knows how many actually were. Its just a wild guess. These deaths get lumped into the seasonal flu number, possibly to hype up the threat and sell more flu shots. Perhaps the CDC are counting on Covid19 killing the same vulnerable population that would have died anyway, and know that the system can cope with those?

            1. Cuibono

              relying on death certificates for this kind of data would not be wise IMO.
              Doctors spend precious little time coding these accurately

                1. dearieme

                  So-called scientists just inventing numbers? Unthinkable. Why, you’ll extend the argument to Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming next.

                  1. pretzelattack

                    any day now you will provide examples of climatologists doing that. sourced to somebody like ex tv weatherman anthony watts or non scientist roger pielke, jr.

                  1. Cuibono

                    However there is no reliable system to monitor and quantify the epidemiology and impact of ILI, the syndrome that presents clinically. Few states produce reliable data on the number of physician contacts or hospitalised cases due to ILI, and none tie these data to the proportion of ILI caused by influenza. We do not know for certain what the impact of ILI is, nor the impact of the proportion of ILI caused by influenza. Prospective studies apportioning positivity to the scores of viruses probably causing ILI are rare, as interest is focused on influenza. The standard quoted figure of 36,000 yearly deaths in the US is based on the “respiratory and circulatory deaths” category including all types of pneumonia, including secondary to meconium ingestion or bacterial causes. More recently, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have proposed estimates of impact ranging between 3,000 and 49,000 yearly deaths. When actual death certificates are tallied, influenza deaths on average are little more than 1,000 yearly. So, the actual threat is unknown (but likely to be small) and so is the estimation of the impact of vaccination.”

                    1. Monty

                      Thanks for the links and info.

                      So the way i understand it, those deaths are fungible. On average 36k people (0.01% of population) are weak enough that when they are exposed to some bug/environmental condition they keel over and get labelled flu deaths. I am wondering if those same folks (and more due to virulence) will get killed by covid19 instead of, rather than in addition to, what was going to kill them otherwise.

                      Also check out this story from UK 2018:

    1. Wukchumni

      …an iron lung?

      I knew I forgot to get something, and it’ll come in handy when Polio comes back.

    2. Daryl

      My understanding of oxygen therapy is that it’s rather serious business, and not something to be attempted without skilled supervision. Of course, there’s the fact that oxygen itself is rather dangerous as well in concentrated form. Scuba divers are terrified of the oxygen tanks they use.

      1. polecat

        Yeah, watch for some (un)serious prepper to inadvertently blow up his/her ‘cornicopia’ ..

        “Here, dude(tte) ..hold my oxygen ..”

  30. Ignacio

    Regarding the faulty reagent in CDC’s Covid 19 detection kit. I have loosely tried to identify what is wrong in this kit and I still don’t know. Based on RT-PCR it is designed to amplify three different segments of the virus by Multiplex Real Time PCR. One of the amplified regions is located in the open reading frame that encodes the viral replicase. Replicases are the least variable regions within viral genomes and contain consensus sequences conserved amongst many RNA virus. I haven’t go that far to download virus sequences and check if the reagents were designed to detect only Covid-19 or all Coronavirus but i suspect the so called faulty reagent might be designed to amplify all Corona while the other two to identify Covid 19 specifically. Could it be there was no good communication on the functionality of the kit?

    1. xkeyscored

      I seem to remember one was for WURS, one for coronaviruses generally, and one a dummy, and it was the latter giving the false positives. Also quite a bit about the US/CDC deciding, for largely unknown reasons, to do its own tests instead of using WHO versions. “Seem to remember” should perhaps be in bold here. I’ll post a link if I can dig it out.

    2. xkeyscored

      Your version seems more on track than my memory.

      Kelly Wroblewski, a microbiologist who leads infectious disease programs at the Association of Public Health Laboratories, says the US Food and Drug Administration, which approved the kit, originally wanted to hold out for the faulty part to be fixed but eventually decided that it was okay for laboratories to use.
      The part of the kit that isn’t working is a set of probes that tell laboratory personnel that a patient sample has any strain of coronavirus in it. It’s one of three sets of probes in the kit and is the least specific to SARS-CoV-2. The other two probes can, and have, detected the novel coronavirus both at the CDC and in public health labs, Wroblewski says.
      The faulty probes may not be replaced. In a Friday morning press briefing, Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said new kits without the faulty probe have been made and are available. Public health departments that are able to validate the three-probe system can continue to use the tests from that batch of kits; those that can only validate using two probes can use those tests with a revised protocol from the CDC.

      As for why the USA’s still(?) using crappy CDC tests, there’s this:
      The CDC website posts the primers used in its test, and WHO publicly catalogs other primers and protocols, too. Well-equipped state or local labs can use these—or come up with their own—to produce what are known as a “laboratory-developed tests” for in-house use.
      But at the moment, they’re not allowed to do that without FDA approval. When the United States declared the outbreak a public health emergency on 31 January, a bureaucratic process kicked in that requires FDA’s “emergency use approval” for any tests. “The declaration of a public health emergency did exactly what it shouldn’t have. It limited the diagnostic capacity of this country,” Mina [epidemiologist Michael Mina, who helps run a microbiology testing lab at Brigham and Women’s Hospital] says. “It’s insane.”

      I’m sure I came across something more academic/official than these two articles somewhere, but I don’t appear to have saved it, and there’s a deluge of stuff online to wade through.

      1. Steve H.

        > But at the moment, they’re not allowed to do that without FDA approval.

        Violation of Neoliberal Rule #1, to double down on Neoliberal Rule #2.

        Good to know where we Stand.

      2. Cuibono

        “To make sure a test is working properly, kits also include DNA unrelated to SARS-CoV-2. The assay should not react to this negative control, but the CDC reagents did at many, but not all, state labs. The labs where the negative control failed were not allowed to use the test; they have to continue to send their samples to Atlanta.”

        One hope that the negative control DOES work…

        1. Ignacio

          If a negative control goes positive it may well be that the lab technician made mistakes setting the reactions. This doesnt necessarily mean the kit is faulty. That would explain why the CDC did not allow these labs to go on with tests.

      3. Ignacio

        So faulty means that the people in charge of analysing the data didn’t know how to interpret it. Oh well what a mess!

      4. Ignacio

        Thank you XKS as I see it, it might be the case that test is not faulty but the ability of the donkeys in charge to interpret results is unpaired. Think of engineers making something reliable: duplicate, triplicate. You have here three sets of tests in one. If anybody tests positive on the three: undoubtedly positive (given internal assay positive and negative controls are OK). If someone results positive only on the replicase gene amplicon the subject could have been infected by A coronavirus, whatever coronavirus, though PROBABLY not SARS Cov2. A second test later would be advisable.

        1. xkeyscored

          Could be, but I sure get the strong impression the tests are faulty, even if donkeys are trying to interpret them.
          Monkey make test, donkey do test?
          No doubt Dr Pence will soon shed illumination on this and all matters. Simultaneously contradicted by Prof. Trump.

          1. xkeyscored

            Talking of Trump, Pence and illumination, this has just popped into my inbox.
            Study: Coronavirus may have been around Seattle for weeks

            Pence, named by the president to be the point-person overseeing the government’s response, said more than 15,000 virus testing kits had been released over the weekend. And, the administration is working with a commercial provider to distribute 50,000 more, he said.

            Trump said Saturday at a White House news conference that he was thinking about closing the southern border with Mexico as a precaution. Azar said Sunday that Mexico has few coronavirus cases and that it would take a dramatic change in the circumstances there to prompt serious consideration of a border shutdown.

            Pence noted that an infectious disease expert is joining an existing White House coronavirus task force on Monday. – !!!

            Well worth a read, though don’t expect much illumination.

    3. Cuibono

      I am having the same trouble garnering what precisley is wrong here. It is incredibly important to get a sense of the false positive possibilities as well as the false negative possibilities…

      Everyone asumes PCR as the gold standard must be fool proof. And it is close to that in well developed tests like HIV…still HIV tests in populations that are very very low risk do by nature have lower postive predictive value.

      1. xkeyscored

        Ha! Or everyone assumed CDC was the gold standard?
        I haven’t seen any reports of such a snafu with either the Chinese or South Korean test kits, and it seems unlikely SK is suppressing much. Some mention of false negatives which’d be understandable for a deep-lung virus with such a potentially long symptomless period, but not even leaks (that I’ve noticed) about crappified test kits.

        I’ve no idea who runs the CDC and related agencies, but I can’t help wondering about revolving doors and all that, industry insiders spending a few years seeing how the place works before taking their findings back to their real jobs. And if so, most likely industry insiders with more political and espionage skills than technical know-how.

        1. dearieme

          It seems only yesterday that the US government was complaining that China would not admit experts from the CDC to check up on it. Ha bloody ha.

  31. lyman alpha blob

    RE: What if the Government is Just Another Firm?

    Well duh.

    I mock, but I’d really like to see this idea* get more traction. A corporation isn’t all that different from a government or a religion or a labor union, etc. They are all just institutions representing and/or coercing large groups of people for a specific end. All can be beneficial or entirely corrupt, most are somewhere in between. It all depends on the leadership**. The main difference is that people ostensibly at least get to choose who they want to lead a government, something those who clamor for government to be run more like a business would do well to remember.

    *I don’t necessarily mean the author’s idea, which may be quite good, or not, as I do admit to just skimming the article.

    ** and leadership for all institutions should be a lot less top down than what we currently have

    1. Mel

      In one specific area (borrowing an idea from MMT) governments are law creators, and businesses are law users.
      And, right, things are a little different in the U.S., where the Treasury borrows its funds from the private sector (which covertly borrows them from the FED,) and the legislatures have to get their draft legislation from private lobbyists, and groups like ALEC. Doesn’t have to be; just the way it’s done.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        … governments are law creators, and businesses are law users…

        In theory yes, but in current practice there isn’t so much difference. We pay taxes on income but we also pay any number of mandatory fees to private corporations, many of which are completely incomprehensible. We can vote to change the tax structure, but not so with corporate fees. One could argue I could “vote” by doing business with another company, but that isn’t always an option (utilities for example), and companies today collude on a regular basis with no repercussions.

        Also, some of the largest corporations in the US got that way by flouting the laws (“disruption” in techbrodudespeak)- Amazon, Uber, Airbnb come immediately to mind. If you have a billion $ in the US these days, you can essentially write your own laws, and buy politicians to do it for you, as Bloomberg let slip the other day.

        We need to get over our “government bad, corporations good” (or vice versa) ethos and realize they are all just institutions that can work for us or against us, and vigilance is needed to ensure the former, something that has been sorely lacking for decades now, especially in the US.

    2. Olga

      Presumably, a government should not operate with a profit motive in mind – one of the main differences between it and corporations. Of course, there are those who say a govt should be run like a business – though it rarely ends well.

      1. John Anthony La Pietra

        There’s a big difference between government being “run like a business” and being “run in a businesslike way”. . . .

      2. JCC

        I always appreciated this Michel Parenti quote:

        “Conservatives insist that government should be “run more like a business.” One might wonder how that could be possible, since government does not market goods and services for the purpose of capital accumulation.”

        Of course it’s an idealistic statement. It definitely markets goods and services, but as Mr. Parenti points out, technically not for the purpose of capital accumulation.

        Of course for certain people within many governments when it comes to capital accumulation it is clearly not true.

      3. dearieme

        “a government should not operate with a profit motive in mind”: but it does, though profits are measured in some combination of votes and $ for the hip pocket.

    3. xkeyscored

      I found the article interesting. It goes along with my thoughts a bit. I used to be more of a ‘marxist’ (definitely uncapitalised and inaccurate), focusing on production and class conflict and all that, but a focus on resource use seems more and more appropriate in many ways. And energy use seems a good thing to look at for various reasons.

      But right at the end the author mentions this:
      But Jonathan Nitzan and Shimshon Bichler have a very different view that’s worth reading.
      The link takes you to “Growing through Sabotage: Energizing Hierarchical Power” which nearly scared me off, giving me visions of post-modernist Situationist-style pseudo-Luddism.

      Instead, it’s absolutely fascinating so far! It turns out their notion of sabotage isn’t some Foucaultian philosophising so much as “In order for power to successfully harness, contain and, if necessary, crush resistance, the powerful must constantly restrict, limit and inhibit the autonomy of those with less or no power. Moreover, they must do so strategically: applying too little sabotage might be insufficient to sustain their power, while inflicting too much can trigger revolt or, worse still, decimate the very fabric of society they seek to control.” Which seems refreshingly down to earth.

      And a bit later, “Our purpose in this paper is to examine this apparent puzzle of ‘growth in the midst of sabotage’, and our tentative conclusion is that there is in fact no puzzle at all. The conventional view, both mainstream and heterodox, is that capitalism is a system driven by the growth of production and consumption, and that, short-term crises and the ups and downs of redistribution aside, this growth is ultimately about wellbeing. The very vocabulary of economics determines this conclusion: since the economy is said to produce and consume ‘goods’ and ‘services’, its growth is equivalent to a rising ‘standard of living’, by definition. But as we shall show, this habit of thinking might be deeply misleading. And why? Because a significant proportion of these so-called goods and services have nothing to do with livelihood: their growth represents not the improvement of wellbeing, but the expansion of sabotage itself. And if that is in fact the case, it follows that capitalism grows, at least in part, not despite or because of sabotage, but through sabotage.”
      Which definitely chimes with some of my thoughts. I’ve read somewhere something to the effect that every 1% increase in GDP in the USA leads to a 2% decrease in some measure of wellbeing. Obviously the numbers are debatable, but the idea’s something I’ve long known as lived experience. And, of course, this growth in ‘sabotage’, which sort of parallels energy and resource use, has environmental consequences, some of which are becoming all too apparent, and which I guess are the real ultimate (and imminent?) “internal contradictions of capitalism” to use the marxist jargon.

      I’m only up to page eight out of sixty and I’m calling it a night, but it’s a must read for me!

      1. lyman alpha blob

        Sounds about right to me – the idea of growth through sabotage is the equivalent of the crapification we talk a lot about on NC. If you must have growth, do you manufacture a car that costs $50K right now but will last a lifetime, or a $25K car that will last a decade and the replacement will cost $35K?

        The only reason that car a decade later costs $35K and not $25K is precisely due to that capitalist need for growth. Because a good capitalist doesn’t invest their own money, they borrow and have to pay back at interest resulting in higher prices as time goes on.

        And I write this wearing a shirt I received recently as a gift that grew a hole after the first couple times I wore it.

        We can have capitalism, or nice things, but not both.

        1. inode_buddha

          THANK YOU I have been trying to get it into people for years now that inflation is caused by greed, full stop. Just because workers get paid more doesn’t necessarily mean that prices have top go up. After all, prices went up anyhow, notice that?

      2. Susan the other

        I think biological evolution (social biology) is a rational idea but political evolution is not. Clearly politics interferes and skews populations in almost unnatural directions – like human overpopulation. Political evolution disregards the limits to the idea of human well-being when it both produces material goods without good regulation and feeds a rapidly rising human population without regard to sustainability. Extinction of thousands of animal species. And toss in a profit imperative – purely political at its most irrational – and we are beginning to understand what we have created so far. And etc.

        1. Susan the other

          Sounds draconian but a good new regulation would be for everyone on the planet to submit to birth control if they cannot feed themselves; clean up their own messes and live in minimal comfort.

          1. cripes


            Sounds Malthusian.

            How do you define “eat?”
            Can’t lift a spoon to their lips?
            Whip up a quick Gnocchi With Pomodoro Sauce?
            Can’t afford food?
            Can’t afford a kitchen, or a stove, or the gas bill?
            Or can’t drive to a grocery store from the food desert they are confined to without a car?

            No matter.

            We could have sterilization panels that worked so well in the 1920’s, 1030’s, 1940’s 1950’s 1960’s and 1970’s.

            Easier still, mandate sterilization for everyone in low income zip codes. Win Win!

            1. Mel

              I didn’t think of that. I thought of people who couldn’t clean up their own mine tailings. It seemed like a good idea.

      3. GramSci

        The ghost of Veblen: Veblen called the rights of property a “vested right of use and abuse over the current industrial knowledge and practice,” a “legal right of sabotage.”

        We have come to think of “sabotage” only as Luddites smashing machines, but the greatest damage is done by billionaires smashing society.

    4. eg

      My understanding of the distinction between other organizations and governments is that only the latter exercise a legitimate monopoly of the use of force. Of course, the word “legitimate” is doing a lot of heavy lifting there …

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        The trouble with calling Government just another firm is that you lose too many important distinctions. All organizations are not the same. Firms particularly today’s Neoliberal firm are driven to extract profits, and gain Power to control Government toward furthering that same purpose. The motives driving other types of organization are quite different, and more varied.I believe organizations select their members and leader to fit the motives driving that organization. [The DSM has muddled distinctions between sociopath and psychopath making it difficult to make meaningful use of those terms.]

        What drives the CEO who embodies the drives of the firm? Then consider what drives a military General, like Air Force General Powers: “Restraint? Why are you so concerned with saving their lives? The whole idea is to kill the bastards. At the end of the war if there are two Americans and one Russian left alive, we win!” [].
        What drives a Government official like Reinhard Heydrich? []

  32. Wukchumni

    Devil’s Own Ombudsman Dept:


    He seems awfully poised for a fall once the full magnitude of the shit hitting the fan manifests itself, and fearless leader has shown that replacing subordinates ain’t no big thang, so who would he replace for veep?

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      Rick Snyder, former Republican governor of a midwestern state with a sterling record of screwing over the poor?

    2. Daryl

      I don’t believe the Vice President can be unilaterally replaced in office. He’d have to can Pence very soon, I think.

    3. Samuel Conner

      I kind of think of the VP as serving as a one-way opprobrium valve with respect to the controversial task assigned to him. I think in plumbing this is known as a “backflow preventer”. He’s too useful in this role (and seemingly willing to fulfill it) to ever dismiss, even if the President had the authority to do that, which I think he does not. Of course, the man could be pressured to resign, but who could be found willing to perform these functions after his departure?

  33. Vikas Saini

    Roubini’s attack on Europe’s open borders vis a vis Covid-19 is silly. The current scenario was baked in the cake a couple months ago from the characteristics of the transmission and the Chinese response. (If I had the money I would have shorted the market) Given the asymptomatic transmission and the R nought, closed borders would not have done anything unless you stopped all traffic of all people everywhere. Really? That would shut down the world economy for months, the worst depression in 100+ years. Roubini’s right about the economic impact on its way, but if anything that’s being aggravated more by the panic than the virus.

    1. MLTPB

      I was watching a National Geographic documentary the other night, about Europe after the fall of Rome, and a segment was about the Justinian plague, that wiped, estimates vary, for it is ancient history, 25 or 50 percent of the population, in Constantinople, in the whole empire, the whole wider region?

      The emperor himself came down with it, and survived, but not without being scarred for life, and apparently, his personality changed for the worse afterwards.

      Then, the narrator said, at the beginning of autumn, the disease just went away.

    2. Basil Pesto

      I’m inclined to agree with you but I think it’s worth clarifying that the R nought figure doesn’t speak exclusively to the intrinsic character of the virus itself, but is descriptive of the collective human response to it. Therefore, if the Chinese response that you mention had been more assertive early on, the R nought would be much lower. Or if there were no annual flu vaccine, the R nought for influenza would presumably be higher. An R0 can of course decrease over time.

    1. MLTPB

      Getting complicated – the UN reports there are 13,000 migrants from Syria at Turkey’s border with Greece.

      Even with Covid 19 already present in that region, will Syria, Turkey or Russia back down?

    2. xkeyscored

      New Turkish anti-Syrian operation as Damascus closes Idlib airspace
      Mar 1, 2020 @ 13:38

      Amid conflicting reports over a plane shot down over Idlib in northwest Syria, Ankara launched a new operation Sunday against Syrian forces, after losing 34 troops. Turkish claimed to have shot down a Syrian “regime plane,” while the Syrians said it was a “Turkish regime drone” and thereupon closed the airspace over Idlib province. The Turkish defense minister Hulusi Akar claimed that Ankara’s forces had killed some 2,200 Syrian troops and destroyed masses of equipment. “We have no intention of clashing with Russia,” he said, only to “stop Syrian regime massacres and migration.”

      and SANA:
      Army downs 3 drones for Turkish regime over Idleb, targets terrorists in the province
      Closing airspace over northwestern region, particularly Idleb
      “Damascus, SANA- A military source announced that the airspace over the northwestern region in Syria, particularly over Idleb province has been closed, and any aircraft that violates the Syrian airspace will be considered as a hostile aircraft that must be downed and prevented from achieving its hostile goals.”

      1. Plenue

        Russia killed a bunch of Turkish troops, apparently by accident, while bombing jihadists.

        Russian then decided to unilaterally stop air strikes and shutdown their air defenses, in the hopes of deescalating with Turkey. They didn’t bother to inform the Syrian military of this, so the Syrians didn’t move up their own air defenses to cover the gap.

        Turkey promptly used the opening to spearhead an extensive jihadist assault with drone strikes, killing hundreds of Syrian and Iranian troops, including a bunch of high ranking officers (they destroyed a bunch of equipment as well, but also seem to have bolstered their tally by mixing in footage from a video game called ARMA III…).

        Russia is pissed, Iran is pissed, and Syria is pissed and in a full-force counterattack. The Syrian army has moved up its own air defenses and has been shooting down Turkish drones by the dozen (if the battlefield reports are true), but earlier today Turkish F-16s shot down two Syrian SU-22s. That’s the context of closing the airspace.

  34. Scotland

    In 2016 out of 4 names on the SC primary ballot Clinton 73.44% (272,379 votes) 44 delegates Sanders 26.2% (96,498 votes)14 delegates, the other 2 didn’t receive 1%. In 2020 with 7 candidates receiving more than 1% of votes Sanders numbers still increased by 8,486. If we compare Clinton to Biden as the favorite going into the primary the number dropped by 17,059. Participation in 2020 yielded a 527,057 vote total, 2016 shows a 370,904 vote total showing a 156,153 rise in voter numbers. A much different election to be sure.

    How many? of the increase in turn out, judged by affinity and perhaps participation in 2016 is the real question to be answered. Is SC any closer to swing state status. Don’t we wish.

    After some admittedly partisan math 99,167 is the approximate number we should look at if we’re to understand the increase in voter turnout. The best case scenario is that solid D party voters turned out, the worst is a false positive result caused by cross-over votes possible in an open primary. OMGosh

    It’s way to easy to fall into the trap of being a Useful Idiot.

      1. Scotland

        Sry for the slap dash math, my late night equations are quite suspect. I’ll try and recreate them and repost. If anyone else has a numerical take on how to approach this I’d like to be schooled.

      2. scotland

        Apparently I added up the vote totals of all candidates except Sen. Biden considering them to be for the most part solid Dem voters. Subtracted them from the overall total vote number then subtracted the voter increase from that number. As I said it is partisan math putting the burden against Sen Bidens total. My justifications are 1. An almost 50% voter increase should be studied. 2. When the partisan divide is so contentious and on the brink of borderline warfare we can’t dismiss broad trends in cross-over voting. What better thing to do on a day off than take a shot at the opposition and fulfill your civic duty at the same time. 3. I’m Sander’s biased but note his numbers increased over 2016, while the establishment front runner’s numbers decreased. 4. Subtracting the total increase from Biden assumes the increase was 100% cross-over voting, which is what I’m trying to estimate.

        The 99,167 figure is simply one of many leaping off places to revaluate the increase results.

        1. Scotland

          If we take Sander’s total 105,068 which already includes his close to 12% increase and compare it to Bidens 100% cross over total adjusted for an over all 12% increase he comes in at 107,430 additionally if we give Biden 50% of the voter increase his total would be 185,506 votes. Questions? yes it’s an election and can’t use assumptions to explicitly state facts. I might wonder why the voter increase didn’t fall more evenly between those 2 candidates. I’d think it would trend to. Anyhow I’m done with this thought experiment. I do live in a Red State so my vote in primaries is the one that counts. It’s an open primary and the thought of spite voting grates on my sense of fairness and representation.

  35. JCC

    Not trying to change the various subjects dealing with COVID-19 or voting, but here is an interesting site for fans of open-source alternative software. It’s a community crowded-sourced list of open-source alternatives for various applications that some here may be interested in.

  36. Cuibono

    Test Kits and the COVID 19. AS i pointed out a couple weeks ago, lots of non US countries had testing up and running in short order…US did not.
    Getting to the bottom of that (dont hold your breath) would be most interesting.

    1. MLTPB

      Washington state and or N Calif could be the first beachhead(s).

      Hopehpfully, we are or will be ready.

      1. Wukchumni

        We’re going to get into some strange territory, as say the husband contracts it and has to self-quarantine for a fortnight @ home, while his better half has to go get a motel room somewhere with the kids, lest they become Covid-19 carriers.

        Scenarios nobody has really ever contemplated…

        1. xkeyscored

          And if they already are carriers, but testing negative or not being tested, motels become centres of spread like Plague Princess …

        2. clarky90

          In Wuhan, they are sealing the infected partner into one bedroom of the family home (hopefully with an en suite). The infected person gets all of their food on disposable plates/cutlery, by lowering a basket, on a rope, out of the outside window of their bedroom. Periodically, all the rubbish in the sick room is double bagged and thrown out the window to be disposed of.

          Putting an exhaust fan in the outside window of the sick room (if it was well away from neighbors) would help to keep the virus away from the rest of the family home. A negative pressure room.

      2. polecat

        Beachheads have a tendency to erode.

        It’s the fragility of jit-service routing that worries me.

      1. judy2shoes

        That article says that we now have two confirmed deaths in WA state and that the undetected spread has probably been going on for about 6 weeks. Crap.

        In my Firefox browser I have the ability to toggle into reader view (using F9 key) which blocks out unwanted videos, etc. If I do it fast enough while the page is loading, I can read the article without the blocking popup.

  37. Cuibono

    That Harvard article was so politically couched it was painful to read. One thing i do agree with but was not emphasized strongly enough is the FASCINATING and likely critical observation that kids are NOT getting sick from this in any large numbers and almost never dying…that anomaly needs to be explored intensively.

    1. Cuibono

      Even Fauci makes a mistake here in rthe implicaaion of the second possibility
      “Either children are less likely to become infected, which would have important epidemiologic implications, or their symptoms were so mild that their infection escaped detection, which has implications for the size of the denominator of total community infections.”

      3) Maybe they are as likely to be infected but dont get really sick. That has really important implications too…

      1. Cuibono

        One thing it would be really nice to know about the severe cases: do they represent diminshed immunity or overly heightened immunity?
        In terms of therapeutic approaches do we want to damper the immune response or strengthen it?

      2. MLTPB

        Must be a child, or just acting like a kid?

        If you are an adult, presently, it is not possible to be a kid.

        1. Wukchumni

          60’s: Don’t trust anybody over 30

          20’s: Don’t trust anybody over 30 to make it

  38. Cuibono

    Rosenthals NYT comment :
    “the death rate in Wuhan was 2 to 4 percent, but only .7 percent in the rest of China — a difference that makes little scientific sense” is remarkably ignorant.
    These sort of anomalies are what allows science to progress…

    1. Oregoncharles

      Since it started in Wuhan, could the difference simple be elapsed time? That is, it hasn’t been pervasive in the rest of China long enough for people to die in large numbers.

      Another possible factor is air pollution – but in that case, the rate would be high in other cities with bad air,. like Beijing.

      Hmmm – what would be the cultural and political impact of a large, selective die-off in the capital city? Sounds like a message from heaven to me.

      1. Cuibono

        Epicenters often have higher mortality.
        Elapsed time accounts for some if it but at this point not most of it. After all it has been months now.

      2. Jeotsu

        I think it may also be a measure of when a health system is coping, and when it is overwhelmed. It appears that Covid-19 has many more serious (requiring hospitalisation) cases than conventional influenza. Once you run out of beds/nurses/respirators, a large number of “saveable” cases become fatalities.

  39. Wukchumni

    What a bummer that the worlds best people at swimming backwards, throwing a spear, leaping high or long, or what have you, must know the Olympics are a no go.

    Not that i’ve watched much since the games went corporate…

  40. Oregoncharles

    “How a First-World Country handles #COVID-19 testing (1):” South Korea.

    The trick here may be that S. Korea hasn’t been a first-world country very long. For one thing, they have plenty of people who remember being a 3rd-world country; perhaps even more important, their institutions haven’t had time to decay.

    I’m big on decadence as a causal factor. Nothing lasts forever.

    1. Wukchumni

      The Seoul I was at in 1983 was making name brand tennis/aerobics shoes for American companies. You could buy them for $3-5 a pair for shoes that sold for $20 @ home. I remember seeing women sweeping the streets at an early hour, not really quite 3rd world, call it the mysterious 2nd world.

      To have watched the Koreans ascend the capitalism game was quite something, from their cheap but crummy early Hyundais, to the point now where their cars are top of the heap, A number 1.

      The USA is right where the Anasazi were in Chaco Canyon, a post-peak culture hitting the climate change skids.

      1. JCC

        I remember those days well, living in Seoul from ’83 through ’85.

        I went back there on a couple of trips after the Olympics were held there and the difference was remarkable (as well as the prices)

      2. RickV

        I remember a much different Seoul during my tour from ’69 – ’70. Open concrete sewer ditches called by the US troups ‘banjo ditches’, Japanese slang for you know what, which local females squatted over. Also the occasional ox drawn cart in the traffic, as well as thousands of bicycles and small motor bikes. The local taxis, which we called ‘Kimchi cabs’, were death traps. More than one of my fellow soldiers lost his life in one while I was there. The people, though, were wonderful. And I watched their rise into the first world with pride and pleasure. Well done!

  41. bob

    “Schiff is increasingly being viewed in the House as a potential successor to Pelosi as House Speaker.” So there’s good news, then.


  42. Wukchumni

    There was a virus in Nantucket
    That came over from Pawtucket
    It had a tryst with their hosts
    Some of whom are now ghosts
    After having kicked the bucket

    1. MLTPB

      Wukchumni,I thought of you and others with parents in similar situations when i read the news about the case at the Washington state nursery home.
      Best wishes to all of them, and all of us.

      1. Wukchumni

        Thanks for your kind wishes…

        Her assisted living place had a Norovirus outbreak over xmas, and she was with us in Denver, so no problemo, but upon her return, she was in quarantine in her room for 5 days along with all of the other 50 residents, 30 of whom were stricken, and all recovered, but when everybody is pushing 90, it gets pretty risky having something like that come down.

  43. Jason Boxman

    So a Sanders volunteer came to my door to confirm whether I was voting for Sanders or not on Tuesday. That’s impressive. I’m up in MA, Somerville.

  44. drumlin woodchuckles

    About rather having newspapers that aren’t squillionaire vanity projects and yet hoping that Steyer doing what Sirota suggested might be better than nothing . . . since newspapers are basically going extinct because people don’t want to pay for them, squillionaire vanity project newspapers are the only newspapers that are going to exist in the future. The only other newspaper alternative to them really truly is . . . nothing.
    As in, no newspapers.

    That won’t change until a big enough audience is willing to pay enough per subscription to create the revenue-stream base to allow ideological or partisan or movement newspapers to come back into self-funding existence.

    Now if a newly-born newspaper or newsletter were to try that, and if they had enough of a sense of humor to give themselves a name like The Biased Liberal Press; they might get somewhere. It would be an interesting experiment.

    1. Oregoncharles

      At least around here, free weeklies seem to be thriving at the expense of dailies. However, they don’t offer a full set of news and can’t support big investigative projects.

    1. Daryl

      This is probably not good news. Democrat musical chairs was helping Bernie more than anyone. No doubt the pressure is on everyone other than Biden to drop out right now.

      That said, so long to Buttigieg and don’t let the door hit you in the family blog on the way out.

      1. Deschain

        It is good news. Bernie is basically going to have to win a majority to get the nom. In the polls I’ve seen he beats all the other candidates head to head. If you have to win a majority, it’s always going to be more likely with fewer candidates.

        1. Zar

          Basically going to need 51% of the delegates, you mean? Sanders gets less likely to reach that total the more candidates cross the 15% delegate threshold in each state/district. The polls say that Buttigieg wasn’t near that threshold in most states. They also suggest that his departure will push Bloomberg, Biden, and Warren over the top in many states, including California and Texas. So Buttigieg dropping out seems like a big benefit to the Centrist Blob.

          Biden even has a shot at flat-out winning Texas and Virginia, which would cause a big shift in the media narrative. If Biden comes out of Super Tuesday looking surprisingly strong, maybe we can thank Buttigieg for that.

          So yes, Sanders could probably beat any other Dem candidate 1v1. But it doesn’t necessarily follow that fewer candidates = easier nomination.

          1. Chris

            This is the last dance for the Sanders aligned wing of the party with the Democrat faithful. It was always going to be a tough haul. Sanders needs to find a way to get 51% of the votes during the primary or he will never be the nominee. And if he is not the nominee, he needs to have a phase two for his movement. Because absent some legitimate direction there will be a lot of chaos coming in November 2020.

    2. judy2shoes

      As happy as I am about this, I’m afraid he will keep coming back like a bad penny. In an interview with Krystal and Saagar on Rising, Ryan Grim said he doubts Pete will just go away; he felt like this was good training for future runs. Zombie Pete, an idea I hate to contemplate.

    3. Samuel Conner

      > Mayo Pete suspends his campaign.

      It’s heartbreaking how few people there were who agreed with him on critical issues.

      I guess we’ll just have to say good-bye to the ambition of broadening and galvanizing the electorate.

      Maybe we could bronze them instead.

  45. Chris

    Reporting in from MD/DC area, no scarcity here. All the grocery stores are fully stocked. No shortage of anything I’ve seen. That might change this week but as things stand now we’re detached from anything CV related.

    1. Jackson

      Same here in Boise. No masks, grocery shelves are stocked and there is no panic buying yet. I’ll get a better sense when I go to COSTCO on Tuesday.

      1. The Historian

        I went to the Boise Costco on Wed morning just after the news announced the unexplained Covid in California and the fact that Idaho was monitoring 16 people and the place was a madhouse. The parking lot was completely full by opening time. There didn’t appear to be any major shortages however, although they were low on canned vegies, coffee, and a few other things. That afternoon I went to Walmart and many of the shelves were empty. Walmart was fully stocked again the next day, however. There doesn’t appear to be shortages or empty shelves in other stores.

        It will be interesting to hear what you see on Tuesday!

      2. Kurt Sperry

        How do you tell if people are panic-buying in a Costco? Everyone always looks like they are to me.

  46. Jason Boxman

    Well, this is disturbing. I got a text from a Bloomberg staffer/volunteer/whatever.

    But I don’t know what my phone’s cell number is; I use my Google Voice number exclusively and forward to my cell’s current number.

    So Bloomberg apparently bought all the numbers in my area code?

    That’s pretty terrifying.

  47. cripes

    Steyer and Butti-tutti (Covid 19?) are gone, mercifully. Klob will probably crawl across the finish line croaking something unintelligible about winning red districts.

    But Warren, whose numbers and reputation are in the toilet, remains in the race with a big, fat secret PAC ad campaign, refusing to release her IdPol “pwogwessives” so they can coalesce around the Sanders campaign and throwing dirt on her ideological double /s.

    She’s turning into the fu*king villian of this race.

  48. flora

    A meditation on Coronavirus potential to shake the social and global foundations of our current order.
    Good for the links maybe?

    Some will read this and misunderstand me and believe that I am being apocalyptic about the physical illness brought about by the coronavirus. The virus is serious, and will have dramatic consequences, but it is no black death. The virus is a catalyst, something beyond our agency to control which is triggering cascading changes in a system that has been rotting for some time. As an archaeologist, if I found evidence of intensive and intersecting energetic, ecological and economic disruptions in society, what I would expect to find at the end of those stratigraphic layers is a new cultural phase.

  49. Bill Carson

    Grocery store report for Sunday evening from Colorado Springs:

    The large Kroger-based chain was again busy, but adequately stocked. Hard to tell if it is busier than normal due to prepping or if it is just first-of-the-month grocery shopping.

    Walmart was busy but did not look chaotic. I did not venture into the grocery section. The pharmacy section was out of isopropyl alcohol, but it otherwise looked okay.

    I note that the Dow Jones futures market is down $122 in pre-market trading.

    Has the panic-rush passed or it is still yet to come?

    1. Oregoncharles

      I was told the Co-op here had quite a rush of preppers. As I’ve said, we keep a stock of essentials anyway, so I’m not doing that, but with multiple cases nearby, it actually makes sense to be prepared.

      Store didn’t really look depleted, though. Just busy.

  50. chuck roast

    So, I hear that our favorite empty suit, Mayo Butti is throwing in the towel at 8:30. I gotta listen to this.

    Pete’s husband pops out on the stage @8:31. I had the sound off…who is this guy? I hear him going on about the lovely relationship that he and Pate have. Christ! The guy is breaking up! By now, I’m laughing my head off. Finally, Mayo comes out and they have a touching hug…the crowd goes wild.

    Pete takes the podium and launches into his Obama shstick…”blah, blah, blah…with my husband at my side…end for our candiacy and not our cause.” What cause would that be.
    Anyway, more “blah, blah, blah about real people’s lives.” As the olde timers used to say, “Jesus, spare me!”

    Apparently he was the only person in this president race because he couldn’t mention a one of them…even though he has been staring at their a**holes for several weeks. Oh, the heart strings…I’m thinking of the awful Annette Peacock record that I used to put on when people I didn’t want showed up. Think of all the years that the corporate media has to pump up this empty vessel.

    “The fire in our bellies!” Kill me now.

    As Jimmy Durante used to say, “Good night Mrs. Calabash, where ever you are.”

    1. flora

      Word (or rumor) is he’s going to tell his supporters to support Biden. Angling for the VP slot?

      1. jrs

        Odd. Many may actually go to Warren. Almost none will go to Sanders. Some might go to Bloomberg (afterall all those moderate Republicans can vote for an actual Republican right.). Many super Tuesday ballots are already in (early voting, vote by mail etc.)

  51. Monty

    In a way, it seems like covid-9 is the “training wheels pandemic”. Kids safe, recoverable. A warning shot over the bow of humanity.

    1. Carey

      I think you are (potentially, hopefully) right. AFAICS the Few are still in the realm of
      Magical Thinking, though. We’ll see how that goes..

  52. polecat

    I’m not so sure .. “Who will join my Bribe!” has been a winning strategy for millennia.

  53. Carey

    I’m thinking that the commenter here who the other day suggested the term “neofascism”, rather than the other, blander term, is close to the mark.

    If it walks like a duck, et c

Comments are closed.