Links 3/29/2020

Patient readers, a comment on comments, supplementing what Yves said here on informational hygiene. Before you press “Post Comment,” please consider the cascading effects your comment can cause, and the effect such cascades can have on moderators, who may end up having to rip out entire threads, a cumbersome, error-prone, and extremely irritating process. Comments that cause cascades tend to be ill-informed, politically motivated without being deft or knowledgeable, or (sometimes) simple shit-stirring, as if NC were Facebook or Reddit. It isn’t.

Normally, we prefer to let the commentariat act, as it were, as our immune system for agnotology, but the volume of comments now is such that the cascade from a poor comment is the equivalent of a cytokine storm for our poor moderators.

The best way to avoid a cascade of dead cells and infected matter in our comments section is to take care with your initial post. Take your time to be analytical, add links and evidence, and if possible quotes. Then the commentariat can proceed on the basis of building collective knowledge, as opposed to spending its time, and ours, filtering out ego-driven, self-involved crap. Thank you! –Lambert

Markets draw comfort from ‘maximum’ central bank stimulus FT

The Coronavirus Is Demonstrating the Value of Globalization David Frum, The Atlantic. Or the price.

#COVID19

The science:

What the cruise-ship outbreaks reveal about COVID-19 Nature

Murky data calls into question quarantine strategy FT

How some cities ‘flattened the curve’ during the 1918 flu pandemic National Geographic

The surprising similarities between the ‘Spanish flu’ and the coronavirus pandemic El Pais

Have Coronavirus and Can’t Smell? Harvard Scientists Explain Why Bloomberg (original).

* * *

Materiel shortages:

Testing backlog linked to shortage of chemicals needed for COVID-19 test National Post. AFAIK, these are the reagents. Readers will recall that a faulty reagent from a contractor was the proximate cause of the original CDC test kit failure. And that the intrepid reporters from our Famously Free Press still have not named the contractor.

Coronavirus outbreak is stretching New York’s ambulance service to breaking point Reuters

A Framework for Rationing Ventilators and Critical Care Beds During the COVID-19 Pandemic JAMA

Laboratory testing strategy recommendations for COVID-19 WHO

Duke researchers are decontaminating N95 masks so doctors can reuse them to treat coronavirus patients CNN (the protocol).

Medical fetishists pitch in:

California once had mobile hospitals and a ventilator stockpile. But it dismantled them Los Angeles Times

* * *

Testing:

Abbott Launches 5-Minute Virus Test for Use Almost Anywhere Bloomberg

SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic pipeline FIND. “We are collating an overview of all SARS-CoV-2 tests commercially available or in development for the diagnosis of COVID-19. We cannot guarantee that this is a fully comprehensive list.”

My Corona (or Is It Schmutz?) Peggy Noonan. Recall that Nooners social-engineered her way into getting tested in the first place. Now she tries to get results:

Eight days in I entered the living hell of attempting to find my results through websites and patient portals. I downloaded unnavigable apps, was pressed for passwords I’d not been given, followed dead-end prompts. The whole system is built to winnow out the weak, to make you stop bothering them. This is what it’s like, in a robot voice: “How to get out of the forest: There will be trees. If you aren’t rescued in three to seven days, please try screaming into the void.

These are not bugs. They’re features. Nooners has experienced the “health care” “system” in the same way the rest of us have been experiencing it for years. This reminds me of the British officer who finally went to the front lines after the Battle of the Somme was over, saw the mud that he had sent his troops into, and began weeping uncontrollably (albeit a little late). As readers know, I have a soft spot for Nooners, because she can write. This column shows her at her best, and her worst.

* * *

Spread:

Malcolm Tucker is the hero we need now:

Would everyone wearing face masks help us slow the pandemic? Science. I am coming around to the view that, expert opinion aside, masks are a signal of seriousness and commitment, and so should be worn to promote that, and that masks also also encourage social distancing (given that somebody wearing a mask is less approachable than someone who is not). And don’t @ me.

How one spot became hot. Thread:

Darwin Awards (1): My Wife Is Taking Our Kids to a Kindergarten Play Group Despite the Coronavirus Lockdown Salon

Darwin Awards (2):

Darwin Awards (3):

* * *

Economic effects:

The World Could Be Running Out of Condoms Because of Pandemic Bloomberg. Next, whatever we make moonsuits out of.

* * *

Medical response:

Has the Emergency Department Ever Been More Boring — or Terrifying? Matt Bivens, Medium

* * *

Political response:

The stimulus bill includes a tax break for the 1% CNN (maryann). As readers know, I’m a fan of the em-dash–

It is worth taking a minute — many of us have more of those now in our quarantined states — to explain.

So even the relatively sheltered tax law professors are ticked off. A good explainer for this NYT story, in plain English.

The Coronavirus Exposed America’s Authoritarian Turn Foreign Affairs

* * *

Corporate response:

AAEM Position Statement on the Firing of Dr. Ming Lin by TeamHealth and PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center American Academy of Emergency Medicine. “TeamHealth, a lay corporation owned by the private equity company the Blackstone Group, should not be the employer of Dr. Lin according to the laws of the state of Washington. Their hand in this termination is not only inexcusable but likely impermissible.”

Canadian flight crews demand protective suits as more than a dozen fall ill with COVID-19 CBC (MR).

* * *

Travel:

Hamptons seek travel ban on corona-fleeing New Yorkers New York Post (Furzy Mouse).

Rhode Island Police to Hunt Down New Yorkers Seeking Refuge Bloomberg

* * *

Remedies and ameliorations:

Simple DIY masks could help flatten the curve. We should all wear them in public. WaPo. MR: “The debate rages on.”

China?

Urns in Wuhan far exceed death toll, raising more questions about China’s tally Shanghaiist. But see thread here for discussion of those numbers.

Facing down the protests’ right-wing turn Lausan. Hong Kong protests

Vietnam orders Hanoi’s largest hospital locked down on coronavirus fears Straits Times

India

Coronavirus: Massive evacuation operation on as huge mass of migrants heads out of Delhi Times of India (J-LS).

Ground Report: Chaos at Anand Vihar as Buses Prepare to Take Migrant Workers Home The Wire

Genealogy of a Pogrom The Baffler

Syraqistan

Rocket Exchange With Gaza Signals Israel Won’t Hesitate to Act Despite Coronavirus Crisis Haaretz

2020

Biden mounts behind-the-scenes mission to win over wary progressives Politico

Joe Biden’s Sexual Assault Accuser Wants To Be Able To Speak Out Without Fear Of ‘Powerful Men’ Newsweek

Andrew Cuomo’s Coronavirus Response Doesn’t Mean He’s Crush-Worthy Teen Vogue

RussiaGate

As Virus Spreads, China and Russia See Openings for Disinformation NYT (Furzy Mouse).

Fiona Hill: Trump’s Coronavirus Talk Sounds a Lot Like Russia’s Daily Beast. The RussiaGate grift is the best grift.

Health Care

Coronavirus May Add Billions to the Nation’s Health Care Bill NYT. And by that, the Times means your health care bill.

One virus fits all (MR):

How the BBC betrayed the NHS: an exclusive report on two years of censorship and distortion BBC (IH). IH writes:

Unfortunately, [the author] makes no mention of the cuts that began under the Thatcherites in the 1980s and continued by their Blairite, Cameron and May successors, including the loss of hygiene, pathology, and tropical medicine capability, including the Royal Air Force’s institute headed by my father for a while, and how the NHS and tri service medical services wargamed such scenarios and maintained a network of regional centres, including military bases, able to assist in such emergencies. The shopkeeper’s daughter and her successors knew the price of everything and the value of nothing.

MMT

Brrrr:

We’re gonna have to pry “How you gonna pay for it” from THE cold, dead heads of the Democrat Establishment… Even after the bailouts!

Three states push criminal penalties for fossil fuel protests amid coronavirus The Hill. Never let a crisis go to waste. Honestly, there are days I think I should do a Links with no #COVID19 stories at all, just to shine a light on what the usual suspects are trying to get away with while nobody’s looking.

Guillotine Watch

Jeff Bezos sold $3.4bn of Amazon stock just before Covid-19 collapse Guardian. “As trillions of dollars were wiped off stock markets some of the world’s richest got lucky.” In the same way that an other enormous contractor for the intelligence community “got lucky,” I supppose. As one does. “Luck is the residue of design.” —Branch Rickey.

Class Warfare

Viral Inequality Project Syndicate

Corona: The Inequality Virus Jacobin

‘White-Collar Quarantine’ Over Virus Spotlights Class Divide NYT. “‘This is a white-collar quarantine,’ said Howard Barbanel, a Miami-based entrepreneur who owns a wine company. ‘Average working people are bagging and delivering goods, driving trucks, working for local government.'” But it won’t be a white-collar pandemic, will it? Thread from Chris Arnade:

The latest sign the economic downturn is intensifying: White-collar workers are being laid off now WaPo

What Happens If Workers Cutting Up the Nation’s Meat Get Sick? ProPublica

Wake Up! Your Fears Are Being Manipulated The American Conservative

Notes: The Industrial and Neoliberal Origins of COVID-19 (aka SARS 2.0) Yasha Levine, Immigrants as a Weaon. Yasha’s been on fire for the last few days. Today’s must-read.

Antidote du jour (via):


Bonus antidote:

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.

417 comments

    1. D. Fuller

      Depends.

      For farmers, does that signal an early planting season? Will they even know when to plant? What happens if they plant crops and the weather turns – as it did last year, resulting in crop losses?

      Diseases? Tropical diseases love warmer weather. Zika come to mind, increasingly affecting The US. Tropical diseases are moving North. Covid-19 might not benefit from warmer weather as early indications are that Covid-19 has a preference for particular conditions – believe that was mentioned here on NC a bit back.

      Fishing industry? Traditional fishing grounds have been restricted due to warmer water driving off staple fish from historical fishing grounds. Catching lobsters in Maine has even been affected.

      Psychology? Excessively hot weather does affect human behavior. And not for the better.

      Tourism? Beaches! Except for that algea and bacteria, harmful to human health, that loves warm weather.

      Food? More sugars in our food… less vitamins and minerals.

      Productivity? Well, people are being laid off right now.

      Financially? States spend less on keeping roads clear. Then again, they are unprepared – not surprising – when adverse weather hits and things have to shut down; costing everyone a lot of money.

      Reply
      1. Phacops

        Without mortality from very cold winters in N. Michigan we are starting to see ticks. Last month was the first time I spotted a black legged (deer) tick.

        Reply
        1. mary jensen

          Yes Phacops. Lausanne Suisse here. My in-and-out/black and white male cat Augustus came home sporting an ugly dark grey tick at the high base of his left ear on March 10th!! I had a hell of a shock and a hell of a time removing it. We do not live near a forest…lawns and mostly decorative gardens all around us.
          And for anyone curious about it, Augustus is castrated, he is microchipped, he wears a collar, he’s vaccinated yearly, he’s a useless hunter and I saved him from a life of misery on the streets when he was just about one year old. Usually he is treated with “Frontline” but for heaven’s sake during early March? I am still shocked about. Now whenever he enters from outdoors I a perform a thorough check of his fur and skin.

          Reply
          1. Susan the other

            Over the years here in the mountains of Utah I have noticed that there are lots of tics but none on our side of the valley (narrow mountain valley less than a half-mile wide) and I attribute it to a slight difference in humidity (over the last 2 decades) – our side is cooler the other side with all the tics is more arid and slightly warmer. And it has mostly sagebrush, everywhere. So its a micro-climate difference around here.

            Reply
      2. Procopius

        We’ve entered the hot season here in Thailand. Daily high temp usually 40° C (104°F). Doesn’t seem to be slowing the virus down any. You gonna have weather as warm as that where you live? I wish that myth would have a stake driven through it. Malaysia (south of here) is even worse than Thailand.

        Reply
    2. Susan the other

      you would almost think that a virus that is attracted to specific sites in the human lung would by definition like it warm and humid

      Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        I am not sure it is attracted to those sites. I think it is a case of docking at those sites to invade the cell. And cells all over the body have those sites. Lung cells have more such sites, which makes them more invadable by any random virus which happen to get there. And if the virus gets there,
        it can trigger very self-damaging inflamation and other reactions in the lungs.

        But hopefully soneone who knows more can explain it.

        Reply
  1. Tom Stone

    Moonsuits are made out of Tyvek, and I thought abut picking one up to wear while shopping.
    However, the color ( Bright yellow) doesn’t work with my skin tone and I don’t own a suitable tie.
    So that’s out.

    Reply
        1. turtle

          There was also a video, posted here at NC, I think a few weeks back, of someone in China wearing the inflatable dinosaur suit as PPE to go out shopping!

          Reply
    1. Drake

      The condom shortage just supports my suspicion that we’ll see a new baby-boom in about 9 months. Love the one you’re social-distancing with. I wonder if Corona will become a popular girl’s name? The corona generation?

      Reply
          1. polecat

            Just use this chaotic time at hand to raise strong, hands-on, able-bodied and adaptable, non-psychopathic humons … learning how to grow food, as well as both the concepts of both strategy, AND tactics !

            …extra points for developing diplomacy and grace… whilst knowing when to be discerning, and when NOT to be a naive !

            Hard to do is this waining age of usless instruction, and instant gratification.

            Reply
    2. Cuibono

      i was told that disposable gloves and a mask were all that was needed to go shopping

      turns out everyone else in the store had clothes on too!

      Reply
  2. John

    “Honestly, there are days I think I should do a Links with no #COVID19 stories at all, just to shine a light on what the usual suspects are trying to get away with while nobody’s looking.”

    Please. Do it. In all caps and bright colors.

    Reply
      1. PlutoniumKun

        Maybe once in a while have a ‘no links’ day when there is a Covid article, so people who want to talk about it can confine themselves to BTL the specific article.

        The problem of course is that Covid can’t be separated from ‘other’ issues so easily – its central to all economic stories now, plus anything related to healthcare, international relations, the EU, Pacific affairs, the POTUS horserace, etc.

        Reply
        1. Basil Pesto

          indeed, one can see today that CoViD-19 stories fit neatly under the pre-existing Links categories.

          Maybe a once-weekly best-of summary of the non-pandemic stories

          Reply
          1. ambrit

            The underlying logic of the Covidless links argument is a persistent Pseudo-CT meme that the “Powers” are using this Dreaded Pathogen as a stalking horse for a ‘Sinister Plan.’ Few bother to sit back and think it out. A “Sinister Plan” does not have to be centrally orchestrated. Such a ‘plan’ can be rather “organic;” arising out of the socio-economic wort, independent of command or control. All the ‘Usual Suspects’ need do is sit back and supply the occasional ‘nudge’ to guide sub-processes of the “crisis” in directions beneficial to them and their ilk.
            The basic lesson I take from the present “crisis process” is that our ‘Elites’ are not much more than a fairly well connected group of opportunists.

            Reply
        2. Phacops

          To me, it seems that there has been a lot of policies and (mis)governance that has contributed to where we are today . . . and negative behavior as social cohesion fails.

          Reply
      2. Lee

        How can one discuss political-economy at this time without including what will likely be the drastic short and long term effects of Covid-19 on our economy and social structure?

        Reply
        1. Dr. John Carpender

          This. You simply can not separate COVID-19 from the usual topics here.

          I also think the links and info provided here are of better quality than what I’m seeing elsewhere.

          Reply
          1. BobW

            I kind of count on NC for valid virus info to avoid the MSM panic. Read it in the morning and once in the evening to keep up, just for sanity’s sake. Maybe group them all under one heading? Link to a special page if possible?

            Reply
        2. Susan the other

          Yes, making both more interesting than ever. The link above from Stephanie Kelton saying Trump instinctively understands MMT-and the value of MMT-should make everyone feel a little better. I think he understood it from the beginning; he talked about getting the Fed to spend money. And when he hired Larry Kudlow, of all people – Mr. “King Dollar” himself, Kudlow never again used that phrase. So right now it looks like the epidemic is giving everyone permission to be sane about the economy. Except for Nancy and her cohorts. When this is over everyone will recognize that the two things – the economy and the health of the nation – are inseparable.

          Reply
            1. tegnost

              yes, as stated above it can’t really be extracted, it affets everything, particularly economically…I just went to anacortes, it’s practically a ghost town, and on sunday to boot

              Reply
        3. Billy

          What I wonder is if Covid19 didn’t exist, how soon would the economy
          have imploded anyway through debt loads and unsustainability?

          Another thing; PLEASE don’t use acronyms. Not all of us have an MBA, and some are so common, it’s impossible to search them. Speak in common English, not financialeze. i.e. “It’s a Sigma Seven Event!”

          Reply
      3. The Rev Kev

        Now that is a really difficult question that. I thought about this point earlier and can only say is imagine that Naked Capitalism was around at the time of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour in 1941. How hard would it be to write about the stories of the day while trying to put stories about the Japanese onslaught in the Pacific in a context where they did not affect all the other stories. It all intertwines as PK mentioned.

        Reply
      4. Krystyn Walentka

        I vote YEA as well but how can that happen.

        Most of the COVID news is a rehash of opinions about things we do not even know yet. I have stopped reading most of it and I am just keeping abreast on what is happening locally. But it is so intertwined with every aspect of out culture and it is exposing so many unfair aspects of it it would seem a disservice.

        So maybe a tighter focus on the links? Maybe a separate links page for COVD19? And maybe now that there are a lot of people doing nothing they can help aggregate these links for you all?

        Reply
      5. ObjectiveFunction

        John Michael Greer, the Archdruid, has done that very thing on his latest open thread, simply deleting all comments referring to the verboten topic of CV.

        Turning and turning in the wandering gyre….

        Lambert was asking for feedback last week, with an eye to helping make the Comments conversation more accessible to new readers. The recent pleas for restraint and decorum by the proprietors appear now to be a different face of the same challenge.

        With unusual exceptions when there’s a post on a specialized topic that’s controversial, the vast bulk of the rolling Comments conversation takes place in the Links and in WaterCooler. As with most sites, the comments are not classified or classifiable by topic. They appear first chronologically, with nested replies then growing out into a series of subconversations. But these subconversations then quickly peter out, only to be reborn the next day, or in a future week, with no hard link to the priors.

        As a whole, the Comments section rolls along from day to day, rather like (and I mean no offense) a gigantic swirling ‘bait ball’ of information. [Jacques Cousteau voice/] For ze initiated, it is both fascinating and exhilarating, a densely concentrated protein-rich feast of high quality info, anecdotes and thought, all but unique in ze web ecosystem. But for newcomers, it can certainly be daunting.

        There are of course numerous ongoing and recurring topics, but little to no way to single them out, or to create a contiguous strand from day to day.

        Being on the far side of the planet, and also having to go tragically NC free for days at a time owing to RL concerns, I also routinely observe a ‘tears in the rain’ tragedy. Time after time, a comrade will raise a singularly interesting point, or write something particularly beautiful or profound that should not be missed. But after about 15 hours it is lost (like tears…), as the swirl moves on.

        This also leads to a huge amount of recycling of ideas and info from day to day, both bad and good. This compounds the load for the mods and adds to the overall chaos.

        So the question I have (in the brief window it may have before the swirl moves on)
        is this: is there anything the Commentariat might be able to do to help the mods order, streamline and self-police the conversation? and what tools might be feasible to add, within reason?

        For example:

        1. I’d personally oppose upvoting / downvoting or ‘1-5 stars’ rating of comments. I believe that promotes groupthink, outrage mongering, and grandstanding for Likes. Most of us are here to get away from that shallow nonsense; I also get the sense that most comrades never did well in popularity contests.

        2. One possible starting point might be to request (require?) any original comment (i.e. one that isn’t a reply) to classify itself under one of the standard section headings, e.g. Failed State, Guillotine Watch, etc. Could the comments thread then be made sortable by heading?

        ….Would that even help? And does NC want readers to be able to see only topics or people they want to see (and build their own echo chambers)?

        What else?

        Reply
        1. Kevin C. Smith

          How about make people wait 30 days after registering before being allowed to comment, and/or restricting new members as to comment size and/or frequency. This would only work if the process could be automated, either in WordPress or with a script.

          You could prevent an individual from having multiple registrations by requiring everyone to use their Google account as a registration key, and/or by fingerprinting their devices [eg collect info as to browers, device properties, etc].

          Reply
          1. Skip Intro

            Require a Google account? Why not just move to FaceBook? I mean, all by themselves, they’re not gonna generate all the free content they profit of off while selling your data and participating in whatever sleazy surveillance scams their government benefactors ask of them.

            Reply
            1. Amfortas the hippie

              the old LATOC Forum ran on a Simple Machines platform.
              I’m no techie, by any stretch, but that format remains my favorite for these distributed virtual think tanks.
              searchable, and with notices for replies, etc.

              and since i’m required outside(sigh), I’ll leave this here:
              https://www.texasmonthly.com/food/heb-prepared-coronavirus-pandemic/?utm_source=pocket-newtab

              I went on a comprehensive grocery run…finally…after 2 weeks of ad hoc, every day penny ante nonsense runs.
              took that long for me to get everyone on near enough the same page.
              our usual heb in fredericksburg, about 50 or so miles away.
              got there before they opened, and there was a line of 50 outside.
              they’ve really got their sh%t together, now…as that article lays out.
              still…I’m shopping for 8(maybe 12 soon!)…so the rationing is hard for me. one pack of TP for 8 people, including 3 teenage boys.(hence my bamboo TP efforts, still ongoing)
              beef and pork are plentiful and cheap per pound, and lots of bulk stuff everywhere…after 15+ years of shrinking box and bag size.
              the customers…mostly older townies…were friendly and helpful with one another.
              and the cops were staying outside.
              much less surreal than my thursday trip to 2 heb’s in san antonio.
              but it’s still a strange time to be alive.

              Reply
                1. EGrise

                  And since I’m praising HEB, here’s another example of what they’re up to (see photo):

                  https://www.reddit.com/r/Austin/comments/fpygkh/was_very_glad_to_see_this_notice_to_hoarders/

                  Nearly everyone I know locally is pleased with the policy: while its couched as being done out of an “abundance of care and concern,” everyone is convinced that it’s aimed squarely at profiteers who discovered too late that Ebay wouldn’t let them sell their hoarded goods at inflated prices and now are stuck with maxed-out credit cards and pallets of TP in their garages.

                  Reply
                  1. Spring Texan

                    Here’s a story from Texas Monthly about HEB and its response, I think it has a lot to do with being privately-held and not a public corporation with shareholders. They have always had some ethics, Baptist owners, last to sell liquor and lottery tickets in their stores (right policy I think, once it’s clear everyone else is, THEN go ahead and make the money), supportive of public education, including very flexible schedules for employees who go off to college and are re-employed when in town. https://www.texasmonthly.com/food/heb-prepared-coronavirus-pandemic/ “Justen leads our emergency preparedness with a group of folks, and that is a full-time, year-round position. We are constantly in a year-round state of preparedness for different emergencies. We keep emergency supplies at almost every warehouse and have water and other supplies staged and ready to go and kept in storage to make sure that we are ready to [react quickly] when a crisis emerges, whether it be a hurricane or a pandemic. We take being a strong emergency responder in Texas, to take care of Texas communities, very seriously.”

                    Reply
          2. Yves Smith

            Thanks but we don’t do registering. I won’t comment on a site that makes me register. I should have a burner e-mail address for that purpose but can’t be bothered.

            Reply
        2. diptherio

          I’m about 95% sure that what you’re recommending would require a wordpress code wiz to be hired, and introducing new features is always a little fraught, even in the best case.

          If you were making this suggestion on my site I would be saying, 1) no; and 2) you wanna pay for it? Just sayin’.

          As commenters, what can we do to make life easier for Yves, Jules, Lambert, et al? For instance, apply the rule if at any time while composing your comment you think to yourself “I wonder if posting this is a bad idea,” do not post that comment.

          Reply
          1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

            Yes but how hard and how much for a coder to write the program? I feel like it’s doable. As a tool of course for Jules et al to help identify problematic content and parse the comments ideology based on grammar and syntax.

            Reply
            1. Yves Smith

              NO NO NO NO NO.

              First, even doing pretty intellectually trivial projects along established lines takes more supervision time than Lambert and I have. This would be a novel project for any programmer.

              Second, I have never encountered an IT project beyond trivial that got it right the first time. Specifying the rules would be non-trivial. Going multiple rounds with that (and seeing some unexpected side effects) would result in lots of revisions and demands on my and Lambert’s extremely scarce time.

              Third people who know WP well are not coders. WP is hugely kludgey with feature bloat. What you are discussing is sufficiently complex that it would not be a “plug in” and would risk breaking the WP comments software which is already a weak part of WP.

              Fourth, every time we would upgrade WP we’d need to upgrade the custom part. That creates risk and also ties us forever to the person who wrote the code. We’ve had our WP people turn over every 2-3 years.

              Reply
              1. Pbog

                I am a IT middle manager. Yves is spot on. If at all possible never create custom code and, certainly, never fork. The life cycle management is hard enough with most projects while staying in the main stream. Once you build a customization you own it forever. Well, at least until you retreat and admit you F’ed up.

                Reply
        3. Jonathan Holland Becnel

          Excellent post.

          I usually post late at night after the main posting and subposting comments.

          A few weeks back I commented on one of the last spots that the NC Commentariat will be studied by future political science scholars. We are model rogue scholar online warrior poets echoing the greats of the past: Herodotus and Thomas Paine and the Buddha and Frank Herbert and Marx and Malcom X.

          I believe I also said the Internet is the new Digital Wild West. We better stake our claim and influence the course of our beautiful and brutal worlds history.

          As far as solving #Commentgate…I say it’s a natural indicator of our stress levels. If it gets bad then turn them off. We will learn and get better. I certainly am in it for the long haul.

          Viva La Revolution!

          Reply
          1. Oregoncharles

            “a natural indicator of our stress levels.” Yes. So the comments reflect the level of stress out here. Big surprise. (I’m not saying it’s OK, just that it’s, as you say, natural. I try to be a model of restraint and civility, myself. ;-)

            On top of that, topic 1, the pandemic, is not only emotional but fraught with uncertainty, so there’s plenty to argue about. Add that to the election campaign, and emotions are going to run pretty high. NC is generally an island of sanity, but there are limits.

            Reply
        4. xkeyscored

          Lambert was asking for feedback last week, with an eye to helping make the Comments conversation more accessible to new readers.

          I missed that. Can you elaborate, or provide a link?

          Reply
        5. Oregoncharles

          ” RL concerns” – ??

          I’m trying to collect acronyms for a glossary, but I haven’t seen that one before.

          Reply
          1. ObjectiveFunction

            Sorry, RL = Real Life. That acronym is more used on gaming boards than here, honestly (TBH).

            Re my comment above, I was a librarian in college and an Operations Research (OR) practitioner on and off, so I am all about sorting and classifying information and pulling out additional insights from the patterns, not just the individual items. Just thinking out loud here really, but by no means minimizing the programming and logistical headaches involved.

            Reply
      6. The Historian

        I like that idea. I have noticed that non-Covid-19 stories get few comments. I do read them, but it seems like Covid-19 has taken over my brain these days.

        Reply
      7. D. Fuller

        Absolutely.

        Or place the non-Covid-19 stories first. And the Covid-19 stories absolute last. Perhaps a section on “How Covid-19 is being used by the wealthy to game the system” in the middle as a transition?

        Or simply put them after the anti-dote du jour, though it is quite nice that one finishes up persusing NC with the pictures.

        Or perhaps a seperate page, though that requires additional work.

        Reply
      8. John Anthony La Pietra

        Maybe, as a trial version, there could be a day or two where COVID-19 is one category all by itself (and not *necessarily* at the top), and other categories could be emphasized. (Or made strong.)

        Or you could introduce a “While nobody’s looking” category. Goodness knows it happened before COVID-19 . . . and it will happen after COVID-19, presuming we’re here to see the after.

        Yes, all things are connected. (Interconnected, even — ask Dirk Gently, if you can afford him.) But it might not be bad to look at the connections from different ends once in a while.

        Reply
        1. What?No!

          My vote is for a “While nobody’s looking” section. It doesn’t swim upstream of the overriding topic du jour and helps crystallize the point that some people and institutions exploit the misery and goodwill of the community.

          Reply
        2. aletheia33

          a “while nobody’s looking” category, which could expand and contract as needed depending on the immediate urgency of covid19 developments on a given day, sounds appealing.

          on the other hand, there are already quite a few categories in which i can imagine “while nobody’s looking” stories could fit (and already are).

          plus, “while nobody’s looking” in another sense could be categorized as yet another subcategory of covid19(!), since such furtive developments are themselves a manifestation of covid19.

          i really value the current NC covidian times reports as things unfold, so rapidly. that information helps me orient to a dramatically changing reality. i especially value the way the info NC provides helps me cope optimally at the personal level, in beginning to consider, or just bracing myself for, possible coming scenarios–relating to my own (and others’) possible infection/death(s), caring for my elderly partner, our food supply, housing, transportation, livelihood, etc.

          on that note, info i could only have got from NC has helped me greatly in seeking and obtaining social benefits post-great recession. and it is not just the information i’ve found here that has helped me but also/even more so the whole perspective/perception on economics and politics that is being taught here–it is the larger understanding/grasp of the whole scenario that one can get nowhere else. and it initially took months for me to assimilate that. for yves and lambert are rare birds indeed: they are both teacher-journalists. –using a medium that works well for that dual purpose. (and jerri-lynn’s contributions, in her more subdued style, to the mix are invaluable.)

          with gratitude, my learning continues here, every day. so in summary, IMO the most important offering of this blog is not just the info provided but also the commentary (however brief) that our hosts post, and their longer articles. that, woven in with all the rest, is what benefits this reader the most. reading NC, i feel that i have an insider’s advantage. our hosts never fail to enlighten.

          . . . i suppose we could conceivably have too much covidian stuff on here. and we could have too little. so far, i have had no problem with the mix.

          Reply
        3. hunkerdown

          “While nobody’s looking” is a 10/10 idea. Please do this. “As you see, there is nothing in my left hand…”

          Reply
      9. Wyoming

        It is a nice idea, but it simply will not work. The covid 19 crisis is one of the great events of the last 100 years. It cannot be separated from the rest of life – it is the rest of life.

        Reply
        1. Yves Smith

          No, there are plenty of things happening that I have been neglecting that have nothing to do with Covid-19, like a couple of extremely important lawsuits that haven’t gotten the attention they deserve. Martha r has provided links on two important positive developments in ongoing Native American protests against environmental degradation, one DAPL, the other I can’t remember the tag line.

          Reply
      10. Edward

        Another option is to have two sets of links; one devoted exclusively to COVID19 and the other on other subjects.

        Reply
      11. Michael

        Please. We all can search and lots of great links have already been vetted.

        AND, let’s have further discussion of the fine points of the Fed/ govt financial responses.

        A book by Yves is certainly going to be needed for us all to see thru this fog.

        Thank you all for creating and maintaining this awesome site.

        Reply
      12. tricia

        Absolutely. I find it alarming what they’re pushing through, or trying to, by stealth. Or even openly. Worried they’ll reduce people to gibbering nervous wrecks who, rather than waking up & forcefully demanding productive changes that will truly benefit them (like M4A, nationalizing certain industries, etc), will go along with anything as long as Corona dominates. And like the patriot act these things will never go away…

        Reply
      13. jonboinAR

        The Covid-19 outbreak is like nothing the world has seen in several generations, at least. It’s leading the world into quite uncharted waters, potentially. For me anyway, it rightly dominates the conversation, and no more than warranted.

        Reply
        1. Anon

          Agreed! And it is NC that was leading the awareness parade. Months ago.

          I used those links to inform those around me to take CV seriously. Some thank me. Some have ignored the now late health departments pleas for “distancing”; they are likely to get infected, maybe even die (without a Will).

          Reply
      14. Jeremy Grimm

        Much news is hidden by teacup storms during times before Corona. Corona is a tempest of large scope ready to obscure so much waiting to slip away unnoticed — especially the larger sins. I strongly favor a new category for the occulted news.

        Reply
      15. Alex morfesis

        Corona by Russ will be off the shelfs by Monday July 6th…this drunkenness will be done soon so let’s hear about important stuff since the self appointed klown defenders of the Commonweal are showing the why of why most folks in America don’t vote…

        coveevirus…
        to paraphrase John McLaughlin… Bye bye

        Reply
      16. drumlin woodchuckles

        Maybe you could call it something like . . . ” meanwhile, back at the ranch” . . .

        or . . . ” while you were otherwise engaged” . . .

        or something.

        Reply
    1. Kevin C. Smith

      Good idea as an add-on, but things are so fluid and NC is so valuable that I’d hate to miss a day of regular content.

      Reply
    2. cm

      I was just thinking about this when I saw this story on Mar 25:

      Signaling a potential “change in attitude,” the state Department of Ecology may back off its demand for second study of the potential climate change impact of the proposed $2 billion Kalama methanol plant, according to area legislators.

      “We believe (Ecology) can complete a through and effective evaluation of the project and come to a timely permit decision without resorting to a second” study of the plant’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to a March 12 letter from the legislators to the Cowlitz County commissioners and Port of Kalama.

      This is plant that would be sited on the Columbia River, in order to export petroleum products to China. Given that US can effectively export oil, seems like now is a good to withdraw from the Middle East. Shocker: WA-D Gov Inslee isn’t so serious about the environment after all!

      Reply
    3. John

      The emphasis was meant to be on , “just shine a light on what the usual suspects are trying to get away with…” Make it a separate heading, but in bright colors and with background music.

      People are focusing on not getting sick, keeping a job, feeding the kids, worrying about grandma and grandpa, and meanwhile some sm**k is trying to make off with rent money a la the old melodramas. How them up in the bright light of day.

      Reply
  3. fresno dan

    Wake Up! Your Fears Are Being Manipulated The American Conservative
    To their credit, the NYPD were cool about it. I heard them talk down one of the fighters, saying, “You wanna go to jail over Fruit Loops? Get a hold of yourself.”
    =============================================
    They’ll pry my Count Chocula out of my cold, dead, sugary fingers…
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xyIzhRvtIJ0

    Reply
    1. Lee

      Excellent video. But if you think I’ll touch your cold, dead, sugary fingers…..have you read the news lately?

      Reply
    2. Ignim Brites

      It is worthwhile considering whether or not we are seeing the public health crisis being used to hide ( and resolve ) a financial crisis. However, it is unlikely that this is happening as the result of a conscious decision and policy. What we have is an incompetent national media for whom this is basically just a spectacle, however freaky it may be. Consequently, they fall back to the laziest of journalistic principles: if it bleeds, it leads.

      Reply
      1. campbeln

        It is worthwhile considering whether or not we are seeing the public health crisis being used to hide ( and resolve ) a financial crisis

        Re: resolve – Look to the 2 TRILLION bailout; same-old-same-old. These idiots think they can kick the can down the road AGAIN!?!

        Re: hide – Absolutely! I’ll forever yell at future history books who attribute this economic collapse to the virus when in reality it was merely the spark that ignited the fuel load already on the forest floor.

        Reply
      2. Jonathan Holland Becnel

        Yuuuuuup.

        The friggin Working Class needs to be bailed out. Not the Banks and Corporation s. Why is this so hard?

        Reply
    3. richard

      Fresno, If they try to pry Count Chocula (Captain Crunch man myself) out of your dead fingers
      they will very likely end up with corpsey chocolate dust.
      Maybe you get to keep the Count Chocula? :)

      Reply
      1. rtah100

        Sent the video to Italian colleague. The first clip of a man banging a shop door is misdescribed. He has no money rather than no food (although these converge for small x) and is kicking a bank door.

        5* are proposing basic income to try to defuse situation in S Italy (nobody on formal payroll so no payroll relief!).

        Reply
      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Speaking of history books, the so-called “bailouts” will not work, for the reasons that are simply too obvious to state.

        In classic fashion the 1% are using the crisis to loot the rest of us. Oops except this time they have really miscalculated. The 49% were already robbed to the bone. The only answer is civil unrest.

        The package they unveiled here in Australia today is a case in point. Originally Rupert and the other titans who own and run the country instructed their lackey/employee the PM to say “it’s not safe to put in any new programs”. What he meant by that is this: he wanted businesses to simply fire employees and they can all join the unemployment lines.

        Then: brief hope. “The government is considering a package to pay people 80% of their wages”. This is what the UK is doing and they all pay attention to The Old Enemy.

        But today the details emerge. Businesses will receive $1500 per employee. But the money goes not to the employee, it goes to the employer. That way they can do the same old shenanigans, “Oh that employee was not fired, their position was eliminated”.

        Reply
  4. The Rev Kev

    “What the cruise-ship outbreaks reveal about COVID-19”

    I have to admit to feeling very uneasy reading this article. At the time this came into the news I was wondering why the Japanese just did not land those passengers and bus them to some military base and sort out who was sick and who only had to serve a 14-day quarantine period. Instead they kept those people aboard for what, a month? But when you read in this article where it says “Cruise ships are like an ideal experiment of a closed population. You know exactly who is there and at risk and you can measure everyone,” you do have to wonder. Yeah, I know that I am in tin-foil hat territory and not trying to stir up an ill-founded debate here but it sounds like from this article that those passengers were kept aboard that ship in order to collect what was considered as vital data on this new frightening virus. The return was that those passengers that fell sick were offered top-rate medical care.

    Reply
    1. Louis Fyne

      I prefer to think of it as another example of that ‘attribute to incompetence, not malice’ axiom.

      For whatever reason the Japanese establishment is frighteningly incompetent when it has to act on the fly. Compare/contrast to its east Asian neighbors

      Reply
      1. PlutoniumKun

        Yes, I think all evidence suggests an enormous cock-up by the Japanese. Their bureaucracy is notoriously slow to react to anything thats not already in one of their handbooks.

        Although to be fair to the Japanese, there seems a very close correlation to countries that have done well in reacting to Covid, to those that were on the frontline for SARS1 and Bird Flu. Like in warfare, the country which has battlehardened its troops recently always has a big advantage in the first weeks of combat.

        Reply
          1. rtah100

            This was linked yesterday. It is really good. Very calm Korean head of the corona taskforce answering good questions very completely.

            Could one of the site gods put it into the links for more people to see it?

            The last ten minutes there is a discussion of masks and how the West has told people not wear them because they don’t have any, not because they don’t help.

            Reply
            1. rtah100

              What I was trying to say but failing is that, it is was linked by a poster yesterday and could it be promoted as a link in tomorrow’s links, please?

              Reply
      2. John k

        Or compared to us?
        One thing linking the Asians that did best, hk, Taiwan and sk, is they all had epidemics over the past decade. As the la times points out, Ca was pretty well prepared for a while after avian flu, but let it dissipate when the first Econ crisis hit state budget.
        And in spite of SARS, China made brain dead mistakes early on.
        Granted the west disastrously let their lead time slip away without action…
        Maybe it’s more a human thing than cultural… humans won’t change their way of life one second before they absolutely have to. Consider climate change as another data point.

        Reply
        1. MLTPB

          We can note that Taiwan is experiencing this, along with the rest of the world, but without, as Taipei had complained, being in the WHO, until about 6 hours ago, per Bloomberg, when WHO said it was now working with experts in Formosa, after a video went viral.

          Reply
      3. Gumbo

        I agree with the principle of attribution you suggest. On the other hand if I intended malice I’d probably hide it as incompetence.

        So there is that.

        Reply
    2. The Historian

      I’m not as cynical as you, I guess. I just see this as a big snafu – people caught in bureaucratic paralysis.

      Every country has its strategic plans for emergencies. Here’s the US’s:

      https://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/1533052524696-b5137201a4614ade5e0129ef01cbf661/strat_plan.pdf

      And under that strategic plan are layers and layers of other plans. Each agency has its particular responsibilities as does each state and local government. But these plans are written by bureaucrats who believe everything will function as planned and everyone will know what to do – because it is written down.

      But we saw with Katrina that the one thing you can count on is that nothing will go to plan and that the unexpected can throw huge wrenches into emergency response. One of the things that failed almost immediately was communication – something that just was not thought possible by the planners. I remember talking to many of my coworkers who went to Katrina. They had a specific job to do – keep the transportation lines open so that necessary commodities could flow into the areas where they were needed. But when they got there they couldn’t even locate their commanders, let alone, find resources. They couldn’t get into communication with the people they needed to be with in the plan. So they just did their best to help individual people.

      Here is a document that outlines the failures of Katrina – and it looks like our Federal Government didn’t learn much because it is obvious that we are repeating some of the same mistakes, especially slow response to the disaster.

      https://www.nrc.gov/docs/ML1209/ML12093A081.pdf

      I particularly liked this quote from the bottom of page 1 of the Executive Summary:

      “The failure of initiative was also a failure of agility. Response plans at all levels of government lacked flexibility and adaptability. Inflexible procedures often delayed the response. Officials at all levels seemed to be waiting for the disaster that fit their plans, rather than planning and building scalable capacities to meet whatever Mother Nature threw at them. ”

      I’m pretty sure that in the fog of this disaster, the Japanese plan just didn’t account for a cruise ship so nobody knew exactly what to do with these people. If it had happened first to the US, what would we have done?

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        I wish that it was cynicism but countries like the US and Japan, for example, have a very long history of using their own people as medical test subjects without their knowing. Whole cities in the US have been used for biological warfare experiments as well and don’t get me started on those troops at the early atom bomb tests. Aussie troops were test subjects for nerve warfare experiments in the 60s and god knows what experiments the British and Russians did. As British police would say, there is form for this.

        Reply
          1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

            My Grandad was involved in an A-bomb test in Australia not long after he had emigrated there from England. He died of cancer in his early 60’s, although he was also an alcoholic & smoked like the trooper he was for 6 years through WW2 in North Africa, Italy & finally Burma. He returned to England to find his wife with another man & my Dad at 6 years old who he had not yet met.

            Reply
      2. Oregoncharles

        It happened SECOND to the US, and we did pretty much what the Japanese did. A cruise ship makes such a convenient package.

        Reply
      3. Jonathan Holland Becnel

        There were a lot of screw ups from Brownie but FEMA did eventually give out Road Home Grants like candy. Everyone that owned a house in the flood zone got ~50,000$ for renovations.

        Reply
  5. Joe S

    I’m having trouble accepting the premise of the Yasha Levine post that neoliberalism and industrialized food production are force behind Covid-19. Isn’t a bit of historical perspective worth investigating. Was neoliberalism and industrial food production the cause of the 1918 Spanish flu? Was it the cause of the Black Death plague circa late 1340s? Clearly, globalization hastens the spread of diseases. But I need some convincing as to it being a root cause.

    Reply
  6. witters

    In Coronavirus outbreak is stretching New York’s ambulance service to breaking point, this: “Marshall said even those ambulance workers who had tested positive for the coronavirus were being asked to work unless they show symptoms.”

    Reply
  7. Wukchumni

    A map showing thousands of flights in the air over the US has raised questions over why so many planes are still being allowed to fly across the country.

    The map, which was posted to Twitter by global flight tracking service Flightradar24, shows the US covered in tiny yellow planes that represent flights over the country.

    Of the 4800 flights we’re currently tracking worldwide, two-thirds are seen in this image.

    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=12320719

    Reply
  8. Samuel Conner

    > In the same way that an other enormous contractor for the intelligence community “got lucky,” I supppose. As one does. “Luck is the residue of design.”

    I believe it was Napoleon who said “the best generals make their own luck”

    …as do the richest oligarchs.

    —-

    But perhaps we can give a pass on this to JB (the other JB, Jeff Bezos) ; how are the oligarchs going to get off the hellhole they are making of this planet if he can’t go on funding his projects?

    Reply
    1. JohnMc

      i don’t understand the issue here. did anyone who kept even the most casual interest in the news not see that all hell was breaking loose in china for weeks? i’m no genius trader but i opened some shorts for the first time since 2008.

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        Kudos on being smart enough to pick the trend and to act accordingly but there is one thing that I have wondered about. I find it strange that the US intelligence community – which has an annual budget of approximately $60 billion – was not able to give the government a heads-up and got them to at the very least buy up medical gear while it was still relatively cheap and available. Could they have not leaked situation this through several sources in the media through their trained seals? What have they been doing all this time? Did they just miss this story or did Trump squash those warnings?

        Reply
          1. MLTPB

            I think here the mistrust between D T and the intelligence community, in light of Russiagate, impeachment etc is consequential.

            Reply
            1. Mareko

              I suspect you may be correct: there was an article at the Daily Maverick’s Declassified UK site recently which highlighted the abject failure of the multi-billion pound UK secret service industry to highlight the threat, in contrast to the numerous reports produced by the myriad US intelligence agencies. One assumes their attacks on Trump have reduced their credibility, which in some cases is unfortunate. MI6 is too busy looking under the bed for russians bearing novichok to notice minor details like pandemics I suppose.
              I’d like to thank our long suffering moderators for their hard work, a virtual hand clapping like we give to our other essential workers.

              Reply
              1. xkeyscored

                I haven’t seen that article, but from what I gather the UK spooks and so on did attempt to highlight the threat. It seems the government had bigger fish to fry.

                Reply
        1. Wyoming

          As someone who spent most of my adult life in that community I can unequivocally guarantee that there were any number of people in the community who were providing the warning of what was coming. But that is not the important point here.

          There is a huge uniformed bias throughout the blogosphere which imagines comprehensive incompetence in the intelligence services. They are obviously incompetent because they are not doing what I want them to. That view is simply wrong.

          This deep misunderstanding of what goes on in the community and what the purpose and duties of those organizations are is at the core of this constant issue. Everyone imagines what they would use the capabilities of this community for if they were in charge. But they are not and what those capabilities are used for is pretty well set in stone. The intelligence community is an integral and key component in the US power structure. It sits between State and the Pentagon and, depending on the specific mission, it can be performing the more shady diplomatic functions or it can be up in your face executing physical mayhem in concert with the Special Operations forces. But it always without exception is there to maintain and grow the Empire. Nothing more and nothing less.

          The question is not what can we do to lessen the effects on the population of an epidemic as the other parts of the govt had already decided what levels of medical equipment to stock (or not). The question is how can this coming event be manipulated to either maintain our overall global position or maybe even to enhance it. Worst case being that everyone is going to take a hit, but we use the information to be the ones who take the smallest hit and manage the crisis to gain some worthwhile advantage – pay a bit of attention to what Pompeo and Sec Def are up to right now. To the power structures we are ‘always’ at war and casualties are just a part of that. Soldiers die for the greater good so to speak – and everyone but those in charge (the oligopoly, the deep state, or whatever you want to name them) is potentially sacrificial.

          This is not to say that your ‘generals’ don’t make stupid mistakes, nor that the enemy does not get a vote, nor that corruption fails to raise its ugly head, nor that the big folks in charge don’t all agree with each other on what to do and, thus, spend a lot of time ratf**king each other. Everyone does that stuff. But don’t expect and get upset when the dogs behave like dogs and not the cats you would prefer.

          Reply
    2. PlutoniumKun

      I hate to leap to Jeff Bezos’s defence here, but selling his shares was surely a bad move – I would have thought that Amazon will be a big winner out of this due to the huge expansion of online shopping, much of which might now represent a permanent shift.

      Reply
      1. Louis Fyne

        The bulk of Amazon’s profits come from its cloud arm.

        In a recession/depression, outsourcing a corporate IT dept. to the AWS cloud will sound a sure bet to some MBA.

        Amazon really needs to be broken up: cloud arm, retail arm

        Reply
        1. Bugs Bunny

          Music arm, TV arm, hardware arm, publishing arm, Gamer chat arm, software arm, consulting arm, content moderation arm…

          I see a lot of very interesting large and mid sized businesses there.

          Reply
        2. The Rev Kev

          ‘The bulk of Amazon’s profits come from its cloud arm.’

          That must be why they screamed like a stuck pig when Microsoft got that Pentagon contract and launched that lawsuit. They must have felt that Microsoft was muscling in on its territory.

          Reply
    3. D. Fuller

      how are the oligarchs going to get off the hellhole they are making of this planet if he can’t go on funding his projects?

      They are not. They are going to enjoy life pretending they make a difference. And then die. Leaving the mess to future generations.

      Immortality is a dream. The wealthy have been pursuing it either through the fantasy of uploading their brains into computers, Peter Thiel (IIRC) loves his blood transfusions with blood from younger people, etc.

      While they can beat taxes… death is inevitable.

      Reply
        1. D. Fuller

          Hardly defeatist.

          I’m more of “enjoy life” and who knows what comes after death? Could be something different. Though I do not subscribe to the h*llfire of religion.

          When I talk to people about our environment poisoning us through cumulative exposure to toxic chemicals, etc… and they excuse the pollution and poisoning with “we are going to die anyways!”? In my opinion, they have giving up already, displaying powerlessness befitting those who are ruled while displaying little to no opposition to their circumstances.

          THAT example above is of a defeatist. It’s a fine line between what I wrote initially and being defeatist.

          Reply
  9. notabanktoadie

    Well, there’s that. “It’s our money. It’s our currency.” We can do whatever it takes. Stephanie Kelton

    Actually, the money supply (except for grubby Federal Reserve Notes and coins) consists of private bank deposits and the banks themselves also create those deposits when they “lend” (“Bank loans create bank deposits”).

    But here’s the crucial difference: Federal deficit spending is at least purportedly for the general welfare while the deposit creation by the government-privileged usury cartel is for their own welfare and for the welfare of the most so-called “credit worthy.”

    So no, Stephanie, it’s NOT our money – it’s the money of a government-privileged usury cartel who ALONE in the private sector may use fiat in account form.

    Reply
  10. Wukchumni

    British critical care nurse Rachel Brockbank is desperate to get home to help save lives in a homeland being ravaged by coronavirus – but she is stuck in Christchurch because of our lockdown.

    “I want to go back,” she says. “I don’t think my family want me to, but I feel that’s where I should be. That’s where I’m needed.”

    Brockbank came to Christchurch on March 8 with her husband Rob, their two boys, her mother and four other family members for her sister’s wedding.

    They were due to fly home on Wednesday with Emirates, but their flight has been cancelled.

    They have looked into catching special daily flights from Auckland on Qatar Airways, but have been told they will cost up to £40,096 ($83,000) each – way out of their price range.

    Immigration NZ said there were 117,458 people in New Zealand on visitor visas on March 14, many of whom were unable to leave before the lockdown on all domestic flights took effect at midnight on Friday.

    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12320685

    Love that ‘surge’ pricing, $NZ 83k for what would be a $NZ 2k 1-way air-fare. Presumably you’d get comfy seats and fine tucker with a Corona chaser when doling out the big bickies.

    I wonder how many foreigners are stuck in the USA?

    Reply
  11. Marlin

    Murky data calls into question quarantine strategy FT

    The article is misleading, because it doesn’t even look into the best available data challenging the optimistic assumptions. If you assume, that large numbers of people had the virus without having been tested, look at Lombardy, not Wuhan.
    Lombardy has about 10**7 inhabitants. Right now about 10**4 of them are dead or will die in the next few days. This is already a death rate of 1 per mille of ALL inhabitants of Lombardy. Given that Lombardy isn’t one monolithic city, and that reportedly the Bergamo region is even a hotspot within Lombardy, it doesn’t make sense to assume, that basically everybody already has been infected a couple of days ago. If you assume, that about 10% of the population has been infected, you end up with essentially O(1%) in lethality, which is compatible with other data.

    As well South Korea and Germany seem to be able to catch most infections. There is no full lock down in place, and if there were an order of magnitude more carriers, the spread of the virus would be much faster than it is. If you believe the testing doesn’t work, you should still see hospitals being run over, which isn’t happening in Germany.

    Getting fast over it may still be the best strategy, and if Lombardy has already ~10% of the population infected, in a few weeks herd immunity will start to set in. However, keep in mind, that this still means O(1%) of the population dies. If in a few weeks the drug studies turn out that some drugs are at least helpful, people will regret not having delayed the spread of the disease now, when it turns out, that hundreds of thousands of people could have been saved.

    Reply
    1. CuriosityConcern

      The Darwin awards always personally strike me as grotesque, but I also see them as a way to deal with grotesque news.
      While we are on the subject, I think the site/org that releases them should check if the awardees have actually proginated their genes, or at least that strikes me as being pedantically correct.

      Reply
      1. nippersmom

        They Darwin Awards site does check whether nominees have progeny. Those who do are limited to “honorary” award status.

        Reply
  12. PlutoniumKun

    Urns in Wuhan far exceed death toll, raising more questions about China’s tally Shanghaiist. But see thread here for discussion of those numbers.

    I think only time will tell here. I don’t think there can be any doubt but that China has suppressed information on deaths and infection cases. Even government outlets have been critical of the way that China only counts those showing symptoms as ‘new’ cases (there are in fact dozens of new identified positive test cases every day in China, but for some odd reason they don’t seem to develop symptoms, so don’t count. There also seems little doubt that around China there was a lot of pressure put on doctors not to put Covid as the cause of death.

    There has been a lot of talk about the mysterious disappearance of vast numbers of mobile phone and landline accounts at this time (something like 28 million mobile phone accounts and 800,000 landlines), but it seems to stretch credulity to think that even the CCP could hide literally millions of deaths.

    Either way, I think any claims from China (or for that matter, the WHO when it comes to Chinese matters) should be treated with a grain of salt. I’d also wonder if the Chinese are aware of the information in the Nat Geo article linked above about the 1918 flu, and how many cities that lifted restrictions too early ended up with a second wave of infections. I suspect that they know, but are determined to ensure they can blame foreigners for these ‘new’ infections. ‘No foreigner’ signs are becoming increasingly common around Chinese cities now.

    Reply
  13. David

    If you’re not totally bored with CV19 stories, here is an article from yesterday’s Le Monde, which is well worth reading, because the conclusions are important. It’s the result of some detailed investigation into how the current epidemic (2300 dead as of yesterday) got started. It’s in French, obviously, but you can get a decent sense from Google Translate.
    In summary, the current epidemic in France is very largely the result of one event: a meeting of some 2000 evangelicals from all parts of France and some other countries, for five days of “fasting and prayer” at a megachurch in Mulhouse in Alsace, which is till the centre of the epidemic. Before that, the only cases were a handful of people who had travelled to or come from the countries. Because the disease was extraordinarily contagious, it has now spread to all parts of the country to which the participants returned, including Corsica and some of the French overseas territories.
    What that implies to me as a layman is that it’s essential for governments to move extremely quickly to ban public meetings, even relatively small ones. This church meeting took place in mid-february (seems a long time ago) before the situation had deteriorated, but it must be true that, without this meeting, there would be a lot fewer dead in France today.

    Reply
      1. Basil Pesto

        close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

        convenient, that

        Reply
      2. mle detroit

        It’s not just you. I’m sorry to say that I have at times hoped all evangelical churches will indeed be packed on Easter Sunday. After all, they’ll be fine in the Rapture.

        Reply
    1. PlutoniumKun

      I think thats been repeated in more than one country – in SK of course it was also evangelical Christians, probably they are mostly responsible in Brazil too. And in Iran the refusal to close down mosques seems to have been a major cause of the speed that it went around.

      Weirdly, the catholic church is probably the only religion thats come out of this well – most catholic churches around the world were far faster at protecting their flocks. Maybe its cos with the demographics of most Catholic congregations around the world they raised they couldn’t afford to lose too many of them at one go.

      Reply
      1. Ford Prefect

        I think part of it is that pronouncements from on high can get executed in minutes on the ground. The hierarchy did not act on child abuse and that festered for a long time, but made fast announcements this time and everything stopped on a dime.

        Reply
      2. Carolinian

        Well the left shouldn’t get too smug about blaming it on the religious. Apparently in Madrid the genesis was a woman’s day march and in NYC a street celebration of China of some sort has been partly blamed. I think people just didn’t believe this was going to happen until it did happen and while there were stories about the China epidemic for several weeks there was also speculation that it mostly affects Asians etc

        Reply
        1. Lee

          I suppose current conditions rule out mass rioting in the streets over current conditions. And I was so looking forward to reliving the glory days of my misspent youth.

          Reply
        2. MLTPB

          Yes, I remember, the speculation early on that Asians, particularly male Asians were more vulnerable.

          How that exactly connects to the wasted six weeks in Europe, the US, Australia, etc, will be interesting.

          Reply
          1. xkeyscored

            It was certainly reckless and ridiculous to ignore this pandemic because of speculation that Asians were more vulnerable, quite apart from the sheer nastiness of such an attitude.

            Reply
            1. John

              No one living remembers the last pandemic therefore there cannot be a pandemic; it does not mesh with their “lifestyle”. I do believe that had much to do with it and add in the avoidance of news in favor of frivolity. Yes, I am an old curmudgeon.

              Reply
            2. MLTPB

              If the speculation was male Asians were more vulnerable, what role did it play in people still cruising in early March, or still traveling to Italy, for example, and in the governments of Europe and elsewhere not acting sooner?

              Did it make some countries or some people think they were not going to be as vulnerable?

              Reply
        3. polecat

          And let’s not forget about all those wild, partyin youthful Spring Breakers .. who are scattering across the 4 winds as we comment …

          Reply
      3. NotTimothyGeithner

        I would argue the structural nature of the RCC as remnants of the old imperial system means it is actually capable of dealing with this without resorting to the bible or individual decision makers. And the system isnt charismatic based. To a certain extent, missing the homily isn’t that big of a deal. Father X will still be a priest. The catholics will still be crazy if mass nears the hour mark and the church they go to will still be the closest catholic church whether father Y is a better or worse speaker than father Z.

        Reply
      4. Michael Fiorillo

        Also, for all it’s many faults and shortcomings, the Catholic Church is not nearly as reflexively anti-science and anti-intellectual as evangelical churches, and its gospel is a social, not individualistic, one… and at least it doesn’t question evolution…

        Reply
        1. Oregoncharles

          having learned from some famous shortcomings. In fact they acknowledged publicly that Galileo was right only within my memory.

          Reply
      5. Bugs Bunny

        What about Spring Breakers? A Wisconsin friend’s sister went down to some giant party in Florida about a week after the closure of the US to travel from Europe. Ghastly.

        Reply
      6. clarky90

        So it was entirely the fault of the feckless Christians! How dare they!

        The Chinese Communist Party is completely innocent. (sarc)

        Reply
      7. Zagonostra

        #Murder Most Foul

        Friend and I have been rereading Macbeth act I scene V trying to divine Dylan’s latest foray into the generalized political universe of discourse.

        He thought it his song contains a message that has to do with a necessary reckoning the country has to go through related to Kennedy’s murder, an atonement of sorts before a transition can be made to a more humane society.

        Never took a course in Dylanology, but it makes sense to me.

        Reply
      8. shtove

        I wonder about the doctrine of the Elect among protestant sects – do they become instruments of God’s Will during a plague, like the rumoured debauchery of the Ranters during England’s Commonwealth?

        Reply
      9. Mareko

        I find it fascinating that the Eucharist is being recognised as suspect in the transmission of the virus. There is a spell through which a wafer and some wine is converted, quite literally, into the body and blood of Christ, respectively. That is kind of fundamental to the purification of our sins, an important matter in a time of pandemic. But if a person can spread Corona through the Communion, where is our God then? In the past they wouldn’t have had such (in)exact knowledge, witness the14th century flagellants with their crowds and their vectors. We must whip ourselves perhaps in solitude and pray that our sins are forgiven.
        Because I have been in Africa a while, and am more appreciative of the spirit, I am grateful to the pope for praying for us all, and am somewhat jealous of those who have faith to lean on.

        Reply
    2. Ignacio

      Events, massive and not so massive events, bye, bye for some indefinite time. Schooling is IMO the most difficult problem to address after ‘episode 1’. Schooling should come back but with strict safety measures, not because kids are at high risk but as a spreading vector.

      Reply
    1. Monty

      “Covid-19 has not yet been named as the conclusive cause of death’

      It’s important to accept there is a difference between “death’s of” and “death’s with”. If I suffer from acute heart disease and covid19, and my heart stops beating and I die, what killed me? The heart disease, the stress of the pandemic, or the virus? Case definition standards differ around the world. If you make no distinction, I think you see scary CFR like Italy, otherwise I think you end up with a less scary CFR like Germany.

      Reply
      1. Youngblood

        If you had heart disease and then you got CV and died, then you died of CV. Because the CV makes it hard for you to breathe, thereby causing your heart to beat faster to better circulate what little oxygen your lungs can absorb. The moment of death may be heart failure, but since the coronary fatigue is induced by the virus, the root cause of death is the virus. Similarly, for other co-morbidities like asthma, COPD, etc., if the person gets CV and perishes, the death should be attributed to CV.

        Reply
        1. Monty

          In 2017~1000 people died of heart disease every day in the US alone.
          Something triggered all of those heart failures too, but that’s how they were classified. So, if a highly contagious, but relatively mild virus is spreading far and wide, do those cases all stop dying of heart disease and start dying of the virus? It is indeed a philosophical question, and one that national standards answer differently. I am not saying the virus is no big deal, far from it, I just wonder who is really being served by promoting the scariest interpretation of the data. It’s not our collective mental health, that’s for sure!

          Reply
          1. MLTPB

            Scariest…

            This from Guardian Live News today:

            The US government’s leading infection disease expert, Anthony Fauci, has said the country could experience more than 100,000 deaths and millions of infections from the pandemic.

            Speaking on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday, Fauci offered his prognosis as the federal government mulls rolling back social distancing measures in areas that have not been hard-hit by the outbreak, when the nationwide 15-day effort to slow the spread of the virus will come to an end.

            Could…millions of infections.

            Hopefully people don’t miss the word ‘could.’

            Reply
            1. Ignim Brites

              Sounds like 100K is pretty much the scientific consensus. Which means the next few weeks to the peak are going to be pretty harrowing given that we are only at 2500 now.

              Reply
              1. pretzelattack

                i’m not sure that is correct, fauci estimated 100k to 200k deaths, so a range, and there’s so much we don’t know right now.

                Reply
      2. The Rev Kev

        That all depends on the reliability of the reporting. Germany, it turns out, has been playing footsy with their reported figures so is actually just as scary. In the chart at https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/ if you scroll down you will see the reports for all the countries.

        When you look at the row for Germany, you will see that they have 1,581 cases in the ‘Serious, critical’ row. But until a few days ago this was only about 23 which was patent rubbish. People may dispute whether that infant died due to Coronavirus but in the past few days I have read of several babies being born with Coronavirus in their system which cannot be good and you would expect the occasional fatality.

        Reply
      3. skk

        Being precise about your variables is an important component of data science. Since I’m modeling the CV-19 death count I’ve looked for fairly precise definitions of what the count’CV-19 death means in my respective data sources – john hopkins github and ourworldofdata’s ECDC. So far I haven’t found it in either.
        If your modeling data is a single source then from an actionability perspective you can get away with handwaving like ” If you do spend $ ( by which I mean those that they get aggregated in the marketing spend field”, then your product count ( as aggregated in product sum field ) will increase by between [x, y] ”
        But data is rarely single source so data alignment between several sources is a crucial task. I hope its being done well. Otherwise one just says – o well, the same discrepancies will be in the inputs to one’s predictions too so it will show up in a wider credibility interval for the predictions or worse, say treat this as ‘directional’. Sigh.
        { as an illustration, even a field like “date” needs alignment – John Hopkins’ github update their data continually throughout the day ( I “think” its timestamp is EST, I need to check ). ECDC does a single shot at 10 am CEuropeanT. So to align on dates, I need to pull John Hopkins data at as close to 10 am CET as possible. }

        Reply
        1. BillC

          It appears the JH/arcgis site’s lower left-hand “last updated” timestamp is stated in the Web browser host’s timezone (e.g., of your PC or smartphone). I view the site from Italy via a proxy in North Carolina, and the timestamps I see are generally not more than an hour behind me, presuming it’s stating Central European Time. In any case, it is surely not US Eastern Time when viewed at my site and, since western Europe went to DST today and it’s presently showing a bit less than an hour behind me, it can’t be UTC either.

          Reply
          1. skk

            So I got round to checking what the dates are in the Hopkins github data repository. Luckily they do document what they do – in there they use UTC throughout – both in the time series file and the dailies time.

            Reply
    2. Basil Pesto

      too many unknowns in this story. We need better, more detailed reporting than this RT story gives us (and this story shouldn’t have run unless and until RT journalists/editors were prepared to
      get that detail. or, as it used to be called,
      reporting) or laymen will jump to conclusions which may be erroneous.

      Reply
  14. PlutoniumKun

    Vietnam orders Hanoi’s largest hospital locked down on coronavirus fears Straits Times

    I’m told Ho Chi Minh City is also on the verge of a full lockdown. The Vietnamese government acted very fast and very ruthlessly (they’ve plenty of experience in the past with SARS and Bird Flu). It looked like they’d succeeded in suppressing all the cases that popped up, but it seems that this virus is so damned contagious you need a lot of luck too, and Vietnams may have run out.

    The same with Japan – they seemed quite confident for a while that the high level of compliance of Japanese people with good hygiene norms would protect them – but it seems that Tokyo, and maybe the whole country, is on the verge of lockdown – cases are starting to soar in Tokyo.

    Reply
  15. xkeyscored

    Abbott Launches 5-Minute Virus Test for Use Almost Anywhere Bloomberg

    From the ID NOW™ COVID-19 product webpage:

    “Only available in the US.”

    – US exceptionalism is plumbing new depths.

    Reply
    1. Fraibert

      Don’t forget each jurisdiction (US, EU, Japan, etc) has to approve the test’s use individually before it can be lawfully sold and/or used in that jurisdiction.

      Reply
      1. MLTPB

        From time to time, we, including myself, can be too quick to invoke exceptionalism.

        This could make the criticism less impactful, I believe.

        As well, the exceptionalism can show up in various ways, and by individuals, not just the government or corporations.

        Assuming people will welcome us to retire or shelter in their countries, with our dollars (going far there) could be one. For better or worse, I will likely be stuck here. But it’s too early to say.

        It could be that earlier movers will do well, but as more of us follow, it overburdens the locals.

        Reply
  16. Rod

    To me, This site you have created is a well in the information desert. The comments are mostly refreshing to that well, as I have learned much from the perspective and links posited there.
    I pray the admonishment on commenting, in this time, is respected.
    thanks for all you are doing

    Reply
    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      second that, and especially to Jules, who I notice (being as affected by this as the rest of us) has been moved to comment several times of late.

      a tough job, and hope he is taking a break from all news as well as NC today, and maybe even getting some fresh air.

      I love that city, but kinda glad not to be there right now and my thoughts are with all those living in “hotspots” across the land…

      Reply
    2. Oh

      Yes, this is a very important site and the comments are very informative. I too hope that commenters don’t abuse the priviledge of being to comment here and I hope they will contribute whatever money they can to keep this vibrant site going.

      I myself prefer not to click on any youtube link because of my own preference not to help with $ going to evil google. I hope people will minimize links and summary what the links say.

      Reply
    3. John Zelnicker

      Jules deserves our unending appreciation for the incredible job he does moderating.

      I had a comment go into moderation recently and it disappeared. (This is NOT a complaint.) I didn’t understand why until Yves post last night.

      Apparently Jules had a different interpretation than I intended, but a valid one nevertheless. My comment could have been seen as beginning an argument, although that was not what I wanted. I’ll just be more careful with what I write.

      Take good care of yourself, Jules.

      Reply
    4. Daryl

      I am certainly guilty of Reddit (hopefully not Facebook) quality comments on occasion. I will endeavour to do better.

      Reply
  17. The Rev Kev

    “Hamptons seek travel ban on corona-fleeing New Yorkers”

    Cuomo might have something to say about that. I saw him threaten to sue Rhode Island for putting a clamp on New Yorkers trying to flee there and having to self-quarantine for two weeks. It might be interesting that in a court of law. Is a community required to accept a host of non-residents from a disease hot-spot without requiring them to self-quarantine? Could a community sue New York for the deaths and costs of treating their residents, especially if they cause that community’s health care arrangements to collapse?

    It was weird reading how those well-heeled shoppers in the Hamptons could clear out and hoard entire sections of a supermarket. Many supermarkets I know put limits on what you can purchase which would stop that. But that founder of that upscale supermarket chain Citarella was quite happy to see that as all he saw was dollar signs. I suspect that the tension between the full time residents of the Hamptons and these blow ins will get worse over time.

    Reply
    1. Fraibert

      I was trying to think why some of the headlines claimed a quarantine of the tri-state area would be unconstitutional.

      I fundamentally disagree with that position.

      It is true that the Supreme Court has recognized a fundamental right to travel under the Constitution and that rights of that kind can only be restricted if there exists a compelling state interest and the method of restriction is the least restrictive necessary to accomplish the state purpose. But a quarantine of a domestic disease hotspot is a compelling state interest and I can see good reason for a court to accept that under the circumstances it is the least restrictive means to prevent the spread of the hotspot in light of apparent flaunting on the tri-state area of state and local activity restrictions.

      I am not sure about the weird area of law governing interstate lawsuits. My guess is that a state is generally not responsible for the individual actions of citizens–however, I do know that aggregate private action such as pollution can be the grounds of interstate litigation under theories such as common law nuisance. So it seems to me is very possible here that a state might consider suing another state where there is a clear connection between the spread of the virus and travel between the two states.

      Reply
      1. Fraibert

        Had some further thoughts here.

        I think the federal government issuing a quarantine order of the tri-state area probably could survive a legal challenge because the federal government is trying to protect the entire country (the right to travel only means traveling domestically).

        However, I don’t know that Rhode Island going it alone would work. Rhode Island would probably have to show that enough New Yorkers were coming into Rhode Island to pose a danger in order to prevail, and that might be difficult proof.

        In thinking about all of the above, it’s also worth noting that preventing the spread of infectious disease is one of the classical, almost stereotypical, examples of a “compelling state interest.”

        Reply
        1. Jeremy Grimm

          I believe some states are acting because the Federal Government is not. I strongly agree with the statement in your last paragraph.

          Reply
        2. MLTPB

          I was wondering about something similar yesterday, and made a comment.

          Thank you.

          Here, we can compare what Beijing did vs what we can do going forward. The province was ordered by the Chinese central government to lock down. We have states here, not provinces. And we see the dispute publicly, between DC and Albany.

          The Hubei lockdown has been a key measure to flattening the curve there, I believe. I thought something similar should have happened to states like Washington and New York some time ago, just not knowing the constitutionality involved, though conscious of the different political systems of the two nations.

          Reply
      2. Katniss Everdeen

        What does “unconstitutional” even mean anymore?

        Especially over the last several decades, this government has justified so many blatantly “unconstitutional” actions as necessary for “keeping people safe,” that invoking the concept to prevent a quarantine under these circumstances is pretty much of a joke.

        Who on earth would be the person to “defend” the “rights” of new yorkers to spread corona virus to the rest of america as a “constitutional” imperative?

        Reply
    2. rd

      The irony is that they could be trapped in their mansions with inadequate access to healthcare if they come down with the disease.The areas they are fleeing to barely have enough medical access to address sprained ankles in the summertime.

      Reply
  18. PlutoniumKun

    Facing down the protests’ right-wing turn Lausan. Hong Kong protests

    The support we’ve seen from conservatives and ultra-right wing politicians has far surpassed that of the centrists and progressives. Joey Gibson, the founder of West Coast right-wing protest group Patriot Prayer, flew to Hong Kong to livestream what he saw as an anti-CCP protest and raise funds for his own organization. Conservative media outlets even claim that Hongkongers were inspired by their prayer to use American flags in the protest. Alt-lite pusher Paul Joseph Watson has been broadcasting the situation in Hong Kong for more than three months. Some new organizations—like Young Americans Against Socialism, founded by American University graduate Morgan Zegers—have seized on Hong Kong as a prime example to support liberal democracy and oppose Antifa violence; their posts on Hong Kong seem to attract more likes and shares than other content.

    The writer doesn’t seem to recognise cause and effect here. She complains about the increasing turn to the right of the protests, and their adoption of right wing western symbols, but fails to acknowledge that much of this comes from the failure of progressive movements worldwide to provide any help, moral or otherwise, to the protestors. Maybe if progressives had actually embraced and supported the students, they’d have been less likely to have lost the initiative within the movement to reactionary elements.

    This turn to the right in Hong Kong’s struggle includes two basic dimensions. First is the use of racialized attacks to target ordinary mainland Chinese people rather than the elite, in order to establish a Hong Kong nationalism which purports to sustain the momentum of the movement.

    The writer seems determined to impose her view that the protests are only ‘legitimised’ if they are internationalist in flavour, but conveniently ignores that a core reason why the protestors had so much support from local people is precisely because it has its roots in a desire for Hong Kong to maintain its political and cultural independence. The huge influx of mainlanders to HK was always a part of Beijings policy to gradually absorb it into China. Maybe for regular HKers to object to having their neighbourhoods flooded with pro-Beijing Mainlander incomers is ‘racist’, or maybe its a legitimate desire to protect their culture and sense of nationhood. The writer doesn’t seem interested in acknowledging this.

    Reply
    1. Oregoncharles

      “The huge influx of mainlanders to HK was always a part of Beijings policy to gradually absorb it into China.”
      Like Tibet and Sinkiang, which have been heavily colonized.

      Reply
  19. urblintz

    Nancy Pelosi on TV… whatever is coming out of her mouth it’s the look on her face that tells the story… it’s panic, alas, not about COVID19. Her well known ability to fracture a sentence while trying to get it out is on full display but the dissembling is now so obvious she sounds like Joe Biden when he’s off his meds. It’s as if she’s figured out that by giving Mnuchin essentially 5 trillion (the fed’s 10x leveraging) for Wall Street – perhaps the very thing she most wanted in this bill, although I admit that’s just my opinion – the Democrats have saved Trump’s economy and handed him the election in November…

    oh… wait…

    Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      My guess is she’s figured out the Senate left after the House gave away leverage and the money isn’t going to be sufficiently widespread or enough to help people weather the storm. Lower cost areas might be better but off, but the areas where 100k isn’t that much might not be as fortunate. Even from the small business side, this is a huge change. I can get top flight legal advice with plenty of contract and financial expertise by calling my dad, but most people can’t even if they have access to attorneys. How are these small businesses even going to start the process? Depending where some are, the owners could walk away depending on lease conditions if they’ve done well. $1200 and $600 ui in SC matters more than NY or the I-95 corridor.

      I would also suggest the prospects of a Biden candidacy are coming home too. The fundraising probably isn’t going well and lip service to progressive ideas isn’t playing as well as it did in the 90’s.

      Reply
    2. Oh

      I heard her saying that she performed ju jitsu to transform a bill giving money to big corporations to one that help people. What a shameless liar! The politicians are so used to blantant lying that they believe their own lies. But what’s worse is that a majority of the party loyalists believe these used car and insurance salesment time after time. So sad.

      Reply
    3. Michael Fiorillo

      Russiagate and Zombie Son of Russiagate/Impeachment had already given him a big boost, and the #McResistance TM, doing it’s best to cover it’s own venal interests, continues to make him the presumed winner in November.

      Aren’t we glad that unhinged liberals squandered over three years on a preposterous conspiracy theory?

      Reply
      1. urblintz

        thnx I needed that! ha! i wrote new lyrics to Tom Lehrer’s “Alma” dedicated to Tom Perez, and call it:

        The Corona Waltz

        The first one to drop out was Butti
        found out voters don’t vote for snooty
        then stealing his thunder came Amy
        who knew she’d get more press on Monday
        and joining hands, speaking of unity
        Tom’s hammer came down with impunity
        the blowout for Biden was certain
        even better ’cause the commies are hurtin’!

        Then came corona
        Dems stuck with Joe, now it’s ovah
        now that we need a new biz
        where are Butti and Amy and Liz?

        and to prove my effort insignificant, the original:

        “It’s people like that who make you realize how little you’ve accomplished. It is a sobering thought, for example, that when Mozart was my age he had been dead for 2 years.”

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iHtWoTWmmiQ

        (i’ve posted this before so apologies)

        Reply
  20. Burns

    Regarding the article “Industrial and Neoliberal Origins of Covid-19,” I recently finished reading “The Coming Plague” by Laurie Garrett. Great book, and its theme is microbial ecology, which is exactly the point of the Levine article: habitat destruction contributes to novel pandemics because it upsets the fragile ecological balance that keeps pathogens in check.

    What’s unbelievable is that book was published in *1994*! It’s almost 30 years old! In other words, we’ve known for at least 30 years, if not longer, that ecological damage could lead to dangerous epidemics and pandemics. Levine’s article is good and has the same theme, but I cant help but feel it’s far too little far too late.

    I don’t know if microbial ecology receives a lot of attention in the medical field, but maybe there’s an argument now for putting intersectional resources into public health and political economy.

    Reply
    1. xkeyscored

      The article sounds pretty dodgy to me. True, Chinese smallholding farmers and industrial agriculture may have been factors in the origin of this pandemic. But we’ve known for ages a pandemic was coming, just not which or when. And true, international trade and travel has accelerated the spread of this pandemic, but only accelerated, not caused.
      I’m no fan of neoliberalism and all that, but pandemics happen. How nations deal with them may depend in part on their social and political structures, but no ideology or economic framework confers immunity.

      Reply
      1. MLTPB

        Neoliberal is ideological, as far as ideology and immuntyity are concerned. And I agree no one ideology confers immunity.

        Industrial – here, it is more about human civilization, and ‘progress,’ technological and scientific. We can look at direct (forest clearing for farming, etc), and indirect (population growth, increased consumption, including traditional medicinal remedies, etc) industrial factors in the origin of COVID19. I am more open to people examining this connection.

        Reply
      1. John

        I’m guessing that the way the bill is written it behooves companies to lay off their workers instead of keeping them on even with the bailout money.

        It’s either being gamed somehow, or it was written to explicitly have this happen.

        The taxpayers pay the workers unemployment benefits and the companies get their taxpayer bailout money anyhow without the expense of paying employees.

        Reply
      2. antidlc

        According to the Post, Rutter said the taxpayer bailout would “provide long-term cash flow for essential personnel to ensure that we can reopen the Center and re-employ our staff and musicians.”

        The musicians aren’t considered “essential personnel”.

        Reply
    1. FreeMarketApologist

      In more encouraging news, Speedway, one of the larges gas and convenience store chains in the eastern US, sent out a note to customers on Friday:

      Our employees continue to go above and beyond in these challenging times, and Speedway is committed to taking care of those who are taking care of our customers.

      To recognize our hourly store associates, maintenance technicians and transport drivers working hard to keep our stores open, fueled, stocked and clean during this pandemic, Speedway has increased hourly rates by an additional $2 an hour starting March 26 through April 29, 2020.

      Our store General Managers, Café Managers and Restaurant Managers will receive a one-time bonus in recognition of the great job they are doing in this difficult environment. In addition, Speedway will continue to maintain all store-level bonus programs, with adjustments to offset the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on our business.

      Every Speedway employee is eligible for our emergency pay plan specific to COVID-19 quarantines or illnesses, up to two weeks of pay. We continue to be flexible in terms of employee absences or the need for personal leave.

      Let’s hope the CDC travel advisory doesn’t wreck those plans.

      Reply
  21. paul

    RE: unnecessary commentary:
    Stick to one a day and make sure it is germane.
    The quality is far more important than the the quantity.
    There is a reassuring quality about the ‘regulars’ contributions.
    Thanks to their phenomenological sharing ,. we are lucky to be able to develop a pointillist vista.

    My information widow’s mite is that BBC scotland has decided (!) to recuse itself from national broadcasts.
    This is because health is a devolved issue, and any broad comparison with other regions will find them wanting.
    Channel 4 has been far fairer than any of the colonial broadcasters.

    Love to everyone, wherever you are.*

    *Includes my great pals in london.

    Reply
    1. skk

      Any suggestions on which Channel 4 ( All 4 is the stream) current affairs/news program(s) to wait ? Recently I’ve been watching BBC’s ( IPlayer ) Newsnight and ITV’s main 30 minutes news.

      Reply
    1. D. Fuller

      Trump is beginning the transition from blaming China for Covid-19 to focusing on demonizing states like NY, NJ, CT, and others; as epicenters.

      Should play well with his base.

      With the Democratic Establishment befuddled on how to capitalize on Trump’s missteps considering how they just passed the Wealthy Bailout Bill, which will inevitably be used to shuffle money to States where Trump has his largest support. Without oversight, of course… Democratic Establishment can’t say they didn’t know what would happen.

      Reply
      1. Katniss Everdeen

        “…….demonizing states like NY, NJ, CT, and others; as epicenters.”?????

        They ARE epicenters. Either you are going to go to “war” with this virus or you are going to play politics but you can’t do both.

        joy reid is busy interviewing the usual suspects this morning who are positively gleeful that the scourge is approaching Louisiana and Florida–“base” states for Trump. The prevailing wisdom seems to be that increasing death in red america will finally provide the hit to Trump’s “approval” ratings and re-election prospects that dems have been slobbering for. “That’ll show ’em.”

        When the history of this time in america is finally written, one of the most serious “comorbidities” of the corona virus will no doubt be Toxic Trump Derangement Syndrome, that destroyed the capacity for common sense, rational thought and definitive action, and replaced them with rabid, uncontrollable political hysteria.

        Reply
        1. D. Fuller

          The focus is turning from blaming “Chinese flu” to “American epicenters” (just so happens to be “liberal states” that his base loves to hate).

          Divide et Impera – give them an enemy to hate, in order to divide and rule them.

          Joy Reid plays to what Trump does. Advantage, Trump. Never play to your opponent’s strengths as Hillary found out in 2016. Establishment Democrats still don’t understand that.

          Reply
          1. MLTPB

            You bring up a salient point.

            And an unfortunate one, in the sense that we humans are all the same to this lilltle lifeless thing (and so, all of us would naturally hope the best for everyone) that of the top 20 counties or parishes in cases per 10,000, published in CNBC today,

            https://www.cnbc.com/amp/2020/03/29/coronavirus-heres-a-map-of-rural-counties-in-us-most-affected-by-pandemic.html

            15 out those 20 voted for Hillary in 2016, including every county/parish in the top 9…some in the top 20 are lonesome blue islands in a red sea.

            (I use Wiki 2016 presidential election results. Hopefully no mistakes).

            Reply
      2. John k

        Won’t play so well with his base after surge hits them, as in NO, where mayor is blaming trump. Many more to come, plenty time for both blue and red states to reflect on which governors did best as well as trumps horrible performance. Hard to believe biden could have done worse regardless of his issues.
        Re dem est… they don’t care what happens to blue states nearly as much as they care what their contributors want. Contributors did the math, think it’s a great bill, of course it passed.

        Reply
        1. D. Fuller

          Perhaps.

          “They brought the virus here from NYC and CA and WA and infected us all!”

          Will certainly play to his base. They’ll blame those “globalist” jetsetters in NYC and LA and Seattle. I’m already seeing that on certain websites.

          Reply
    1. farmboy

      Sanders is certainly making painfully obvious the stark difference between him and Biden and Trump too! If the campaign will stay the course with the world looking different in unimaginable ways by the convention(cancelled?) and the election, could be last man standing?

      Reply
    2. richard

      Gosh that would be nice, NR. I came within a keystroke of cancelling my monthly donation to Sanders last night.
      The problem is, they will continue to cheat. I say NR is living in a world (at least for the length of that opinion piece) where the dems haven’t cheated sanders at every opportunity. That part hasn’t changed, and won’t of course.
      Let’s not forget all the closed polling stations, all the ballots discarded in CA and WA for not marking the correct “party” box, the “oh please hack me” black box vote counting, the exit poll voting discrepancies over 10% in favor of Sanders. Oh, and holding primaries during a pandemic, that one too.
      And that’s only how they cheated in the vote counting, and only the little part that I can remember right now.

      Reply
    3. Jeremy Grimm

      This link breezes over the Sanders vote for the CARES bill. I can only wonder what kind of leverage could twist out the 100% support CARES received in the Senate. Though I remain a Sanders supporter his CARES vote sours me on his candidacy and dampens the flame of my hope for the future — but the alternatives, Trump or Bidden or third party leave no other choice. Everything has changed, but Bidden remains high in the polls for no reason I can understand and the explanation this link offers for Trump’s rise in popularity isn’t fully convincing to me. I am mystified by the U.S. public. I have never felt more like a stranger in a strange land — to steal a most apt expression.

      And everything has not changed yet — rents, mortgages, credit card payments, interest on debts, are still due in a couple of days — or I believe deferred but still due in some states. The CARES ‘help’ is inadequate — I suspect deliberately inadequate — leaving open the chance/likelihood there will be a CARES II bill to dole out a few more trinkets to the Population and a new package of ‘economic stimulus’ to help our Big Money Cartels and our obscenely Wealthy grow and consolidate their holdings and control over our country and our lives.

      Reply
        1. urdsama

          I think we need to realistic on this issue. While Warren was never really a progressive (in the original sense before it become co-opted), Sanders has not changed his positions on key matters.

          If he had blocked this bill, can you imagine the amount of family blog he would have received?

          Sanders is far from perfect, but he is in a catch-22 position. Any course of action he takes will be faulted for not being the correct one.

          Reply
          1. Procopius

            I’ve watched about half the Matt Stoller interview, I’ll have to get back to it, but the thing I don’t get is why Bernie didn’t just vote against it. I understand there’s a rule on unanimous consent, in order to move bills quickly, but the consent is to vote on the bill. You can consent to the vote, but you don’t have to vote for the bill. He should have voted against it and explained why (it’s an awful bill that they stuck something we absolutely must have into).There were votes against the Iraq war. There are votes against the National Defense Authorization Act (authorizes indefinite detention without due process, you know). Bernie should have voted against this monstrosity.

            Reply
      1. John k

        I don’t think he had an option, certainly not if he wants to stay in the race. The vast majority that will receive a fraction of the bill desperately need that fraction just to eat… remember, we know many don’t have 400 for an emergency. They know the bill favors the rich, what bill hasn’t in the past 30 years? Most of the time there’s nothing for workers, and some bills, like trade, hurt them badly.
        So he did what he has always done, work to make the bill better for those that are or soon will be desperate in exchange for his vote. I like Dore, but imo he’s all wet here.
        So he can continue the fight for the nom without people, including the workers themselves, saying he voted against their needs.

        Reply
    4. JTMcPhee

      Any bets that the Dem establishment STILL stiffs Bernie and that the private club (living off public legitimacy) helicopters in Cuomo or some equally or more repulsive alternative like Clinton?

      I’d love to be wrong. Still donating to Bernie’s efforts.

      And Robinson did a good job of laying it all out. Not sure the hive mind is capable of reacting other than working out its long-cultivated death wish.

      Reply
    5. Oregoncharles

      From the link: “Look, you [Democrats] don’t have to do this. You don’t have to run a guy with a dismal record, who has flopped at the moment he most needed to step up and lead, and who now faces a credible assault allegation and other credible allegations of inappropriate behavior.”

      No, they don’t – but it sure would be a good way to insure that the Republicans get their two full terms.

      Reply
    1. Dr. John Carpenter

      Glad to see more Cuomo pushback. I’m very much getting this Guiliani post-9/11 vibe where the press is trying to make him into some sort of hero that he clearly is not.

      Reply
      1. Clive

        Yes, in this day and age authenticity is probably the most important commodity anyone operating in politics or involved in political commentary (e.g. the media, journalists etc.) can possess.

        But I don’t think there’s been a time before now, except perhaps when we all lived in small villages or hamlets and even the few larger conurbations had a “collection of townships” structure, when the unauthentic were so easy to catch out.

        I’ve been observing Cuomo (he’s got daily live coverage in real-time even on the news networks here across the pond, as you say, he’s the press’ Prom Queen de jour) and, after the first exposure (which he should definitely have stopped with, then maybe resumed ad-hoc every week or so) you could start to see the act wearing a bit thin.

        He couldn’t help but commit that cardinal sin of the COVID-19 crisis: turning it into a series of political axes with the virus being the surface on which to grind them. Trump. The federal government response. The states having to “live within their means”. Whatever was being gotten right was down to himself. Whatever was going wrong was someone else’s responsibility.

        In short, he’s a fake. The worst sort of fake, too — not a totally hopeless fake because he’s worked out that if you can fake sincerity, you’ve got it made, but just sufficiently good a fake to reel you in before you realise you’ve been had.

        As a small child, if I had a fault, it was a habit of pulling up carrots before they were ready “just to see how they’re growing”. The same applies in trying to identify lessons from COVID-19. The really important things this will teach us are currently evolving and thus can’t be accurately divulged. But I’m going to hazard a guess that, in political terms, the winners won’t be specifically on the “left” or the “right”. They’ll likely be drawn from both camps. What will separate out the winners from the losers is those who demonstrated that they wouldn’t cynically try to play COVID-19 to advance their pet ideologies (however tempting that must surely seem).

        The losers will be those who showed they couldn’t wait to exploit our worst fears and the least edifying aspects of all our human natures in order to plot and to scheme their way into shoving down our throats that which we’d previously shown reluctance to swallow.

        Cuomo is the latter. I hope the voters of NY give him his richly deserved comeuppance.

        Reply
        1. urblintz

          “The losers will be those who showed they couldn’t wait to exploit our worst fears and the least edifying aspects of all our human natures in order to plot and to scheme their way into shoving down our throats that which we’d previously shown reluctance to swallow.”

          Brilliant comment!

          Reply
      2. Duck1

        How about that link about Schwarzenegger being wise and involved in creating a reserve mobile hospital system for California which was then dismantled under the dour Democrat leadership of Jerry Brown? They don’t even know how the assets were disposed of, off to the cronies no doubt. Know the price of everything but the value of nothing, Pelosi and company. And I have voted for that party lifelong.

        Reply
    2. Cynthia

      Re: this Democracy Now! tweet about “In New York state, we’ve gone from 73,000 beds to 53,000 beds since 2000 “

      Democracy Now! isn’t alone. Other news outlets are also reporting about how various towns and cities across the US don’t have enough hospital beds to adequately treat patients with Covid-19. Which is absolutely true, BTW, but the question we all should be asking is, what caused us to have an inadequate supply of hospital beds in the first place? From my perspective as a longtime hospital nurse and someone who reads up on healthcare policy as well as hospital finance, I have come to understand that there are two main culprits behind our woefully inadequate supply of hospital beds, not just in New York, but in all cities, large and small, across the US.

      The first underlying culprit has to do with fairly recent changes in how doctors are paid to see patients. Such changes were driven by the fact that hospital care is by far and away the most expensive way to deliver care, Therefore, in order to reduce overall hospital costs, healthcare policymakers, mostly at the federal level through CMS, incentivized doctors to provide care on an outpatient basis as much as possible. They did this by reducing reimbursement for doctor visits in the hospital and increasing reimbursement for doctor visits in outpatient care facilities. Then as more and more care moved out of hospitals, the demand for hospital care was predicted to go down. And it did go down. However, the demand went down so much that many hospitals closed, especially in rural areas. For the most part, the extreme reduction in the number of hospitals across the country has not been a problem as long as there is no sudden and unforeseen spike in demand for hospital beds. Well, that spike happened, and what caused that spike to happen was none other than the nationwide Covid-19 outbreak.

      The second underlying culprit has to do with hospitals being incentivized to keep their beds fully occupied. This is due to fact that if hospitals can’t keep their beds fully to almost fully occupied, their credit score will drop, causing them to borrow money at a higher rate. Higher borrowing costs means higher costs for running hospitals. This is why hospital administrators love to brag about how their hospital is packed to the gills. It never seem to occur to them that an overpacked hospital is unsafe for patients, as well as for staff. Not to mention it can be deadly if a sudden and unforeseen emergency comes their way like Covid-19.

      As to who deserves the blame for creating these “ill thought of” incentives affecting hospitals, I would say that it is combination between hospital administrators, private insurers, financial institutions, and healthcare policymakers. Hospital administrators and private insurers deserve some of the blame because had they NOT created so much unnecessary overhead cost to our overall healthcare system, hospital care wouldn’t have become so costly to the point that doctors were incentivized to not see patients in the hospital. Financial institutions equally deserve some of the blame for financially penalizing hospitals, specifically for increasing their borrowing costs, for NOT being fully to almost fully occupied. And last but not least, healthcare policymakers, especially the ones that either work for or with CSM, also deserve some of the blame for coming up with these “ill thought of” incentives having to do with physician and hospital reimbursements!

      Reply
      1. flora

        Thanks for this information. One question I still have:

        The first underlying culprit has to do with fairly recent changes in how doctors are paid to see patients.

        Can you identify more closely how recently the change was made? Was is part of the overall changes to Medicare’s reimbursement structure – in patient vs out patient, in patient readmittance rate penalties, for examples – made at the same time as the ACA was enacted?

        Reply
        1. Cynthia

          Flora,

          The change was in place prior to ObamaCare, but was made worse after it was enacted. Another thing that was made worse under ObamaCare is that it gave doctors seeing patients at so-called “hospital based” outpatient clinics higher reimbursement rates than it gave doctors seeing patients at private outpatient clinics.

          So, not only did ObamaCare cause healthcare dollars to shift away from inpatient areas within hospitals, thus causing the demand for hospital beds to shrink to point that we don’t have enough of them today to care for patients in times of major crises such as the one we are now in the middle of involving the coronavirus. It also caused healthcare dollars to shift away from private outpatient clinics, resulting in many of them folding and then joining larger hospital systems. Massive consolidation in our healthcare delivery system ensued.

          Which is why ObamaCare not only left us with less choice in terms of doctors and other care providers, but it also caused healthcare costs to go up with nothing to show for it in terms of improvements in quality of care and patient outcomes. And because academic hospital systems with their massive network of “hospital based” outpatient clinics have benefited the most under ObamaCare, it is easy to conclude that they used their enormous political clout and strong ties to the Democratic Party to shape ObamaCare in their favor.

          Reply
            1. John k

              Not considered in the bald reduction I’m ny beds from 73k to 53k is this doesn’t consider pop change, maybe 10% more since 2010… so on a pop basis it’s more like 81k to 53k.
              And rural is worse… if hosp closes, their beds go to zero.
              A crisis shows clearly past mistakes as well as current ones… imagine if in 2008 we had passed m4a. Or even in 2016.

              Reply
      2. JTMcPhee

        Does not help that conglomerates and PE have stuck their mitts in. Our big local hospital has been through several acquisitions and sales, now owned by “Community Health Services.” Which among other idiocies, swapped out the hospital’s entire software backbone one Friday night last fall. Leading to none of the patient charts or med lists or orders or labs or imaging being accessible, with no way back in place, all to save a buck and enforce MBA “efficiency” across the over 200 hospitals that CHS has acquired. Lots of desperate work for staff to try and survive that, no local press on it and no indication of how many morbidity and mortality events resulted.

        There’s doctors with MBAs who are conglomerating doctors’ office practices and lots of other hyenas feeding at the carcass. So much wrong (if the goal were actually to provide health care) and so little interest in doing right rather than looting. And the front line people running full tilt to try to keep it all together, in the face of “running like a business” — with bankruptcy and free flow of capital and the absence of governance and even minimal enforcement of what are left of things like antitrust and fraud laws.

        Will this crisis lead to healthier behavior in the future?

        Reply
        1. flora

          Community Health Services.. (oye!)
          The spreadsheet efficiency warriors are shown to be cramped failures in the real world.

          Reply
    3. marym

      Here’s a link to a Jacobin article about Cuomo. It includes this hospital closure issue and a discussion of Cuomo’s “continu[ing] to push to meet a budget shortfall by enacting deep Medicaid cuts rather than passing wildly popular tax increases on the 0.01 percent — even though this would require him to turn down billions in federal coronavirus aid to the state.”

      It also describes Cuomo’s regressive tax policies and an alternative “agenda of fourteen different measures to tax wealthy New Yorkers, including taxes on billionaire’s wealth, stock buybacks, stock transfers, yachts, and private jets… which has significant support in the legislature, would provide upwards of $30 billion in new revenue. And the measures poll extremely well, garnering the approval of over 90 percent of New York voters, including 87 percent of Republicans and 91 percent of suburban and upstate voters.”

      (There’s a link to the polling, but I’m not qualified to evaluate)

      https://www.jacobinmag.com/2020/03/andrew-cuomo-medicaid-coronavirus

      Reply
      1. JTMcPhee

        Cuomo just dropped a clanger in one of his recent pressers, bragging about how had cut taxes all through his tenure while running on about his great COVID efforts and “Trump bad.” I didn’t bookmark a link but it struck me as a giant non sequitur and political oopsie.

        There is this from the NYT, no fan of taxes itself, on Cuomo chopping Medicaid: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/21/nyregion/medicaid-budget-ny-cuomo.html

        Taxes are one of the prices we pay for civilization. At least that’s one thing taxes do, besides being an instrument for picking winners and losers.

        Reply
    4. Susan the other

      So multiply this by 50 states and what do we have? Panic caused by the health industry. Where are all the hospital administrators waving their MBAa now? They haven’t made a peep. What do we do with people that irresponsible? If they had stood up to neoliberal governors this situation would not now be this bad. Just a little common sense could have prevented the worst. Interesting to see how we are desperately trying to innovate – (Raw Story I think): they are considering using scuba gear as ventilators. Maybe it could work faster than General Motors re-fitting its plants to produce hundreds of thousands of new ventilators – that will inevitably have some tragic malfunction by good ole crapification.

      Reply
      1. flora

        The US economy doesn’t work like a Piñata, not even when the real world intrudes on politicians’ neoliberal fantasies.

        Reply
      2. polecat

        How many lamposts fill the average Taj Mahospital parking lot(s) ?

        There’s your Host pitality MBA solution, right there ….

        Reply
  22. rd

    Re: Noonan’s attempts to get her test results

    It is important to realize that executives and managers believe a problem has been completely resolved and closed when some raw ingredients are dropped onto the floor. So “everybody can get tested” can easily be translated as “test reagents are in the mail”. Little details, execution, and organization are unimportant because the problem has already been resolved, the case is closed, and we are moving on to solve the next important crisis.

    In my first job in the early 80s, management proudly put a brand new IBM PC (original with dual floppy disc, no hard drive) in our computer room and proudly announced that we were at the cutting edge of technology. I looked at it and asked where the software was that runs on it to do things. They informed me that once we had shown we could make the hardware billable to clients, they would spend the extra money on software (everything has to be billable in consulting or it ceases to exist).

    So I spent time learning how to program Basic for use in engineering (it came with DOS) even though Fortran was the mainstay engineering and science software due to much better numeric precision. This allowed us to bill the computer out. That was when we could buy Lotus 1-2-3 several months later which opened up whole new capabilities. You have to figure out how to do the work, do the work, and then bill the work in order to prove you are worthy of the next step to allow for real functionality. Management was very pleased with itself as they were proven right again.

    This is the process we are seeing in play today with vacuous pronouncements of success from above while herds of toiling oompah-loompahs try desperately to be functional with inadequate resources or management assistance.

    Reply
    1. skk

      Yup, I used to push really hard to ensure that the “complete” milestone on a project detailed the ‘doneness’ of a project. To illustrate, and riffing on your reference, reputedly for Microsoft Excel , done was:
      “Excel isn’t done till Lotus 1-2-3 won’t run”
      a reference to Microsoft’s reputed strategy of “first make their stuff completely compatible with the rival product then gradually systematically introduce incompatibilities”

      Reply
  23. dearieme

    The Spanish population fell only twice during the 20th century. In 1918, there was a net loss of 83,121 people and in 1939, it lost 50,266 due to the Civil War.

    That piece certainly ended with a bang not a whimper.

    Reply
  24. xkeyscored

    Duke researchers are decontaminating N95 masks so doctors can reuse them to treat coronavirus patients CNN

    This procedure looks good for countries that can do it.
    For less developed nations, this piece from Stanford Medicine may be more feasible, if perhaps not so effective. Basically, sticking used N95 masks in an oven at 75°C for thirty minutes seems to work fairly well, certainly better than re-using them with no treatment.

    “In this materials science study of N95 face masks, two disinfection methods which do not reduce the filtration efficiency of the meltblown layer after an appreciable number of treatment cycles were found:
    •Method 1: 75°C Hot Air (30 mins) for 20 cycles
    •Method 2: UV (254 nm, 8W, 30 min) for 10 cycles
    Steam treatment causes filtration efficiency to drop to ~85% after 5 cycles, and ~80% after 10 cycles.”

    and

    “The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a major shortage of N95-level facial masks, especially in the healthcare environment. We have investigated three promising disinfection methods that may be applied to the recycling and reuse of facial masks: hot air (75 °C, 30min), UVlight (254 nm, 8W, 30 min), and steam (10 min). Using a N95-level meltblown filtration fabric, we determined the following:
    1) Hot air applied over 20 cycles did not degrade the filtration efficiency (>95%).
    2) UV treatment over 10 cycles did not degrade the filtration efficiency (>95%).
    3) Steam treatment requires caution, as the filtration efficiency can be maintained (>95%) within 3 cycles, but the efficiency will degrade to ~85% after 5 cycles, and finally will drop to ~80% after 10 cycles.
    With respect to the hot air (75 °C, 30 min, 20 cycles), we found that an N95 mask did not suffer any mechanical deformation and the earstraps retained proper elasticity required for use.
    Note: We would like to share our results with the community as soon as possible.Be mindful that this report is our work in progress, including some of our speculation. We will have more results in the coming days and weeks.”

    BUT:

    “One area of concern was a misunderstanding about using home ovens 70C to disinfect masks and other equipment. None of us should take any contaminated materials home or leave them near food or drinking water as they present a risk to family and loved ones.”

    Reply
    1. ewmayer

      “sticking used N95 masks in an oven at 75°C for thirty minutes” — 30 minutes of oven or dryer time is a significant hassle and power cost, unless you’re dealing with bulk amounts.

      I’ve started using a heat gun to blast stuff for ~30sec at or above 100C. Most folks don’t have such a Tool Time item … but most do have a hair dryer. I’m weird in having the former but not the latter, would appreciate if one or more non-weirdo readers would be so kind as to stick a kitchen-style thermometer that goes to above 100C/212F in the airstream of their hair dryer and let us the temp reading.

      Also, links to any studies of what-length exposure to temps >= 100C is needed to disable the C-virus would be most welcome.

      Reply
      1. xkeyscored

        If hospitals aren’t dealing with bulk amounts, they might not need to resort to reusing N95 masks in the first place. And heating an oven to 75°C wouldn’t take too much energy I’d have thought. You could do it here, and in many other countries in tropical regions, with a simple solar oven I believe.

        Reply
  25. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: My Corona (or Is It Schmutz?) Peggy Noonan.

    Once I got through to an actual person who was assigned to another department at the clinic but kindly, furtively checked my name and date of birth. “We have no results for you on Covid-19,” she said. I asked if they were overwhelmed. She said they are “just trying to deal with the data. A lot.”

    Yes, nooners is quite the writer.

    I don’t believe I have ever read a more succinct description of haughty, condescending, elite cluelessness and technological effed-upedness without using any of the usual words than this.

    I only wish the “actuall person” nooners finally reached would have responded as I would have, with the richly deserved and equally succinct, “Duh.”

    Reply
    1. HotFlash

      As I see Ms Noonan suffering, I am moved to remark that this is what normal life is like for most of us, in the US. I hope that she, as a journalist, will find that the experience will inform her thinking.

      About a general strike, even for 1/2 hour, it does not seem all that useful to me unless it is targeted. Eg: “Ms Noonan, reporting of your test results will be means-tested, that is, highest income+wealth => end of line. Have a nice day/week/month.”

      Reply
  26. Kasia

    The images of the migrant workers in India leaving the big cities to return to their poor villages in the countryside is the stuff of nightmares. This is no different than New Yorkers fleeing their hot spot to go Florida, or wherever. Many of these migrants will already be infected with the virus and when they get to their home villages they are going to pozz the vulnerable people there. I doubt there is much of a rural medical infrastructure in India. This is a disaster in the making.

    Reply
    1. John k

      Apparently this is on account of misery loves company… well, maybe it keeps the wealthy from fleeing cities for the countryside.
      I imagine they’re maintaining 6 ft spacing on platforms and trains…

      Reply
    2. Massinissa

      The difference is that A the 1% are educated enough that they should know better and B unlike these migrant workers, the 1% still might be able to save themselves through purchasing exclusive care.

      Still, India is going to be hurting much more than the Hamptons, that’s for sure. Its going to be Spanish Flu levels there, probably. I doubt Modi will give enough of a shit to pay healthcare for most of the country. Not that they would be able to do much even with a more activist government.

      Reply
  27. The Rev Kev

    “Biden mounts behind-the-scenes mission to win over wary progressives”

    If the progressives agree to support Biden, then they deserve to be wiped out. Have young voters forgotten, for example, when Biden said “The younger generation now tells me how tough things are. Give me a break. No, no, I have no empathy for it. Give me a break.”? Do they really expect Biden to keep any promise that he makes? He lied his face off in the last debate with Sanders. And you have to remember all the corruption and sexual harassment of women over the decades as well.

    But putting this all aside, one crucial question remains. Are the progressives prepared to throw their support behind an aged man that has, ahem, steadily increasing cognitive difficulties as President of the United States? Whether Trump makes dog meat of him in a debate or not is irrelevant. This is what it gets down to. Is he a man that you would entrust all the powers and responsibilities of the Presidency to? If progressives say yes, then they too are beyond redemption like the DNC as this will prove that they will not even fight over the obvious.

    Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      To me this seems more like a piece meant to soothe the fears of “serious older Democrats” who know Biden needs to reach out to “the young people.”

      Biden held that dumb happy hour to talk about issues important to young people. Its a fraud, but it exists to make the people who believed Pete Buttigieg would attract young voters feel good.

      Reply
  28. harry

    A thought. Perhaps a registration scheme for comments? Serial offenders could have comment privileges removed?

    An idea but i havnt thought it through.

    Reply
    1. John Zelnicker

      @harry
      March 29, 2020 at 10:19 am
      ——-

      It appears that Yves, et al, keep track of the offenders, most likely by email address.

      I have noticed Yves imposing troll points on various commenters while reminding them that it’s not their first violation of the Written Site Policies. At times, she warns the commenter that any subsequent violation will get them banned. We won’t know when that happens, as the offenders handle just won’t appear anymore.

      Edit: My apologies to the moderator for adding to your work.

      Reply
  29. tegnost

    OMG David Frum. What a convoluted bunch of self serving bs
    Just before plugging for the return of the TPP (CHINA CHINA CHINA)
    there’s this, notable among other things for ignoring that it’s not nafta anymore…
    he difference between the insecure Chinese antibiotic and a more secure alternative can, however, be shrunk. The more widely we trade in medical goods with nations other than China, the better the price of those goods will become, even if we do not rely on China. “Made in USA” will cost a lot more. “Made in the NAFTA zone” will cost less. “Made in the NAFTA zone, the European Union, the UK, Japan, Australia, or other trustworthy Indo-Pacific nations” will cost less than that. By widening the zone of non-China medical sourcing beyond “America First” to a billion-person market of proven and trusted partners, we can capture almost all the benefits of secure supply at significantly lower cost in wasted resources. We can then use some of the saved resources to create stockpiles in advance of the next crisis—as the Trump administration was urged, but neglected, to do.
    Add to that the disingenuous heaping of blame for neoliberalism on trump.

    Trump’s bad use of facts does not, however, alter the facts. They are facts—and if you want to build a better world than Trump intends for you, you must yourself account for those facts in your plans.

    Yeah that’s why biden is proposing so many plans, you know with facts presented along with them.

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      I can see a flaw in his NAFTA Zone argument and I can bet that he knows all about it. He said ‘we can capture almost all the benefits of secure supply at significantly lower cost in wasted resources’ but that is not how it will play out. If a NAFTA Zone came into being, big pharma would get the US to ensure that all countries would adopt America’s patent laws which will get rid of cheaper brands in other countries. There would be no savings. When the TPP was being negotiated, the US was trying to force the other countries to adopt its laws but when Trump bailed, these provisions got dropped. This would be all obvious to Frum.

      Reply
    2. cnchal

      David Frum is spinning on his own axis of evil.

      The mobious strip of an infinite loopy logic..

      At any given moment, the world is either moving forward to cooperation, trade, and peace, or regressing toward protectionism, isolation, and conflict. We have experienced cooperation and know its benefits. We have experienced isolationism and have suffered its miseries. The circumstances may change. The choice does not. Let’s choose wisely.

      Let’s also face facts. To convert our choices into reality, we must take into account the adverse truths revealed by the present crisis.

      Here are three of them: The paranoia and secretiveness of the rulers of China horribly worsened the pandemic, and the Western world’s dependence on China for medical supplies made Western countries more vulnerable to the pandemic when it escaped China.

      To state as fact that cooperation + trade = peace and that protectionism + isolation = conflict while two paragraphs later describes the result as cooperation + trade = disaster, is demented.

      How does David Frum makes his money? He sells his labor power of typing gibberish to the highest bidder. Who are the buyers and are they getting their money’s worth?

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

      Reply
  30. Louis Fyne

    That WaPo pro-mask usage op-ed reads like it could’ve been lifted straight fro the commentariat. I hope it was! :)

    My korean factory-made cotton mask has a weight equivalent to say 2 or 3 layers of a high-quality pillowcase. Easily reproducible via a bandana or from a sewing machine

    Again not hospital-grade,not a magic bullet. Something better than nothing for the trip for more milk and eggz

    Reply
    1. Carolinian

      My main takeaway from the article is that universal mask wear in public works not so much because it protects you as because it keeps the symptomatic and asymptomatic from spreading those droplets. For this purpose homemade if less efficient cloth masks are adequate. They are also easier to breathe through.

      Of course the big question is whether Americans could be persuaded to take this up. People in places like Beijing are used to wearing masks because of the pollution. Around here I’m starting to see some masks but would still feel highly conspicuous wearing one to the store.

      Perhaps New Yorkers–being under the greatest threat right now–could set the country an example and mask up. Those glamor puss TV news anchors can do the same. This is no time for vanity.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        When last I rode into town, I was a lone arranger attired in a lightly used n-95 masking my identity, armed with a little bottle of hand sanitizer to ward off evil spirits and/or Covid-19.

        I think I frightened at least a few people in picking up last minute sundries last Sunday, as the total number of people i’ve seen wearing a mask around these parts would be me looking in the mirror.

        Reply
      2. cnchal

        I have an idea for the next time I venture out to the grocery store. I have no mask, so am going to put on my welding shield. It completely covers the face and there is room for some dire warnings like “keep your distance, I may have corona cooties”. That should clear the way and fooling farcical rekognition is a bonus.

        I know this comment adds no value to the discussion, but I am not sorry for making it. I have cried and worried enough. Now I am at the laugh out loud stage.

        Oh, by the way, Windsor has several moar cases of coronavirus over the last day. The source is health care workers living here and getting infected working in Detroit hospitals.

        Reply
        1. Darius

          No need for so much drama. Just tie a bandanna around your face. You’re wearing it to prevent infecting others in case you’re carrying but asymptomatic.

          Reply
      3. Brian (another one they call)

        Thanks Carolinian; I think you have set up the big question for all of us. Why do Americans believe this demi plague isn’t going to happen to them, even as we see our number of infected grow and double in days? There doesn’t seem to be any question that it is here, infecting, harming and killing people. Yet we, the shining arc light on the hill don’t have to worry.
        Alfred E. Neuman doesn’t have to worry. If MAD was still with us he would be wearing a mask.
        But the zinger is that the Usians argue about the need to protect oneself. Who among us is ready to die because they want to believe their great pastor Donald that the harm is imaginary, that it will end by divine intervention.
        I am not singling out big Donald because the religious are also demanding the flock spread it around, and as some of the links today show, entire clusters are directly attributable to spread by pilgrimages.
        Does fear distort reality? Does reality come in second or third place for believers? Are we seeing the spread of insanity moving faster than Covid19? Can we the people continue to allow others to ignore reality so they can follow fantasy? I see this question coming to bite us all in the coming days. At least here in the US, we have an ignorancy crisis that sets policy. Instead of having medical professionals in charge of the fight, we have lay people dictating that the economy is far more important than the well being of the population.
        Not sure anything else matters at this point. Ignorance and self fulfilling prophecy are what we will be left with as medical science is traded for hokum and political posturing.

        Reply
      4. polecat

        With regard to glamour puss TV news anchors, what’s the point of a mask .. if it is wasted on a plastic manikin ?

        Reply
    2. jonboinAR

      https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=YitWZj9QhdQ
      I hope my reposting this video link doesn’t count as spam. I saw it in commentary here a day or two ago, but there was a thing or two in it that I thought bore more discussion. It’s by a doctor on the front lines in NYC. He says:
      1) Nearly all the spread of the Corona Virus is surface>hand>face. Little infection, if I understand him correctly, is by the airborne droplets that concern everyone so much. He makes it sound as if you’re almost completely safe walking around the streets so long as you don’t physically touch anyone or anything. I think he says at one point that you have to be in an enclosed room for half an hour with an infected person to be in real danger of getting infected through the air. Did I understand him right?
      2) Masks don’t protect the wearer a lot.
      3) A mask wearer is protecting those around them somewhat should that wearer happen to be an unwitting carrier.

      Numbers 2 and 3 are probably not controversial with most at this point. Number 1, though, surprised me. He made the surface to hand to face transmission vector seem more significant than I had understood it to be. He kind of says that you 1) be very careful about what you touch; 2) keep your hands from your face, faithfully; and 3) clean or disinfect your hands after touching almost anything and you’ll be alright.

      I know it’s been proposed here already that masks are more a signaling that we’re taking this seriously than anything else, but this fellow is quite explicit about the idea that watching what we touch, and cleaning our hands, is nearly the whole in preventing transmission. Or is this what everyone’s been saying all along and I’m so dense that he’s the first to get through to me. Or is there disagreement about what he’s saying?

      Reply
      1. Carolinian

        Well 3 is important. As for 1, we are getting lots of advice and that was the advice of the Ars Technica backgrounder linked here about a week ago. It said to get CoV via airborne you probably have to be coughed or sneezed on by an infected person or spend extended time with them in an enclosed space. Obviously this applies to doctors more than shoppers in a market who keep their distance. Therefore the doctors need masks more than we do.

        But if many people are unaware that they carry the virus then perhaps we all should wear masks in stores and such. That seems to be the S. Korean approach.

        Reply
      2. rtah100

        The Oxford group who have modelled the opportunity to use real-time public health surveillance to end the outbreak and therefore lockdown quicker have calculated only a 0.1-0.2 contribution to R0 from fomites, based on datasets available. The major contributions are from symptomatic and asymptomatic patients (about 0.8 contribution to R0 each but, because their greater prevalence and mobility in the population, the bigger contribution from asymptomatic patients).

        Note also that R0 is over-dispersed: the figure you see quoted is an average but the actual R0 among patients is a range, and many people barely maintain the chain of transmission and a few people can infect 72x more people!

        Washing your hands and not touching your face is sound advice but seriously, stay away from other people and especially from crowded environments with talking, singing, shouting! Ditch public transport if you can. And 2m is not far enough, minimum 3m

        Reply
    3. marieann

      I was recently looking at a list of fabric to use for homemade masks, I think it was here on NC. It was comparing the fabrics and one of the best to use was pillowcase fabric. This confused me as some pillowcase fabric has a very open weave. So, I had a think and I believe when it says pillowcase fabric it means the Egyptian Cotton…this is a very tight weave and used to be top of the line fabric for bedding.

      Reply
  31. Dita

    Re the city folk fleeing to the Hamptons, the writer seriously strains not to blame de rich folks. So who are these hordes fleeing there, if not the summer people to their second homes? Are there masses of city types just wandering around, hoping for off season accomodations? Are they sleeping on the beach? Come on. And why isn’t Citarella rationing?

    Reply
  32. Noone from Nowheresville

    How about this one? Has anyone gamed out what America looks like once we start coming up for breath given the CARES Act?

    Start with cities. No hotel taxes, restaurant bar taxes. No concerts, no sports events, no major crowds. All income generating.

    The unemployment trust funds might have been low before the stay at home orders came down. Food stamp needs increase. Medicaid numbers increase. States may have to do some type of mortgage and/or rent relief. Cities utilities relief. Emergency workers may die or become disabled if struck with lung damage. Or personnel numbers might need to be ramped up if too many are in quarantine.

    Local companies / regional business have been shut down. No revenue for any. They will either shutter or their marked down assets purchased. Perhaps by out of state interests. Local power and investment in local communities shifts to somewhere else. Smaller farms going under which was already happening well before this tragedy struck.

    So now we have massive outflows of “cash” but the inflows aren’t happening. Cities and States will be in a massive pinch. The Federal government promises to help but they didn’t require the stay at home orders so…

    Wall Street and Corporations will have leveraged “cash” available. How many parking meters, roads, water systems and other systems will be leased out or sold? How many state departments will be laid off and bid out to third parties? How deep and how far will the pain go?

    I’m asking because we know this will be coming down the pike. I suspect that similar things will happen in other countries.

    Shouldn’t we start gaming out the potential futures to start laying the groundwork to oppose? Or at least what to look for in our local areas? What businesses and people are key moving forward? Is there any way to salvage pieces before the fire sales begin?

    Reply
    1. Monty

      “Cities and States will be in a massive pinch.”
      The federal reserve has expressed intent to buy municipal bonds, and as we know, it can afford as many as it wants. Do you think that could help?
      https://www.wsj.com/articles/federal-reserve-considering-additional-support-for-state-and-local-government-finance-11585335550

      If you look at the chart on the municipal bond ETF $MUB the market reacted to that news with a swift 13% gain, erasing almost all the covid19 losses.

      Reply
      1. Noone from Nowheresville

        Based on the “stuff” which happened during and after the 2008 crisis as well as what’s in the CARES Act, I’m skeptical that the “help” granted by an entity like the FED will outweigh the grifting and the fire sales. That help might even have strings attached on the order of what the World Bank does.

        But when I asked the question, I was thinking more on an individual resident point of view. I expect to be shall we say screwed regardless of urban or rural area.

        It can be hard enough to stop something like water privatization in the best of times, how can it be accomplished in a TINA post-pandemic scenario? Which remaining manufacturers in more rural areas are at risk? Which farm land? So many acquisitions happen under the radar and we don’t realize how important they are until they are all gobbled up in one region after the other. e.g., to use Lambert’s must today’s read as a segue tangent: remaining smaller chicken and egg farms using non-factory farm techniques within the US.

        Is there a way to get ahead of the curve and figure out how to band together locally & regionally while also loosely coordinating nationally?

        Reply
        1. Susan the other

          imo yes, there is a way to organize locally and regionally. If the federal gov. fails to keep money circulating even though it has an endless supply, we can resort to other mediums of exchange like credit with a federal or state password; actual credit cards against federal or state guarantees; statewide payments of all essential utilities also by credit; we have an ongoing foodstamp program; we have Medicare (thank you LBJ); in short we can operate on government sponsored cooperation for everyone not just essential industry like agriculture and medical equipment/drugs. The government can both provide and ration everything. I would hope this sort of mobilization would eliminate profiteering, because so far lots of people have been looking for a profit – most recent example was some idle real estate in Philadelphia where the owner asked for a premium from the government to use it for Corona spillover. (this morning on NPR). If we have to lockdown this virus for a year or more before a vaccine can eliminate it we’ll have to agree to cooperate unless everyone agrees to distribute dollars generously as needed. There’s more than one way to get around Nancy Pelosi.

          Reply
          1. Susan the other

            So I just surprised myself: can states pass legislation to dole out credit in an emergency? States cannot print dollars but they can print their own currency that can only be used within the state. That implies that states guaranteeing this credit can also forgive it when the crisis is over, doesn’t it? Isn’t that State MMT?

            Reply
            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              The states can print money and accept it as state taxes. They can’t make anyone else take it.

              The U.S. dollar has value because its good for all debts public and private. U.S. State level currency has about as much as value as Disney dollars.

              Would you take a Delaware Dinar, a Rhode Island Ruble, or Pennsylvania Peso? Since the State has to take U.S. dollars for State level taxes, their ability to give value to a State level currency is largely non-existent.

              I think Arnold tried this when he was governor. Or it was talked about, like paying 10% of state workers in California Kroners. It just has no value.

              Reply
              1. Susan the other

                Yes, I would take state currencies for emergencies – but to make it work the state would have to take over state factories too I would think so everyone is cooperating. A state currency does not eliminate simultaneous federal money.

                Reply
              2. Mel

                “Would you take a Delaware Dinar, a Rhode Island Ruble, or Pennsylvania Peso?”

                You probably would. But it wouldn’t be simple.
                The blogger at hipcrimevocab.com produced a fine history of paper money in 8 parts. Here’s a quote taken from NPR, or maybe James K. Galbraith, about business in the age of state-chartered banks’ own notes:

                What if you run a store? What if you run that bar in New York and some guy walks in and gives you some bill that you’ve never seen before? What do you do? Well, that’s when you take out your trusty bank note reporter, this huge book the size of a phone book. This thing, it tells you what bills are in circulation, what they’re supposed to look like and how much they might be worth.

                You would take out this big…encyclopedia-looking thing…You’d look in this. You’d find the Howard Banking Company list. It would then tell you where the bank was. And then it would tell you at what discount the note was to be accepted at.

                So, for instance, if this was a particularly good bank, $5 note would trade at $5. You, as a bartender, would accept it at that. If it was trading at a discount, it would also say that. If the bank had defaulted, you’d know that. And you’d know that it’s worthless and not to accept it.

                And these books, new ones come out every month to keep up with the news. And you have a different book for every city. This is because a bill from, say, a Boston bank might be worth $5 in Boston but only $4 in New York. Usually, the further you get from a bank, the less its money is worth. People’s money loses value just because they’re traveling.

                Reply
            2. NotTimothyGeithner

              U.S. dollars didn’t simply become The U.S. Dollar because of MMT. It took time. Many countries have currency stabilization funds because their currency isn’t in demand, so they have to deal in Euros, dollars, yen, etc and their local currency depending on seasonal variation.

              In the end, it boils down to is a Disney Dollar good at Kroger? Is a Disneyland Dollar the same as a Disney World Dollar? In the end, people have to give the currency value. How does an individual U.S. do that? The states piggy back on the IRS as it is for tax purposes as it is.

              Reply
              1. Noone from Nowheresville

                Just to inject a smigde of humor:

                I still have have Disney World ride coupons / tickets from my childhood in a box somewhere.

                Reply
              2. Darius

                A state may accept taxes in the form of its own currency, but it can’t pay its bills with it. No one will accept it. It’s more worthless than Confederate money.

                Reply
                1. Wukchumni

                  Most Confederate currency is worth more than the stated face value on $ to $20 banknotes, so yes the south did rise again, as collectibles.

                  One odd thing many states issued during the Great Depression was ‘sales tax tokens’.

                  Sales tax tokens were fractional cent devices used to pay sales tax on very small purchases in many American states during the years of the Great Depression. Tax tokens were created as a means for consumers to avoid being “overcharged” by having to pay a full penny tax on purchases of 5 or 10 cents. Issued by private firms, by municipalities, and by twelve state governments, sales tax tokens were generally issued in multiples of 1 mill (​1⁄10 cent)

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

                  Reply
            3. Samuel Conner

              I’m not confident that the States are allowed to issue parallel currencies (though I think that things like this happened during GD#1; “wooden nickels” circulated locally to ease shortages of currency/coin that were impeding commerce)

              But I think that States could pay for things that the State uses in the form of tax credits against future State taxes owed, “currency” in all but name (US dollars being themselves a kind of bearer bond redeemable in payment of Federal taxes). These would be denominated in US dollars and would simply be debt obligations of the State. They presumably would be tradeable and might circulate at a discount to their face value. I think the discount could be small. (I think that something like this was considered in CA at one point in recent decades when, IIRC, a budget impasse or something was threatening a cash crunch)

              Even towns and cities could do this. A useful modulation of this would be to allow residents with property tax arrears to work off their debts through provision of goods and services to the city (perhaps through a local JG-like program) rather than seizing property and selling at tax auction. In the current crisis, one can imagine huge problems both in terms of cash-poor property-owners meeting tax payments and cash-poor municipalities obtaining needed goods and services.

              Reply
              1. NotTimothyGeithner

                A U.S. state can issue currency. Disney has its own currency. A state can’t levy taxes, fines, judgements, and anything I left out that can’t be paid back in U.S. dollars. The value of a U.S. dollar to a U.S. citizen in the U.S. is storm troopers will shut down anyone refusing to accept U.S. currency in the U.S. as payment.

                Effectively a US state that demanded Disney dollars to cover a fine would be in rebellion.

                Reply
                1. JBird4049

                  Not quite. California has issued warrants to pay for things when the legislature refused to do its job and pass a budget as well a during the Great Depression. Generally, Banks treat them like cash with expectation that the state will pay them in greenbacks eventually.

                  Reply
              2. Amfortas the hippie

                I’ve thrown this over the local transoms a bunch of times over the years.
                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Local_currency
                (follow the links)

                in a place like this, with such robust social cohesion, I think it could help get some kind of local production off the ground.
                I always included discussion of treating our county like a country…we have a balance of trade problem with the rest of the country and world, exporting dollars and importing most of what we need and want.
                of course, just about all of the local movers and shakers are totally plugged in to BAU, Amurcan Dreem,houseflipping orthodoxy, so it’s never gone anywhere.
                just that crazy hippie guy in the hills.

                Reply
                1. Oregoncharles

                  There’s a local currency here, called Hours – that’s how it’s denominated. An Hour is $10, so it’s been around a while, but it’s a constant struggle to keep it going, even in this town.

                  Reply
                2. Noone from Nowheresville

                  Thanks for the link. That was where I was trying to go.

                  Yes, I think you are right about being plugged in.It’s the red vs. blue pill matrix.

                  Do you ever feel like Noah?

                  ETA: the entire comment not just the currency bit. Thanks.

                  Reply
                  1. Amfortas the hippie

                    Re: Noah.
                    Yes.
                    All the Time.
                    For about 20 years.
                    or Cassandra with a beard.
                    or Isaiah or one of those guys.
                    even, perhaps, a Libertarian Socialist John Galt, with a strong Humanist Streak(!)
                    cousin has to go all the way to fredericksburg today, to deposit his last check from a construction job, so he can pay his guys, who are all hand-to-mouth even before all this.
                    so again, like a broken record, i admonish him to mask and sanitise and avoid humans(his bank is in the walmart)…and to get whatever beer he reckons is sufficient, because his is the last trip off farm(except for obtaining livestock) for at least 2 weeks.
                    so sayeth Amfortas, so sayeth the Flock.
                    the only bright side to all this…and after 2 weeks!…is that everyone, including my hard headed mom, is on the same page…and allowing me to take point.

                    Reply
    2. Wukchumni

      April is the cruelest month and the 10th the cruelest day.

      Property taxes are due @ what should be the crashendo of the first movement of Covid-19.

      Reply
      1. Amfortas the hippie

        yeah…that’s a kicker.
        around here, the Property Tax Grievance review board(or whatever) is populated by a handful of old white men with money, sitting in judgement over the scattering of poors who deign to protest their assessment…and in a fine position to swallow up the properties that get into arrears once on the courthouse steps. these local slumlords have made quite a business out of this.
        tax on my beat up old trailer house is low enough that i usually just pay it without another thought(O.W.Holmes:”i like paying taxes, it’s the fee i pay for civilisation”)
        but this year i noticed the assessed value had gone up from 3k to 13k…in one year…for a beat up old trailerhouse with zero market value(if no one will buy it, what’s the discovered price,lol?).
        i thought it was a sort of natural law that “mobile homes” always depreciated.
        so i took pictures, and had planned on going before the board to let them have a piece of my mind. I’ve done this twice before, in 25 years.
        now, with the current chaos and uncertainty, I don’t know what’s gonna happen,lol.
        I’ll probably pay it in the form of a feedsack full of unrolled pennies…which i’ve also done before,lol(look on their faces was priceless, and they left me alone for another 10 years)

        Reply
    1. HotFlash

      Lemme see if I got this straight. MILLIONS of workers just got laid off en masse, and lost their employer provided (but maybe not employer paid) health insurance in a time of pandemic. Got it. Insurance co’s, will now not have to pay for CoViD stuff (tests, treatments, CT scans, intubations, ambulance, yada, to death and no joke) but neither for *any* usual claims, ya know, the strokes, heart attacks, cancer, broken limbs, benign tumors, checkups, and birthings that people have in normal times?

      How is this not a huge bail-out to the insurance industry? I am still not clear on how the “health care” industry is being bailed out, but I am pretty sure it is happening. Anyone have info on this? Or even informed speculation? After all, Sec Mnuchin has the $$$$ and doesn’t have to say where they went.

      Reply
  33. The Rev Kev

    “California once had mobile hospitals and a ventilator stockpile. But it dismantled them”

    Now this brings up an interesting possibility. California built up this medical capability with dealing with what we are now experiencing but the politicians trashed it in a budget cut. I wonder if there were other capabilities that had been built up to help California deal with massive earthquakes and whether they too were trashed as well about the same time.

    Reply
    1. JBird4049

      Probably.

      Considering that the state receives floods, fires, earthquakes, and riots on rotation and that cutting the portable hospitals saved the government 0.000044 percent of the budget is just stupid. What makes it worse is that anyone like Jerry Brown who has lived in the state for any long period of time knows this. Don’t think that they don’t.

      Reply
  34. Wukchumni

    2 different kinds of potatoes go in the ground today, and about 25 pots with carrots, tomatoes, beans & peppers are on their way from here to eaternity in a hundred and something days.

    Bought a fishing pole & accessories, kind of a do it all kit made by Shakespeare, fairly fruitless as yes there are fish in the river, but it’ll be fished out quick, and besides i’m allergic to fish as far as eating them is concerned, but it’ll provide countless hours of looking purposeful, and $40 seemed a bargain.

    My longtime backpacking friend who i’ve shared maybe 3,000 miles of walking together, is an avid fly fisherman and we’d stop at every possibility in the backcountry-the more remote off-trail, the better. He sometimes brings a casting rod and I play along, but its really his deal.

    I remember a few out of the way lakes where i’d have 4 or 5 trout chasing my lure even after i’d been at it 15 minutes, ravenous.

    My favorite was the outlet stream of an incredibly hard to get to body called Eagle Scout Lake in Sequoia NP. My buddy was fishing the lake to no avail, while I was 200 yards down from him pulling out Cutthroat trout no smaller than 15 inches, and I brought him to the promised land and I think the largest was 23 inches, and we’re strictly catch and release, so off they went. I wonder who planted them there?

    Reply
    1. Amfortas the hippie

      aye! we’re planning on a trek to one of my secret perch holes in the Llano River this week.
      Wife does fish on friday during Lent, so i’m doghouse-proofing.
      I haven’t been to the river in some years…afraid to go by myself, due to disability, and the rugged remoteness of all the good fishing spots.
      no cell service down there, unless you scale a cliff.

      Reply
  35. Alex

    Re the Hong Kong protests article, the byline says that the author is Zoe Zhao, a sociology PhD student at the University of Pennsylvania. I’m quite astonished that she has guts to tell Hong Kong protesters that they need to de-construct the protest and that their anonymity makes it hard to assess if any structural inequalities manifest. Maybe she should do some field sociology studies there (once the corona thing is over, of course) rather than from the Penn campus?

    Reply
  36. Pelham

    Re comments: I hope I’m not among those who have had to be screened out, and I apologize if I’ve ever been a problem. I value reading the really outstanding collection of comments on this site much more than I do my ability to comment.

    With that in mind, I’ll make this suggestion: At this stage, you have a host of contributors who consistently serve up valuable comments. To make things easier on yourselves, maybe you could sort of license them or give them a more direct path to comment and then automatically exclude everyone else, collecting their comments in a separate bin to be reviewed for adding if you have the time and bandwidth.

    It’s just a suggestion. Being a digital dunce, I don’t know how practical it is. But I do hope you find some way to keep the comments while reducing your own stress.

    Reply
    1. flora

      Your comments always seem on point to me. I’ve noticed some new names showing up that leave short comments that look designed to annoy and create dissension. (I also know there are lots of AI bots dropping comments all across the net. ( Not you. ) This is a general observation.)
      Anyway, I’ve started ignoring a lot of the newer comment names that show a propensity for jerky one-liner comments, I don’t bother reading them.

      Reply
    2. David

      As one who comments most days, but not lightly, may I suggest that it would be useful to go through the following thought process before posting at the moment:
      – do I have special knowledge or experience in this area?
      – if not, do I have a particular or unusual point of view or have I found a source that I think others need to see?
      – if not, do I have a comment that I think is particularly pertinent or witty that I think people really need to read,
      Otherwise, don’t comment.

      Reply
        1. xkeyscored

          Perhaps it already has, precisely because everyone follows David’s advice. Just that some might disagree with their answers to his questions – “YES! Assolutely!!!!!!!!!!” to all three.

          Reply
  37. .Tom

    I was talking yesterday to three friends each working in different big Boston hospitals. They described a litany of dumb decisions handed down by management, some of which were reversed and others still in effect. It made me think of the topic of managerial-ism that is discussed here from time to time. Highly-lettered professional administrators are making dumb decisions that those with the experience doing the real hospital jobs could have identified as dumb before they were promulgated.

    Reply
    1. Oregoncharles

      The inverse of that problem is drawing off technical people who can do the real work to shuffle papers. Engineers and the like often complain that their only way to “advance” is to stop doing what they trained for. But, eg, Boeing is a good example of the results if the managers aren’t committed to the technical end.

      It’s a dilemma. One option is rather political: have part-time committees of technical people (doctors, nurses, whatever) to supervise the managers and make policy decisions. Not sure how well that works in practice.

      Reply
  38. flora

    re: Stimulous bill contains tax break for 1%.

    I think those endless tax breaks for corps and the 1% are what has caused the shortages of everything during this pandemic and a disfunctional CDC/Public Health sector – not just in the US, but in the entire neoliberal West.

    Here’s a recent March 19th Mother Jones article by Patrick Wyman about the hollowing out of the old Roman Empire . There are some parallels.

    How Do You Know If You’re Living Through the Death of an Empire?
    It’s the little things.

    “Yet even in the most extreme cases of rapid transformation, like Britain, northern Gaul, and the Balkans, the day-to-day experience of living in a falling empire was banal in the extreme. The tax collectors didn’t show up, which meant lower revenues for the provincial administration. A crumbling bridge and road never got the necessary repairs, so a formerly prosperous town was cut off from the transport network. Without revenues, pay and supplies of grain and wine never arrived for the local garrison of soldiers, who decided they would no longer carry out patrols to protect against marauders. …

    “The fall of an empire—the end of a polity, a socioeconomic order, a dominant culture, or the intertwined whole—looks more like a cascading series of minor, individually unimportant failures than a dramatic ending that appears out of the blue. Carts full of olive oil failing to arrive at some nameless fort because of a dysfunctional military bureaucracy, a corrupt official deciding to cook the books and claim taxes were collected when they really weren’t, a greedy aristocrat bribing that official instead of paying his bill, an aqueduct falling to pieces and nobody willing to front the funds to repair it.


    “Those were small things, state-subsidized ships pulling up to docks built at state expense, sacks of grain hauled on squealing carts and distributed to the citizens, but an empire is an agglomeration of small things. One by one, the arrangements and norms that enabled those small things fell away; not all at once, not everywhere, but slowly and inexorably. That’s the reality, far more than a climactic battlefield defeat or a psychopathic emperor single-handedly ruining a stable structural arrangement.”

    https://www.motherjones.com/media/2020/03/how-do-you-know-if-youre-living-through-the-death-of-an-empire/

    While it’s a common armschair musing to use the Roman Empire as an exercise focusing on the present, I think the Wyman article contains a lot of parallels worth considering. Shrinking govt due to ideology means smaller govt funded and maintained roads, bridges, transport, manufacturing, all the little things we take for granted to ‘just be there’ to keep the place running. What happens when those things – like manufacturing and a functioning public health system – aren’t there anymore? Deciding to run an empire by shrinking or destroying said empire’s administrative capacity ??? AI and public/private handshakes won’t save you.

    Reply
    1. Billy

      “A crumbling bridge and road never got the necessary repairs…” Maybe in the provinces, but in Rome and closer in, many didn’t need repairs. The massive preengineering Roman Roads and arched bridges still stand in some cases. e.g. the Viaduct in Segovia, built of ?basalt? blocks.
      20 years ago, prostitutes were hanging out on the Via Appia in Rome. High heels made the rounded blocks very dangerous for them, so it wasn’t perfect.

      Now contrast that with the oriented strand board, tar paper, chicken wire, plaster fast food “buildings” of today, many of which are designed to last just about one depreciation period before being bulldozed.

      Reply
      1. flora

        Rome’s buildings remained but her population shrank. From the above article:

        Rome probably still had hundreds of thousands of inhabitants at the beginning of the sixth century, well into the barbarian Ostrogoths’ period of rule. What shrank Rome down to a mere few tens of thousands by the year 550 was the end of the annona, the intricate state-subsidized grain shipments that brought food to the city first from North Africa and then from Sicily. The megacity of Rome was an artificial creation of the Roman state and its Roman-style successor. Rome suffered plagues and sieges in the 530s, but Rome had dealt with plagues and sieges before. What it could not survive was the cutting of its grain supply, and the end of the administrative apparatus that ensured its regular delivery.

        Reply
        1. The Rev Kev

          And after a few centuries the Roman Forum, that center of political power for the entire western world, had goats grazing there.

          Reply
    2. carl

      Greer sees collapse as a series of “stepdowns,” from higher to lower complexity (building off Tainter’s original thesis). I’d anticipate this is one of those stepdowns, where we eventually return to a sort of normal, but with a few things missing or not functioning as well. Gradually, everything becomes more and more hollowed out, with more people forgetting over time how much better things were ten, twenty or thirty years before.

      Reply
  39. gerry

    “Honestly, there are days I think I should do a Links with no #COVID19 stories at all, just to shine a light on what the usual suspects are trying to get away with while nobody’s looking.”
    Yes, please.

    Reply
  40. xkeyscored

    King of Thailand self-isolates from coronavirus by hiring out entire luxury German hotel for him and his entourage including a harem of 20 concubines – Daily Mail

    “119 members of the royal entourage are thought to have been sent back to Thailand amid concerns they had contracted Covid-19.” Sounds like he’s going to get it if hasn’t already. Apparently he has permission from local authorities to be there, but there’s no mention of who, if anyone, will tend to their needs if and when they fall sick.

    Reply
    1. curious euro

      Did he check anything at all before traveling to Garmisch-Partenkirchen at the german-austrian border?
      I don’t know how many cases there are in Thailand, but where he is right now, it’s the 2nd worst hit state in Germany, Bavaria, and the country next door, Austria is severely hit as well.
      Then he comes from a tropical country where supposedly the virus survives less time due to the hot climate. While in Bavaria, in the mountains no less, each night should be under 0°C and most days only a few centigrades above.

      Somehow I don’t understand his reasoning. If he were a normal, but quite rich, person, I could understand traveling here for the possibly better medical care in public hospitals: but he’s a king, a head of state, medical doctors and specialists come to him not the other way around. Wherever he is, there his hospital is.

      Reply
  41. Culp Creek Curmudgeon

    I grew up near Albany, Ga., in rural Baker County. I went to High School and church in Albany. Because my family moved shortly after I graduated High School, I’ve lost touch with most of the folks that I grew up with. It’s going to be, um, interesting when the virus starts spreading into more rural areas.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I like it better than a comma. I often our existing punctuation falls short of best clarifying what we mean and how we would have it read. The many meanings of words contribute expressive capability while introducing ambiguity. I believe a few more punctuation marks might help.

      I like to watch the DVD commentaries. I recall a supplemental commentary — I believe it was on the first disc of the BBC production of “Tinker, Tailor” — described how Alec Guiness had some notation he used to indicate to himself how he thought the dialog should be read. An actor’s notations would be too rich for written communication but might contribute some of the points benefiting from a new punctuation and perhaps the symbols I feel are missing.

      Reply
      1. Susan the other

        Remember that funny Dane who played the piano and verbalized (or made rude noises for) punctuation marks? (Victor Borge?)

        Reply
        1. urblintz

          I am honored to have met Borge. He heard me sing at the Newport Music Festival and afterwards he had one thing to say… “lose the beard.” hahahaha! he was right!

          Reply
    2. Angie Neer

      Oh, Lambert, Lambert, Lambert—you so inspiringly urged us to avoid stirring up troll-nests, and then you give us an opening to discuss whether em dashes should have spaces around them (no, obviously)!

      I KID, I KID! Mostly!

      Thank you for your service.

      Reply
  42. antidlc

    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/instacart-workers-announce-emergency-strike-over-coronavirus-concerns-2020-03-28/

    “We will not risk our safety”: Instacart workers announce emergency strike over coronavirus concerns

    As coronavirus continues to spread in the U.S., many people have turned to grocery delivery services like Instacart to bring them their basic needs. But Instacart workers plan to conduct a nationwide strike Monday over what they consider a lack of protection and adequate compensation for their risky trips to grocery stores — even though they are “risking our lives.”

    In a letter posted on Medium on Friday, Instacart workers, which the company calls shoppers, and activist organization Gig Workers Collective said that Instacart “has a well established history of exploiting its Shoppers” and that the mistreatment has “stooped to an all-time low.”

    I had my concerns over home delivery and what protections the shoppers were given. Not sure whether it’s better to do pickup or just risk going into the store.

    Reply
    1. xkeyscored

      I’m not sure how in current circumstances, but supporting the strike seems like a better option than going to the store. That just adds to the numbers out and about, and helps the virus spread even faster. Helping those who are not working from home to stay safe helps us all stay safe.

      Reply
      1. antidlc

        I’m not blaming them for striking.

        The problem is…if you need groceries you either have to go into the store, arrange for pickup at the store (if the store offers outside pickup), or have groceries delivered to your home.

        Each option has its own risks.

        Reply
  43. periol

    RE: The Atlantic article: The Coronavirus Is Demonstrating the Value of Globalization

    Frum’s piece should go into college syllabi for instruction on Gaslighting 101. I need to go take a cold shower after reading it.

    I knew going in it would be like that, unless his argument was that coronavirus is demonstrating the LACK OF VALUE of globalization.

    Here’s my favorite quote from the piece…

    “If a Chinese-made antibiotic costs 50 cents a unit, and a locally made antibiotic costs $1, that difference liberates 50 cents for other important purposes. Substituting $1 antibiotics for 50-cent antibiotics may create jobs, as the Trump administration promises. But those jobs will be bought at the expense of severe consequences just beyond the frame of vision.”

    The logic is scintillating. Please, master, can we have cheaper antibiotics so you can take the extra money “for other important purposes”? Heaven forbid it went to JOBS.

    Reply
    1. cnchal

      > . . . that difference liberates 50 cents for other important purposes. . .

      Multiply that $0.50 by infinity and you are talking serious money. Here, important means the importer can charge $0.98 putting the local producer out of business and then the price is increased to $1.20 or moar and the profits are split between the importer and the CPC elite at a 75 / 25 % ratio. The CPC takes that money and buys Smithfields Foods (who knew the Chinese elite own US meat production, sales and distribution almost lock stock and barrel) and drives up the price of real estate in locales such as Vancouver, Toronto and cities around the world, forcing the locals to work for peanuts, completely priced out of their own city.

      The Chinese peasants work like slaves for less than peanuts, sometimes spitting into the antibiotic vats as revenge, and their “value add” is stolen by agreement between the importer and the CPC.

      The importer also now can buy politicians and stack them up like cordwood, each one ready to spout venal nonsense when the ring attached to the string sticking out of their backs are pulled.

      See crApple as confirmation on how this works.

      Who are you going to believe? Your lying eyes or Mr. Axis of Evil pretending to be an eclownomist.

      Reply
  44. Billy

    “The health care industry front group @P4AHCF, {“People” for America’s Health Care Future}, which vilifies Medicare for All, has now gone completely silent for two weeks as polls show a surge in support for Medicare for All during the coronavirus crisis”

    So, People, how’s your American healthcare present working out for you?

    Reply
      1. xkeyscored

        The answer will no doubt be that it can’t be paid for. All the debt incurred during this crisis will first need to be given to creditors, and that costs money, blah blah blah.

        Reply
    1. Balakirev

      I’d suggest that @P4AHCF’s natural enemy, Reality, has suddenly gained a much louder megaphone. The lobby’s waiting it out in the hopes nobody lights a Medicare-for-All fire under a 2020 presidential candidate. If, for example, Biden’s caregivers had him embrace MfA with the apparent fervor of the newly converted, Big Pharma dollars would be lost in a (quite possible) exchange for a shitton of grassroots support and votes.

      Mind you, that will never happen. But still.

      Reply
      1. John k

        Nah… if progressives think Biden’s gonna fight for any progressive bridge, maybe I could interest them in this bridge I won in a crap game…
        Progressives noticed his constant stream of lies in the last debate. IMO they won’t get off the couch in nov. and why should they? All he’s done is consistently kick the working class throughout his career.

        Reply
  45. MLTPB

    Real Estate now an essential industry, reports OC Register:

    The California Association of Realtors said Saturday, March 28, that commercial and residential real estate services were included on an updated list of essential services from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

    More news out of Iran, on the virus and the business of a nation, from today’s Guardian Live News:

    “It’s a dilemma playing out across the globe, as leaders struggle to strike a balance between restricting human contact and keeping their economies from crashing,” Rouhani said at a cabinet meeting.

    “Health is a principle for us, but the production and security of society is also a principle for us. We must put these principles together to reach a final decision.”

    Reply
  46. Oregoncharles

    “Eight days in I entered the living hell of attempting to find my results through websites and patient portals.” (Noonan)

    This is far more severe than my experience, probably because she’s in New York and in the midst of a pandemic. My experience is probably more typical.

    First, if I attempt to call my doctor the recommended way, I enter phone hell: a recording so lengthy and irritating that it exceeds my patience and I hang up. An official at the clinic admitted that it’s designed to drive people to the internet Patient Portal, and also that they are financially incentivized to maximize portal use. Obamacare strikes again. I’ve changed doctors in the past because I couldn’t call them, but this time I found a work-around: I call the overall information number for the clinic (which is large). The nice lady who answers can connect me with the actual doctor’s office (a nurse, but usually good enough). Once I actually walked in rather than call, because I was in the area. The women out front are, again, pleasant and very helpful. But I can’t go in now.

    I also had a battle to keep my information out of the blasted Portal. That’s how I got to talk with another nice lady in administration, who assured me that I did not have a Portal account, despite someone in the doctor’s office posting my test results to it (with the nifty effect of vanishing the results). She admitted to financial incentives.

    I’ve also encountered, recently, a miscoding that Medicare rejected; they fixed that quite readily. That was another chance to talk with an administrator, but it did get done.

    IOW, even a relatively well-run clinic in a prosperous town can drive you up the wall. Fortunately, I wasn’t actually sick.

    Reply
    1. John k

      Enlightening. You don’t suppose it will change her policy recommendations?
      I’ll be impressed when she supports Bernie.

      Reply
  47. ShamanicFallout

    Looking for a little help with numbers. If, say, the US has 100,000 confirmed covid cases, but testing is sparse/ unreliable, is there anyway to estimate how many people might actually have it right now? 1mill? 10million?And would there be anyway to figure out how many people have already had it? Random blood testing or something like that?

    Reply
    1. Monty

      The figures from the Diamond Princess suggest that the first 50% have no symptoms, the next 30% have mild symptoms akin to a cold, and then it gets more serious from there. That sample skewed towards the elderly, and so it may be milder than that at large. I doubt I could get a test at all here in AZ, unless I was at deaths door (worst 10%), and I know people in Spain who have severe flu for 7 days and cannot get tested. That leads me to think that there are a very large amount of untested cases. Just spit balling, but I’d estimate 1.5m in US, at least 10 times the amount currently confirmed. Wouldn’t you agree?

      Reply
      1. rtah100

        The UK chief medical or scientific officer (I forget which, the two indistinguishable expert Stan Laurel bookends to Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Oliver Hardy Johnson) said that their rule of thumb is one death per 1,000 infected, so you can back out the numbers of infected (two weeks earlier!) from today’s dead.

        Reply
        1. MLTPB

          In this San Francisco Chronicle article, it says the lag is about 1 month, not 2 wks:

          https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/Coronavirus-slowing-in-Bay-Area-Experts-track-15164179.php

          The problem with using deaths as a marker of disease is twofold. First, most people die about a month or so after being infected, so the deaths that are being reported now are a reflection of what was happening in the community four or more weeks ago

          (I forgot where I read something simlilar… 2 wks incubation, 10 days to serious complications, and 4 days after…if people can update or revise this, please do ).

          Reply
  48. Alfred

    Thanks for including the link to Yolanda Wilson’s twitter thread on the situation in her hometown of Albany, GA. As my own hometown is near there, and I frequently pass through it, I have been following the Albany situation with increasing concern over the past week. My chief source of information has been the Georgia Department of Public Health’s website, with COVID-19 statistics updated twice daily. It was recommended to me by a friend who is a biology professor, and I noted that Dr. Wilson also linked to it. On https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report the statistics are presented county by county in descending order by number of confirmed cases reported. Against each number of cases the site lists the number of COV-19 deaths. This morning (apparently) the site added a new section with demographic data provided for each death. This new section is arranged in alphabetical order by county. The two data arrangements share, to my mind, two significant disadvantages. One is that they mask (for readers who have not memorized at least some of Georgia’s 159 county/chief city pairings) the data relevant to Georgia’s most densely populated cities. The other is that they mask the data relevant to the suburban zones and hinterlands adjacent to the urbanized counties in which those cities lie. For example, Atlanta lies in Fulton County, which is bordered by another 10 counties that account for most (but I dare say not all) of the metropolitan area that are drawn to the capital’s major hospitals. Albany lies in Dougherty County, which is bordered by six other counties. Those six counties are largely rural or suburban. None, so far as I know, is served by a major hospital. They are all dependent largely or exclusively on the Phoebe Putney Health System, whose central facility is in Albany. Its website, https://www.phoebehealth.com/ , describes the system as follows: “Phoebe Putney Health System is a not-for-profit network of more than 4,500 physicians, nurses, professional staff, and volunteers. We deliver compassionate, high quality healthcare to more than 500,000 residents in our 41-county region. Phoebe is dedicated to providing a better way to health and wellness for our entire community.” The extreme stress under which Phoebe Putney is now operating was showcased a few days ago by a feature on NBC: https://www.nbc-2.com/story/41940404/georgias-hardest-hit-hospital-says-its-intensive-care-units-are-filled-with-critically-ill-coronavirus-patients . That vast hinterland of Phoebe Putney provides the context in which Dr. Wilson’s remarks become especially disturbing. To begin with, Albany has been strikingly affected over the past half-century by white flight. Wikipedia reports its population now to be 71.6% black: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albany,_Georgia . Several of its surrounding counties, notably Lee County, have gained the reputation of being places of middle-class white ‘refuge’. The seven-county area, meanwhile, possesses great swathes of poverty but also pockets of astonishing wealth, hosting as it does some of Georgia’s most exclusive hunting plantations. I suspect, but cannot prove, that the considerable wealth inequality that prevails both in and around Dougherty County has a lot to do with that county’s extraordinary (by Georgia standards) COVID-19 death rate. For one thing, the area’s well-to-do are (in my opinion) more likely to skip Phoebe Putney and seek care in the hospitals of the ‘whiter’ towns of Moultrie and Thomasville. For another, The Georgia DPH demographic data posted today show that of Dougherty County’s 17 dead (meaning at time of death, Doughtery was the place of legal residence) from COVID-19 (age range: 42 to 92), at least eight had complicating conditions. From recent reports, those conditions seem likely to have included obesity and/or diabetes, both of which are notoriously correlated with low income. From today’s county-by-county counts posted by the Georgia DPH, I extract the following data for Dougherty and its surrounding counties (asterisks indicate the members of Albany’s Metropolitan Statistical Area): *Dougherty 239 cases, 17 deaths; *Lee 43 cases, 6 deaths; *Worth 10 cases, 1 death; Mitchell, 15 cases, 0 deaths; *Baker 1 case, 1 death; Calhoun 3 cases, 0 deaths; *Terrell 10 cases, 2 deaths. (I note but cannot explain why the — less densely populated? — counties with no deaths are the same two that lie outside the Albany MSA.) The overall ratio of cases to deaths across the seven counties is 8.4%. That ratio contrasts starkly with the same ratio prevailing today for Fulton County (239 cases, 17 deaths), 2.9%. Indeed each of the five counties including and surrounding Dougherty, which have experienced COVID-19 deaths so far, shows a ratio that far exceeds that of Fulton: Baker 100% (one of ‘only’ two counties in Georgia at 100%, the other being Heard, within the Atlanta MSA); Lee 14%; Terrell 20%; Worth 10%; Dougherty 7.1%. So as horrendous as the situation in Albany and Dougherty County is, that in their hinterland is far more shocking. All of these situations call out for explanation, but more urgently for redress and remediation. A glance at the color-coded county map on the Georgia DPH webpage, which has Fulton County uniquely tinted dark blue, can give the impression that Atlanta is the epicenter of Georgia’s unfolding COVID-19 crisis. But in reality, other parts of the state are already proving — as the case of Dougherty County demonstrates — to be more disastrous.

    Reply
  49. Wayne Ashton

    Re using vaporized hydrogen peroxide to disinfect masks. Perhaps hospitals without the units specifically designed for this disinfecting method could jury-rig one as follows:

    Place a benchtop isolation chamber in a hood.
    Place a cool mist ultrasonic humidifier filled with hydrogen peroxide in the isolation chamber.
    Place the masks to be disinfected in the isolation chamber, hung in some fashion to expose the entire surface.
    Seal the isolation chamber and turn on the humidifier.
    When the disinfecting cycle is completed (TBD empirically), vent the isolation chamber in the hood.
    Testing would be required to determine if this method could achieve the vapor concentrations needed to be effective.
    Please don’t try this at home! Breathing hydrogen peroxide vapor is dangerous!

    Reply
    1. Paradan

      Also the 90% hydrogen peroxide that hospitals have will cause chemical burns, and is probably explosive in vapor form. It is a common rocket fuel.

      Reply
  50. bassmule

    Mark Blyth (“…a political economist whose research focuses upon how uncertainty and randomness impact complex systems, particularly economic systems, and why people continue to believe stupid economic ideas despite buckets of evidence to the contrary”) speaks with Chris Lydon on “Open Source,” a podcast. Here are few quotes–I scribbled them down as fast as I could, so I cannot claim word-for-word accuracy. He says many things I’d rather not hear:

    “Hotels are obviously a strategic industry if your President owns some.”

    Will the bailout save us?

    “There are 330 million people in the US. 80 million of them get paid hourly and have no statutory sick pay. Depending on how you count them, 22-27 million have absolutely no health insurance. In the state of Texas 18% have no health insurance. And, there are 270 million handguns in the US. What happens when there is no money in the ATMs, no bread in the stores? It’s that simple. So yes, the bailout is saving us.”

    “What happened to Bernie? 11-14% of voters approve of his policy proposals. You and I can say this is good bad or whatever. Nobody in the Atlanta suburbs really cares about a revolution.”

    “There are 12-14 states where production extraction and transportation of carbon-based products represent the bulk of their economy. How are we supposed to say to them, ‘Hey, join us in this Green New Deal project’.”

    https://radioopensource.org/profits-or-people/#

    Reply
    1. xkeyscored

      Mark Blyth is refreshingly clear and down to earth, isn’t he?
      I wonder how much this virus will affect the last two points you mention. Will Atlanta suburbanites feel so attached to the system they thought would look after them when this is over? And will fossil fuel industry workers start thinking work can be done where needed, and not done where not needed?

      Reply
      1. xkeyscored

        I’ve listened to it now, and he spends a fair bit of time addressing the fossil fuel workers topic. To summarise crudely from memory, we need to invest first in their regions, retraining for renewable energy and all that, instead of telling, or appearing to tell, them they’re the cause of the world’s problems and their jobs have to go. Sure sounds like a better idea than writing them off as deplorables.

        And he is a delightful speaker to listen to!

        Reply
        1. Adam Eran

          Bill Mitchell goes further: When it’s serious about climate Government needs to purchase the “sunk cost” of drilling rigs, in addition to supplying guaranteed employment.

          JFYI, U.S. manufacturing in the oil business is state-of-the-art. Ditto for the subsurface scans for potential oil deposits. We may have shipped a lot of manufacturing overseas, but (mostly) not oil equipment/software.

          Reply
    2. John k

      The best time to change course is when an emergency makes it blindingly clear you are on the wrong course. This change isn’t as fast as Pearl Harbor, but it’s happening. Even some of the rich might be thinking the time has come for m4a.
      And we still have maybe 20 mostly states doing business entirely as usual. Imagine case numbers and unemployment a month from now.
      And three months from now unemployment will be enormous even if numbers are coming down, Corp profits will be way negative even for those with loan guarantees… maybe at some point corps are demanding m4a and even worker support.
      I suspect China numbers, but their performance, whatever it is, is with the support of draconian policies and a very docile pop with no guns. Might be different here.

      Reply
    3. ChiGal in Carolina

      never ever thought I’d say this, but for the first time tonight, speaking to the nation about the pandemic, Trump rose to the occasion.

      now that the Dems downsized Bernie, nobody stands a chance against him

      he actually had gravitas and was believably urgent and compassionate in describing the human toll we are facing.

      we are so effed cuz we got nothin’

      Reply
    4. eg

      It’s well worth a listen, and worth sending to those with whom you may be sparring regarding a response to this crisis and what may come in its aftermath

      Reply
    5. Yves Smith

      Blyth is wrong about Bernie’s policy proposals. Even before coronavirus, M4A polled IIRC over 60%. Taxing wealth even more popular. Bona fide progressive policies have polled solid majorities for decades.

      It is that despite Sanders selling policy, most voters don’t want to hear policy, they want personalities and soundbites. And as I said repeatedly, Sanders has all the charisma of your cranky Jewish uncle telling you to take your feet off the coffee table. What most voters saw (thanks particularly to MSM cherry-picking) was the finger-wagging Sanders, which turned many off.

      Reply
      1. bassmule

        Yes, I seem to recall a recent post here about the populace becoming an audience and government becoming a vaudville show.

        Anyway: Here’s a recent poll–there’s no date other than the story release date (Mar. 20), which is frustrating. I have no idea of the reliability of Survey Monkey. That said, the headline is reassuring, although I find it a bit disturbing that strong support for M4A is only 17%. I would have thought by mid-March that number would be higher. I’m wondering if this is mostly fueled by fear of the unknown? (It’s the only reason I can come up with for Biden’s popularity: He’s a familiar face.)

        Half of Americans support Medicare for All amid the coronavirus pandemic, new poll finds

        https://www.businessinsider.com/medicare-for-all-support-americans-robust-sanders-coronavirus-pandemic-2020-3

        Reply
  51. alex morfesis

    are we getting gamed by the Medical 10 percenter professional class ?? CDC info shows in week 12 of 2020 in the 2019-2020 flu season, the flu season seems to have basically ended and we only had 22,500 deaths…(googoylemonstyr “cdc Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report”) and peaked 7 weeks ago…2017-2018 flu monstyr left us with about 85 thousand less amerikanskis or so the public has been told but not from their apparent website…how exactly are we short on all these usual things if we have had such a low level of deaths this flu season ?

    (googoylemonster “cdc Summary of the 2017-2018 Influenza Season”)

    a whole lot of guessing going on in the system using FLUServnet

    From October 1, 2017 through April 28, 2018, 30,453 laboratory-confirmed influenza-related hospitalizations were reported through the FLUServNet (Influenza Hospitalization Surveilance Network) which covers approximately 9% of the U.S. population. People 65 years and older accounted for approximately 58% of reported influenza-associated hospitalizations. Overall hospitalization rates (all ages) during 2017-2018 were the highest ever recorded in this surveillance system, breaking the previously recorded high recorded during 2014-2015;

    CDC estimates that from 2010-2011 to 2013-2014, influenza-associated deaths in the United States ranged from a low of 12,000 (during 2011-2012) to a high of 56,000 (during 2012-2013).

    Awful mess of a system which is the most expensive, per capita, in the world…the obvious panic amongst all tends to probably come from the back of the envelope or off in driftee contemplation land…if we can’t reasonably handle an outbreak which is at most twice the usual top end of the flu season…how exactly might we handle 1dumbsun from North Korea if his keystone kops ever figure out how to deal with the solar winds of a rocket slingshot and we end up with new clear stuff floating around ??

    the self appointed fearless leader klass klowns insisting we hear their rambling proclamations as they are here to defend the commonweal…

    are going to get whig partied…

    Reply
  52. Jeremy Grimm

    I tried to get a handle on what was in the CARES Act, particularly what it did for unemployment benefits and ordinary people living in the U.S. The act has 880 pages in a total so I tried to get an idea of how different sections of the Act fleshed out in pages.

    I scanned some of the Act and here are my impressions — There isn’t much in the Act that covers anything that will help ordinary people much. The unemployment section runs about 60 pages out of the 880 and my impression is that it was largely boiler plate legislation for extending unemployment benefits tailored a little for COVID-19 [roughly pp. 84-144]. Other than that, pp. 567-578 appeared to cover the substance of mortgage and renter protections. From the quick scan I made, it appears that people can postpone payment of mortgages and rent during Corona without incurring penalties or special fees ,,, for loans made via various Federal programs and rent paid to landlords covered by the mortgage postponement. But renters have to make good by 30 days after Corona is no longer in effect[?] which is when landlords may initiate eviction proceedings. I don’t recall what applied to mortgage payments — much the same I think. After Corona a few balloons will be due. There were some sections making it easier for individuals individuals to pull money out of their retirement plans, some stuff I skipped over about Medicare and Medicaid — some rules and details of Federal funding(?). I think that about covers all the goodies for the little people in this package of treats. [I am not sure what section describes the tax advantage described in the link: “The stimulus bill includes a tax break for the 1%”.]

    This is just my overall impression of the CARES Act from a few hours scanning it — I didn’t see much that was directly related to COVID-19. There were a lot of program extensions to programs that were expiring. Pages 609-880 — the end of this act detailed a package extending or modifying and generally increasing (?) the appropriations already(?) made in whatever omnibus appropriations bill was passed earlier(?). The COVID-19 pandemic was used broadly as a justification. Pages 415-510 were devoted to rules controlling over-the-counter drugs and various fees related to them. Of course that doesn’t cover everything or anything in depth. Many of the sections dealt with a situation like the COVID-19 pandemic when the economy shuts down — things like programs halted by the economic shutdown with funding that timed out.

    There are a few other notable high-lights:
    SEC. 6001. COVID–19 BORROWING AUTHORITY FOR THE UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE.
    p. 607 Scanning this section — I think it means the US Postal Service can borrow money to keep going during Corona but after Corona the clock starts ticking again on “section 2005 of title 39, United States Code” [Is that the law designed to bankrupt the US Postal Service?] The US Postal Service will have a balloon to pay after Corona.
    p. 435 “the [Federal Reserve] Board may conduct meetings without regard to the requirements of section 552b of title 5, United States Code” — means what? secret meetings?
    p. 213 PART I—ADDRESSING SUPPLY SHORTAGES Subpart A—Medical Product Supplies
    This calls for a National Academy of Sciences report on the Medical Supplies Supply Chain … including a requirement to provide recommendations. I don’t know whether this is a good thing or not. Is it another “Gathering Storm” like the promotion of STEM?

    Consider that the corona virus was not on the radar [? or was it] until sometime in January. This 880 page CARES Act shows up by the end of March. Each page contains less than half-a-page probably closer to a quarter of a page of text once the double-spacing, line numbering and font sizes are accounted for. But 220 pages of this stuff in three months? How much of the CARES Act had already been drafted and sat waiting for the proper event to enable folding it together into whatever must-pass ‘sausage’ came by that this stuff could be tailored to fit? [This seems to be the way Congress makes our laws and appropriations these days.] This at least suggests there may be more to the Sanders Kabuki role than what he claimed according to Matt Stoller….

    It will be a lot easier to make sense of this thing once a pdf is made to supports hyperlinks between the table of contents and sections. Also why are the 275 pages of this act covered by a single topic heading: “DIVISION B EMERGENCY APPROPRIATIONS FOR CORONAVIRUS HEALTH RESPONSE AND AGENCY OPERATIONS”. You have to dig through this stuff to piece together even a rough idea of what all is in this Division B.

    Reply
  53. evodevo

    “Would everyone wearing face masks help us slow the pandemic?”
    LOL update here from Ky…we live 16 miles from the town where the first Ky case turned up. Hubby and I go out in masks all the time, and get stares, even in the middle of the Walmart where patient 0 worked. The Dem gov. has shut down restaurants and schools and non-essential businesses, thus mashing down our curve as a state. But we have a LARGE contingent of MAGA wearing Trump voters who still haven’t gotten the message, and are pretty pissed about the closings. However they laugh, they stay AWAY from us when we are out, which is fine with me. So as a social distancing measure, they work just fine…

    Reply
    1. JBird4049

      It is so much fun to see people riding Identity Politics
      (or is it Science Denialism?) into the grave; perhaps the nation’s biggest problem is the decades long efforts of The Powers That Be to split Americans into warring factions in which the truth is determined by a predetermined, very limited ideology to create a putative identity instead of facts or reasoning.

      Ideology and Identity creates Facts instead of Facts creating Ideology or Identity.

      Reply

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