Links 4/14/2020

Dear patient readers,

I lost a huge amount of my evening because my outbound mail account quit working and my mail host was utterly at sea as to why.

Lose Yourself in a Breathtaking New NASA Image of The ‘Pillars of Creation’ Science Alert (David L)

New Theory Explains How Interstellar Object ‘Oumuamua Got Its Freaky Shape Gizmodo (Kevin W)

Ukraine: wildfires draw dangerously close to Chernobyl site Guardian (resilc)

Strange Forest Patches Littering The Amazon Point to Agriculture 10,000 Years Ago Science Alert (Chuck L)

Deadly olive tree disease across Europe ‘could costs billions’ BBC (resilc)

Hidden failures Science Direct


John Conway, inventor of the Game of Life, has died of COVID-19 ars technica (David L)

How coronavirus stalled climate change momentum Financial Times

Airfare likely to shoot up threefold due to social distancing Times of India

A pandemic like coronavirus may be reported like a war but it is very different Independent. Kevin W: “Worth reading this.”


First detailed map of transcriptome and epitranscriptome for novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) Medical Net

Novel coronavirus attacks and destroys T cells, just like HIV News Medical (Kevin W)

Genomic Study Points to Natural Origin of COVID-19 NIH Director’s Blog (furzy)


Who Is Immune to the Coronavirus? New York Times (David L)

How One Firm’s Covid-19 Tests Help Control The Virus In South Korea Forbes (Bill C)

Coronavirus tracked: the latest figures as the pandemic spreads Financial Times

Japanese flu drug ‘clearly effective’ in treating coronavirus, says China Guardian (furzy)

FDA clears N95 decontamination process that could clean up to 4 million masks per day TechCrunch

I got Coronavirus Test.. The result? Facebook (ddd). A must watch. The US will never never never never get there.

New Research Shows Anti-Coronavirus Drugs Could Be Produced for Pennies Mint Press (JTM). It should be more widely known that manufacturing drugs routinely is even more profitable than printing cash.

Ancient Egyptian technology may be our first line of defense from hospital infections Daily Kos (furzy)


Covid-19: PM Modi extends countrywide lockdown till May 3, rules to be stricter for next 1 week The Scroll (J-LS)

India is failing on a crucial Covid-19 front: Keeping mild cases away from hospitals The Scroll (J-LS)


Emergency Declared In Japanese Prefecture Hit By 2nd Wave Of Coronavirus Infections NPR (David L)


Coronavirus: Older people being ‘airbrushed’ out of virus figures BBC

Europe’s hardest-hit extend lockdowns but plan reopenings Financial Times

Germany set to consider relaxing coronavirus restrictions DW


Nursing home deaths soar past 3,300 in alarming surge Associated Press (Kevin W)

The South May See the Largest Share of Coronavirus Misery Pew (resilc) But odds high big blue cities will continue to get the coverage because the media is there…..

Dr. Anthony Fauci on National Fight Against COVID-19 Facebook (Kevin C)

Political Responses

Trump: It’s my decision when to reopen U.S. economy Reuters. Right. First, Trump made the state and cities do the shutdowns (or not). Second, as China showed, an edict from on high to get back to work fell well short of workers returning and companies getting back into gear (falloff of orders also played a part). In other words, yet more Trump blowhardism.

What People Power Looks Like in a Pandemic Democracy Corey Robin,New York Review of Books (UserFriendly)

CNN, MSNBC Cut Away From Donald Trump’s Coronavirus Briefing As Anchors Protest Airing Of “Propaganda” Video Deadline (Kevin W)

Oh Thank God: Trump Appoints Ivanka and Jared to Council to Reopen America Vanity Fair (resilc)

Andrew Cuomo Takes Charge Rolling Stone. Kill me now.

COVID-19: ‘The Atlantic’ article about San Francisco is a fable. Here’s what’s really happening. MissonLocal (DK)

Coronavirus Live Updates: Trump Lashes Out and Says He Has ‘Total’ Authority to Supersede Governors New York Times

Public colleges face looming financial blow from state budget cuts Inside Higher Ed (resilc)


Goldman Sees Advanced Economies Shrinking 35% Amid Pandemic Bloomberg

Markets and economists are still too upbeat on coronavirus Financial Times

We Called Unemployment Offices in All 50 States. Only 2 Picked Up Vice (resilc)

Coronavirus Has Broken America’s Food Supply American Prospect (resilc)

Cash Dwindles and ‘Extinction-Level Event’ Looms for Cannabis Companies Bloomberg


US-China decoupling: a reality check Asia Times (Kevin W)

China Limited the Mekong’s Flow. Other Countries Suffered a Drought. New York Times

The Chinese and U.S. Kabuki Corona Dance of Death by Larry C Johnson Sic Semper Tyrannis (Chuck L)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Assange Partner Speaks Out After Threat from Judge Consortium News (Chuck L)

Imperial Collapse Watch

Erik Prince Offered Lethal Services to Russian Mercenary Firm Intercept (furzy)

Trump Transition

Trump’s crude problem: OPEC diplomacy can’t save America’s oil jobs Politico< Trump’s Ambition to Reopen U.S. Hinges on Elusive Testing Surge Bloomberg/blockquote>

2020. Yes, I am not happy to see Sanders endorsing Biden now. But most critics forget that some of his key staffers were pressing Sanders to suspend his campaign after the South Carolina kneecapping. Even if it was as few as 20% of his core team, he could not go on with this many people quitting or as internal dissidents. It would be impossible to continue with them and virtually impossible to replace them at this juncture. If you want to get mad, get mad at them. I would feel deeply betrayed if people who I thought had my back behaved this way. I know it may sound a bit too tidy to cast aspersions on Sanders’ staff, but one of my close contacts, a real political greybeard, had been warning me about Sanders’ team for quite a while.

Twitter very heated:

Tesla Seeks Rent Savings Amid Coronavirus Crunch Wall Street Journal

CalPERS panel could shed some oversight duties Pensions & Investments

Foxconn’s Buildings In Wisconsin Are Still Empty, One Year Later The Verge

Guillotine Watch

Sandcastle, Hamptons’ priciest mansion, rents in one day to tycoon fleeing virus New York Post (furzy)

Private island bought coronavirus tests for every resident Miami Herald (resilc)

Antidote du jour. Oguk: “Luna, and her new kids, Oreo and Caramel. Our local 4H club.”

And a bonus from Tam:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. divadab

    Re: early agriculture in Amazonia:

    There is solid evidence, including the accounts of a Spanish explorer of massive cities in Amazonia, that the Amazon basin was extensively farmed for thousands of years. What we see now is the reversion to jungle after a society-destroying human depopulation event – 90% of the population killed off by disease brought by europeans. We can see similar evidence in Europe – I have seen run-and-rig fields from the 13th century at high altitudes in very marginal farmland in Scotland which were NEVER used again after the black death killed off 40% of Europeans in the 14th century.

    A quibble about the article – it mentions many areas where agriculture was practised early but leaves out New Guinea – where there is solid evidence of the very earliest agriculture, earlier than in any other area including the fertile crescent.

    Fascinating stuff – it is clear human history, and civilization, stretches back further in time and existed early in many areas. It also illustrates how fragile our civilization is, how vulnerable to the four horsemen.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I would guess those runrig fields you saw were more likely abandoned after 18th Century potato famines – Scotland had more than one before the ‘big one’ that hit Ireland, but because of the isolation little news hit the cities. Scotland also got hit by the Great Famine, so they could also date from the 1840’s. After a dry summer, many Irish upland areas reveal extensive networks of small fields, up to 200 metres and above (well above even sheep farming land these days), where village of dozens of people subsisted. They often didn’t even bother marking these on contemporary maps as those people were not considered worthy of record. They died by the tens of thousands in the famine of the 1840’s, leaving just those ridges and low ditches and small stone piles as memorials.

      Its also possible that they are much older – when upland peat is cut or eroded away in Ireland and Scotland it occasionally reveals early bronze and stone age farm systems – during periods of good climate people could cultivate what are now very desolate and highly acidic landscapes. Its still an open question as to whether the destruction of the land by excess rainfall (which causes the acidification) was entirely natural or exacerbated by over intensive farming and deforestation.

    2. Eustache de Saint Pierre

      One of the most haunting things I have seen was the remains of potato furrows from The Famine high up on the peaks surrounding Lough Doo in Connemara, from the vantage of the same road on which a group of about 600 starving people had trudged 15 miles only to be turned back empty handed, with many dying on the return trip.

      Of course we are only used to seeing numbers of skeletal black & brown people.

      1. JBird4049

        Back then the Irish were those “black & brown people” as skin color is hardly the only identifier used to describe the current day’s de facto Disposables.

        As was, to a lesser degree, the indentured servants and those transported in lieu of hanging, but described as “waste people” and used as economic manure in the American colonies.

  2. cnchal

    > Foxconn’s Buildings In Wisconsin Are Still Empty, One Year Later The Verge

    A former Foxconn employee told The Verge that the company could never quite figure out what to do with the innovation centers. “They were a constant pivot,” he said. At one point, the company planned to turn them into WeWork-style co-working spaces. . . .

    For the ground floor, may I suggest an indoor go-kart track? It would be perfect. Long straightaways with sharp pillar turns and lots of runoff room.

    Wisconsin may as well get something for the billions lavished on Foxconn in addition to the local construction millionaires expanding their estates.

      1. russell1200

        Not at all, they will become herd-immunization centers. The immunization even coming free with the lease!

  3. prodigalson

    Pat Lang’s crew at Sic Semper Tyrannis have gone full loco over this. Their best responses are “old man shakes fist at cloud” their worst are unhinged conspiracy theories.

    I don’t think Americans have faced a threat in living memory that they couldn’t safely bribe, kill, bury, deny, or simply ignore. When 9/11 pierced that bubble of invulnerability the result was pure rage and a lashing out with the most brute force available via torture and other means.

    Along comes this virus that can’t be bribed, bombed, or killed. It seems like a LOT of people can’t get to acceptance and are stuck in a cycle of denial (only the flu, a hoax), anger (china!), bargaining (what if we open the economy just a scootch? magic pills to fix it soon), and obviously depression. The right seems to be having a harder go of it than the left, since it also challenges the tribal belief in the dear leader as he continues to fumble. But team left has some mind breaking cognitive dissonance when they have to ignore Biden’s evil record and his obvious failing physical state and think him proving some kind of solutions going forward.

    Dark days.

    1. Carla

      The DNC is NOT “team left.” It is not LEFT at all. We have the Professional Managerial Class right wing establishment party owned and operated by the DNC. And then we have the Red Meat Rich + Red Neck Thugs right wing establishment party owned and operated by the RNC.

      There is no left wing in the USA. Never really has been, and apparently never will be.

      But it’s okay, because our corporations are people, and our money is speech.

      1. Jessica

        The original Populists, Huey Long, many of the abolitionists, MLK, the IWW, whoever it was that tore down the pre-Revolutionary class structure of the 13 colonies during and after the Revolution…..

      2. John

        Let’s suppose that the , “DNC is not “team left” … etc. In what way does it obviate “Pat Lang’s crew at Sic Semper Tyrannis have gone full loco over this.”

        I happen to agree with Carla, but in this context, so what?

        1. Carolinian

          There’s a lot of that full loco thing going around. If the right is trying to blame it all on China the loyal opposition is trying to blame it all on Trump. Neither is very persuasive.

          1. Trick Shroadé

            Including here on NC. I have to say I’m dismayed at how some of the commentariat that I had considered calm and rational have responded. Claims that life will never go back to normal. “Never” is a very long time.

      3. shtove

        In the Guardian today there’s a look back at American Psycho the movie. At first, I took this as a dig at Trump, but it seems a snugger fit for the Dems:

        Twenty years later, American Psycho hasn’t left the culture, because the culture hasn’t left American Psycho. The only difference is that Bateman seems more electable now than he might have been then. Not that he’d be interested in politics: when he goes off on an enlightened disquisition to his Wall Street buddies on apartheid, the nuclear arms race, the fight against world hunger, equal rights for women and the return of traditional values, Bateman echoes whatever popular sentiments he’s pulled from the ether. It’s no different later when he and a Valium-addled second girlfriend work catchphrases from Saturday Night Live characters like Fernando Lamas and The Church Lady into casual conversation. He’s crudely approximating what a human might say.

        I thought the movie drained the source material of its belly laughs and the intriguing unreliability of the narrator. But it did try to squeeze in the ultimate message: “This is not an exit.” And here we are.

        1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

          American Psycho, even moreso than A Clockwork Orange, blew me away with the staggering amount of creative violence. Like Fantasy Violence if there is such a category. There is the scene when Bateman tries to stick a cat into the ATM machine. And the wackiest death involving the rat and the Chainsaw. Not for the feint of heart.

          I loved film so much in my adolescent years that I’d read the books they were based off of. This, Fight Club, ACO all stick out in my memory.

      4. NotTimothyGeithner

        But the political right will label anyone not in the tribe to be “Team Left”. Biden, the socialist commercials, will flood airwaves. They will flash photos of minority electeds interspersed with pictures of Joe fondling children while bringing up his support of “free trade” with China. And predictably Daily Kos Democrats will whine and say Joe is right wing and Republicans are being hypocrites, and Republicans will simply tell them to get off their golf course.

        Trying to explain this won’t matter because politics is tribal.

      5. Mickey Hickey

        When I think about what needs to be done to put the US back on track I think of the House the Senate and the Supreme Court. Abolishing all three would probably be too much of a shock for most Americans but declaring corporations people and money speech is proof enough of dangerous insanity for me.

    2. Burns

      Agree with the view on SST. Lang has quite good insights with respect to Arab societies and the Islamic world, which I think was his professional area of expertise. However, since the 2016 election the majority of his material has unfortunately tracked along the lines of conservative and Fox news ideas, e.g. concerns about southern border hordes and a reconquista, the fallibility of so called “experts” etc. Some of the guest authors are thoughtful but, as you noted, some sound like conspiracy theorists (IIRC Larry Johnson was a Clinton adversary). I’m surprised NC links to his blog at this point.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Yes, that article is pure tin hat stuff. While I’ve no doubt both sides indulge in nefarious playing around with biological material, to suggest that it was spread deliberately by China makes absolutely no sense.

        1. dbk

          I read Larry Johnson’s piece (linked here) and watched both of the embedded videos as well. It was just, well, bizarre – the first implying, but never stating outright, that the Wuhan epicenter was deliberately selected by the Chinese because it was far from the big centers, the second suggesting that the virus’s escape was essentially accidental (the simplest explanation within the context of “it got out of a lab”). And I couldn’t figure out what the article’s references to scientists being intercepted/detained at airports had to do with either video, frankly.

          Lang is really good on the ME/NE, his area of expertise. But he’s a libertarian whose chief political instinct is to shower invective on the “Communists” represented by Sanders and his supporters. It’s become painful to read the site’s political posts.

        2. Science Officer Smirnoff

          or by accident?

          In both WaPo and National Review:

          U.S. officials warned in January 2018 that the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s work on “SARS-like coronaviruses in bats,” combined with “a serious shortage” of proper safety procedures, could result in human transmission and the possibility of a “future emerging coronavirus outbreak.”

          . . . “The idea that is was just a totally natural occurrence is circumstantial. The evidence it leaked from the lab is circumstantial. Right now, the ledger on the side of it leaking from the lab is packed with bullet points and there’s almost nothing on the other side,” a U.S. official told Rogin.

          1. prodigalson

            by accident seems to be an option. Steven King’s The Stand had the premise of a bio-weapons worker having an “oopsy” at work and then spreading it to the rest of the world.

            There’s so much churn though, China’s dodging at giving answers on origins has a bad smell. However, US intel agencies “bearing gifts”that happen to fit their preferred narrative and long term goals at the exact time a scapegoat is needed has an equally bad smell. ; )

            Time well tell.

          2. Anon

            One of today’s Links debunks the “engineered virus” theory, with real science.. The micro-biologists that would likely be involved in this sort of thing surely would be able to explain to the Chinese leadership that “rolling the die” with a virus with unknown qualities could be suicide for over a billion Chinese. Let alone the US.

          3. Richard

            As a retired medical school professor with some experience in bio-containment and recombinant DNA I find the following video compelling. It is definitely not conspiracy theory material. The use of biosafety containment at level 2 is frightening especially if, as it seems, that they knew from their published work that ACE2 was a receptor. I used level 2 for experiments with ordinary bakers yeast just to prevent harmless airborne mold spores from infecting my cultures. In the comments section to this video a Chinese speaker independently verified the authors translation of the texts he showed.


      2. Wyoming

        Fully agree. I have read his blog for years and, from my professional experience, he and some of his guest bloggers are very good at the intel/military stuff related to the Middle East.

        But they have turned bat crap crazy over a lot of other subjects and are well into conspiracy anti-science themes these days. SAD!

        1. Olga

          Larry J had many good post on the nat-security bunch and also russiarusiarusia-gate, but this post seems totally divorced from reality. But maybe he’s been listening too much to the spooks-and-koocks.

        2. MLTPB

          Do you or does he mention any sites of Russians exposing what Russua is doing in the Middle East?

          Hard to believe it’s all infallible stuff by Moscow.

        3. bun

          oh good, then its not just me. I’ve been thinking the same thing for a while now. Excellent stuff on the mid-East etc, but the domestic political stuff ventures into the bizarre. Still, I tell myself, it is helpful to understand what the others are thinking, as painful as it can be sometimes.

        4. ChrisPacific

          He explicitly does not listen to feedback or dissenting opinions other than from his approved correspondents, and does not take much care to stick within the boundaries of his competence. When he is within his field of expertise he is still extremely good, but it’s a case of reader beware.

          They are still a great resource at times but you need to learn the authors and their fields of expertise, and be prepared to ignore them or at least apply a healthy dose of skepticism when they are operating outside them.

          1. J.K.

            “Lang is now saying ‘the CCP and the Chinese government to be enemies of the US that are engaged in an undeclared war against the Unites States.’ This is how you help get two peoples into military confrontations this-””

            This part made me chuckle, “We now receive a lot of obvious troll attacks from “friends” of China. Some of them are from Europeans. That is sad because for the CCP the Europeans are merely an inconvenience whose interests are “collateral damage.””
            Yes, not like the besties forever and forever, that Americans and Europeans are. Yikes, these cats have seemingly lost it.

    3. Katniss Everdeen

      Not sure what seems so “loco” to you about this. Smuggling incidents with chinese citizens working at american and canadian bioweapons labs (!!!!!) have been happening for awhile now, and this seems more than a little compelling given what’s happening in the u.s.:

      It is no mere coincidence that the emergence of the virus in Wuhan barely spread into other parts of China. Beijing and Shanghai dwarf New York City in terms of populating size and concentration, yet the Chinese urban behemoths escaped unscathed.

      And don’t forget the seemingly “unstoppable” flow of chinese fentanyl into the Rust Belt, even though everyone else has.

      The political posturing of the american news media in response to this purportedly existential threat is also suspect. Surprise, it’s happening in an election year. You’d really think that if there ever was a time the media would stop the vitriol and pull together, this would be it. No joy.

      Donald Trump made unfair china trade policy a cornerstone of his campaign and presidency, and his reelection strength / Achilles heel has always been the supposedly strong economy. Look what’s getting absolutely decimated in the last couple of months–the economy.

      Then there’s the democrat primary to decide Trump’s opponent which has essentially been cancelled due to the “pandemic,” with biden being declared the winner thanks to the mysterious, simultaneous dropouts and endorsements of all the remaining candidates except Bernie. biden would be the guy who famously said of the chinese, “They’re good folks, folks,” and saw nothing wrong with the chinese government giving his no account kid $1 billion to “manage” after Take-your-kid-to-work-in-china-on-Air-Force-2 Day.

      As far as I’m concerned, this has to be the worst kept secret since the american government decided to solve a thorny problem with smallpox impregnated blankets and rotten meat.

      1. Burns

        I don’t understand the point of your argument here. Are you saying covid-19 is in fact an escaped Chinese bioweapon? Because all the available research evidence points to it’s entirely natural origins. Or do you think the Chinese have somehow created the perfect untraceable bioweapon and duped the entire world?

        You’re comparing apples to oranges with covid and fentanyl, and trade policy and Biden corruption have nothing to do with this pandemic.

        Ask yourself, what’s the likelier explanation: the Chinese government somehow created a dangerous, untraceable bioweapon that they deliberately let loose on a major population center, 11 million of their own people…for reasons? Or that the virus is a natural occurrence that got out of hand when local leaders and party cadres panicked ahead of a major Chinese holiday and slow rolled a response until it was impossible to hide from Emperor Xi?

        My argument is the latter, by the way. There’s no conspiracy here, just rank incompetence at every level of government.

        1. prodigalson

          Another factor against a deliberate release is Chinese leadership in general are desperate to preserve internal stability at all costs. The older generation of leaders had to survive the cultural revolution and have to bear the scars, sometimes literally, from those years. Doing something as risky as an intentional release of a bioweapon this dangerous, has all kinds of hidden reefs and shoals of follow-on effects you can’t linearly forecast. So this would be a very, very unlikely scenario.

          Or to put it another way, the older generation obsess over keeping there billion plus population from tearing itself apart under normal circumstances. Unleashing something that will kill revered family members while simultaneously torpedoing all their economic gains and desire for a strong middle class via a dead economy is literally the opposite of everything they’ve spent decades building up.

        2. periol

          I agree with your take – this feels natural, rather than man-made.

          I do want to point out that there is *some* nuance to the people pointing a finger at the biolab in Wuhan. I think the claim right now is not so much that it’s a manufactured bioweapon, but that it’s an accidental and/or intentional leak of a bat coronavirus that was being studied at the lab.

          I’m not totally discounting the idea – no matter how many precautions you put on/in a lab studying this stuff, entropy always happens. Still think it’s unlikely though – something like this coronavirus was always bound to come along, and it’s quite possible that our warming planet it going to find some other killer diseases for us to worry about sooner rather than later.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            OK I’ll bite. Trying to stay open to different theories here.

            A few years later the NIH would ban this dual-use “gain-of-function” research, a ban that would remain in place from 2014 until 2017, when it was lifted. And what was the reasoning behind lifting the ban? To allow for research on flu viruses, as well as SARS and MERS – coronaviruses just like our new friend, COVID-19. And so hundreds of millions of dollars of funding poured into research on these viruses, supposedly with oversight meant to reduce “the potential to create, transfer, or use an enhanced potential pandemic pathogen.”


            And if you really want your head to spin take a walk on the wild side, read about the lovely B.Gates and his forays into manufacturing vaccines:

            In 2017, the World Health Organization (WHO) reluctantly admitted that the global explosion in polio is predominantly vaccine strain.


            On the spectrum across evil and stupid, I’m going for stupid.

          2. periol

            Here’s an article from March 11 that goes into the biolab and it’s research, along with this quote (emphasis mine):


            Shi—a virologist who is often called China’s “bat woman” by her colleagues because of her virus-hunting expeditions in bat caves over the past 16 years—walked out of the conference she was attending in Shanghai and hopped on the next train back to Wuhan. “I wondered if [the municipal health authority] got it wrong,” she says. “I had never expected this kind of thing to happen in Wuhan, in central China.” Her studies had shown that the southern, subtropical areas of Guangdong, Guangxi and Yunnan have the greatest risk of coronaviruses jumping to humans from animals—particularly bats, a known reservoir for many viruses. If coronaviruses were the culprit, she remembers thinking, “could they have come from our lab?

              1. periol

                My personal opinion is that this entire thing is natural.

                However, let’s be clear about the denial in the article. It could be the whole truth, or it could be a heavily-lawyered sentence. It’s not an explicit denial it came from the lab, just that it’s not one “her team” had “sampled from bat caves”.

                “Shi breathed a sigh of relief when the results came back: none of the sequences matched those of the viruses her team had sampled from bat caves.”

        3. Trent

          Your argument is the same argument i’ve been hearing for years, nobody coulda seen this coming. Its because of stupid people, but somehow those stupid people always seem to keep their jobs, unlike the people i know who have been laid off due to covid. I still don’t know anyone personally that has it. Can’t wait for this comment not to get thru moderation.

          1. lordkoos

            Well, I know people that contracted it. Why would the Chinese deliberately screw up their own economy and see their exports drop off a cliff? Ridiculous.

          2. Trick Shroadé

            I’m not clear what you’re insinuating when you say that you don’t know anyone personally that has it. Can you clafiry?

        4. Katniss Everdeen

          My point is pretty simple–I find SST’s argument more than plausible when they say there is a:

          ….. growing body of evidence that the launch of Corona from Wuhan was not the result of eating rotten bats or an accident at the level 4 bio lab in Wuhan. Instead of recruiting fanatics to wear suicide bomb belts, the Chinese Government appears to had chosen to infect its own citizens and send them out to major population centers in the West. It was a conscious plan to infect and weaken the West.

          (My point about fentanyl is that it was an opening destabilizing salvo, only the chinese miscalculated because nobody in america gave a shit about the tens of thousands it killed.)

          And I don’t think this crisis in an election year is serendipity. The contest will be between an incumbent openly hostile to china and an enfeebled, decades-long china-enabling sop whose son accepted a bribe from china while his father was vp. The economic effects of the “pandemic” undercut the incumbent who has thus far managed to beat every rap the establishment has tried to hang on him.

          china is on a geopolitical jihad, Belt and Road, which first and foremost includes dethroning the current hegemon, the u. s. of a., presumably by any available means. The u.s. has been wreaking havoc on the planet for a century using everything from economic hit men to A bombs with millions dead and trillions of dollars squandered. “Ask yourself” if the several thousand chinese dead in Wuhan from a deliberately released virus is not a “bargain” if that’s “all” it takes to bring down the “greatest country the world has ever known” which it is threatening to do.

          Not “loco” by a long shot.

          1. periol

            This definitely sounds pretty crazy.

            For China to actually do this would mean the government was feeling pretty desperate about the situation vs. USA. Why stop the very successful “Art of War” path that continues to watch while the US implodes to release a bio-weapon instead? China is in this for the long-haul; western corps and governments can’t see past next quarter.

            I find very implausible that any goverment released this as a bio-weapon. *If* it’s a bio-weapon (and the odds are very small), it’s probably a non-governmental group with an agenda – perhaps even with the agenda of implicating China. The likelihood of this being an actual government that intentionally released a bio-weapon is vanishingly small though.

          2. Darthbobber

            For evidence of such a deliberate act the article offers literally no evidence. Unless constantly repeating variants of “Coincidence? I think not!” actually counts as evidence.

      2. Dickeylee

        Good point, just wondering what the “we’re number one God bless America “ crowd is going to say about our life expectancy numbers after this one two punch…

    4. skippy

      “Along comes this virus that can’t be bribed, bombed, or killed. It seems like a LOT of people can’t get to acceptance and are stuck in a cycle of denial (only the flu, a hoax), anger (china!), bargaining (what if we open the economy just a scootch? magic pills to fix it soon), and obviously depression.”

      Its high dark comedy after years of watching forecasts implode and now have a virus which has evolution predating humans utterly make a mockery of it … glorious … no amount of word or thought play can be used against it … it can’t hear and does not care.

    5. VietnamVet

      It defies common sense that China released on purpose a bat coronavirus into Wuhan city’s 11 million population. The epidemic killed China’s economy for months if not years. Likewise, Donald Trump’s detractors say that he delayed the lockdown for weeks to infect the bluest of blue cities; NY, Chicago and LA. Not true. The real causes of the pandemic are human stupidity, incompetence and an ideology that placed corporate profits above all else; global neoliberalism. The real tragedy is that a horrible illness that kills people by drowning them and is so infectious that it overwhelms privatized healthcare systems was let loose on the world. COVID-19 will kill millions in the years ahead as it makes it way through every human settlement across the world. Even worse, between Joe Biden and Donald Trump, there is absolutely no change in the leadership of the United States, either one will follow the exact same pro-corporate, pro-war, pro-finance, pro-empire policies that have been in force for the last 40 years. They are the latest but hopefully the last in a string of Presidents and Congresses that got America into this mess in the first place.

  4. taunger

    Re food supply: a number of small farms in my area have banded together to form a delivery service. A recent article notes that demand is currently higher than commercial channel was before COVID-19, but profitability is uncertain.

    That’s the reason for food destruction. If the local farms here can put together logistics to get food to consumers, so can the big boys. But the profit problem is in the way, either bc of greed or bad contracts.

    1. Louis Fyne

      a big part of it is expections….if you’re in the North and even much of the South, ideally eating should adjust to the seasons…but we’re all guilty of wanting our favorite foods anytime of the year

      1. marieann

        I try to eat seasonally and it works well when fruit and veggies grow all year. The winter is difficult when all produce has to be shipped in. I process some of what I grow for winter but I always have to buy veggies out of season.
        I figure I do better that most and all I can do is give it my best shot.
        At the moment I am finishing up my last jar of apple butter( locally bought apples) then I will start on the applesauce, that should take me till strawberry season starts…then I’m good until November.

      2. Kurt Sperry

        The seasonably appropriate fresh fruit and veg is *so* much better than the stuff air-freighted in from thousands of miles away.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      For years there have been studies showing that 40-50% of food in the US is thrown away –

      We overproduce and waste food all the time. The only difference here seems to be that the farmers are dumping it themselves rather than waiting for the food to make its way through the supply chain so restaurants and grocery stores can throw it out instead.

      A year or so ago Trump was sparring with Canada over dairy products and I remember the Canadians pointing out that if the US didn’t deliberately overproduce, maybe there wouldn’t be such a problem.

      This food waste is nothing new and I agree that small farms and locally produced food is the answer.

      And weed companies aren’t going to go out of business due to coronavirus either – again it’s just highlighting an already existing problem. Weed companies are going to go out of business because there is too much weed and too many weed companies trying to cash in already. To be fair, the article in today’s links doesn’t necessarily blame the problem on the pandemic. From the article:

      “It’s going to be an extinction-level event for some companies,” said Craig Behnke, equity analyst at the trade publication commonly known as MJBiz Daily. “But it’s a healthy and necessary process for any industry to go through once it’s had a phase of absolute excess and exuberance.”

      The problem is capitalism, not COVID-19.

      1. Left in Wisconsin

        It is a very tricky economic problem for the left. We have “over-production” in a huge number of areas but the low-cost producers are the behemoths we would like to get rid of. As prices fall, the behemoths try to produce more to “make it up with volume,” leading to a downward spiral of over-production and falling prices, with all of the small producers we would like to encourage getting killed as collateral damage. Add in even-lower cost production from overseas and the problem is even trickier. Here in WI, the carnage on smaller dairy farms is devastating yet the growth of giant CAFO’s means milk production continues to increase.

        We on the left have never had a satisfactory strategy for addressing this problem. The only reason the New Deal worked is that the industrial unions accepted giant corporations and mass production as facts of life. Individual consumers can choose to support small-scale production, which I encourage everyone to do, but consumer choice is not what ultimately drives economic activity. I wish I had some better answers.

        1. periol

          An easy solution.

          Bid adieu to the megacorp producers.

          Make sure the small producers are getting enough to survive.

          Make EBT like social security. Everyone gets some to help with higher food prices. Place limits on the kind of processed foods EBT can be used to purchase, so the money gets funneled more to the producers and less to the processors.

          That first step though…

        2. lyman alpha blob

          It’s definitely not an easy problem, but the change needed to fix it needs to be systemic, like what happened during the New Deal. What’s needed is a combination of price controls, wage increases, strong unions, the break up of monopolistic conglomerates, more local supply chains, and probably several other things I haven’t thought of, all happening at about the same time. This would cause a massive shift in wealth in a relatively short time, just like happened during the New Deal.

          My family still runs a small dairy farm in VT, milking only 60 cows as they have done for many decades. Until the early oughts, there was a Northeast Dairy Compact which set a floor for milk prices in the region but Congress allowed that to expire, and the expiration was to the detriment of the generally smaller New England farms and helped large agribusiness who could operate at lower margins. Quelle surprise. Back then NE diary farmers were dumping lots of milk that cost more to produce than they could sell it for in protest, but those protests largely fell on deaf ears.

          I’d say Congress and big agribusiness do deserve much of the blame here, but not all of it. My father has told me how ticked off he’d get when rising milk prices would cause small farmers in VT to increase their herd size without really thinking things through, which of course caused prices to go back down due to overproduction. When my dad was young in the 60s there were more cows in VT than people. Now my family’s diary farm is one of very few left in the area. They may be a little red around the neck but clearly they were doing something right as most other farms in the area went bust over the years.

          The necessary changes can be done, we just need the political will to do so. Unfortunately I see zero evidence that this political will will come from current politicians. It needs to come from we, the people forcing their hands. That, or we just wait until the whole system collapses. We can see the fragility of what neoliberalism has wrought clearly right now, but our politicians seem intent on letting big business consolidate power even further judging by the rush in Congress to shovel a few trillion dollars at them, whether they really need it (they don’t) or not.

  5. xkeyscored

    John Conway, inventor of the Game of Life, has died of COVID-19 ars technica

    I did – and still do – love the Game of Life and similar things that show how amazing and complex structures can arise unexpectedly from such simple rules.

    1. Louis Fyne

      “What We Still Don’t Know” (available at youtube) a 3-part documentary highlights Conway’s game.

      forgot which episode, guessing #3. the series holds up very well even though it was filmed circa

  6. Ignacio

    RE: Deadly olive tree disease across Europe ‘could costs billions’ BBC (resilc)

    Oh god, it seems the pathogen has finally arrived in Spain. Really bad news! Pathogens everywhere!

    1. Wyoming

      And think what happens in the Central Valley if this pathogen hits the almond orchards.

      A bio weapon of mass destruction if there ever was one.

        1. Wyoming

          Well no the water table would not rise as they would just switch to growing something else. But the loss of the almond trees would be financially catastrophic.

          Almond growing in CA is a $5.6 billion a year business. On only 450,000 acres. That is an income of over $12,000/ac. In farming terms that is really good money. To give you an idea how good the best acre of corn in the US makes the farmer less than $1000/ac.

    1. John Beech

      You obviously don’t drive a work truck or you’d understand what a disaster the 4-cylinder turbo versions of a full-size pickup actually is. Sounds like a good idea on paper but in the real world, it blows. Those driving a truck for style points, or to see better in traffic, are one thing, but in the world involving work, it’s another. Work like toting 1000-1500 pounds of cargo, or towing a 6000 pound trailer and getting it up to speed this week are what I’m talking about. It requires big grunts of torque to make things move. The issue is creating torque from a small volume engine isn’t possible like with a big volume engine. Horsepower? Sure! Small engines with turbos make spectacular amount. Torque? Not so much. Fuel economy with a big engine? Again, not so much. So if it’s a disaster, it’s a disaster because the liberal minds this article sprung from (The Atlantic) aren’t engaged in real work so they don’t have a clue what dictates from the state mean for the people who actually get things done. Me? I’m all in on an outbreak of common sense vice economy standards.

      1. John

        Did you read the article?

        Do you know that the standards come from a mix?
        Not every truck has to be the same mpg as the cars.
        China and Europe have cars that get 50 mpg NOW.

        This is a disaster on every level for the US.

        1. Carey

          Honda made a model *thirty years ago* that got over 50 mpg
          highway: Civic Vx. Dropped in the US due to poor sales.


      2. Phil

        Full disclosure: I’m a landscaper and I drive an eight-cylinder work truck. In the past I’ve owned a Volkswagen Jetta TDI and a Honda Civic VX, both of which got 50mpg on the freeway.

        I think the focus on fuel efficiency is at best delusional and at worst mere virtue-signaling. We can try to “flatten the curve” via efficiency standards, but we can’t reduce the absolute amount of fossil fuel energy that we use over time. The vast majority of humanity is totally dependent on fossil fuels and would die of starvation and/or exposure if that energy source were to disappear tomorrow. Since there’s no conceivable way we could replace the 80% of our energy consumption that comes from them with renewables, we’re going to keep burning fossil fuels until we can’t any more. Once we hit that point (which may be perilously close) things are going to start to really suck.

        On the bright side, people who live nearby will be able to see the Taj Mahal every day.

        1. Louis Fyne

          MPG standards are low hanging and politically acceptable fruit.

          (in my opinion) the planet would be better off with denser (Hong Kong-style) zoning in San Fran, Los Angeles, Brooklyn, west London etc.

          but in those cases the “wrong” people would sacrifice their single-family housing zoning.

        2. John

          I agree. The human race will cause it’s own extinction with the burning of fossil fuels. We are not getting off of them. It’s the crack cocaine of our industrial civilization. And we are going to smoke it until it’s all gone. Then wail about the planet being inhospitable to us. And blame everyone else but ourselves.

          I saw a slight path to another way. But we aren’t going to take it.

          And Trump is pushing up our date of demise.

      3. Wyoming

        Hmm…well I don’t think you drive a work truck either.

        I grew up driving a ‘work’ truck and owned my own farm and the requisite vehicles for some years. I also have a BIL who buys 20-30 ‘work’ trucks every year for his oil field business- yes year.

        Interesting to note that real work trucks are pretty much all diesels and are 3/4 ton or 1 ton HD trucks as well often with dual rear wheels. That is what folks who really need serious trucks drive. Plus the fuel economy of the diesel trucks is superb. If you really need a ‘work’ truck you don’t buy gas powered.

        Gas powered trucks are basically toys for the guys to feel tough, just like the SUVs are toys for the girls. Don’t try and blow smoke up our rears here…..

        1. AndrewJ

          For a certain set of the population, towing toy trailers, horse boxes, and travel trailers is close enough to “work” that they get all the excuse they need to demand the newest high-torque gasser as seen in the ad breaks of their televised sport of choice.

        2. Anon

          Yes. The biggest selling “truck” in the US is the Ford 150 that has 50+ “trim” options. Most trucks I see in town are dual cab versions carrying kids not cargo.

          As for the value of diesel engine torque, that comes with the price of greater air pollution. Driving one in the urban environment is a health disaster for those not at the wheel.

        3. Rostale

          Not everyone can afford to drop 70k on what has essentially become a pseudo-luxury vehicle, and my little gas powered toy does more work than a lot of diesel parking lot Queens whose owners think buying a serious truck will make people take them seriously.

  7. Jessica

    Matthew G. Saroff and others were looking for a data source in yesterday’s Water Cooler and this might be helpful.
    It gives the excess flu and pneumonia mortality so it isn’t as affected by decreases in automobile accidents etc.

  8. The Rev Kev

    “Erik Prince Offered Lethal Services to Sanctioned Russian Mercenary Firm Wagner

    “If Erik Prince offered his services to Russia’s Wagner Group, which is under sanctions on the grounds that there are Russians in it, would it not stand to reason then that Prince is guilty of trying to breach sanctions for financial gains? Would that not be subject to an investigation by the Department of Justice? Yeah, I know. Just kidding as we all know that that will never happen.

    1. prodigalson

      Prince is a real piece of work. As a kid he wanted to be either a barbary pirate or a hessian mercenary when he grew up, so he became both…

    2. MLTPB

      Russia has mercenary firms?

      Do they provide security for retired spy officials and oligarchs, or also engage in military operations abroad, collaborating with Moscow or otherwise?

      Are they public-private partnerships?

      1. jo6pac

        Most of their work is for countries. In Libya they did mine removal at one of the major oil port for Hafter. They have worked in Syria as back-up only mostly traffic control. I don’t their name very often. They do die in Syria. They’re all former military.

        1. MLTPB

          Thanks for that info.

          There are still many landmines in Afghanistan, dating back to at least the Sovieti invasion, check that, Soviet display of virtue, and of course also mines from later years.

    3. rob

      his sister, betsy de vos… can get in on the act by bringing the soviet education department … back…

  9. Jessica

    1) Who were the Bernie Sander’s staff that were pressing him to stop his campaign when most of his rank and file supporters wanted him to go on? Were these hired guns with no real affinity with the cause? At a minimum, it would be good to know their names for future reference.
    More broadly, I think we got as far as we could with a candidate who was trying to create a movement. We need to have the movement first and generates candidates. Not to mention, that can provide non-Judas staff.

    2) I wonder if Bernie’s acceptance of the notion that Trump is uniquely evil reflects the losses his family suffered during the Holocaust. That might make him take the crudity and viciousness of Trump’s presentation more seriously.

    3) We Bernie supporters and those further left need some form of organization that everyone sees as clearly distinct from the DNC Democrats. I am agnostic whether that is within the Democratic Party (because of the way electoral law favors the two parties) or a third party. One of the factors that facilitated The Night of Long Obama’s was that a surprisingly large number of voters didn’t see Biden and Bernie as necessarily that different policy wise.

    4) I would have loved to see Bernie humiliate Biden on stage as a small piece of retribution for Anita Hill, the bankruptcy bill, the Patriot Act, the Iraq war. I think that might have increased his chance of getting the nomination. However, to win this general election, we were going to have to get the votes of a fair percentage of the centrist Democrats. Giving Biden the hiding he deserved would have made a November victory much less likely.

    1. John

      I don’t see how Biden can win. There is going to be little to no enthusiasm for him from the middle. No net new voters turning out. Many on the Left will not vote for him.

      The Republican voter suppression and outright fraud will be epic.

      And the unknown factor of who controls the vote count (sure doesn’t look like it’s the D party) means Trump “wins”.

      1. xkeyscored

        Can anyone explain why it matters whether Biden or Trump wins? I know Bernie says one of them is uniquely evil, but I don’t see it. What, apart from being rude and crass, will Trump do that Biden won’t?

          1. nycTerrierist

            Good points. Can’t say too often, the only silver lining of Trump is he spared us the TPP

            Talk of Mayor (McKinsey) Butt as Biden’s pick for trade should alarm us all.

            1. Olga

              Yes, the only good thing (trying to think of a second… trying and trying), though I still do not know why exactly he did it, considering that the US corporate power wanted it.

              1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

                I thought Trump represented a switch from Economic Globalism to Economic Nationalism. Coronavirus only seems to be hastening this event. Im cool with that, but I’d hate to see the intermingling of our Great Cultures collapse.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            Biden is one of a handful of Democrats who make this a question. Hillary as bad as she was would likely have nominated a semi literate person to the court.

        1. John Beech

          I rather suspect Trump continues being Trump whilst Biden, more blatantly a creature of the oligarchy, does their bidding to our detriment. I was perfectly willing to support Sanders over Trump for one reason, his call for Medicare For All. Biden? Voting for him rates ‘not a chance in Hell’ with me. So I’ll vote for Trump once again. Sigh.

        2. mpalomar

          Chomsky and others argue that Biden can be pressured from the left on a range of issues most importantly environmental/climate change & nuclear disarmament, not Trump. Also it breaks the Republican (Chomsky considers it perhaps the most dangerous criminal organisation in history) lock on the executive branch which in conjunction with the Senate and the Supreme Court wields formidable power. That’s the argument.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            So the winning argument from 2016…

            Given Biden’s history, it needs to reinforced how vile he is, so people don’t pretend he is secretly fighting republicans like Obama for the strategy of pressuring Biden, who is a segregationist, to have a chance of working.

            1. mpalomar

              It is the only argument I’ve heard from a coherent and usually very good observer, however it is not an argument I find convincing. I believe it is what is known as grasping at straws, the choice the US electorate is reduced to as the world falls apart.

              1. Carey

                “Pressured from the left..” let’s see, where have we heard that before, and how did it work out?

                TINA’s the message, all around now.

          2. The Rev Kev

            ‘Chomsky and others argue that Biden can be pressured from the left’

            If that was not so deluded it would be hilarious. Biden? There is a clip online where he is making a private speech and he says that he tried to prostitute himself to the big boys when he started into politics but they rebuffed him and told him to come back when he was 40. And Chomsky and the others think that they can pressure him into left causes? Is Chomsky really going to say “Vote for Joe!”

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              The Joe Biden is not secretly a monster is quite the interesting argument.

              We are less than two weeks away from Biden appearing in front of a green screen in a sombrero while stammering, “I am your abeula.” (I meant what I wrote.).

              1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                I’m waiting for him to appear atop a tank with a massive helmet on, like one M. Dukakis that “my” party previously served up to me.

                Ahh, memory lane. Walter Mondale. John “Heinz” Kerry. The Mellifluous Melanoderm.

                If this was a game of Monopoly and I was playing with my three brothers the only rational strategy left to me would be to upend the card table and suffer the (limited) consequences. If you don’t play, in your own mind at least you can’t lose.

            2. mpalomar

              Is Chomsky really going to say “Vote for Joe!”
              Probably, though without the enthusiasm suggested by your use of an exclamation point.

          3. Pelham

            Actually, Trump might be pressured by some vaguely (and perhaps deceptively) left-leaning persons on the right such as Josh Hawley, Marco Rubio and Oren Cass. Curiously, these guys are in at least semi-good standing in Republican ranks.

            Can’t say that about “the Squad” and Tulsi Gabbard vis a vis the Democratic leadership, which treats these leftward thinkers like alien organisms.

            Trump is also better — at least superficially — on the towering and rapidly growing horror of China and our deadly entanglement therewith, something the Democrats and even Sanders have been mostly silent about. Except for Biden, who appears to believe that China is just peachy.

            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              Wait until they unpack Hunter’s dealings with the Chinese hedge funds/banks. Flies in on Air Force Two and leaves with a contract for a sweet grift that makes Burisma look small-time.

          4. xkeyscored

            Chomsky considers it perhaps the most dangerous criminal organisation in history

            I often agree with Chomsky, but here I’m not sure what he’s getting at. Because of its support for nuclear weapons and climate change, as I recall. Yet behind the Dems’ rhetoric, they’re about equally as committed to both in practice. And more Reps are noticing climate change with their own eyes and wallets, and wanting to deal with it.

            I don’t quite get why Chomsky repeatedly says the Dems and Reps are two sides of the same coin, a false choice leading to the same thing, then says one side of the coin is manifestly better on all significant counts. That’s what he said about the menu of Clinton and Trump in ’16, though he went on to add that some thought Clinton’s thirst for war might be significant, and he could respect that. So I guess I have Chomsky’s respect if not agreement for failing to see why Biden is better than Trump.

            As for pressure from the left – pressure from a mass movement would be my idea. A mass movement could pressure whichever face is in the White House, and the oligarchs and rentiers and whoever at the same time. Sanders said he was building one, but it seems to be foundering now the captain’s jumped ship. Just when our potential collective power is becoming so obvious. A mass movement from the left – who does that push against? The ‘deplorables’, among others. A mass movement from below – who does that push against? And how do the numbers stack up?

            1. mpalomar

              One characteristic of the GOP crime syndicate that differentiates them marginally from the Democratic crime syndicate is their anti science philosophy that resonates with some portion of their base and has helped them square the circle with big oil patrons.
              Two words, James Inhofe

            1. prodigalson

              Exactly! that door only swings one way.

              Side note: it looks like Obama finally found his comfortable walking shoes, and used them to kneecap everyone but the worst possible opponent to beat Trump.

            2. mpalomar

              Well exactly.
              Yet didn’t Trump just kick the feet out from under the modest Obama environmental achievements in the name of the economy? And of course he pulled the US out of the INF agreement and the Iran nuclear deal?

        3. Darius

          I like the explanation that both parties want to kill you. One just wants to do it faster.

          The Democrats always want to preserve the deadly status quo. The Republicans, especially now, want to think of creative and sadistic ways to make it deadlier and more accelerated. This is a generalization. Mileage may vary.

        4. Katniss Everdeen

          It is axiomatic that a democrat, any democrat, can do more to deliver what is left of the “middle” class and the working class to the oligarchs’ plantation than any republican ever could.

          joe biden’s candidacy is nothing more than an autonomous vehicle for the next generation of dem politicians, none of whom are noteworthy or accomplished on their own, but who would be elevated to national prominence and “legitimacy,” as the idiot biden was, by the vice presidency.

          This “pandemic” is like an American Idol audition for the wanna be’s, and they are competin’ hard. Unfortunately for the likes of mayo pete and andrew cuomo, I suspect one of the younger ladies will be the beneficiary of uncle joe’s certain-to-be limited tenure, and they not he will be picking out the oval office drapes.

          Here is Tucker Carlson’s critique of one of the performers–gretchen whitmer–who appears to be taking full advantage of her unexpected but lucky pandemic good fortune.

        5. Anon

          Well, it does matter. I’ll be distraught with four more years of Le Orange. What matters more is getting a Dem majority in the Senate to block another conservative justice on the SupCourt. Ginsburg isn’t immortal. It’s the current SC that is accommodating the idiocy promoted by Trump.

          Then again, there’s that long turn to the Right that Yves mentioned yesterday.

          1. Carey

            >What matters more is getting a Dem majority in the Senate to block another conservative justice on the SupCourt.

            Say what?

      2. thoughtfulperson

        Biden can win the same way Doug Jones won in Alabama. With some help from Shadow/Acronym.

        Course, one would assume that these developments have not gone unnoticed in the world of the Adelsons, Mercers and other major Trump funders.

        Add in a second covid19 wave possible in the fall, and anything really is possible.

      3. Darius

        If the crisis had hit a month later, I don’t think Trump could have recovered. A ham sandwich could have beaten him. I think the crisis started early enough in the year that Trump may be able to claim credit for whatever plateau at which it stabilizes.

          1. John Anthony La Pietra

            DNC: Nothing is better than Joe Biden at the top of our ticket!

            ivoteno: And a ham sandwich is better than nothing. . . .

    2. The Rev Kev

      I can add one piece of that jigsaw puzzle about those Bernie staffers. Three of them were former “prized employees” from Senator Harry Reid’s office. Here is a link showing that-

      I had a thought earlier today and it is this. Throughout his campaign Bernie made it a point to talk to and even hug ordinary Americans. He could really get fired up talking to a crowd. So I began to wonder if after he and his team had to semi-isolate themselves from people because of the threat of Coronavirus to Bernie, that a side effect of this was to leave Bernie himself in a “bubble” with those staffers and cut off from feedback from those ordinary Americans. Just a thought.

      1. sin nombre

        thank you for answering that question dangling from yesterday, ie, who are these staffers who so badly wanted Sanders to fold to Biden?.

        Now the question is why the hell did Sanders ever hire or have anything to do with them? And even if their electoral campaign brilliance was something to be had at all costs, why didn’t Sanders ditch that, and them, when the DNC stuck it to him on Super Tuesday…. and go for launching a mass movement, something along the lines of a parallel government that could sponsor and run soup kitchens and free legal, medical and dental clinics staffed by volunteer professionals, hand out free corona protection to workers and civilians, etc, etc, etc?

        Seems to me that a lot of well-meaning highly-educated people here, many of boomer era (so presumably they’ve lived through this and should know better...) aren’t taking on board the lessons of countless wasted electoral campaigns…Fred Harris, Tom Hayden for Senator, Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition…..

        namely that electoral politics at this point in time stateside is a total and complete waste of time

        Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice….

        1. xkeyscored

          and go for launching a mass movement, something along the lines of a parallel government that could sponsor and run soup kitchens and free legal, medical and dental clinics

          I thought one of the best aspects of Sanders was his launching of a supposed mass movement. I’m disappointed but hardly surprised to find its sole aim was to promote him, and now he’s half dropped out of the prezzy panto, the movement is falling apart.

          Whichever face gets to front for the USA, without a mass movement things aren’t likely to change much.

          1. marym

            Years ago during her first campaign for president Jill Stein spoke to a group of protesters. I don’t recall the particular circumstances or exact words, so this isn’t even a paraphrase, just what I took from it:

            What we need is a broad social movement of people organizing to address all our different problems. She wasn’t campaigning to lead that movement, but to represent it in the sphere of electoral politics.

            I’m no political strategist and don’t know if that’s a productive way to think about leadership and movement building, or even particularly unique to Stein and her moment. I supported Sanders in 2016 and 2020, don’t regret it (and, tbh, have a very negative opinion of the timing and scope of his drop-out/endorsement), but I’ve always been haunted by Stein’s formulation. How would it make a difference in how a candidate advocates for particular issues; and how people would think in terms of supporting those issues in beyond voting?

            1. Olga

              Not that I disagree with you, but one of the main problems seems to be that the minute such a movement becomes effective, its leaders are either co-opted or done away with. Not to mention that any broad-based effort would require a much better understanding of the cause-and-effect in the current economic structure – at a time, when most people are pre-occupied with just basic survival. And an unimpeded ability to organise..
              TINA really seems to be it – hard to overcome. And – if one really thinks about it – what could be a better definition of totalitarianism than that?

      2. Dr. John Carpenter

        Re: staffers, wasn’t this an issue in 2016 as well? I seem to recall scuttlebutt both during and after the campaign about some of Bernie’s staff having connection to the Dem establishment making decisions and exerting influence not necessarily in the campaign’s best interest.

        1. Arizona Slim

          Here in Arizona, there were rumors about the local Sanders staff being Clinton campaign moles.

        2. Kurt Sperry

          If Sanders isn’t capable of staffing his own campaign with highly committed, loyal, and determined people, how was he ever going to staff a cabinet to put a dent in the iron-clad establishment status quo as President? His apparent failure in staffing his own campaign inevitably speaks directly to a likely lack of organizational competence from the top down.

      3. MLTPB

        S. Carolina primary – Feb 29

        Super Tue – March 3.

        I asked, here, if we needed travel restrictions on Italy and S Korea, around March 3 and 5. They were announced around March 12.

        If we were concerned about voters catching it, I think suspending after Feb 29 would have been a very good call.

        1. edmondo

          Maybe the country would have been better off if Brianna Joy had run for president and Bernie Sanders had been her press spokesperson. How many times can one party hoodwink you before you catch on?

    3. Oh

      Per the DNC and BS “We need to replace the most dangerous President with an equally dangerous one, but this time he’ll be ours”

  10. floyd

    re: China

    As someone who works in the global supply chain, yes that is correct China has manufacturing capabilities that the US does not have – sheer size for one. But a meaningful amount could/should return to the US & Mexico. Whenever possible supply chains should be shortened: manufacturing in North America for North America, Asia for Asia, etc. There’s a lot of wasted time on planes and recovering from jet lag and unnecessary transit time for goods. Mexico has a big opportunity to pick up some of the commodity stuff but they really need to make a bigger effort to enhance safety in places like Tijuana. For the US, cost is the problem. With the corona virus situation, there may be some patriotic buying where people pay extra but in a short period of time, buyers will once again start buying in Mexico and China to save money to the RIGHT of the decimal point.

    1. John

      I have always thought the out-sourcing off-shoring jamboree in pursuit of the lowest wages was a lunatic scheme of benefit in the end only the greedy who assumed the buck would not stop until they were dead and being narcissistic sociopaths to heck with the kids and grand kids. But along comes a global pandemic and suddenly just in time supply chains don’t look so spiffy and giving one place on the face of the earth a choke hold, if they decide to squeeze, has its down side. Oh not to the financial geniuses who have become wealthy beyond any need save ego gratification. For them there is never enough, but then the root of suffering is desire. Perhaps when the US has been impoverished and wages are in the toilet, the pursuit of lowest wages will bring manufacturing back to us, but by then you’ll be dead and I’ll be dead and there will be no market for goods because all but those same financial geniuses will be too poor and downtrodden to afford anything bur subsistence. How do you squeeze a profit from subsistence? Wasn’t this Marx’s analysis of capitalism?

      1. Clive

        A workable solution?
        “Every year, the U.S. government will ratchet up the number of products made in the United States by 20%. In five years, only products manufactured in the U.S. can be bought with federal tax dollars.”

        Start building those factories now.

    2. tegnost

      Do you have any idea how many americans would move to mexico if tijuana was safe? It would be fast and furious /s

    3. Olga

      I think Tim Cook’s explanation for why Apple is still in China (circulating a while back) goes a long toward clarifying all the advantages the country has in terms of manufacturing. For its self-interest, the US should repatriate some of that capacity. Will it happen? Somehow, I doubt it. But if… it would still take a very long time. Mexico is geographically well-positioned to take over from China, but as for the many other necessary aspects… it lags way behind. Security – or lack thereof – is just one such aspect.

      1. John

        Remember when Trump went to Texas for a photo op to announce Apple manufacturing again in the US and all the employees where mystified since the plant had been open for a few years already?
        It wasn’t an official campaign event, but it might as well have been. When Donald Trump flew in Air Force One to Austin, Texas, on Wednesday, the president got a tour of the small factory that’s assembling Apple’s Mac Pro computers. This is the same factory that’s been churning out that older Mac Pro models since 2013, but that fact apparently didn’t seem to matter to the president. Right after the visit, Trump took credit for opening the factory and took a swipe at Democrats. Apple hasn’t said a word about the truth.

    4. John k

      A lot of the factories and jobs went to Mexico after nafta bc lower cost. There are two issues… be less dependent on far away sources for critical goods, and bringing factories and blue collar jobs back to the Midwest. We already do too much in Mexico.

      1. MLTPB

        It’s a start to be at least putting more focus on these issues.

        A few years ago, it wasn’t like this.

  11. kristiina

    If this has been here, apologies. European mortality by countries, up to week 14 (beginning of April). Note Finnish miracle, the average mortality has lessened during the pandemic. Countries seem to be having very different profiles of mortality. Sweden is interesting: no restrictions, only recommendations, and mortality very near average.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I am not sure how you read Sweden flying along OK. They have over 11,000 cases and over 1,000 deaths. Norway has 6,600 cases and 134 deaths while Denmark has 6,500 cases and 300 deaths. Even if you work it out by deaths per million of population, that works out as Sweden being 1,133, Norway being 1, 218 and Denmark as 1,122 but the key ratio is still how many of those cases ended in a fatality for each country. Here is a recent article about the effect of Coronavirus in Sweden-

      1. Kristiina

        If I have understood right, different countries have different criteria for marking the cause of death as corona or something else. So comparing the corona death numbers between countries is not very imformative. How does the current situation relate to the average mortality is the interesting thing. Are there more deaths than normally (or less), or more deaths than in a serious influenza?

        1. The Rev Kev

          Let’s just say that based on that brilliant film clip called “I got Coronavirus Test.. The result?” that if I had to ride a pandemic out, I would rather do it in South Korea than a Scandinavian country.

          1. Arizona Slim

            Shhh, don’t tell anyone, but I actually went to the Faceborg and watched that clip. No, I didn’t log back into the Borg, but there I was. So close to doing so.

            1. The Rev Kev

              Slim, I have never use Faceborg but if there is a time not to go near it, it would be in an election year – particularly this one. That way lay madness. You should stay the sane one where you live by not going near it.

            2. Jonathan Holland Becnel

              I couldn’t stomach going back on Faceborg.

              Could you please tell me what happened in the video?

              1. The Rev Kev

                @ Jonathan Holland Becnel

                Sorry for the delay in answering your question. The whole thing was so well thought out and organized. The guy was told to go for a test but as he did not have a car, they sent an ambulance. Field test were set up to test him and he was given an information pack and a contact number. At home he was monitored through his mobile and all his needs were met. It was brilliant.

          2. MLTPB

            We assume Korea would want foreigners to go there, people from China, Russia, Australia, etc.

            ‘Where is that red carpet?’

          3. Cuibono

            Korea has it down. Why can we not learn from that? There must be profit enough in it somewhere

          4. SteveW

            Taiwan has done much much better than South Korea. Population 24 million. 400 cases. 6 death. Great place. Robust democracy. Safe, free and civil soceity. Very nice, honest , friendly and down to earth people. Only downside — potential conflict with mainland China. I am not Taiwanese by the way. They contain the virus by being prepared early. Very diligent testing an tracing. Use of masks in crowded places. Never had to lockdown. Schools and restaurants are still open and business more or less as usual. South Korea is also a great place. Honest and determined people. Wouldn’t mind moving to Taiwan or South Korea except for difficulties of learning the languages.

        2. Monty

          If you look at the front page of that site, it has a map that very clearly shows that the places where there has been a large outbreak, have “very high” excess deaths.

          If you don’t have a large outbreak yet, you don’t get the high excess deaths. Hardly man bites dog stuff.

      2. Carolinian

        Sweden is doing better in losses versus population than the UK, Spain, Italy and France. They do have social distancing measures in place but primary schooling continues while high school and colleges have gone online. Stores remain open. Surely this technique of only comparing Sweden to other Nordic countries is useless unless you assume the primary factor controlling Covid is somehow racial.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Racial? I don’t think so. And if I recall correctly, not long ago you were wondering about a population in your region being better able to handle this virus because of their racial heritage. When you take a look at how this virus is being handled by different countries around the world, what is clear is if their governments take it seriously or not.

          Countries like South Korea, Taiwan, etc. took it seriously and put into action long-prepared plans. Too many other countries allowed this virus to get loose in their communistic instead of dropping the hammer on it to save their economies. Recall yesterday’s story of the difference between how Ireland and the UK handled it? I personally like the Swedes but I happen to think that their government is run by rat-bags and this is showing up in how they are handling this virus.

          1. Carolinian

            you were wondering about a population in your region being better able to handle this virus because of their racial heritage

            I never said anything remotely like that but I guess “as I recall” let’s you off the hook although it may not say much for your powers of recollection.

            And I don’t see any dispute re the facts I mentioned in your reply.

            1. Monty

              I think the difference between places with a big outbreak and a small outbreak is simply to do with how many people were walking around spreading it, especially when awareness and precautions were low.

              If you don’t see a big outbreak somewhere, it’s because for any number of reasons, less people with the virus walked around spreading it all over the place there.

            2. The Rev Kev

              I’ll leave this comment here for you. I recalled correctly (fly paper memory) as it turned out and here is what you wrote-

              ‘March 30, 2020 at 10:14 am

              Thanx for so many links. This web denizen says the more the better.

              And re GA vs NC–GA does have Atlanta which sprawls across the northern half of the state. But NC also appears to be doing better than SC. Perhaps it’s that clear western North Carolina mountain air. On the other hand there’s that low lying eastern NC hog manure lagoon air.

              NC was heavily settled by Scots Irish (lots of people with red hair). A Celtic genetic resistance?’

        2. Monty

          Could it be that when awareness was low, and people were not taking precautions, more infected people traveled to, and spread the virus in, the places that have suffered the more serious outbreaks?

        3. Jonathan Holland Becnel

          Johnny White’s Bar in the French Quarter stayed open during Katrina.

          It couldn’t hold out against Wuhan Flu aka Covid-19 aka Coronavirus.

          I have to admit I like Swedens model of still letting some Institutions stay open.

      3. SteveW

        Not sure how you calculate the figures/population. Sweden, I believe, has twice the population as Norway/Denmark. So Sweden’s fatality rate is much much worse than Norway and somewhat worse than Denmark. Infection rate is similar. I think Sweden might not be doing as much testing. Say for the time being, Sweden is not doing well. In all fairness, one should look at the overall situation in perhaps 2 years. Sweden may well have a more contained second/third waves. But if a vaccine is available soon then Sweden might have incurred unwarranted sacrifices. The Swedes seem to accept the government’s handling so all power to them.

  12. Tom Stone

    It’s time for prudent people to make contingency plans.
    The USA is in the midst of an existential crisis, caused both by the plague and ecological collapse.
    The odds of a successful vaccine to treat Covid 19 are small, while the odds of a successful treatment being developed are pretty good.
    The odds of addressing ecological collapse in a rational way are nil.
    Donald Trump will be President until early 2021 at least and perhaps for another 4 years and the very best the Democratic Party can come up with is Joe Biden.
    Let that sink in for a moment.
    Joe Biden or Donald Trump.
    The best chance for any of us to survive is to build stronger local communities, starting with whatever personal networks we have.
    It’s going to get rough, 17 Million new unemployment claims have been filed with more on the way.
    If 10% of those become homeless over the next year at the same time we are dealing with systemic failure ( Supply chains are just part of what is failing, the knock on effects are not minor) and a continuing plague…
    That’s the reality we face.
    Anger and frustration are a normal response, but not particularly helpful.
    It’s time to start planning for and working toward survivable communities, small ones.
    Joe Biden or Donald Trump..

    1. xkeyscored

      What’s so new?
      In 2016 it was Clinton and Trump. Which of them was the greater danger to the world? I’d have voted for Trump in order to keep the more obvious and proven warmonger out, but what a choice. Beelzebub or Lucifer. Death by nuclear war or climate change. Or both.
      The best chance for many of us to survive is to take advantage of the USA’s current inability to do much bombing and invading, hopefully having some kind of alternative to the damned dollar and stuff by the time the country staggers and coughs its way back onto its knees.
      Meanwhile I wish you USians luck in bringing civilisation to your benighted nation.

      1. Darius

        The difference is the pandemic. Tom Stone is correct that the pillars of the economy, and therefore society, are collapsing before our eyes. They were made vulnerable by decades of neoliberal sabotage, but now they are collapsing.

    2. Oh

      You forgot that there’s the Green Party. If all of us here encourage progressives to vote Green and vote Green ourselves, we can make a difference.

    3. Jonathan Holland Becnel


      There is a distinct possibility that the global supply chain will break.

      Might as well Organize Farms know to take on a greater share of sales.

      Lets save the environment, our polity, and our planet simultaneously!


  13. David

    For those who may be interested, a quick update on Covid-19 and France.
    Macron spoke to the nation for nearly half an hour last night. He needn’t have bothered.
    He only said two things of any importance: the lockdown would continue until 11 May, and after that schools would progressively be opened, but other things would have to wait. This measure has been much criticised by other political figures, as being dangerous and premature. But it looks as though Macron was trying to appease exhausted parents who now face another month at home with their children. Whether it’s wise remains to be seen.

    The tone of the speech was quite different from the previous one. It was noticeably downbeat, defensive and even apologetic. There was no mention of being « at war », and a great deal of waffling and repetition, as though Macron was conscious that he really had nothing much to say. He – or his young and inexperienced team – are struggling to find a register in which to respond to this crisis, and so far it’s not working. According to a poll today, support for the government’s handling of the crisis has fallen to 38%.

    The speech was full of references to frontiers and controls, repatriation of economic activities, and sovereignty, and scarcely mentioned Europe expect for the need to preserve that continent’s own sovereignty. It’s not clear what Macron meant by what he said, and it’s not obvious that he himself knows. But having now adopted – at least verbally – much of the thinking of the Rassemblement National and La France Insoumise on Europe, it’ll be hard for him to present them as a threat in 2022.

      1. xkeyscored

        What’s that about “I’m the only one in my family who isn’t a health worker”?

        I though his wife was a literature and drama teacher, and Wikipedia lists her children as “Sébastien Auzière, an engineer, Dr. Laurence Auzière-Jourdan, a cardiologist, and Tiphaine Auzière, a lawyer.” Have the non-health workers among them recently retrained, along with Nemo, their black Labrador Retriever-Griffon dog?

        Still, at least those watching from the galleries didn’t pelt him with rotten eggs or used masks. That time.

    1. Clive

      I did listen to his speech, but only while I was waiting for my tea to cool a bit. As you say, much of it was same old, same old. But I think the U.K. government too will be subjected to huge social pressure to open the schools as an early relaxation step.

      As to the wisdom of that, our wonderful little treasure of a media has, if anything, made that easier. Any sane, balanced attempt at any kind of scientific analysis which the U.K. government might want to apply to a decision (and they probably don’t, I suspect they want to concentrate on the politics and economics first, public health second) would simply drown in an onslaught of mainstream and social media crazymaking antics where a truth of a matter, even if it existed as a single, clearly-definable outcome couldn’t get a look-in.

      Given the relentless tide of utter garbage, bias and general shrieking — across the spectrum — I suspect everyone will simply form their own opinions based on a varying degree of research (such limited research as one can do, in the face of the tsunami of politicised science and ten-a-penny internet experts you’d have to wade through) down to merely guesswork and their own hunches.

      Well done, everyone in the media. You’ve successfully seen to it that no-one believes anything anyone says, unless it agrees with their own biases.

      Apart from that, Macron’s newfound fondness for localism was interesting and, even, in the nostalgic way he phrased it, touching. Was this, I asked myself, the shock-of-the-new Macron of only a few years back, now evoking the spirit of the Good Old Days? And how, I wondered, did he plan on achieving this in the context of the free movement of goods and capital in the Single Market? I suspect he was trying to have his cake and eat it too, with some sort of Franco-nationalism for some things, all the while staying true to the EU’s sacred cows for others. I’ll be fascinated how he squares that circle.

      Still, at least he’s trying. Here, of course, we sit trying to work out just how cynical the U.K. government might be in trying to work out what it wants to do. The answer to that question is, invariably, “very”.

      1. Monty

        Nassim Nicholas Taleb has been talking about Localism a lot. I hadn’t heard much about it until recently.

        He helpfully retweeted this image which shows the difference between Localism and Libertarianism.

  14. The Rev Kev


    Yeah, about that. Russia must have slacked off as they are having a helluva battle with Coronavirus at the moment. The number of cases is skyrocketing and is over 20,000 cases at the moment. Lots of people are fleeing Moscow for other parts of Russia where I am sure they will be welcomed. Here is a short video clip showing how serious it is getting there-

    What I am pretty sure will not happen is that Putin rings Trump to ask his advice on how to fight a pandemic.

    1. MLTPB

      I read that Moscow or Putin was in denial about this, up till recently.

      In contrast to being saved by being poor and soviet in Russia, S. Koreans have been helped by being not so poor, and capitalistic, even with chaebols.

      Per a link above, it’s a private firm that helped control the situation there.

      A private enterprise?

      N Korea, also poor and soviet, l think, (little news out of there) is a mystery to me, and maybe to many as well. Do they have any cases?

      1. The Rev Kev

        North Korea says that they have zero cases in recent briefings but the truth seems to be that it is causing them all sorts of problems.

        1. xkeyscored

          They don’t exactly encourage mass tourism or international travel, and according to Wikipedia, “suspected COVID-19 cases in the two Chinese provinces (Liaoning and Jilin) bordering North Korea have been low.”

          Also from Wikipedia:

          “North Korea was one of the first countries to close borders due to COVID-19.[9] The government has implemented widespread travel restrictions,[10] including closing the border to foreign tourists in late January[3] and then suspending flights and banning travel in and out of the country.[9] Though many parts of the border were closed, the bridge between Dandong and Sinuiju remained open and allowed supplies to be delivered.[11] In late February, the North Korean government said that it would keep the border closed until a cure was found.[12]”

          None of which is to say they’re being open, honest and transparent, but being a ‘hermit nation’ even before this pandemic may help them at least delay its spread within their borders.

          On the other hand, the effects aren’t only directly from the virus itself:

          “On 26 March, the New York Times reported satellite imagery shared by the Royal United Services Institute, which showed that the illicit trafficking of coal and other goods stopped, with the commercial vessels now idling in their home ports.[32] This trafficking is prohibited under United Nations sanctions, and is believed to be mostly with China. The change happened after North Korea sought to seal itself off starting 22 January. These sales normally provide a revenue stream that has historically contributed to its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. It may also cause a possible drop in fuel and fertilizer imports, which would affect North Korea’s agriculture sector, right at the beginning of the farming season. Analysts said it was reasonable to assume damage has been done to North Korean agriculture, industry and the overall economy.”

          1. The Rev Kev

            They have their own ideas about health discipline. A coupla weeks ago I mentioned a story that I heard from North Korea. One of their officials went to China and after he returned, it was found that he had shared a hot tub with several Chinese and had not bothered to try to isolate himself while there. So they arrested him and then shot him straight away to give everybody else a message.

      2. Olga

        I wonder where you read about this alleged denial. Russia closed its border with China in late January, way before the west reacted. Plus – let’s put it in perspective: the 20K cases are mostly in Moscow, which is a city of at least 15 million (unofficial counts go up to 20 mil., if not more). Many people in Moscow have dachi (dachas), so they can go there. In any case, from the info I have, it does not seem that the Russ govt was anymore in denial than others.

        1. MLTPB

          The NY Times, 4 days ago – After months of denial, Russia admits the virus is taking hold.

          ‘I read.’

          The source is the above.

          1. Darthbobber

            So: The headline. This would be the times’ characterization.
            I think minimized would be much more accurate than denial. And in that, they have had a lot of company.

          2. integer

            According to the John Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, one month ago Russia had 63 confirmed cases, and two months ago they had two confirmed cases. Here’s the first comment from the article:

            It never fails to amaze me how xenophobic is the US. My (American) son and his family live and work in St. Petersburg, Russia. He was on a business trip to Switzerland in early March, and returned to Russia. As they deplaned, doctors were taking temperatures of every person before they were allowed through immigration and customs. They were given a phone number to call to alert the public health authorities, who would send a doctor to examine each arriving passenger. That happened, and my son was told he could not leave the apartment for 72 hours, until a second doctor came to examine him and gave him permission to leave for urgent reasons. My grandchild was quarantined for 14 days, with a pediatrician visiting the apartment DAILY. I’m sorry, but I don’t know of any gold plated or solid gold insurance policy for anyone in this country that makes a total of 16 house calls in a period of 14 days. At the least, Russia has a functioning public health system that takes care of the mass of the population, free of charge. Those of you who know Russia are used to seeing ambulances ferrying doctors all over the cities, and although you may not want to get a heart transplant in Russia, when your child has a fever, you don’t have to leave your apartment..the doctor comes to you. I hope that this excellent system will mitigate the virus that is plaguing the world, and Russia, and that we all emerge on the other side of this crisis intact.

            NYT is a joke, especially when it comes to Russia.

    2. Maxwell Johnston

      Good video. Not sure if the long line of ambulances is due to massive numbers of patients, or simply due to a lack of coronavirus-equipped hospitals and good old-fashioned bureaucratic inefficiency at processing incoming patients. So far the numerator (deaths) is quite low, while the denominator (confirmed cases) has gone parabolic. Early days yet, as Russia is 4-6 weeks behind Italy. Tomorrow an electronic pass system comes into force, so we shall see if the system works and if this enforced social isolating starts to flatten the curve in Russia. If things don’t normalize by the end of April, then my guess is that VVP will have to declare a national emergency. This will trigger legal and financial consequences, and I don’t think TPTB want to go there…..but they may not have a choice. Interesting times.

    3. Jodorowsky's zoom

      The stones on Helmer… TB is rare or vanishing diseases in the West, BCG vaccine is only effective in childhood, and if you were born outside the US, you probably had BCG, not just Russian-born. Sweet Ida No, spinning the prevalence of drug-resistant tuberculosis in Russia as a prophylactic against COVID is… is… pretty grim newspeak. Like, taking the top off your skull and treating your head like a fortune cookie.
      [Sources: Tuberculosis in Russia. Its History and Its Status Today *** The BCG World Atlas: A Database of Global BCG Vaccination Policies and Practices ***]

  15. xkeyscored

    China Limited the Mekong’s Flow. Other Countries Suffered a Drought. New York Times

    This is probably true. I say probably because Chinese authorities claim “that the Chinese leadership was being magnanimous by sending water downstream, especially at a time when Beijing was contending with a severe coronavirus outbreak.” Conceivable, but the Mekong’s been reduced to a series of puddles in places, and turning a mysterious blue in others, and it’s hard to square that with China’s magnanimity in sending enough water downstream.

    Whatever the truth of all that, the region is still in the grip of a general drought most likely caused by climate change, which is only just starting to break. While the Mekong is important to many farmers and others for water and the silt it brings in the annual floods, the region-wide drought is impacting many more. From December last year, but still relevant:

    “Cambodian rice farmers should refrain from planting crops because of a drought and record high temperatures. The cause is this year’s El Nino with temperatures expected to peak in April and May, warned Neth Pheaktra, spokesman and secretary of state for the Cambodian Environment Ministry.

    Communities in 16 provinces around the Kingdom have reported water shortages due to higher than average temperatures – a stark reality in a nation more used to dealing with floods than droughts.”

    1. MLTPB

      It’s to everyone’s benefit China and neighbors get along, except maybe Russua to the north.

      (Returning Vladivostok to the Chinese people would be a good start. Just my opinion.)

      The nations in the regions will decide on which of the sides they are being offered, per one of yesterday’s links.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      In 2006 I was in northern India and lots of roads in the Himalaya area were closed all through the summer. There had been massive spring flooding due to China releasing impounded dam water unexpectedly and without warning, washing out many bridges.

      I’ve no idea the truth of what went on, but all the locals were saying that there had been a dispute with the Indian government and China had released dam water as a ‘message’, to inform the Indians about who really controlled the water supply for northern India. There may well have been another explanation for the floods, but it seems significant that the Chinese government seemed quite happy for the Indians to believe it to have been deliberate.

      As for the Mekong – whoever controls the flow of the Mekong controls three downstream countries. Its like a finger on the artery. Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and most of all, China, knows this full well.

      1. Olga

        According to this, there are only three dam projects in the region bordering India; they were built in 2007, 2013, and 2015:
        This has some details on the flooding in the Himalaya area, which occurs almost annually – it discusses, however briefly, the complexity of the situation, involving mainly India and Nepal (it is from 2017, but the issues are long-standing and similar):
        And this has tons more info on the flooding and weather in the period mentioned:
        “During the southwest monsoon seasons 2005, 2006 & 2007 most of the states were affected by severe floods. Synoptic features responsible for occurrence of heavy to very heavy and exceptionally heavy rainfall resulting into severe floods over different states have been shown in Table 1.”
        Not clear where blaming China would have come from.

  16. Krystyn Podgajski

    RE: Novel coronavirus attacks and destroys T cells, just like HIV

    This part is the bad news and the good news.

    Also, the team found that unlike HIV that replicates faulty T cells, the coronavirus does not replicate, showing that the T cells and the virus may end up dying together.

    The good news is that it means it will not be a latent virus like HIV. The bad news is that these CD4 T Cells that the virus destroys not only help us fight the current infection, but they also help us create the B Cells that create the antibodies needed to fight of the next infection.

    South Korea has found yesterday that 111 people were reinfected so…

    This is not a hard problem to solve if the power$ that be will listen.

    1. tegnost

      The power$ that be are listening for the kaching, and are
      nearly unanimous on private sector (as you know, that ain’t you) solutions

      1. Krystyn Podgajski

        Yes, the KaChing Virus. It is a virulent and latent infection that will kill the host for sure.

  17. The Rev Kev

    “Ancient Egyptian technology may be our first line of defense from hospital infections” Daily Kos

    So what will the Coronavirus say to this?

    “You’ll never get me copper!”

  18. jef

    Right now thousands of school districts across the nation are implementing online schooling.

    No training, little or no tech support or any other support for that matter. Teachers are absolutely losing it breaking down and crying. Sure some are tech savvy enough to roll with it but all are stressed to the max. Students are freaking out too. Some are shining but many are simply not up for it.

    What industry could totally change what they do and how they do it virtually overnight with so little support? America needs to step up, the tech industry needs to step up and give an entire generation the attention they deserve. Instead it is treated as a profit opportunity. Disgusting!!!

    1. xkeyscored

      I sure wish I’d got to grips with it back in the good old days when we could gather in one room and see what everyone was doing.

    2. Monty

      Having a child going through this at the moment, I have noticed the assignments are incredibly easy.

      eg Science assignment.
      Watch a YouTube video about Isaac Newton’s 3 laws of motion.
      Answer 5 multiple choice questions, including 3 which ask you to identify what number the text of a particular law was from.
      Time to complete 5 minutes, including a 4 minute video.

      That represented 25% of the lessons for the day.

    3. MLTPB

      First graders really, I assume, need physical interaction with the teacher and other kids.

      Otherwise, we should consider huggable robot teachers.

      Is this childhood trauma for a whole generation of kids?

      1. newcatty

        Also, let us remember that middle and high school students are also having their childhoods interrupted. Agree that it is a serious effect on the need for early elementary students to have social interaction and play together. Think that is intuitively and from research a given. It is sometimes easy to not take seriously that pre-teens and teenagers are children. Especially with the MSM and culture drive to emphasize how teens are encouraged to be young”adults” in many socially and emotioally unhealthy ways. We will have a generation of kids who are not learning subjects with whatever depth and experiential source of knowledge and interaction with a teacher. Zoom and online learning is the choice for now… I only personally know a junior in high school student. I feel she is one of the fortunate kids. She is bright and has always from a very young age had an inborn motivation to focus on her goals. She has enough self-esteem to get through this experience. Many kids do not have these inner strengths. Think they will be left behind. She will miss prom and school dances and house gatherings and last daze of school celebrations. The most important thing she will miss, in her case, is playing a sport she loves to play. She is on track to play college soccer. How will all of that play out in our current reality? She works out, with social distancing and precausions. She is working now at a local store, as well as online classes. It is too uncanny to think about the huge disruption to our children’s childhoods. I don’t want to think about sweet Rosie robots hugging our children.

    4. richard

      Yeah, I can say that here in seattle school district, there has been very limited tech support. Administrators and co-workers have helped me a lot, and I’ve taught myself more than I thought I could. It’s not what any of us signed up for, of course. For one thing, online teaching is just a poor substitute for in-person teaching. Schools are emotional, social places. And they should be that way; learning is active and noisy and happens on several fronts at once. You can’t recreate that remorely. I have a much greater appreciation for my classroom now, than I ever have:)

  19. Carolinian

    Re The South May See the Largest Share of Coronavirus Misery–never let the facts get in the way of a preferred narrative. This morning’s NYT covid report shows the deaths per 100k population to be 51 for New York state, 2 for my state and most of the South and less than one for NC and Arkansas. The only hotspots are post Mardi Gras Louisiana (19), some spillover to next door Mississippi (3) and that home to the world’s busiest airport and the South’s major city Georgia (5). Of course this casualty per 100k figure is rising here but it is in NY as well since it was 32 only a few days ago. In fact NY and NY city in particular are such a complete disaster that it seems essential to the MSM to somehow pretend the problem is the fault of all those red states who are, in fact, observing social distancing rules regardless of whether there is a so called lockdown. Even this early it seems safe to say that the largest share of Covid misery will be in the Northeast–by far. Of course financially the opposite may be true as all that money gets shoveled to Wall Street just as Main Street faces disaster.

    Covid may change the world but it doesn’t seem to be making journalism any better.

    1. neplusultra

      We’ll check back in on this comment in a year and see where we’re at :). It’s obvious that the outbreak began in wealthier northeast cities. No one is disputing that. But the tendency for Red state politicians to downplay the severtiy and drag their heels on action may have a knock on effect. As well as higher rates of obesity (big mortality factor) and less healthcare resources. Only time will tell

      1. MLTPB

        I think new information about Corona travelling 13 feet in the air, risks of exercising outside, asymptomatic carriers, rich urbanites insisting on spreading to rural communities, using a mask, etc caught many of us, including those in the south by surprise.

        Also. It was a federal declaration of war on states, if those fleeing were impeded.

        Will it come down to whether to preserve the union, and supercede some governors?

    2. fresno dan

      April 14, 2020 at 10:45 am

      When will people acknowledge the prescience of second amendmenters enforcing “get off my lawn”
      People are seething cauldrons of cooties, and should always be given a wide leeway…

    3. Andrew Thomas

      I would not be the least bit sure about that. At some point right after Georgia’s Governor finally did something when, he alleged, he found out about asymptomatic transmissibility of Covid19 at least six weeks after any sentient being would have known, the count in his state was 169 tests given and 169 positive. No one knows how many people are positive, and how many are dying, or have died, from Covid19. But when you have a governing class whose idea of public health is public prayer, the idea that there is any inclination to discover this information, much less make it public, is laughable.

      1. Carolinian

        Yes we don’t much as of now. But please concede that it’s a long way from 2 to 51. Actually i think in nyc it’s more like 81. Whatever happens and for whatever reason I don’t think the article’s premise is going to hold up.

      2. MLTPB

        Using a mask has been discussed here for months too.

        Not sure if the WHO is still silent on that. Many countries still not recommending it. Is Russia? The CDC only recently joined the practitioners.

  20. The Rev Kev

    “Hidden failures”

    ‘Why are people reluctant to share failure? Across experimental and professional failures, people did not realize that failure contained useful information.’

    Could it be that if they shared their failures, they would be fired for them? Maybe they do realize what is useful to know after all.

    1. shtove

      I wonder too about this weakness in families. Teeming with recollectable information, especially in matters of health, but so much seems to be suppressed, ignored, denied. Perhaps due to editing in order to retain structure in the hierarchy.

    2. TMoney

      Could it be that if they shared their failures, they would be fired for them?

      This. Nothing encourages spin like the prospect of losing your health insurance.

  21. Monty

    Interesting numbers from the Wisconsin Primary Election

    Almost as many people turned out to vote for Court of Appeals District 2 Judge Lisa Neubauer (230k), as for Bernie (290k).
    Yet over a million got out and voted Yes for the “Marsy’s Law Referendum”.

    Seems a bit weird.

    1. Darthbobber

      Between the Democratic and Republican sides, there were a bit more than 1.5 million presidential votes cast. In the Supreme Court race, there were a bit more than 1.5 million votes cast. In the Marsy’s law referendum question, there were a bit more than 1.5 million votes cast.

      I don’t find the results statistically odd, but the whole thing was still absurd for a’ that.

  22. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

    It’s peculiar to me that people just cannot contemplate the probability that omamua object could be artificial. They tie themselves in knots inventing ways it could be ‘just a co incidence’. Professsional debunkers should get busy on the question of why a certain portion of the intelligentsia is so invested in the ‘nothing to see here, folks’ mindset. No one is being asked to believe in a religion, or space brothers…but the idea it’s the product of artifice on someone’s part out there us beyond the respectable.

    1. Bruno

      According to standard physics, no material object can travel faster than the speed of light. Given the accepted distance in light-years from even the most plausible cosmic source, a massive object like “omamua,” moving at any rate like that observed, would have had to be dispatched to earth well before the existence of genus homo. Which makes the hypothesis of artificial origin’s truth–if standard physics is indeed valid–rather unlikely.

      1. Jeotsu

        It is my understanding that this statement is incorrect.

        You cannot every *reach* light sped, as your mass becomes infinite. But once beyond c, you’re (from a theoretical physics standpoint) fine. You “just” need to find a way to get moving fast than light speed without passing through light speed. Which is, shall we say, rather a difficult challenge/conundrum.

    2. ewmayer

      Mysterious elongated interstellar objects swinging through the solar system on their long journey whence we know not, ‘where’ surmisable based on measured orbital parameters reslting from the visit — reminds me of a classic SciFi novel I read in my early teens, Arthur C. Clarke’s Rendezvous with Rama.

  23. Mikel

    Here’s more evidence of neoliberalism still doubling down on stupidity when people are swearing it is in retreat:
    “Dozens of states across the US have issued orders to halt elective medical procedures as part of emergency shutdowns to curb the spread of Covid-19. As a result, hospitals and medical treatment clinics across the US are implementing layoffs, furloughs, and cuts to salaries and work schedules in response to declines in revenue.”

    There is no defense of such a system in a sane country.
    So your health insurance costs keep going up and you keep getting less and people swear there is “reform” going on. “Reform” is not really on the mind of the brain dead status quo. They are on autopilot now because they have everyone running scared.

  24. dcblogger

    will workers go back to offices? if you can telework now, why put up with that awful commute? won’t some of this become permanent? and what will happen to commercial real estate?

      1. newcatty

        Reminds me of the now famous new black. Orange. Prisoners not “let out” from prisons and jails are in a horrible “lock-down” experience. Unlike those in the petri-dishes in cruise ships, or in the disgraceful navy ships, the incarcerated don’t get meals from the kicked-up kitchens or unlimited booze. Doubt much chance to amuse themselves with video games, social media access, or standing on a deck to breathe in fresh air. Oh, and IIRC, some of the prisoners get to bury their dead as a “work assignment.” Could include the illegal immigrants detention centers…inhumane is an understatement. These also include children, not just adults, as we all know.

    1. flora

      On a slightly different point: How many public and private universities have gone on a public/private financed building spree? Now those new buildings sit empty, but the ‘private’ part of the deal still expects its rents/bond premiums paid by the universities.

      Between falling state revenues and required payments for the privately financed building boom, universities are in for a double-whammy, imo.

    2. Balakirev

      My sister-in-law has been a social worker employed by the state of Missouri for over 30 years. They were all sent home from their offices a few weeks ago, to do work there. But as of this past Monday, everyone who had an enclosed space of any size with a door was ordered back–only they were told to wear masks, use the freight entrance, and hit the floor number in the elevator using their elbows.

      I’m not kidding you. This isn’t parody, though Dean Swift (or the Boulting Brothers) would probably laugh himself silly over the absence of intelligent thought among his fellow humans.

  25. bondsofsteel

    I got an email from my sister that she was laid-off. She’s an ER nurse with decades of experience in a large regional city. Apparently her hospital (Mayo Clinic) is laying-off large numbers of the staff. Furloughed for the rest of 2020. In a pandemic.

    It turns out this is an effect of our for-profit healthcare system. It’s happening everywhere, it just started, and it’s going to be huge. It’s a collapse of our healthcare system. This is going to cost lives :(

    1. tulu

      Perhaps it is the case that the cure is worse than the disease. The pandemic response has been mismanaged at all levels, and there are going to be many lives lost because of the response. This is one example of follow-on effects of the lockdowns that will cause lives to be lost.

    2. Trent

      This excuse “for profit healthcare” does not fly on these layoffs. Wouldn’t the massive bailout that was just passed cover something like this? I heard today of someone being laid off, a nurse who deals with cancer patients, because of covid they aren’t seeing many cancer patients so she was let go. Wouldn’t you transfer that person over to help with Covid patients if the demand was so huge. I don’t see pandemic, i see mass bankruptcy.

  26. sd

    I posted yesterday about my adventures with Bank of America and trying to access my Unemployment funds. Quick recap – California unemployment benefits are paid to a Bank of America EDD Debit card. Transfer-to-Account is used to get the funds from the EDD Debit account to my checking account. However, the Bank of America EDD website does not recognize me – every time I try to log in, it says that my account is closed. But if I call the (800) number on the back of the EDD Debit card, it says my account is open and I have funds in the account.

    I tried getting a Customer Service Rep only to get a busy signal, disconnected, technical difficulty message, etc. I sent an email to try and get this resolved. The response was to call Customer Service. So last night I spent 2.5 hours on hold and finally got through. The agent told me my card is good, my account is active: Log In to the Website.

    This has been going on for a week.

    So I reached out to a friend by email last night. Never had any problems, automatic Transfer set up, etc. But because I raised the issue, thought she should just check her account, so went online to the Bank America website, it said the credentials didn’t match. So she called the (800) number – the automated system said she has thousands of dollars in her account that has not been transferred. And she too can’t get through to transfer it to her checking account. I suspect she didn’t notice the funds hadn’t transferred because of a joint account with her husband.

    Yes, I can use the card to make purchases, however, I specifically use the funds for rent so need the money transferred to my checking account.

    How many people in California currently can not access their unemployment funds on Bank of America EDD Debit cards?

    1. John

      Try using another browser. I’m not sure if that is your problem, but sometimes if you have cookies, or the bank itself doesn’t like a certain browser you could have problems. I have definitely experienced that in the past. Especially if you haven’t updated for a long time on your computer.

      Again, I’m not really sure what error message you are getting, so don’t know if this is your problem (a computer issue vs a bank issue).

      1. sd

        I’ve tried browsers. I’ve tried different devices. I’ve tried verifying my username and password, nothing works.

        1. John

          They also have a technical support team for the website you can call. To just help you with this. So try that also.

          Just to rule out it’s a computer thing.

          1. sd

            I have been trying to get through on the phone for a week and finally reached someone late last night after sitting on hold for 2.5 hours. See above: The agent told me my card is good, my account is active: Log In to the Website.

            I followed up with my friend who finally was able to log on to the website – there is NO option to utilize Transfer-to-Account. She sent me a screen cap – the option literally does not exist.

            I successfully installed the Bank of America EDD Debit APP on my phone – also, no ability to access Transfer-to-Account.

            1. Trent

              Perhaps you can only transfer the money to a private bank of america account. They don’t want the money leaving the bank.

            2. sd

              Oh my g*d, after to trying every possible angle, I managed to get into my account through the link below:
              My previous username was changed and is now my EDD ECN number – which would have been helpful to know.
              I reset my password and am now able to access my account.
              I reset my Transfer-to-Account information and set up a test Transfer of $10 which the website says will post in 2 days.

              This has been an extraordinarily painful process and utterly unnecessary. I am extremely fortunate not to be desperate. I am certain there are people out there who very much need the money immediately.

              I am fairly certain this is a website problem – it’s clearly failing to communicate and authenticate with an underlying database. If it’s because too many users are on the site, they need to assign user times to control traffic – for instance, last digit of your Social determines the times you can access the site, or something to that effect.

    2. Oregoncharles

      What a huge subsidy to B of A, especially if they don’t bother to put the funds in your checking account. Doesn’t California have any good banks?

      And yet another argument for a State Bank.

  27. Oregoncharles

    “2020” through the Shaun King tweet: I really can’t improve on this as an argument for Demexit. And I’m seeing the results – Bernie supporters crossing over. Including an email fromthe national party: it’s nationwide. They’re in charge of presidential races, and they’re seeing a wave. It’s internal party communication, not secret but not the sort of thing our hosts want posted, but it’s real.

    Now if we can figure out how to reach a lot of people in the midst of a lockdown…

    1. Carey

      Sounds like I’ll mcVote Green on the top line this year, too.
      Wonder how the votes will be counted.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Yeah, that was my point. Now if we can somehow get on enough ballots, when we can’t circulate petitions…

        (We already have ballot access in 20 states, including Oregon.)


    Cuomo and Rolling Stone. I never liked him at all. Down there with the Clintons and his twin Rahm. But you have to not be able to believe in the human heart if you can’t accept that he’s been magnificent the past month.

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