Links 4/18/2020

With South Africa in lockdown, the lions are taking it very easy CNN (Kevin W)

Wild animals are reclaiming cities and streets during coronavirus lockdown New York Post (J-LS). Another take.

Deep Sea Squid Communicate By Glowing Like E-Readers NPR

Possible Dinosaur DNA Has Been Found Scientific American

Mystery of 2 million-year-old stone balls solved LiveScience (Kevin W)

‘Megadrought’ emerging in the western US might be worse than any in 1,200 years USA Today (Dan K)

The Perfect Killing Machine Dr. David Healy (furzy). Important.


Crops at risk as coronavirus lockdown grounds bees Financial Times

US alerted Israel, NATO to disease outbreak in China in November — TV report Times of Israel (furzy). Lambert featured this yesterday. Hoo boy, this will feed claims in China that the US was behind the virus.

Banksy reveals new graffiti as he ‘works from home’ during coronavirus lockdown Independent (furzy)

Great fun, but notice there wasn’t enough oxygen to burn all the wood. And a hard core pryo wouldn’t have been quite such a purist about materials and would have added magnesium to the core. But still impressive.


How does coronavirus kill? Clinicians trace a ferocious rampage through the body, from brain to toes Science. Chuck L: “A great motivator for maintaining social distance.”

Coronavirus Antibodies May Not Make You Immune, WHO Warns Forbes (David L). As we’ve been saying…

Antibody study suggests coronavirus rate much higher than previously believed New York Post (David L). Still low absolute percentage, which is the worst of all possible worlds (as in even if we are lucky and getting coronavirus confers immunity of say a couple of years or more, this sample suggests we are a long way away from the 85% infected rate needed to reduce R0 to below 1 absent other measures).

Israeli Lab to Stop Testing After Dozens Misdiagnosed With Coronavirus Haaretz (David L)

New COVID-19 ‘Citizen Science’ Initiative Lets Any Adult with a Smartphone Help to Fight Coronavirus UCSF (David L)

N95 Mask Shortage Brings Inventor Out Of Retirement In Search Of Safe Reuse Method NPR (David L)


New wave of infections threatens to collapse Japan hospitals ABC3340 (Kevin W)

Coronavirus latest: Hong Kong shows no need for total lockdown, says study Financial Times


Russia’s Soyuz Rocket Production On Hold Due To Coronavirus Space


Coronavirus: Medics to be asked to reuse gowns amid shortage fears BBC


Wary of Public Transport, Coronavirus-Hit Americans Turn To Bikes Reuters

Jails And Prisons Spring Thousands To Prevent Coronavirus Outbreaks Kaiser Health News (J-LS)

“They’re Death Pits’: Virus Claims at Least 7,000 Lives in U.S. Nursing Homes New York Times

Florida beach is crowded within 30 MINUTES of reopening despite state recording 1,413 new COVID-19 cases – its highest one-day increase since the pandemic crisis began Daily Mail

It’s clear where college students are counted in the 2020 census, but not others who moved due to COVID-19 Pew. UserFriendly: “I wonder how many college students will be double counted.”

Seeking masks, FEMA agrees to contract with insolvent company MSNBC (furzy)

Serfs Revolt

Essential Workers Least I Could Do (Matthew S)

Less than half of Los Angeles residents are still working and ethnic minorities are being hit the hardest by coronavirus job losses Business Insider

Political Responses

a href=”” rel=”nofollow”>After armed protest in Michigan, Trump dangerously tweets people should ‘liberate’ blue states Daily Kos (David L)

Trump Fans Protest Against Governors Who Have Imposed Virus Restrictions New York Times

In Trump’s ‘LIBERATE’ tweets, extremists see a call to arms NBC (furzy). Even though the state governments on the receiving end of these threats have to be concerned, I suspect these extremists will prove to be all hat, no cattle. The only thing that could change that would be someone in charge panicking and killing a protestor, which would be treated at Kent State level martyrdom (when those of you who remember Kent State recall the students were unarmed and some of the victims were bystanders).

Trump announces $19B program to help agriculture sector The Hill

White House says US has enough tests for first phase of reopening The Hill. Experts beg to differ.

Ilhan Omar unveils bill to cancel rent and mortgage payments amid pandemic Guardian (furzy)

Republicans try for political leverage over China with bill allowing Americans to sue for ‘damage they caused’ with coronavirus RT (Kevin W)


Stephanie Kelton: ‘They’re going to have massive deficits. And it’s fine’ Financial Times

The economic crisis will expose a decade’s worth of corporate fraud Economist (David L)

Here Are the Companies Getting Federal Funds for Covid Relief Bloomberg

Chase Bank prioritizes LARGE INDEBTED businesses over small businesses for PPP loans YouTube (Dan K)

Dow Jones Races Higher, Helped By Surging Boeing Stock; 3 Coronavirus Stocks Lead Nasdaq 100 Investor’s Business Daily. Kevin W: “Stock market now officially disconnected from the economy.” Even WSJ clears its throat. Lead story:
Stocks and the Economy Send Very Different Messages

Guggenheim’s Minerd Sees Chance of S&P Falling as Low as 1,200 Bloomberg. Most extreme call I’ve seen so far…..


H. R. McMaster: What China Wants Atlantic. Resilc: “The only good thing is their leadership is almost as big picture delusional brain dead as in USA USA, Demo or GOPer. It’s a race to the bottom. These models both won’t hunt over time.”

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

ICANN Delays .Org Sale Again After California’s AG Intervenes At Last Minute The Register

Projecting confidence: How the probabilistic horserace confuses and demobilizes the public Semantic Scholar. UserFriendly: “Why did HRC lose? Nate Silver.”


Democratic Study of Rural Social Media Finds Broad Criticism of Trump Daily Yonder (Mlle. Detroit)

A Week in the Life of Popular YouTube Channels Pew. UserFriendly: “Want more views on YouTube? Put someone under 13 in the video and have under 13 be your target demo. Gross.”

Procter & Gamble Posts Biggest U.S. Sales Gain in Decades Wall Street Journal

AT&T Gave FCC False Broadband-Coverage Data In Parts of 20 States ars technica

Google is Building Physical and Virtual Debit Cards TechCrunch. Folks, these are co-branded cards. This product has been around for at least 30 years. Bank still provides the back end and handles the payments. The only difference between this and the card you have with a bank is Google provides the app and takes a cut, which also happens with co-branded cards.

Unintended Consequences, Part II: What if LTCM Was Not Rescued? Barry Ritholtz (Douw)

Antidote du jour:

And a bonus (Chuck L). Is that a young grizzly?

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Tom Stone

    Kent State is mentioned, however Jackson State is not.
    Of course the fact that Jackson State is an African American College has nothing to do with the slaughter there disappearing into America;s memory hole….

    1. Lynne

      I suspect that rather than Kent State, they would recall Ruby Ridge, where a fed killed a woman while she stood holding a baby and then taunted her surviving children about it, and then lied about it. To the hard right, killing a protester now, even if an accident by a jittery cop out of his depth, would translate to actual vicious malevolence. And really, isn’t malevolence what the Occupy people saw?

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      I mentioned Kent State because those deaths did a lot to shift American opinion about Vietnam. The point was it was a shooting with disproportionate political impact.

      1. Fabian

        I lived in DC during the mid-sixties and was back there in 1971-72. In the early sixties all the reports on tv from Vietnam were by mid-rank white southerners. The protests really got under way when the draft hit the northern universities. One result is that the US military have gone right off the draft, which makes them more dangerous and less likely to shift political opinion.
        The reports today of long breadlines in Texas of people who have never seen themselves as welfare recipients coupled with mid-teens level of unemployment would seem to mean that you ain’t seen nothing yet. Mark Blyth also indicates why the US is not well placed structurally to withstand these levels of disruption.
        On top of that you have Trump egging the sometimes armed protestors on, and specifically linking the “liberate” meme to the second amendment in Virginia, as well as blame-shifting to China.
        It’s not just a worry for you, it is for us too on the edges of the world, as the lessons of history are that these disruptions are frequently followed by war.

    3. xkeyscored

      Thank you for that. I had heard of Jackson State before, but thought maybe I was confusing it with some other event or something since it’s so rarely mentioned.

      In future, when my Cambodian students ask me why US citizens didn’t try to stop their government, I’ll still show them the video stuff from Kent as it captures the shootings and aftermath dramatically, but I’ll make sure to say Jackson State and Kent State, and show them something about both.

      1. Jessica

        You could also mention the US under Carter supporting Pol Pot in the late-70s _after_ the killing fields.
        Also that a portion of those who died in Cambodia were killed in massive US bombing.

    4. Big Tap

      I think the killing of African Americans is so common in the U.S., then and now, it’s considered commonplace. The killing of white kids by the Ohio National Guard at Kent State was news cause they were white and a state government was responsible for killing its citizens. Also C,S,N&Y didn’t write a song about Jackson State. 50 years is coming up soon for both events.

      1. John

        All true and then there was that photograph, which if you search Kent State is front and center

    5. Oregoncharles

      Killing black students was par for the course; killing a bunch of white students was NEWS. Hence the emphasis.

      Consequently, it did produce a wave of rebellions; eg, Portland, OR was shut down for days. So that was a big part of the record – and one reason the US started withdrawing from the war.

    6. Wukchumni

      At about the same time as Kent State, Wall*Street was getting slaughtered…

      The first “Earth Day” was launched April 22, 1970. It was also Ross Perot’s “back to earth” day. Shares in his Electronic Data Systems (bought by Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ ) last year) fell $60 that day. On paper, Earth Day cost Ross Perot roughly $450 million, but he didn’t seem fazed by all those paper losses.

      EDS was not alone. Many tech stocks fell by 80% or more in the second quarter of 1970. Have you ever heard of that crash? No doubt you recall the tech stock crash of 2000-02 and the general 1973-74 crash — but few remember the 1970 crash. The S&P 500 fell 19% that quarter, and the Dow fell 13%. The core of the 1970 crash came in just five weeks — from April 20 to May 26 — when both major indexes fell 19%.

      The average computer stock fell 80% from its peak in late 1968 to the May 1970 lows. Perot’s EDS shares fell 85%, from $162 to $24. Other big-name tech stocks fell almost as far: Control Data fell 83%, Mohawk Data 84%, Sperry Rand 72%, and NCR fell 64%. Some lesser-known names fell further. University Computing fell from $186 to $13 (-93%); Data Processing Financial fell 94%, from $92 to $6.

  2. PlutoniumKun

    Wary of Public Transport, Coronavirus-Hit Americans Turn To Bikes Reuters

    Mixed thoughts on this – one huge casualty of the virus I think is public transport, at least in the west (in Asia, people seem quite comfortable with the notion of taking crowded trains, with precautions such as masks). Here in my city its very obvious that there are many ‘new’ cyclists using them for exercise and to go to work (as an experienced cyclist, its all too obvious when someone has dragged an old bike out of the garage for the first time in a year or so). To its credit, my local Council has seen the opportunity to do some ’emergency’ road works to convert parking strips and roads to cycle lanes and bike counterblows – hopefully these will become permanent.

    However, I’ve also heard anecdotally that many people are insisting they’ll never take buses and trains again (mostly, it should be said, from people who never took them anyway). I have to say that my last trip on a train, a necessary one just before the lockdown – was unpleasant – a security employee of the company actually sneezed over me and walked away without apology. Not exactly a good advert for public transport.

    Anyway, as someone who has always cycled to work and for shopping, I welcome all the newbies, just please stay off the sidewalks/pavements…..

    1. The Rev Kev

      Say, whatever happened to all those bike sharing companies that had so many cities cluttered with these bikes all over their pavements? Is e-bike sharing no longer a thing? Would you believe that I cannot even remember their names at the moment?

      1. maps

        They are on the streets here in Minneapolis. It strikes me as a striking failure to have them out. Who cleans them? How often?

    2. Carolinian

      You can tell they are tyros because they don’t put the seat high enough, thereby creating bad leverage on the knees.

      There are more cyclists here as well but for recreation I suspect rather than practical need. Grocery stores are the only thing open anyway and hard to haul much of that on a bike

      1. Bugs Bunny

        And the underinflated tires. I want to stop them and pump the darn things up myself, it’s so irritating.

        1. Carolinian

          The slack tires make it harder to pedal but then exercise is often the point so maybe they don’t mind. However if one does care about low effort cycling then skinny tires rule on smooth pavement. At low speeds it’s all about rolling resistance. At higher speeds it becomes about wind resistance.

          1. Wukchumni

            I did the ‘Tour de Burning Man’ for 7 years, and it’s dead flat on the dry lakebed and a $52 Target 18 speed ‘mountain bike’ was my trusty steed, and I really didn’t need those 17 other speeds, ha!

            You can either walk or ride a bike, and those w/o wheels usually wished they had one.

            A friend who was a LEO @ Sequoia NP went to FLETC (Federal Law Enforcement Training Center) and asked if he could borrow my ride festooned with Burning Man stickers, and I said sure. He told me he got so many funny looks from the bike, as relatively few law enforcement officers are Burners, as it turns out.

            1. Carolinian

              Yes there’s a reason Europe’s low countries are into bikes. On flat ground with hard inflated, skinny tires a bike can be almost effortless to propel. Your biggest problem in such open areas is likely to be headwinds.

          2. Phacops

            Yep, who wants to waste energy? I volunteer as a trail ambassador near where I live and see a lot of bikes out of tune or not adjusted for the rider. But, mostly see a lot of helments on children not placed properly. I enjoy giving out coupons for free ice cream at a local parlour to kids either wearing helmets properly or letting me show them how to adjust it. While they usually are not riding fast, thinking about usual enthusiast speeds I ask the parents how they feel about hitting something head first at closing speeds of 30 to 40 mph.

            For the past several years I’ve enjoyed riding my ICE, Sprint, tadpole trike. The dynamics are not like my old Fuji, and for comfort on 3 wheels run the Trykker tires at 60 psi.

            ICE frames are made in china but are otherwise competently put together, and I really like the Sturmey-Archer front hubs with drum brakes. However, for people looking at a frame made in the USA, I could reccomend CatTrike. Got my spouse a CatTrike 559 last year and it is a quality piece of equipment at an exceptionally good price. But, I need to mention that riding on roads using such low-slung bikes and you need to make yourself very visible.

            1. Carolinian

              That must be why bike racers use fat tires. Oh wait.

              And I didn’t say anything about comfort or safety. Those skinny tires also have low tread or no tread which is a problem on wet pavement. What I am saying–and I’ve been riding bikes all my life–is that low rolling resistance tires can cut your pedal effort almost to nothing on a flat road with no wind.

              And on smooth pavement the comfort difference won’t be that great. Safety? Wear a helmet.

              You don’t have to take my word for it. In places where people use bikes for transportation smaller tires (not the super skinny racer tires) have always been the rule. The modern fad for mountain bikes on the highway is an aberration.

              1. Not Lance Armstrong

                When my cousin Johnny and I were about 10 or 11 years old, we each had your typical kid’s bike (20” wheels) with ordinary tires. One day we went to the beach and had, of course, a hell of a time trying to ride through the deep sand. Johnny remembered a program he had seen on television about dune buggies and one fact he recalled was that the dune buggies had low pressure tires. So, we let half the air out of our bike tires. Needless to say, that helped us not at all in the sand — and it made riding home from the park somewhat more challenging too. :-)

      2. Anon

        I’m seeing more electric “cargo type” bikes on the streets and bike paths. Some mom’s seem to like the extra propulsion for taking the “tike” (kid) for a ride on the bike. E-bikes, in general, are not a fitness tool but a necessary improvement for folks without the necessary fitness level.

      3. HotFlash

        And the ones with a 24-speed bike who never shift gears and I am stuck behind them going uphill after a red light. And don’t get me started on the crunchy bottom brackets and rusty chains.

    3. MLTPB

      A new New Green Deal is likely different from the New Green Deal.

      Looking at pictures of cities with clear skies post-lockdown, it is apparent what can be done with less consumption, versus say, electric cars.

      We need less consumption even more, if or when fewer people will be willing to chance using public transportation post-2020.

      It was less consumption before, as a few of us have been saying, from when I first commented here in my case, and still less consumption now and going forward.

        1. MLTPB

          Less stuff in the house maybe, or fewer trip up and down the coast, as reportedly, many in LA county are doing going to beaches still open in OC and Ventura.

    4. Synoia

      Riding a bike on US Streets, which I do daily, is very difficult. The roads themselves contain traps everywhere, from channels which catch the bile wheels, to bile lanes which are not helpful, because you a on your own at intersections.

      Going straight across an intersection if fraught with risk. because vehicles turning right are a threat. Being it the correct lane is risk because one is surrounded by cars. I had people see man coming to an intersection, pass me and turn right directly in front me. My perception is that pickup drivers are the worst.

      I try to stay on the minor streets, but if I have to be on a major street, I use the sidewalks. Sidewalls are fill of nasty obstacles, because that is where the traffic engineers place all manner of large and solid control boxes.

      1. Anon

        Well, your assessment is accurate. A cyclist on the roadway is the most vulnerable in the transportation mix. The bike lane is the most dangerous: a few inches of paint on the roadway is not protection for inattentive drivers. AND it has been shown that pickup drivers ARE the worst; the younger, the more rural, the more accidents.

      2. Yves Smith Post author

        Haha, to your point re channels….I broke a cheekbone thanks to one of those (I was admittedly going at pretty high speed). Tried turning out of it, wheel skidded along channel, bike falls over and because I had rat-trap pedals, I couldn’t even get my foot out to try to brace the impact..

        Only funny bit was I did this right in front of the police station, so I was able to hobble in, looking like I had been hit by a baseball bat in the face. Never was as keen about biking after that.

  3. PlutoniumKun

    Projecting confidence: How the probabilistic horserace confuses and demobilizes the public Semantic Scholar. UserFriendly: “Why did HRC looe? Nate Silver.”

    I think many election strategists have known this for a long time. In the last election here in Ireland, there was almost a competition between candidates to insist that their opponents were ‘home and dry’. In a multiple choice system like in Ireland, it can significantly alter the intentions of ‘savvy’ voters if they think a certain candidate doesn’t need a vote as they are safe – its probably less so in single vote elections as in the US and UK, but I’d guess it can still have a significant impact.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      One core tenet of the 50 State Strategy was to recognize there are Democratic Party sympathizers who don’t vote in safe areas, knowing the election is in the bag. The alder, council, and even state legislators will receive a in the same, so people stay home.

      Getting people to see how what seems lie a few votes in one area adds up across a state was a central task of the 50 state strategy. In areas where, either party could win locally it seemed easier to sign people up. It’s much harder to see a large smdp district from the view of the individual voter.

      In 2005, Tim Kaine, the trial run for the 50 State Strategy, picked up votes in areas where democrats already held office. It was something of a blow out win, given the Republican candidate was fairly well liked.

  4. PlutoniumKun

    Stephanie Kelton: ‘They’re going to have massive deficits. And it’s fine’ Financial Times

    A very nice interview, but I think the significance of this is not what the article says (except in so far as there is no criticism or snark), but the fact that its in the FT at all. What a change a pandemic makes – MMT is now fully mainstream. Lets hope this is one of the most important long term consequences.

    1. xkeyscored

      Yes. I’ve noticed the FT and similar publications soberly discussing what would have been derided as unworkable pie-in-the-sky loony extremist ideas just a few months ago.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      It is quite easy to give MMT a nod when it tells the tale you like when dumping money on Corporate Cartels but ignore it again when it is time to begin auterity for other matters. That is an old lesson taught by our endless foreign wars and money dumped on ‘defense’ while other matters wither in harsh austerity.

      1. JP

        Yes, you can assume that as soon as a democrat is in the oval the repub’s will preach deficit reduction and scream rampant inflation threat.

        1. workingclasshero

          I think trump will get a 2nd term with repub majorities in both houses.last 2 years of term will see austerity hammer come down very hard.

  5. PlutoniumKun

    US alerted Israel, NATO to disease outbreak in China in November — TV report Times of Israel (furzy). Lambert featured this yesterday. Hoo boy, this will feed claims in China that the US was behind the virus.

    This seems very dubious, given that most evidence I’ve seen is that the virus only claimed its first victims in December. Its far more likely that this is a garbled account of warnings about the bubonic plague outbreak on the border between China and Mongolia from late Spring to November last year (from people eating marmots!).

    But yes, it will certainly feed into the CT stuff which Beijing is boosting about the virus having originated in a Virginia lab.

    1. xkeyscored

      Or a rehash of US stories claiming it must have been November because an unnamed intelligence source says it’s usually a month between intelligence being received and reports being presented to officials. Very dubious either way.

      1. TroyIA

        Extremely dubious. The first case was in early November and U.S. intelligence was able to identify at most 500 people out of a billion as being in the beginning of a new epidemic. Suuuuure.

        The genome of the Wuhan virus is 29,903 bases long, one of many clues that have led scientists to believe it is very similar to SARS.

        By comparing the two dozen genomes, scientists can address the “when did this start” question. The 24 available samples, including from Thailand and Shenzhen as well as Wuhan, show “very limited genetic variation,” Rambaut concluded on an online discussion forum where virologists have been sharing data and analyses. “This is indicative of a relatively recent common ancestor for all these viruses.”

        Given what’s known about the pace at which viral genomes mutate, if nCoV had been circulating in humans since significantly before the first case was reported on Dec. 8, the 24 genomes would differ more. Applying ballpark rates of viral evolution, Rambaut estimates that the Adam (or Eve) virus from which all others are descended first appeared no earlier than Oct. 30, 2019, and no later than Nov. 29.

        DNA sleuths read the coronavirus genome, tracing its origins and looking for dangerous mutations

        1. xkeyscored

          The first case was in early November

          Even that is speculation, so far as I know, though at least speculation based on RNA and so on. I think the first confirmed case was December 6, and that wasn’t confirmed at the time, only later.

        2. MLTPB

          When would have been earliest possible cases, in the case of using his Oct 30, 2019 Adam or Eve date?

          Early Nov? Mid Nov? Late Nov? Early Dec?

        3. Ignacio

          Thank you TroylA. The only drawback one can make about that reasoning is that it cannot be ruled out that SARSCoV2-like viruses could have been infecting humans in cryptic infections long before it acquired the properties necessary for this outbreak in subject 0 (probably in Oct-Nov 2019 as the article suggests). Yet, it is still, as you say, extremely dubious that US officials/intelligence could be able to detect such cryptic infections, much better than the few recipients themselves.

          1. MLTPB

            Thank you, Ignacio.

            Are you saying the first case of this outbreak, and not earlier cryptic infections, probably was in Oct-Nov 2019?

            1. Ignacio

              Not me, the article. But I have no reason to argue against this. Given that evolution “rushes” after a host species jump It might be the case the first subject became infected in the latest part of this period. I don’t know if the calculations they made account for this effect.

              1. MLTPB

                Yes, that was what I meant…the article suggested, and you thought it probable, or had no reason to argue against it.


      1. TimmyB

        Exactly right. Note that the “disease” in the Times of Israel article is never specifically identified. That is because the author wants to mislead readers, knowing they will automatically assume the “disease” being referred to in November is COVID-19 when it is actually a outbreak of bubonic plague.

  6. Schmoe

    Re: LTCM link

    I read “When Genius Failed” several years ago. I have always wondered why a seizure of assets with temporary MTM adjustments but no credit risk would cause the world financial system to collapse and we would all be living off cat food for the rest of our lives if the Supermen of the Fed didn’t save us all.

    Their trade involved tiny but consistent pricing anomolies in the Treasury market depending on maturity dates, but those anomolies ceased behaving as projected when others noted LTCM’s strategy and traded against it (or with it and bid up securities that were formerly slightly underpriced). Would there really have been $125b of realized losses to Wall Street? If LTCM was underwater by $125b based on a minor pricing variation of 10 bps (make that figure up) in Treasuries, wouldn’t that require they have had $1,250T of Treasuries – which is of course impossible.

    1. JTMcPhee

      That kind of arbitrage was featured in Tom Wolff’s “Bonfire of the Vanities.” Interesting plot progression, where one of the arbitrage “Masters of the Universe” commits negligent homicide and tries to cover it up, and when finally arrested and jailed, discovers his savage nature in full reacting to an assault on him in the lockup.

      These are not nice people. In case nobody has observed that.

      1. ex-PFC Chuck

        One of the take-aways I got from Liquidated: An Ethnography of Wall Street , by Karen Ho, is that the first year or two of employment on Wall Street is designed to select out those who are insufficiently greedy or who have normal levels of empathy. Fortunately some of them fall through the cracks and feel at home at places like Naked Capitalism. Yves is first among the latter.

    2. Billy

      Like Pascal’s wager, due to the consequences of the sums involved, I would really like some clarification from people in the know, is this clickbait B.S., or is it real? If real, what are the actual consequences, on top of the real disaster at hand. What difference would one more disaster make to the average person, were it real?
      “According to the Bank for International Settlements, in mid-June last year all global OTC contracts outstanding were still unimaginably large at $640 trillion, a massive sum in anyone’s book.”

    3. Yves Smith Post author

      The problem, natch, was that LTCM started to come apart in 1998. We’d had the emerging markets crisis in 1997, followed shortly by Russia voluntarily defaulting. That was a real shocker. Russia IIRC has only something like 20% gov’t debt to GDP and no payment problems or FX shortage. Blindsided lots of people.

      The investment banks were wobbly due to all the emerging markets and other fixed income losses (all risky bonds fell). Goldman, which was still private, took a particularly big hit. Lehman, which had a big emerging markets desk, almost failed.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, Yves.

        Barclays, whose IB was run by new recruit Bob Diamond, lost £300m in Russia alone. The CEO, Martin Taylor, now a Bank of England regulator, wanted to fire Diamond and close the IB, but lost his nerve and was fired himself not long after.

  7. The Rev Kev

    “How does coronavirus kill? Clinicians trace a ferocious rampage through the body, from brain to toes”

    ‘Just the flu, bro. Just the flu.’ /sarc

    Perhaps I had too much faith in modern medical science but after having this virus being on the rampage for over four months, over two million cases (probably off by an order of magnitude) and over 150,000 official deaths, that we are still at the stage where we are working out how this virus attacks the body and what its effect is? Is this really the best that we can do?

    1. skippy

      See the The Perfect Killing Machine Dr. David Healy link Rev.

      Not that back in the day NC covered this ground extensively due to market forces dictating every aspect of knowledge and its applications.

      Would also suggest the book Science Mart.

      1. Carolinian

        I’d say that’s the link of the day.

        If you brought a problem to me, I would likely use a drug to treat you rather than offer you non-drug treatments. I’m not anti drugs. But I also think you don’t want to go near a doctor who isn’t a little bit anti-drugs – one who has forgotten that drugs are poisons. Great good can be done with these poisons – just as it can be done with germs – if you have a serious problem but the poisons are generally more dangerous even than germs like the coronavirus that has scared us so silly.

        It’s a followup to this

        While I’m no doctor I think even I understand that all drugs are at least addictive whatever their side effects. Every morning I wake up at the same time because my body is expecting its dose of caffeine. If I take Ibuprofen for pain then my body becomes quite testy when I stop taking it. A friend who was taking anti depression meds found that his biggest problem was growing addiction to the meds.

        And clearly this look the other way attitude toward drug problems is driven by the profit motive on the part of the pharma industry and the way that it has distorted science. How many of us are literally dying for capitalism? It could far surpass the Covid victims.

        1. Krystyn Podgajski

          Yes, they denied the addictive qualities of anti-depressants forever, until they could not anymore. This is my childhood friend, he sued GSK for not explaining the addictive qualities of Paxil after he was given it after just barely surviving the 9/11 attacks.

          A Big Letdown?

          I have seen the truth of how the body works and medication development is a crime because they ignore the truth. For example, why block serotonin re-uptake if you can stimulate the body to make more of it on its’ own?

          1. Recall

            For example, why block serotonin re-uptake if you can stimulate the body to make more of it on its’ own?

            Excess serotonin levels in the blood make you throw up. SSRIs specifically target serotonin in the brain.

            1. Krystyn Podgajski

              SSRIs specifically target serotonin in the brain.

              That is not true. They prescribe SSRIs for IBS-C as well. The drug works wherever there are serotonin receptors.

              And it is serotonin in the GI that makes you throw up. Specifically it triggers the HTR3A receptor.

          2. Bsoder

            Almost any/all drugs taking after a few weeks cause physical dependence which may seem the same as addiction, but isn’t. As for mood or mind altering drugs, we seem to want to push everyone into some ‘normative’ state. Say as opposed to something more positive.

        2. furies

          “Addiction” and “dependence” are different things. An important distinction when it comes to getting off, say, psych drugs.

          David Healy is just one of the rebels who question the DSM’s pathologization of everything. Psych drugs are handed out like candy and wreak a huge amount of damage that still isn’t acknowledged by much of mainstream medicine.

          There are thousands and thousands of people dealing with the fallout of these drugs who find little in the way of answers from clinicians–the lucky ones eventually find the support websites where the only support there is is available.


          and an excerpt from “Medicating Normal”

          1. Recall

            David Healy is just one of the rebels who question the DSM’s pathologization of everything.

            If depression isn’t a disease, nothing is.

            I’ve been on a fuckload of drugs for decades now, and they’ve saved my goddamn life.

            1. Krystyn Podgajski

              Depression is a symptom of a disease.

              Think of it like that and everything will start changing.

                1. furies


                  The “chemical imbalance” theory was pure marketing…and still prevalent in pop culture.

                  The ‘meds’ actually DO change your brain chemistry…thus, the BS fed to all and sundry about ‘cures’ for ‘depression’.

                  Ask yourself, is there a lab test for *any* “mental illness”?

                  No. There is not.

                  Medication spellbinding is a thing.

                  And ECT is barbaric.

                  Instead of looking to biology I suggest we look to our milieu and our own inborn temperaments.

                  See Rat Park.

                  The stigma surrounding DSM labels actually *start* with the diagnosis.

                  1. Recall

                    The ‘meds’ actually DO change your brain chemistry

                    Yeah, that’s the whole point of taking them.

                    1. Yves Smith Post author

                      Yes, and there is additional evidence that because your body is an adaptation machine, for many people, the SSRIs become less effective to ineffective because the patient starts making less seratonin to compensate for the effects of the SSRI.

                      My uncle, who had severe depression, was a classic case. He must have tried every med and med combination for depression. They either didn’t do anything or quit having an effect after 2-4 months. He was so desperate that he sought out and got electroshock, which appeared to help for longer.

                      There is also evidence that some people become addicted, as in physically addicted. Estimated at about 10-15%. They suffer horrific headaches and other withdrawal symptoms, and they go on for quite a while. Due to the state of Google I can’t find it readily, but a UK pharmacist who experienced it personally described the symptoms and those of others who’d taken them.

                2. Krystyn Podgajski

                  Please do not belittle me like that. What I am saying is that there is an underlying disorder that leads to the symptom of depression. That can range from am immune issue to childhood trauma. Depression is as much of a disease as a headache is a disease.

                  I am mid way into being diagnosed with Neuropsychiatric Lupus. That is what caused my disabling mood symptoms. That is actual healthcare. Giving someone what is essentially an aspirin and telling them to come back in 4 weeks is a crime.

                  When doctors see depression as a disease they stop looking for the underlying disease. Which includes even simple things like an iron deficiency.

                  1. Recall

                    I am mid way into being diagnosed with Neuropsychiatric Lupus. That is what caused my disabling mood symptoms. That is actual healthcare.

                    Why is your illness more worthy of treatment than mine?

                    1. Krystyn Podgajski

                      What does that even mean?

                      I am saying they are not treating you well if they are only treating the depressions and not the underlying cause of it. You are not getting proper healthcare. I want you to be treated better. They should be treating everyone with mood issues more comprehensively. I just got lucky because I was in a special program at a university hospital that looks at these things.

                      What if your problem was only that you had a B6 or an Iron Deficient? Or you had an autoimmune issue like me?

                    2. Krystyn Podgajski

                      I want to add that it took twenty years of them treating my Bipolar/Schizoaffective/OCD/Depression to finally look at my body holistically. I am not against using SSRIs, but only to get to survive long enough so they can see what is going on.

                    3. Yves Smith Post author

                      This is a non-sequitur. Either respond to what she said or STFU.

                      And supporting her point, women who are not athletes (where doping is a concern) are virtually never tested for testosterone. My endocrinologist said about 1/3 of the women on SSRI had low testosterone, which (drumroll) causes depression. In most cases, it would almost certainly be cleared up by prescribing testosterone rather than SSRIs.

        3. Recall

          non-drug treatments

          It’s worth noting that Healy runs an ECT clinic.

          Now, I’m a big supporter of ECT myself, and I think it should be used more aggressively, but it has some pretty big side-effects itself.

          1. skippy

            Firstly you would have to familiarize yourself with the book Science Mart:

            “This trenchant study analyzes the rise and decline in the quality and format of science in America since World War II.

            During the Cold War, the U.S. government amply funded basic research in science and medicine. Starting in the 1980s, however, this support began to decline and for-profit corporations became the largest funders of research. Philip Mirowski argues that a powerful neoliberal ideology promoted a radically different view of knowledge and discovery: the fruits of scientific investigation are not a public good that should be freely available to all, but are commodities that could be monetized.

            Consequently, patent and intellectual property laws were greatly strengthened, universities demanded patents on the discoveries of their faculty, information sharing among researchers was impeded, and the line between universities and corporations began to blur. At the same time, corporations shed their in-house research laboratories, contracting with independent firms both in the States and abroad to supply new products. Among such firms were AT&T and IBM, whose outstanding research laboratories during much of the twentieth century produced Nobel Prize–winning work in chemistry and physics, ranging from the transistor to superconductivity.

            Science-Mart offers a provocative, learned, and timely critique, of interest to anyone concerned that American science—once the envy of the world—must be more than just another way to make money.”


            With this in mind one then can consider the last Rev. to the American DSM and what it portends. Again a subject that was discussed here on NC back in the day, including some accomplished psychiatrists. I do miss our old VA head trama cum computer engineer.

            Additionally the topic about cause and effect with changes in psychological states ranges from blunt trauma or childhood illnesses too environmental conditions which can alter brain chemistry. The level of granularity being applied to the field in mind chemistry at this moment is unreal, albeit as noted above has ethical issues due to market perspectives. Then again I do know of highly ethical psychiatrists who put pursuit of knowledge first and foremost as well the well being of their patients.

        4. Yves Smith Post author

          I know he’s an SSRI expert witness, but I think that point holds. When I was in Oz, doctors were way less into trying to be MD heroes than Americans. Their default if it wasn’t something really bad was to wait and monitor it before they jumped in with intervention. They were also generally fine with what was called “complimentary medicine” while most US doctors will harangue you.

      2. Recall

        Not that back in the day NC covered this ground extensively due to market forces dictating every aspect of knowledge and its applications.

        The big anti-depressants have been off patent for decades by this point. There’s no point in covering up downsides to them. If anything, the danger is that their price gets artificially inflated, like what happened with insulin.

      3. rfdawn

        Also: Bad Pharma, by Ben Goldacre.
        He and many others are pushing for mandatory publication of all drug trials. There is a website where you can sign a petition and/or donate money. Are we there yet? No.

    2. Zamfir

      Yes, this is close to the best? Medical people I talk to are amazed that we know so much already, not the opposite.

      Keep in mind, to find out how it works in human bodies, you need human patients… the early wave in China was too short and too sudden to start large organized research. Then were not that many patients for a while. And only then did the second wave come rolling in, in early march. Most doctors/researchers have only had patients for less than 2 months. That is not a lot of time, to study a disease that takes a few weeks to progress.

      1. xkeyscored

        You not only need human patients, you need to closely examine them and their tissues and specimens, all likely to give you COVID if you aren’t careful. Doctors treating them aren’t always trained in virus research, and if they are, they’ve other things on their minds, like treating them and the next hundred cases flooding in every day.

        And it’s maybe slightly tangential to The Rev Kev’s point, but working with the virus itself is something only done in super-secure (we hope) labs. It’s not something most hospital labs are set up to deal with. The RNA sequence and statistics and studies and stuff can be flashed around the world on the internet in milliseconds for researchers to ponder, but the virus itself isn’t so easy to study.

        1. Pat

          Not for nothing I would assume there is also a difficulty in getting the patients baselines, at least here in the US. Maybe not twenty years ago when people had the same doctor for years and saw them pretty regularly. Today most people actively avoid going to the doctor and when they do many times they never see the same doctor. When the patient comes in with already severely stressed lungs and no one has any real information on their base condition how can you really trace the destruction.

        2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          I think the real scandal should would emerge if/when it is established that this sh*tty little bug had human help making it much more dangerous. You can look up “gain-in-function” research. Oops it seems we were/are well involved in the various labs doing this. But it doesn’t really matter which simian is responsible for creating this Satan Bug and unleashing it on us all.

          As far as the economic earthquake goes the system was at absolute breaking point already last September and this of course is a fantastic cover for the controlled demolition of the “real” economy. You would have noticed that the financial economy and the Pig Men who bury their snouts into it are having just a glorious time.

      1. David J.

        Huge fan of Spirit here. Randy California was a terrific guitarist. As a scientist, not so much.

      2. Bulfinch

        Best Spirit track, too. That came on one of my mixes the other evening, and boy…how poignant. Fields – Not So Good is a pretty good companion piece

  8. bwilli123

    Required reading.
    Coronavirus, Crisis and the End of Neoliberalism

    …”Neoliberalism was quickly shown to have hollowed out, fragmented and part-privatised health systems in several countries, while it also created a precarious and impoverished working class that is highly vulnerable both to disruptions in their earning capacity, and to health scares because of their lack of savings, poor housing, inadequate nutrition, and work patterns incompatible with healthy lives.
    In the meantime, the destruction of the social-democratic left had rendered the working class politically unprotected. These processes culminated in unseemly commotions for (state-led) Chinese output, in which the USA has increasingly behaved like a crazed bully, stealing the masks and ventilators that it could neither produce nor buy, and insulting weaker countries to boot.

      1. Left in Wisconsin

        Just to be clear, the “end of neoliberalism” in the title of the piece is a wish, not a claim. Indeed, much as I support the author’s political program, he presents zero evidence for an end of neoliberalism. There is some muddiness about whether or not corporate bailouts represent a rejection of neoliberalism, but anyone who knows their Mirowski knows that a key tenet of neoliberalism is that “corporations can do no wrong,” and thus must be bailed out if a large number of them get into financial difficulty all at the same time.

      1. carl

        The market’s misunderstanding of the pandemic is astounding. A worldwide global depression looms, and the market thinks everything is peachy because the Fed is going to backstop everybody and everything (except, of course, for the actual people who actually buy stuff)? What am I missing that these “smartest people in the room” see?

        1. John

          I guess you and I are missing what every American should have learned by now: Can’t fight the Fed.

          I missed that axiom for 12 years since Wall Street burned down our economy in 2008 listening to the idiots on blogs like The Automatic Earth (Clueless) and such. To my credit I stopped reading them years ago and learning more and more about the burn down.

          My bad.

          1. Monty

            If we all know it’s a rigged system, designed to transfer $ to rich people, the most logical course of action is to hold your nose and take advantage with any spare change you have got, rather than shaking your fist at the clouds.

        2. Ignacio

          The market’s misunderstanding of the pandemic is astounding

          Not only The Market should I add. But as you say it is astounding. Blind to the evidences.

          1. John

            I don’t believe there is any misunderstanding of the pandemic.

            For now, they got their fix to keep the market sky high.

              1. Wukchumni

                I think real estate will be in the magnitude of 15-20 Cents on the $ in a year or 2, compared to ‘values’ now.

                There will be knife catchers all the way down, and eventually there won’t be any more, as the tumbling wears them out.

                In housings defense, it’s a basic need, but what are Wall*Street’s 3-letter-montes, when you get right down to it?

                1. Left in Wisconsin

                  That is an interesting take. I do foresee a bunch of corporate real estate bankruptcies and fire sales but I’m so sure on the residential. Whatever hit comes is likely to vary considerably by location. The 20 places in the country where everyone who has money wants to live might take a short-term hit and may not see 10%/yoy growth for awhile, but I think they will be fine. Even a 20% hit will freeze these places up in a major way and I just think the banking/finance sector has no interest in that happening and will be able to prevent it.

                  But, as noted here before, there are plenty of places in the country where housing has barely appreciated over the last 30-40 years and homes with decent bones can be acquired cheaply, including the Buffalo of your in-laws.It wouldn’t surprise me if these all see another round of devaluation.

                  1. Wukchumni

                    All we’ve seen up to this point since the turn of the century is a housing bubble, which seems normal as we know nothing else.

                    Buffalo & other rust belt cities are instructive, in that unlike the rest of the country, ‘used homes’ are worth just about nothing, I could’ve bought dozens of houses for $10-20k per when I was last there. They really have nowhere to fall, but why is a tired 1958 3/2 SFH in the LA suburbs worth $666k, that might’ve fetched $100k in 1980?

                    1. Monty

                      “why is a tired 1958 3/2 SFH in the LA suburbs worth $666k, that might’ve fetched $100k in 1980?”

                      Is it a function of population growth and 40 years of inflation?

                    2. Wukchumni

                      The trick was, how do we compete with the Chinese, where they can’t undercut us-as they’ve done on everything, because the lions share of the value is in that precious 4,650 sq feet of land on which it sits?

                      Hello housing bubble!

                  2. JP

                    Although I can’t say I have much trust for realtors (they tend to play both sides against the middle) the real estate business is probably less rigged then wall street. It really is a supply and demand market but not very elastic. When demand exceeds supply or supply exceeds demand prices can bear no relation to the underlying value of the real estate.

                2. John k

                  Unless something new comes out of dc, many unemployed will stop paying mortgage bc food more important. Last time subprime, we have a large number now sub.
                  Depends how long. IMO the us will have the worst outcome bc 50 states on their own, if any one state does badly another wave begins.

        3. JTMcPhee

          I’d argue that the Market understands the pandemic perfectly, within its sphere. The players know that there’s what is called a “bailout” now, at the end of each rout where the mopes and muppets get their GI “white sidewall” haircuts and the vampire squids can have their blood funnels open full bore on both sides of every transaction.

          It’s not a “bailout,“ folks. It’s a mugging, a strong-arm robbery.

          1. John

            Now that the corporations and the rich got their bailout the Republicans are already screaming about the debt and the deficit. This can’t go on they say. These deficits are unsustainable. Of course they say that now after they all voted for trillions for the rich.

            Just wait until after the election, all of Washington DC will be screaming “there ain’t no money”.

            There ain’t no money for Social Security. Slash it.
            There ain’t no money for Medicare. Slash it.
            There ain’t no money for Medicaid. Slash it.
            There ain’t no money for nothing.

            Just you wait.

        4. Jeremy Grimm

          Actions to save the ‘economy’ based on Corona greatly amplify the power of Woodie Gutherie’s “Ballad of Pretty Boy Floyd”.

    1. VietnamVet

      A most excellent summary of the collapse of globalism. Reminds me of “The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our life-time”.

      Although glossed-over by corporate media, the post-WII Western Empire became one and the same as the corporate supra-state which organized a global trading system that enriched the wealthy, buggered the poor and polluted the world. Democracy was intentional drowned in the bathtub to end regulations and cut taxes. Then the Wuhan Coronavirus Pandemic killed the Empire. “Neoliberal administrations are unable to perform the most basic functions of governance: to protect lives and secure livelihoods.”

      The calls to reopen the economy are preposterous. For the uninfected a contact with a highly contagious infected person has roughly a 1% to 10% risk of a respiratory death by drowning (depending if the healthcare system is overwhelmed or not) until the epidemic dies out (there are no new admissions to local hospitals for three weeks).

      This is the fall of the USSR, the Great Depression, and the Spanish Flu all wrapped up at once. There is no quick and easy way out. With Joe Biden or Donald Trump as President, restoration of a constitution democratic government is impossible. They and their advisors are to incompetent true believers of the long lost dead past. Their world has splintered apart.

  9. zagonostra


    What a great summary by Anis Shivani. His cataloging of many of the duplicitous activities of the DNC this election cycle in one article is valuable and a great resource to send your friends/family who have bought the line that “Trump is the most dangerous President in our life time” or that he is an “existential threat to the planet” so you must, you have to, there is no choice, you have to vote for Biden.

    Thank you NC for introducing the author to me.

    It’s time to put an end to this sham, because we can’t accede to this level of duplicity without ourselves becoming complicit in the madness. Trump essentially terminated the neoliberal Republican party in one election cycle, but because the Democratic party establishment is more entrenched and dangerous, the prime carrier of the neoliberal virus to which the Republicans are just accessories, it is the more difficult enemy to beat…

    The Democratic party of 2020, after more than 50 years of succumbing to a murderous form of capitalism, is not just a flawed vehicle for any sort of political renaissance. Why should we legitimize them by leaping around their phantom carousel, wearing colorful costumes and clown hats on the fairgrounds, when they won’t give us a ticket, when they tear it up if we do have one, and when there’s always a guard hanging around to bash our skulls in case we utter a cry of joy at some little win?

    1. JTMcPhee

      Here’s a piece that might have been linked in NC the last time the DNC “coalesced” to kill off Bernie, with lots of examples of how the game was rigged:


      At what point is the elephant big enough that the legitimacy of the regime vanishes and we head on down toward Leviathan? Though of course there’s lots of regimes with legitimacy lacunae that because the kleptocrats have the tools of repression well in hand and own everything “all nice and legal, see?” can continue to march…

      1. Left in Wisconsin

        It was really weird though how all that control of the voting machines evaporated in the November general. Why hack the vote in the primary if you aren’t willing to do it in the general?

        1. HotFlash

          I guess nobody told Hillary that it was the R’s turn. Or maybe R’s hackers are better than D’s hackers.

    2. workingclasshero

      I can agree with almost anything in that article and then nothing but rypical defeatist blame everyone hysterics the rest of the way.the progressive left in the u.s.-center and far left is essentially done for.good luck folks.

  10. Louis Fyne

    growing minorities of physicians assert that the standard ventilator treatment for severe corona patients is wrong—and that oxygen therapy produces much better outcomes.

    supposedly Boris Johnson was given oxygen therapy

    1. Dita

      A close friend of mine has been recovering from covid in hospital and expected to be released today or tomorrow. Treatment has been oxygen and steroids, no ventilator.

      1. urblintz

        The other day I linked to an italian doctor who believes that the US warning against using steroids is a disaster because the problems stem from inflammation, Is there still a general resistance to using cortisone? Cortisone can of course be very dangerous and I seem to recall that specifically is so with cytokine storms, but this doctor (Giannini?) focuses his attention on covid19 and the heart and thinks steroids are most important. Now that we can see the deaths from covid10 are syndromic I am not surprised that treatment protocols are changing.

    2. Rhondda

      Thanks Louis Fyne. I read that Medscape interview with Dr. Kyle-Sidell when it came out nearly 2 weeks ago. It’s extremely interesting what he and others in the Medscape forum (comments) said about how it reminded them of HAPE (high altitude sickness) rather than ARDS.

      Kudos to Dr. K-S for opening his eyes to the “anecdote” of his patients as they actually present, for being intellectually honest enough to question the established view — and for being willing to stick out his neck when his questions and observations were swatted down and ignored as ‘conspiracy theory’.

  11. David

    Resistance to Covid 19 safety measures, French style.
    Yesterday the Conseil d’État, the highest administrative authority in France, struck down the decision of the mayor of a small town near Paris to make wearing of masks obligatory in the town.(Judgement). They upheld the complaint of the Human Rights League that this was an unjustified attack on personal freedom, freedom of movement and the sanctity of personal and family life, among other things. Mayors, they said, could only take such decisions if there were special circumstances in their communes, which was not the case here. As often, the decision was a very narrow one, which didn’t try to refight the masks controversy, but it will have the effect of stopping any similar initiatives elsewhere.
    This is a good example of what I was talking about yesterday: the response to the virus has been determined, at least in part, by the political organisation and distribution of power in various countries. France remains in many ways a highly centralised state.
    More generally, this sort of legal challenge has to be seen in a wider context of people and institutions trying to respond to an overwhelming and frightening situation, by clinging to what they know. Probably one per cent of organisations and individuals actually have something useful and interesting to say about the virus, but at a time when the media speak of little else, they are obliged to sing their habitual tunes. Whether your business is human rights, constitutional law, gun ownership, more abortions, conspiracy theories, religious freedom or anything else, you have to keep pushing yourself. It’s not, for the most part, that such actors genuinely dismiss the threat from the virus, it’s that they have nothing useful or interesting to say about it, so in familiar fashion they try to lead the conversation round to things they know about.

    1. The Rev Kev

      This is crazy this. France is getting absolutely hammered by the Coronavirus. There are about official 150,000 cases, maybe 2,000 new cases each day, nearly 20,000 deaths and French people ducking over the border to Germany are getting spat at and abused by the locals who know how rife it is in France. And they are stopping mandatory wearing of face masks? I would be willing to bet that they great-grandparents wore masks back during the last flu pandemic. People in Asian countries must think we westerners are nuts with our face mask phobias when they read stories like this.

      1. marcyincny

        “People in Asian countries must think we westerners are nuts with our face mask phobias…”

        I never thought I would be so freaked out about the masks but I am. I find I really don’t like having my own mouth/nose covered and when I’m out I feel like I’m walking around on the set of “The Twilight Zone”. I wonder how long before I get used to it…

        1. Kevin C. Smith

          After wearing a mask for a few weeks when out in stores etc [as opposed to out hiking with my wife], I feel naked without my mask. Mind you, I’m a doc, I’m 69 years old, and I’m well informed about SARS-CoV-2.

          1. Carolinian

            Thank you. If everyone wore them then we, after awhile, would take them for granted. It’s a long way to the second half of 2021.

            But I don’t think people should be forced to wear them and I don’t myself when hiking except for pollen. Rather just make them fashionable and soon the public will be begging for them.

            1. JTMcPhee

              When I got back from Vietnam in 1968, only women, hippies and artists had long hair and beards. Not too long after, biker thugs, people from the backwoods and all kinds of Virile Americans added hair and beards to their assemblages…

              After a year of shaving with lukewarm water laced with various microorganisms and having the skin infections to show for it, when I was finally discharged in 1969 I stopped shaving (though I’m enough of a crew cut kid that I never let it get longer than an inch, and hair never longer than a “business cut.”

              Times change. Get used to it, all you Freedom Loving ™ Muricans.

              1. MLTPB

                Facial hair and Corona – this was discussed back around last Feb I recall.

                Wasn’t the consensus to avoid having facial hair?

                1. Brooklin Bridge

                  My take from reading about it only.

                  If you want the mask to be effective (at all) in the inward direction, you should avoid facial hair because it creates leaks. And that is with close fitting n95 masks. Since there are leaks anyway, even an n95 is of limited use to protect the person wearing the mask. With a bandana or most home-made masks, obviously there is little or no protection at all in the inward direction regardless of facial hair.

                  But in the outward direction, the idea isn’t to contain all the viruses, but rather to break the long distance transmission of plumes of air going straight out some 25 to 30 + feet when one coughs or even worse, sneazes, which is why even bandanas are effective. Some facial hair, therefore, shouldn’t matter. But full on beards, etc., may allow sufficient volumes of infection to escape at a velocity that would make the person wearing the mask significantly more dangerous to others than if close to clean shaven.

                  1. MLTPB

                    Thanks, BB, for the timely comment.

                    At the time we discussed facial hair here, I am not sure if whether the question of masking wear had been resolved in favor of it yet.

                    Perhaps update that previous facial hair discussion to reflect the current use of mask.

              2. HotFlash

                Mr. HotFlash is a Die-Before-Shave kinda guy, so we are working on a mask that covers his whole beard. It’s not really long, just what we call a Captain Highliner around here. Top part of mask as normal, lower part a bag sort of deal, and low enough that exiting breath should be low velocity. Just mock-ups so far, but a side benefit is that the glasses don’t seem to fog up. It just looks like he’s wearing a scarf with his mask. We use a pipe cleaner in the upper hem to mould the top edge against the face — got that tip from Marieann here at NC a couple of weeks back.

            2. Carolinian

              From my local news sheet

              Walmart announced Friday that starting Monday all its employees will be required to wear masks and face coverings. The company’s requirement includes employees at clubs, distribution and fulfillment centers and Walmart’s corporate office.

        2. PlutoniumKun

          I think most people do get used to them. I hated them at first, and felt very self conscious about having one – I started only wearing one when in shops, but last week I did my shopping and cycled home and then realised I’d been wearing it all the time, forgetting to take it off as I usually do when I left the shop.

          1. Wukchumni

            I’ve been wearing an n95 mask for many years when weed whacking the many splendored acres on the all cats and no cattle ranch, which usually takes place in May and stops grass divots and the like from lodging in my nostrils. It’s usually in the 80’s when i’m cutting things down to size, and as it turned out was an excellent way to learn how to live the life of a masked man. Wearing a mask in public now ain’t no big thang.

            Usually an n95 would last around 3 to 4 days, all sweaty and pocked with green debris before I tossed it and onto the next one.

            I’m using a bandanna this year instead…

            1. Billy

              Ever think of wearing the bandana on the outside of the mask? That way you can switch bandanas or wash them more easily than discard hard to come by masks for reasons of grass debris.
              Also, can’t remember where, some doctors recommend wearing a paper towel, or cloth mask inside of an N95 to absorb moisture etc. Keeping in mind that it must not prevent the edge of the mask from sealing against one’s face. Believe it or not, many people are not aware that one can pinch the wire at the top of the nose guard to make it custom fit snugly.

              BTW, paint supply and hardware stores often sell N100 masks that are permanent with two replaceable filters on the side. Wear that in public and people will give you a wide berth.
              Don’t forget wrap around safety glasses, or dark glasses to keep spit and moisture out of eyes.

              1. Wukchumni

                I’m down to half a dozen n95’s from my 30 count box bought 5 or 6 years ago, and no way am I going to sacrifice them to whacking off, and besides wearing a bandanna makes you look bad arse, as in ‘weeds, this is a hold-down, not a hold-up!’

              2. Carolinian

                I have one of those cartridge masks and a face shield too–both bought for woodworking. This seems a little over the top for going to the grocery store.

                But yes, the multitudes would part as I approach.

                And to Brooklyn Bridge above–I think the jury is still out as to how much “inward” protection is provided by the surgeon’s mask in casual as opposed to medical environments. If the disease is indeed spread by droplets due to coughing or even talking then they could offer protection. In any case the surgeon’s masks are easy to make, easy to put on and and easy to use so there’s not a lot of downside to wearing them in stores other than vanity.

                1. Wukchumni

                  I wore a n95 when shopping in Visalia about a month ago, and you’d have thought i’d just gotten out of my UFO in Roswell, from the looks of the largely evang community here, who had been told repeatedly that the Coronavirus was a hoax.

                  Now, about 50% are wearing masks I was informed, by a friend who went shopping a few days ago there.

        3. aleric

          It took a few weeks for me to adjust and have the mask start feeling normal. I wonder if mask wearing will become extremely politicized – at the local co-op about 80% of customers wear masks, but only about 20% at the normie grocery store. And 0% for the wingnuts rolling coal at the governor’s mansion.

        4. John

          Not getting used to it. Can barely breath with it on.

          Can’t imagine how horrible it will be to have one on in 95 degrees+ heat in the summer.

          You can be sure the elites ridding around in their AC-on-full-blast luxury chauffeured SUVs (15mpg) won’t be wearing one.

          You know, the elites like Trump, who said the mask isn’t for me when meeting dictators and such.

          1. bassmule

            In my little New England college town, two weeks ago a few people were wearing masks. Now, everyone in town looks at you funny if you are not wearing one. Starting this past Tuesday, city council said if you are in an enclosed space–like a retail store–you must wear one. We have a sewing machine, and lots of old T-shirts, and we are making about six a day and sending them to friends who need them. The only issue is a shortage of elastic. We make them with yarn ties, which work fine except it is tedious to tie them and untie them.

              1. Wyoming

                It is possible you have diminished lung function. Or are slightly claustrophobic?

                I have worked around very large numbers (hundreds) of people of all ages and fitness levels who were required to work wearing these masks. In very hot and humid conditions where folks were working hard enough that they were breathing heavy at times. We were mucking out houses after hurricanes in Houston, North Carolina and Florida. I never ran into anyone who could not breathe through one.

                1. John

                  Yeah, I might.

                  But then again, I also love the feel of fresh air on my face. One of the great pleasures of life.

                  A mask is a barrier between me and that. An intruder. An enemy of my pleasure and an enemy of the virus at the same time.

                  Science may say wear a mask, but that doesn’t mean I can breath easily and that doesn’t mean I like it.

                  Of course, I am not Trump or one of the elites who are sequestered and protected from the virus at all costs now that it is known, just a serf that will have to comply to stay alive.

            1. 3.14e-9

              No elastic but lots of T-shirts? Cut strips of T-shirts for ties! First video link below shows you how. Obviously, you don’t have to use her mask design. Second video link is for another mask without elastic, using a cord. You probably can’t get a strip that long from a T-shirt, but yesterday I tried knotting the two bottom strips and putting the mask on the way the nurse in the second video shows. Worked great, and the T-shirt ties are more comfortable over the ears than woven cloth ties.


              Rather than T-shirts, I have a bunch of used cotton jersey sheets from my massage therapist, who blows through them and was throwing them away! I told her to give them to me, that at the very least, I could cut them up for cleaning rags. Some weren’t in that bad shape, so I assembled sets of the best ones and dropped them off at the local thrift store. When I cut up a fitted sheet for rags, I didn’t throw away the elastic edges (a two-foot piece became an instant hit with my Feline Overlord).

              So now I’m working on a design for a mask (more accurately, a “face covering”) using soft knit fabric, which behaves differently than woven. I started cutting the elastic out of the fitted sheet scraps — time-intensive and messy — and then saw the video using T-shirt ties. As soon as I have a good workable design, I’ll give masks to friends, neighbors, and anyone else in my small rural community who needs extras to comply with Cuomo’s order that everyone needs to wear a face covering in public (and just FYI, he clearly explained why you wear it. Reporters at his briefing seemed to have difficulty comprehending, reaffirming an observation Yves has made many times).

              1. Upstater

                There is nothing like using perfectly good elastic bands from my otherwise worn out Fruit of the Loom whitey tighties, label out for DIY masks!

            2. HotFlash

              Re the ties, if you tie them so that they are comfortable on your ears, you can just take them off still knotted and they will fit next time (ie, after washing). I used bias tape since I only had oval elastic (not comfortable). Nearly out of bias tape now, but I can always make that out of any material. The pink flowered sheets that Mr HF hates are becoming pink flowered masks.

                1. The Rev Kev

                  I do. And I even remember how to tie a tie if needed – which for me these days is never.

          2. Billy

            Air conditioning in a car, especially aimed at the floor, will stir up the virus on the floor from people’s shoes tracked in from where most of it falls, suck it up and blow it back in your eyes, nose and all over your clothes. You are better off opening the outside air vents and the back windows to create a draft from the front to back and out the windows, unless you have passengers in the back seat.

            Another reason to take off your shoes when entering the house. That way virus is not on floor, sucked into the cold air return and blown all over by heating or A/C.

          3. Laughingsong

            Yes, I don’t mind the look so much as how I have always hated having my breathing bits covered. Even after surgery I would constantly rip off the stupid oxygen mask they put on every time I fell back asleep. I feel suffocated by the slightest obstruction.

          4. griffen

            Could you also include elites like Pelosi, HRC, Bill, the Al Gore and Bono class in that grouping ?

            I mean cheese and crackers it ain’t just Trump riding high in an SUV.

            Elites don’t vary too much except by who they run with and where their lobby dollars go.

        5. roadrider

          I grudginly wear one when I need to venture to the grocery store or pharmacy because its been mandated by the state (MD). But I find them extremely uncomfortable, difficult to breath in and they fog my glasses. Plus I am wholly unconvinced that these homemade masks really do any good either for protecting me from others or the other way around. The evidence seems to be very equivocal and weasel-worded (“could”, “might”, etc.) and the whole thing seems like wishful thinking and a placebo-like effort by a government desperate to seem like they’re doing something.

          And no I am not going to wear one where its not mandated just so I can fulfill some ridiculous virtue signaling purpose.

          Fortunately I work at home full time and don’t need to go out at all except for the items mentioned above and to ride by bicycle (solo, rarely encounter anyone at all) and no I don’t wear a mask when riding. If I have to wear a mask I’d rather just stay inside. If the government wants me to wear a mask then they should supply ones that can actually do some good.

          1. bassmule

            LOL! Just want to confirm that where I live is an epicenter of virtue-signaling. Lawn signs that say “We don’t care where you come from, we’re happy to be your neighbor” in English, Spanish, and Arabic. My favorite is one that says “May We Find Our Humanity.” Every time I see it I mutter “I found it, it was behind the couch.” Even so, I’m 100% for the mask, awkward and uncomfortable as it is. As posted here recently, even if it’s 30% effective that’s good. And if the person you’re with also has one, the two become 90% effective. Kinda like seatbelts, if everybody uses them, it makes everybody safer. In any event, what matters more to me is that it’s a sign of respect and, yes, solidarity for my fellow citizens, regardless of their proclivities.

            1. roadrider

              Those home made masks are likely nowhere near 30% effectiveness in typical use, which is sub-optimal material that is poorly fitted and repeatedly touched. Those 30% figures are probably the outer limit of effectiveness in controlled lab use and does not really refer to preventing infection only aerosol reduction which is a proxy for infection but not quite the same thing (does not account for dose or viability of the virus in the aerosol).

              In any event, what matters more to me is that it’s a sign of respect and, yes, solidarity for my fellow citizens, regardless of their proclivities.

              Exactly what I meant by ridiculous virtue signaling.

              1. Yves Smith Post author

                Don’t make shit up when you have Google. A study found effectiveness of 1/3, which is higher than 30%. That is likely why Taleb used 30% in his models, it’s below the low bound.

                And there’s been lots of discussion in articles as to what materials are best (the paper in vacuum cleaner filters is best, tight weave cotton next), so the effectiveness may now be a bit higher than the study of people simply told to make a mask in 2012.

                And the simple mask I made fitted the face better than a surgical mask.

        6. Dita

          I’ve gotten a little more comfortable wearing a mask of some sort, it’s taken about a month. Considering trying a niqaab. Is there a difference between tying on a bandana or pulling up a buff (my current preference) to a face veil?

          1. HotFlash

            Not much, except it is, in most cases, voluntary. I have learned to wrap my big scarf (it has can-canning cupids around the edge) into a niqaab, although I augment it with a pipecleaner folded into the upper edge (I wear glasses and they will fog whilst cycling). It used to come unwrapped at inopportune times, but now I secure the wrapped-around tail with a small bulldog clip. Works fine.

            1. Dita

              The fogging of the glasses. I like the buff because I can pull it up to just under my eyes and then rest my glasses over it. The fabric has a raw edge so that when it’s in place the edge rolls a bit, creating a close deal, and no fog. Just have to careful not to wear Crip or Blood colors, I am no gangsta lol

      2. MLTPB

        If a cloth mask is not readily available, but you have a Darth Vader mask in your Halloween tool box, can you use it effectively?

        1. GF

          Does anyone know if Trump even allows masks at his propaganda news briefings? The few times I’ve watched there doesn’t seem to be any visible.

    2. Ignacio

      Mayors, they said, could only take such decisions if there were special circumstances in their communes, which was not the case here.

      Covid-19 is not special circumstance. Good to know.

      1. David

        To be fair what they said was that there were no special factors in that commune alone which justified a tougher line than that already adopted by the government for the country as a whole.

    3. Left in Wisconsin

      Probably one per cent of organisations and individuals actually have something useful and interesting to say about the virus, but at a time when the media speak of little else, they are obliged to sing their habitual tunes. Whether your business is human rights, constitutional law, gun ownership, more abortions, conspiracy theories, religious freedom or anything else, you have to keep pushing yourself. It’s not, for the most part, that such actors genuinely dismiss the threat from the virus, it’s that they have nothing useful or interesting to say about it, so in familiar fashion they try to lead the conversation round to things they know about.

      David: this is a brilliant point and thank you for stating it so clearly. I’m on a list-serve of US NGO economists and it completely blows my mind how there is still a focus on the need for 2 weeks paid sick leave and how to strengthen unemployment insurance at a time of mass layoffs and complete institutional meltdown of state UE systems (for which the economists of course have no solution, as it is a problem of outdated computer systems). Absolutely no discussion of M4All despite the obvious opening. And no willingness to take up the payroll support programs for business that have proven so successful in Europe – indeed I’m sure Josh Hawley’s support for such was a death blow as far as the NGOs are concerned. And it’s obvious, though not stated directly, that the problem is such programs have no apparent need for NGO economists.

  12. Tom Stone

    It is nearly sunrise here in Sonoma County and I will shortly walk down to the Russian River and drop a line in the water ( Barbless hook, catch and release) to enjoy what solace Nature can bring me.

    1. Carl

      I recall the sublime beauty of Sonoma County the couple of times I stayed in Healdsburg. Cheers!

    2. John Steinbach

      Enjoy your outing, Tom. I’m also getting quality fishing time in. My facebook picture is a 10# wild Russian River Steelhead caught & released about 20 years ago.

    3. Lee

      Please post a fishing report tomorrow. Our local SF bay area urban adjacent reservoirs are closed. Russian river isn’t that far off, so it might be worth the drive. We like to camp and go fishing and crabbing near Bodega bay but the campgrounds are closed.

      1. Oregoncharles

        I’ve never noticed that excessive proximity was a problem in campgrounds, at least the ones we like. I think that might be an error – signs reminding people to keep a distance (you can hold a perfectly good conversation across a street, granted that everyone near can hear it) seem like plenty.

        And there are unofficial options, that are not closed. We recently were on a spectacular hike in a patch of old growth forest someone had told my wife about. And organization had hung orange ribbon flags to mark a trail through it. Wonderful, though it got a bit strenuous when we left the trail to take a shortcut back to the road – the sun was getting low. An advantage of mature forest is that the undergrowth is minimal, so we made it, not without a few scrapes and strains. Could camp in a place like that, too, as long as fire warnings aren’t up.

    4. Bugs Bunny

      Enjoy it. Used to fish there with my great-grandfather, grandfather and father when I was only a five or so. All of us with old spinners. Caught a trout once.

  13. Lee

    Eurasian brown bear = grizzly bear in U.S. The hump between the shoulders is a distinctive trait of the species.

  14. Anthony K Wikrent

    From Ritholtz’s “Unintended Consequences, Part II: What if LTCM Was Not Rescued?”

    Imagine if a more sophisticated Federal Reserve Chairman had said to all involved. “Hey, this is your mess, not ours. The Central Bank of America is not in the business of bailing out speculators. Figure it out yourselves.”

    Like, ahem, Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, who let his friend William Duer and Duer’s partner Alexander Macomb go bankrupt in their speculation in the “Million Bank.’ And when Duer personally appealed to Hamilton to intervene in legal action taken against Duer by New York district attorney Richard Harrison, Hamilton refused, and wrote

    “These extravagant sallies of speculation do injury to the Government and to the whole system of public Credit, by disgusting all sober Citizens and giving a wild air to everything.”

    I still don’t understand Matt Stoller’s animus to Hamilton. It’s all the more mystifying to me because Stoller is so excellent on political economy in general. Oh, and an interesting and amusing sidenote: Stoller is currently soliciting reports and anecdotes from his readers on supply chain disruptions. Trying to obtain an accurate, on-the-ground view of the state of USA industry — just like Hamilton did when he requested reports from around the country on industries and their capacity, in preparing Hamilton’s important Report to Congress on the Subject of Manufactures.

    1. mpalomar

      I’m a casual fan of Stoller’s musings but not versed on Stoller’s empathy to Hamilton (I have noted Stoller’s recent tendency to 60’s hippy punching, bizarrely akin to Steve Bannon’s theories on the sixties, since Sanders’ capitulation).

      There has been the recent Lin-Manuel Miranda Hamilton Broadway triumph version of history that greatly appealed to the neo-liberal Obama crowd.

      Hamilton was of course an early architect of US finance but also a Federalist and therefore convinced that the general populace would best be served by enabling elite Eastern establishment interests in finance as well as governance structure.

      He was an opponent of the easy ‘paper’ money emitted by states under the Confederation and the debt forgiveness that was popular among farmers and small business rabble rousers who actively participated in the more democratically operated state legislatures, targeted and eventually curtailed by the Federalists’ constitutional triumph.

    2. chuck roast

      Hamilton was William Morris’ bagman. Morris and his cronies bought up all the various state’s Revolutionary War debt for pennies and got Hamilton, the first Sec. of the Treasury to nationalize it. Hamilton then got Senate Bill 1 passed (S-1). S-1 instituted the Whiskey Tax and various import tariffs to pay off Morris. The rest is history. You now understand my animus towards Hamilton.

      1. David J.

        I don’t find this to be very persuasive at all. Too much ad hominem and not enough consideration with respect to the challenges of the time. Just to cite a few of the complications of the period:

        –Revolutionary bonds became progressively worthless during the war and Congress under the Articles of Confederation failed to cope with the inflationary elements of the time. Currency devaluation was a thing and bonds, being bonds, were traded accordingly.

        –States were squabbling about paying debt and there was a lot of fighting about who was going to pay what. It’s my opinion that one significant element of the general tenor of the Virginian response was because they had managed to pay where other states had difficulties.

        –While it is true that Morris and Hamilton were often allies, they were not in any kind of a subordinate relationship to each other. Further, there were genuine sectional differences between NY, New England, the Middle states and the South which often affected political alliances among various policy/program issues.

        –Hamilton was charged with developing a plan to “rationalize” a lot of these concerns and his Report on Public Credit was one salvo in this mandate from the new Constitutional Congress. Not surprising that this was a source of contention.

        –Morris (and his cronies) did not buy up all the debt, though they certainly were in play. And as I suggested earlier, there were reasons why that debt had been trading for substantially reduced rates over the years. An important one was that many people feared that those debts would never be paid. Instead of chastising Hamilton for being engaging in some purported underhanded dealings, it might be useful to consider that he did a great deal to actually establish a credit market that was viable.

        There’s more, in particular the whole squabble about how the debt was to be paid–original owners versus current bond holders, etc… But that is history and worthy of serious examination utilizing a large number of sources–including accounts which differ in temperament.

      2. Bsoder

        Excatly and the hatch job he run with Jefferson to take down John Adams. Burr, wasn’t putting up with any more slander from him.

  15. The Rev Kev

    “Coronavirus: Medics to be asked to reuse gowns amid shortage fears”

    I do not know if they have done so already but could not the NHS contact the medical establishments in other countries that are getting in top of this virus like New Zealand, South Korea, Ireland, Australia, etc to see if they could spare some gear? I am sure that the RAF would be more than glad to make the trip out and pick any spare gear up. I mean, the Health secretary has the time to grab a year-old idea to issue healthcare workers with a badge but are they spending time to chase down PPEs?

    PS Anybody seen old Boris? I have seen less of him than old Joe Biden.

    1. Samuel Conner

      per this item,

      he’s “resting” at Chequers.

      The concluding paragraphs of the item sound to me like the UK government is focused on perceptions-management more than actual executive action to deal with the crisis. “the government still has a good story to tell”. It’s seems a bit like US. He really is “the Britain Trump”.

      1. Biologist

        Yeah I was also wondering where he was, and what’s going on. Initially, with his sudden hospitalisation, I thought his condition might be much worse than they admitted.

        However his only short ICU stay and the fact that he’s walking about make me think the whole hospital stay was to err on the overprotective side. Most people who go into ICU apparently take much longer to recover (i.e. come in in much worse condition).

        Regardless of what really happened, I’m sure he’ll spin it to his own advantage, no doubt helped by the willing media.

    2. Louis Fyne

      better yet, how about working with Ireland and/or France or the Dutch or Scandinavia to start up a melt blown fiber and nitrile production lines with a mask and glove production line down tbe road.

      masks and gloves do not use some exotic ingredients only found in the foothills of the Andes

    3. MLTPB

      Russia was helping a while back.

      Now they are accepting US help.

      1. This is worldwide, not one single nation. The concept of nation state – an artificial human creation

      2. It’s ok to seek help.

      3. You don’t know when you will need help. You do the best you can now.

      1. jefemt

        Spaceship Earth. We could make Covid the opportunity-for-all of a lifetime.

        The cynic in me says human nature will need to re-tool bigly to become humane nature.

  16. xkeyscored

    Trump announces $19B program to help agriculture sector The Hill

    And how far will that go? I gather much of the wheat, corn and soy production is done by huge machines, meaning basically individuals can, and usually do, do it with enormous social distancing, but what about everything else? Money appears to be there for the USDA to buy crops and livestock, but where will the labour to produce them come from? Will the US rely on poverty and the threat of starvation overcoming agricultural labourers’ fears of COVID-19?

    1. John

      I’m not crying for the corporate welfare farmers who are the ones who have gotten the most tax payer money not the small farmers.

      Trump has already thrown over $38 billion of OUR tax money at the corporate welfare farmers to buy their votes.

  17. The Rev Kev

    “A Wisconsin sheriff threatened to arrest a teenager for writing about her COVID-19 case on Instagram”

    From reading that article, it sounds like her family should have sued the school too as they were the original instigators of this police action. If that Sheriff had been any smarter, he would have simply used the Sedition Act of 1918 to charge her with as that was what was used during the 1918 flu pandemic to shut people up.

    1. John

      How is it a 1st amendment defense though?

      Just because she is saying something the government doesn’t like?

      Not sure I get that. Though I’m certainly on her side.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Government interfering with speech. I agree the First Amendment is drafted much more narrowly, but I am pretty sure case law would have precedents for this suit. And the school, which is a public institution, smeared her, but I think that’s not the First Amendment argument.

      2. taunger

        Govt is interfering with her speech. Did law school screw me up so much that this does not seem clear to everyone?

        1. Fraibert

          As to case law, the government is threatening to sanction the teenager for speaking on a particular topic–her (probable) coronavirus infection.

          It’s unquestionably speech, as matter of law, to do what she did.

          It’s a “content-based” regulation of speech as the government is only seeking to sanction her because of the specific matter contained in the speech. Content-based regulations of speech are, in the case law, especially disfavored and are subject to “strict scrutiny” (described further below).

          Moreover, in the cases, the First Amendment has been “incorporated” on the states through the Fourteenth Amendment. This means that the states (localities are just legal corporations of the states) cannot violate the First Amendment.

          The result of the above is that the locality (NOT the teenager) must prove that (a) it has a compelling state interest in imposing the sanction on the speech at issue and (b) that the means adopted to further that compelling state interest are narrowly tailored to the harms meant to be addressed (sometimes further described as requiring the “least restrictive means”). The shorthand for this test is “strict scrutiny.” in practice, this test is nearly impossible for the government to satisfy.

          Here, it seems that the government could have issued a press release stating whatever clarifications it desired instead of attempting to sanction the teenager. Even without going much further into the law, that alone seems to make it a violation of the First Amendment, in my view, because the governments supposedly claimed harm of generating panic could be addressed without involving the criminal law.

    2. Lynne

      The lawsuit against the school administrator would be for slander and a state court case. Hopefully they will do that as well, although local politics…

  18. Youngblood

    Crops at risk as coronavirus lockdown grounds bees Financial Times

    I would have assumed that they would be considered essential workers…

    1. CuriosityConcern

      I thought that bee keepers wear protective garments, and they wouldn’t need to get in the farmers space to deploy hives.
      On the other hand, maybe they can use this time to recover hives from neocortinoids.Ok

  19. The Rev Kev

    “Ilhan Omar unveils bill to cancel rent and mortgage payments amid pandemic”

    This sounds like a great idea this. She should get together with AOC and the rest of the squad plus any other progressive Democrats to push for it. Maybe reach across the aisle to see if any Republicans will join them. They could hold up a major bill until this got passed and hold the government over a barrel. Oh wait. She had her chance three weeks ago with the CARES act – and voted for it instead thereby giving up any leverage.

    1. John

      To be fair the House vote really didn’t even count since it wasn’t recorded.

      Put the blame on the Republican Senators. Because that’s who wrote the final bill. Voted yes. Then fled DC.

      Oh, and you can blame 2 scoops Nancy Pelosi for that voice vote on the Senate bail-out-of-the-rich-and-the-corporations bill.

      And let’s not forget to blame the man-of-the-people Trump who signed the bill that gives his family tens of millions or more in tax cuts and aid.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Wasn’t it Pelosi and Schumer that wrote that bill? And another guy named I think Bennett was it?. And if the progressives had fought that voice count along with that lone Republican, Thomas Massie, would they have been able to force an actual count? But lets get real here. Both parties colluded to bail out the 1% and shot through because obviously nothing important was going to happen for the next three weeks, amiright?

    2. John

      To be fair the House vote really didn’t even count since it wasn’t recorded.

      Put the blame on the Republican Senators. Because that’s who wrote the final bill. Voted yes. Then fled DC.

      Oh, and you can blame 2 scoops Nancy Pelosi for that voice vote on the Senate bail-out-of-the-corporations-and the-rich bill.

      And leaves Main Street to die and the American people to get evicted, foreclosed on and pay off the trillions in debt and get nothing for it for the rest of our lives.

      And let’s not forget to blame the man-of-the-people Trump who signed the bill that gives his family tens of millions or more in tax cuts and aid.

      They are the ones that killed Main Street.

      What did the American people get in that bill?
      Evictions, forecloses, homelessness, and working to pay off the tax debt for the rest of our lives and getting nothing for it.

      Now that they bailed out the the corporations and the rich the Republicans are already screaming about the debt.

  20. xkeyscored

    Republicans try for political leverage over China with bill allowing Americans to sue for ‘damage they caused’ with coronavirus RT

    I recently watched Flu (감기), a 2013 South Korean movie about an epidemic. I wouldn’t recommend it unless you like corny B-movie tropes, cliches and stereotypes crudely stirred together, but it’s interesting that the authorities’ first reaction was to squelch the story by silencing doctors and journalists, exactly what Sen Tom Cotton accuses China of doing.

    China may have made mistakes, especially with hindsight, but it was dealing with something new and unknown. Even Dr Li Wenliang warned of a SARS-like thing, not a global pandemic.
    The USA and many other countries had ample warning, what was their excuse for failing to prepare? Would an extra six days have made the CDC tests any better, or the N95 stockpile any larger? Allowing Americans to sue the US government for COVID-related damage might be interesting, but Cotton doesn’t seem to be in favour of that.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I assume the GOP play against Biden goes like this:

        -Biden was a supporter of free trade and WTO status for China
        -Trump “stood up” to China
        -Dems impeached “our President” (they will frame it this way) while he was opposing the Chinese and the “traitors who sent our jobs and factories” abroad.
        -Trump is going to go the Midwest and push this and lament the Democratic traitors who didn’t even recognize his Presidency.
        -It all works because of Biden’s record. This wouldn’t work with the other candidates. They were all too new or opposed Bill Clinton’s economic order.

        The Democrats who at the FP level are also dominated by orientalists and based on TPP efforts were anti-Chinese at this point (maybe they realized what they did as far as industrial capacity or the ability to control the CPC) are doubling down. Since Democratic strategerists fantasize about seizing GOP issues and calling Republicans hypocrites (they are) to win their votes, they will move to be anti-China too, maybe even more so than the GOP.

        1. Louis Fyne

          and expect the video of Trump’s one-line about corona in the State of the Union address while Pelosi’s behind acting like a 2 year-old and ripping up her copy of the speech to be mercily aired and meme-ed all over the place

      2. MLTPB

        Doesn’t have to be the US, or the specific sequence of events.

        People all over might have more time to reflect on this, broadly, including, let’s just say, globalism, when it’s no longer a new cluster somewhere in the world every day.

    1. MLTPB

      What is China’s excuse for failing to stop the new cases we are reading coming from in via Russia?

      The answer is likely they can only try their best now…tightening border checks, though not closing it.

      What about Russia’s failure to prepare?

      Likely, it is as the WHO official said, some time after Wuhan lockdown, though not immediate after, if I recall correctly, that the world’s health cares systems were going to be overwhelmed.

      Even then, we have tons of supplies to China, and Russia sent help to Italy.

      Were those foolish acts? I don’t think so.

      What would have made a difference, I think, is if the Wuhan lockdown came before the first Italian case left China. Maybe 1 week or 10 days sooner would have changed the situation.

    2. rowlf

      “squelch the story by silencing doctors and journalists, exactly what Sen Tom Cotton accuses China of doing.”

      Pretty rich considering the US went after people looking into the health effects of nuclear fallout in the states downwind of the 200+ above ground test sights.

      My favorite has been the State of Michigan going after doctors who were trying to determine the health effects when fire retardant accidentally got mixed with dairy cow feed in the 1970s.

      These are just two examples of many in the US.

  21. xkeyscored

    The economic crisis will expose a decade’s worth of corporate fraud Economist

    I wonder about this. In some places, undoubtedly. But with so much free money being hurled at corporations and the like, some will surely use it to paper over the cracks and carry on. Boeing hasn’t exactly been accused of fraud, just gross incompetence and mismanagement and so on, but it was in a bad way before COVID-19, and now it’s got $17 billion to keep it afloat. Will a huge confirmation that the government has their back, come what may, whatever they do, prompt a managerial rethink?

    1. John

      You think the 10% can keep the American economy afloat?

      Because the 90% are going to have a hell of a lot less money after this shakes out.

      1. JTMcPhee

        And is that not the exact center of the Grand Plan? Strip all wealth from the mopes, then skedaddle…

        1. ambrit

          Skedaddle to where? Mars?
          There won’t be a safe place on Earth for the present elites when the full magnitude of this “event” becomes clear.
          These “Masters of the Universe,” “We have the Power!” have forgotten the first rule of parasitism: Do not kill the host.

          1. MLTPB

            Only if there is only one Earthling on Mars.

            More than one, infection (from other humans) is still possible.

            Of course, you will have to clean the space ship very thoroughly….like they did disinfecting the ship in the film, the Fifth Element, before leaving for Fhloston.

  22. Mikel

    Re: More than 50% of Los Angeles workers unemployed

    While it appears to be describing an LA population that is not Greater Los Angeles (County) which has a population in the tens of millions, that central part of LA county reflects the prominence of restaurants as a form of employment.
    Wonder what the greater LA figures are like? Maybe not be too different?
    So many of the restaurants may reopen but most will not survive even after that.
    Go long on U-Haul.

    1. John

      Go long on 1-800-GOT-JUNK?

      If they had from the beginning mandated a 3 month rent cut, given the CARES money to the small businesses first for keeping their employees, then worried about the all the rest these small businesses might have survived.

      But now it’s just going to be a blood bath on Main Street.

      1. MLTPB

        I feel sad for people in the restaurant business, and many other fields as well.

        Will many people stop going to sports bars for a long time?

        Is a trip to the barber something to think over carefully?

        Are many jobs not coming back for a while?

        1. periol

          “Will many people stop going to sports bars for a long time?”

          Sports aren’t coming back anytime soon, so I would guess sports bars will die. No one is actually interested in living/playing in a bubble.

          On another note, high school dances are gonna be weird in the future with social distancing.

          1. montanamaven

            Even in the great big suburb city, Los Angeles, you can find “The Great Good Places” of which Ray Oldenberg mourns their demise although harder to find and more dangerous than getting in a cab or bus after a few drinks. At 5PM, workers crowd into their bars to rub elbows with each other. Our local watering holes both in Montana and in Upstate NY, are great good places where construction workers, plumbers, local bankers, county workers, artists, hard cider makers, dress makers, musicians, and a Carnival Cruise heir all mingle.
            I would hate to see the end of places like these. The “Cheers” bar where “everybody knows your name”. It was in places like these that many many years ago I figured out who the “essential” workers were. This virus sure has made that even clearer. My hope is that the “Bullsh*t Jobs” that Graeber writes about will go away. But the hairdressers, barbers, and bartenders that listen to our woes and our malarky will never go away.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            Our 57 year old yardman carries his off very well. And there was a >70 year old director at an art institute who lived in my old building who sported one. Even better, his near 70 year old partner (not sure if they were married) was still modeling. I’d see her in ads now and again. Huge eyes, terrific cheekbones, trim with great posture, no sagging (and I am pretty sure this was just lucky genes, if she had any work done, it was minor and not a lift, she had wrinkles you would have expected her to have prevented with Botox if she was that sort).

            Point was they both had silver hair and looked cute together in their grey ponytails.

    2. MLTPB

      Up till around Jan of this year, there had been articles on people leaving CA.

      Nothing I can find searching the net since the outbreak. But with so many not working in once-busy urban centers, are people stil, motivated to stay around?

      I also wonder about the census reflecting the current state of us population.

      1. periol

        I have had a personal sense for a while that it was getting near time to pick a permanent place to live, that soon we might not have the mobility we’re used to in America. We moved closer to family six months ago in CA from the midwest, and the timing feels perfect.

        Wasn’t even factoring a pandemic into my thinking – between the weirding weather, crazy politics, and a general sense the last few years the internet was being “sanitized” (lots of old forums have gone away, it started after 2008 with places like LATOC but accelerated recently with both Google and Yahoo Groups going away with their searchable databanks of people helping people disappeared, plus Youtube’s been getting more and more ugh), I just felt like there was a ticking clock somewhere. It felt like storm clouds were on the horizon.

        I don’t know what’s coming, but I do feel better being an hour away from my folks by car right now, rather than 24 hours away.

  23. curlydan

    About YouTube and minors… YouTube is TV for kids these days. In the 70s and 80s, I watched a lot of TV and got to know every single 60s and 70s syndicated sitcom (yes, I’ve seen every I Dream of Jeanie and Gilligan’s Island) because that’s all there was to watch. Now kids (e.g. my two tweens) spend much of their days watching YouTube or playing xBox.

    Here’s my least favorite kid exploitation series on YouTube… What’s Inside? where a dad and his son get merch and find out, yes, what’s inside the merch. It’s all culminated in 6.85M subscribers and a huge new house for them (where we naturally got a what’s inside tour). Not sure why this disturbs me so much. Maybe a bit of jealousy that these guys are getting rich off of my kids’ views, but probably more of the exploitation of the kid.

    1. MK

      Somehow my kids can watch other people playing video games with their face up in the corner on YouTube. Don’t forget to click thumbs up and hit that red subscribe button! First hundred comments get a free discount code for my merch store…..

      1. John

        “And I was also thinking that if I wanted to, I could live over again – start at the beginning and come right on up to the present, having exactly the same life, down to the smallest detail. So I said to myself: ‘No! No!’ I could not face the idea of all those God-awful fears and pains again, in detail. And then for no reason I looked out of the window at the trees and heard myself say: ‘Yes!’ Because I knew I’d be willing to go through the whole thing again just to smell the spring the way it used to smell when I was a kid.” The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles

        Who would be willing to live their life all over again for a video game afternoon?

        1. Massinissa

          Depends on the video game. Depending on said game, I would have to agree with Becnel above. I have some old favorites I still play from time to time. I guess if I had to choose just one game, I might choose Digimon World. I know that game inside and out, and have played through it multiple times. Been thinking about giving it another play-through recently, though I’ve been rather busy with other things, even in lockdown.

          This is probably a generational thing.

          1. Massinissa

            Other than Digimon World, probably Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross as well. And Final Fantasy 9. And maybe others. Cherished childhood experiences. This is probably a generational thing, as I said.

    2. Massinissa

      to follow up on Curlydan’s comment, a large focus of toys and merchandise for kids these days are ‘surprise’ items where you don’t know what collectible is inside the box. I dislike the practice, its essentially gambling but for kids. I miss the days when you knew what toy you were buying when you bought a toy. There are still plenty of those kinds of toys around, mind you, but I still think the ‘surprise’ items are exploitative because they’re basically gambling but for five year olds. I don’t know if the kid in those videos is being exploited, but that channel is basically promoting gambling to those almost 7 million viewers.

  24. dcblogger

    I suspect these extremists will prove to be all hat, no cattle.
    many of these extremists are carrying guns, it is just a question of time before they shoot someone. And in the time of coronavirus they don’t need guns to kill. Almost certainly they are spreading coronavirus.

      1. HotFlash

        I dunno, Yves, I’m from MI too, (lower peninsula), and there are some really weird weirdos there. My in-laws across-the-road neighbour once shot his tractor. Shotgun, full in the radiator.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Tractors don’t bleed.

          Hunters shoot animals and see blood and gore. And they often wind up wouding as opposed to killing, so they have to track down the injured animal and finish them off, which allow for further splattering of brains or guts.

          Admittedly my sample is not huge, but every hunter I have met is very attentive to gun safety. I doubt those guys toting guns have shot anything other than at a shooting range, other target practice, and at most killing a small critter like a squirrel where the gore factor is contained due to the small size of the beast.

          Just cleaning a dear is pretty gross and it is very dead by then.

          Now a sick fucks who tortured animals as a kid and who then have guns…they regularly grow up to be murderers. But I don’t yet see evidence that they are over-represented among the gun macho types.

    1. lb

      Beware pre-publication papers that haven’t undergone peer review. The authors wrote an op-ed that got published in the WSJ and other outlets peddling their theory well before they had any data, they commissioned a study that had a flawed methodology likely to buttress this claim (the population wasn’t a random sample but instead a sample motivated to get quick test results in an environment of fear and uncertainty), then they overstated what the numbers said and understated the problems with the data gathered to form their “50-85x” multiplier between testing and community prevalence.

      The analysis and stated conclusion was quickly picked apart by more honest brokers like Trevor Bedford. There’s a lot wrong in this study and the resulting paper.

      1. Monty

        Not before Fox and CNN had them on last night, hyping it up as if it were a fact. The propaganda mill is going into overdrive now, because the Captains of Industry want the peons back at the grindstone forthwith. Profits before people. Sad to see so many eager to go along with it, and throw the elders under the bus.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      Along similar lines:

      The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now “actively looking into” results from universal COVID-19 testing at a Boston homeless shelter.

      The broad-scale testing took place at the Pine Street Inn homeless shelter in Boston’s South End a week and a half ago because of a small cluster of cases there.

      Of the 397 people tested, 146 people tested positive. Not a single one had any symptoms.

      1. Rhondda

        Sounds very like the Navy ship with loads of positives who didn’t know they were ‘sick’ — 5 hospitalized and just 1 death. So very different than an old folks home…

    3. Bsoder

      No fatality rate is right and that is what the infection rate should be driven off of – in other words 1 death= 50 asymptotic infections. The tests driving who isn’t or was infected aren’t worth much, if anything,- there’s no logic to any of it. In addition it’s hard to say just what kind of immunity people are obtaining once inflected. Some immunity yes, total,no. Worse those with some may be at risk in the second round of outbreaks (there will be) for getting it worse. All one can say (here at NIH) is the most of population of the United States is still at risk. I’m afraid people are going to get the epidemic they want not the one they deserve – keeping infections, sickness, and death down. Treated a hundred cases of these now, it’s way more the the lungs, it’s the heart, liver, kidney, and brain. No one should ever wish this on anyone or wave their hand and say all for trumps economy. It’s a terrible sickness and bad way to die.

  25. Zagonostra

    At this point in the history of the U.S., when what we have, according not to me but a former President, President Carter, is a plutocracy, the Leviathan, as described by Hobbes, might be preferable.

    I’m even beginning to think that a Democratic form of government in the age of the Surveillance State is wishful thinking, that we need a transitional form of government – something akin to The Foundation’s Mule a la Asimov.

  26. John

    Two scoops Nancy Pelosi shows off her ice cream stash “you can get through the mail”. For how long though Nancy since you didn’t provide a dollar of funding in your bailout-of-the-corporations-and-the-rich bill for the U.S. Post Office that will be out of money soon.

    22 million Americans out of work and counting

    Maybe next we can see Trump tearing into his triple cheeseburgers while tweeting how Americans should liberate themselves from the death grip of not dying to keep the stock market up.

    That should cheer us all up like the Pelosi ice cream video did.

  27. Wukchumni

    ‘Megadrought’ emerging in the western US might be worse than any in 1,200 years USA Today
    Couldn’t get past the paywall of the hotel newspaper, but there have been some quite lengthy droughts in the west. Do reporters really have any idea what they’re talking about?

    Our recent 5 year bout was a complete nothingburger in the scheme of things…

    Through studies of tree rings, sediment and other natural evidence, researchers have documented multiple droughts in California that lasted 10 or 20 years in a row during the past 1,000 years — compared to the mere three-year duration of the current dry spell. The two most severe megadroughts make the Dust Bowl of the 1930s look tame: a 240-year-long drought that started in 850 and, 50 years after the conclusion of that one, another that stretched at least 180 years.

    1. Billy

      USA Today, given away in motels; “journalism” of the same high quality as the
      free factory food “breakfast” in the seating area with the perpetual ballgame playing.

    2. xkeyscored

      From what I’ve heard of it, the reporters have got it about right, though the science they’re reporting may not be so certain or undisputed.
      A few snippets from the USA Today article:

      “We now have enough observations of current drought and tree-ring records of past drought to say that we’re on the same trajectory as the worst prehistoric droughts,” said study lead author A. Park Williams, a bioclimatologist at Columbia University, in a statement. This is “a drought bigger than what modern society has seen.”

      Since temperatures are projected to keep rising, it is likely the drought will continue for the near future – or fade briefly only to return, researchers say.

      The study covers an area stretching across nine U.S. states from Oregon and Montana down through California, New Mexico and part of northern Mexico.

      The difference now, of course, is the western USA is home to more than 70 million people who weren’t here for the previous medieval megadroughts. The implications are far more daunting.

  28. MLTPB

    Nursing homes….7,000 lives.

    I wonder if elders in various Asian or other countries are more likely to live with their families than their US counterparts.

  29. Wukchumni

    One of the similarities in the buildup to the French Revolution, was gambling, kind of like us. Must be something for a current day compulsive punter going through withdrawals on account of nothing to wager on…

    Gambling obsessed all levels of French society during the Enlightenment. Louis XIV held appartements du roi given over to gambling three times a week at Versailles, the queen hosted a nightly game, and courtiers scheduled additional occasions for play

    Marie-Antoinette had been taught as a child by her own mother to gamble, because the Empress knew that a princess who could not play well would soon be separated from her money. Futhermore, the stakes at the court of Austria were much higher than at the court of France, which made Antoinette an intrepid player. As a teenager, she became inordinately attached to the practice. As she began to have gambling debts, Louis XVI, who was trying to save the government finances and give an example of thrift, forbade her to play anymore games of chance. She begged her husband to let her have one last game. He gave permission, and naughty Antoinette made sure the game went on for three days. Louis was disgusted.

      1. Wukchumni

        You can pretty much see the decline of the USA starting with the first casinos in Atlantic City, and then it spread like Kudzu, and became a way of life where gambling on 3-letter-montes on Wall*Street was oh so respectable.

          1. Wukchumni

            A couple years ago before a 9 day backpack, 5 of us camped near Siphon hot springs about 5 miles from the Mammoth airport, and there was an promontory calling our names about a mile away and around a 300 foot climb to get the top, and along the way I spotted an obsidian arrowhead that was a bit flawed, and my friends all said how lucky I was to find it, and then we got to the relatively flat area above, and there were obsidian chips and not acceptable flawed arrowheads all over the place. We had stumbled onto an ancient knapping factory.

            We didn’t take anything, but could’ve picked up a thousand pieces of glass if we wanted to.

            What really made it special in our hour of hanging out, was at one point a deer came running by, and it would’ve been the perfect situation for a hunter a thousand years ago while making your weaponry.

    1. montanamaven

      Boy, leave it to NBC to spin these protests as extreme. Many of these protesters (1st amendments) are people who have no jobs and are forced to stay home where they can’t fish with their outboard motorboat but can if they have a kayak? They can’t buy seeds for their garden but can buy lottery tickets? Michigan stay-at-home restrictions

      1. montanamaven

        OOPs, this was supposed to be under DC Blogger on the Michigan protests.
        Under this comment I would like to recommend Ron Suskind’s “The Price of Loyalty” about Paul O’Neill. Not sure I can find the quote quickly, but O’Neill did not like compromise. Instead he always looked for the new idea. I have tried to do the same.

        1. dcblogger

          you can buy seeds, potting mix, and garden tools online from Ace Hardware, Burpees, Rareseeds, or a dozen other suppliers. I know because that is where I got mine. You really can live in your home/yard for the duration. it is better than getting/spreading coronavirus. The answer is for congress to send us all bailout money. Rashida Tlaib had a proposal for every American to get an EBT card with $2000/month. that is a good beginning.

      2. marym

        The order says stores of >50,000 sq feet have to close off some areas including gardening. I can’t say if this is a worthwhile restriction, but people have been posting pictures on-line of other stores selling seeds, and there’s no restriction on ordering seeds.

        Unless protesters also have demands like worker safety protections, distribution of masks, financial support for displaced workers, and healthcare if they get sick; and have the minimal decency to wear masks at their protest, it’s difficult not to see this as at least partially irrational or astro-turfed by interests other than those of the workers.

        1. montanamaven

          Yes, perhaps it’s more about feeling powerless and hooking on to something that feels powerful and anti-elite. It would be great if these protesters would, as you say, join with workers at Lowe’s and Home Depot and demand that they hire more workers with safety protections so these people can shop the garden and paint sections. How to accomplish this? How did the hard hats and hippies join in Seattle to protest the WTO? Graeber said that all those protests didn’t work. That’s the reason that some of the anti-globalist movement decided to Occupy instead of go somewhere to protest. But now people can’t be in crowds. So they can’t occupy the state capital like in Wisconsin years ago. What to do?

          1. dcblogger

            these are completely different from the people who occupied the Wisconsin Capital years ago. The anti-quarantine people are anti-solidarity and they are going to spread coronavirus.

    2. John Wright

      I looked at the old 60 minutes interview and O’Neill says “I can’t imagine being attacked for telling the truth” near the end.

      I find it amazing that a Washington insider would maintain this in a television interview.

      Part 1

      Part 2

      The entire interview discusses how the Bush administration was planning to get rid of Saddam Hussein as soon as Bush assumed the Presidency in January 2001, well BEFORE September 11.

      It seems to me that US media and political figures are forgetting how bad Bush was.

  30. rowlf

    A dumb question has come to mind. Have large airports, (LAX, JFK, AMS), had a lot of airport staff get sick? I ask as I transit Schiphol a couple of times every year and would expect with the large number of people flowing past the airport staff from all over the world there would be possible useful numbers of sick workers to analyze.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Don’t forget the baggage handlers. A few fell sick in South Australia who had handled the baggage of passengers from the plagued SS Ruby Princess who had flow there from Sydney.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      I have to confess to having been in the airport at the end of March to get a medical treatment. Went through ATL, highest traffic airport in the world.

      They looked like they had been hit by neutron bombs. No one there. I mean no one. No one at TSA but me. If the TSA people got infected, ti was by other TSA people. Freaky to see deserted terminals and closed shops and waiting areas empty or with at most 5 people in them.

      1. rowlf

        At many airports the workers have to ride an employee bus from remote parking lots. That hadn’t come to mind until your comment.

        The Terry Gilliam movie 12 Monkeys scared the hell out of me, as the pandemic spreader used international air travel as his dispersal method.

  31. Anon

    RE: Special Anitdote

    Yes, that is a “grizzly” bear. The muscular hump at the shoulder and a rear-end lower than the head is distinctive. Be aware that “grizzly” bears are a sub-specie of brown bear (Ursus arctos).

  32. Susan the other

    H.R. McMaster. How China Sees the World. McMaster doesn’t mention, in this piece, the fact that we quit the war effort in Vietnam and abruptly left; then Nixon went to China (China did not come to Nixon); China only gradually warmed up to us. As if the most important thing in China was/is a peaceful society. With 1.5 billion people it might be a tad disruptive to have an American-style fake dream free-for-all. No? McMaster shouldn’t be puzzled by this. We have managed to avoid an enraged rampaging crowd of many thousands of insanely angry peasants who have been betrayed one too many times – so far. That China did not liberalize, Western style, is no great surprise. Especially in view of our tight control over power and influence in our own neoliberal country. McMaster is more than a little hypocritical here. You could argue that neoliberal is synonymous with fascist much of the time. And we only have 1/5 the population of China. I agree with his equation that “fears and ambitions are inseparable.” Just take a long cold look at our MIC; our FIRE industry; our Foreign Policy – etc. Our overriding ambition has always been to profit by control. Since 1913.

  33. Wukchumni

    Now that we’re on the verge of another Great Depression, time to pimp my favorite oral history of the era: Ten Lost Years.

    Most are familiar with Studs Terkel and he was a good interviewer, but had nothing on Barry Broadfoot, who traipsed across Canada in the early 1970’s, searching for memories of the time from people of the right age, and each story is a little 1 to 6 page vignette of the most amazing tales you’ll ever read about the subject matter.

    We had FDR who was beloved by the public, while Canada had the misfortune to have R.B. Bennett as PM, who was loathed up over.

    His other books are just as good, with Six War Years another favorite.

  34. Oregoncharles

    The antidote: “Anadolu” (Turkey; Turkish flag), so not a grizzly. But I don’t know what the wild bears in Asia Minor are.

  35. Carolinian

    Since this question came up yesterday in discussion about reopening schools here’s an old but relevant report re the Korean experience.

    South Korea, which is grappling with an explosive outbreak, has likewise seen small numbers of infections in children and teens and no deaths in those age groups. Of 6,284 cases, only 0.7% were under the age of nine; 4.6% were ages 10 to 19. A bigger chunk of the total cases, 29.9%, were ages 20 to 29. Even in that age group, South Korea reported no deaths.

    “Even when we looked at households, we did not find a single example of a child bringing the infection into the household and transmitting to the parents. It was the other way around,” Van Kerkhove said. “And the children tending to have mild disease.”

    If that pattern holds true elsewhere, it would question the value of closing schools to slow spread. But that could happen regardless, if teachers fall ill or families are worried about letting their children attend school.

    And if primary schools were reopened then parents who felt uncomfortable would undoubtedly be given a pass if keeping their kids at home.

    1. HotFlash

      If that pattern holds true elsewhere

      Well, you know, South Korea vaccinates children against tuberculosis and leprosy (BCG), which seem s to protect against CoViD-19, so that may affect the stats for children. Most other countries do not and the stats are persuasive, although not conclusive. It also seems that the efficacy of the vaccine diminishes over time, and S Korea no longer does the booster at age 12. Perhaps this should be taken into account, and maybe not let your kids go back to school until more is known. Unless, as Lord Buckley assured the staff at the Royal Hawaiian as his children scampered on the fire escapes, “Don’t worry, they are heavily insured.”

    2. Bsoder

      About 1 million people tested out of 90 million. Not good data. I’m looking at counties in USA right now, (county health agency reports) were infections found in children under the age of 13 that required hospitalization are from 3% to 11%.

        1. Monty

          What about the part in the article where they say the CFR is 3.4%. Are you telling me you believe that now, or do you just believe the parts that jive with the story you’re telling yourself?

            1. Monty

              I was wondering how the original poster selects what parts of these articles they ultimately choose to believe. This article simultaneously supports and undercuts the narrative they seem to believe.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            That CFR came from the Chinese CDC in IIRC mid Feb based on all of the reported Covid-19 cases, then >150,000. So a large sample. Question would be if it was skewed (like Chinese men being more heavy smokers than other countries).

  36. Tom Bradford

    Pandemic diary of a naked capitalist – week 5

    Interesting experience this am. My modem must have conected me to an IP in some alternate universe in which millions are not getting sick, tens of thousands are not dying, businesses are not going under in their thousands, the world is not in lockdown and international trade has not come to a standstill. In that Universe my stock portfolio went up 4% last week. What a pleasant experience. I haven’t had the heart to connect with my own universe to find out the impact on my portfolio of a market facing up to reality and tanking at the propects of what’s to come.

    My diary last week praised the peformance of our Prime Minister in this crisis and pondered whether it was a coincidence that female leaders generally seemed to have peformed better, citing Germany, Denmark, Norway and Finland. I’d add Iceland to that as the same thought appeared in ‘Links’ last week: vis

    Yet these countries have something else in common: Proportional Representation.

    in the 1980’s the New Zealand Labour Party had moved so far right that a new party, Social Credit, came into being to fill the gap it left on the left. In two elections it earned 16% and 21% support but under the First Past the Post electoral system gained nothing. This obvious failure of ‘democracy’ led to some grumblings from the great unwashed, which led to a Royal Commission to look into the electoral system which led to a 1992 plebiscite offering a choice of the status quo or a PR system. PR won by 56%. In 1993 a referendum between methods of PR settled on MMP.

    The next five elections were held under MMP. A number of new parties arrived on the scene, elections threw up all sorts of mixes leading to wheeling and dealing and chaos but Government still happened. In 2011 another plebiscite offered a return to FPP or to continue with PR. PR won by 86%.

    After the 2017 election a small centre party held the balance of power, and had gone with the right previously. However Ardern leading Labour won them over, and the support of other parties, to form a Government – and hence lead the country in this crisis.

    Proportional Representation demands leaders who listen, can be flexible and, perhaps above all, earn trust. Perhaps this is why women so often come to the top in it. And if it’s true that people get the Government they deserve perhaps New Zealand came to deserve Jacinda Ardern when it chose to change an unfair electoral system for a fairer one.

    So yes, we were lucky Ardern is who she and and where she is, but we also earned that luck.

    And the moral? The people who formed Social Credit could have joined – or stayed with – Labour to try to drag it back the left. Perhaps they might have had a few bones thrown to them by the establishment. Instead they formed a new party, which failed. But in that failure set in train a fundamental shift in the electoral system for, in my view, the better. Perhaps if Bernie Sanders had formed a new party rather than trying to work within the existing ones his inevitable failure might have triggered a similar groundswell of dissatisfaction, and bring about some long overdue changes to the US system. And perhaps in an alternate universe it happened.

    1. Fabian

      Always good to get your bulletin from New Zealand Tom but a few points of correction. The Labour government elected in 1984 was a coup, not party policy, and it was followed six years later by a National government that took the neo-liberal agenda where Labour could not go, slashing welfare levels and deregulating the the labour market. Proportional representation was the result of a backlash, as we previously had a unicameral government with no senate-type house which meant there was no control over what it could do.
      Social Credit was a small part of the new left party, the Alliance, but its leadership came from New Labour and the Greens. Good people who wash frequently. They ended up in coalition, and in government, with Labour in 1999.
      The great advantage New Zealand has is that we have always prohibited private interests from access to broadcast media. Parties receive a relatively small allocation based on previous vote levels. Any signs of corruption are regularly exposed.
      I agree with you generally about women leaders although I would not have voted for Hillary Clinton if I was a US citizen, or Donald Trump for that matter. I do not understand why the so-called two-party system is so difficult to shift. I would prefer the Democratic Socialists of America personally.
      In New Zealand Jacinda’s rise owes more to her and to the Labour party than to proportional representation; she showed her leadership talent from an early age, rising from far-off Aotearoa to become the international president of IUSY, the International Union of Socialist Youth. She is a superb communicator, keeping us fully informed and constantly exhorting us to be kind. My favourite anecdote about her is that when Donald Trump asked her last year what he could do to help after the mosque massacres, she answered “Be kind to all Muslims.” Salaam aleikum.

      1. Tom Bradford

        Thanks Fabian. Yes I’ll admit my summary of the events of the ’80s was overbrief and thus not wholly accurate, but history is always much messier than books on it portray. Though I’d argue that it was Roger Douglas’s betrayal that woke the dissatisfaction that resulted in MMP, rather than National’s policies which were, after all, par for the course.

        Yet I stand by the message I wanted the story to illustrate. The earlier piece in NC today re the Dems’ backstabbing of Sanders and the despair of many commentators in this blog faced with the appalling choice of Trump or Biden in November reveals how badly broken the democratic process in the US is. NZ faced the same in the ’80s having to choose between Rogernomics or a neo-liberal agenda from National, didn’t like it and changed the rules. The US today wallows in nostalgia and pats itself on the back in self-congratulation for the events of 1776, but if it can’t see that the situation today is every bit as bad as it was then and demands a response every bit as heroic as the patriots they laud with such reverence, well, they deserve the Government they have.

        Aleikum salaam.

  37. Wukchumni

    The reopening Olympics will be held in the USA this spring, with events such as the Pandemicathon scheduled. The red states have been training for weeks-so the obvious edge goes to them, but don’t count out the blue states, as infection envy sets in.

  38. Jessica

    About H. R. McMaster: What China Wants Atlantic.
    The true reason why Zheng He’s trailblazing treasure fleet was broken up is far more instructive: privatization.
    Zheng He’s fleet of quite large ships did not sail just for exploration. They sailed to set up trading links. Trading links with sophisticated societies with interesting products to trade. Extremely profitable trading links.
    Once they were established, the merchant class decided that they did not want to share with the government, which had sponsored the fleets that established the links. So they had the fleet dismantled.
    By the way, Zheng He’s voyages happened at the same time as the initial Portuguese voyages down the coast of Africa, i.e. a bit before Columbus. There was, hmm, a bit of history in the centuries between then and the century of humiliation.
    One thing that Trump actually has accomplished is to take the tentative change in US attitudes toward China that began under Obama and fully developed it. Though perhaps he just got out at the head of a parade that our elites were going to have anyway.

    1. HotFlash

      So they had the fleet dismantled.

      Please, ma’am, which ‘they’ is this ? The merchants of the government?

  39. Jessica

    About Unintended Consequences, Part II: What if LTCM Was Not Rescued? Barry Ritholtz (Douw)
    As far as I know, the alternative path of letting Wall Street takes its lumps in 1998 was not even seriously considered by the powers that be (were). That itself tells us something.
    Also, in that alternative universe in which we had elites smart enough (for their own sake in the long run) to have let LTCM fail, there might have also been a more general recognition of the vulnerability of excess “efficiency” and the need for resilience.
    What distinguishes that more wisely led alternative universe from our own is that in our universe, we have industrial systems still being used to run post-industrial economies. Such a combination bonsais the post-industrial component and ironically, cannot even successfully maintain the classic industry.
    As China completes its classic industrialization, its formerly quite competent technocracy is becoming as stupid as ours and for the same reason. Just as happened in Japan in the 1980s.

  40. The Rev Kev

    Thought that I would mention this here. Peru is flying medical supplies from China but is keeping the route secret so that they US does not seize it for itself like it has with other countries. No surprises there. But I just read how the Governor of Illinois also secretly flew in medical supplies from China so that the Feds did not seize his shipments either and the White House is not happy-

  41. Cuibono

    Forbes on Ab and Immunity seems like a silly article and/or a silly statement from WHO

    of course we cant know if there will be long term immunity? How could we possibly know that given we are only 4 months into this mess? we do seem to know that with Sars there is immunity last 18 months or so..

  42. eyebear

    Re: “Antibody study suggests…”

    Here in Germany a test of tests revealed that the antibody test fail in the area of 4 to 5% detecting covid-19. The only way to be sure is a PCR-Test. Almost all antibody test are positve for some kind of corona virus.

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