Links 4/19/2020

Dear readers: Comments liberation may be delayed today, until Yves or Lambert has the chance to review comments that have triggered tripwires. Please be patient. Thanks!

Home birds: how to spot 20 of the most common species from your window, walk or garden Guardian

Solar Winds Hitting Earth Are Hotter Than They Should Be, And We May Finally Know Why Science Alert (The Rev Kev))

Why We Should Love The Post Office American Conservative

Postal Workers Union Leader Warns the USPS Could Be Dead in Three Months TruthOut

Indian govt advisory says avoid using Zoom: Why and what to do if you HAVE to use Zoom India Today




Hacking against corporations surges as people work from home Al Jazeera

The city in a time of plague Asia Times. Pepe Escobar

New normals, new norms TLS

Staying Angry London Review of Books

What if back to normal is never? Leaders in arts and entertainment are feeling increasingly pessimistic Chicago Tribune

The Coronavirus in America: The Year Ahead NYT (The Rev Kev)

Up to 4% of Silicon Valley is already infected with coronavirus MIT Technology Review (David L).

Marines Must Innovate to Defeat New Threats vs. F*ck Social Distancing, You’re Getting a Haircut Duffelblog


Malaria drugs fail to help coronavirus patients in controlled studies LA Times

Delayed clearance of SARS-CoV2 in male compared to female patients: High ACE2 expression in testes suggests possible existence of gender-specific viral reservoirs medRxiv (preprint, not yet peer reviewed)

Boston ER doctor reports an alarming trend of COVID-19 patients returning to hospital ‘sicker’ and in need of a ventilator Business Insider (The Rev Kev)

World View: Politicians must not hide behind scientists Irish Times (Plutonium Kun). Important.

Coronavirus and the Future of Telemedicine Wired

Contamination at CDC lab delayed rollout of coronavirus tests WaPo. Important.

New Jersey cops find 17 bodies stuffed inside tiny nursing home morgue NY Post. Jerri-Lynn here: This happened in Andover, a small NJ town next to Green Township, where I grew up.


Guardians of Global Economy Come Up Short in Fight Against Virus Bloomberg

Political Response

Miami Congresswoman Donna Shalala named to $2 trillion stimulus oversight commission Miami Herald.

Poll Shows Majority of Americans Support Canceling Rent and Suspending Mortgage Payments During Pandemic Common Dreams. Sensible, but good luck with that.

Will Big Pharma Fleece Us On A COVID Treatment That We Helped Fund? Too Much Information. David Sirota.

Nearly 20 Republican lawmakers are considering returning to DC next week in defiance of recess extended to May Business Insider (The Rev Kev)

Class Warfare

Pathetic Minimum-Wage Worker Devastated About Losing Job That Only Paid Couple Hundred Dollars A Week Anyway The Onion

The Dreaded Stealth Layoff Rears Its Ugly Head Above the Law


Brexit: The transition, the extension and the pandemic RTE (Plutonium Kun) Tony Connelly

‘The People Have Spoken. Bastards’: Leaked Labour Report Shows Party’s Own Senior Staff Acted To Keep Corbyn Out Of Power Media Lens

Coronavirus: 38 days when Britain sleepwalked into disaster Sunday Times (Col. Smithers)

Bon Dylan – Everything is Broken Worth 4 minutes of your time this Sunday – for the apt lyrics alone.


Coronavirus: Spanish PM promises to ease confinement of children BBC

 Le gouvernement français a peut-être déjà perdu la bataille de la confiance Le Monde


At a station with no trains, locked-down strangers wait weeks with no way out WaPo

What the world can learn from Kerala about how to fight covid-19 MIT Technology Review. Kerala is the state with the best health care in India, a legacy of left-wing governments.

Walling off China: India changes FDI policy to block threat of takeovers Times of India

Can coronavirus crisis change Indian science for good? Economic Times

Hong Kong

No need for lockdown: pandemic restrictions plus citizens’ response helped Hong Kong keep Covid-19 at bay, says HKU study SCMP (David L)


At Large: New compliance era as ‘Made in China’ becomes ‘Made Elsewhere’ FCPA Bog


‘Strange times’: Iranians cautious as coronavirus measures eased Al Jazeera

Imperial Collapse Watch

We Could Sue Beijing, But Careful America What You Wish For American Conservative

Our response to the coronavirus demonstrates how far America has careened off track Boston Globe (chuck l)

Julian Assange

CIA Spying on Assange’s Privileged Legal Conversations Craig Murray


An Open Letter from SDS Veterans Haranguing Young Socialists to Back Biden Was a Bad Idea Jacobin

Antidote du Jour. WB: “Flicker smacked my window and knocked itself silly.”:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Wukchumni

    I wasted a hour and a half watching Trump’s Covid presser yesterday, and all he really wants to do is tear our country apart-and is doing a fine job in that regard. It was akin to watching a slow motion head-on crash between a couple of cars in theory on different sides of the road.

    In contrast, watch this 11 minute presser from yesterday of NZ PM Jacinda Ardern and Dr. Ashley Bloomfield. It is full of hope, honesty, transparency and a ‘we’re all in this together’ feel that is so reassuring in these times.

    Oh, and this is what NZ has done in terms of real estate:

    The move from Alert Level 4 to Alert Level 3 will hopefully give the housing market more certainty about its future. For renters and landlords, there are still a lot of unknowns that need to be worked out.

    The Government has banned any increases to rent prices for the next six months, and put in measures that prevent evictions in all but the most extreme circumstances.

    Banks are providing payment deferral for owner-occupier mortgages but mortgage relief for rental properties isn’t universal.

    1. Wukchumni


      A missive from a friend in Auckland:

      “Things are not bad – pretty sick of lock down but tomorrow they’ll announce it we go down to level 3 on Thursday which would be a big relief. It’s very strict although the police take a pretty good humoured approach, and you can’t really go anywhere unless you like hanging out at supermarkets. Someone got a month in jail after their sixth breach. I think I can run the business ok under level 3 rules.

      I wouldn’t say people are big on being told what to do here but most have the sense to realise that the government’s not the enemy in this. It’s times like these when a benevolent welfare state shows it can sometimes work fairly equitably although it will eternally be a battle to offer enough to those who’ve hit rock bottom without making it an appealing lifestyle option.

      Homelessness used to be pretty much invisible here (when I was a kid begging was completely unknown – never saw a single case till I went to Sydney in 1976 where I was shocked to see people lying in the gutter). More now but apparently very mild compared with the SF’s of this world.

      If business owners can show that their turnover for one month is over 30% down on the same month last year, you get about $575 for each fulltime employee and $350 for each part timer (20 hours or less a week) x 12 weeks worth. That includes self employed. I wasn’t going to bother applying but my wife said we should so I did – got about $11000 within about a week or so. If you applied early enough, apparently the money came through within hours. Don’t envy some federal system here at present – it’s like the same old excuse that big companies make for their incompetence – sooo big…soo busy…sooo many customers! One would presume that with all those resources and momentum they’d be hyper efficient at churning out those $1200 cheques?

      Even if they did, how long would that last anyway? I was reading a thread on City Data where someone asked whether a job offer of 125K in San Francisco was worth accepting. Almost to a man their fellow bloggers said ‘forget it’.

      What’s the beef with socialism there? (which they already have anyway when it suits them) I would have thought the death toll in something like the Vietnam war was highly socialised. I understand the law of the jungle but doesn’t that only work if there’s some way of limiting the numbers of the little guys?”

      1. Jeotsu

        Another NZ observation – asymptomatic cases.

        The R0 is now down to about 0.5. They are running ~4,000 tests per day. In the wellington region it is about 400 tests/day, and they are getting about 1 hit every 2 or 3 days. Which is good news. They have started wider community testing to look for the asymptomatic cases which get much international press. This means testing people the next “layer” out around known case clusters, and also doing random population samples (like the 300 random shoppers in a Queenstown supermarket). But they’re not picking up asymptomatic cases (yet).

        I wonder if man of those “asymptomatic” cases are really just pre-symptomatic? If you are getting runaway growth with doubling times measured in days, coupled with an average of 5-days until symptoms present, then if you start testing high-risk people without symptoms of course you’ll find positives!

        I’m not saying that asymptomatic cases don’t exists. They might. But it would be good news if the sampling method we’re using is causing a data artefact that makes them look more prevalent.

        And incidentally, my bet for the drawdown of Level 4 in NZ is that it will continue until next Tuesday — After the Anzac day long weekend. You don’t want to tempt people to travel, especially given that level three is still going to be pretty restrictive.

      2. Procopius

        If the IRS already had your banking info, which only happened if you got a refund in 2019 or this year, they were incredibly efficient. I got my funds last week. If you didn’t get a refund last year or this year you had to find out that you needed to send that information to the IRS. If you don’t have a bank account, which is the case with a lot of low income people, it’s going to take a long time, and then you’re going to have to give up a chunk of it to a check cashing place, since banks won’t cash them. Will Senators or Congress people realize the problem poor people have? Probably not. Homeless people don’t even have a place the IRS can send a check to. The states mostly have obsolete computer systems and even more obsolete software, so they are even worse positioned. However, this is what the people with influence wanted, just like Florida’s unemployment compensation system. I’d like to drag Ralph Norquist into the bathroom and hold him underwater in the bathtub until he realizes what he’s done to us.

        1. JBird4049

          Hate to tell you, but Grover “taxation is theft” Norquist would probably considered himself as being Martyr’d for The Randian Cause (Not that I know that he identifies as an Objectivist, but he acts like one.) I think of him as Howard Jarvis’ evil godchild.

    2. xkeyscored

      When has The Don ever been full of hope, honesty, or transparency? ‘The Art of the Deal’ seems to be saying the latter two are for losers, though I’ve only skimmed it.
      As for ‘we’re all in this together’, that directly contradicts his ‘America First’ thing., let alone what we suspect his real attitude may be.

      1. Mary Stromquist

        ….Tony Schwartz, who actually wrote “Art….” after following the Bozo around for 18 months….donates his exceedingly large portion of the sales (Bozo paid astronomically more than the going ghostwriter’s rate, per Schwarts)….. The book is worthless in terms of insight…

        Look for Wayne Barrett’s books or Tim O’Brien’s. Both did brilliant jobs….Barrett covered Bozo during the earlier years. O’Brien, who then worked for the NYT, was sued by Trump. Trump lost. O’Brien is one of the few living citizens who’s glimpsed a Trump tax return…….and is court-ordered not to reveal the details.

    3. TroyIA

      I wasted a hour and a half watching Trump’s Covid presser yesterday

      Thanks for taking one for the team.

        1. Wukchumni

          I chose the word ‘incredible’ and had to stop drinking shots about 3 minutes into the gig, as I was well and truly plastered.

            1. Wukchumni

              The truth being that I inherited my father’s drinking genes. It might take him 2 months to drink that 6 pack of beer in the fridge.

              I remember a bottle of rum with an excise stamp on it from 1964, that was still half full in the 90’s, ha!

        2. griffen

          Drink til all the girls are pretty. Or in this instance, drink until he starts to sound sensible ?

          You’ll know when to stop!

    4. Stephen V.

      Sorry, I need backup: can’t remember where I saw this. What makes perfect economic sense (no evictions, rent relief, etc.), is highly problematic legally in Amurika. Sometime about 5th Amendment “takings” and property rahts, as we say in the South.

      1. marym

        Some proposals* include funding for rental assistance to renters directly, or to states/localities.

        * From voices in the wilderness like Sanders, and the CPC, but they give some indication of the mechanism.

      2. JTMcPhee

        Well established that proppity rahts are subject to exercise of government power to serve public interests. Obviously, since the Monoparty has once again “taken” trillions out of the present and future wealth of citizens to give most to a few and tidbits to many.

        Often used abusively, by the Monoparty at all levels, but the jurisprudence is clear in its Constitutional roots.

        Not that in reality there is much vigor remaining in that document. “Sovereign citizens” who sqwauk about proppity rahts are right up front in denying anyone else’s rights, ask Bundy how that works.

        Government is not doing what it ought in terms of fair and just use of its “police power,” but the remedy is not just protection of proppity rahts (though that is one pole of what the Constitution addressed,) it’s about promoting the general welfare,”

      3. Paradan

        Can’t take property without providing fair compensation. Unless your a cop, and then you just claim that the property is being used for/or profits from drug trafficking. Since cops don’t lie there’s no reason to bother with a hearing or trial.

        There is an actual federal law that says just talking about taking property without compensation can get you up to 20 years. Not planning, not conspiring, just having a chat.

        Freedom right?

        1. HotFlash

          Hmmm. When England abolished slavery, slaveowners were compensated for the loss of their property. Perhaps the framers of the Constitution were not so much worried about land?

          1. JBird4049

            The reason for the American South political power was its vast wealth in “property.” It use its wealth to politically control the country and maintain the peculiar institution. It went from the wealthiest to the poorest.

            The Haitian government had to pay the French for the loss of their property, which was the Haitians themselves. IIRC, the last installment was just after the Second World War and those payments are the principal reasons for why the island of Hispaniola is split between the well forested Dominican Republic and deforested Haiti. The Haitians had to find something to pay for the blackmail as the French navy would blockade (again) if the payments were not made. Liberté, égalité, fraternité my foot.

            1. JBird4049

              I forgot to ask if anything of the South, and the United States, and Haiti and France with the general American nation and its conflict with ruling political economy of the United States?

              The South succeeded when the Slavocracy realized that they had started to increasingly lose control of the political economy of the Republic including socially. Starting a civil war seemed worthwhile especially as King Cotton almost spoke loud enough for the British and French to recognize and give aid to the Confederate States.

              The French elites had enough power to get the French government to blockade a foreign country in to odiously blackmail it much like how the United States has repeatedly destroyed the governments and economies of most of the Americas for its elites benefit.

              The economic and political elites of the United States have the resources including propaganda and armed repression to maintain control. So far.

              You could probably make an honest, well reasoned case either way for rent, mortgage, and debt holidays or cancellations are, or are not, legal or just, but just as the police use asset forfeiture laws steal seize more property, including cash money, without trial or even charges than burglars do every year, I think what might ultimately be adjudicated will depend more on the amount of greed and fear than justice, ethics, or morality.

        2. Pat

          Who is taking their property? They still own it, they just are not allowed to collect rent or mortgage payments on it for a period of time. Similar to other things they aren’t allowed to do on their property by law. Perhaps they could just enact an 250% tax (no deductions allowed) on any rent or mortgage payments collected.

          Just saying.

      4. John Beech

        Some questions (the Socratic method).

        1. How do you differentiate between a widow renting a home and relying on the rent for her existence, and a hedge fund owning thousands of homes and renting them and relying on the rent income for their existence?

        2. And should we even try to make this distinction?

        3. Am I to understand that renting is bad?

        4. How about we don’t allow renting at all?

        5. Then what, e.g. where do people live who haven’t means (discipline, ability, foresight, whatever) to make a down payment for a home?

        Anyway, if you’re going to take the position that a widow has no right to receive her rental income as part of making it impossible for a hedge fund to buy and rent properties, then go for it. I’m curious how this works out.

        1. D. Fuller

          Hedge funds and the likes of Blackrock own untold amounts of homes. They only trade between themselves and other privileged entities, the homes. Thus keeping the homes off the market and housing prices inflated. This was noted a few years ago. There is a housing market for you, and a housing market for them. Just like how The Fed bailed out banks yet banks kept the much of money at The Fed, preventing hyperinflation. A banking system for banks and their friends, and a banking system for the proles. Courts? Accused of sexual assault? Proles go to jail. Rich pay off their accusers (Bloomberg, Trump, Clinton) and have accusers sign NDA’s or the accusers are simply ignored (as is the case with Biden). Corporation convicted of manslaughter? Go to jail? No, pay fine and settlements amounting to a percentage of the profits.

          America is truly segregated between the privileged and the proles. From airport check-in lines to housing market to banking to justice. There are two America’s. The decoupling of the two into two completely seperate markets/systems has not happened and probably could not be achieved. As both are too closely intertwined. However, a certain amount of segregation resulting in how society treats issues, has occured.

          1. Brooklin Bridge

            Well said, but I suspect Mr. Beech can’t read English when it’s in Greek. He may not even be aware – that is, able to actually “see” – that you responded.

            Aspects are his measure and concepts that don’t hew in aspect to his decorative and self laudatory veneer of meritocracy, ” (discipline, ability, foresight),” must be permanently swept under the “whatever” rug where it’s all Greek to he.

        2. JBird4049

          Honestly, I really am not sure what is a good way to keep those mom-and-pop rental whole. It is very real concern.

          Do you consider the 150,000 homeless Californians and the thousands of unoccupied rentals in California also a concern? Don’t forget that perhaps thousands of Californians have, or had I should say, full time jobs. Although the employed tend to live in their vehicles.

        3. No it was not, apparently

          John Beech, our very own proper republican has some questions for us, gladly we answer:

          1. How do you differentiate […]?

          We don’t.

          2. And should we even […]?

          No, we should not.

          3. Am I to understand that renting is bad?


          4. How about we don’t allow renting at all?


          5. Then what, e.g. where do people live […]?

          In a municipal (or state, or federal) government provided public housing projects, like the majority of people worldwide.

          I’m curious how this works out.

          In general, private enterprise of any kind is undesirable (government can always act as the primary material capitalist, in fact, it is way more efficient than any private effort, unless sabotaged by infiltrated libertarians), but when it comes to services it is directly criminal in its effect and indeed should be criminalized.

          Of course, you need a government willing to perform its duties in the first place and you guys haven’t got one.

          Plus, you don’t like socialism anyway, so there…

          It works out as a failed state, and you’ve got one. Happy?

      5. D. Fuller

        Allow the claiming on losses (loss of rent receipts, etc) from next years taxes and allow them to carry over (like in section 2203 of The CARES Act).

        Reducing taxes. The Right should go for that.

        If there is going to be a rent holiday, the landlords (not slum lords) should get something to.

    5. R

      As a kiwi, currently in NZ, but having lived most of the last decade in the USA, I must say I’m happy to be here right now.

      Jacinda is getting a lot of deserved praise, but one thing that nags me…

      What she has done is essentially a very effective technocratic response to the crisis, public health has been protected (great!) and economic aid has been delivered in such a way to least disrupt the status quo.

      No ‘rent holidays’, the mortgage holiday also doesn’t freeze interest – it just piles your payments and interest into the later part of the mortgage. So nothing to plant any ideas that might threaten our banking sector / asset class.

      No taste of basic income either… all the relief is paid through employers as an incentive to not lay people off (although they do let self employed people apply directly).

      To be fair, picking up from as close as possible to where we left off after the crisis is probably what most people in the country want.

      A more ideologically rooted left government might have seen this crisis as an opportunity to attack some of the problems in our economy (we do have some! Most notably an out of control over inflated housing market, and a grotesque upper middle class rentier culture..)

      But what the labor government has delivered pitch perfect centrism with a compassionate tone.

      Obama like defenders of the neoliberal status quo should take note, this is how it’s done!

  2. Bill Smith

    “Up to 4% of Silicon Valley is already infected with coronavirus”

    What is the takeaway on this?

    Likely infected in the US : between 50 * 700,000 confirmed cases and 85 * 700,000 confirmed cases.
    Between 35 million and 60 million?

    The US needs to do widespread random testing to figure it out?

    1. griffen

      I’m not an doctor and I’ve not played one on TV. That study needs a quick and thorough debunking , preferably someone qualified.

      3300 people who likely self selected based on Facebook ads, and could meet the criteria for driving through a few tents just doesn’t scratch the statistical significance. Just possibly too much extrapolation.

      It was being mildly debunked yesterday as well.

      1. lb

        I posted yesterday in response to this study. I don’t think we want its claims becoming conventional wisdom as the study itself had some notably flaws (see the bottom of the article linked today) and its analysis and conclusions can be questioned from quite a few angles. The debunking wasn’t really mild, it was just overly polite. Here’s what I wrote, with the same link:

        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.

        I chose Bedford because he’s been pretty good at explaining things since I first found his coverage of community spread analysis via genetic sequencing and pattern analysis of COVID cases. The other analyses I’ve read elsewhere have been much, much harsher. The authors seem more dedicated to their hypothesis and media exposure of their theories than rigorous scientific analysis and accuracy. Their various choices all bend in the direction of proving higher prevalence, and they know a subset of people want to hear high prevalence and low death rates.

        I think this sort of response needs to be given (and harsher) as this paper’s authors do the media rounds and the press fawns, daily repeating its conclusion. This feels like a concerted effort to gaslight and there are many motivated parties.

          1. lb

            Actually, it was members of the community, per this:

            To help with the effort, the Stanford team quickly raised funds for the two-day survey, appealing to residents to donate through the university’s online portal.

            If I were one of those donors, I’d be miffed about how my money was spent on a survey biased from day zero.

          2. Monty

            From the Hoover Institution, a few weeks ago. *thinking emoji*
            Questioning Conventional Wisdom in the COVID-19 Crisis, with Dr. Jay Bhattacharya

            The study:
            COVID-19 Antibody Seroprevalence in Santa Clara County, California
            Eran Bendavid, Bianca Mulaney, Neeraj Sood, Soleil Shah, Emilia Ling, Rebecca Bromley-Dulfano, Cara Lai, Zoe Weissberg, Rodrigo Saavedra, James Tedrow, Dona Tversky, Andrew Bogan, Thomas Kupiec, Daniel Eichner, Ribhav Gupta, John Ioannidis, Jay Bhattacharya

            1. chuck roast

              IOTO that even a blind pig will turn up an acorn on occasion…but it’s still a blind pig. Any acorns on the forest floor are probably not in danger of being found by the Hoover Institution. Ignore…and have another drink.

    2. Anonymous 2

      The COVID 19 Zoe people suggest that up to 3 million in the UK have contracted COVID since the epidemic began. That is about 4.5% of the population. This is based on self reporting by people helping the project (about 2.5 million participants).

      If that is a benchmark then maybe 15 million max in the US?

      This does not include asymptomatic cases but then who really knows how many of them there have been?

      1. Monty

        Here is a peer reviewing the Stanford study:

        Skeptical of the conclusion because:
        – test may have high false positive rate
        – sample may be enriched for COVID-19
        – study implies faster spread than past pandemics

        The manufacturer of antibody test has a false positive rate high enough to negate the overall non adjusted test results.

        They asked people if they had been feeling ill in the recruitment ad. Could this have allowed them to skew the sample towards more sick people?

        If you wonder “why would they be less than honest”. Look up one of the authors, Jay Bhattacharya, on youtube and see what he has been saying since February. The study he worked on ‘proves’ the hypothesis he was sharing all along. Could he have fallen prey to the desk drawer effect and included more potentially sick people, so he didnt end up with egg on his face?

        Hard to say anything for sure, the study might be correct, or it could be wrong.

        It is interesting to see so many people running with the ball on the 50-85x conclusion as a proven fact, with no provisos at all.

    3. eyebear

      No. As I’ve written yesterday – any Tests regarding antibodies have a failure rate at 4%. What was the outcome? 4%. Dump this study into the next garbage bin.

      The only reliable test technique in the moment – as of 19.04.2020 – is a PCR test.

      We’ve had 4 Corona-Viruses in our ‘herd’ – mankind – and those antibody tests catch the wrong part of the protein they are searching for – if someone manages to find the right part of this proteins, those test will work. But not now.

    1. fajensen

      We use Zoom. Nothing what is said at our meetings is of a sufficient value to bother with any of the tedious security ‘precautions’. In fact: A bit of tranny-pr0n injected into the proceeding would lighten the mood!

      Corona is revealing a lot of things that were known, but not yet known to be known.

  3. John A

    I was going to suggest a link to the Times about the lack of government preparedness in England, but Col Smithers beat me to it. Well worth reading. Anyone who has followed Boris Johnson’s career in any detail, will recognise his (in)actions.

  4. Bugs Bunny

    “What the world can learn from Kerala about how to fight covid-19”

    Anecdotal – In around 2016 I had to go to hospital in a little town between Kochi and Trivandrum. Public hospital. The waiting room was clean, a few couples waiting with me the only Westerner. They sent an English-speaking doctor to see me within about 15 minutes. I told him that I was very sick and wondered if I’d maybe caught dengue or an ameoba. I was examined by another doctor and given a prescription for what turned out to be a really bad case of food poisoning. Total bill was about 15$ including the medicine and I felt better by the next morning. It was a revelation. I’m not sure if a citizen would have had to pay. I remember the pharmacy struggling to find a price for me to pay for the pills. Also, I highly recommend Indian probiotics if you ever need them post antibiotic treatment. Amazing.

  5. Steve H.

    > An Open Letter from SDS Veterans Haranguing Young Socialists to Back Biden Was a Bad Idea Jacobin

    : If there’s one political cause that really can’t wait until 2024 or 2028, it’s the climate crisis.

    There’s still a half-year until the next election. That’s a very long time, these days.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      “Bad idea” or abject capitulation?”

      I read the letter which begins with December 23, 1776 Thomas Paine quote.

      Considering the trajectory of the democrat party over the last three decades, culminating this election cycle in one of its most consistent villains, deep in his dotage, being elevated to standard bearer, I think this Frederick Douglass quote is far more appropriate:

      “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”

      Hey, grandpa, I don’t think the “D” in SDS was meant to be taken literally.

    2. chuck roast

      Bernie’s delegates at the Dem convention should all walk out, find a venue and set up a new party…and find a new candidate. That’s pretty democratic.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Or they can just go to the Green Party convention. Why reinvent the wheel?

        “The Wayne County Green Party and Detroit Green Party will be the hosts for next years’ convention, which will take place July 9 – July 12, 2020.

        The convention will be held on the campus of Wayne State University, located along historic Woodward Avenue and just north of the city’s waterfront.”

        From the website,

        Of course, that’s assuming that large gatherings are possible in Detroit at that point. I hope someone is planning for a virtual convention. Would certainly save a lot of travel, but it’s hard to imagine.

        1. John Anthony La Pietra

          I’m not personally involved in the re-planning for meeting virtually, but I can confirm it’s being done.

    3. Tomonthebeach

      The SDS letter makes it patently clear that the DNC is the SDS – they just got old and over-invested in Wall Street. They are the college elites the right despise about Democrats.

      You do not get change by going back to the bad old Biden Days. We need a 2nd party, Damnit! in order to blunt the GOPDNC party.

  6. Wukchumni

    Quite apt for these times Bob Dylan ditty:

    Things Have Changed

    A worried man with a worried mind
    No one in front of me and nothing behind
    There’s a woman on my lap and she’s drinking champagne
    Got white skin, got assassin’s eyes
    I’m looking up into the sapphire tinted skies
    I’m well dressed, waiting on the last train

    Standing on the gallows with my head in a noose
    Any minute now I’m expecting all hell to break loose

    People are crazy and times are strange
    I’m locked in tight, I’m out of range
    I used to care, but things have changed

    I’ve been walking forty miles of bad road
    If the bible is right, the world will explode
    I’ve been trying to get as far away from myself as I can
    Some things are too hot to touch
    The human mind can only stand so much
    You can’t win with a losing hand

      1. RWood

        CIA skullduggery is legendary from overthrowing governments to germ warfare to assassinations but its MK-Ultra program may be at the top of the list. MK-Ultra was the code name for the top-secret CIA project in which the Agency conducted hundreds of clandestine experiments, often on unwitting people, to assess the potential use of LSD and other drugs for mind control and psychological torture. MK-ULTRA, was essentially a continuation of experiments that began in Japanese and German concentration camps. Not only was it roughly based on those experiments, but the CIA actually hired the war criminals to share their “research” as to what techniques were effective and what were not. It’s a dark page in U.S. history. The godfather of the whole operation was the largely unknown Sydney Gottlieb. He was sometimes called the CIA’s “poisoner in chief.”

        1. Oh

          Yes,, so true and the US breathed new life into the war criminals in Japan who then formed the LDP (Liberal Democratic Party) and have “governed” Japan for the major portion of the post WWII era.

    1. curlydan

      And if you like Dylan’s “Everything is Broken”, check out R.L. Burnside’s cover. I think I remember Dylan called it “legitimate.”

      And maybe these lines from Dylan’s “Highlands” apply today as well, especially in yesterday’s #Demexit column:

      I’m crossing the street to get away from a mangy dog
      Talkin’ to myself in a monologue
      I think what I need might be a full length leather coat
      Somebody just asked me if I’ve registered to vote.

      The sun is beginnin’ to shine on me
      But it’s not like the sun that used to be
      The party’s over and there’s less and less to say
      I got new eyes, everything looks far away.

      Well, my heart’s in the highlands at the break of day
      Over the hills and far away
      There’s a way to get there and I’ll figure it out somehow
      Well, I’m already there in my mind, and that’s good enough for now.

  7. xkeyscored

    Will Big Pharma Fleece Us On A COVID Treatment That We Helped Fund?

    This looks like a problem for the USA. Elsewhere, China’s BrightGene has succeeded in making remdesivir, while Indian generics manufacturers are in negotiations with Gilead, the patent holder, for permission to do so.

  8. John

    Suppose that the wildest conspiracy you can conjure is reality. How does it change the situation of the moment? Do howls for retribution produce a vaccine or even a palliative?
    Does all the bellowing, bleating, blustering, and blaming actually accomplish anything to lessen the impact of the disease? We all know the answer to that, but those who think in terms of political advantage only are incapable of getting out of the rut in which they exist.

    The best route to political advantage is do your damn job. Try it see what happens.

  9. zagonostra

    >Bob Dylan – Everything is Broken

    Yes indeed, Dylan has a song that covers just about everything. Might be more apropos to quote from “Slow train coming” since it seems to have arrived in the form of the COVID-19 Express.

    Man’s ego is inflated, his laws are outdated, they don’t apply no more
    You can’t rely no more to be standin’ around waitin’
    In the home of the brave, Jefferson turnin’ over in his grave
    Fools glorifying themselves, trying to manipulate Satan
    And there’s a slow, slow train comin’ up around the bend

    People starving and thirsting, grain elevators are bursting
    Oh, you know it costs more to store the food than it do to give it
    They say lose your inhibitions, follow your own ambitions
    They talk about a life of brotherly love
    Show me someone who knows how to live it
    There’s a slow, slow train comin’ up around the bend

    1. Pelham

      Yes. And I’ve played the Dylan track five times now, very greatful for the link. Great stuff. I’m doubly glad now I saw him on the last concert tour, a magnificent performance.

      1. Cynthia

        Faye Dunaway mentioned on TCM the other day that she regards Bob Dylan as the finest artist of the twentieth century. Apparently, I think quite differently about such things. I have a hard enough time deciding who the finest singer/songwriter is of the twentieth century, so it is even harder for me to decide who the finest artist of the twentieth century. Let me just say that I, like most, regard Bob Dylan as one of the finest of the singer/songwriter of the twentieth century and leave at that.

        Then again, how my opinions differ from Faye Dunaway’s with regards to art and artists perhaps has something to do with me not being much of a fan of hers, nor any of the films she was in. About the only film that she was in that I particularly liked was The Thomas Crown Affair (1968). However, that’s mostly due to the fact that Steve McQueen was in it as well. He really was the King of Cool, second only to Robert Mitchum, no doubt.

  10. xkeyscored

    Coronavirus: 38 days when Britain sleepwalked into disaster Sunday Times

    An excellent timeline of who knew what and when in the UK, and what was and wasn’t done. This was interesting and new to me:
    “The interesting thing for me is, I’ve worked with Singapore in 2003 and 2009 and basically they copied the UK pandemic preparedness plan. But the difference is they actually implemented it.”

    A wee bit of China bashing: “China at first claimed the virus could not be transmitted from human to human,” which sounds dubious – did they? Later in the article, “In early January a lot of my global health colleagues and I were kind of discussing ‘What’s going on?’” she recalled. “China still hadn’t confirmed the virus was human to human,” which is more in line with how I recall events.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      That ST article is getting a lot of traction, I’ve had a few people forward it to me, its a pity its behind a paywall.

      As to the China issue, yes, nearly every reliable source I’ve seen says that China was denying to WHO human to human transmission for several weeks after it was apparent that it was at least very likely. Taiwan claims to have told the WHO first (on 31st December), but WHO denies this.

      1. xkeyscored

        I don’t see how Taiwan could have known by December 31, though they had reason to suspect, and did. China may have dragged its feet over confirming human to human transmission, but when did they find out for sure, and did they ever deny it? For quite a while, they (officially at least) thought it possible, if not probable, that it was spreading from animals at the Wuhan wet market, and perhaps from severely ill patients to their medical workers (which wouldn’t necessarily mean it could go pandemic, as most of us don’t intubate severely ill patients and so on).

        This is less than clear, but seems to say the same:
        Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokeswoman Hua Chunying (華春瑩) posted a tweet on Saturday (March 21) claiming that the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission had issued a notice about the COVID-19 outbreak on Dec. 31. However, in reality, the notice stated it “had not found any obvious human-to-human transmission.”

        When asked to comment on the exchange between Ortagus and Hua on Tuesday, Department of International Organizations Director-General Bob Chen (陳龍錦) said that as cases of a SARS-like illness were being reported in Wuhan at the end of last year, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) immediately contacted the WHO’s International Health Regulation (IHR) focal point, as well as its Chinese counterparts, on Dec. 31, reported Liberty Times.

        The CDC had asked the WHO to verify reports that there had been evidence of human-to-human transmission of the mysterious new illness. In addition, Chen said that MOFA’s representative office in Geneva, Switzerland, had also immediately requested that the WHO secretariat provide confirmation of the infectious nature of the disease.

        And from the FT:
        Health officials in Taipei said they alerted the WHO at the end of December about the risk of human-to-human transmission of the new virus but said its concerns were not passed on to other countries.

        Taiwan said its doctors had heard from mainland colleagues that medical staff were getting ill — a sign of human-to-human transmission.

        Does warning of a risk equate with knowing for a fact, or not confirming with denying? I’d be interested to see a reliable source stating that China knew but denied significant h-to-h transmission was occurring.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Doctors in Wuhan believed by the 30th December that they were dealing with SARs, or a variant, and that it was highly contagious – this was spread on the notorious WeChat thread which had several doctors, including Li Wenliang, arrested and threatened by police. Its very difficult to believe that they would have acted so aggressively against medical staff if they didn’t believe this was SARs or SARs related. There had been earlier reports in local news that medical staff had fallen ill (this was before the censors slammed down). The Taiwanese keep a very close eye on things in China, especially relating to disease, so there is no reason to disbelieve that they were not very concerned even before Jan 1st. They have stated that they inferred that there was human to human contract from their medical contacts and available evidence of how the patients were been treated.

          So of course you can’t say the Chinese ‘knew’ it was contagious between humans, but they certainly suspected it.

          1. xkeyscored

            Thanks for those links, you and others, but that’s exactly what I’m saying. They may have suspected, as did Taiwan and the WHO, but they probably didn’t know and they didn’t deny; rather, they didn’t confirm.

            I keep quibbling this point because there are those who’d like to make China the scapegoat in all this. My view is that with hindsight, they could have done things a bit differently, but how many countries would have done things any better? Taiwan, South Korea, etc – quite likely, but most certainly not the USA, from where the loudest “Blame China” calls are emanating. Their response, like the UK’s, has been abysmal, despite all the warnings, and they’d surely have been aware of Taiwan’s and Dr Li Wenliang’s, for instance, along with much before that of which we mere mortals know rather less.

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              Shutting down the Lunar New Year seems like the big misstep from a goal of flattening the curve, but given the asymptomatic and incubation periods, the genie was out of the bottle.

              I can’t even imagine what would have happened if Easter was March 22nd (the earliest RCC date; do the Orthodox do it differently?). Trump had his big Easter date, but imagine the calls with Easter to stay open. ..yeesh. I can certainly see Beijing,which I don’t consider to be enlightened to plan for this kind of thing, would have reacted.

            2. PlutoniumKun

              When dealing with something like this, there is no functional difference between ‘knowing’ and ‘suspecting’. Doctors on the ground were saying there was something very bad brewing, and it looked like SARS. By the time you wait for some sort of scientific proof of human to human transmission, by definition its too late, its already within the population.

              China has no excuse with this. It screwed up with SARS1, and supposedly learned its lessons. It didn’t. It arrested doctors who tried to raise the alarm and refused to shut down the immediate area around the market. It lost a crucial 2-3 weeks when the disease could possibly have been controlled. This isn’t supposition, its simple facts based on known, public knowledge.

              1. xkeyscored

                That’s all true, but words like lying and denying are what I’m uncomfortable with. I don’t think they’re accurate, and they’ll only engender pushback from China.

                Also, you talk of 2-3 weeks when the disease could possibly have been controlled. I’d emphasise the ‘possibly’. We now know (strongly suspect?) there are many asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic carriers of this virus. By early January, it may already have spread far and wide in China and perhaps beyond. Possibly still controllable, possibly out of control.

                I don’t wish to defend China’s response, but equally I don’t think it’s helpful to exaggerate their failures. Trump and others will do that without our help. Their doctors said it looked like SARS, which, nasty as it was, was nothing like this. Crying ‘Pandemic!’ whenever a new virus rears its head soon wears out.

                1. Monty

                  Have you ever seen the HBO drama, “Chernobyl”? In that story, the catastrophe is amplified by the ‘lower downs’ minimizing the problems, because they didn’t want to get in trouble from the higher ups.

                  Was “China” making nefarious top down decisions? Or were a lot of clueless, officious people trying to do / keep their jobs. Sweeping it under the rug so they didn’t look bad, until the truth emerged and “China” acted?

                  1. PlutoniumKun

                    The problem with China is that it does not have a very clear line of command from top to bottom. What tends to happen is that Beijing makes generalised gnomic comments like ‘we want to see capitalism with Chinese characteristics’, and lets lower levels of the administration interpret it as it wants. It then sees who is successful and who is not. Those how have badly misinterpreted the ‘instructions’ lose out, those who have done well get rewarded either with promotions, or a blind eye turned to ambiguous forms of corruption (I say ambiguous, because the way China works its not always clear, even to insiders, what constitutes where the boundaries are between ‘just rewards’ and ‘corruption’).

                    The problem with this system is that when the government says something like ‘we must achieve 8.5% growth this year at all costs’, then many local government officials interpret it to mean ‘remember all that stuff we were told last year about the environment and public health? Forget it’. That may not necessarily have been what Beijing meant, but that’s what some think it means.

                    So its very difficult in these circumstances to know whether officials who were slow to react were incompetent, following orders, or just confused by conflicting messages from above as to what they were to do. Most likely they felt that this years priority was growth, and so they fatally made the decision that it would be better to take the risk that this was another bird flu, i.e. a more or less false alarm, so their instinct was to clamp down on information and stop those annoying doctors from talking about it. They may well have seen it as a calculated risk that went wrong, not necessarily a bad act. Whether they get punished for it or not really depends on who is in or out of favour with Xi at present.

                    1. Monty

                      Yes, that sounds like every company I have ever worked in too!

                      I don’t think there was any moustache twiddling going on, do you?

                  2. xkeyscored

                    Was “China” making nefarious top down decisions? Or were a lot of clueless, officious people trying to do / keep their jobs.

                    A fair bit of both would be my guess.

                2. Fraibert

                  I think it’s a fair description in this case to use words such as “lying” and “denying,” though for politic reasons it may be useful to avoid invoking them.

                  My view is heavily influenced by the now infamous tweet by the World Health Organization on _January 14_:

                  “Preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel #coronavirus (2019-nCoV) identified in #Wuhan, #China”

                  1. MLTPB

                    Then on Jan 19 or 20, 2020, a feast of 40,000 was held to celebrate the new year.

                    Perhaps it was a case of suspecting, yet truly not knowing.

                    But then the mayor was fired by Xi not much later, who might think otherwise.

                    1. xkeyscored

                      Undoubtedly by that point they knew for certain there was sustained human to human transmission, often before or without symptoms, with a high infection rate. That explains why they lied about it and had a huge feast in Wuhan!

                      Or maybe as you say they still weren’t sure what they were dealing with but took a chance, unlike Taiwan.

                    2. MLTPB

                      Is it a case that they, here the officials in Wuhan, knew of possible human to human transmission, still had the feast?

                      Perhaps, as commented earlier at 12:51 pm, it was just suspicion, and they did not know.

                      In any case, Xi was not satisfied and relieved them.

                      We don’t know much about what went on during those early days of Jan, roughly from Jan 1 to Jan 23.

              2. xkeyscored

                By the time you wait for some sort of scientific proof of human to human transmission, by definition its too late, its already within the population.

                So why all the fuss? We knew what was known, why were we still waiting for conclusive proof? It seems to be having it both ways. If confirmation of h-to-h transmission was unnecessary, why is China being attacked for not providing it sooner?

                Imagine if they had ‘confirmed’ it before the evidence was in, and it turned out to be the wrong call. Who would have believed them the next time? (Something the WHO has previous experience of, IIRR.)

                1. MLTPB

                  Given Dr Li warned in Dec., 2019 and Taiwan alerting WHO and counterparts in China on Dec 31., I think the 2 to 3 weeks lost mentioned by PK points to the scenario of locking down Wuhan by the same time amount. So, in stead of Jan 23, it would have been Jan 2 or Jan 9.

                  Possibly the first Italian patient or the first Seattle area patient would not have been there in that case.

                  Without more info from Beijing, on the events inside and from WHO about what they did with the info from Taibei, we don’t if the alternate scenario was possible.

                  1. xkeyscored

                    Locking down a city of ten million on January 9, let alone 2, because of a SARS-like outbreak? Were any cities locked down during SARS?

                    1. MLTPB

                      Without knowing what Beijing knew then, or could have known from the mayor of Wuhan or the chief of Hubei, both had been let go, it is hard to say.

                2. fajensen

                  why is China being attacked for not providing it sooner?

                  Because – “Authorities” here in the end acted pretty much like China did in ignoring suspicions, then downplaying severity, then pushing the fake narrative that “only unhealthy (bad people) and old (useless) people get it, then pushed some “Heard Immunity Theory”-clowns (or closet eugenicists) out in front of “The Effort”, and net result is that they basically let ‘er rip like the proverbial fart in the elevator!

                  The China bashing it to re-route a fully deserved retribution for our leadership stupidity towards “Emmanuel Goldstein”!

                  The whole “China did this thing to us” is insanely dangerous bullshit.

                  To be layering a trade war on top of a still-ongoing pandemic is bat-shit insanity (but with apocalyptic crackpots all over the leadership, what can one expect, except pandemonium?).

          2. J.K.

            From what i have understood the doctor was not arrested but detained for a couple hours and given a verbal reprimand to not spread unverified information which could lead to a panic. The doctor had to sign a sort of non disclosure agreement and was back at work the same day. A far cry from the way the incident has been presented in the u.s media.

            1. MLTPB

              The reaction in China to his demise indicated it was a big deal.

              Asia Times, 4 weeks ago headline, apology fails to dampen public outrage over Li.

              I don’t think it’s about U.S. media. The world is not centered there.

        2. Anonymous 2

          ‘I don’t see how Taiwan could have known by December 31’

          I would be astonished if Taiwan does not have spies in China.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            Taiwan doesn’t need spies in China, at least not for this purpose. The original outbreak was published in newspapers in mid December (before the government cracked down on discussions) and would have been discussed on social media. There would be plenty of Taiwanese in and around the area because of all the universities, and a lot of contact between Taiwanese and Mainland Chinese doctors. They just needed to keep their ears to the ground.

          2. xkeyscored

            ‘I don’t see how Taiwan could have known by December 31’, meaning known there was human to human transmission. They knew in December something potentially ugly was going on in Wuhan, and they decided to take no chances rather than wait until anyone knew. The indications were there, as they were for everyone.

            And if they knew and didn’t constantly scream it out, why so little venom in their direction? We could see what they were doing, why didn’t we take notice, lies or no lies from China and the WHO?

            1. MLTPB

              Per the quoted passage above, Taiwan asked WHO secretariat for confirmation of the infectious nature.

              No reports of what happened after that.

              How was Taibei to ‘constantly’ scream out about something they requested the WHO for confirmation?

                1. MLTPB

                  Confirmed, that it was human to human? What nature of it did Taibei ask for confimation?

                  And when was that confirmed, and by which entity?

                  1. xkeyscored

                    If Taiwan knew there was human to human transmission in December, they didn’t need confirmation. You might want confirmation of what you suspect; you don’t need any when you know.

                    If confirmation was unnecessary and strong suspicion sufficient, then the whole thing’s a red herring to bash China. There was plenty of strong suspicion, fuelled in part precisely by statements like “we cannot confirm it”, and some countries acted on these suspicions. If others chose not to, that’s hardly China’s fault.

                    And both China and the WHO confirmed h-to-h transmission around January 16 or 20 IIRR. Maybe they knew earlier and delayed going public. Maybe they could have found out earlier if they’d tried harder.

                    But the claims are that Taiwan knew by December 31, that confirmation wasn’t necessary, and that China/WHO denied sustained h-to-h. The first is very hard to believe, the second makes the whole argument pointless, and the third seems ridiculous – saying they hadn’t confirmed it obviously leaves wide open the possibility that it was occurring, and in no way constitutes a denial.

        3. SteveW

          Very clearly the Chinese authority knew (from the evidence of Dr Li’s message) that there was H to H transmission. Saying “not confirmed” equates to lying. They did not elaborate or describe the situation. WHO turned a blind eye. They knew and chose not to know. All parties, our government s included, are either incompetent or lying, or both.

        4. MLTPB

          What did Taiwan’s Chinese counterparts did after Dec 31, 2019?

          Did WHO IHR do anything to follow up?

          Washington Times reported on Jan 30 of China asking CDC for help to investigate.

          On Feb 3, per NY Post, China has yet to allow CDC in country.

          NY Times’ headline Feb 7: CDC and WHO offers to help China have been ignored for weeks.

      2. rtah100

        For you, PK – the free-to-read 39 Steps:

        And as a bonus, this should be going viral in the MSM but it hasn’t – why ever could that be? But it’s OK, everybody’s going to clap. Do you believe in PPE or fairies, Britain…?

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Thanks for that – on a point of principle i never give any money to a Murdoch rag., but it has to be said that occasionally the Sunday Times does good investigative journalism.

          1. rtah100

            The crisis of government gets deeper. This is incredible – I have never seen anything like it: HMG engages in line by line “rebuttal” of FT article pointing out the wasteful idiocy of their Potemkin ventilator procurement programme.


            I say “rebuttal” because most of their answers just talk past the accusation in classic misdirection and leave loopholes a mile wide. I particularly like the one that, in answer to the accusation that somebody said something, asserts that “no minister or official” said it. Which leaves open, depending on your taste for grey areas, non-ministerial rank appointees and, of course, special advisers. Ten to one, it was Dominic Cummings. I suppose there could even have been WAGS and fiancees on the line….

      1. xkeyscored

        Which may have been the case back then, though I agree by January 14 it was looking unlikely. Neither China nor the WHO were exactly in a rush to declare a potential pandemic, for whatever combination of science and politics, but was anyone lying about it? From the same article:

        GENEVA (Reuters) – There may have been limited human-to-human transmission of a new coronavirus in China within families, and it is possible there could be a wider outbreak, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday.

        “From the information that we have it is possible that there is limited human-to-human transmission, potentially among families, but it is very clear right now that we have no sustained human-to-human transmission,” said Maria Van Kerkhove, acting head of WHO’s emerging diseases unit.

        1. SteveW

          Cannot see how anyone can defend the Chinese authorities and WHO. Officials always hide behind words such as “not confirmed”, “no evidence”, “from the information we have”. It is their way of lying. In law, there are levels of evidences and one can easily be convicted by circumstantial evidence. On the other hand, as per your quote, WHO says ” ‘ it is very clear’ ….no sustained H to H transmission ” so certainly unbalanced view, showing very “clear” underpinning biases.

          1. Louis Fyne

            since trump bashed the WHO, there is a pavlovian pro-Tadros pushback.

            shaking my head. at best (in my opinion) there is institutional rot at the WHO, cf. CALPERS

            one’s mileage may vary

          2. xkeyscored

            There may have been no known sustained h-to-h transmission at that time.
            And science has different standards of evidence than law. Scientists who say the Higgs boson or gravitational waves hadn’t been confirmed weren’t lying, and other scientists were well aware of what was meant.
            I’m sorry, but all these accusations that China was lying and denying are unfounded, so far as I can see. The facts are bad enough, can’t we stick to them?

            1. epynonymous


              A commercial from US mil TV from 2008.

              “Chicken knows best”

              ‘PSA educational campaign for the Military Vaccine Agency and the American Forces Network. Produced by the Towne Group PSA Production Team at the Defense Media Activity. Nominated for a 2011 Emmy Award from the National Capital Chesapeake Bay Chapter of the National Acadeny (sic) of Televison Arts and Sciences.’

              A perfectly innocent first-hand artifact of the 2008 flu season response. ‘Avian flu.’

              On the daily briefings from prez-incredible, the first week or so the most youtube viewers of the live-streams were PBS, MSNBC. Now it’s Fox.

              On the unknown unknowns, officialdom cannot even agree if *taiwan* exists. Took some time to contemplate all this, and it occurs to me that in a sense, Taiwan does not exist. It is a social consensus. based in historical conditions and modern expediency.

              My cursory research today says there’s plenty of cross-pollination between US and Chinese intellectuals on bio, tech and security all over the internet. Makes the finger-pointing seem pretty absurd.

            2. MLTPB

              Limited transmission, potentially among families, was possible,




              Thrice, the statement went the other dierction of erring on the conservative side of miminimizng the spread.

              And in fact, it has turned out to be not just possible, not just limited, and not just potentially.

              If it was unintentional, the question becomes if they knew what they were and know what they are doing.

            3. SteveW

              If they go by utmost science standards, why a 180 on masks, why do they advocate coughing or sneezing into elbows? For virus, you have to stay ahead of the curve and act decisively based on early and limited evidence, not definitive conclusive proof. This is the way that Taiwan acted resulting in very very low case counts and a few death. If we have to wait for conclusive proof, nobody should do anything.

              1. SteveW

                Also, you do not need definitive or conclusive to prove that someone is lying, only a preponderance of evidences. By your standard/quote of Higgs boson, we know who are lying. (As you say, Highs boson has not been confirmed but scientists are well aware of what it means.). Chinese authority and WHO said “not confirmed” but people know what was meant.

                1. MLTPB

                  In Taiwan, there are several political parties, after power was transferred peacefully to the DPP the first time.

                  I wonder if people in the Mainland would give those in the other China a chance to run the whole country there.

                  1. Jessica

                    The party on Taiwan that did run China for a few decades, the Kuomintang (Guomindang) did an amazingly poor job when they had the whole place to run. That’s why they had to leave and invade Taiwan. Fascinating how they did so much better a job on Taiwan.

                    1. MLTPB

                      The transfer of power from KMT to DPP was rare, and something for the people in China to think about.

                      Maybe the other China gets to compete for a chance to run all of China.

                    2. Procopius

                      They were dominated by the Soong family (Madame Chiang’s family) who were notoriously corrupt bankers. I think they must not have been able to get a foothold there after Kai-Shek fled to Taiwan. The Taiwanese, by the way, complained bitterly about the Kuomintang essentially invading and occupying them — kind of the same as the Normans and the Saxons.

          3. Tom Doak

            Officials always hide behind words such as “not confirmed”, “no evidence”, “from the information we have”.

            Yes they do. And that’s why the same thing would likely have happened had this started in most other nations. Hindsight is 20/20, but no one had hindsight on New Year’s Day, 2020.

          4. fajensen

            Cannot see how anyone can defend the Chinese authorities and WHO.

            We married into that family a long time ago, knowing what “they were like”*, but we needed their skillset and resources. That being the case, we cannot really afford the messy divorce.

            This means that some accommodation will be agreed upon and the happy dysfunctional family carries on.

            Unless things are said and done that cannot be walked back later. In which case 2008 will look like a mere fart in a bathtub measured against a hurricane.

            *) Knowing ‘what they were like’ on practice means that one maybe does not just blindly rely on everything ‘they’ say or do but applies ones own resources too. Which we didn’t because it was more convenient to fall for the ‘no problems’ messaging. Which makes ‘us’ more responsible because we know better and should act better!

    2. ewmayer

      The Truth About “Dramatic Action” | China Media Project, 27 Jan 2020

      According to reports from Caixin Media, one of China’s leading professional news outlets, the entire situation began on December 8, with the discovery of the first known case of an infected patient in Wuhan, a stall operator from the Huanan Seafood Market. The Huanan Seafood Market is a large-scale wet market, with an area about the size of seven football pitches and more than 1,000 stalls. The market has a constant flow of customers, making it the ideal place for the spread of infectious disease. A seafood market only in name, it sells a wide array of live animals, including hedgehogs, civet cats, peacocks, bamboo rats and other types of wild animals. At this market, the nearly inexhaustible appetite, and insatiable greed and curiosity of Chinese diners is on full display.

      The number of infected people rose rapidly, reaching 27 people within a short period of time. Health professionals in Wuhan began suspecting in early December that this was an unknown infectious disease, not unlike the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) that emerged in southern China in 2003. The ghost of SARS seemed to wander Wuhan in December, and rumors spread farther and farther afield of a new disease on the prowl.

      China is a society closely monitored by the government, and the shadow of Big Brother is everywhere. Social media in particular are subject to very close surveillance. So when the authorities detected chatter about the re-emergence of SARS, or of a similar unknown outbreak, they took two major steps initially. First, they tried to ensure that this new outbreak remained a secret; second, they put the stability preservation system into effect (启动稳控机制). On December 30, the Wuhan Health Commission (武汉市卫建委) issued an order to hospitals, clinics and other healthcare units strictly prohibiting the release of any information about treatment of this new disease. As late as December 31, the government in Wuhan was still saying publicly that there were no cases of human-to-human transmission, and that no medical personnel had become infected.

      Science Versus Politics

      The period from December 8 to December 31 was a crucial 23-day period. During this time, scientists in China were not in fact idle, but raced against the clock trying to trace the virus – and their performance was remarkable. Meng Xin (孟昕), a researcher at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, has since disclosed:

      So originally they [NOTE: Meng is referring here to the government] had one ace card in their hand. My colleagues worked hard through the night, and within one week had managed to: successfully isolate the disease, sequence the coronavirus genome (测完了序列), and confirmed the origin of the disease. In less than two weeks, they had developed test reagents and had distributed them to provincial CDCs, and they had reviewed anywhere from dozens to hundreds of specimens from Wuhan (the specific number is still unknown), actions that would earn unanimous praise from international colleagues and the World Health Organization, and that would save precious time in the prevention and control of the epidemic.

      Meng is referring here specifically to the actions taken by scientists in Beijing. But Shanghai scientists were not far behind. According to a report in Health News (健康报), the official publication of China’s National Health Commission, the Shanghai Public Health Clinical Center (上海市公共卫生临床中心) had isolated a new strain of coronavirus by January 5, within just 10 days of its receiving samples from patients in Wuhan on December 26, and scientists at the center had obtained the entire genome sequence.

      On January 11, on the basis of the latest research developments in Beijing and Shanghai, China officially confirmed that this new coronavirus was the pathogen causing the Wuhan pneumonia epidemic, and it shared the new coronavirus gene sequence information with the WHO.

      But while the Chinese authorities informed the World Health Organization about these developments at the earliest opportunity, they did not inform their own people, but instead maintained strict secrecy. This meant no progress was made on prevention and control.

      As the researcher Meng Xin put it:

      The ace card [provided by scientists] was still played very poorly, because at the first opportunity politics came into play and directed strict confidentiality requirements – this can’t be talked about, that can’t be talked about, we must maintain stability, and so on. So the test reports were locked into the safety deposit box.

      Here is how the situation looked from our perspective on the ground as Chinese citizens, and as residents of Wuhan.

      On January 12, the Wuhan Municipal Health Construction Commission announced that there were no new cases and no close contacts as of the 11th.

      On January 13, the Wuhan Municipal Health Construction Commission announced that there were no new cases and no close contacts as of the 12th.

      On January 14, the Wuhan Municipal Health Construction Commission announced that there were no new cases and no close contacts as of the 13th.

      On January 15, the Wuhan Municipal Health Construction Commission announced that there were no new cases and no close contacts as of the 14th.

      On January 16, the Wuhan Municipal Health Construction Commission announced that there were no new cases and no close contacts as of the 15th.

      Politics first. Stability preservation first. In such an environment, science can only sit by and watch. The scientific results could not be clearer, and the authorities likely had a decent grasp of the real situation. But nevertheless they could not speak the truth, and they spared no effort in keeping the outbreak under wraps. Front-line doctors who spoke up about the outbreak were taken in for questioning. Eight Wuhan citizens who dared to post about the outbreak online were summoned by the police and singled out in public announcements through official media in order to terrify the public and force people to remain quiet.

      The focus of restrictions was to prevent the truth of human-to-human transmission of the coronavirus from getting out. Wuhan officials continued to emphasize through January 14 that no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission had been found. Later, officials had to admit that there was evidence of what they called “limited human-to-human transmission.” Wang Guangfa (王广发), a member of the expert group from Beijing, came out and stressed that the disease was “preventable and controllable.” In light of these statements, the public remained unaware and unconcerned.

      Politics as Usual

      Up to January 17, tourism authorities in Wuhan continued to launch the “Spring Festival Culture Benefitting the People Campaign” (春节文化惠民活动), issuing hundreds of thousands of free tickets to attractions in Wuhan in order to encourage tourists from all over the country to come to the area for sightseeing. Through to January 19, Baibuting Garden (武汉市百步亭社区), an area advertised as a model residential community in Wuhan, was still holding a Spring Festival banquet celebration for its 40,000 residents. There was no attempt to stem the flow of people to Wuhan from all over the country and around the world. During what was the most critical phase for controlling the outbreak, Wuhan was essentially an open city owing to the efforts of local officials to keep a lid on the story.

      There is much more, including a detailed timeline around the Spring Festival banquet which appears to have been the explosive-spread-across-all-of-China-and-beyond event, in the article.

    3. Jessica

      I remember them specifically saying no human to human transmission when it first came up.

  11. Tom Stone

    Even here at NC I doubt many have a grasp of just how much and how permanently our world has changed.
    Last year the Redwood Empire Food Bank served one out of six residents of Sonoma County,one of the wealthiest Counties in the Nation.
    This year it is predicted to be one out of three.
    And this before the inevitable explosion of new homeless Nationwide and the concomitant social unrest, which will be dealt with in a traditional manner.
    The looting will be epic and the peasants ground into dust.
    Which will work until it doesn’t.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      It will take time for this to really penetrate peoples reality. Last night I was having an informal online pub meeting with some former work colleagues, just chatting about life and prospects. It occurred to me halfway through the conversation that everyone was assuming that by the summer everything will be normal – work and life will pick up exactly as it was before once the restrictions ease off. I don’t know whether its delusion or just that people don’t want to be pessimistic and so aren’t dwelling on it, but I think the mental processing of the changes will take a long time.

      1. David

        Yes, and curiously I think that the obsession with picking over the scabs of the recent past, and hunting for the “guilty” is very much a part of the inability to face up to the degree to which things will change. The ST story, so far as I can tell, is a good example of the “they were warned” or “they should have known” trope, which emerges at this stage of every media cycle, when there are enough pieces available to construct a coherent picture that wasn’t available at the time. (There’s a surprisingly good story in today’s Guardian (not behind a paywall) that, towards the end, accepts this, pointing out that, for example, if the disease had been as lethal and easy to detect as SARS, it would have burnt itself out in Asia. But this wasn’t known at the time.)

        Now sometimes stories like this are justified and sometimes they’re not – I’m not qualified to judge in this case – but there’s no doubt that they serve a comfort function. If all it would have taken was for Johnson to have chaired one extra Cabinet Office meeting, or for one scientist to have convinced one government, then it means that the old economic order before the end of 2019 could have been saved. But readers of this blog know very well that that’s not the case: the world economic system has been a house of cards for years, just waiting for a breath to bring it down. If it hadn’t been Covid 19 it would have been the next thing. If it wasn’t the next thing, then it would have been the one after that. It’s a well-known trap in studying historical crises, outbreaks of wars etc. to be fixated on immediate causes, if only as a way of avoiding about the underlying ones.
        Yes, there will be enormous changes, most more than people can grasp (I really ought to track down whether it was Negri, Zizeck or someone else who said that it’s easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism.) Try this simple one for size: the end of most long-distance air travel, the end of mass tourism, routine health checks at frontiers, no more Olympics or other international sporting events, an end to wholesale immigration, no more gatherings like the UN General Assembly. That’s all pretty obvious I think, but just consider the economic and political impact before going on to some of the more serious consequences of this pandemic.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          And worst of all, no more premiership football! Like most Liverpool fans, I’m in disbelief that this could happen. I remember back in January on ESPN some football commentator was asked whether the Liverpool winning the title was a ‘certainty’. Only one demurred. When asked to justify this he replied ‘well, Jurgen Klopp could be kidnapped by aliens’. Little did we know.

          1. Stephen V.

            Where I live in usian flyover country *religion* (h/t to Howard Cossell) doesn’t begin to describe peeps’ relationship to all things foot- base- basketball. Nothing was real about Covid until March Madness was cancelled on 12 March. No college or pro Sports in the Fall? Inconceivable.

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              My Hoos are still the reigning champs. I could deal with no more college basketball. It ended on a perfect note with a weird epilogue.

              1. griffen

                Hat tip to your team. Tony is a great coach and possibly better person than his peers.

                As a Tar Heel fan this season ended mercifully at last. Lol. No tiny violins for us though.

          2. skk

            Sports-Betting – using algorithms I’ve created to forecast results has been my 5 year passion and almost fulltime job since I stopped working 18 months ago – NHL, NBA and I was looking forward to the new MLB season. All that’s gone and put me quite out of sorts for the last 6 weeks or so.
            Like you’ve said, I’ve finally reconciled to the idea that mass sports, bettable ones aren’t coming back for a good while, so I’ve been searching for other things to do with my time, computing power and enjoyable skillset.

            1. Burritonomics

              Me too! Same boat – I had juuuuust gotten to working a (small) but very profitable in-game arbitrage in the NHL when it all stopped. Disappointing, but I have had a bit of success dipping my toes in esports (DOTA2, LoL, CS:GO). Now I’m trying to figure out what to do going forward.

              It still irks me that I can do analysis sufficient to beat tough sports markets, but am unemployable using my brain.

        2. Clive

          Yes, and we’re not even getting started on the adjustments. And we’re all culpable in that one.

          For example (and to return to the Sunday Times article) the nub of it is, “expert advice” — predominantly from the WHO — who knew what, when and what they did about it.

          But here’s a perfectly clear, explicit even, directive from the WHO about curtailing the availability of alcohol

          Couldn’t be more plainly stated. Limit the availability of alcohol and send explicit public health messaging to people in lockdown to avoid starting a pattern of drinking which may escalate and they’ll find hard, maybe impossible, to modify later.

          But in the U.K. (don’t know about the rest of the world) the government was under huge pressure — which it is in acquiescence to — to declare alcohol “essential”.

          Funnily enough, I see all sorts of people acting as incendiaries for masks, continued lockdown etc. Whatever their particular preferences are in COVID-19 responses.

          But no one is advocating, from what I’ve seen, banning Wine O’clock. Just the opposite. Science-ey-ness — and public clamour (or otherwise) for adherence to its edicts — is, then, somewhat variable. And not particularly consistent.

          Yet it is equally a valid public health priority. Hence the inevitable weakness of “government should do something” stories. Government can do all sorts of things. But none of us can escape our shared responsibility (or guilt) for wanting to avoid inconvenience. Blaming government for this-or-that failing is, then, sometimes avoiding having to blame ourselves.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Declaring alcohol “essential”? There is a precedent for this. During WW2 Winston Churchill declared tobacco as a strategic war material.

            1. Big River Bandido

              Had alcohol been rationed, Churchill would have consumed his daily ration before he was finished with breakfast.

            2. ambrit

              In Mississippi liquor stores were declared “essential businesses,” just like groceries and pharmacies, and spared from the mandatory closure rules.
              Booze is part anf package of “local colour” here. Large population segments here deriving from Scots Irish and American Indian stock, both groups predisposed to alcoholism.

          2. PlutoniumKun

            The reason WHO’s advice on alcohol was overlooked is very simple – in northern hemisphere countries it would lead to hospitals filled with patients with the DT’s, and maybe more poisoned from home brew on the longer term. It would be a public health catastrophe. I dread to think what it would be like in my neighbourhood – there are several hostels for street drunks – they’d be going up the walls.

            I was cycling past the Guinness brewery in Dublin on Friday and I was delighted to see that the fires have lit up again, some nice high pressure steam coming from one of the vents. It will keep people a little happier. Plus my favourite local pub is starting up cheese and stout deliveries with returnable bottles from Thursday.

            1. Clive

              But that doesn’t address the deliberate ignoring of the the WHO advice. And the WHO also addresses the importance of treatment to help those who are in alcohol-dependence:

              This needs to be complemented by … maintaining and strengthening alcohol and drug services.

              Now, one is quite at liberty to say it’s acceptable to not implement or reduce the priority of a particular piece of WHO advice as prompted by our personal cultural, behavioural or belief systems.

              But in doing so oneself, one gives explicit permission to everyone else to follow the example they’ve just been set and definite their own approaches to which particular aspects of the WHO (or any other “science”) policy stipulations they’ll comply with.

              Whether the “everyone else” is me, national advisory bodies or even Donald Trump for that matter.

              You can’t enable one — an individual saying “I don’t like (or don’t agree with) that bit of expertise so I’m not going to do it” — without enabling the other — “well, if they get to pick and choose what public health advice they follow, or not, then so do I“.

              Otherwise, it would be a case of “do as I say” (y’all must follow evidence-based advice when it is issued because we all have to act consistently and collectively for the good of the whole) “not as I do” (cherry picking only the bits of advice to adopt — or even advocate for — that I’m prepared personally to follow).

              1. xkeyscored

                “maintaining and strengthening alcohol and drug services” during lockdowns, when the addicts or support workers may be infected? Most services for addicts, the homeless and so on were inadequate pre-COVID, and now they’re even more tenuous.

                Canada’s drugs approach has obvious flaws, but it is workable. I don’t see how support services could realistically be strengthened at the moment; they’ve generally been severely weakened if not wiped out.

                1. Clive

                  “My going on the wagon protects you” (because I’m less likely to get critically ill and put pressure on the healthcare system and I may be better able to get immunity developed) “your going on the wagon protects me” (for the same reasons).

                  And we can demand, since we’re talking here about government action, they do put money and resources into alcohol treatment (either in treatment centres or community based) just like we want them to put the same money and resources into, say, testing or PPE.

                  There is no difference between any of these public health measures.

                  But, of course, I’m getting the exact same resistance to this WHO-mandated public health response that I knew I would. I’m asking people to consider doing something unpopular that they don’t want to do. And I’m getting the same “the science isn’t really thought through properly” and “it’s not a practical policy in reality” pushback on alcohol consumption reduction that I’ve seen criticised for when the pushback is against masks, lockdown severity or promptness or reluctance to incur economic costs.

                  I repeat: if you pushback on one public heath response because you don’t like it or don’t think it’s valid, you have to, lest you become a hypocrite, allow others to pushback on things you’re in favour of.

                  You can’t allow one, without also allowing the other. Not if you want credibility.

                  1. xkeyscored

                    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t drink (too much of an alcoholic to dare), and I have felt nervous of drinkers making merry and disregarding my attempts at social distancing in their inebriated jollity. (I had to be there for my job.)

                    But “we can demand, since we’re talking here about government action, they do put money and resources into alcohol treatment.”
                    Money and resources, maybe. But people? Would you want to be conscripted in the current circumstances? Or would enough volunteers come forward? Drug addicts aren’t the easiest people to deal with without COVID; dealing with unhinged, possibly violent clients who may be infectious even less enticing.

                    1. ambrit

                      You lot must be from some utopian First World country. Over, or down, here in America, Saint Ronnie “solved” the problem of the less fortunate members of the public by closing down the public mental hospitals and throwing the benighted denizens of said places into the street where ‘good old’ Social Darwinism can do it’s G-d sanctioned work.
                      So, y’all are working from a different set of assumptions from “official” Americans.

              2. PlutoniumKun

                Unfortunately, WHO is rapidly getting the same reputation as the IMF. If you want to get through a crisis, listen carefully to their advice, and do the exact opposite.

                HK, Taiwan and others quite deliberately refused to follow WHO advice, and were often quite explicit about the reasons they were doing so.

                1. Clive

                  Alcohol is a known immune system inhibitor and this is from many clinical studies stretching back decades e.g.

                  So there is no blaming WHO woo woo. If people don’t follow this advice (and governments don’t restrict alcohol availability and improve alcohol addiction treatment provision) its because they’re pandering to public opinion wants rather than public health needs.

                  And anyone dissing the advice is being anti-science. No ifs, no buts. In no medical journal of any description will you find an article which says “alcohol improves the immune system”.

                  Now, if we could spin up a whole parallel world where people who wanted to drink during the COVID-19 epidemic could go and live (let’s call it “booze world”) and others could live here without access to alcohol or restrictions on its availability (let’s call it “dry world”), no one would have to change their opinions or their behaviours.

                  But we don’t. We all have to stick it out here together. My choices affect you and everyone else, and your and everyone else’s choices affect me. We have to compromise. But of course, everyone wants to keep doing the things they like or think are right and expect everyone else to go along with them.

                  It’s a whole “Century of the Self” thing playing out, in other words.

                  1. xkeyscored

                    its because they’re pandering to public opinion

                    And tax revenues and powerful interests!

                  2. ShamanicFallout

                    Yep. Prohibition always works… And it never ever has the exact opposite effect of the intended purpose…

                    1. xkeyscored

                      I’ve often noticed Muslims drinking, with glasses of Coca-Cola and a bottle in a paper bag to top it up. They’ll freely and simply admit they’re bad Muslims, but they’re not bad drunks, at least when I see them in public. I think the Islamic prohibition against alcohol makes them more subdued than say their English counterparts, who were notorious for their drunken belligerence when Tom Jones was written – “for indeed, with them, to drink and to fight together are almost synonymous terms”.

                  3. PlutoniumKun

                    Yes, alcohol is known to suppress the immune system.

                    So does air pollution. So does smoking. So does lack of Vitamin D. So is disturbed sleep patterns. So does lack of exercise.

                    So why have WHO not called for a ban on all non essential vehicle use? Why no total ban on traffic or any noise generation at night? Why no ban on the sale of cigarettes or vaping? Why no ban on full coverage clothing for dark skinned people in northern latitudes? Why is there no program for giving everyone Vitamin D (and C too while you are at it).

                    There is no consistency. You can’t call for the ban on one product that has an immune impact and not for everything else with similar levels of evidence.

                    1. Clive

                      Because significant reductions in alcohol consumption (and tobacco products — the WHO along with all public health bodies — has advised people to stop smoking) can be implemented tomorrow.

                      It’s the ultimate quick win. Zero cost. Negative effort (consumers have to proactively buy and drink the alcohol). Proven benefits.

                      Why would governments not take this step — and populations demand they did so — if health outcomes were paramount?

                      Of course, the citizenry, or some of them, can certainly say “no, I enjoy doing this and I am not going to stop doing it and if there’s a broader societal cost, then so be it, we’ve decided society will just have to pay it”.

                      Doing so, though, allows everyone else to demand the right to perform whatever they want to do and socialise any costs.

                      Sorry, there’s no way round this. Demanding one makes the other unavoidable. It also has shades of the “nirvana” logical fallacy (“it can’t all be done perfectly, since it can’t be done perfectly in total, we cannot do any of the component parts of it in isolation”). Which is of course fallacious.

                    1. Clive

                      Ha! And it’s the gift that keeps on giving, too. Drinking yourself into a stupor means if you keel over with COVID-19 outside a healthcare facility, your death gets recorded as “depressed respiratory function due to high blood alcohol levels” or the like. Similarly, falling down the stairs and getting a head injury.

                      No wonder governments classify it as “essential”. Not just mother’s little helper, but under pressure governments everywhere’s, also.

          3. Maxwell Johnston

            In Russia, there was (very briefly, about 2 weeks ago IIRC) a proposal floated to restrict alcohol purchases during the lockdown period. That idea disappeared quickly; presumably VVP remembers the fate of his two predecessors (Nicholas II and Gorby) who tried prohibition. That said, I anticipate a lot of excess booze consumption in Russia as the lockdown drags on. Along with a spike in strokes and heart attacks.

            1. PlutoniumKun

              I guess its a cultural difference, but despite no restrictions (apart from pubs being shut of course), there has been a huge drop in the numbers of alcohol cases in hospitals. My niece, a hospital doctor, says its eerily quiet even on a Friday night. People are certainly drinking – I see lots of people walking past my home from the shops with crates of beer – but I guess they are being fairly responsible.

              1. xkeyscored

                I wonder how restricting or banning alcohol during a lockdown affects domestic violence. Locked up with a violent drunk, or locked up with a violent drunk without a drink? Which is more dangerous?

                But it’s very definitely increasing sharply.

                1. Wukchumni

                  I for one would like to get our teetotalitarian leader shitfaced on Olde English 800, say a sixer of tall boys.

                  1. ambrit

                    Nah. A couple of Fortys should do the trick.
                    That or, considering the POTUS’s background, he’d be someone; “I’d be willing to do some lines with.”

            2. MLTPB

              This is not restricted to Russia, but since we are talking about lockdown in that country, I will mention that around April 5 or 6, a man shot 5 for talking too loud during lockdown.

              Like I said above, since we’re talking about Russia.

              1. ambrit

                Well, in consideration of equal opportunity, America’s “Droner in Chief” bumped a few dozen ‘innocents’ off because they stood too close to a “person of interest” at a wedding.

          4. Hoppy

            “Existing rules and regulations to protect health and reduce harm caused by alcohol, such as restricting access, should be upheld and even reinforced during the COVID-19 pandemic and emergency situations; while any relaxation of regulations or their enforcement should be avoided.”

            No where does it say new rules should be implemented to warm the hearts of teetotalers.

            Let’s not get carried away here.

            1. Clive

              This isn’t a steady-state condition. All economic activity in a lockdown situation has been evaluated and determined (note the verb: active and past tense) by government to be either essential or non-essential.

              Restricting access can either be reenforced, to use the WHO’s term, or left “un-reenforced”.

              This was an explicit, overt, policy choice. Government made it. It made it because we, the people, collectively, insisted on it. Despite “expert advice”.

              And it is this which is my raison d’être for seeing this topic addressed, here. I am highlighting, for the benefit of the left, the dangers in attempting to attack governments of any description, but right-wing governments specifically, through the method of invoking expertise.

              Because, once you start down that road, sooner or later, you’ll find yourself in the position of, as shown here, saying to people on one day “listen to the experts” or “the government has failed because it didn’t listen to the experts” but then the very next day saying “you don’t want to be listening to experts” or maybe “oh, those experts aren’t expert-ey enough”.

              At which point, the whole thing degenerates into a game of Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Experts, from which no winner can emerge. The only casualty is expertise.

                1. Clive

                  An active verb is when the verb is clearly the subject, or ‘the doer,’ of the sentence. “The government decided”. As opposed to, say, “Who decided?” “It was the government that decided” where “government” is the subject of the sentence.

                  It can be an active verb and present-continuous “the government is intent on deciding once and for all…”. But it can just as correctly be a past tense verb.

                  Compared with, “it was decided”, which is passive (as it isn’t explained, either omitting by accident or by design, who decided (was it a ghost?) or, present tense or present continuous e.g. “all factors will be considered when deciding the matter…” (again, the actor, the person or agent deciding isn’t stated).

        3. xkeyscored

          if the disease had been as lethal and easy to detect as SARS, it would have burnt itself out in Asia. But this wasn’t known at the time.

          It may not have been known, but it was strongly suspected before the January 24 COBRA meeting that this was worse than SARS, and definitely not just another type of flu, which appears to have been the Cabinet’s general opinion despite scientists’ attempts to persuade them otherwise. Maybe knowing the Greek origins of ‘pandemic’ doesn’t help much with understanding the idea. (And the Guardian piece has much the same information as the paywalled ST one, thanks.)

          “Well before the end of January, the WHO had been tracking the growing threat minutely: 14 January was a key day in the spread of the disease that would become known as Covid-19. The first case was confirmed outside China, with a woman hospitalised in Thailand.

          A WHO official warned then that it was possible that human-to-human transmission had occurred in families of victims – a sign that the disease had potential to spread far and fast – and, inside China, officials were quietly told to prepare for a pandemic [which Five Eyes would presumably have had knowledge of].

          But on 20 January, officials announced more than 100 new cases and admitted the virus was spreading between humans, a red flag for concern to anyone who works on infectious diseases. The virus could no longer be contained by finding the animal source of the infection and destroying it.”

    2. Henry Moon Pie

      “concomitant social unrest”

      I think of our situation as a man-made lake located high in the mountains. Below the dam is a valley dropping down to the plains below. Alongside the little stream that runs over the dam’s spillway and through the valley are little villages along the banks.

      These villages are the institutions of repression in our society: political; military; economic; etc. The steepness and narrowness of the valley, both contributors to the power of any flood, are the quantity and depravity of the mistreatments and indifference to their plight suffered by the people. The amount of water trapped behind the dam is the number of souls who suffer under current arrangements.

      The dam is of dual construction. The main wall consists of the societal myth that purports to justify the misery endured under present conditions. The back-up wall is the implements of repression today’s elites have at their disposal.

      That valley is plenty steep. There’s a lot of water behind that dam. Those villages are fragile as hell. The question is how strong are the two walls of that dam when Covid-19 is shaking the earth beneath them?

        1. carl

          Read a really compelling book about that particular disaster, whose name escapes me at the moment.

        2. JTMcPhee

          Johnstown was not one of the “villages of repression” in the Great Flood. It was where the blue collar types slaved away at the mills and shops that generated the money that the rich sh!ts on their private lake up in the mountains used to build their summer places and maintain (or fail to maintain) that vital dam. And even when warned to its imminent collapse, they did not bother to warn the people in the little villages and the city in the valley…

          But yeah, privilege will serve itself even if it kills us mopes…

          1. a different chris

            Worse than failing to maintain (they did directly fail to maintain the spillway) they wanted the water high and beautiful and made it so until it suddenly wasn’t.

            The Johnstown Flood is engrossing reading. In Pittsburgh I had grown up with “floods” and thought it was the same sort of thing. You know, the water gets higher and higher and makes a mess.

            This wasn’t like that. This was like the Hammer Of God. BTW if there is a God, why did he hammer the working stiffs? The religious can never give me an answer to that.

    3. marcyincny

      Thank you. I’m finding this all the more difficult because no one is talking about facing these very real possibilities.

      1. The Rev Kev

        It may be that a lot of people do not want to talk about this because if they do, they will realize that not only will things change, but that they will have to in turn change their lives as well.

        1. Wukchumni

          I’d mentioned about a month ago how after i’d sent an e-mail to my sisters regarding the severity of something wicked this way comes, and one of them sent me a Dr Drew youtube where he states in no uncertain terms that the Coronavirus is no big deal, and I had to set her straight, but she was still unfazed by it all, and then about a week later she calls and asks “is this going to be something where we all die?”

          I told her maybe some of us will die from it, but it isn’t so much the virus that will do us in, but our way of life which was completely unsustainable, combined with the amazing amount of guns in our country, and we’re already used to a dozen people getting killed for no apparent reason other than being in the wrong place at the right time.

          Sadly until the ammo runs out, we can expect something out of China in a warlord scheme circa 1920, where might makes right.

          1. Jessica

            A Buddhist lama (Westerner) repeated a story he heard from a Tibetan lama: At first, if someone was killed, everyone was very upset, but after a while we got used to it. Then it took ten people getting killed to get everyone upset, but we got used to that. Then it took 100 people getting killed to get everyone upset. Then the Chinese came.

            1. MLTPB

              The Dalai Lama is revered in Taiwan.

              Ancient Tibetan Dzi beads are collected and very expensive.

              The ones personally touched by the Dalai Lama are especially treasured. I don’t know how you can confirm that, but that’s what I’ve heard.

        2. Fíréan

          Was it not so long ago there was discussion here at Naked Capitalism comments which included the need for great change within our society and culture due to Climate Change ?
          Now change is here, for real rather than at a mere comfortable academic level. And the Climate Change is of prime importance even if the virus doesn’t get you .

  12. xkeyscored

    Jihadis leave al-Tanf, bombers leave Guam

    In Syria, even the jihadis at the al-Tanf terrorist base are deserting their US benefactors.

    From SANA:
    A source from the authorities involved in this process told SANA’s reporter that 28 militants and 6 drivers from the so-called “Jaish Maghawir al-Thawra” group, which works under the supervision of the US occupation forces, arrived at Palmyra city where they handed over all their weapons and equipment [8 vehicles, 5 machineguns, 3 sniper rifles, 7 M16 rifles, 8 Russian rifles, 2 RPG launchers, and a grenade launcher, along with assorted ammo, regular and night-vision binoculars, and communication devices] to take advantage of the amnesty decrees.

    To which PressTV adds:
    The US military has been trying to rebrand the defectors as drug smugglers, claiming that they are fleeing al-Tanf base because Washington did not let them get away with smuggling on Jordan’s border.

    While Debka, rather dubiously, goes even further:
    The Revolutionary Commando Army [same gang] has suddenly defected from the US Al-Tanf base near the Syria-Jordan border after striking a deal with the Assad regime. DEBKAfile reports. The last local rebel force serving the American base, it was believed to be heading north across the desert from its post on the Jordanian border to join up with government forces in the Deir ez-Zour region. US officials have not confirmed or commented on this development.

    Meanwhile in Guam:
    The US Air Force has quietly ended its 16-year-long continuous bomber deployment to the western Pacific island of Guam. When five B-52 Stratofortress bombers returned to the US on Thursday, no aircraft arrived to replace them. The Pentagon has offered no explanation.

    and in confirmation:
    “In line with the National Defense Strategy, the United States has transitioned to an approach that enables strategic bombers to operate forward in the Indo-Pacific region from a broader array of overseas locations, when required, and with greater operational resilience, while these bombers are permanently based in the United States,” U.S. Air Force Major Kate Atanasoff, a U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM) spokesperson, confirmed in a statement to The War Zone. “U.S. strategic bombers will continue to operate in the Indo-Pacific, to include Guam, at the timing and tempo of our choosing.”

    1. Lee

      Taking into account comments from Tom Stone et al above, the U.S. military might do well to reduce our far flung “defense” perimeter from the periphery in favor of more strategically robust positions toward the center. After all, we’ve got all those amber waves of grain right here at home to tend, distribute, and protect.

      Also, we have plenty of our own soon to be severely exacerbated internal contradictions to address that will require our full attention, and do well to leave the Guamanians, Syrians et al to work out their own problems.

    2. JTMcPhee

      The US military never says “Retreat!”

      Instead, it’s “a strategic rearward advance to previously prepared positions.”

      I learned this in an indoctrination session in Basic Training, given by Sergeant Parks, who survived being blown up in a tank in the Korean Wart (/s) and whose head thereafter bobbed continuously up and down, up and down… It was a funny session, because he very artfully went off script in a Mark Twain-Sill Rogers kind of way. Left a lot of the Troops (McNamara’s Morons) very confused — “What did he just say?”

      1. xkeyscored

        The British SAS employs the term. When under fire at night, they shout it out while doing the opposite.

    3. a different chris

      And when we back out, all the news columns about the “fight them there so we don’t have to fight them here”, and “they oppress woman (& children and Christians and I dunno sellers of shrubbery)” and “we need the oil” will suddenly just vanish.

      Nobody who wrote any of them will be asked about it, either. We’ll hear about what a threat Sanders is (until he dies) and maybe a few other more local issues will be twisted far out of reality.

    4. Procopius

      Al Tanf is currently being supplied from Iraq. The Iraqi parliament has demanded that U.S. troops leave. That’s going to create some interesting logistics problems. On the one hand, the Pentagon demands we keep forces there to “protect” the oil fields. On the other hand, oil is not a component of a balanced diet. There is a reason the way to attack an enemy army is to threaten its supply lines.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Now that oil has negative value, why exactly does Trump have those troops guarding it for?

        1. The Historian

          The oil may not be worth much but it doesn’t have negative value – only those futures that come due tomorrow have negative value right now. I think those hedge funds that couldn’t get rid of them are going to understand what the word “gouge” means as they are going to have to pay for storage of that oil until they can unload it onto someone else. Sometimes just playing with paper has consequences.

          But the reason Trump has troops guarding oil fields is for another reason: oil field fires are nasty and hard to put out. They are a perfect way for insurgents to cause a disruption.

  13. The Rev Kev

    “Up to 4% of Silicon Valley is already infected with coronavirus”

    I don’t suppose that this should be a real surprise this. When you look at how this virus spread, it was usually by those that used jet travel. You are talking about people jetting to overseas conferences, going to ski resorts in Europe, travel to visit friends in different cities around the world. It would be worth studying the ratio of infection that was done through commercial airliners and private jets when you get down to it. And Silicon Valley is what you would call a bi-coastal traveling set with business links in places like Asia and Europe. Consider – if this virus had started in June instead of December, then think about how the visitors to Burning Man, which has solid links to Silicon Valley, would have spread this virus both far and wide.

    1. Wukchumni

      One of the things in regards to Burning Man, is the winds whip up alkali dust* only about 5 hours per day often into white-out conditions where visibility might’ve been 20 feet, and it would’ve sufficed as the perfect vector in pushing Coronavirus around.

      * There’s tons of techno music playing at any given time, and when the dust storms came around, they effectively squelched the music in no time flat which was always fascinating. My strategy during these encounters was pretty simple, as somebody in our camp had always rented an RV, so i’d make my way in to hang out for a spell, drinking G & T’s to ward off scurvy.

    2. Carolinian

      The MIT is a summary of the Santa Clara study. And given that other studies of Iceland, the Diamond Princess and in China have shown that the “case fatality rate” is much lower than initially thought one must question the article’s conclusion that

      it’s hard to find good news in the blood surveys

      What the Santa Clara study really shows, other than the lower mortality rate, is that if you get the disease then your odds of becoming very sick are much lower than widely believed. After all only 900 or so of the Santa Clara residents at the time felt sick enough for their doctors to order a test that then proved positive. Going by the new study 40 or 50 times that number were sick and getting by on their own just as people do with the flu. It doesn’t mean we should change social distancing because, as the Santa Clara study’s own authors point out, it isn’t definitive. But it is perhaps another indication that the public should be less apprehensive than the constant TV horror stories are encouraging them to be.

      1. lb

        But it is perhaps another indication that the public should be less apprehensive than the constant TV horror stories are encouraging them to be.

        There’s a reasonable level of apprehension, and the public that wants to hear soothing messages that “it’s not so bad after all” should be just as wary of overshooting in that direction as well. We shouldn’t be misinformedly afraid nor should we be misinformedly comfortable.

        We should want the best information we can find, and the Stanford study seems to bend away from being the best. See the other comments above from ‘Monty’ and myself in which we describe and link to debunkings of the overstate claims of authors of this study.

      2. Monty

        Maybe it really shows nothing of the sort. We don’t know yet. It all depends on the integrity of the study. It wouldn’t be the first time a study out of Stanford turned out to be flawed during this pandemic.

        I think you need to see what their peers, involved in infectious disease science, are saying about the design and results of their study, before giving it too much credence. That’s how it usually works with scientific papers.

        1. Carolinian

          If you will read the article or my comment a little more closely you will see that the authors themselves say this. But as you will also see from my comment, should you read it, there are other studies that suggest that the infection is much more widespread than initially thought. If what Stanford did is really a junk study you wonder why MIT technology review would bother to write about it. You are cavalierly pooh poohing a couple of academic heavy hitters.

          1. Monty

            You said, “What the Santa Clara study really shows”. Not “seems to show” or “may show”. If you read my comment a little more closely, you will see I wasn’t pooh poohing any heavy hitters. I was questioning if you know what, “really shows” actually means.

            1. Carolinian

              I think my meaning was perfectly clear and stated explicitly since I cited the article’s disclaimer. You are nitpicking (both me and the article).

              And I’d say all information scientists can obtain about this poorly understood disease is worthwhile as long as the experimental limitations are clearly stated. For the opposite of this process turn on any cable news channel. They filter out all the things they don’t want to hear or talk about.

          2. Massinissa

            I have to agree to Monty. Its too early to draw sweeping conclusions from a single source. If you had parsed your words more carefully perhaps Monty and I would be agreeing with you.

      3. Jessica

        _If_ the Santa Clara study is true, it shows that if you get the virus, your chances of having big trouble are much less, but it also shows that your chances of getting the virus in the first place are much higher.

      4. VietnamVet

        Having sheltered in place since March 3rd and only two trips to drop mail at the post office, despite all my aches, pains and anxiety, with no coughs or temperature, I must assume that I am virus free. So far, I’ve been resupplied by home deliveries. The cruise ships and aircraft carriers and these studies indicate that the virus is quite well spread through the population. Living in Maryland’s most adversely impacted county, I am guessing around 30% are infected, a little lower than the ships. Half of the infected have no symptoms. The only way I can get within six feet of other persons other than my sons, is to be assured that the outsiders are no longer actively shredding the virus. The risk of me getting infected is just too great. I’ve decided that I can’t leave the house until there are no new county hospital COVID-19 admissions for three weeks. That will be months from now, if not years. The question becomes at what point will I have to take the risk, to get food, medicine, medical treatment, or house/appliance repairs? Or, will society simply fall apart? If my government pension ends, no food or water, the electricity goes off, or my garbage is not picked up, that’s pretty much the last whimper.

    3. David B Harrison

      Nashville TN has identified two likely sources for that areas outbreak:Biogen corporation and Vanderbilt students both of whom were jetsetting back and forth to infected areas.

    4. montanamaven

      I’m with you Rev. Ken. Skiers, Business travelers and rich kids on Spring break. On my Feb 16 flight from Newark, NJ to Bozeman, MT, the plane was filled with skiers. And speaking foreign languages. Yes, I look forward to a study on commercial and private jetting about.

    5. Ignim Brites

      One of the more amusing aspects of this event is when some meritocrat is asked whether or not the government should ban all civilian air travel, commericial and private. Well there is near audible gulp as suddenly the meritocrat recognizes that maybe this thing is for real. Or to put it another way, there may be too much social distancing.

    6. eyebear

      No. As I’ve written yesterday, all test which rely on antibodies are error prone to the factor of 4%.

      And now you see the results, and they are 4%? They have measured the error rate. The only reliable test procedure is a PCR-test. Anything else is misleading.

      Special for Yves: remember when you asked for a friend here in Germany, to get a test for Covid-19 and he was denied the test? Now the testing capacity has been ramped up so that everyone can go to a local test center and get a test..

      The last line of defense in the number of tests (PCR tests) would be, if the authorities take the veterinarians into oblige – but that emergency testing capacitiy is more than 250.000 test away. But veterinarians are doing the same kind of test as human doctors do, and so it’s good to know, that there is no shortage in this area.

    7. Painted Shut

      Most of them just now learned that their Norton Antivirus software update did not include protection from corona virus…

      1. The Rev Kev

        Hah! Several weeks ago I tried to warn my brother about what was coming but he is the Fox news type even though we live in Oz. So he sent back an image of this old dude with a CD for Norton Antivirus rubber-banded to his face. As their whole lives are all about golfing, 4-wheel driving, camping, visiting friends, being visited by friends, etc. I will make sure to mention that old warning down the track to them as they remain in lock-down.

  14. marcyincny

    Nice peek at some of the yellow shafted feathers of the flicker. I watch ’em but find it surprisingly rare to see the yellow/gold.

    1. Phacops

      Flickers also like to make a racket. They have a predilection to drumming on metal, even tractors parked in fields. One sounded like there was an air compressor running on my metal roof.

      1. Arizona Slim

        And, dear readers, here’s why they’re making such a racket.

        Those are male flickers. They’re trying to impress women.

        Think of those human drivers in the boom cars. Same concept.

        1. Wukchumni

          How come in nature, the males are usually the showy ones, whereas with us it’s the other way around?

          1. xkeyscored

            Eh? The guns, big cars, huge salaries, expensive yachts, grandiose titles – not exclusive to men, but for ages denied to most women. Even among ordinary folks, who are the loudest show-offs? And who listen quietly and watch, sometimes because that’s all that’s allowed?

            1. Procopius

              When I was a kid I was told it’s because men are romantics (dreamers) whereas women, of necessity, are practical. Women are the ones always left to clean up the mess after the party’s over.

          2. NotTimothyGeithner

            I would argue that class and forms of government matter a great deal. The upper middle classes had some rather festive styles for men in years past.

            Culturally conditioning of every man being a king and not needing to show off to attract the notice of the king makes a great deal of difference. One man, one vote or even a direct relationship to a supreme and singularish deity as dominant relationships in society create a movement towards outwardly conservative dress and conformity. For all of Trump’s outlandishness and extravagance, he still dresses in the standard male uniform as President of the United States. Obama was hammered for wearing the wrong suit.

            Its like the people who drove BMWs and Mercedes to where my dad worked for years. Dad made more money than them and drove beaters, but dad didn’t need to impress them. They wanted to impress dad or other company officers.

            Women’s style reflects the limits of access to power, the patriarchy, and finding their place in the post-Title IX order. Look at Hillary’s (Pelosi too) rather bizarre suits compared to the dress of women newer to the political stage. I see a growing move towards an outward conservative and conformist dress similar to the male uniform but flattering towards women. Omar wears a head covering, but the rest of her outfit wouldn’t be out of place at business casual to somewhat formal events all over the country.

            1. a different chris

              > Look at Hillary’s (Pelosi too) rather bizarre suits

              I thought I was the only one that noticed. Man give them a headress and they would fit right into the Hunger Games upper class.

          3. ewmayer

            With humans, it’s not the other way around at all. And the short answer to why-are-males-annoying-showoffs in such a multitude of species is “because sperm is cheap”.

            1. Wukchumni

              I’m thinking from a clothing vein, compare the frocks, high heels (and powdered wig) of Louis XIV to our President.

              At one point leaders dressed like drag queens upstaging the womenfolk, but not for a long while.

          4. HotFlash

            Possibly apocryphal, but still. When the lady was told she shouldn’t/couldn’t do /have/be (whatever) because of not having a specific whatnot, she just laughed. “With what I got, I can get as many of those as I want.” Maybe it’s just a market kind of thing.

            1. ewmayer

              Recalls the hilarious scene in the Steve Martin/Lily Tomlin comedy All of Me, in which lawyer Steve’s massively hot wife stamps into his office, says she’s leaving him, and on her way out, to really twist the knife, adds “…and I faked all those orgasms,” followed by a convincing-sounding example. About 2 seconds after she’s gone, Steve finds the best reply he can muster is “well, I faked mine, too!”

  15. timbers

    Not directly covered in today’s links, but I’m seeing efforts to blame China for creating Covid
    Also, apparently it’s China’s fault they won’t sell us their medical supplies so we can get better.

    When I look at worldometer, one nation stands out as being the very most exceptional when it comes to Covid. It’s not even close.

    Perhaps this is a new distraction being invented, lest we become upset. Maybe that’s were the blame China campaign comes in.

    1. Louis Fyne

      just like most disasters, there are failures at multiple decision points…

      China, US deindustrialization, Trump, state governments putting public health spending on the back burner, media, WHO, Cuomo-DeBlasio not shutting down the MTA, presumed airline lobbying against a ground stop, zealous religous congregations not heeding warnings, poverty, etc.

      1. Phacops

        Reading here and on other sites I think the history of what brought the US to become the world’s COVID factory will be a weaving together of many threads spanning decades. From duplicitous politicians telling us that our government is the problem and then doing their damnest to prove it with their actions, to the organization of our society according to “markets uber alles” until we are groaning under the weight of breathtaking corruption, how we have arrived at the failure of our society will be quite a tale.

      2. Pat

        Going to disagree. It wasn’t the MTA where Cuomo and partially DeBlasio failed but it was the delay in shutting the schools and starting the shelter in place. Cuomo took too long to shift from it is limited to it is throughout the NYC metropolitan area, and we cannot do small measures. Hell DeBlasio was late but he was calling on Cuomo to shut us down almost a week before he did it.

    2. marym

      “Both sides” too.

      Recently in twiitterverse:
      Clip of FOX personality’s diatribe against China
      Team-blue-oriented reaction against FOX diatribe for not blaming Trump
      Biden ad claiming Trump too accommodating to China
      Anti-Trump Republican praising Biden ad

      1. Carolinian

        Nothing like a hysteria inducing event striking an already mostly insane ruling class. Out here in the boonies people are remarkably calm. Schools are closed but school buses are taking internet and meals to poor children. A local dry cleaner is putting their idle staff to work making masks for the public. My neighborhood is swarming with parents walking the children they perhaps don’t spend enough time with.

        But I wouldn’t expect that to last. The hysteria is what we must fight.

        1. chuck roast

          I am totally enjoying my little coastwise touristless town. The sky is soo blue! The flivers (useless things that they are) are all parked and no longer threatening bodily injury. I walk everywhere in the street. You can always tell the locals because they ignore the sidewalks. But after St. Paddy’s the touroids always start showing up, and the middle of the street is no longer safe. No touroids…a indescribable blessing!

          The extreme pain of the cooties-fear is well hidden here. It’s there, lurking behind many doors. But the trees are flowering, and the Cardinals are trying to figure out which of their many chirps to use. Every day I wander around and spot a beautiful door knocker that I never saw before…or an interesting soffet or a subtly painted entrance. The yearling loons are even closer to shore without the humans around. Their plumage is spinning into adult-hood, but they won’t bolt north until their eyes turn to sapphire.

          The marinas are unusually quiet, but there are a few sailboats bobbing around on their moorings. There is a blast-out south-westerly today from around 210 (210…the magical spot on the compass) degrees and a killer sun. Yesterday I found adjoining little streets that I never suspected existed…East Street and West Street. Almost like a revelation.

          I have a letch for some good fish-and-chips, but the best spots are all closed. It’s like time stopped, if only for a short while and let all this insane beauty pour in.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Your description make me optimistic how this lock-down may improve the lives for a lot of people by giving them time to think and to see what they have been missing. Thanks.

        2. FluffytheObeseCat

          I have seen a similar level and trend of civic-minded pivoting in Reno. However, this:

          “The hysteria is what we must fight.”

          Is distinctly not the issue here. People in my age & socioeconomic layer are too unconcerned. They aren’t masking up much, and are whining about their inability to access the golf courses for a few weeks. We had one of those protests in Carson City yesterday…. with about 150-200 participants. It was heavily reported on, with newsphotos carefully cropped to make them look more numerous than they actually were.

          The main thing I’m seeing in my orbit is men and women with kids, 40 & under, or brown, or both, still working physical jobs on account of necessity, and 45-65ish white professionals + small business owners wailing at the top of their clear & sacrosanct lungs about how hard done by they are. There are way too many people out here who are living nearly at the edge of their means who shouldn’t be. And they are – as usual – prating about “freedom” while we quieter ones (with smaller trucks, & fewer trips to Hawaii and Disneyland in our feeds & iCloud albums) are just paying our bills and tipping the curbside staff like we ought to. Without pissing and moaning. I guess cause we aren’t the “Real Americans!!”

          1. Carolinian

            There have been no protests here that I know of but just reading that the Trump friendly governor will allow “non essential” businesses and public beaches to reopen as of Tuesday. At he same time it has been announced that the state is estimated to have passed its peak deaths and hospitalizations and is now on the back side of the curve. Guess we will see if the governor’s move will change that.

            As for hysteria, panic about food and supplies may still crop up.

            1. MLTPB

              If the sheltering in place and opening up are but two signs (this way or that way) on a continuum, we can have various degrees of both.

              Here in CA, the orders differ county by county.

              The less restrictive ones can be seen as more ‘opened,’ I suppose.

              The same with states in this country, or countries in Europe, and elsewhere.

              Every nation is in some way opened up, and restricted at the same time.

    3. The Rev Kev

      Saw a bit of a Trump briefing where he said that either the Chinese let it escape from their labs or the Chinese released this on purpose on the world. In either case, he is saying that the Chinese created the virus on purpose with no mention of the fact that viruses just evolve. Trouble is, evolution is a thing and sometimes it produces some bad things. To be technical, Trump himself is a result of evolution.

      1. Anon

        Don’t watch Trump, but did he actually say they created it on purpose and let it escape, or is the first part interpretation?

        1. The Rev Kev

          Had to look it up. What he said was “If it was a mistake, a mistake is a mistake. But if they were knowingly responsible, yeah, I mean, then sure there should be consequences.” By the fact that he has talked about the virus coming from a lab before, I am inferring that it getting away was the “mistake.” But “knowingly responsible” means they did it on purpose-

          1. timbers

            China ought to ask itself what might become of it’s $1 trillion U.S. treasuries if blame China is on the agenda. It must realize soveign immunity only applies to America and those treasuries can be seized with a push of a button.

            1. Paradan

              and China can push another button and print a new stack of currency to spend on Gold or Eurobonds or whatever.

              1. xkeyscored

                And every other nation would wonder if US treasuries were such a wise thing to stick their money in.

              2. ewmayer

                Suggest you read up a bit more on cross-border currency flows, especially in case between countries engaged in asymmetric trade, with a view toward answering the question “how did China end up with all those US debt instruments?” (Hint: because of the net inflow of $US to China resulting from its persistent trade surpluses with the US.)

          2. MLTPB

            It’s ‘if’ China knowlingly (either let or released, etc.), is that the case here?

            And not just he simply said either China let or released (deleting the word if)?

            Regarding ‘blame,’ in Feb or March, in China, there was tremendous, popular interest in conspiracy theories involving the west, and in stories about this being already around last summer, i recall, suggested by a Swiss or Italian professional in the field.

            It’s obvious people, in many places, have been interested in how this thing got started.

            From the Chinese perspective, without any one jumping in to add more, it would always be, it started in China in 2019, and any alternate sequence of early events in this pandemic would improve on that.

        2. Carolinian

          I never watch Trump but carelessness and on purpose are not the same thing. The former seems at least slightly plausible, the latter not very.

          Still it isn’t clear where he is going with this. The US might say hundreds of thousands of collateral damage victims in Iraq were carelessness rather than deliberate and therefore we should not be blamed. We don’t have a lot of moral standing on the rogue nation front.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            This is the election. Trump is going to go after Biden on trade and play on the existing narrative of everything be made in China. Then he’s going to say Team Blue declared him a traitor while he was fighting the Chinese to upend these disastrous trade policies. They were spying on Trump Tower, not China, and so forth.

            Team Blue will follow suit and declare how much they love Mitt Romney who tried to warn us about China in 2012 (Obama will be omitted) and Trump hates Romney who voted to convict.

            If you thought “OMG Russia” was bad, what is coming from both parties is going to be absolutely unhinged as they can really go after people who can’t “pass” as white. This stuff will be everywhere.

            1. timbers

              Very possible.if I were China I’d minimize holdings is US that can be seized. Like treasuries.

              1. NotTimothyGeithner

                Trying to outflank Trump on the right, apparently.

                In this specific case, I believe they are trying to prepare an excuse for Biden’s record on trade relative to China.

                For the most part, they will run to the right. Like HRC’s lack of arguments for gun control after she had the nomination, Biden will never mention guns.

                  1. NotTimothyGeithner

                    Yeah, like when he used all his contacts in the Senate to lead the charge on gun control in the Obama Administration when they passed:

                    Yep, it was an exciting time. They didn’t even pass expanded background checks. Obama handing any project off to Biden was an indication he didn’t want to do anything.

  16. The Rev Kev

    “Hunter Prado, PhD”

    If you look in that Twitter thread, you will see mention of a Noam Chomsky interview where it is said-

    “You can debate a lot of things, but not arithmetic,” says Noam Chomsky on the #NeverBiden movement. “Failure to vote for Biden in this election in a swing state amounts to voting for Trump.”

    Voter-shaming from a man who should know how the TINA system works by now.

    1. Baby Gerald

      Whether Hunter Prado, PhD is a lesser-of-two-evils believer doesn’t have any influence on whether or not he is stating accurate information on the actual subject at hand.

      If one plays Twitter detective with just about anyone, one is likely to find statements on various subjects one would not agree with. If you want to then use those to discount their comments on a completely different subject, then you are doing yourself a disservice and probably shouldn’t be on Twitter at all, because humans are humans.

      I, for one, will accept his and his friend’s actual reporting on these protests and be thankful that at least someone can offer a contrasting view from the hype that we see in the advertising-driven landscape that is national news. The next step is to find others who can verify these claims, not nitpick for unrelated tweets I find disagreeable.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      I do admire Chomsky, but it sounds like his arithmetic is a little shaky. Last I checked, zero (not giving Biden a vote) does not equal one (voting for Trump).

      1. Frobisher

        By this argument voter suppression is no big deal. I invite you to work the phones this election season in Wisconsin or Alabama.

        1. lyman alpha blob

          Judging by the Democrat party reaction to widespread voter suppression over many, many years (crickets), it would certainly appear that it is no big deal.

          Having a system that guarantees that everyone’s vote is counted accurately – paper ballots hand counted in public – doesn’t seem to be a big deal either.

          I invite you to show me a party that gives a [family blog] about making sure everyone can vote and then counting it accurately, and then I might be more inclined to volunteer.

    3. xkeyscored

      Voting for Biden, if he loses, is a vote for the Democratic Party as it is, and little else.
      I listened to Chomsky, and remain unconvinced Trump is uniquely evil, though I am tending that way a little more. All about climate change and nuclear weapons, both of which the mainstream Dems seem keen on. He does say it would be easier to hold Biden’s feet to the fire than Trump’s, but with Joe possibly beyond noticing come 2021 and Trump outflanking the Dems from the left, I’d sooner just chuck the pair of them on the fire and watch them splutter and sparkle..

      1. edmondo

        Just like they held Obama’s feet to the fire. And Bill Clinton’s before that. Yeah, Feet holding to the fire really works. These people are whoring for votes. They will say anything.

        1. HotFlash

          Totally! And those nasty lefties, they held his feet so close to the fire that they burnt up his comfortable walking shoes and he couldn’t go to the picket lines when the teachers struck in WI or Chicago and when the stuff hit the fan, this is how well that worked out. Lesson: don’t hold the Prez’s feet to the fire, you will toast his shoes and he won’t be able to picket with you!

      2. ewmayer

        “He does say it would be easier to hold Biden’s feet to the fire than Trump’s” — and he’s dead wrong, and he of all people should know better. Decorous, faux-liberal well-spoken neolibcon psychopaths like Obama more or less get a free pass from the MSM to work their evil charms. Just look at the many, many examples of policies begun or normalized by Obama – permawar, bailing-out-of-and-legal-immunity-for the Wall Street fraud cartels, mass deportations, promoting the elite-looter agenda, etc – which only became subjects of daily MSM outrage-gasms under Trump.

        1. HotFlash

          Indeed. Trump at least *wants* to be liked (I think). Biden, OTOH, just wants to be paid (or Ms B does), and betw his dementia and his handlers, I don’t think he is in any shape to even notice whether anyone likes him or not.

      3. a different chris

        > remain unconvinced Trump is uniquely evil

        I understand your point.

        To me they are all uniquely evil, in the way of that saying: “happy homes are pretty much all the same, but dysfunctional ones are all unique”.

        Obama, Clinton, Bush… I mean you can’t out-evil Dick Cheney no way no how. Trump is just a different form of evil.

        More to the point, the Dems lost all control of Congress, Governors, state houses, and didn’t care… because they just were working up to an Imperial Presidency. And now they’ve got one. Hard to feel sorry for them.

        1. xkeyscored

          I said I was tending more towards Chomsky’s view, and a night’s sleep has led me even further in that direction.

          Many a US president has flouted international treaties, or bent and twisted their interpretation beyond recognition, or negotiated one so as to make sure it’s feeble and useless before backing out. I don’t remember a president who simply tore them up in the way or at the rate Trump has. The UN, WHO, ICC, nuclear and climate treaties and so on may be flawed and less than we desire, but a world without them seems a lot more dangerous than one with.

          And domestically, I notice Bannon’s name popping up more and more of late. He and his Breitbart and associates seemed to have the ear of biker gangs, white nationalists, paramilitary types, religious loonies, the alt-right, neo-Nazis, and others of that ilk. Not that they would automatically obey whatever orders Bannon issued, far from it. But he knew how to push their buttons and wind them up, and there he was, watching where they went and ready to give them another nudge if necessary. Trump himself has openly said things like “I’d like to punch them in the face.” Altogether scary. Violent people, with plenty of guns, ready to attack whoever they see as in their way, especially if their president has blessed their mission. Which does remind me, very alarmingly, of Germany in the 30s.

          So perhaps I would vote for Joe to keep the greater, even unique, evil out. But as Chomsky says, again and again, we must never think that’s it. Democracy is more than pulling a lever or making a mark once every four years. Without a movement, we can’t expect anything from either of them other than more of the same.

    4. Zagonostra

      You certainly can debate arithmetic, you can debate it successfully when you apply it to the wrong subject. Chomsky of all people shod know that each science must be true to the nature if its subject.

      The subject of politics is not the dancing of electrons but elections in the domain of ‘Being’. Chomsky doesn’t know his St. Thomas Aquinas nor his Heidegger.

    5. Huey Long

      Chomsky once again is a “radical leftist intellectual” until it counts, and then he toes the party line.

      Would Michael Parenti try to shame is into voting for Biden?

      I think not.

      1. chuck roast

        Speaking of shame. Yesterday one of the brethren posted a youtube of George Carlin speaking at the National Press Club. Carlin at his best. At one point he suggested that if our leaders had any humility whatever, many could consider committing ritual suicide. Indeed. I recently recommended to my US Representative that based upon his role in the impeachment fiasco he should engage in the very same activity. He did not respond.

        1. Screwball

          I watched that. I love Carlin. I never thought I would ever see him speak for 20 some minutes and only use one cuss word. He was still funny. I don’t think some in the room agree with me. Good.

          Can you imagine what material he could exploit with the press we have today? I miss George.

    6. PlutoniumKun

      Just speculating, but Chomsky and Sanders seem to share a fear and revulsion of Trump that exceeds their dislike of mainstream neocons and neoliberals. The fact that they are both elderly Jews with strong family memories of the Holocaust could well be a significant emotional element for them.

      Whether they are right or wrong to see that connection, it’s not for me to say, but I think that their particular view should be respected, even if many of us disagree with it.

      1. curious euro

        They can have their view, that’s fine. They still can have a totally wrong view, especially due to the blinders of their family history and no one should give their view any thought because of that.

        Obviously I cannot vote there, but a vote for Trump is a vote for Trump and only Trump, and a vote for Biden is a vote for Biden and only Biden. And both of them are war criminals, economic criminals and all around evil human beings. Why would anyone anywhere vote for them?

      2. HotFlash

        To curio Euro,

        Point! I have one firm rule, which is, I will never vote for a war criminal. Among other things, that would make me an accessory — do people never think of tht?

    7. flora

      I like Chomsky’s writings. He’s a good explainer. However, he’s no revolutionary. His talks and writings often seem to end with a ‘It’s terrible, but there’s nothing to be done. I see no way to change things.’ He’s comfortable critiquing the system we have and pointing out it’s faults. How to change the system doesn’t seem to be his area of interest.
      I always feel rev’ed up then let down listening to Chomsky; invigorated then demoralized. He does have good analysis of the problems. I stop with that since his answer to the problems he raises is inevitably that he has no answer, answers are for other people to find.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Chomsky is quite amusing when he’s asked that question – he’s quite open about the fact that he sees his role as an intellectual to examine the failures of capitalism, but the nuts and bolts of an alternative system are not his central interest. I’ve seen him talk about being an anarchist syndicalist and being attracted to bottom up structures, but I think like most people who talk about those things, they aren’t really sure how they’d work in reality. At least he doesn’t pretend otherwise.

        This is, incidentally, why I gravitated to NC – I got sick to death of lefties and greens who could talk for hours about the evils of capitalism, but were struck dumb (or just said dumb things), when asked how an alternative would actually work. I mean in detail and in the real world, not just generalised ‘lets do nice things with money from the rich’. This site is I think unique in promoting real world alternatives that are grounded in the reality of how power and money works.

        1. flora

          Yes, I agree. Thanks for that.

          FDR wasn’t a leftist. Keynes wasn’t a leftist. Both men were capitalists who saw the dangers of the ungoverned engine of capitalism as it became, in both financial and political terms, shaking itself to pieces; they saw what could follow if the whole capitalist economic system collapsed would follow either financially or politically.

          The importance of what works in the real world, and to what purpose, does seem missing in those more interested in proving their leftist credentials than in grasping the nettle of the current problems.

          I have no use for ‘leftist’ points scoring with no thought to the wider universe.
          My 2 cents.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            I’ll give one example of where Chomsky does give practical solutions – when he was asked about his view on military interventions he made it clear that he is not a pacifist or against the use of force in principle. He gives the example of the Vietnamese invasion of Kampuchea and the Indian intervention in what was east Pakistan in the 1970’s as morally justified and successful unilateral interventions. He said that a simple principle that should apply is the medical one of ‘first, do no harm’ could be a guiding light in the application of force to foreign policy. Now obviously that’s a vague proposal that could be misused, but I think its a good starting point for a discussion of what a ‘moral’ foreign policy for a militarily strong country should be.

            1. The Rev Kev

              To be fair, Chomsky has drunk deep of the kool-aid on American foreign policy. He is all in on having US troops stationed in Syria to fight the “moral disgrace” of the Assad government and their cruel allies Russia. To me, he is one of those “liberals” that are all in with neocons in their methods and their aims when push comes to shove.

        2. Montanamaven

          I will keep these two comments by Flora and Plutoniumkun. I’ve been puzzled by my reaction to Chomsky over the years. I listen and nod and agree with his talks and then end up famished.

          1. chuck roast

            Yes, this is a rare typology. I first noticed this in PJ O’Rourke when he began writing for Rolling Stone many years ago. RS was in the midst of its long decent into fashionista. O’Rourke would engage in a interesting and insightful essay and then…come to exactly the wrong conclusion. Is there a name for this behavior?

        3. Aumua

          It’s always fun to punch left, but I submit that perhaps it is genuine humility that informs Noam Chomsky’s stopping short of claiming to have The Solution to the World’s Problems, and especially the specific details of how an alternate system would work when we really don’t have much to go on there for examples, except perhaps imagination. That doesn’t mean he is wrong about his assessments.

          I would like a specific case or two of some of the “real world alternatives that are grounded in the reality of how power and money works” that NC ostensibly offers. I have a feeling that many of those solutions get a little a murky in the details as well.

          1. flora

            See for example : Pecora Commission.

            What happened, how did it happen, who and/or what was involved? How can it be prevented from happening again?

            (Notice the Dem estab giving the T team everything they want they leaving town this time for some indefinite future..)

            1. Aumua

              Well Glass-Steagal or some other legislation like it was and continues to be a good idea I think. But it’s been dismantled, and the kind of behavior it was meant to curtail has returned with a vengeance. So can we really say that it was a successful solution? Or did the deeper systemic issues of the kind Chomsky talks about end up defeating it?

              1. flora

                Successful for 60 years. Then dismantled by neoliberals, and now?
                25 years later the results are in. It’s not like we haven’t been here before and found answers that work. Throwing up hands saying, “Oh, human nature” isn’t an excuse , imo.

          2. a different chris

            Yes Marx can’t get any traction for his useful diagnosis of problems because his solutions didn’t work.

            So “you’re a Marxist” (and thus an idiot with unworkable ideas) became a thing.

            Life is complicated. Diagnosing the world’s problems doesn’t leave much gray matter for fixing them.

            PS: know almost nothing about Chomsky, this is a general comment that may or may not apply…

            1. Aumua

              I think it’s arguable whether Marx’s solutions have ever really been tried. First of all we would have to agree on some idea of what solutions he actually proposed. Then we have to question whether any of the attempts that have been made under the banners of socialism or communism have ever embodied what Marx and other Marxians meant by those terms. Then if it was tried we can ask why it didn’t work, where it went wrong etc. and then decide to throw out what doesn’t work and keep what does. But the backdrop of Capitalism, its role in the problem and its ultimate failure doesn’t change.

          3. PlutoniumKun

            I don’t agree that so far as economics are concerned there is anything murky about the sort of details discussed here of how a fairer economy would work. NC has been promoting and discussing MMT and other heterogenous economic theories for a long time – agree or disagree with them, but they provide a firm intellectual and practical macro foundation for alternative economic systems. NC has also been promoting those with more focused solutions for running a fairer society, ranging from issues like the Jobs Guarantee to anti-trust ideas to renewable energy policy.

            As numerous failed revolutions through history have shown, if you don’t get the macro conditions right, you will not succeed in the long term. A fair, sustainable economy depends on understanding as a ‘first principle’ the nature of money and the fundamental distribution of power within any given system. You can build from there downwards – every society is different and local level ‘solutions’ will be different, but you have to start with firm foundations.

            1. Aumua

              These are good examples, and I don’t disagree with any of them per se: MMT, jobs guarantee, renewable energy… but they do seem to be secondary to me and I’m not sure that they form a basis for society-wide and/or worldwide solutions. The fundamental power dynamic as I see it in a Capitalist society is the employer-employee relationship, which is exploitative by nature. If we can look at these other things in the context of changing that dynamic, then I think we’ll find ways to supercharge these other “tools of a fairer society” into being actually used, and used correctly, and not tossed aside at the earliest chance like glass-steagal by a ruling class whose first interest is preserving the Capitalist system we have.

              I guess I’m skeptical of the notion of working toward a kinder, gentler capitalism these days.

              1. Procopius

                Color me skeptical. Adam Smith was a smart man, and he was a professor of moral philosophy before he was an economist. An essential insight is from Book III, Chapter 2:
                “The pride of man makes him love to domineer, and nothing mortifies him so much as to be obliged to condescend to persuade his inferiors. Wherever the law allows it, and the nature of the work can afford it, therefore, he will generally prefer the service of slaves to that of freemen.” Power is never relinquished without force.

            2. xkeyscored

              I’m of the view that to solve the environmental crises, we need to drastically scale back our consumption of resources (talking developed nations here). I look in vain for how we’re going to bring that about, short of waiting for the crises to make our current lifestyles impossible. The Green New Deal, for example, seems to promise the world, or maybe just the USA, that it can continue on its current trajectory, simply swapping fossil fuels for renewables to power it. Which I can’t see working.
              But NC does offer informed and perceptive views on the topic of where we go from where we are.

              1. The Rev Kev

                I wonder if people have involuntarily cut back on consumption while in lock-down or whether they have simply purchased more online. If the former, it might serve to break some of these habits of consumption and appreciate other things more. Less “stuff” is usually better for the environment.

                1. PlutoniumKun

                  I think the evidence so far is that there has been a huge decrease in consumer activity. People just don’t buy stuff at home, and they don’t need so much – plus of course people are also worried about jobs and money.

                  Whether this changes things culturally, only time will tell – although certainly travel will be fundamentally different for at least 2 years, it will be a long time before that gets back to ‘normal’.

                  1. The Rev Kev

                    Would you believe that bookings for cruise ships for 2021 are up 40% from what they were in 2019? And personally I would not get aboard a plane anytime soon without a full body HazMat suit. The knock-on effects will be huge going forward. What about coaches? What about the international tourist industry? Just in time manufacturing? International trade routes? This is going to be a major restructuring of the world economy as well as our cultures this.

    8. Synoia

      Between Biden and Trump, which one is the more effective evil?

      Personally, I see little difference. I’d like to have more information.

      Maybe a chart of possible actions, with a yes/no/maybe score for each item.

      1. edmondo

        Biden and a Democratic Congress = goodbye social safety net.
        Trump and a Republican Congress = goodbye social safety net.

        The safest choice is Trump and Democratic Congress = nothing happens but fundraising letters.

        1. neo-realist

          Biden and a Democratic Congress=death to the safety net by a thousand cuts (unless AOC, Pramila Jayapal, and our revolution assert themselves–which will result in a status quo in the near term)

          Trump and a Republican Congress=a quick goodbye to the safety net

          There are subtleties.

          1. Balakirev

            Or possibly:

            Biden and a Democratic Congress = rev up social safety net for the powerful and wealthy

            Trump and a Republican Congress = rev up social safety net for the powerful and wealthy

            These other people who could use a social safety net, these deplorables–where are they? I can’t see them from my fashionable manor hall. Perhaps if they showed themselves, I’d think they were real. Perhaps.

      1. Yves Smith

        This is an important find. It was Shakir who was among the group that urged Sanders to quit. We pointed out that having even 20% of Sanders’ core team resign or act as internal dissidents would be fatal. I’m of the view that this show of disloyalty has a lot to do with his resignation and very depressed mien.

        1. Massinissa

          This dovetails with the findings about internal dissidents in Corbyn’s labor party. It really sucks that only left parties are so very vulnerable to this.

    9. mpalomar

      Voter shaming? Given Chomsky’s assertions, climate change collapse and/or nuclear annihilation, the only germane argument, as the viability of civilization enters the last decades before precipitous collapse, is what’s the point in arguing?

      I’m assuming most at NC accept the coming ‘collapse’ scenario. Yet Chomsky and factions on the left are seriously debating the arrangement of the deck chairs; under the circumstances, really a debate over aesthetics, in what fashion should humanity present itself for dissolution? The ethical arguments over lesser evils and third parties is a pursuit for those civilizations with time on their side and a modicum of hope.

      Is it reasonable to accept the existence of two existential threats to civilization? If the answer is yes, then what can be done and is there time to do it?
      Clearly nothing can be done, human nature being what it has proven to be over recorded history… Oh and by the way, time has run out.

      Climate change and environmental collapse, which probably spit out the recent covid-19 virus, will not be addressed, time up on that one. The impetus to continue with the laissez faire philosophy on fossil fuels, population growth, expanding economic growth, ever more resource extraction, final habitat destruction and poisonous industrial farming, apparently cannot be diverted.

      The other issue, the imminence of nuclear obliteration. That the world somehow escaped annihilation during the cold war was mostly luck, surely it can’t be ascribed to rational behavior outcomes. That US policy failed to seize the ‘glasnost’ moment and disarm but instead resurrected an adversarial stance with the other major nuclear power while maintaining and technologically advancing its own nuclear stockpiles is persuasive evidence that there is no solution when humans are involved.

      The ethical debate over third party or lesser of two evils is pointless given the time constraints of the dilemma. There is no time for a third party to coalesce, gain power and take corrective action, nor is there time for pressuring Biden and the Schummer – Pelosi Democratic establishment to radically change course.

      Given these constraints, the political struggle over ethics is absurd and the only real debate is over aesthetics. It is the Kierkegard either/or; damned if you do, damned if you don’t; finally the only available choice here is aesthetic.

      Speaking of high aesthetics and the third party/lesser of two evils questions as humans faces extinction, reminds me of a Star Drek episode where Spock is alone on a tiny shuttle lost in the vastness of the universe. In a last desperate act he fires a rocket flare into the void and the Enterprise miraculously spots it. Once safely back on starship, Kirk good naturedly teases Spock for his hopeless, illogical action. Spock of course argues it was logical to try.

  17. s.n.

    dunno if this one got linked to yet.
    what a tangled web they wove…..:
    Oxford professor arrested over scandal of stolen papyrus

    looks like he stole them to sell ’em to the Hobby Lobby’s ‘Museum of the Bible’ in God’s [or: Gods’?] Own Land. They’re the very same folks that tried to import hundreds [or was it thousands] of illegally obtained and transported cuneiform tablets from one or another cratered Middle Eastern war zone into the US by declaring them as “decorative tiles”. Oddly enough I don’t think anyone is doing any time for that. At least not anyone big. Obviously they have God on their side…..And yes, the Sackler Classics Library is that Sackler, but that’s a whole ‘nother story innit? Ditto that Oxford deleted the webpage of the student newspaper report on the crooked prof…. but it’s still accessible via the above link….

    the best account so far of the whole affair up to mid-January is at

    1. chuck roast

      I love art/artfact crime. It’s the rich who are always the scammees. Except of course in my case!

      Many years ago I bought a ship portrait of a three masted schooner called the Lizzy Anne by S.F.M. Badger. It was a beauty. Unfortunately, I couldn’t locate it in Lloyd’s Shipping Register. Ergo…the Lizzy Anne never existed. Gaaahhhhh!

      A few years ago I was at an auction when a ship portrait by a Badger contemporary was about to be bid upon. The auctioneer took a moment in his pursuit of lucre to reprise the story of Eugene Nickerson who was a well known Cape Cod antiques dealer. For several years Nickerson had been turning up Badgers, W.P. Stubbs paintings and the like and selling them at various New England auction houses. Eventually, the auctioneers figured it out, and an article appeared in the Maine Antiques Digest exposing Nickerson. The forger immediately bolted for England and stayed for a few years until things cooled off. Please have the courtesy to not ask me what happened to the painting.

      1. ewmayer

        “Please have the courtesy to not ask me what happened to the painting” — if it was, as you say “a beauty”, why not appreciate it for that? Even better, unlike an original, there was a genuinely interesting story behind it.

  18. Krystyn Podgajski

    RE:Delayed clearance of SARS-CoV2 in male compared to female patients: High ACE2 expression in testes suggests possible existence of gender-specific viral reservoirs

    I am trying to think why they feel the testes are a reservoir while the other organs are not. ACE2 is expressed in the kidney and bladder even more, so I do not think location of ACE2 is relevant. I think this is kind of sensationalist research. They did not even mention the kidneys in that paper.

    There is a nutritional metal that men are much more likely to have a deficiency in for several (cough) testy reasons. This deficiency is found in those with old age, diabetes and obesity as well.

        1. ambrit

          Considering that the testes are involved, I’ll take a flyer and surmise that the metal involved is brass.

          1. HotFlash

            Oh dear.

            There once was a man of Madras
            Whose b*lls were both made out of brass
            In stormy weather
            They’d clang together
            And sparks would fly out of his *ss.

            I will now go sit in a corner for many, many days.

            1. ambrit

              Ooooh! Licentious Limericks! Or; the debauched rake’s guide to poesy.
              Your example is a wonderful description of a Politico in action. Like the Great Panjandrum.

        2. John k

          It’s my theory (without many facts) that it’s really not good to be low in zinc when you catch the disease, maybe bc the immune system needs it to fight the virus and grabs it from whatever sources it finds, like the heart and other organs… the body has no zinc reservoir.
          Old people minimizing red meat might be low, same as veggies not taking mineral supplements.
          The northeast soils are said to be low in zinc, interesting if people there have worse outcomes.
          I’m pretty heavy, maybe even more important for me to rake a supplement (I do.)

    1. HotFlash

      Possibly b/c they are the coolest (temperature-wise) organ in the body? The virus does seem to prefer cooler temps.

    2. ewmayer

      Being a habitual wearer of testes, my first thought on reading the headline was ‘nuts!’ Next thing you know, they’re gonna mandate that all men practice social distancing with respect to their ‘nads’ … “but Dr. Fauci, I’m really rather attached to them!”

      Is there such a thing as an N95 jockstrap? If not, someone needs to design one, ASAP.

      1. ambrit

        Seeing that the testes are involved, your suggestion would fall into the category of “Category Error.” More apropos would be an N95 condom. (An interesting technical challenge. Worth a bio-medical device Thesis.)

  19. PlutonimKun

    World View: Politicians must not hide behind scientists Irish Times

    “All models are wrong, but some are useful,” said the statistician George Box. But the point is not that experts can get things wrong – that’s inevitable. The point is that any system needs to allow for fallibility, biases and even groupthink. It needs politicians to interrogate and probe the advice they receive, and it needs a certain level of transparency so that the thinking driving major national decisions is open to challenge.

    This is one of the few articles I’ve seen with a reasoned argument about the responsibility of politicians when dealing with scientific advice. Scientific advice is rarely bias free or unambiguous, and scientists themselves are often unaware of their subjective assumptions.

    This is not to say that public health responses should be driven by anything other than the best scientific analysis. Some of the most alarming outbreaks of the virus have occurred in countries where specialist advice has been sidelined or overridden by partisan politics. The danger, rather, is that by holding epidemiological modelling up as a conclusive, value-free manual for the eradication of the novel coronavirus, and thereby denying the uncertainty and contingency that necessarily lie behind our public health strategies, politicians make it harder for themselves to adapt and shift course as our understanding of the new disease deepens. Just as importantly, to imply that scientific advice is all that matters is to deny the importance of a vital ingredient in the pandemic response: sound political judgment.

    There is no easy answer of course for politicians. Some seem to be content to simply wash their hands of it and leave it in the hands of their most senior medical advisors. As the UK and Sweden may well be proving, this may well not have been a good option. In Taiwan and SK it seems to have been very much a political decision to drive fast aggressive action. Its hard to tell at this junction, but it does seem that some countries were not so much led well or badly, but got lucky with the timing/extent of the disease and with crucial decisions made at the right (or wrong) times.

    I think that when the dust from this settles, there will be a lot of questions asked, not just from the most senior politicians, but from a wide range of experts and specialist bodies. I doubt if too many will come out of this well.

    1. xkeyscored

      I wonder how much of it relates to politicians’ knowledge of and respect for science. Trump and Johnson appear to have little of either.

      (And is Plutonim another name for money?)

  20. Neoliberal Cockroaches

    Read a really interesting article about who will pay and the non-death of neoliberalism in Neues Deutschland today

    It also refers to the thesis of the Strange Non-Death of Neoliberalism dated 2011. I would be surprised if this thesis were not relevant today too. We will see how the neoliberal cockroaches will get out alive from this mess too.

  21. NotTimothyGeithner

    The newest ad out of the Biden campaign is a salute to xenophobia.

    My guess is Team Blue strategerists are examining Biden and have found a guy Trump can devastate on trade, infrastructure, and the economy especially in the Midwest in light of a faux impeachment charade (if it was real, Schiff would have been kept far away). They rushed it out, so they can have something to say and the think this will appeal to White Flight Republicans who liked Mittens.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        This is unfair to Landon who would be denounced as a pinko by Biden if he was around today.

          1. Jessica

            The course of the pandemic, especially in the heartland, will decide whether Biden is Alf Landon or Trump is Herbert Hoover. Or this is one of those Gilded Age presidential elections that is close because of a combination of voter suppression and two wretched candidates.

      2. Massinissa

        To be fair to Landon, Mondale arguably lost just as hard to Reagan in 86. Reagan won all the states except Washington DC and Minnesota.

  22. The Rev Kev

    “Coronavirus and the Future of Telemedicine”

    I am about ready to declare telemedicine as a technological answer in search of a medical problem to solve. For very simple exchanges, then yes, there is a place for it. But for anything slightly complicated I am saying that telemedicine would miss too many things that an experienced doctor would notice. Let me illustrate with an anecdote from an autobiography.

    A doctor called an experienced surgeon to look over an 8 year-old boy. After two minutes they stepped away. The surgeon noted the boy kept his right nee bent, wasn’t moving his abdomen while breathing, had a dry tongue and called it as peritonitis needing immediate surgery. When the doctor said that his white count was fine as was his temperate, the surgeon replied: “Try looking at the patient instead of the chart. The chart isn’t sick.” The boy had a ruptured appendix with peritonitis.

    Now tell me that telemedicine would have been able to make that diagnosis.

    1. xkeyscored

      Not every country has an ample supply of experienced doctors, and I’m sure I could track down tales of successful telemedicine to counter that one. And not just for simple exchanges, but sometimes precisely for conditions with which less well-trained doctors are unfamiliar. Of course neoliberalism and digital technology companies will try using it to replace doctors rather than support them, but would you say remdesivir is evil because Gilead’s behind it and angling to make a killing?

      1. JP

        I can’t remember where I saw the analysis but it was a stock market piece suggesting that Gilead’s stock price was getting ahead of itself because they will be unable to ramp up production of remdesivir before the middle of 2021 sufficiently to impact their bottom line by which time we should be getting close to a vaccine.

    2. JTMcPhee

      A friend still active in a physician’s practice (orthopedic surgery) observes a couple of things about telemedicine.

      First, the surgeon is supposed to examine the wound in the days following surgery to make sure it is healing properly. How to do that over the phone, when a careful surgeon will check for heat, reddening, dehiscence (opening of the wound), even smell? An image on a screen hardly provides what this follow-up is supposed to accomplish, and not everyone has video capability in any event.

      Second, he notes the potential for vast fraud. Medicare pays tow different fees, one for “contacts” with video, a lesser amount for those without. Any bets how pretty much all the “contacts” are going to be coded?

      Third, these contacts produce data, and we all know how insecure the data stream is in any event and how thoroughly abused our “private personal health information” is stolen and abused despite the rigorously porous fraud that is HIPAA.

      I need to “be seen” by an ENT, but am told this will be a telemedicine encounter. Maybe I can send him video of my throat? Or use the fiber optic borescope I use for car repair to let him see a little deeper down the pipe and up into my nasopharynx? Self-help in a time of plague…

      1. Lambert Strether

        > Second, he notes the potential for vast fraud. Medicare pays tow different fees, one for “contacts” with video, a lesser amount for those without. Any bets how pretty much all the “contacts” are going to be coded?

        You say “vast fraud” like that’s a bad thing

      2. xkeyscored

        Reddening and dehiscence can be seen with a smartphone camera, and many doctors around the world, even in developing countries (though not all, granted) now have one. A teledoctor can ask the doctor at the other end to feel or smell and use the same device to communicate their findings.

        Of course a smartphone can’t do everything, but until every country has enough experienced doctors, this technology can indeed help save lives and improve health. Or, in the USA, save money and improve profits, but is that the fault of the technology or the ideology?

        1. JTMcPhee

          “Doctor at the other end”?

          How’s the televisit then necessary, unless it’s some super specialty or fee splitting or something?

          1. xkeyscored

            Not all doctors are experienced and well-trained.
            Even when they are, they haven’t experienced every obscure condition. Some ghastly parasite burrowing around under the skin, which few doctors anywhere have learned of, let alone seen? Telemed to the rescue.

            By all means let the USA train millions of first rate doctors and send them off to remotest Africa to counter evil Cuban propaganda by deed. Until then, telemedicine offers more than they currently have. Whether it delivers or not is quite another matter, but I think that’s more down to power, money, racism, etc than any inherent problems with the idea of using the internet to aid in diagnosis and treatment.

      3. Synoia

        That is a feature of “pay by procedure.”

        The UK NHS pays a primary Physician by capitation.

        Hospital Doctors are on a pay scale, and rated by the peers on advancement and bonuses.

        Part of the revision of the US system has to include elimination of pay-for-procedure, because it is an open invitation to fraud.

    3. Fraibert

      I think that’s a good anecdote that well-illustrates the limits of telemedicine. Some practices work fine with it–radiology, in particular, as most radiological studies are already done without direct patient contact–but diagnosis of many conditions benefits from physical examination and taking a medical history (even though the arts of the physical examination and of taking histories are being progressively lost in favor of imaging and tests, in detriment to the actual practice of medicine IMO).

      Even taking a medical history, which is “just” talking, is probably best done in person, to give that necessary human touch.

      1. JTMcPhee

        So far I don’t believe iPhones can take blood pressure or do an EKG or check and adjust a pacemaker (though there are remotes for that) or administer an injection or refill an implanted medication pump.

        But of course it’s the wave of the future… needed: one Star Trek medical scanner, and holodoctor, and nanoparticle surgery.

        1. xkeyscored

          Many rural health centres around the world can’t do half those things. An iPhone can’t either, but it can put less experienced health workers in touch with experts.

          I do know of agronomists here who can and do use such technology to identify crop pests and diseases with which they’re unfamiliar, and get advice on dealing with them where appropriate. Or should farmers wait until the agronomists are omniscient and omnipresent, and simply watch the devastation of their harvest in the meantime because evil corporations are backing the idea of telewotnot?

    4. Monty

      I don’t know of any general doctors office around here where they could call in a specialist Surgeon to the initial consultation. Most places you would see a nurse practitioner, who can handle most appointments by working through a standardised script. They will elevate anything they aren’t sure about to a specialist, rather than risking any discretion and making a diagnosis themselves.

      Tele-medicine is basically inexpensive, convenient triage where you don’t have the bother of going and sitting in a germ filled waiting room for 45 minutes. You can bet it has policies of minimum diagnostic discretion, and maximum arse covering built in. If there’s something unusual/ off script, the case gets elevated/upsold to an appropriate specialist, just like it would if you’d gone in face to face. Probably more often in fact.

      1. The Rev Kev

        This was a long time ago this. It appears in the book “The Making of a Surgeon” by William A. Nolen who trained in New York’s Bellevue Hospital in the 50s and 60s. The doctor was Nolen himself and the surgeon was a man named Steele who had a reputation of having a sixth sense with diagnosing patient. The system has changed but the anecdote still holds true.

    5. HotFlash

      Many years ago my beau was training to be a nurse. One of the things he was taught to do to was to pay close attention to the patient’s last statement, often while their hand was on the doorknob and often prefaced with “by the way”. That was often the thing that was really on the patient’s mind, the real reason for their concern. Hope that gets built into the tele-script.

  23. Law Requires Brains and Spine

    Careful America what you wish for – great article but a couple of fundamental flaws:
    1) understanding it means being able to understand consequences of actions. Not a skill in demand in Washington, unless it involves ka-ching for the Warfare Industry.
    2) which of the European states would allow lawyers from their countries seriously sue their master? Laughable.
    3) the ISDCs are set up to beat governments according to the international pecking-order, not as a leveller. US companies can sue any government, EU can sue only non-US, the rest can sue… nobody. Where are these litigations supposed to take place?

  24. Jack Gavin


    I’m not the grammar police but it isn’t a “tiny nursing home”. it’s a tiny morgue in a humongous 700 bed nursing home. I’m still in a state of disbelief that there are “homes” of that size.

  25. maplesyrup

    On the USPS going kaput…….taxpayer “stimulus” $ for those w/out direct deposit?……….wel-l-l…..

  26. The Rev Kev

    “Miami Congresswoman Donna Shalala named to $2 trillion stimulus oversight commission”

    Went looking for her Wikipedia entry to see what she was all about. She is a real Clinton operative and has been heavily evolved with their Foundation. I can see why the DNC likes her though. She is older than Bernie-

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      With these kinds of moves, I’m starting to think Pelosi desperately wants to be minority leader again. No one asked her to do anything, and she always had plenty of ice cream.

      1. Fraibert

        I’m still wondering who in the Democratic Party thought it was a good idea to have Ms. Pelosi do the ice cream bit–between the freezer that apparently costs tens of thousands of dollars and the $13 ice cream itself, the Democrats could not have made themselves look more like out of touch fat cats.

        1. Olga

          It is circular – no? They thought it was OK precisely because they are oh-so out of touch. No mystery there…

        2. John

          I love chocolate. Yum.

          But not only do I have the cheapest refrigerator they sell in the USA (made in China of course), I did a triple take on the price of a pint of ice cream this week.

          Yeah, it was stratosphericly out of touch. That’s the Democrats.

      2. hunkerdown

        Ice cream to whip Buttar. Dairy products don’t go negative, they go bad.

        I think you’re right. She gives Karen something to aspire to, restates the Karen vision of the Democrat Party, pushes a few tenuous “progressive” suckers to the loss in favor of CIA Dems, and dissuades the left from participation in the nation’s chosen politics generally. No Sanders, no problem.

    2. chuck roast

      Yes, Shalala famously (?) busted an attempt to form a labor union by infrastructure support workers while she was performing sinecure duty as President (is CEO a better word?) of the University of Miami . Perfectly positioned…and the JATO kicks in. It’s a great country

      1. Lambert Strether

        > Yes, Shalala famously (?) busted an attempt to form a labor union by

        Shalala and United Health, Bloomberg 2005:

        Well before questions arose about the timing of options grants for UnitedHealth CEO William W. McGuire, critics derided directors of the giant health insurer for lax oversight of its powerful chief. Some say UnitedHealth’s board — which has included numerous former stars from the political and health-care worlds such as ex-Vice-President Walter Mondale and former Health & Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala — has been too deferential to McGuire. The tenures of United’s board members (8 of the 10 outside directors have served for a decade or more) is also a red flag. Years of working together can lead directors to identify too closely with executives they oversee.

        Everything is like CalPERS…. And then of course the United Healthcare shareholder’s lawsuit, which lists Shalala as a defendant.

        This is nasty stuff. A cynic might think that Shalala was put on the review board to protect health insurance interests, United Health care in particular…..

  27. Gan

    Why is Hong Kong (or for that matter any modern slave city state) held up as a model without any mention of the role of so called “domestic servants”. It is easy to isolate and social distance when you can send someone else to do the shopping (often unprotected), you have some else to look after the elderly and children, constantly disinfect your apartment, ensure hygiene by washing your clothes everyday and ensuring your children wash their hands and walk your dogs. So unless you think enslaving 5% of your population or importing “disposable refuse” is acceptable option think again. Domestic servants in HK are required by law to live with their “employees”, discouraged by the government to take days off so they don’t “infect” the local population, rarely provided with masks or sanitizer. And if domestic violence has escalated under lockdown just imagine how much more the most vulnerable segment of society has had to endure. Let alone consiider that academic studies often bear little relationship to reality, which is certainly the case in Hong Kong at the moment (minimal testing).

    1. JTMcPhee

      Thanks for that insightful reminder.

      Hard to imagine a “workers’ paradise,” especially in an age of money …

  28. Wukchumni

    MARSHFIELD, Vt. (AP) — They were far away from home — young adults from Latin America, working seasonally at U.S. ski resorts. Then the coronavirus arrived, even before the snows departed.

    Though some made it home, others were stranded. But they were not abandoned.

    The resorts have stepped up to support workers like Antonella Atto, of Lima, Peru, who returned for a third season to work at Jay Peak Resort in northern Vermont during her college’s summer break. The 22-year-old had planned to fly home in mid-March, but when the pandemic closed Peru’s borders she was stuck with dozens of others from Peru and Argentina.

    Around the country, more than 1,500 young adults from Latin America on so-called J1 visas are estimated to remain in the U.S., according to Rafael Espinoza, CEO of Universal Student Exchange. U.S. ski areas employ about 7,500 such visa holders each year, according to the U.S. Ski Areas Association.

    1. xkeyscored

      Mr Fryer said his young family were at a relatively low risk from COVID-19 and he had made preparations to be able to provide some treatment at home if anyone developed symptoms.

      As some of just a handful of Australians remaining in Cambodia, the Fryers are now living a quiet life, waiting to see what the future brings.

      “We don’t see anyone during the day, we go for a walk in the morning when things are a bit quiet; we manage it very cautiously,” Mr Fryer said.

    2. John

      The number of Americans without jobs is already epic.

      Every foreign here on a visa with a job now is an American without a job. Send them home. If a person is needed, the company can hire an American.

      Stop all visas.

      1. Wukchumni

        Yeah, lets kick out all the Mexican immigrants that grow our food here, and replace them with hard working Americans eager to take on the challenge in something they’ve never contemplated doing, with lots of stoop labor and by the way, they’ll be working in the orchards when it’s 103 for about 100 days in the summer, and in the winter, awful low lying Tule Fog makes it bitter cold.

        Oh, and all of this as we’re on the verge of a food crisis…

        1. Massinissa

          Do migrant immigrant farm workers have visas? I thought most were illegal.

          Other than that, your reply to his post is spot on.

          1. ambrit

            Don’t forget that those “illegal” migrant workers from Mexico have a form of National Health to fall back on at “home” if they need to. So, a full cutting of the cords that bind them to La Patria and La Puebla would be self defeating for them.
            Ignoring the travel expenses, retaining citizenship in a land with National Health while job shopping in a foreign country is a rational strategy.
            Hiring Americans to do farm labour will require higher wages and thus higher food prices at the retail level. From what I’ve read, basic food costs as a percentage of a families financial budget is higher in most countries than in America. Get ready for higher food prices in general over the next few years.
            If the Ogallala Aquifer gives out, watch out. The same for the California irrigation supply. There are so many possible points of failure in our food chain, it’s scary.

            1. xkeyscored

              Hiring USians to do farm labour also requires USians capable of it. I suspect one illegal American from south of the border can do ten times what the average USian could in the fields, whatever the wages. Half of them would probably require medevaccing on day one, though a few could cut it, I’m sure. I could do it thirty years ago, but many of my fellow workers did nothing but complain of the heat, rain, dirt and so on, picking half-heartedly with copious breaks and wondering why they didn’t earn as much. Nowadays I’d be dead weight on a job like that, if not plain dead.

              1. ambrit

                Consider that the very travails of getting from Mexico to the gringo farm fields is a self selecting method. Those Sothrons who we see working the nortero fields will be the better adapted ones. The weak sisters will have stayed home to sit around and watch telenovellas and shuffle off to work in the maquiladoras.
                Who gets what from labour and production has been an eternal source of conflict.
                Besides, there is quite a pool of fit labour hiding in the sports programs of the Education Industry. Very few high school and college athletes get to play in the big leagues. The rest can work the fields, if they are paid decently.

        2. kareninca

          How is this argument different from those that were once used to justify slavery and child labor?

          Improve the wages and working conditions. It’s not rocket science.

          It will help with the impending food crisis, because then farm workers will be less likely to get sick.

  29. shinola


    I found it to be a good read; Mark Twain/Sam Clemens has been one of my favorite authors since Jr. High.

    And, I learned a new word: “amanuensis” (I don’t recall encountering that word before) – always a good thing!

  30. Pookah Harvey

    Apparently some experts were more prescient than others concerning Covid-19. In a short discussion risk management engineer Nasssim Taleb ( of Black Swan fame) describes how the concern of an on rushing pandemic was obvious by Jan 24 and he and associates wrote a paper by Jan 26 where “we proposed the very simple solutions of constraining mobility, lowering connectivity a little bit and the thing would have probably blown over. Nobody heeded us because it was too expensive for the airlines.”
    His paper is available here.


    1. PlutoniumKun

      He’s been hammering on this on Twitter for months with his usual subtlety. But yes, it is true (you can go back and follow what he’s been saying), that he’s been arguing for some time that this type of disease is a classic ‘fat tail’ risk and so the precautionary principle must be central, on purely pragmatic grounds alone. He has also been consistently very good at identifying the flaws in much of WHO’s advice, especially on travel and masks.

      1. Lambert Strether

        > He’s been hammering on this on Twitter for months

        Taleb managed to compress his argument to a paper that could be published in one tweet: See NC here, on January 28.

        My crude summary then was “Short global (physical) connectivity. Long social distance.” Rereading that now, I see that implies “short the working class” (at least all those who must work in physical proximity or in warehouses, etc.)

        Presuming I am right, people who are smarter and richer than I am have been “shorting the working class” for some time. I wonder that what means in practice?

    2. MLTPB

      Constraining mobility? By how much?

      Lowering connectivity? How low?

      And by which countries, since it was up to the countries themselves, though it would make more sense for something to done universally.

      Russia just recently locked down.

      As did Singspore not long ago.

      How locked down- it varies from country to country. In S Korea, I understand there is no lock down and in Taiwan, only limited. Then there is Sweden as well.

      In fact, travel restrictions were placed on China announced on Jan 30, effective Feb 1, 4 and 6 days after the paper on. Jan 26, respectively.

      1. Pookah Harvey

        Maybe I’m wrong but it seems to me that he was suggesting that it was obvious that Covid had already escaped from China and wanted a shut down of most air travel, both internal and external in the US. This would stop the spread and allow for containment when the number of cases in the US were just in the hundreds. Having travel restrictions on just China by Jan 30 was closing the barn door after the cows had left.

        1. MLTPB

          Yes, we are not sure exactly what he meant by constraining mobility (how constrained?), etc.

          I think his suggestions, in general, were very sound. Its the implementing part, and not just bupy the US, but more or less all countries. One country alone doesn’t stop this.

          His paper dates Jan 26. I think Russia did it a few days before us…internationally. The same with Italy, a few days before us, I recall reading somewhere…again no domestic travel restrictions for Iltalians at that time.

          So, some measures were taken, by some countries early, joined by other nations later, within a few days of the Jan 26 paper.

          It was too late, no matter what would have been done post Jan 23, 24 or 26. A good time for it was likely between Jan 1 and Jan 10 or so, to shut down borders.

          It is easier to say closing borders these days. In Jan., 2020, I think it was a
          different world for proposing an idea like that.

  31. sd

    Joke from Europe making the rounds:

    Q. What borders stupidity?
    A. Canada and Mexico.

    The rest of the world thinks we have absolutely lost our minds.

      1. chuck roast

        Olga…I dig your eastern european weltan watch-a-ma-callit. One of the great adventure books I ever read was called Eastern Approaches by FitzHugh MacLain. The continental version of the book had a long chapter on Tito and Partisans. MacLean coordinated munitions deliveries from the British to the Partisans, and spent time trucking around the mountains with them. He writes a very sympathetic portrait of his allies. The Chetniks…not so much. Check it out.
        In the US published volume which I first read, this chapter is omitted.

    1. MLTPB

      I think you are underestimating humans in general.

      Stupidity can be found in Russia, Sweden, Yemen, Canada, Singapore, Italy, Australia, North and South Korea, Cuba, Brazil, and many, many other places where humans are.

      1. Olga

        What may be missed is that in this case (US), “stupidity” is a euphemism. Perhaps for being stark raving maniacs… who, in addition to various mischief, also actively try to destroy other nations and introduce chaos. None of the countries on your list does that… so no, not applicable. (Which is not to disagree that stupid people exist everywhere.)

        1. MLTPB

          I think nations somewhere will try to destroy some other nation or nations, perhaps even non nations.

          It’s not new nor only in the past.

      2. Lambert Strether

        > Stupidity can be found in Russia, Sweden, Yemen, Canada, Singapore, Italy, Australia, North and South Korea, Cuba, Brazil, and many, many other places where humans are.

        Bur none of those countries are the imperial hegemon, and none of those countries have managed to create an enormously rich elite while simultaneously created a Third World infrastructure and a profit-making health care system with actual disincentives for seeking treatment and care, and incentives to avoid social distancing — at least for the working class — because it’s either risk sickness or starve.

        An especially large chicken has come home to roost, and doesn’t seem likely to leave its new perch anytime soon. It’s amusing to think of our imperial hegemony collapsing because we’re a continuing reservoir of infection from SARS-COV-19.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          This is a very good point. Some island countries (and continents, if you count Australia), are now seeking to wipe out or control Covid within its borders in the short to medium term. Implicitly, this can only be done with strict travel restrictions on countries with reservoirs of infection. Given the size and physical diversity of the US its entirely possible that it could be the longest lasting reservoir of infection, going well into 2021 or beyond. The US could find itself involuntarily cut off from significant parts of the world for a significant period.

    2. Carolinian

      There’s what they say and then there’s what they do. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then they must love us.

      I’ve been re-watching Kenneth Clark’s old 1960s Civilsation series and Clark considers Western Europe to be the pinnacle of civilisation (correct American spelling civilization). All that swell art and classic architecture give a society permanence and heft he says while standing in front of now burned out Notre Dame. America with it faddish culture and disposable architecture would be in the opposite camp of “barbarism” by this definition. Of course civilization versus barbarism is the classic imperial excuse and one abundantly wielded by Churchill. And it’s possible that Clark overvalues the importance of his specialty (he was director of the National Gallery).

      All of which is to say yes we are nuts but only we get to say that. Those European countries can say that about themselves.

        1. Carolinian

          BBC Civilisation is a wonderful series about art but his big picture pronouncements would probably sit less well in our multicultural age. Even when it came out his “personal view” seemed somewhat controversial. He was a figure from another age, having worked to hide the Gallery’s pictures from those German bombers during uncivilized WW2.

      1. Harold

        What a coincidence. I’ve been watching it, too. And I noticed Clark’s triumphalism about “Western Civilization” and its achievements and the dated references to the “ascent of man”. The conceit about the contrast between civilization and barbarism seemed a little forced. And by the end of the series he was talking about how fragile and ephemeral civilization was and how little mankind had changed in two thousand years. Clearly he considered much of American culture — specifically its worship of Mammon — barbarous.

        Still, I thought he was wonderful when he talked about the actual art objects and found the whole series very worth watching.

        Here is what he said about the reception of Rodin’s statue of Balzac, which was ill-received by critics.

        “Hostile critics said that it was like a snowman, a dolmen, an owl and a heathen god – all quite true, but we no longer regard them as terms of abuse. Balzac’s body has the timelessness of a druidical stone, and his head has the voracity of an owl. The real reason why he make people so angry is the feeling that he could gobble them up and doesn’t care a damn for their opinions. Balzac, with his prodigious understanding of human motives, scorns conventional values, defies fashionable opinion, as Beethoven did, and should inspire us to defy all those forces that threaten to impair our humanity: lies, tanks, tear-gas, ideologies, opinion polls.”

        1. Lambert Strether

          > when he talked about the actual art objects

          That’s often the way. The idea that meaning derives from the text alone is reactionary (which is why reactionaries supported it) and yet the readings produced by that method are often brilliant and insightful (and “fan out” into, as it were, “the social determinants of art.”

          One of the distinctive features of our elites is that they have produced virtually no “civilizational artifacts” capable of or indeed worth surviving over many thouands of years; Jeff Koons is as good as it gets.

          1. Harold

            They’ve become money-laundering devices to be bought up by oligarchs and locked away in vaults in Switzerland.

      1. Carolinian

        You ungrateful Canadians are hereby banned from Myrtle Beach! Just kidding. We love Canadians without whom no Saturday Night Live, Joni Mitchell or Neil Young not to mention William Shatner and Lorne Greene.

  32. sd

    In South Korea, A Growing Number Of COVID-19 Patients Test Positive After Recovery

    By Friday, Korean health authorities had identified 163 patients who tested positive again after a full recovery. The number more than doubled in about a week, up from 74 cases on April 9. Those patients — just over 2% of the country’s 7,829 recovered patients — are now back in isolation.

    According to Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data on Friday, the age and regional distribution of relapse cases are largely in line with that of the total infections.

  33. Pat

    Because entertainment unemployment is where the Democratic nominee should be spending his time…

    And I say that as someone terrified that the industry where I spent most of my adult life, which has survived World Wars, Depressions and terrorist attacks, will either be destroyed or become a mere shadow of itself at least as a union job where you have benefits and can make a living. But that is small in the big picture of what we are facing.

    1. HotFlash

      Pat, you in the arts? We are, and thinking it will be maybe never. I will tell my neighbour’s 9-yr old about going to the opera! Her dad is (was) a sports announcer, her mom a TV producer. My teacher neighbour? He’ll presumably get back somehow, and his wife, social worker (homeless shelter) is ‘essential’. Continuing down the road: a retired (more or less) contractor, 2 totally retired/retired (96 yrs and 87 yrs), 4 — actor and actress plus their 2 kids, 1 librarian (took an early retirement due to budget cuts), 1 contractor = wife, dunno what she does, 2 more retired households, 2 dunno (new in the hood, and they don’t know you should speak to your neighbours)… , more retired. We’ll be pretty OK here oon our street, only problem is getting out to get the odd grocery. We’ll manage.

      We will never be the same, but I would rather not get back to ‘normal’. I would be so happy with people not having to do stupid, hurtful things to others and the planet, UBI=> JG (when feasible), slower pace and cleaner air. By Jove, it looks like we were all either pillaging the planet, extorting our neighbours, or taking in one another’s laundry! This is a once in a century opportunity to stop doing bullshit work, and with climate change coming to kill us, we just might want to do that.

      Covid is the most wonderful opportunity for reset *ever*, we will never see an opportunity for social and climate correction again. If we don’t take advantage of it, we may not see anything again. And your government (I am speaking to US-ians, mainly, here) is hell-bent on getting ‘business as usual’ going again ASAP, will be same with Biden (not likely he will be prez). If you Bernie people can’t think of anything useful to do with Our Revolution, consider *not letting life go back to normal*. Bernie has given you a platform, a communication device, a fund-raising machine, many committed staff, and a glorious rolodex. If you can’t pick up and run with that, then shame on you.

      BTW, who controls the Bernie mailing list? Anybody know?

      1. Lambert Strether

        > BTW, who controls the Bernie mailing list? Anybody know?

        As I will not tired of repeating, whoever controls the mailing list should be funding strikers.

        I just got mail to support AOC, Omar, and Tlaib. That’s a worthy objective, but I think electoralism as a strategy right now is, to say the least, open to question as not being the best use of opportunity,

        1. xkeyscored

          who controls the Bernie mailing list?

          I think I read it’s the same mob at the top as stabbed him in the back and didn’t want him winning. IIRR, the local branches of ‘the movement’ are sort of intact, but the national leadership/HQ or whatever you call it has gone AWOL, along with such things as mailing lists. IIRR, and I’m not sure I do.

      1. John

        Had to look up who that was, but after doing so, would assume that’s an immediate ban.

        Presumably talking about Biden wanting to cut Social Security and Medicare for the past 40 years is bannable too.

          1. HotFlash

            I see. I was banned there a long time ago so I can’t. No volunteers? So much for the stalwarts of the revolution!

            1. ambrit

              Sorry. I don’t feel like performing Kospuku.
              Call me a Menshevik if you want, but I couldn’t look myself in the eye later, which would be easy after visiting the site. Everyone knows that you have to develop a split personality to hold all the contradictory concepts believed there in your head. Such a split would make looking oneself in the face easy. Two “heads” are more PC than one.

    1. richard

      kos is such state media garbage
      “site-enforced cognitive dissonance” is nice
      I may have to borrow it, as i fear it will come in handy

  34. richrad

    Hey there, could anyone help link me to information about the R0 number (or R “T” number jimmy dore calls it) for the transmission rate in my area? DDG is useless as usual, and dore doesn’t provide a link because he never does that. I know NC ran something about it too, but not sure how to look it up either because this is my hopeless day :)

    1. Lambert Strether

      > could anyone help link me to information about the R0 number… for the transmission rate in my area?

      I don’t know of any such map, which would have to be down to the county level (and am not sure who easy or reliable the number would be to calculate in any case). Readers?

      1. xkeyscored

        I don’t think anyone knows without extensive population-wide testing, which isn’t happening in the US so far as I know. If you only test suspected or confirmed* cases, you get a low R0. If you test widely, like Iceland or Germany, you get a much higher figure.

        *Ridiculous as it sounds, that was, maybe still is, the policy somewhere in the US or UK, can’t remember where exactly. Stay home if you think you have it; tests only for those who definitely have it.

          1. richard

            Thanks everyone. Dore showed a graph that had an R0 median of 1.0 for CV, then showed states along that median from furthest below to furthest above. He didn’t say where he got the graph from, and it was super hard for everyone but him to read (thanks Jimmy!).The point about the number being unreliable because of incomplete testing is helpful, thanks.

  35. Oregoncharles

    “An Open Letter from SDS Veterans Haranguing Young Socialists to Back Biden Was a Bad Idea”
    So a bunch of SDS members got old and sold out. Todd Gitlin did it 16 years ago. Big Whoop. Life happens.

    Some of us got old, but didn’t sell out. Not that I was in SDS; but I remember that era very well.

  36. Oregoncharles

    That’s a flicker, a woodpecker that spends a lot of time on the ground.

    I’ve held one in my hands, when it got stuck in our shop. I caught it and released it outside. A big bird, and yes, it tried to peck me. Don’t get up close and personal with a wild bird too often. We closed up the hole it got in through.

  37. Anon

    Not for publication

    I’ve indicated to NC previously that I’ve used the alias (screen name) “Anon” for years. Recently, and again today, NC has allowed another “Anon” (person other than me) to use the same screen name. This creates confusion in the Commentariat. I request “prior right” to the Anon screen name and that the poseur Anon find another name. Thank you.

    1. Yves Smith

      Sorry, you have no business making this request.

      First, we greatly disfavor the use of “anon”.

      Second, you have provided a bogus e-mail address. We would have asked you LONG ago privately to drop “Anon” and use another handle had you done so.

  38. eg

    I thought this paper was interesting (YMMV) — charts the economic effects of pandemics since the Black Death:


    Findings are that returns to assets are significantly depressed for almost 40 years (interest rates lowered) with a weaker positive effect on wages, but positive nonetheless — hopeful where inequality is concerned, I should think?

    Also, Schmelzing’s BoE working paper for those of you who like the reeeeeeeally looooooong view of interest rates (since the 14th Century) — spoiler alert: the secular trend is relentlessly downwards, and he forecasts negative rates as far as the eye can see …

    1. Paradan

      Black Death killed so much of England’s workforce that they set a maximum wage for labor. The working class was in short supply so the market did its price thing. The same thing capitalists are always praising as some kind of untouchable divine law. This time though it directed wealth down so, of course, the wealthy touched the crap out of it. They also made illegal to be unemployed, the punishment for which was having a large hole punched through your ear.

      1. The Rev Kev

        They tried to set a maximum wage. But if a bunch of peasants ran away from their Lord to work for a different Lord, do you think the later would return them back again when he was short of workers himself? The Church, who owned so much of the land at that stage, were more inclined to keep those runaways too and they needed the income due to the lost revenue during the plagues which dropped by half if I recall correctly.

    1. MLTPB

      Singapore saw a huge jump. It was reported a day ago by Associated Press.

      In Russia, a record one day increase, per The Hill, 1 hour ago.

      Best wishes. It just seems clusters are popping up nonstop tragically.

      1. HotFlash

        It seems that it is the duty of government to lie, or at least, it is generally expected that govt will lie. The first thing that happens in *any* Godzilla movie is that the government covers it up. The second thing is that the army is incompetent. Not just Japan, — ditto “The Day the Earth Stood Still”. Is art imitating life or the other way around?

    2. Monty

      Watch as the ‘wingers simultaneously shut up about how great the Swedish government’s ideas are, and go back to hating Sweden for it’s policies regarding asylum sellers.

      1. eg

        I’m enjoying the sudden silence of the “but Sweden!” crowd where relaxation of physical distancing is concerned …

  39. Wukchumni

    Today is the anniversary of ‘The Shot Heard Round The World’ @ the Battle of Concord, you wonder what variant we’ll have on the new model, when one of those gun nutters protesting the right to be ‘liberated’ with an AR-15 slung over his shoulder on the steps of a state capital gets trigger happy?

  40. MLTPB

    CNN and another are reporting some experts or some grocery stores don’t want customers inside.

    (Not just no mask, no entry. No entrance, period).

    Instead, the proposals are curbside pickup, or delivery.


    1. HotFlash

      Some businesses are doing that curbside pickup here in Toronto. It’s kind of cumbersome, but I expect we can work it out. I have been trying for over a week to get 4 things from my hardware store, it’s Home Hardware here, but kinda like Ace in the US — central warehouses and on-line presence, but stores owned locally. I thought I’d be helpful by ordering from their online catalogue, but we are flummoxed by the out-of-stocks. I wanted lag bolts, the online said galvanized so I ordered them by SKU, I want rope, ditto. They don’t have galvanized in stock nor any sisal rope. I DON”T Care!! I just want 3/8″ lag bolts and 100′ of rope, most any kind will do!

      I will try again tomorrow, I will take my phone down to the store, stand outside and we can figure out options. Oh, and I have to get my phone working, my (prepaid) credit card that I use for this kind of purchase is now being declined. No reason given, and there are beaucoup $$$ on the card.

      On the bright side, (some) beers stores are now taking empties, and although it is a long haul on a bicycle for me, I’ll hitch up the trailer and it will be worth it.

      Interesting times, indeed.

  41. AbateMagicThinking But Not Money

    Brexit and the Aliens (ie the EU)

    The RTE link had this very interesting sentence in the closing paragraph:

    British sources say the EU consistently overlooks the importance of the Conservative Party manifesto and the promises made to the British people therein.

    What a fantastic bargaining chip! Whodathunkit? The Tory manifesto!

    If this is true it demonstrates how deluded the Tory mindset is.

    When the aliens land in Potters Bar, instead of being taken to “your leader” they will be referred some kind of obsolete document that events have rendered ridiculous even to to those who wrote it.


  42. MLTPB

    Intersting story in USA Today about a cruise ship, Costa Deliziosa, which left Venice Italy in early January to go around the world, and is now returning to Italy and Spain, without a case on board.

    Maybe they should just keep going.

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