Links 4/23/2020

Study: Bilingualism does not make you ‘smarter’ Medical Express (RM)

USGS releases first-ever comprehensive geologic map of the Moon (The Rev Kev)


Bernie Sanders: The Foundations of American Society Are Failing Us. NYT. Important. DD: “Did i miss this at NC? “ Moi: It is my fault that you’re seeing this in Links for the first time, even though it was published on the 19th and I have compiled Links on all but one day since. Mea culpa.

Top economist: US coronavirus response is like ‘third world’ country Guardian. Joseph Stiglitz.

Warren Demands Investigation Into Trump’s Coronavirus Response, Saying He Put ‘Political Expediency’ Before Public Health Common Dreams

Coronavirus Will Change America Forever. Past Crises Offer Hints Of What’s To Come. Business Insider

How Bad Might It Get? Think the Great Depression Bloomberg (LJ)

‘It is disease that makes health sweet and good’ Asia Times. From earlier in the month; still germane. Pepe Escobar on Heraclitus.

Gulf Widens Between States Over When to End Virus Lockdown Bloomberg

Las Vegas mayor won’t give businesses social distancing guidelines for reopening: ‘They better figure it out. That’s their job’ CNN (The Rev Kev)

Trump reverses course, says it’s ‘too soon’ for Georgia Gov. Kemp to reopen state NBC, The deck: The president said he told Gov. Brian Kemp “I disagree strongly” with his decision to reopen nail salons and tattoo parlors — but he won’t stop him. Moi: You’re kidding me: risk further infections, death, decline, to open NAIL SALONS and TATOO PARLORS?

We Should Be Adopting Stricter Measures, Not Loosening the Lockdown Der Spiegel. From earlier in the week; still germane.

McConnell Says He Favors Letting States Declare Bankruptcy Bloomberg (The Rev Kev)

Congress isn’t going to overhaul the small business loan program to block publicly traded companies from getting loans CNN (The Rev Kev)

Inside America’s unending testing snafu Politico (The Rev Kev)

Virus shuts 96% of all global tourist destinations Asia Times

15 deaths in the airline industry in 9 days linked to coronavirus. Why are planes still flying? LA Times (Carla)

If you imagine that a local business making surgical face masks is working 24/7, guess again Dallas Morning News (Katniss Everdeen)


Oil Tankers Surround California With Nowhere to Unload Bloomberg. furzy: “Why don’t they stop pumping up the stuff? ?”

Bankruptcy looms over U.S. energy industry, from oil fields to pipelines Reuters


Two cats in New York state become first US pets to test positive for coronavirus Guardian (vlad)

Stray dogs and cats at risk of starvation during COVID-19 crisis in Thailand Channel News Asia (TYJ)

So Many People Are Trying To Adopt Or Foster Pets That Local Shelters Are Having Trouble Meeting Demand DCIST

dan k:

The reason Zoom calls drain your energy BBC (dan k)


The purpose of publications in a pandemic and beyond Wonkhe (IP)

Phylodynamics of SARS-CoV-2 transmission in Spain bioRxiv (ignacio). A reminder: these are preliminary reports that have not been peer-reviewed.

Top vaccine doctor says his concern about Trump’s coronavirus treatment theory led to ouster from federal agency CNBC

Covid-19 causes sudden strokes in young adults, doctors say CNN (dan k)

French researchers to test nicotine patches on coronavirus patients Guardian. Carla: “Well this is pretty stunning. Having quit smoking 29 years ago as of April 1, I’m thinking: hhhmmm, is it time to light up again?’

Here’s a trivia question: how many people quit smoking and don’t remember the exact date?


Health Care

We Should Applaud the Cuban Health System — and Learn From It Jacobin

THE AMISH HEALTH CARE SYSTEM Slate Star Codex. PR: “Good article. Quote:

The Muslims claim Mohammed was the last of the prophets, and that after his death God stopped advising earthly religions. But sometimes modern faiths will make a decision so inspired that it could only have come from divine revelation. This is how I feel about the Amish belief that health insurance companies are evil, and that good Christians must have no traffic with them.”

Food Security

Coronavirus at meatpacking plants worse than first thought, USA TODAY investigation finds USA Today

Tyson Foods idles largest pork plant as virus slams industry AP

Five threats to US food supply chains The Hill

Rajasthan: Action Plan to Suspend Mandi Operations in 25 Districts a Big Worry for Farmers The Wire

Serfs Revolt


Federal appeals court stops earlier order, says Texas doesn’t have to give inmates hand sanitizer or face masks for now Texas Tribune. Unbelievable.


Coronavirus study points to vast number of cases under the radar in China SCMP Oopsie.

China’s Coronavirus Diplomacy Has Finally Pushed Europe Too Far Bloomberg (furzy)

Three negatives and a positive: problems with coronavirus tests in China Reuters

Dealing with China After COVID-19 Project Syndicate. Chris Patten.

Missouri sues China over coronavirus, claims nation “lied to the world” Ars Technica


How Has COVID-19 Crisis Affected the Urban Poor? The Wire.

Satyajit Ray’s ‘Two’ offers a lens on how lockdowns work differently for rich and poor kids Scroll

Four Reasons Why Facebook is Buying a Nearly 10% Stake in Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio The Wire

Facebook-Reliance Jio deal to go to CCI, Trai may also step in Economic Times. And see Net neutrality laws likely to be tested in clearance for Facebook-Jio deal Economic Times. And Facebook, Jio should be transparent on data sharing: Experts Economic Times. Note that India embraced net neutrality regulation at about the same time the U.S. was jettisoning it, and that its competition authorities take a more jaundiced view of U.S. tech investments in domestic companies than do U.s. antitrust regulators.


Spain Is Leading the Way on Perpetual Bonds Project Syndicate. George Soros. Another instalment, see also this previous link: The EU Should Issue Perpetual Bonds Project Syndicate

dan k:


Coronavirus and the Middle East’s ongoing state of emergency Qantara

Trump says US will destroy Iranian gunboats harassing US ships Al Jazeera

Antidote du Jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. paul

    Here’s a trivia question: how many people quit smoking and don’t remember the exact date?

    I can’t but it was around october 2009,
    (365* 10.7 * 20 =78110 coffin nails avoided, @10 great british pounds a pack, that’s around 3900 disposable).

    Still taking nicotine though, 2ml per diem, 1.8% of that being active ingredient.

    Glad to now have scientific reassurance that the baby was not thrown out with the combustible bathwater.

    1. Lee

      Having been chomping away on nicotine gum for years now, i’m curious as to just what might be the the mechanism of action that would prove protective.

      1. paul

        Gum and patches always made me nauseous and terry the beagle would always eat a months supply at a single sitting given a quarter of a chance.

        Made him a bit hyper, but otherwise no harm.

      2. xkeyscored

        So far as I can see, it could be any one (or more) of the plethora of chemicals in tobacco, and nicotine may have nothing to do with it.

        They “hypothesize that the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) plays a key role in the pathophysiology of Covid-19 infection and might represent a target for the prevention and control of Covid-19 infection.”

        Skimming through the rest of the paper referred to in the Guardian piece, it appears there’s no particular evidence that nicotine is responsible for any resistance to COVID-19, just a hypothetical and unproven link. For example, “nicotine down regulates the expression and/or activity of ACE2 and AT2R, thus suggesting a possible contribution of acetylcholine receptors in ACE2 regulation. This possibility has not yet been explored in the framework of viral neuroinfections.”

        1. Kurt Sperry

          There are indications that nicotine has antiviral properties, you can search them up but here’s an abstract of one dealing with HVC (hepatitis C)-

          And another on nicotine and encephalomyocarditis (EMC) virus infection in mice-

          I won’t argue the overall merits of smoking, but the French numbers are absolutely startling and well outside any likely error margins suggest that it (whatever component of the smoke) may be strongly protective of this particular pathogen. Nicotine is at least a likely candidate.

          Think along the lines of the old sc-fi movie Andromeda Strain and Sterno’s unexpected role in it.

          1. xkeyscored

            Thank you. Maybe there’s something in it, though the second article is all about ‘tobacco smoke condensate’; no results at all when I searched it for ‘nicotine’. In fact, “Through the fractionation procedure which removes mainly alkaloids and chloroform-soluble neutral substances in TSC, the antiviral activity was found in the water-soluble fractions (Smoke-F
            and Smoke-R).” Which seems to rule out chloroform-soluble alkaloids such as nicotine if I’m reading it right.

    2. Laughingsong

      The first time I quit for 13 years was on January 8th, 1989 – Niners-Bears playoff game. I started again a couple of years after moving to Ireland, smoking was still allowed in pubs then. Don’t remember the exact date for quitting the second time but it was mid-February 2011, while helping my mom convalesce from a bad illness. Still smoke free…..

    3. Kurt Sperry

      It actually makes some sense that regularly inhaling a broad spectrum poison into the lungs might make life tough for pathogens trying to share that infectious pathway. The numbers, although small and preliminary, are startling. I’d be surprised if the dermal patches provide the same prophylactic benefit.

      Imagine the dilemma posed to the medical and journalistic professions if smoking is proven to be significantly prophylactic vs. C-19. There are going to be a lot of doctors and editors who won’t want that becoming widely known and I have no doubt who will try to silence and cover it up.

        1. paul

          A pretty reasonable assumption, smoking messes up your lungs and lots more besides (everything cardiovascular, which is everything).

          A particular bete noir of mine, as they ruined my mother’s health:

          In the meantime, clinicians need to decide on an individual basis if an ACE-inhibitor should be substituted for an ARB for blood pressure control and if statin treatment should be halted during the pandemic, particularly if statins are being used for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease. Attention to this might save countless lives.

          As these are practically compulsory for the over 60’s here (and have no provable benefits for the majority), this is rather worrying.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Or maybe if statins in the first place are a scam perpeutated by companies selling the most profitable drugs in history based on the idea that the presence of cholesterol in coronary victims was a cause and maybe not an effect by the body to react to an underlying cause: inflammation?

            And nicotine is a powerful and widely-used insecticide, so who knows.

            (Answer to the question: January 1, 1992, after an evening of “aversion therapy” that included almost two packs of Gitanes papier mais

        2. xkeyscored

          I thought I heard early on that ex-smokers were even more vulnerable than smokers, not that anyone had a clue why.

      1. paul

        It actually makes some sense that regularly inhaling a broad spectrum poison into the lungs might make life tough for pathogens trying to share that infectious pathway.

        It perhaps makes sense, but pollution and infection (while they are unwitting partners) do their own destructive thing.

        They are quite distinct.

        It might make sense at first blush, but that can only support an hypothesis, not an explanation, let alone a solution*.

        *which if even you’re monolingual, is a funny old word

      2. Kevin C. Smith

        Years ago it was said that:
        “9 out of 10 doctors prefer camels.”
        The other one preferred women …

    4. Bugs Bunny

      When they mangled the perfect aesthetic of the Silk Cut pack, there was no more reason to smoke.

      Thanks for that. Though if I could find a lovely pack of Silk Cuts, without the horror film images or giant type warnings, I’d buy one, just to remember.

      1. xkeyscored

        I was given a pack of Taiwanese “LONGLIFE ORIGINAL” cigarettes several years ago, which I still have.
        The scare picture is just a man’s mouth with a cigarette in it, and a drooping chain of ash dangling and ready to fall off.
        I was told the caption translates as “This is what smoking does to your dick.”

          1. Kevin C. Smith

            Dutch tobacco packs carry warnings like:
            “Smoking will first make you impotent,
            then it will kill you.”

  2. zagonostra

    >Congress’s criminal negligence

    When you rely on levies that were designed for normal climate conditions knowing a massive hurricane is coming to protect the population, that’s negligence. When you rely on State unemployment insurance as the financial life line for people when you know a massive wave of applicants will overwhelm ability of States to process claims, that’s negligence.

    On the other hand, maybe it’s not negligence, maybe the decision was made in full knowledge of the certainty of failure…either way it’s criminal.

    The state reported Tuesday that only 14.2% of the more than 668,000 unique claims filed since March 15 were being paid… Florida’s maximum benefit is $275 a week.

    (from yesterday’s links)

    1. Monty

      “maybe the decision was made in full knowledge of the certainty of failure”
      A dangerous game to play, with the potential to spiral out of control into serious civil unrest.
      Did they know ahead of time that only the Americans motivated and organized enough to protest, will be out the clamoring to reopen the economy, rather than demanding the government help those in need.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      So it’s clear, the levees were being up graded. Bush and other authorities didn’t order or prepare for an evacuation with Shrub going to Saint McCain’s birthday bash.

      In the case of Katrina, there was room for the national guard and fema to act even if they hesitated about the scale of the hurricane. There was the other area that was hit by Katrina on the coast, but the locals weren’t cut off.

      Shortages of relevant material related to Iraq were also at play. Shrub was an evil human being.

  3. GramSci

    Re: Bilingualism does not make you ‘smarter’

    Brilliant experimental design: first exclude all linguistic measures of intelligence. QED. /s What motivated/paid for this research?

    1. divadab

      Well perhaps they think measures of verbal intelligence, roughly half of the Standardized IQ test, are not measures of “intelligence”. The study measured what they call “executive function” abilities, and based on my cursory reading, did no vocabulary or reading comprehension testing.

      However, eight of their twelve best fit regressions for each test identify gender as a significant variable, as it is on a population basis for measures of ‘verbal” v. “visual-spacial” intelligence as measured by IQ tests.

      Very interesting, for reasons other than the study’s trumpeted conclusions. I think the study may be used to justify reducing funding for bilingual education and French immersion education in Ontario. Merde!

      1. Olga

        So much depends on how the test was structured, its biases, and the definition of “smart” or “intelligent.” I know several people who speak Farsi, French, and English, but who I would not consider particularly “smart” (well, not academically). OTOH, they’ve had no trouble adapting to several very different cultures, in which they’ve lived. So all depends…
        From my own experience – speaking three languages well, a fourth one passably, and having studied three other languages – multi-linguism (?) expands one’s horizons, as there are concepts and words in one language that do not exist in another. In fact, there is saying that one is a human being as many times as the number of languages one speaks.
        It always seemed to me that the English world would be so much more user-friendly if the language used diminutives. That is a major shortcoming…

        1. Oregoncharles

          In English, the “y” ending generally indicates diminutive: “baby;” “Billy” vs. “Bill;” etc. Like “-chen” in German. And we say “little” to indicate affection – among other things.

          IOW: what do you mean by the diminutive?

          1. Olga

            “Spanish speakers frequently use the diminutive suffixes such as -ito not only to indicate size, but also to make a word less harsh or to indicate affection.”
            I looked this up – because it is not easy to explain the concept without using words – from a different language. Adding ‘little,’ as done in English does, not achieve the same effect. The main point is that diminutives make the language less harsh; they are often used in conversation with children, but also with adults to make reality more approachable or palatable. See – it is hard to explain without having a sense of it by knowing another language.

            1. HotFlash

              Well, didn’t Obama say, “All the little single-payer supporters…” ? What could he piossible have meant by that?

            2. Oregoncharles

              I learned French but never noticed that difference. Maybe it’s more prevalent in Spanish.

        2. HotFlash

          In Japanese you might see/hear the suffixes -ko (little), or perhaps -chan (dear, usu for women or children), not quite the same but (hey, it’s Japanese! a foreign language!) -kun. This the sort of thing you mean? When one names a person, there can also be -san, formal and used when addressing elders or superiors (including family members, eg, parents) sempai and even sama. English does not have such distinctions. OTOH, Nihongo (Japanese langage) does not have gender, so a big plot reveal in movies, anime and such is “Ona!! (it’s a woman!!)” after ever so long in the plot.

      2. Oregoncharles

        “Well perhaps they think measures of verbal intelligence, roughly half of the Standardized IQ test, are not measures of “intelligence”.” From what they tell teachers, like my wife, the verbal IQ is a BETTER indicator of general intelligence, largely because it is much less sensitive to formal education. And also because verbal is so central to human performance; math, beyond the simplest arithmetic, is something added on in civilization.

      3. Procopius

        I haven’t read the article, but my room-mate at Michigan State University sixty years ago was a psych major, and he was telling me one day some of the interesting stuff he was learning in his Psychometrics 101 class, which may not be relevant here. IQ is not a measure of intelligence. IQ is the score on an IQ test. They know they are testing IQ because that is the definition of IQ, so the test is what they call “facially valid.” They haven’t been able to define “intelligence” yet, so it should not be surprising they don’t know how to measure it.

    2. ahimsa

      More than 11,000 participants from around the world completed 12 online cognitive tests that taxed reasoning, memory, planning, visuospatial skills and attention. Each person also reported whether they spoke one language or more, and which languages they spoke. The results showed no evidence that the benefits of being bilingual transfer to other mental skills.

      An interesting investigation might be to see if bilingualism affects levels of empathy or tolerance. To someone who is bilingual, it is perhaps experientially evident that there are different ways of describing/interpreting the world.

      It is a curious phenomenon that the English-speaking world is so often monolingual.

      1. DJG

        ahimsa: Yes. I have been working with French and Italian for years, which means that I have good access to Portuguese and Catalan. I once checked in for a flight from Barcelona by speaking Catalan, and the young man from Iberia Airlines was overjoyed that I could ask for an aisle seat in Catalan. Each language is a sentimental education.

        The structure of verbs in Romance language is so much different from English that it makes one re-think how to define and describe action in the world. (Which relates to today’s excellent essay on Heraclitus by Pepe Escobar.)

        And it was wayyyyy too gratifying to receive compliments from surprised French people in Lyon on my command of French.

        1. Kurt Sperry

          The common use of the subjunctive in those languages also forces one to consider and sort language into categories of certainty/uncertainty that English doesn’t.

          1. DJG

            Kurt Sperry: Especially in Italian, where the congiuntivo is used so much and often to suggest actions or non-actions. Or commands! “Faccia pure,” a sentiment that doesn’t translate well into English.

            1. xkeyscored

              I’ve heard it claimed that what the English call a third conditional, eg “I would have acted sooner if I had known,” is only found in Indo-European languages, accounting for science taking off in parts of the world where they are spoken. Here in Cambodia at least, the idea of considering a past other than the one which happened is quite an alien idea, with no easy way to talk about it in Khmer.

              1. MLTPB


                No easy way to think or express the possibility that if Shiva had intervened in the 1970s, it would have been less tragic.

              2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                It’s the very best part about learning a foreign tongue, that you can get a glimpse into completely alternative ways mankind can apprehend reality.

                French gave me an abiding respect for how a Frenchman sees the world. My favorite however was Bislama (tok tok pijin) used in the S. Pacific islands. Very light on the past tenses: everything is in the present. Epic ways to be understood when describing new things. A “saw” is “one fela sumting, hemi kakem wood, hemi go out hemi come back, hemi bruta blong tomiauk” “One fellow something, he eats wood, he goes out he comes back, he’s the brother of the tomahawk”.

                1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                  A “piano”:

                  Bigfela black box, hemi gat white tut hemi gat black tut, yu killem smol hemi singaot gud”

                  (Big fellow black box, he’s got white teeth he’s got black teeth, you strike him (“kill him”) small (lightly) he sings out good).

                  A few more of my favorites:

                  Barbed wire: fukwia, (f*ck wire)
                  Lobster: naora blong solwata (cockroach who belongs in salt water)

                2. xkeyscored

                  Everything here is in one tense, with the option of an extra word to specify whether it’s past, present or future if so desired. Similarly, nouns are just nouns, with no singular vs plural, just extra words to specify how many if needs be.

                  How different to us, learning to count items and times when as infants we learn how to speak, doing it automatically every time we open our mouths, until it seems only natural and obvious to count and time everything.

                3. Procopius

                  I don’t know about pidgin, but neither Chinese nor Thai have tenses. I suppose it’s true also of Burmese and Cambodian, but I don’t know either of those languages. That does not mean you can’t talk about the past or future, though. The simplest way is to specify a time frame, or other context markers. One thing I’ve noticed in Thai is that it’s rare to ask a negative question, e.g. “Have you never been to Chaing Rai?”

              3. Tom Bradford

                what the English call a third conditional, eg “I would have acted sooner if I had known,”

                In the English I learned at school that would have earned a rap on the knuckles from the teacher.

                “I would have acted soon had I known.” Says the same, is shorter and sounds more ‘elegant’ – and hence in his book and would be ‘correct’.

            2. Kurt Sperry

              I doubt it’s accidental that in Italian the command and subjunctive are conjugated so similarly. I translate of the phrase “faccia pure” in my head to “go ahead”. At least when I haven’t been sufficiently immersed recently to think in Italian.

              I absolutely hate switching back and forth between English and Italian so when I get into Italian mode, I avoid speaking or being exposed to English. Moving between French and Italian is similarly difficult, and my weak French is no help there either.

      2. MLTPB

        Good point.

        It says more about what interests the writer, and the readers perhaps – focusing on, or obsessing over being smart, and not enough on empathy and tolerance.

        1. MLTPB

          Dropping out of school to meditation and become a Zen, or Chan, monk can make people think differently as well.

      1. Vastydeep

        The strong-form Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis is disproven yet again. Once upon a time Ph.D. dissertation ranks were filled with disprovers. Perhaps the Inuit do not have 20+ words for “snow,” but as Einstein paraphrasedly said, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking that created them.” Ella Saltmarshe’s All power to the polymath covers this engagingly.

        1. wilroncanada

          Interesting that so many have even heard about the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. Interesting that Whorf was essentially self-educated in linguistics. 60 years ago I kind-of identified with Whorf because I too was just a high school grad. Interesting that my father was bilingual but I was not (the result of anti-Francophone bigotry among Anglophones–the result of “Orange Lodges–in the part of Ontario where I spent my childhood).
          Interesting also that I seem to remember that “Western” was one of the sources of the “questionable” research on the inferior IQ of blacks. I hope I’m wrong.

      2. Susan the other

        Yes it does and it also makes you think about root words and the evolution of meaning. It’s possible nothing makes one smarter – but language has so many dimensions you can’t get bored. It evolves, it creates slang, and yet at the same time it is as conservative as DNA – you can trace words back many thousands of years. So I’d just ask, compared to what?

      3. Unfinished

        Yes, and my experience is that, when multilingual, each language produces distinct emotions. I am a native English speaker who from young adulthood on became fluent in Spanish then French by residing long term in countries where those languages are spoken. Whenever I speak in any one of these languages my emotional timbre, as it were, is distinct to that language/culture. I am changed for that 10 minute phone call or that 5 day visit by friends. My experience is that while culture creates language, so too does language itself create culture. Even my very rudimentary grasp on Arabic, from a few years in Egypt, have this effect.

        1. xkeyscored

          On a similar note, English teachers in Cambodia have a hard time getting the distinction between say “I’m bored” and “This is boring” into students’ heads. In Khmer, they often come out the same, “Ot sok,” or “No interest,” with no need to specify who or what lacks interest. The situation, including the people involved, is often seen as primary and all there is to discuss, whereas we tend to need to identify a subject/cause and object/effect before we can say anything.

    3. Lee

      Bilingualism make you seem smarter, therefore more interesting, and It makes you as smart as you are in two languages.

    4. DJG

      GramSci: I found it amusing that the study seems to have been done mainly in Canada, where, for years, the French speakers objected that they have been forced to learn English and the English-speakers think that they are bilingual if they can say Merci.

      1. JEHR

        Good one! That describes me exactly. I tried to become bilingual but, at first, in junior high school I couldn’t for the life of me see the reason why I should learn French and I memorized all the lessons without learning anything but how to memorize. Later, I tried to become bilingual many, many times with many, many night time courses but I failed to acquire anything. So, I decided to become as proficient as possible in my one language and may have succeeded there by majoring in English literature. Still wish I could speak in two languages though!! I also envy anyone who can speak/write in Latin.

        1. juno mas

          Junior High is a little late to initiate a second language. Some studies show that the best time to be exposed to a second language is before the age of eight. Learning the cadence and “soundings” of a language is easiest when it is a constant presence in your home life.

          I, too, studied other languages in high school and university. But while I understand the grammatical structure, I’m far from fluent. Conversational, at best. Living in an environment that demands recognition of bi-lingual communication is a strong motivator. The classroom not so much.

          1. jonboinAR

            I was a little kid, or on the cusp of becoming a big kid, 5th or 6th grade. Our teacher began teaching us a little Spanish, muy poquito. At one point she said that one could probably learn a foreign language in, say, kindergarten more easily than later on. Smarty-pants me, I asked why then hadn’t they begun teaching us foreign languages in kindygarden?
            “You were too young.” Swear to buddha.

            1. juno mas

              Teaching a second language at a young age is best done by “immersion” (your parents). Many Latinx parents in California speak both Spanish and English to their children to both maintain culture and allow for advancement educationally.

              This, of course, is fairly recent. These are usually families whose parents were not fluent English speakers, but their children (now parents) became more fluent in school.

    5. Bugs Bunny

      The study was in Canada on the 2 official languages. That skews the data in so many ways that it has no meaning at all.

      Try Hindi/Tamil/Malayalam speakers who also speak French. I’ve met plenty of these people, they are beyond the scale in EMOTIONAL intelligence.

    6. Goyo Marquez

      I’d always assumed bilingualism meant having two native languages, not having learned a second language in addition to your native language. Wonder if the data show that distinction.

    7. lordkoos

      I find it hard to believe that learning more than one language, especially with younger, more flexible brains, does not have great benefit of some kind, even if this particular study failed to identify it.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Anybody here read the story “1984”? If you have, you might remember the part where the main character, Winston Smith, wakes up and is summoned to the morning daily exercise on his large TV screen. The instructor was hectoring a large group over the TV and upbraided Smith for not doing better over it. And then the penny drop. This is just like Zoom. The book “1984” had Zoom in it.

      1. Winston Smith

        Correct. Zoom is the updated version of 1984’s telescreen. It would be useful for its present day users to devote a few minutes to study the relevant 1984 passages where Winston’s practiced demeanor is described to evade the suspicion of the state. Soon we will have the compulsory 2 minutes of hate…

      1. JEHR

        I quit smoking after seven years because I got a very bad cold and couldn’t smoke. I quit in 1965.

        1. Norge

          I quit smoking in the summer of ‘55, when I was 12. My friends and I would steal cigarettes from our moms and smoke them in a tree house. They made me nauseous and I was never tempted again.

    2. Darius

      I have found chairing a Zoom meeting to be no more stressful than chairing a live meeting, which I find to be fairly stressful anyway. With Zoom, I can lean back in a comfy seat and take a fairly nonchalant attitude that paradoxically seems to engender more respect for the chair. Half the time, I’m listening and the screen is occupied with documents or a Word document, on which I’m taking notes. It also helps that the other participants are well-mannered and behave professionally.

  4. Toshiro_Mifune

    Here’s a trivia question: how many people quit smoking and don’t remember the exact date?

    That’s funny. For me it was Dec 4 2004. I took up running shortly after, eventually doing 25-30 miles a week. Circa November 2014 I hurt my leg and couldn’t run and quickly started smoking again.
    I’ve now cut back to 3 smokes a day and have started running again about 10 miles a week. Hoping to be off nicotine again by EOY.

  5. Henry Moon Pie

    Amish health care–

    I applaud the author’s effort to look outside mainstream culture for solutions to our ridiculous medical industry. One clarification: the Amish are like some other traditional faiths not in viewing health insurance companies as “evil” but in seeing resorting to any kind of insurance (house, medical, car) as a lack of faith in the Christian God. It was typical for these denominations to create mutual benevolence funds to pool community resources to cover catastrophes that befell church members. This is the church-based aid the author describes. If that sounds like insurance to you, it does to me too, but some angels-on-the-head-of-a-pin theological sleight of hand rendered such arrangements permissible under church doctrine.

    This same emphasis on faith also comes through in the article in the discussion about approaches to end-of-life. The idea is that faith submits to God’s will and relinquishes any claim to control over one’s destiny. While those outside these faiths may not subscribe to monotheism, much less Christianity, a certain humility when it comes to life-and-death matters might be beneficial for us all..

    1. orlbucfan

      Very good, informative read. One question: why are Amish families averaging having 5-10 kids? This is 2020, not 17-, 18-, or even 1920.

      1. diptherio

        ‘Cause mommy and daddy love each other a whole lot and rubbers are a modern invention…just a guess.

      2. The Rev Kev

        If they are replicating earlier times, then it is because your kids are your social security. It will be them that will take care of you in your old age.

        1. Wyoming

          Yes, but in addition there is the labor issue.

          As I have mentioned before I used to own/operate a vegetable farm. And like many I am descended from farmers.

          It is not possible to run an old fashioned farm (that is one not dependent on very expensive fossil fuel powered equipment) if you have to pay for labor. Thus the huge immigrant labor pool for agriculture in the US even for industrial farming. But if you take out equipment you must have many children to do most of the work for room and board. Farm kids start doing real work at about 5 years old and by the time they are 10 (talking Amish like farming here) they are doing the work of men – with all the attendant dangers. My father grew up working behind draft horses and would harness a team by himself at 10 years old and work 12 hour days in the summer. My mother told me that starting at 5 years old she had to hoe 1/4 acre of the garden a day. And then as she got older additional duties were assigned. Great fun….

      3. Henry Moon Pie

        Since they reject the use of much modern machinery, they have kids to help with the chores just as farmers have done for centuries. An Amish family who sells at one of our farmers’ markets is there in force every Saturday. The kids are all there at the stand helping out, and I’m sure they helped with planting, hoeing, harvesting and sorting too.

      4. HotFlash

        They don’t have television or internet, many don’t have electricity, and you have to do something besides work and pray. Besides,s you can always use more help around the farm.

          1. ambrit

            Did you ever consider that ‘Gilligan’s Island’ was a MK Ultra style eugenics experiment?
            “Will Dr. Gottlieb please pick up the courtesy phone, without gloves?”

    2. Eclair

      We have Amish neighbors and friends in western NY and Pennsylvania, where my husband’s family lives and farms. They are buying up the abandoned farm lands; a family needs about 80 acres in that region. Not more, because without fossil-fueled farm equipment, one farmer, his wife, and their kids just can’t work it. Even when the three-year old’s task, during veggie season, is spending an hour every morning, harvesting the baby pickling cucumbers to sell at the family stand.

      Their social/religious structure resembles the ‘pods’ that newly-forming mutual aid societies are building. They don’t want more people in their church assembly group than will comfortably fit into the living room, when they gather for Sunday all-day services. Although they do build their living rooms pretty big.

      But, you know everyone in your ‘parish.’ And their kids. You worship and socialize with them, in our area, usually every-other Sunday. Morning is scripture reading, hymn singing, preaching. Then lunch; our area groups have a prescribed menu: a hearty stew whose main ingredients are beans and bread. So, there is no competition among families on who can provide the most lavish spread. Then, the afternoon is spent socializing, with gallons of ‘cowboy’ coffee and pies, cakes and cookies. After church, the young men who have acquired their very own horse and buggy, may go off for a ride with a young woman.

      If a member becomes ill, the immediate group pitches in, anything from cutting the oats, to cooking meals, to sewing new clothes for the growing children. Health care, like the article says, is mostly given by chiropractors and massage therapists. Which, given the arduous physical tasks of the farming community and the toll that takes on the human musculo-skeletal system, works well. I know many families, especially those who have a history of cancer, who travel to Mexico for treatments. (One of the modern products the Amish have adopted are herbicides and pesticides; I wonder about their use and the cancer cases I see in certain Amish families.) And, the Amish in this area do travel! They all have family connections in various parts of the US. They adore Amtrak, and a group will hire a van (locals have businesses supplying transportation for Amish communities) and take off to Kentucky for a wedding or funeral. And, out-of-state family members are constantly visiting our local community.

      But even the Amish have fallen prey to modern processed foods, especially those loaded with sugar. This may be one reason why their dental health is abysmal. I picked strawberries with a young woman, just turned twenty, who had a new set of dentures. And, by age forty, I would estimate that all the Amish in that area have dentures. At least one dentist in the area does nothing but extractions and dentures. Diabetes is prevalent. And, every male over 15 smokes. Alcohol is totally off limits.

      1. Still Above Water

        “ And, by age forty, I would estimate that all the Amish in that area have dentures.”

        That would definitely contribute to the shortened life expectancy mentioned in the article.

      2. John

        I heard that they each take turns holding Church in their living rooms so they don’t have to pay taxes on their homes.

        1. Eclair

          John, you have heard wrong. Amish do not pay FICA or Medicare taxes because they do not use these social programs. They do pay property taxes and, of course, sales taxes and income taxes. This is one big reason they need to earn cash.

          They hold services in their homes because they do not hold with ostentation or having church hierarchy. Control is local.

    1. Cynthia

      Most people who use Zoom for work-related reasons probably have a bullshit job anyway, at least I know that’s true in the hospital setting. Needless to say, such jobs are deemed nonessential, and for good reason.

      Just the other day, for instance, I and several other essential workers were asks to sit through a 30 minute Zoom meeting conducted by a group of nonessential hospital workers. And believe me, the content of the meeting was so nonessential that any halfway functioning bullshit detector could have easily detected it as such, sparing us essential workers from having to sit and listen to a bunch of nonessential bullshit!

      Luckily, though, I had too much essential work to do that day so I got pulled away after just a couple of minutes into the meeting. However, it didn’t take more than a few minutes into the meeting for my bullshit detector to detect all of it as nothing more than a bunch of bullshit.

      Therefore, I ask, why doesn’t the hospital invest in, if not, invent a bullshit detector capable of detecting bullshit of all kinds when it comes to work-related activities? Think of all the money it could save by either investing in or inventing such a device! And given that the number of nonessential workers has far surpassed the number of essential workers, the hospital should’ve already had one up and running by now.

          1. Procopius

            Never happen. Have you ever read Parkinson’s Law? He wrote it as kind of a joke, but in fact the insights are profound. “Work expands to fill the time available for it.” It’s all about status. Same in the Army. Once you become a general you surround yourself with an entourage, “security” personnel, “aides,” secretaries, personal assistants. The more subordinates you have the more important you are. It’s the biggest reason for the high cost of health care and education. So are sports “coaches.” Where did I read it, in most states the highest paid state employee is a football coach. Those people are never going to allow their perquisites to be taken away.

  6. jackiebass

    The same question crossed my mind about pumping oil. Also it seems like the ideal time to fill up the strategic oil reserve.

    1. xkeyscored

      It’s not that long ago we were hearing of Chinese zombie industries, continuing production without any demand.

      And I think the strategic oil reserves and others are full to overflowing. That’s why the prices went negative. Individual companies won’t stop producing because they’ll be at a disadvantage when demand picks up, but they’ve nowhere to put their ghastly product. Hence the effective offer by the markets to pay someone, anyone, to just take it off their hands.

      1. Charger01

        For a significant amount of the us shale producers, they have specific language in their contracts that if they stop pumping on a site, they forfeit the right to continue and/or have to continue lease payments. Many, many smaller shale players will get smoked by this.

        1. jefemt

          As will the ‘owners’ of minerals.

          Surprising number of people have mineral ‘rights’.

          May be some work in the future for landmen. My bet— edict will declare the existing contracts continued.

        2. xkeyscored

          Isn’t The Market marvellous!

          Oil is produced when nobody wants it, and planes continue flying almost without passengers. Meanwhile hospitals are closed and staff laid off in the middle of the biggest health crisis in ages. At least those sh!thead economics teachers are going to have their work cut out proving this is all for the good because the graph says so.

          1. Wyoming

            It is a good thing the military is still running around in their ships, planes and tanks consuming lots of fuel s) Think what the oversupply would be like if they parked all that stuff.

            btw they burn about 350,000 bbl a day.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Scotty from Marketing in Oz said yesterday that we would be topping up our own strategic reserve. I thought this a good idea as I knew that ours has been run down over the years and needed to be topped up while oil was so cheap. But then he said that there was only so much storage space in Australia so a big chunk of our strategic reserve would be located in the US. Saywhat? He thinks that this is a good idea? Iraq’s oil sales are paid into bank accounts and that has not worked out for them. Why would we having some of our strategic reserves under Trump’s tender mercies be any better?

          1. Wukchumni

            Right now would be a great time for a road trip on the Petroleum Highway- Ca. state route 33 which winds through Taft & Maricopa et al.

            You’d think you were in Saudi Arabia as there are oil wells damn near everywhere of the rocking horse persuasion, that i’d imagine are all going nowhere fast now, silenced by oversupply and under demand.

  7. Fox Blew

    On “Bilingualism”…

    As an anglophone Canadian who went through French Immersion in the 80’s/90’s
    (mainly due to my parents’ strong belief in Pierre Trudeau’s bi-culturalism) I can
    confirm the study’s results that bilingualism doesn’t make you “smarter”. I would
    likely be as smart (dumb) if I had taken only English. For that matter, the “smartest”
    people I know are those that took only English…so there’s that.

    But I did receive a wonderful gift in learning the French language, lifestyle, and
    culture. THAT is the reason why anyone who possesses any facility in language
    would benefit from studying a non-native tongue.

    And yet, since the 80’s here in Canada, it is my belief that the primary reason
    anglo kids are being placed into French immersion, is due to the fact that
    the parents believe their children are going to be better positioned to get
    a good government job. It is the careerist aspects that I shake my head at.

    And I have to wonder if the rationales for modern day French immersion are
    being played up by the education departments to accomplish just that. In other
    words, it appears to me that current French immersion curriculum IS about
    getting a good bilingual job as opposed to falling in love with French
    culture and developing a closer connection to positive Canadian nationalism
    that is a certain and natural bi-product of learning “the other” language of
    our country.

    I think my parents were right to listen to Trudeau. And I’m glad they did. But
    the “dream” quickly got corrupted, in my opinion.

    1. divadab

      @Fox – Yes bilingual candidates are favored for Federal (and many Provincial) jobs in Canada. That anglophone people put their kids in French immersion schooling so they will be more competitive in the job market is careerist but doesn’t negate the other social and cultural and quality of life aspects of bilingualism.

      Si on peut communiquer en deux (o tres?) langues, au moins notre monde est plus riche, nos opportunites sont plus divers, et commes tu dis, nous pouvons nous immerser dans l’autre culture national. Pourquois les noix? ;>]

    2. Winston Smith

      As a francophone Canadian who benefitted from a balanced mix of french and english education, I can say that I would find my life devoid of a deep pleasure if I were forced to express myself in one language exclusively. I now live in the US but my american wife has a deep attachment to languages and french in particular. Serious arguments are carried out in english however.

    3. td

      Back in the 1990’s, I attended a conference in Quebec on Peacekeeping and other such international issues. One of the presenters was a Canadian Brigadier who discussed his experiences patrolling the Green Line in Cyprus. He had a habit of riding a bicycle between the Greeks and Turks in the morning just to check out what was happening in his sector.

      The part relevant to this topic is that he switched between English and French with each sentence and with a normal cadence. The simultaneous translators were having a fit switching and trying to keep up. Fortunately for me, my French was just good enough to understand him, because trying to listen to the translation would have been amusing, but not enlightening.

      True bilingualism.

      1. sj

        My parents would switch from Spanish to English sometimes in the same sentence. Their whole generation on both sides of my family did so. And yes it was with a perfectly natural cadence. It sounds beautiful to me now.

        Sadly, as kids we usually responded in English, other than standard usage of Spanish names for many household objects. I wish we had been encouraged to use more Spanish but I suspect that they wanted us to fit into English speaking society. Or maybe it was just the path of least resistance for them. I don’t know. I wish I could ask them.

        I’ve been told I have a whisper of a Spanish accent from time to time. I don’t hear it myself.

    4. eg

      The other draw of French Immersion in Ontario is the de facto “streaming” it provides — many looking to prevent their precious flowers from having any more contact with “those kids” …

    1. Samuel Conner

      I shed no tears for AA, but IMO DJT’s reported dislike of “briefings” and detailed printed reports may be part of the problem. If subordinates know that the Chief has no patience for details or lengthy briefs, they are obliged to filter their news, and I would expect that to tend to push items that appear to be less important down in the stack. And, as these same subordinates know that “important” in the eyes of the Chief means “politically” important in terms of “appearances” rather than “substance”, that would tend to further de-emphasize things that are not yet clearly disasters. The subordinates learn to think like the Chief in order to provide him with the service he demands.

      In the end, DJT got the Cabinet he appointed, and IMO it’s all on him.

      Of course, one could make the same assessment of the US electorate. So maybe it’s all on us.

      If you’re at the bottom, volatility is your friend, until it isn’t.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Trump has agency. The American electorate’s agency is limited to what color the sh!t in the sh!t sandwich the are presented.

        Don’t even realistically have the option of taking to the streets.

  8. PlutoniumKun

    Trump says US will destroy Iranian gunboats harassing US ships Al Jazeera

    Trust Trump to find a way to boost oil prices for the price of a tweet. The only thing that can save the US oil industry, apart from a vast government support program, is a war in the Middle East. This will surely have occurred to many in the oil industry.

    1. Keith

      There are several oil countries that depend on oil price for social stability/social welfare. Venezuela comes to mind, as does Angola and Iraq. If one of these or others start experiencing instability in a way that would take out production, you could have a rebound. That being said, a nice little war halfway across the globe would do nicely, as well.

        1. Keith

          Maybe not, as afterall, they are about chaos. The Middle East is a mess mostly held together by oil money, so if the price continues to stay in the doldrums, it will cause increasing instability within the Middle East, causing internal discord within populations and a desire for autocrats to focus their populations and internal failures outward towards their neighbors. I am sure Uncle Sam will extend friendly credit terms to allow the MIC to sell the needed platforms if these Middle Eastern autocrats ask.

          1. xkeyscored

            I see an increased danger of some gung-ho captain of a US warship in the Gulf taking Trump’s tweets as encouragement or permission to open fire on the next Iranian boat that comes ‘too close’.

            1. Oregoncharles

              Do they really want to play the role of ducks in a barrel?

              (Yes, I know I scrambled two cliches together. Seemed to fit.)

    2. dftbs

      It’s popular to compare our imperial decline to that of our old super power competitor. But I think for an appropriate comparison we have to go further back to the Imperial precursor to the USSR. Imperial Russia, much like the present-day USA, was the gendarme of reactionary politics; but it would be military hubris that would set it on a course toward collapse.

      With the plague raging and our public institutions neutered in their ability to serve the common good, one has to wonder where the American regime’s legitimacy lies. Much like Imperial Russia in 1905, in it’s perceived military prowess.

      The risk/reward calculation of starting a war in order to gas up the price of oil is so disadvantageous to the American Nomenklatura, that I wouldn’t put it past them to do so. This is the same congregation that worships at the alter of stock buy backs and quarterly results. Their horizon is at the tip of their nose. This would be another in-character disastrous miscalculation.

      God forbid a fight against a peer competitor like Russia or China; but even the results of a conflict with well equipped and determined regional powers: Venezuela, Iran or North Korea, would dismantle the American sense of self.

      I’m not saying it would lead to the overthrow of the American regime, but it would be the historical signature on the declaration of that regime’s illegitimacy.

      Since the American Imperial imagination (or lack thereof) doesn’t understand the Heraclitian (thanks Pepe!) nature of history, or feels that it is above it; they may be able to perceive the mortal danger to its personnel inherent in going to war, and if history is any guide doesn’t care much for that cost. But it can’t imagine the danger to its legitimacy, seeing itself as a stone that could withstand the eternal coursing of the river.

      And to risk all that for the price of CME oil.

      1. Massinissa

        North Korea would be true madness. They have nukes. Iran, despite being nuke-less, would also be insane.

        Trump might invade Venezuela simply because it is viewed as ‘weak’ and defenseless. But then, so was North Vietnam. The geography of Venezuela is a similar jungle hell. Tanks wouldn’t be particularly useful there, so it would be largely infantry. Combined with coronavirus and native tropical diseases, chances are it wouldn’t even be the Venezuelans doing most of the killing of the GIs and Marines.

      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        the results of a conflict with well equipped and determined regional powers: Venezuela, Iran or North Korea, would dismantle the American sense of self.


        We just finalized our terms of surrender after 17 years and $2 trillion to a ragtag collection of goat herders and bomb improvisors (the Taliban) and I think “the American sense of self” in this regard is entirely intact.

        We won 1 (one) conflict since 1945 (Grenada). You could add one more (Panama), with the priceless vignette of The Empire outlasting the opponent’s leader only after the 24/7 application of blared bad heavy metal music.

        War, we do. Win, not so much. Puffery and chest-thumping? No problemo

      3. cnchal

        > . . . God forbid a fight against a peer competitor like Russia or China . . .

        It won’t be god that forbids war, but a General will, when he tells whomever is president that those F35s are for show only.

    3. John k

      Problem is Iran exports likely infer 3mmb/day.
      Current world overproduction about 30mmb/day.

  9. hemeantwell

    On Trump’s threats against Iranian speedboats, yesterday’s FT coverage explicitly linked it to a rise in the price of oil, which set off a market bounce.

    Remarkably, the article only referred to Trump’s threat and provided no background on the supposed Iranian provocations. As best as I can tell, speedboating is a steady feature of the Iranian naval profile, something to be made much of as circumstances require. So it appears Trump is using the threat of war to address the supply glut. His ability to inspire contempt is inexhaustible.

    1. timbers

      If we start a war with an oil nation, the price of a barrel might go up. Maybe to $100. That would make Wall Street very happy. It would go up too, maybe crashing 30k before November.

      Then, the bailed out Wall Streeters and their ilk and company CEO’s – the Jack Welch types – could on on the Tee Vee and splain to us why bailing out States and their pension funds is bad because it would create moral hazard. Maybe they could use their appearances to announce some new company buy-backs to unlock shareholder value and drive their stocks higher.

      If Jack Welch were still alive, maybe he could team up with Boeing CEO David Calhoun and go on a national, social distanced approved, listening tours to splain to little folks how those who’s retirements are going bankrupt, that it’s a perfect opportunity for them to start their onw businesses and MAGA. After all, it’s never too late.

      My city trash didn’t get picked per usual schedule, yesterday. I’m almost afraid to check out why. I’m sure it’s something routine. But in this day and age, it doesn’t take much for you to start wondering if it’s something more serious.

      1. Wukchumni

        My city trash didn’t get picked per usual schedule, yesterday. I’m almost afraid to check out why. I’m sure it’s something routine. But in this day and age, it doesn’t take much for you to start wondering if it’s something more serious.

        I’ve been wondering about that too and our ‘supply chain’ ends up in a dump 50 miles away, and have taken to throwing out as much as possible in terms of crap that needed to go, for if there’s a hiccough with pick-up.

        1. timbers

          Yes, me too. Something told me not to delay getting rid of as much trash or unwanted stuff I’ve been holding on to for no good reason, out of house and yard as possible, as quickly as possible…

          Wonder if Nancy P or Donald D have thoughts like that? Does Nancy worry about losing electoral power and all her ice cream melting?

          1. Wukchumni

            A cathartic feeling is the only thing left after debris leaves.

            Very constructive thing to do, we only needed a prod.

        2. TXMama

          While getting rid of items of zero use is good, I can’t help but feel some items will become more valuable if we do descend into a Second Great Depression. The resale shops like Goodwill could become very popular to shoppers instead of places to dump old stuff. Those shops have been overloaded recently from people downsizing or cleaning out grandma’s house. The situation could flip with resale shops getting picked clean. Much as I hate waste, I hope we don’t get to that situation because of the misery that would be inflicted on so many.

      2. christofay

        Monday was a holiday. To me it felt like another day at home. Collection might be delayed till Thursday. I went through this exact thing

    2. Samuel Conner

      > His ability to inspire contempt is inexhaustible

      “No matter how cynical one gets, it’s impossible to keep up”

      I’ve concluded that DJT has simply been posturing since 2015. Even
      the campaign was a pose taken for other reasons.

      He takes all sides of every issue, and later can selectively point to having
      wisely chosen the right position at the right time — which works for sympathetic
      media and his base. It doesn’t work for governance, but he’s not really “in” to

      The one bitter solace is that I reckon that DJT will be remembered in history as
      the man who led US to its downfall. I hope he realizes that before dementia
      overtakes him.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Please. DJT is an effect, not a cause. Start with the book Listen, Liberal by Thomas Frank and work your way from there.

  10. xkeyscored

    Phylodynamics of SARS-CoV-2 transmission in Spain bioRxiv

    A question for Ignacio and others.

    “SARS-CoV-2 whole-genome analysis has identified three large clades spreading worldwide, designated G, V and S.”

    How different are these clades/strains clinically? For instance, I’ve noticed occasional claims that the strain that hit the west coast of the USA is less nasty than the one that hit New York. How much of that do you think is fact, and how much speculation?

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      Our son in Thailand tells us that his girlfriend, an ICU nurse, reports that this is the CW in Bangkok. They see an Asian strain that is less virulent and a European strain that is more deadly. Again, this is just second-hand anecdotal info, but the CW also is that having one strain does not confer immunity from the other, and that would be very bad if true.

    2. Ignacio

      I have not seen yet good info on this. I am not sure there are already noticeable differences between clades as some have claimed. Difficult to know particularly given that the 3 clades are present in many places and there is no good data on prevalence of each clade.

      1. xkeyscored

        Thank you. Not seen good info, some have claimed, difficult to know, no good data – about what I thought. And I’d guess clade 4 (or strain 8 if you count 7 as some seem to do) could have already arisen …

    3. MLTPB

      Looking back, we might say, we should have prepared for a nastier second strain, if that was the case.

      In reality, no one I am aware of anticipated that back in Jan.

  11. Wukchumni

    Moi: You’re kidding me: risk further infections, death, decline, to open NAIL SALONS and TATOO PARLORS?

    By going out, you look marvelous. It is better to look good than to feel good.

        1. barefoot charley

          “Do Not Resucitate,” christofay. It’s meant to discourage becoming an end-of-life profit center.

    1. Carolinian

      I doubt if too many 70 year olds with underlying health conditions are hanging out at tattoo parlors but could be wrong. Weird what the news obsesses about.

      1. Wukchumni

        I tried to get my mom inked when she was only in her early 90’s, and we aren’t talking about a quote in Sanskrit crawling down the length of her arm or anything, but maybe a floral pattern on the small of her back-a heart enclosed within, that sort of thing.

        1. Carolinian

          Sounds bitchin’

          Apparently with regards to Kemp’s reopening of movie theaters they have already declined to do so because they have nothing to show. Most upcoming releases have been postponed until well into the summer.

          Also the story I saw mentioned the legal liability implications should someone claim to have been infected while watching Wonder Woman (or whatever). This might apply to any business but in the case of theaters you are sitting there for a couple of hours breathing the communal air conditioning. The public they do be litigious….

            1. Carolinian

              Perhaps when you buy an airline ticket you sign a legal disclaimer but not when you buy a movie ticket.

      2. Monty

        Do you think the clients and staff could go to meet people that are vulnerable elsewhere, after gathering there?

      3. tegnost

        I’d say it has more to do with the rent that is expected to be paid. At the grocery the other day I sat in the parking lot getting my gloves mask etc… together, and the first person out of the store had no mask, no gloves, and a somewhat haughty demeanor. She got into a jag. Pretty much every other customer had masks/gloves, and in a trump supporting town so by the numbers masks were on trump supporters. Later saw the jag parked in front of a real estate management company.She wants her renters back to work.

  12. The Rev Kev

    “Coronavirus will change America forever. Past crises offer hints of what’s to come.”

    I thought that this might be a good piece this but it turned out to be a story saying Orange Man Bad, Obama is a Saint and its thoughts on what Obama did for the country sound more like DNC talking points. As one minor example, it says the Great Recession “pushed people out of their homes” but that wasn’t the recession that . It was Obama’s programs that pushed over five million families out of their homes and turned those people into runway foam. Other people’s mileage on this article may vary.

    1. dougie

      Concur….. When I saw them not holding Obama accountable for ANY his many transgressions, I bailed out.

  13. Mark Gisleson

    Note on Bernie’s NYTimes op-ed: now that Truthdig is down, no one’s reprinting the paywalled stuff a day or two later. I’m missing Truthdig much more than I thought I would.

    1. mpalomar

      More and more paywalls to circumvent. I’m finding that Qwant search provides good work arounds.
      Here’s a link to the article that is not paywalled

      1. Aumua

        Now I will do everything in my power to bring this country together to help Joe Biden defeat the most dangerous president in modern American history.

        Ewwwwwwww. Gross. I think I might vomit, actually.

        I liked the rest of the article except for that one sentence.

    1. Samuel Conner

      Do we know that Zinc supplementation is beneficial?

      A pub med search on

      zinc coronavirus

      gives ~80 hits; the seemingly most relevant one contains this alarming note in
      its abstract:

      “We conclude that zinc metalloproteases must be considered potential contributors to coronavirus fusion”

      which suggests that zinc deficiency might be protective. If the drug candidates for inhibitors of COVID-19 entry are interfering with zinc-dependent molecules, one would not want to supplement with zinc, I would think.

      protease (protein cleaving enzyme) inhibitors are indeed drug candidates:

      Maybe we should be chelating zinc, to become deficient.

      Better informed people: please correct me.

      1. Monty

        Med Cram did a video about it ages ago. Zinc was shown to disrupt a virus’ ability to replicate in the cell. The problem is that zinc cannot pass through a cell wall on it’s own. It needs a carrier, that can pass through the membrane, to take it in. That’s what quinine, chloroquine and quercetin are thought to do. The theory is if you disrupt the multiplication early enough, you’ll not get overwhelmed by the virus .

        I found this video that explains it quite nicely.

        It references this article:

    2. Carla

      Dr. Roger Seheult’s (he pronounces it “Schwelt”) MedCram you-tube series on Covid-19 is remarkable. I never miss a new edition. He is an internist AND a pulmonary specialist and has been treating Covid-19 patients in San Diego for the last month.

  14. Ignacio

    Regarding the question that Franko Milanovic makes I think it reflects total ignorance on epidemic dynamics. We are yet in the initial stages of Covid-19 pandemic and, if one looks at casualties, their geographical distribution will almost certainly be a consequence of the distribution of initial contagion chains and the graphic he did will be primarily the consequence of these. In the link provided above (Phylodynamics of SARS-CoV-2 transmission in Spain bioRxiv) you can find many of the answers to the question but only for the case of Spain but similar studies made in all countries would provide a picture on how the epidemic went in all and every country. As an example, the Spanish study indicates that initial clusters appeared in Spain much before than previously thought, by 8th February, 35 days before the lockdown. Not 1 but up to 15 independent entries occurred in a relative short span while in Wuhan, all data support the theory of a single subject 0. With 15 initial clusters it wouldn’t be that surprising that when the signals for lockdown appeared the spread of the epidemic was much wider than in Wuhan, even counting for the fact that in Spain, or in Italy, the outbreak was not as surprising as in Wuhan. The alarm bells start sounding when hospital admissions start to climb and this occurs with a median delay of about 16 days after contagions start. With an R0 of about 5-6 in this 16 days the number of contagions can be very high and multiplied by the number of initial clusters. I bet that in NY the number of SARS CoV entries would be much higher than in Spain, more than 15 and probably more than 30.

    So, answering Milanovic’s question, the problem is that in Europe and EEUU, several virus entries were not detected, neither traced. This indicates a failure most probably at airports where not enough checks were made. Fever would help but almost certainly not suffice and event testing of all passengers could have filtered some but not all of those entries.

    I don’t know the history of airport closures in each country so I cannot figure out if this makes the difference or is it just that these countries had less contacts with China and other EU countries.

    1. hemeantwell

      Ignacio, do you believe that the R0 of 5 to 6 is the best estimate? I saw that reported here several days back. But other writers continue to use much lower R0 estimates. You’ve followed the outbreak better than most so I’d appreciate your take.

      1. Ignacio

        The R0 estimate is dynamic, not constant. I think that estimate is good for early phases of the outbreak. A lower estimate might be correct for the linear phase.

  15. Samuel Conner

    re: McConnell and the parlous state of finances of state PERSs,

    Isn’t Kentucky’s one of the most fragile systems?

    Is McConnell planning to retire from the Senate?

    1. rob

      he doesn’t need a gov’t pension… he is married to elaine chao…. council on foreign relation badge wearing
      daughter of shipping money…
      never mind the revolving door of his future lobbying gig for the private sector…
      he is “in the political class”… and so will be his family.
      He has earned it…He has been a loyal stooge of wall street all his political career.Standing firm… against anything good for the people.

      1. The Historian

        Elaine Chao is also the Secretary of Transportation, you know, the agency that oversees shipping, trucking, the railroads, and yes, FAA. Isn’t that convenient?

      2. Samuel Conner

        My question though, is “Does MM want Kentuckians to vote for him at his next Senate election?”

        You don’t have to be a Kentucky public employee, just a resident of the state, to be alarmed at his cavalier attitude.

        Part of MM’s “vote for me!” shtick is that he brings home good stuff for Kentucky; it’s good for Kentucky to have MM as the most powerful person in the Senate. This “let them file bankruptcy” is “vote against me!” level stuff.

        So he is planning to retire?

      3. Bob

        Government’s have been irresponsible about their pension funds. In many states police and other unions allow their members to work on limited overtime hours in the last 2 to 3 years before they retire. This is then the new average for the base salary when computing pension funding. In New York City teachers get an 8% increase in pension every year regardless of how inflation or the market is performed. Many of these people retire after 20 to 30 years and move over to another job in a government collecting double pay. If the city is unable to pay for the pension they are requesting that the federal government step in and make up a short fall. What happens to ordinary individuals who work in a job where they have no pension. If you have a 401(k) plan or an Ira and its invested and you lose 30 to 40% of it does the government step in and make up that difference. If not why not? Why we singling out government employees to be billed out while the majority of people to work for a living have no pension no savings and have to rely on the wrong work to support themselves.

        1. The Historian

          Do you even know how pension plans got started?

          And might I add that the reason the states offered pensions is because they paid so low that the only way to get employees was to offer benefits? I have worked for all three, private companies, a state, and the federal government. Do you think I would have ever worked for a state or the federal government without those benefits – especially when I was earning about half the amount working for the Feds than I could have gotten in the private sector? Sorry, but I was smart enough to figure out that the added salary with a fully invested 401k wasn’t going to support me throughout my retirement – I needed a pension. Yes, I did do the math.

          And then there is that 401k problem. Did you know that in the 40’s about 25% of workers had a pension plan through their unions. But Reagan convinced people that chasing the immediate buck was more important than planning for the future. So he sold everyone on 401k’s. WOW! You could have a MILLION DOLLARS for your retirement! HOOYAH! Wasn’t that a load of hooey dumped on the American public. Instead of a stable pension, people could get rich off the stock market. Only, because their pay didn’t rise, they couldn’t fully invest, and then, guess what? The stock market doesn’t only rise – sometimes it falls. OOOOPS!

          So the people who weren’t smart enough then to figure out that 401k’s really were not worth giving up pensions for are now whining and falling line with Wall Street rhetoric and attacking public employees instead of the people who sold them that big bag of hooey – isn’t it wonderful for Wall Street that Americans are always so easily distracted and led?

          But I have to ask another question. Is all this angst about public pensions NOW because the States defied Trump? Is this just payback?

          1. Painted Shut

            …people who weren’t smart enough to…

            No, this is revisionist history. Reality: Baby Boomers got their pension vesting, then “realized” it was unsustainable moving forward and foisted 401k on the rest of us. As a bonus for Boomers, they have/will end up with fully-vested pensions and also 15+ years of 401k contributions, with company match, of course. Cha-Ching.

            1. The Historian

              Did you not notice that people started seriously losing their pensions in lieu of 401k’s in the 80’s? That would mean that it is Boomers who are now hurting, wouldn’t it? And apparently that has not gone unnoticed:




              Prejudice in no way replaces thinking.

            2. John

              Blaming all Boomers again.
              Blame the elites. Of all ages.

              BTW, the ones I get the most mad about are the police pensions. 20 years and then a pension and health care for life! Make them work another 20 years in a desk job before any retirement.

          2. barefoot charley

            In defense of your argument, Historian, I remember the olden days when the US had a broad middle class. Its private sector paid better but had to think about retirement. The public sector paid worse, but got a fatter pension to compensate. Then the neoliberal wrecking ball knocked down the privately paid middle class, by first wrecking rules and regulations supposedly protecting it, while public employees had safer unions and sturdier protections, since there wasn’t as much money to personally pocket by destroying them.

            So the formerly underpaid public sector became the overpaid protected sector, thanks to the *gutting of private employment benefits.* I do think public pension policies call for reform; but it’s because the Perpetual Growf post-war economic model got flattened by Global Growf that we eventually had to kinda compete with to profit from. We’re so broke we envy the postmen we used to pity.

            1. flora

              Yep. The pension is a form of deferred compensation for public sector employees; lower pay on the front end, deferred compensation in the form of a pension on the back end. Public sector salaries alone couldn’t compete with the private sector.

            2. PuntaPete

              Spot on. That’s exactly what happened, and BTW, the Federal pension system was radically revised in the 1980’s so that employees hired after that are in a pension system (FERS) that is no where near as generous as the old system.

            3. CanCyn

              Bang on Barefoot Charley! That is exactly what happened in Canada. Private sector was better pay but not so good benefits or pensions. But strong unions pre 1980s meant that private sector workers were OK. Governments jobs were low pay but good benefits. I went to university in the late 80s in my late 20s (I left a dead end job in retail) and rather accidentally stumbled into librarianship, which, in my province in Canada, is generally a very well paid government job, with great benefits and a good pension. In spite of bad start in the recessionary early 90s, I have done just fine financially. Things have tanked so badly for most private sector workers, personal debt and lack of savings is a huge problem in Canada, mitigated by our healthcare system. I thank my lucky stars every day that things turned out the way they did for me. I do often hear criticism of well paid/over paid government workers. My retort is always that I am not overpaid, but that others are underpaid.
              The retail job that I left in the late 80s to go back to school paid me $12 per hour. That is above or just below most provincial minimum wages in Canada today and adjusted for inflation is the equivalent of over $20 per hour today. When I tell youngsters this, their reaction is to assume that I had a really benevolent employer, that it couldn’t have been the norm. They really don’t understand how bad things have gotten and/or how much better they should be.
              As this virus takes it’s toll, I marvel daily that the 90% are not out in the streets rioting violently. The neoliberals have done a very fine job of controlling the narrative for decades now. If this crisis doesn’t reveal the evil, greed and selfishness that lurks in their hearts, I don’t think anything will.

          3. antidlc

            There were people who did the math and worked for corporations that promised them retirement benefits. They could have made more money working for companies that did NOT provide a pension, but they realized the value of a pension and stayed. Then, after working for those corporations, the rug was pulled out from underneath those loyal corporate employees after it was too late to recover.


            1. antidlc

              by “pension” I meant a defined benefit pension, not a 401(k).

              Technically, 401(k)s are “pensions”. They are “defined contribution” pensions.

              1. Jesper

                Deferred compensation happened and happens both in the private and the public sector. The deferred compensation might never be paid out, however, a perfect financial model would take that into account and discount the future benefits. Sadly there are no perfect financial models – perfection is, in my opinion, something reserved for the divine.

                What we see now is similar to the Harvard strike. In that piece from a couple of months ago it was written that some staff only got salary increases when the minimum wage increased. That might seem like the people at Harvard were free-loading (they did nothing and got a benefit) on the effort on getting the minimum wage increased.
                Combine that with the Harvard peope only striking for Harvard people and nobody else and they came across (to me) as only out for themselves. Joining up with others would increase the chance of success of getting higher wages but supporting higher minimum wages was for some reason not seen as an acceptable strategy.

                Increased federal pensions for everybody would get more support but that would also benefit the ‘lessers’ so, similar to the Harvard staff, the strategy is to go for a likely ‘honourable’ defeat than allying with ‘lessers’ for a win.

                People who fight only for themselves might need to prepare for fighting alone.

                1. juno mas

                  The deferred compensation might never be paid out, however, a perfect financial model would take that into account and discount the future benefits

                  Deferred compensation plans (mines a 457b) are always paid out. However, not always to the person who funded it. That’s why they have a beneficiary determination. If you don’t have a Will, or designate a beneficiary, your State of residence determines who gets the funds. Of course, the deferred tax on the account will eventually be paid. (See your tax accountant for details.)

                  1. Jesper

                    Some say that debts that can’t be paid won’t be paid. The deferred compensation can be seen as a debt owed. If the entity owing the debt can’t pay then it won’t pay. Therefore I stand by the comment, deferred compensation isn’t always paid out.

        2. CuriosityConcern

          Pensions for public employees are considered(or were) because the income is less than private sector work. I don’t think spiking is fair though.

          1. John

            At this point the public sector is way better paid then the private. Especially when you add their pensions and health insurance. and retirement at a very early age for most of them

    2. juno mas

      Um, McConnell gets a FEDERAL pension for being a senator. Along with his comprehensive medical coverage. Which he wishes to deny to YOU.

  16. Tom Stone

    Russell1200, thanks for the link.
    Two thoughts came to mind.
    1) a Labradoodle would likely have done a better job than Azar.
    2) if CalPers is looking for an equally qualified candidate to replace Marcie Frost Azar will probably be available soon.

  17. The Rev Kev

    “‘It is disease that makes health sweet and good’ ”

    Heraclitus, in the few fragments that are left, has some interesting things to say. This article mentions one where he says ‘You could not step twice into the same rivers; for other waters are ever flowing on to you’ and he is right. Anybody else gone to a place they grew up for a visit only to discover that you are not the same person that grew up there? You can’t go back. And the only constant thing in life is change. But he said something once where I think that he nailed it and I have never forgotten it. And it is-

    ‘A man’s character is his fate.’

    1. Krystyn Podgajski

      So happy to see Heraclitus here today! Knowing what I know about Daoism and then reading “Fragments”, I have no doubt that he was heavily influenced by Daoist thought, probably via the Silk Road(?).

      I had a 2 hour conversation with a friend last night since I feel like I have been at this spiritual tipping point the last year, but I am afraid (and too lazy) to go over the edge. But by not going over I am just suffering more trying to keep my feet in both worlds.

      This was a Heraclitus keeper quote for me:
      “Even a soul submerged in sleep is hard at work and helps make something of the world.”


      If you wish to read something Daoist that is not the Dao De Ching, check out this complete, web publication of The Writing of Chuang Tzu.

      i would start with “Cutting Open Satchels”.

      1. MLTPB

        I go back to Zhuangzi’s crooked tree story.

        Xi might want to balance the OBOR idea with that old, useless tree.

    2. DJG

      Rev Kev: I also have been heavily influenced by “Character (daimon) is fate.” Heraclitus didn’t mean that character is unchanging.

      The essay by Escobar is very good. What he is pointing to is how much Western philosophy, which is way too dependent on the radical dualists Plato and Aristotle, made a mess of things. And then Christianity took up Platonism and Aristotelianism because it reinforced the self-claimed moral seriousness of Christianity and shored up the lunacy of radical dualism: body mind soul

      We are seeing the lunacy of radical dualism even in this epidemic: My body! Let me be infected! My eternal soul and its faith in the free market matters more!

      And it isn’t just Heraclitus who offers another way: There are Pausanias (a priest at Delphi and wonderfully humane writer), Epicurus (who was about understanding our pursuit of pleasure), and the wonderful Lucretius and his poem, On the Nature of the Universe.

      1. DJG

        One quibble: I am familiar with Heraclitus’s work, but I never have read anything tying him to the royal family of Ephesus. He was from a highly placed family, but that is about all we know. I’m wondering what Escobar’s sources for bio info are.

      2. The Rev Kev

        DJG. I didn’t mean to imply that character is unchanging. His surviving works say that change is the only constant. For me that is optimistic as it says that your fate is not set in stone. And that as you change over time, so does your fate. If you grow as a person in the right way, it can help you move to where you want to be.

        1. DJG

          Rev Kev: You didn’t imply that character is unchanging. I just wanted to stress that wonderful flexibility and realism in a saying that even in the original Greek is quite stark.

          One’s daimon (which changes) makes one’s destiny (which changes).

          Much to learn from that idea.

    3. chuck roast

      If we are paraphrasing Heraclitus today and were to say, “There are no facts only interpretations,” how would we interpret this: for March 2020, the Massachusetts death toll from CV is officially 89. However, the average death toll for March over 20 years is 5,049 while the March 2020 death toll swelled to 5,578, this is 529 deaths over the 20 year average as reported by the Mass. Dept. of Public Health. How would we interpret that?

      1. HotFlash

        I would like to see some more numbers before venturing any interpretation. Such as, are the deaths over the 20 year period stable? Averages are tricky things, esp over such a long haul, and can conceal a lot of fluctuation. Are the death counts adjusted for population? Median age? What is the breakdown by cause? What are the criteria for assigning covid as ‘official’ cause of death? That’s just for starters.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Vile stuff that. At the age of 81 years old, I am sure that the workers of Las Vegas would thank her for her service if she did go.

  18. xkeyscored

    Three negatives and a positive: problems with coronavirus tests in China Reuters

    It’s unclear whether this is a problem for China alone, and also whether it’s a problem with the tests as such, or with the nature of the virus itself. The article states at one point, “His case is not unique. Similar instances in China and elsewhere,” and that tallies with what I’ve read.

    Harbouring this virus somewhere in the body doesn’t mean there’s enough of it where they swab to show up, though that’s not to say all tests are as well made and used as we’d like, in China or elsewhere.

  19. DWD

    Jerri-Lynn Scofield.

    The situation in Georgia is not what it appears to be. Of course tattoo parlors and bowling alleys are not necessary. I think everyone knows this but that is not the story.

    The story appears to be that they are trying to not pay “Certain” people unemployment benefits because they have hamstringed their ability to raise revenue and the fund will soon be depleted.

    1. BobW

      “The purpose of this isn’t to open up these businesses. It’s to get the workers there off the dole. Work, and die. Or don’t work … but you’re on your own. Because we can’t raise taxes to cover the time you spent trying to save your life and the lives of the people around you.”

      Political Murder

    2. Painted Shut

      “Political murder” seems a bit much. Reopening at least gives people choices. Businesses can reopen, or not. Patrons can go to the open establishments, or not. Don’t think it’s safe? Wait a bit. Stay home if you want. I’ve not seen where anyone is forcing individuals to reopen or leave the house. Reopening simply means you are free to choose.

      Seems like nail salons and tattoo parlors would be fine if hygiene, masks, and stay home if you’re sick. I’m a dude and don’t get my nails done, but I’ve walked past nail salons and they always have on masks, even in normal times.

      1. marym

        t’s not an individual choice to risk getting an infectious disease and transmitting it to people who didn’t make that choice. If the argument is that the non-choosers don’t matter, make the case, but it’s wrong to say it’s just an individual choice.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          there’s this thing called…variously…”society”, or “civilisation”…or even “community”…
          a technique for living together, often with strangers around the periphery of your individualism.
          Social Contract, and all…
          (which, by the bye, they don’t appear to teach in Texas Public Schools, at least for the last 18 years of monitoring the textbooks and homework)

          the Reaganist/Neolib Dispensation runs deep, by now…that we’re no longer Citizens, but Enterprises…little companies, competing(with Perfect Information, yada yada) each with each.
          When you stand back a bit, that sure looks a lot like Hobbes’ war of all against all, to me.

          So…well done, Oligarchs!
          Here’s the Civilisation you wanted!

        2. Painted Shut

          It is a choice. There are no “non-choosers”. Unless an infected person breaks into your home, a choice you made is what got you infected.

          In other words, the infected person didn’t stay home, but if you got infected, then you weren’t staying home either. Choices were made by both parties.

          1. Monty

            The person, who I ran over whilst I was drunk, made the wrong choice when they decided to leave their house! Freedom aint free!

            1. Painted Shut

              I would agree with your juxtaposition if the infector knows they’re sick and goes out in public anyway. That would be irresponsible, akin to drunk driving.

              An asymptomatic person though, you can’t fault them anymore than yourself (unless you find that they are the one that bit the pangolin in Wuhan). That scenario is really more like a no-fault car accident in heavy rain. Both parties know the risk, know that there’s inclement weather, and both chose to drive anyway.

              1. xkeyscored

                Unless an infected person breaks into your home, a choice you made is what got you infected.

                Staying home and starving, hoping you won’t get infected using communal facilities, vs trying to find some food or the money to buy it. That’s the ‘choice’ facing many around the world, including many in the USA.

                  1. ChrisPacific

                    That’s a choice that the USA has made as a society, and one that (so far) it refuses to revisit.

                    Other choices are possible. The USA, a wealthy country, would be more than capable of supplying its population with the basic necessities of existence over a short to medium term period without requiring people in non-essential jobs to work. The economy would take a hit, but would restart again afterward (isn’t this what ‘creative destruction’ is supposed to be for? The buggy whip stories, and all that?)

                    The US will not do it because it has a long history of prioritizing the interests of capital, business and the wealthy over the health and wellbeing of its populace.

                  2. Aumua

                    Yeah and that’s the thing here: it is essential that people be able to continue to “make money”. You can’t just keep giving money to people who aren’t supposed to have it, because that erodes the underpinnings of our Capitalist economy and society. You have to work for a living. For most that means you have to sell your labor on the labor market to an employer for a wage which is necessarily less than the value your work produced. Or you can become homeless and possibly starving. Because that’s just the way things are.

                    If working class people are just given $2000/month for months in a row or however much is enough to not have to live in fear of the bottom dropping out of their lives, then they might start thinking about things that TPTB do not want people to think about. They might start to consider what other options there might be for their own lives, and for a functional economy and society. This is why we have to get people back to work, making money for their betters, and also a bit for themselves. This is just the way things are.

          2. Fiery Hunt

            Choice without options is NOT A CHOICE.
            Not real clear on the part about food, are ya?
            No one can stay in completely unless they have access to enough food for months without going to a grocery store or having someone deliver it. (BTW…delivered by someone who you have no CHOICE over their actions…and so on…)

            1. Painted Shut

              Well, we’re already going out to get food. And we can get infected while doing so. Keeping tattoo parlors closed is just an illusion that it is making you more safe at the grocery store. It is not.

              Tattoo artists need to eat, too. Grocery shopping requires money.

              1. xkeyscored

                Tattooing doesn’t produce food, and without enough customers, won’t even produce much money, just keep workers off unemployment benefits. Shopping requires money, but that’s about how we’ve structured our economies and societies, nothing inherently to do with needs or food.

              2. Monty

                Every time you go somewhere that someone else has been in the last 24 hours, you run the risk of getting infected.

                Every time you go somewhere whilst infectious, you leave booby traps that last 24 hours for the next people passing through to find.

                The more places you can go, the more opportunities to infect or get infected.

                The goal of having people stay at home, and only going out to do essential errands, is to minimize these opportunities, saving lives and stopping the hospitals getting overwhelmed.

                Because some(*) people DGAF about anyone but themselves, the states were forced to reduce the opportunities for the infectious to meet the susceptible, so that these people didn’t undo the efforts of more conscientious folk.


                1. xkeyscored

                  And people spend a lot longer close up with one person in a nail salon or tattoo parlour than they usually do in shops. If one of them’s infectious, I’d guess there’s a much bigger chance the other gets it than when you happen across a little 24 hour old booby trap somewhere.

      2. xkeyscored

        Political murder seems pretty accurate to me. It can be dressed up as every USians inalienable right to infect others or as a better alternative than restructuring the economy, but I doubt if the Governor of Georgia needs or even wants a tattoo or nail job any sooner than I do. Keeping taxes and official unemployment down sound more like reasons that might motivate him, and I’d call them political reasons for sure, along with the fact most of the affected workers are poor, black or Asian.

      3. HotFlash

        Painted, I wonder if you have thought this through. Most Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck. The point is, as long as the businesses are *ordered* closed by the state, their employees are entitled to unemployment benefits, such as they are. If a business can open, the employees get cut off unemployment benefits and have the choice of either working and perhaps getting sick, taking the disease home to their families, maybe even dying, or else *for sure* starving/getting evicted, along with their families.

        There is no element of choice here. Many of the workers in the “OK to open” businesses are poor working class, and the owners of these typically small businesses are not likely rolling in dough, either. Add to that the likely reduction in business that these establishments will see — ya think scads of people are going to be going for a new tat any time soon? How will these businesses pay their workers? The can’t they won’t and they will fail. Their landlords will be strapped and hey,
        It is a set-up for the poor workers *and* small business owners *and* their landlords to get kicked off unemployment (save the state some money), to die uninsured (save the state some more money), test the waters to see if the lockdown can be lifted by sending out some poors (save the state still more money). Bonus! Real estate will get real cheap for developers with ca$h (as in, just got a bailout) as small landlords will have to unload their vacant properties.

        It’s not a plan, it’s a trap.

        1. Painted Shut

          Alas, “entitled to” doesn’t put food on the table. I’m unemployed in Florida, but one of the lucky 14% that have gotten payments, as I filed in early March. And I use the term “payments” loosely, as it’s a paltry $275 per week. I’ve gotten the bailout payment, and one, ONE, fed $600 check which came in the mail last week (how long ago did that bill get signed?). And again, lucky, as 86% in FL have gotten no unemployment money at all.

          The unemployment website is so hosed that DeSantis, via a series of executive orders, has made it so the workaround for the website is “don’t use the website”. The phone system basically tells you that they are too busy, then disconnects you. And, there is no appetite to pay benefits in arrears, so I doubt anyone will be made whole.

          The fallacy is that you think that the fact that a program was implemented is equal to people actually getting the benefits that are called for. Instead of measuring how much a person can get, and how many qualify, for a program, you need to look at how many are actually getting it. For example, if PPP is a worker program, don’t measure how many loans you’ve made, measure how many workers are actually getting an uninterrupted paycheck as a result of the program. Or for unemployment, how many people are actually getting the full unemployment benefits, and how big of a gap they experienced between their last paycheck and their first full unemployment distribution. Etc.

          1. Oregoncharles

            It doesn’t sound like DeSantis is running for re-election this year – or expecting people to remember all this in two years.

          1. Fiery Hunt

            If I get ya right, Painted, the bone you have is in the failure of the government (local, state and fed) to make shelter-in-place work for those not in the PMC.

            I couldn’t agree more.

            This self-employed sole proprietor has not seen 1 dime in benefits.

            No stimulus check, no response on the Disaster Loan application, no unemployment from either state or feds. My fiancee got her hours cut nearly in half and her 1st unemployment check was $21.

            Working class are getting hammered.

            But “opening up” is the wrong answer to the wrong question.

    3. rowlf

      The large company I work for here in Georgia is helping employees who qualify to apply for unemployment benefits, including unemployment benefits if your pay has been reduced by reduced hours or you have taken a leave of absence. Most of the employees make too much for this to matter (reduced hours) but the HR department is trying to help those that can use it. The company also has workplace safety and PPE use dialed up to 11 as I sense they are concerned about liability if any source of infection shows up on the property.

      As an aside, a friend who took a leave of absence apparently ran short on tin foil and contacted me recently to announce he was an anti-vaxxer and to warn me of the coming new world order. I tried to reason with him that one of the benefits of the internet is you can find any information you want to support whatever viewpoint you have on any issue. A business call interrupted us before I could use the Peterson Institute as an example of planting stories to be found, or the history of the Philadelphia Experiment myth.

  20. Wukchumni

    Heard from a friend who attempted to go to Home Depot in Visalia, Ca. (pop 136k) yesterday, that there was a line of about 50-60 people a heck of a lot closer to one another than he felt comfortable with waiting to be slowly let into the store 1 by 1 aligned along the front of HD, when observing from afar in his car.

    No Sale!

    1. dougie

      I wanted to avoid the Lowe’s or Home Depot experience at all costs. I was able to have a wonderful, safe experience at a nearby, small town hardware store. Although there were people in a socially distanced line to enter the store, I was able to buy all the garden plants, herbs, etc. that I needed from the outside pavilion, while wearing my gloves and mask.

      At the outdoor register, I mentioned that all I needed was seed for yellow corn, and pole beans, and some onion sets, but I wasn’t willing to wait in line , or enter the store. The young clerk ran into the building, and returned with all items!

      I drove the ten miles home, and started playing in the dirt!

  21. Samuel Conner

    Lovely — Trump, in saying “it [CV-19] may not come back [in the Fall] at all” appears to be resurrecting his prior “it will go away, like a miracle” rhetoric. More posturing for the base, I suppose.

    Does anyone seriously believe that the virus will not be endemic throughout US right through the Summer? And if that’s the case, then the 2nd wave is certain, and likely to be worse, since it won’t be spreading from clusters, but will already be wide-spread.

    The President should be talking about the energetic preparations he is overseeing to prepare the country for the coming combined flu’/CV-19 epidemic, assuming that he is actually doing that.

    1. Monty

      I was reading about how the CDC reported flu deaths a few months ago. The numbers seemed so high for an advanced nation. If found this paper on the British Medical Journal.

      Are US flu death figures more PR than science?

      The CDC numbers seem to be the result of a computer model. It estimates the number dying by taking into account cold weather and overall mortality, and then generates a number that includes everyone thought to have died whilst having a respiratory infection.

      See also: The number of people in USA who’s sole cause of death is influenza is rarely above 500 according to death certificate data.

      See also: Flu outbreak: UK deaths triple with GPs seeing major rise in patients
      “Jan 18 2018: Almost three times as many people are dying of flu in the UK this winter as last year, figures reveal.
      After 35 more deaths last week, 120 people across the country have died of flu-related symptoms since early October, compared with 45 in the same period in 2016-17. “

      If you take that into account, there probably wont be high flu deaths PLUS covid-19 deaths. When it gets cold, vulnerable people die with respiratory infections in huge numbers. Covid-19 will probably be present in many of their systems.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      Does anyone seriously believe that the virus will not be endemic throughout US right through the Summer?

      Does anyone seriously believe that a magic bullet will be forthcoming once Trump gets out of the way, and the virus will be eradicated forever?

      We’ve never been “able” to do that with less sensationalized epidemics like flu or opioid addiction or diabetes or cancer, just to name a few, and, if we’re being honest, the “healthcare” response has been to turn those diseases into limitless opportunities for profit.

      If I had to guess, I’d say that this is the way things will go: Once the economic reset has been accomplished, pandemic-justified power solidified and Trump’s presidency sufficiently damaged, the hysteria heat will be turned down and the population will emerge into their new “normal,” to “live with” the virus, hope that they don’t get it, and hope that, if they do, their insurance will “cover” the $80,000 per course of “treating” it.

    3. xkeyscored

      The President should be talking about the energetic preparations he is overseeing

      An elite US military unit that is best known for providing color guards, fife-and-drum corps and 21-gun salutes for presidential inaugurations and funerals has been placed under “operational command” for far more sinister purposes. These include the defense of the US government against “foreign or domestic” enemies and the potential evacuation of top officials in the event that Washington, DC slips out of the government’s control.

      The Newsweek article follows Arkin’s reports last month that standby orders had been issued in early March to activate contingency plans “not just to protect Washington but also to prepare for the possibility of some form of martial law.”

      I don’t know how much this is Trump’s personal doing, but I’m not surprised he isn’t talking about it much.

      (The Newsweek article:

  22. Phacops

    Re: COVID, meat processing plant closures, and state numbers

    I was just reading of the large number of employees at the Logansport, Tyson, plant that has been shut down; over 10% of their workforce. The implication is that SARS-CoV 2 has been circulating in that area for quite a while and probably endemic in the region, ie. Logansport, Kokomo, Lafayette.

    I have been following the numbers from, among other states, Indiana and Florida, and cannot account for the low numbers of reported cases or deaths given their demographics, and in the case of Florida, substandard healthcare.

    Does anybody have any insight into this other than bias in testing?

    1. Carolinian

      It’s not a big mystery why car culture states are doing better than oh, say, New York. And not only do the immigrant poor depend on public transportation but they also live in crowded conditions and multifamily situations that increase exposure. Meat processing plants tend to be heavy users of immigrant labor, often illegal, because nobody else wants to do this nasty job.

      1. TMoney

        because nobody else wants to do this nasty job – at the price your willing to pay.

        I’ll work the slaughter line, just not for the posted wages. Supply & Demand – only Capital doesn’t want market forces at work in the labour markets – unless it involves importing as much cheap labour as possible.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          ” only Capital doesn’t want market forces at work in the labour markets ”

          and to think that so many have missed this rather obvious malfunction/feature for all these years,lol.
          I was calling BS on “Trickle-Down”/”Supply Side” in HS Econ, circa 1987…and being called a Commie, if not crazy(or both) for it ever since.
          it’s like the particular rods or cones that would otherwise allow Amurkins to see Bipartisan Hypocrisy have been removed.

        2. Carolinian

          It’s not just now. Check out Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. Meatpacking was always work for poor immigrants without much clout. And or course, famously, his book had great impact not due to public concern for those immigrants but because they found out what was going into their meat.

          Just to add I’m all for much higher minimum wages because only a government mandate will set a reasonable floor for wage labor. But it has to be across the board which will upset a lot of rice bowls as the saying goes.

          1. Billy

            Really? Seems like large numbers of “migrants” = lower pay and less unionization.
            “In fact, from 1950 to the late 1960s, the unions were so successful that meatpacking became one of the highest paying segments of U.S. manufacturing. At its height, meatpacking was one of the most organized industries in the nation with approximately 80 percent of its workers union members.”

            “As a result of wages 25 percent higher than other manufacturing jobs, most meatpackers actually had waiting lists of people wanting jobs. It was not uncommon to find employees with 20-plus years employment at the same company. The idea that meatpacking was a job that most citizens would not do had been shattered by decades of organized labor gains. The children of meatpackers were going to college and often returning to the packing plants to work because the pay and benefits were so good. Meatpacking jobs had become a fast track to middle class living.”

            1. Carolinian

              Actually your link pretty much supports what I said

              As Upton Sinclair would later expose in his 1906 essay “The Jungle,”[it was a novel] working in the slaughterhouses is as hard and dangerous as it gets. Even in its infancy the meatpacking business was not a place wherein most Americans were willing to toil.

              And so the industry turned to immigrants who were new to the country and desperate for work

              It says they later turned to poor blacks–another underclass up from the South–who eventually did unionize. However

              Apparently conditions were too good from the perspective of the companies. The first blow to union power was the rapid consolidation of the industry into the hands of only a few powerful corporations, a consolidation that continues today.

              The 1950s and 60s created a new breed of meatpacking company. Slaughterhouses were bought and closed at a rapid rate until only a handful of companies were left in control of the industry. Since 1980, the number of cattle slaughterhouses has plummeted from more than 600 to 170.

              Etc. And yes raise the pay significantly, provide union job security and safety standards then it’s likely many non immigrants would want to work there. But as I also said it would take government support for union friendly laws like minimum wages and organizing to make that happen.

            2. barefoot charley

              . . . and this was why meatpackers abandoned Chicago after WWII. They moved west down the RR tracks that formerly brought meat on the hoof to Chicago, to farm towns with not-yet-ruined farmers seeking second jobs. That lot knew and cared nothing for unions. But they were too well paid even so. So, incredibly, large third-world populations were planted in many towns like Dodge City Kansas, where meatpacking wages plummeted, and Khmer and Mexican food stores proliferated, while assembly lines kept speeding up–oh, and communicable diseases normalized too. Eat your chlorinated chicken.

        3. CanCyn

          It is the size of these places that just astounds me. While very doubtful, I live in hope that we wake up to the fact that meat processing and packing plants should be small and local.

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            i don’t have the links at my fingertips, but there’s lots of barriers written into the regs, state and federal, that pretty much actively prevent that.
            some for-the-big-boys regs have been repealed in Texas in the last 10+ years…as in selling homemade tamales is cool, now….but meat processing has not.
            ask a small town butcher, if you can find one.
            odious…and having very little to do with public health(as is easily shown by the conditions in these perfectly legal and up to snuff plants.)

    2. Lost in OR

      I’m a manufacturers rep in the NW US. I rep a number of products used in farming and food production. Since January I have watched my sales decline to next to nothing. That distributors and repair shops are not buying indicates farmers are not buying.

      Better plant a garden.

      1. Alfred

        Thank you for this comment. Would you be willing to disclose the nature of those products, and share your insights into why the farmers are not buying them? It seems to me that your anecdote is important, and worth fleshing out because a similar situation may be arising in many places (hence your general advice to plant gardens?).

      2. Oregoncharles

        Your advice is always good, so I’m doing that. Not that I’m prepared to grow my own wheat.

        Caveat: don’t know just what you sell, but this may just mean that farmers see great uncertainty, so restricting their expenses. Not a good sign, and certainly not good for you, but not necessarily a sign that food items will be scarce. If you’re selling seeds, that’s another matter – if they don’t plant, they don’t produce.

        From other reporting here, we’ve learned that the big shock is in supplies to restaurants. And farmers who supply them have a dilemma: they have to plant now to have something to sell – so will the restaurants be open again by, say, July? I wouldn’t like to have to make that bet.

        OTOH, people aren’t really going to eat less; sitting at home, they may eat more. Restaurants are wasteful (something that really ought to be addressed), but given time, overall consumption should be nearly the same. It’s the uncertainty that’s making farmers hang onto their wallets. If you can hang on, I imagine they’ll start buying again; but if they have to shift markets, maybe different stuff. I hope you’ll keep us informed; you’re at an information nexus.

      3. Jeremy Grimm

        Just a thought — farmers are as uncertain about how and when Corona will pass as the rest of us. Demand collapsed on the restaurant side of the food supply chains. I don’t know about the demand feeding the large food processing plants and I don’t know what is happening regarding storage at the silos. The food supply chains appear not only long and thin but remarkably inflexible. Demand for basic foods like beans and grains is higher, the demand for flour is higher … but what will happen after Corona? I would expect smaller farmers to be very reluctant to plant much and I would also expect the Food Cartels to clamp down access to the remaining supply chains to protect their own sources feeding the shelves in the supermarkets. Monopoly works at both ends of a supply chain — and along each link in the chain. Lost in OR: What scale of farmers deal with the distributors and repair shops you supply? What is their relationship with the rest of the food supply chain?

        1. JBird4049

          I am not really that worried about having agriculture collapse. Mostly. There might be shortages and increases in prices, but outright starvation has never been a real problem in the United States. Well, except some limited numbers in the cities like New York early in the Great Depression between the start and the ramping up of private and state efforts some people did effectively starve to death during the winter. Hunger, during then, and of course, now becoming an increasingly serious problem like with housing. I think that both have risen concurrently. Add the increasing cuts in food stamps and entire families, or at least the parents, go hungry. It is no fun.

          No, what I really worry about are violence. Almost all the famines starting as least as early as the Irish Potato Famine the local area either had enough food being produced or it could easily be shipped in usually by rail.

          The problem was that the local governments, usually the British, would refuse to stop the export of food as in Ireland and India, or ship in more food, which either reduced cost or the shipment was sold at reduced prices. That happened in Ireland and several times in India.

          Finally, India usually had warehouses of unsold grain when the crops failed, which was not given or even sold at reduced prices to the dying. Many people died right outside those warehouses as people knew where they were. Both the local police as well as the army were used to prevent access. What happened to the grain? Most of it was usually more profitably sold in Great Britain and smaller amounts to other areas of India or Asia where people also had more money.

          So the United States will almost certainly produce enough money. It is a big country with a lot of farmland across four time zones. More likely some people will get a case of the greeds, the incompetences, or the stupids and a lot of people have guns. Indeed, the states all have the national guard and many, like California, also have additional strictly independent state military not connected to the guard. The United States is composed of States, not provinces after all.

          Kids, can you say the words civil war? Actually, I think what is more likely is that there will be local harvest failures and all the stored excess grain will be sold. However, the United States is the backstop for the rest of the planet. Poorer countries or countries heavily populated depend on the United States when, as inevitably happens, somebody has crop failures and states like Vietnam, Indonesia, and India starts out buying or hoarding food for their people. It is usually an over reaction, but the hunger and unrest would be real enough without the cheap rice, wheat, and corn from the United States.

          Now, incompetence governs us, COVID-19 is doing its thing, and let’s not forget about the drought in the drying Western States. Can we all say the word war?

      4. Lost in OR

        A couple of the lines I rep are critical to hydraulic and pneumatic systems. Hydraulic, especially, is applicable to everything required to get crops in the field. Winters are typically slow. Call it deferred maintenance. But by spring, the deferred maintenance as well as new system issues must be addressed. That’s not happening.

        One customer I spoke with last week has been in business for over 50 years and last month was his worst month ever (he is more marine oriented than ag). After a good finish last year and start of 2020, my sales are passing down through the 50% mark for April.

        I have an old Troy Horse tiller I’m working on. And a friend has a half-acre he’s letting me work. I plan on growing some corn, potatoes, beans, squash, and beets. I can forage through the summer. Next winter is scaring me. CV19, flu, economic collapse, Govt. The hardest part for me is the willful ignorance/blind optimism from all around me. This truly changes everything. We have no idea how.

        But truly, I’ve been waiting for this for a life time. Since reading “The Limits to Growth” in the 70’s. The great turning. We REALLY need it. In the immortal words of our former great leader, W (/sarc)… bring it.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          Thank you for your insights. They are truly appreciated. After Corona will be some ‘interesting’ times. Though I don’t think it will be the great turning you expect. I think that is still ahead of us. That will happen when we have multiple events like the Corona pandemic, Hurricanes and Cyclones, Droughts and Flooding, and more rapidly rising temperatures and oceans. I think that will happen shortly after the ice is gone in the Summer Arctic seas.

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      One thing odd about the meat processing plant closures — the headlines all seem about meat processing plants that process pork. What about plants processing poultry or beef? Have they been in the news too? I don’t recall seeing any mention of them.

  23. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Warren Demands Investigation Into Trump’s Coronavirus Response, Saying He Put ‘Political Expediency’ Before Public Health

    Oh really? And who’s going to investigate Congress’ lack of response?

    This is just more virtue signalling that will come to nothing. Yes, Trump as president presides over the Dept of Health and Human Services. But don’t we already know the man is out of his depth here? Also, last I checked he is not a dictator whose every utterance we all must obey. but maybe I missed the memo that the executive alone was in charge of pandemic response.

    So maybe rather than televising every idiotic press conference and then complaining about its idiocy, Congress could actually just ignore Trump and do something constructive themselves? Can they not coordinate with HHS? Or states’ governors? Could they not pass funding measures that specifically earmarked funds for medical supplies, unemployment benefits, etc., rather than just throwing a few random trillions out there for the first pigs to the trough to gobble up? Was there something preventing them from taking care of people?

    And just what was Congress concentrating on back in January when news of the coronovirus spread began? There was this issue that was oh so important the the future of the free world depended on it… Oh that’s right – it was a 10 minute phone call between our clown and Ukraine’s clown. I bet Congress would like the public to forget all about that right about now, so let’s investigate something else!

    These charlatans still seem to think they can win with moar “Orange Man Bad” talk without actually doing anything of consequence or providing any concrete material benefits for anyone.

    If there is one body I would love to see stop quarantining themselves and go hit some Florida beaches en masse, it’s Congress.

    1. Carolinian

      just ignore Trump

      Yes! And there’s this notion that Trump is indifferent to the health as opposed to the stock market side of the crisis. However that doesn’t make a lot of sense unless you assume he doesn’t care about being re-elected (and he obviously does).

      Here’s suggesting that Trump is just making it up as he goes along like all the rest of us. Many of the pronouncements by the so called experts have proven to be less than reliable as well but stated in a less boorish manner.

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        Really. Exactly what is supposed to be going on here? Is the suggestion that somebody is out there with a viable solution to this catastrophe and Trump is rejecting it because what is unfolding is somehow better for him “politically” or “financially”????

        congress is hiding in their basements skyping odes to the grocery shelf-stockers who have more balls in their little fingers than the whole 535 of them combined, making sure that their donors are taken care of and excoriating Trump for his “mishandling” of the crisis.

        Give us all a thoroughly deranged break.

        1. Monty

          Sir Richard Wharton: “In stage one, we say nothing is going to happen.”

          Sir Humphrey Appleby: “Stage two, we say something may be about to happen, but we should do nothing about it.”

          Sir Richard Wharton: “In stage three, we say that maybe we should do something about it, but there’s nothing we can do.”

          Sir Humphrey Appleby: “Stage four, we say maybe there was something we could have done, but it’s too late now.”

        2. Carolinian

          What’s going on is the politicization of a historic medical crisis and that’s by all sides. And I think that’s terrible. However I have an optimistic belief that the common sense of the general public will carry us through somehow. Best to ignore Trump and Pelosi too.

            1. Katniss Everdeen

              I’d like to set up outside pelosi’s mansion and blast this on a loudspeaker on an endless loop.

              1. Monty

                That reminds me of the famous sign from President Truman’s desk. “The Buck Stops Over There!”

                1. xkeyscored

                  What Ticked Off Vic may not be getting is how debt bondage and foreclosures galore may be exactly what our masters love most about all this.

            2. lyman alpha blob

              That’s exactly it and the fact that the government is not doing this is why so many people don’t believe what they’re saying about the danger of the virus.

              Thanks for the link – I think I know who I’m writing in for president now.

    2. RMO

      “He Put ‘Political Expediency’ Before Public Health”

      This would be the same woman who had to be dragged kicking and screaming to a lukewarm, fingers crossed formulation of a plan to set up some sort of single-payer health care (in the fullness of time, if all goes well…) after years of saying such a thing was politically impossible right?

      Anyone want to do a back-of-the-envelope calculation about how many people in the US have died over say the last decade due to the non-existence of such a system there?

    1. flora

      (in a whispered aside: Does this mean Andy’s beginning his stealth candidacy for the Dem nomination? Choice of consultant and all that. ;) )

  24. The Rev Kev

    “China’s Coronavirus Diplomacy Has Finally Pushed Europe Too Far”

    This sounds like Bloomberg is trying to build a narrative about China. And wouldn’t you know it, what do I find buried in that article? The words “In the battle of narratives…”. The article talks too about how the French were offended when someone in the Chinese embassy accused French retirement home staff of leaving old people to die. Did it happen? Maybe. It happened in one such place in Spain and it was only when the Spanish army checked up on these places that they found it. France is getting shellacked by Coronavirus so it might have happened there too.

    But at the end of the article, we find the real motive where it says ‘China could still win back favor and help secure a greater global role by acceding to demands to open up its markets and introduce a more level playing field for international business.’ Get it? China only has to let Wall Street and the City of London into China to weave their magic like they have done for the western world and everything would be OK. And Bloomberg would be at the forefront helping divvy up that country. China has been there before and is not interested in repeating that experience and I don’t blame them.

    1. David

      It happened all right, and the French were furious. A “Chinese diplomat” – but certainly the Ambassador – published a long complaint rejecting western criticism of China and alleging various sorts of failings and misbehaviour on the part of the West. The countries were not identified, but (partly because it was the Embassy in Paris, and there were several details specific to France) the French assumed it was aimed at them. The allegations included forcing patients to sign declarations declining emergency treatment, and the staff of old peoples’ homes leaving people to die of hunger and disease. It was also alleged (quite wrongly) that 80 French parliamentarians had signed a joint declaration with the Taiwanese criticising the WHO and calling the Director a “nègre”.
      It’s not quite clear what’s going on here. Ambassadors – and certainly Chinese ambassadors – don’t usually behave this way, and certainly not except on instructions, so clearly Beijing was behind it. But it does seem pointless and has simply produced a lot of heat without any light.

    2. MLTPB

      There are people, among them posters here, who might agree the push is too far, and want nothing to do with Wall Street.

      Those people should not be lumped together, and their opinions diverted by that quote at the end.

    3. Olga

      “But at the end of the article, we find the real motive where it says ‘China could still win back favor and help secure a greater global role by acceding to demands to open up its markets and introduce a more level playing field for international business.'”
      Yup, this gives away the game. I try to remember that always – and I mean always – this is at the heart of the anti-China hysteria. OTOH, KSA’s authoritarianism rarely comes up for criticism because US needs it to maintain dollar’s reserve currency status.

  25. caucus99percenter

    Link for article about stray cats and dogs in Thailand goes to Outlook instead of the news item.

  26. Briny

    $15 Minimum Wage: I don’t know if anyone else has proposed this, but since so many (most?) of the heroes out there keeping us as hale and whole as possible, given the conditions, likely don’t make $15/hour, wouldn’t this be a good time to push for a national minimum wage now? Certainly they are risking themselves for us.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Yes, absolutely. The need and relevant energy is there. Strike now.

      From a non-crisis stand point, I think universal healthcare is the most pragmatic fix on a national scale. If you went for a living wage, that would be one thing, but its harder to sell across areas of the country. $15 in Eastern Mass is dishonest. Its not the same as South Carolina. If I recall the living wage in Charlottesville Virgina, was figured out to $13.57 (or something similar; the cost of living isn’t terrible there, not great) at one point. Again minimum wage hasn’t been raised (the actual legislation) since Shrub was President. I’ve never felt a universal struggle on minimum wage can go forward super well in the modern U.S., maybe 30 years ago. Things are out of whack.

      I’m a biased towards the healthcare option. I did work on renter rights stuff some years ago (kudos to Team Blue in Virginia in recent days. I won.) When you examine where people are and where they need to be, the nominal value of money isn’t as relevant as “does it cover X”. Given the variation, I think the ability to correct and shore up the back end always struck me as a better path. At least like $15 an hour though good doesn’t stop calamity.

      Again, its not an EITHER OR situation. If you can put a foot on the neck, you don’t relent. You press down, even after winning. To a certain extent, look at the Virginia Democrats in Richmond this year. They’ve done some good things, but far more than I expected from them outside of handful. There is no finish line. All of the various progressive groups need to be able to pivot and then go what is next.

      1. Briny

        For what it’s worth, I’m biased towards M4A as well. I just think it would be at least fair if everyone got some sort of universal coverage at least as well as that receive as a disabled veteran. Better, really, since vision and dental are seriously important, too.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      I don’t think a $15 minimum wage is a bad idea … but as unemployment shoots to levels not seen since the Great Depression, now seems like an odd time to push for a national minimum wage. It grows more odd in light of the Government’s complete failure at handling the claims for unemployment insurance and McConnell’s scorched Earth policy to let the State governments go bankrupt. And I forgot to mention the undercutting of food stamp programs at a time when food banks and soup kitchens are swamped and many farmers are destroying food because of a collapse of their markets. [I thought food stamps were actually a disguised for of food price support intended to help the farmers as much as to help the poor and hungry.]

      1. Massinissa

        I have to agree with Grimm here. I think there should be a UBI in place, at least for six months or so. Raising min wage right now would feel like a slap in the face to all the people who are laid off. It might not be intended to be, it might not even rationally be such a thing, but perception oftentimes what matters.

        We’ve been waiting for decades for the minimum wage to be raised. I guess we’ll just have to wait a few more months. Its not like the chucklef***s in congress of either party would be interested in raising the min wage ever, much less right now, anyway. Better to focus on loan freezes or a temporary UBI or some other universal program in the short term.

  27. Tom

    Another link to the Azar/labradoodle breeder in charge of the pandemic task force.

    “Shortly after his televised comments, Azar tapped a trusted aide with minimal public health experience to lead the agency’s day-to-day response to COVID-19. The aide, Brian Harrison, had joined the department after running a dog-breeding business for six years. Five sources say some officials in the White House derisively called him “the dog breeder.”

  28. antidlc

    From the Amish Health Care article:

    Eighth, for the same reason, Amish try not to overspend on health care. I realize this sounds insulting – other Americans aren’t trying? I think this is harsh but true. Lots of Americans get an insurance plan from their employer, and then consume health services in a price-insensitive way, knowing very well that their insurance will pay for it. Sometimes they will briefly be limited by deductibles or out-of-pocket charges, but after these are used up, they’ll go crazy. You wouldn’t believe how many patients I see who say things like “I’ve covered my deductible for the year, so you might as well give me the most expensive thing you’ve got”, or “I’m actually feeling fine, but let’s have another appointment next week because I like talking to you and my out-of-pocket charges are low.”

    I’m sorry, but I find this utter nonsense. Who enjoys going to the doctor? Sounds like an insurance company talking point — you just use too much health care — and that’s what drives prices up.

    1. Eclair

      Antidlc, seniors overspending on health care is the reason why Medicare has the annual $198 deductible; so we seniors have some ‘skin in the game.’ I think twice before calling the doctor because my blood pressure has inched up over the past year into the red ‘danger zone.’ Or, when that nagging pain in my chest and shortness of breath just won’t go away. I’ll have to ‘meet the deductible!’ And, I don’t want to use up too much health care. In what alternative universe are they living! (I think about the administrative costs associated with tracking that $198 deductible every year; it’s gotta be cheaper just to drop it. But, really, it’s a moral hazard issue.)

      OTOH, those seniors with achy hips and knees are encouraged to get new ones, because elective surgery is immensely profitable to hospitals and their associated medical groups.

      1. sd

        …. seniors with achy hips and knees are encouraged to get new ones, because elective surgery is immensely profitable to hospitals and their associated medical groups.

        Seriously? Would you prefer everyone in wheel chairs? Do you actually know anyone who has hip and/or knee surgery?

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          I needed a hip at 36, and couldn’t get one until i was 43.
          “skin in the game” is one of those phrases that gets my blood pumping.
          I really like our primary doctor…known him for 20+ years and consider him a friend.
          but i’d never use up his office time to visit…no matter what it costs(i get the “cash discount”(his words) of $40/visit).
          for that, i’d call him at home.
          do people really say such things?
          and do people really just “use up” healthcare resources like that?
          that’s incomprehensible to me.

  29. antidlc

    So has anyone watched Michael Moore’s/Gibbs “Planet of the Humans”?

    Michael Moore presents Planet of the Humans, a documentary that dares to say what no one else will this Earth Day — that we are losing the battle to stop climate change on planet earth because we are following leaders who have taken us down the wrong road — selling out the green movement to wealthy interests and corporate America. This film is the wake-up call to the reality we are afraid to face: that in the midst of a human-caused extinction event, the environmental movement’s answer is to push for techno-fixes and band-aids. It’s too little, too late.

    Removed from the debate is the only thing that MIGHT save us: getting a grip on our out-of-control human presence and consumption. Why is this not THE issue? Because that would be bad for profits, bad for business. Have we environmentalists fallen for illusions, “green” illusions, that are anything but green, because we’re scared that this is the end—and we’ve pinned all our hopes on biomass, wind turbines, and electric cars?

    No amount of batteries are going to save us, warns director Jeff Gibbs (lifelong environmentalist and co-producer of “Fahrenheit 9/11” and “Bowling for Columbine”). This urgent, must-see movie, a full-frontal assault on our sacred cows, is guaranteed to generate anger, debate, and, hopefully, a willingness to see our survival in a new way—before it’s too late.

    1. Olga

      A socialist economic model – with its lack of emphasis on consumption – was a more sustainable model. Ironically, people ditched precisely because they wanted to consume more and much more. Why does it seem that we won’t give up extreme consumption until it is too late?

    2. Phacops

      Saw it when it was shown at the State Theater when Gibbs premiered it. This opened my eyes on the uselessness of “green” energy/technology at reducing the consumptive churn of carbon and other commodities.

      And I was surprised at how how many organizations we assocoate with environmental virtue are co-opted by corporations.

    3. No it was not, apparently

      Huh? Consumption as such is not the problem.
      You have to eat, you need the necessities, and the energy.

      Issues are:

      a) Meat eating – with 10x to 20x cost for a given amount of human edible food.

      b) Over travel (way too much of it / too large vehicles / too high speeds) with at least 10x over-use of energy.

      c) ultra low quality durable goods (I still own a vacuum cleaner my parents bought in 1979, yeah it still works, this being just one example), that lead to 10x to 100x over-production.

      Lamestream media claptrap about “consumption” is a neoliberal way of dumping guilt for elite insanity onto the little guy – and apparently nearly everyone fell for it. HEnce the inability to understand that: we could work less, enjoy more, eat more, have more stuff (more!) AND have vastly reduced industrial footprint, no “green tech” needed, at all.

  30. L

    Oil Tankers Surround California With Nowhere to Unload Bloomberg. furzy: “Why don’t they stop pumping up the stuff? ?”

    They may not be able to. Large-scale drilling rigs don’t just go on and off with a switch and the pressues and effort that these things take to open and to maintain means that it isn’t the same as just walking out of an office and hitting the switch. Moreover much of what is on these ships was pumped out months ago and is at sea now. Oil is a slow moving field. People will stop pumping but that takes time, and stopping costs money.

  31. Oregoncharles

    (Before reading Links or comments – if this is already in Links, all the better). I just came across an especially dishonest example of Covid-19 reporting, from Gnews and in the Guardian: It posits Kentucky and Tennessee as good test cases, next door, rather similar, one with a Democratic governor and the other with a Republican. Title and subtitle: “Two states: one Democrat, one Republican. Two very different outcomes

    Kentucky governor Andy Beshear took early measures to halt the spread of Covid-19 while Tennessee limited government mandates” And the “deck” – the reporter’s conclusion: “‘A very different outcome’ across the border

    To get a sense of how things might have looked with different leadership, Kentuckians have been looking across their southern border into Tennessee, where Governor Bill Lee was initially reluctant to close down bars, restaurants and non-essential businesses, hoping to find a balance between economic security and public health.”

    And now the numbers: ” Kentucky had reported 3,373 Covid-19 cases with 185 deaths as of Wednesday. Though it is not out of the woods, experts say the state appears to be flattening the curve.” The contrast: “Tennessee had reported 7,842 confirmed cases and 166 deaths as of Wednesday. Charts created by Kentucky resident and educator Stephanie Jolly comparing infection rates and numbers in Tennessee and Kentucky show a steeper rise in cases in Tennessee while Kentucky maintained a flatter curve. They have received a fair deal of attention in Kentucky recently as a sign that social distancing efforts have paid off, though there are caveats: Tennessee has conducted more testing and has a higher population…” Note the caveats: “more testing…higher population” in Tennessee. But fewer deaths. I’ve put the respective numbers next to each other; they’re widely separated in the article, making a direct comparison difficult.

    Saying that Kentucky, with fewer people and more deaths, is doing better is an outright lie. The number of cases is mostly an artifact of the amount of testing; as Ignacio has told us, the number of deaths is a better indicator. And the article never gives us a rate, or even the respective populations so we could calculate it for ourselves (not worthwhile, IMHO).

    It does also note that Tennessee wound up with the same measures, just a week or so later. Not really a test case at all – but an exemplar of misleading reporting.

  32. Oregoncharles

    “Why do video meetings feel more “exhausting” than in-person meetings?”
    Personally, I’d say in-person meetings are pretty exhausting, at least unless it’s a small group of old friends. But I agree that video/remote meetings are harder. It isn’t because I can see myself, because the computer I use doesn’t have a camera.

    For me, I think there are two reasons. One is dealing with the video/electronic medium itself, which I’m still not well adjusted to. I am used to phone conference meetings, which are similar (I’m on a statewide committee, so we’ve always met remotely).

    The other factor I see is that some of the social cues are missing on video, or harder to keep track of. If you’re sitting in a group, you can feel consensus developing – it’s small physical cues, not just verbal. And when you’re just looking at pictures of individuals (or names – I’m not the only one with no camera), you have much less sense of the collective. It’s harder to tell who is actively participating.

    We’re going to hold our state nominating convention over Zoom, first time ever. I may need a week to recuperate.

  33. ewmayer

    “Top economist: US coronavirus response is like ‘third world’ country | Guardian. Joseph Stiglitz” — Stiglitz of course omits the complicity of the economics profession and most of its leading ‘lights’ in the 40-plus-year neoliberal economic elite looting program which effectively turned the US into the worst of both worlds – a 3rd-world country as far as wealth disparities are concerned, and further one with a woefully inadequate social safety net, such as that possessed by many “banana republics”. Stiglitz sounds like a typical liberal-elite victim of Trump Derangement Syndrome, mistaking a symptom of the above problems – the rise of populist demagogues like Trump – for the cause.

    Now, admittedly, Stiglitz’s long record as an anti-monoplist, anti-austerity critic and critic of IMF-style “shock doctrine” policies which have wrecked what modest economic progress and social safety nets many 3rd-world nations have had – note said wrecking is of the “feature, not bug” variety – has more credibility on such issues than most of his colleagues, but as a top advisor to the neoliberal, deregulation-and-globalization-fetishizing Clinton administration, he was complicit to no small degree, in the classic “so when you actually had the power to do something, what did you do with it?” sense.

  34. Tomonthebeach

    Texas doesn’t have to give inmates hand sanitizer or face masks for now

    I wonder why the MSM or conspiracy guru Alex Jones are not raving about or celebrating the fact that ignoring inmate health will kill off a lot of convicted criminals. Sadly, many on the right think that using a virus to kill off criminals is just euthanasia – what they deserve. Both eugenics and euthanasia are alive and well in the USA. They did not die with Henry Ford, Charles Lindberg, or Lindberg’s hero Adolf. Our president refers to the poor and incarcerated as losers. I guess if they lived near Mar a Lago they would be winners – or as AOC refers to them “Takers.”

    One might see the WH policies as motivated exactly by disdain for the less fortunate – clear out the slums. We will need fewer police, fewer social workers, fewer handouts to Welfare Queens, etc. When COVID is all over, there should be Nuremberg trials to hold accountable the Trumps, Mnuchins, Millers, and of course, the Bolsenaros, Edogans, etc. who are doing little to nothing in the hope that the Pandemic will eliminate their problems.

  35. Oregoncharles

    “Why is nobody discussing truly staggering differences in death rates between Eastern and Western Europe? ” (Branko Milanovic) – and why did no one here discuss that mind-bending graph? My first approximation: they aren’t testing. Does someone have a better theory?

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