Links 5/15/2020

Pentagon announces ‘green’ 6th-gen fighters to burn $100 bills as fuel Duffelblog

The Good Turk: The true story of Armenia’s forgotten Schindler Independent. Robert Fisk.

An Asset Grows in Brooklyn The Baffler Market logic run amok.


World Leaders, Experts Sign Unprecedented Letter Urging Govts to Back Free COVID Vaccine, Treatments The Wire

The Coronavirus Could Cripple Public Finances Der Spiegel. The concern of the German establishment.

‘I Wish I Could Do Something for You,’ My Doctor Said NYT

United updates social distancing policies after viral photo of crowded flight WaPo

Caught in Trump-China feud, WHO’s leader is under siege Reuters

As people use COVID-19 as weapon, U.S. states mull criminal crackdowns Thomson Reuters

The Memo: Gulf grows between Trump and scientists The Hill

Whistleblower: US still lacks virus plan, Americans at risk AP

Coronavirus divide: Battle over reopenings across the U.S. is increasingly partisan and bitter LA Times

Trump visits another mask facility without wearing a mask — this time in Pennsylvania Cente Daily Times

The United States is a country to be pitied WaPo

Trump vs Roosevelt: How the US once led a fight against a deadly virus but is losing it today Independent. Patrick Cockburn.

The pandemic broke America Axios

Protests in Germany See Fringe Mix with the Mainstream Der Spiegel


Loud talking could leave coronavirus in the air for up to 14 minutes MIT Technology Review

Gilead should ditch remdesivir and focus on its simpler and safer ancestor Stat

Groups ask India to rescind Gilead’s COVID-19 drug patent Al Jazeera

Kidney injury seen in more than a third of hospitalized COVID-19 patients -U.S. study Thomson Reuters

‘We Have No Superpowers’: A New Doctor’s Lessons From the Pandemic NY magazine

Class Warfare

Democrats try to ban Internet shutoffs until pandemic is over Ars Technica

‘150,000 Americans Sacrificed for the Stock Market’: Kushner Reportedly Advised Less Covid-19 Testing to Calm Wall Street Common Dreams

Meatpacking plants should not be open right now Treehugger

‘Monstrous Cruelty: As Hunger Soars, Trump USDA Resumes Effort to Take Nutrition Benefits From More Than a Million People Common Dreams

Disaster Capitalism Is Coming for Public Education Jacobin

How Walmart, Gap and other fashion retailers hit by lockdowns put women at risk of slavery in developing countries by not paying their bills SCMP

Serfs Revolt

COVID-Related Strikes Hit Washington’s Apple Sheds Capital & Main

Prison Labor Replaces Striking Garbage Workers in New Orleans Payday Report


Solitary, Brawls, No Teachers: Coronavirus Makes Juvenile Jails Look Like Adult Prisons Marshall Project

Guillotine Watch

How the super-rich spent lockdown BBC

Food Security

India’s farmers gather record wheat crop, but cannot move it Reuters

United Kingdom

Boris Johnson’s Free Ride Is Over. The Opposition Is Now Asking Tough Questions. The Wire

Boris declares war on fat: PM ditches his ‘nanny state’ worries and demands action plan to tackle Britain’s obesity crisis after blaming his severe bout of coronavirus on being overweight Daily Mail

UK plan to cut US farming tariffs sparks ministerial spat FT


Why Xi won’t repeat Ming Dynasty mistakes Asia Times. Pepe Escobar

Class and the coronavirus: as China’s wealthy cut back on life’s luxuries, the nation’s poorest are in a fight for survival SCMP

From peak China to China pique FT


India’s ‘Maximum City’ Engulfed by Coronavirus NYT

Playlist for the prime minister: 12 videos that the Modi government must watch Scroll

Aarogya Setu: Why India’s Covid-19 contact tracing app is controversial BBC


Beirut – currency chaos, exploding prices and burning banks Qantara

Trump Transition

‘Zombie Neocon’: How This Iran Contra Architect Is Leading Trump Policy  American Conservative

Biden Can’t Return Things To Normal, Because Trump Is A Normal US President. That’s The Problem. Caitlin Johnstone

Appeals court rules against Trump on emoluments clause The Hill

Antidote du Jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. jackiebass

    It didn’t take long for the heat to be turned up on Boris Johnson. He is now preaching weight loss. sounds like a reformed drunk preaching against drinking.I thought the real Boris would be exposed but not this soon. The similarities between Boris and Trump are frightening.

    1. John A

      The problem for British media is that they have spent the last 5 years firing all their bullets at Corbyn and effectively calling Johnson the lesser evil. Their chickens have now come home to roost. Johnson is not helped by have to cull most of the brains of the Tory party because they are pro EU, what are left are out of their depths as ministers, as is Johnson because he has never been interested in detail or hard work.

        1. Kurtismayfield

          I thought the problem was that people still listened to the media. All they do is hype and obfuscate the truth, and if people can’t see that then they aren’t paying attention.

      1. AbateMagicThinking But Not Money

        Boris – Brenda nexus and details.

        Poor Poor Boris. perhaps he really does believe the that the Devil is in the details. Sociopathic schooling, er, sorry, Real Politik, has seemingly taught him never to go near the Devil.

        Apart from that, the Westminster system is agreed so that the head of state is absolved from the details, because (historically) royalty has been shown not to be competent.
        Brenda is seemingly now in the invidious position (Royalty-wise) of being more competent than her chief administrator .

        Pip Pip!

    2. Sadiq Khan

      So we’er going to see ads for products to make us “Beach Body Ready” again?

  2. Steve H.

    > Biden Can’t Return Things To Normal, Because Trump Is A Normal US President. That’s The Problem. Caitlin Johnstone

    : That’s right, a return to a fictional fantasy land where you can live in your imagination.

    (The following are quotes from Yves and Lambert, and one from an important article in Medium. It’s honing in on an enormous cultural shift, of PMC symbol manipulators finding that the commodity they produce (C-M-C’) is i imaginary, barely tangible as bits or words, and increasingly unnecessary as fiat money is transferred directly to Big Wallets without the middleman. Given you only need 10% of the population to run a (security) state [Assad the Elder], the Shing seem to be feeding those who bust heads, not use them.)

    What are the deeper causes of our contemporary generalized inability to respond to large-scale threats? My top picks are a lack of respect for risk and the rise of symbol manipulation as the dominant means of managing in the private sector and government.

    The interests of the professional-managerial classes and the working classes – and, to use a non-marxist term here for a second, the internal proletariat of the West – are now diverging to the point where the differences can no longer be papered over. You cannot try to ”do both”. You have to pick a class, and live with the fact that you’ve just made an enemy out of the other class.

    Now, one could argue that Amfortas’ PMC are special, due to their credentials, intellectual skills, and so forth. And to an extent, owing to accidents of history, they are. However, (a) they are still selling a more rarified form of labor power for a wage (or a salary, fundamentally the same), and (b) one of the trends of the last decades, especially among youth, is that the PMC are being pushed downward into the working class. Adjuncts, rather than full professors, for example.[2] The PMC’s situation is, in fact, extremely precarious.

    We should not make fun of an activist who despairs at the state of the world when good, solid middle class people with solid middle class grades can no longer achieve the middle class lifestyle they were promised. It is however a basic political truth that a worker’s movement consisting of people who are angry at the prospect social and economic ”demotion” – in other words, people who are fighting against the cruel fate of having to become workers – cannot ever succeed. []

    Reread the Shierholz quote: liberal Democrats, whether in think tanks or the New Yorkers, will not, cannot concieve of the working class as a whole; only of differentially affected identities within that class. It’s really astounding.

    1. Deltron

      We’ve had a great week of articles from journalists that are pushing the envelope…Matt Taibbi, Aaron Mate, Glenn Greenwald, David Sirota, Max Blumenthal, and Caitlin Johnstone.

      I think Blumenthal’s article is the only one that didn’t make the NC links section…

      After the U.S. intel shenanigans at Adelson’s casinos in Macau, you would think either U.S. intel or Adelson would cool their relationship. Instead, they doubled down with the surveillance of Julian Assange and anyone who visited him in the embassy, including the likes of Glenn Greenwald, Pam Anderson, Randy Credrico, Dana Rohrabacher, and most likely everyone else who stepped foot on the premises (e.g., Craig Murray, John Pilger).

      1. sin nombre

        thank you for the link to the astounding grayzone article, which deserves to be circulated widely

  3. Mikel

    Re: An Asset Grows In Brooklyn

    Are these among the “new developments” in the environmental movement? The ones that “Planet of the Humans” missed with their “outdated” info?

    This article explains exactly the kind of questions environmentalist are asking about the mindset and intentions of “green capitalism” (ala The Planet of The Humans).

    1. Mikel

      And this from “An Asset Grows In Brooklyn”
      “With carbon tracking software, the urban tree, diligently sequestering carbon outside the offices of those multinational corporations, brings that violence back to its roots in the city while further obscuring it under the unassailable rhetoric of urban greening. ..

      As green gentrification has long afflicted the surrounding neighborhoods of Prospect Park, the living ecosystem of the so-called public park has been unwillingly recruited as a source of value for the propertied class, bolstering property investments that expedite the evacuation of poorer communities to browner pastures on the urban fringe…:

      I guess just don’t call it ecofascism.

      Maybe it just is capitalism in its only true essence.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      There is nothing new in it – there has been lots of attempts to financially quantify environmental values for use in CBA (cost benefit analysis) going back to the 1960’s at least – the high point I think was the 1980’s and 90’s when it was quite a fashionable branch of microeconomics. To some extent, environmentalists had simply no option but the play the game as so many major investment decisions were carried out using CBA, and if you can’t quantify something in CBA, it gets ignored. Some techniques are useful – for example hedonic tools for identifying the ‘real’ cost of traffic noise and pollution by identifying patterns of property values. It’s been known for decades that houses surrounded by mature trees are worth more than those that aren’t. It was quite a useful tool in anti-airport campaigns to point out to people the real financial cost that would be inflicted on them if additional flights were allowed.

      Of course the fact that these ideas are still applied is a philosophical failure to appreciate the true value of nature, but the problem isn’t people using tools to value it, the problem is the methodologies used to decide on infrastructural investments and land use decisions. These techniques should have been rejected long ago because mostly they don’t work – most of the methodologies come up with vastly different ‘valuations’ according to quite minor alterations in first order assumptions. This goes back to the flaws in Welfare Economics identified by economists like Eleanor Ostrim and Kenneth Arrow. Of course, the fact that their theories turn out to be epistemologically flawed has never stopped some economists from applying them if it is convenient to their careers.

    3. Rod

      That Planet of the Humans certainly raises some important issues and I was thinking of it reading An Asset Grows in Brooklyn.
      I think ‘Monetization’ is a critical structural component of ‘Greenwashing’ because of the ‘common misunderstanding’ that we have been conditioned with to equate money with Value.

      That Slippery Elm had more value than I ever thought even without that I-Tree Tool:

      from WEBMD:
      Overview Information
      Slippery elm is a tree. The inner bark (not the whole bark) is used as medicine.

      People take slippery elm for coughs, sore throat, colic, diarrhea, constipation, hemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), bladder and urinary tract infections, syphilis, herpes, and for expelling tapeworms. It is also used for protecting against stomach and duodenal ulcers, for colitis, diverticulitis, GI inflammation, and too much stomach acid. Slippery elm is also taken by mouth to cause an abortion.

      Slippery elm is applied to the skin for wounds, burns, gout, rheumatism, cold sores, boils, abscesses, ulcers, toothaches, sore throat, and as a lubricant to ease labor.

      In manufacturing, slippery elm is used in some baby foods and adult nutritionals, and in some oral lozenges used for soothing throat pain.

      How does it work?
      Slippery elm contains chemicals that can help soothe sore throats. It can also cause mucous secretion which might be helpful for stomach and intestinal problems.

      1. rd

        Slippery elm is closely related to American elm but doesn’t have the Dutch elm disease issues. It is a very good tree for areas with high groundwater with numerous ecological values. It has a nice vase shape to it.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          we’ve got a bunch of rather small Ulmus Crassifolia(“Cedar Elm”-
          usually no more than 30′.
          I keep a stand of it in the old, disconnected gully along the county road….so the end-of-the-road-people can’t see into the cowboy pool yard as they pass by(clothing optional, of course).

          birds, butterflies and squirrels dig it, and it makes pretty good shade.
          but it sure does like to grow!
          I’m forever trimming back branches…which won’t burn without diesel.
          so I pile those cut-offs along another fencerow, as habitat, and an eventual hedgerow.
          I’ve experimented a little with using the wood for handles for hammers and such…so far so good.
          not sure if it shares any medicinal properties with the Slippery kind.

          I wouldn’t even know how to begin to put a price tag on them, which feels sort of silly, to me.
          I do hang birdhouses in them, though…which is not silly, at all..but rather quite serious business.

    4. rd

      It is interesting that they start off with black cherry. The environmental benefit of it is quite interesting. The young black cherry saplings are very important for pollinator insects (e.g caterpillars of moths and butterflies). Douglas Tallamy of U of Delaware has noted that the juvenile black cherries seem to have a much higher density of caterpilalrs than mature ones.

      So in my yard, I let the young black cherries that the birds plant grow until they get to an annoying size in the shrub border to be a larval host and then I cut them down and only leave the ones that I want to grow to a larger size. A few years later, I cut down the larger saplings and only leave the occasional one I want full-size. Since the birds are always planting new ones, this process is a low energy ongoing activity that I do every couple of years.

      The flowers are very valuable for bees and other pollinators. The small cherries are very valuable to birds in late summer and fall.

      They have a fairly open canopy that allows light though and allows shrubs small understory trees to grow underneath. They have nice fall color. They do tend to shed branches when they get old, so there can be some maintenance. but there are other trees that produce much more litter.

      1. mpalomar

        We’ve abundant stands of sapling choke cherry with which I’ve instituted a similar strategy. They’re just budding now in Nova Scotia, later in the year the birds and chipmunks will be thanking me effusively.

  4. zagonostra

    United updates social distancing policies after viral photo of crowded flight WaPo – hyperlink not working,

  5. zagonostra

    >Bernie’s absence

    Wyden amendment failed to pass by one vote. Bernie was absent, although the Dem’s would have found someone to filp their vote so that authorities can continue to seize my browsing history without a warrant had he been there and voted yes. Still, no explanation proffered on why Bernie was absent.

    There are also rumors that he will be handing over his email/donor list to Biden. Something is happening here, what it is ain’t exactly clear, but my spider senses tells me someone got to Bernie and he is no longer an independent anything…

    Why isn’t Bernie speaking out on prison slave laborers being force to scab for striking garbage removal strikers who earn $10.25 an hour? MLK died supporting striking garbage workers, no leaders left, no Left leaders.

    1. km

      Bernie’s failure to appear was doubtless entirely intentional, another attempt to have it both ways, to straddle two poles.

      Still cowardly.

      1. tegnost

        He’s not having it both ways, he lost and retreated. Also I would say none of it adds up so some part of the equation is hidden, either he’s exhausted by the fight, or he decided he didn’t want to die for the revolution (or some other factor). Both work for me. Look at the system he was up against. How many lives will be sacrificed to Moloch? No, sometimes when you’re up against an irresistible force it’s best to get out of the way. That’s not cowardice, while expecting someone else to make the ultimate sacrifice on your behalf, as noted in other posts this am, may be…

        1. neplusultra

          “That’s not cowardice, while expecting someone else to make the ultimate sacrifice on your behalf, as noted in other posts this am, may be…”

          Yep, lots of old people in these comments/every NC comment section nitpicking on every single thing Bernie does while they’ve done jack to advance the cause besides sitting on their computer all day enjoying the last remnants of a functioning SS system and inflated asset prices

          1. ShamanicFallout

            Huh? That’s what Sanders is elected and paid to do- represent what he has purported in public, repeatedly, to support. What are km and Oh supposed to have done? They don’t have a vote in the Senate as far as I know. Bernie has taken many public ‘left’ positions, but when it comes down to it, what did he do? In this case, he disappeared.

            1. Aumua

              What are km and Oh supposed to have done?

              Maybe something else besides posting nasty one liners meant as little but personal attacks on either Sanders, or other commentators here.

    2. Chris Smith

      “There are also rumors that he will be handing over his email/donor list to Biden.”

      That might explain the incessant emails I have started to get from “Joe Biden” and the DNC begging for money. My view on this is that between the billionaire donors and the fact that he won the primary without campaigning, he has no need of my money or labor.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Not really. They can pull from all kinds of sources at the Presidential level with a bit of cash. Its why Bloomie hit everyone up. The vaunted Obama email list which was hailed as the holy grail and offered to Hillary meant nothing to a nominee for President. It only has value to congressional and long shot state wide candidates who really need to break through.

        If you went over ($250?) the limit, its part of the public records. Pulling the list and making sense of the data is hard up to a point, but even Biden’s team should be able to grab it.

        Small timers may want to protect their lists to avoid money being given to other small time candidates, but no one is going to go “well, I wasn’t going to donate to Biden, but he just sent me an email and will now donate”.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        In general, Obama’s email list was one of those Obama myths that appealed to msm journalists who are largely astonished by technology in use for decades. They trumpteted so much it became “real”, but it was always just a myth. Yes, Obama had a very large email list put together before 2009. He used it to lose 1000 seats.

        If you don’t massage the lists, they have a short shelf life. Tracking the lineage of the lists such as how someone like AOC or Omar did with the list matters more than a list from say 2020 beyond a cycle or two anyway.

      3. barefoot charley

        My anecdotal evidence: Bernie barely texts me once a day anymore, emails less than that, and I haven’t heard from his friend Joe. I’ll ring the tocsin when I do.

      4. Ranger Rick

        You would honestly be shocked at the level of detail available to the data brokers that political campaigns buy their mailing lists from. They know if you vote, they know the demographics of your zip code, they know your income, the price of your house, and your political affiliation (predicted to a significant degree of accuracy, if you aren’t registered). If you’ve ever donated (to anything) before you automatically graduate into the “recidivist” list, and become a much more valuable target for fundraising.

      5. Yves Smith

        I would be very pissed if Sanders handed it over but I guarantee it would be unproductive. Maybe 20% would give and Team Biden probably had 1/4 to 3/4 of that 20% on their lists already. 50%+ would unsubscribe with the first message from Biden.

    3. Rod

      I watched his Climate Crises Town Hall on You Tube Wednesday night. Jay Inslee/Sunrise/YouthClimate Strike/Bill McKibben/+ more.
      The Visual of McKibbon Zooming on his phone in a Parking Lot Hotspot was prescient– except that I watched that Planet of the Humans last week and it has my orientation all messed up.

      But, imo, not everyone on the panel was singing Kumbaya. Bill McK mentioned accommodating the Covid and some said let’s not waste a crises.
      Bernie pushed to let all speak in the time allocated–some got more than others.
      The session ended before the Questions from Listeners got asked–I had an inkling that they were not going to be softball either–but no way of hearing more as the session closed automatically.

      Biden is not only vulnerable, he is malleable. I was wondering if this is part of the push to progressive connection Sanders now sees as his role.
      It may be Polly Anna of me, but knowing how the system works has kept Sanders in the House or Senate, as a Socialist, for many years and so I am not ready dismiss him yet.

      1. Arizona Slim

        Look at the live chat comments on YouTube. Lately, they haven’t been kind to Bernie’s decision to suspend his campaign and endorse Biden. And the comments about Biden and the D(umb) party? Can’t be repeated on this family blog.

    4. JTMcPhee

      I’ve emailed the Bernie campaign refusing them permission to transfer the personal information I gave them to any other organization, particularly not to the Biden machine or any Dem party structure or fun raising operation.

      Maybe a feckless gesture, but I contributed a lot of my fixed income to Bernie’s quixotic hope generator. He and his gang owe us mopes that tiny courtesy.

    5. HotFlash

      my spider senses tells me someone got to Bernie — zagonostra

      I would say none of it adds up so some part of the equation is hidden, either he’s exhausted by the fight, or he decided he didn’t want to die for the revolution — tegnost

      Yeah, seems like. His behaviour is that of a hostage. I am pretty sure he knew all along there was a risk of him being killed, and his family, too, but hey, every recruit to the armed forces has much of has the same risk and a tweet can get you credible threats. So I don’t think he’s worried so much about himself or his family, that it is something much, much worse. Can’t imagine what, maybe a trusted person shown to be an infiltrator, whatever. We may find out someday, but it’s not really important.

      Good bye, Bernie, and thanks. The torch is passed.

      Our turn now.

  6. Wukchumni

    COVID-Related Strikes Hit Washington’s Apple Sheds Capital & Main

    Meatpacking plants should not be open right now Treehugger
    Exeter*, the next town over really ought to be called Citrusville, as oranges dominate, and seeing how all trees are given the very same flat-top haircut with a raised whirling dervish of a cutting device, when viewed from away & above the town, the look is that of a never-ending green table. Around 10,000 call it home.

    There are many packing sheds in town there, and while its nothing like a meat packing plant, they’re pretty busy as a crop comes in, and although summer fruit isn’t really grown around these parts, apricots, cherries, nectarines, plums & peaches will soon need to be sorted and cleaned @ packing sheds across the state.

    ‘Packing shed’ is really a misnomer, as they are large buildings. There’s a photo about halfway down in the link that gives you an idea just how close all the employees are to each other. It’s a perfect place for Coronavirus to spread.

    * After WW2 for a brief period Exeter had the most millionaires per capita in the USA of any city in the land, and the invention of frozen orange juice concentrate & its use in WW2, was instrumental-along with a small amount of farmers with an abundance in acreage of oranges

    1. MLTPB

      Make not war on apples, you vegetarians.

      Love them.

      Hug apple trees instead of tearing fruits from their limbs.

      1. Wukchumni

        Hug apple trees instead of tearing fruits from their limbs.

        This very morning I was tearing apples from their limbs, typically leaving 1 the size of a small bubblegum ball, where a cluster of 4 or 5 was yesterday. The Satsuma plum tree required almost 30 minutes to thin out nearly a full 5 gallon bucket worth, really loaded.

        1. Oregoncharles

          You get lots of fruit on a Satsuma plum? I love them, but usually get just a few fruits on a huge tree (mine is Elephant Heart, a larger sport, but Satsumas have the same problem).

          However, I do have several seedlings from the fruits that did form, as well as an apple seedling with fruit that’s bright red all the way through. The plums just aren’t as good as the parent, but not bad at all. Jam material, I suspect.

      2. HotFlash

        Apple trees don’t want hugs. The point of apples is to make more apple trees, the seeds are the important thing, theapple is just bait. So the nicest thing you can do for an apple tree is to plant more apple trees.

        PS Wuk, thanks for the link to I have bookmarked it and look forward to more of the Kaweah Colony story.

        1. MLTPB

          Is the way of the apple for us human 99 percenters?

          And if we don’t hug apple trees, maybe we hug lettuce plants!

  7. The Rev Kev

    “Aarogya Setu: Why India’s Covid-19 contact tracing app is controversial”

    These apps could be a valuable healthcare tool but of course governments can’t help themselves. Australia came out with an app and the following article says ‘(PM) Morrison said that while the data will be held by the federal government, only state health authorities charged with contact tracing will be able to access it. He says federal agencies including Centrelink, Home Affairs and others will not be able to access the data.’ which is very reassuring-

    But neither my wife nor I will download and install it and this was before I discovered that Amazon would be storing all this data. The same mob that stores the CIA’s data. I was just reading that while the government was making all these assurances of total privacy, ‘a parliamentary committee is currently investigating separate legislation that would pave the way for US law enforcement to access data held in Australia.’ Governments just can’t help themselves-

    1. Kurt Sperry

      How can any airline that would recklessly endanger its customers’ health and safety by taking off with full planes today ever be trusted to safely operate? Even post C-19, if and when that happens. This is prima facie evidence of reckless endangerment and the deciders who put in place the policies that allowed for planes to be sent off full should be held criminally liable.

      1. carl

        It’s going to be difficult for the airlines, who have made so much money abusing passengers by crowding them into ever-decreasing amounts of space and charging for just about everything that used to be included in the price of a ticket, to change over to actually caring about the health of the customers. Their behavior during this time has been exceptionally revealing: trying as hard as they can to keep the money for cancelled flights, in blatant violation of US law. Their bailout came with no conditions, iirc.
        Stinking criminals.

          1. Oh

            Even the innocent fish didn’t pay to get into the sardine can like people have been doing. Putting up with fees for changes, no refund tickets, crammed seats, flight delays, paying for overpriced boxed lunches, non transferable tickets, being stuck in the cabin during delays, cubble holes size bathrooms, etc. etc.
            I’d like to see most of these airlines ‘crash and burn’ not literally but fincancially.

        1. Oregoncharles

          Just a purely personal reaction: My family just saw a wedding reception that would have functioned as our first reunion since our mother died, cancelled because of Covid-19 (the couple, wisely, are already married). So I read this, and I think: it’s going to be a long time before my (birth) family, who are scattered from coast to coast, gets together again. That depended on most of us flying to some agreed-upon location.

          We’ve already held a Zoom reunion, and will again; but it isn’t the same. No food, for one thing.

          Of course, this is relevant only because it’s one small sample of the changes our lives are facing. The permutations are endless.

  8. Mikel

    RE: “I Wish I Could Do Something For You”

    “If you live in New York City, you know what this virus can do. In just under two months, an estimated 24,000 New Yorkers have died. That’s more than twice the number of people we lost to homicide over the past 20 years.”

    I think the if you start the comparison with a recent montly death toll, it should also continue with a recent montly death toll.
    Post 2015 figures put estimate around 5,000 deaths in NYC monthly.
    That puts into perspective the kind of strain a community could see with monthly deaths with precautuons being dropped.

    1. Mikel

      And the opening:

      “The day before I got sick, I ran three miles, walked 10 more, then raced up the stairs to my fifth-floor apartment as always, slinging laundry with me as I went.”

      I’m breathing heavily, all kinds of air, just reading that.
      If I were still living in the apartment complex where I lived on the third floor and only had indoor access to entry, I’d be holding my breath as much as possible.

      1. Jesper

        A nice bit of honesty from the doctor.
        My experience when dealing with doctors… In July last year I was on advanced yoga-classes and without thinking going for four-hour hikes then something happened and in September I started to feel tired and legs were feeling weak when walking the slight incline across a small bridge on my way to buy groceries. It felt like I had aged 30 years in those 30 days. Lots of tests, nothing conclusive could be found and my impression was that my doctor believed that since what I experienced could not be diagnosed then it probably was all in my head – depression. The other explanations, which would not exclude the possibility of depression, would be that there was something that medical science could not yet explain or even that GPs does not know everything currently known in medical science.

        Among the different professionals that I have come across then medical doctors are the least likely to admit to not knowing everything, even if it is outisde their area of expertise. So when it comes to the COVID-19 then my expectation is that it will take a lot of time before doctors will improve treatments – an improvement would (in their minds) indicate that their first treatments might have been less than perfect.

        The timing of when to use a ventilator is apparently being debated within the medical community, some argue that the ventilators were put into use too early and others disagree. I do believe that something should have been learned by now, however, I am afraid that the medical profession might not want to admit that some of the early deaths could have been avoided if they knew then what they know today.

        For me now then I managed to get back to doing beginner yoga, hopefully I will again (reach that level for the third time) be able to do advanced yoga. As for my belief in doctors. They are humans and therefore they are not infallible. I know it, hopefully they know it.

  9. Dita

    The Democrats want to ban internet shutoffs – that is, if mutant swamp creatures like spectrum provide service at all. Day 2 of no service here in Manhattan for me. So much for the virtual office during a worldwide crisis. Third world stuff, as Lambert would say. Everybody’s got a plan til they get punched in the mouth, as Mike Tyson said.

    1. Wukchumni

      I was dreaming a little last night-and in the midst of: Covid-19 hit us in the mid 90’s before internet came along, and how we coped being cooped up in comparison, as house fever set in. The tv troika including newspapers & radio, that dominated information flow were all we had, so we collectively relied upon them to inform us, and more or less formed public opinion solely.

      The schism between the Donkey Show & Pachyderm Party was far away in the future in my mental state not long ago, but then I woke up.

      1. Dita

        Your dream was set during the transition, although the cable companies were already well established monopolies by the mid90s, courtesy of the political class. I wound up having to go to the office, I feel the need to prove I can be counted on, in the hope of keeping my soon-to-be-obsolete job just a little longer.

  10. zagonostra

    Good quote in today’s Jesse’s Cafe Americain that immediately brings Bernie Sanders to mind…

    “Seneca had made the bargain that many good men have made when agreeing to aid bad regimes. On the one hand, their presence strengthens the regime and helps it endure. But their moral influence may also improve the regime’s behavior or save the lives of its enemies. For many, this has been a bargain worth making, even if it has cost them—as it may have cost Seneca—their immortal soul. The Rome he has been trained to serve, the Rome of Augustus and Germanicus, was gone. In its place stood Neropolis, ruled by a megalomaniac brat.”

    James Romm, Dying Every Day: Seneca at the Court of Nero

    1. MLTPB

      Avoid any chasm between you and any scientific consensus.

      Gulfs and scientists are not uncommon, among them or with others.

      Even a scientific consensus is not permanent…a better explanation is always possible.

      Still, the focus is on consensus, not the people in the fields.

      And in the fog of pandemic war, not everything is agreed upon in the scientific community.

    2. MLTPB

      Sorry, the above was for the comment below.

      For Nero, would 100 Senecas have changed a thing?

      Maybe it was too much power in one person, the emperor.

      Some may prefer one Putin, while others many debating representatives.

      1. Bruno

        Robert Graves (in “Claudius the God”) had a far better take on Seneca as opportunist tool of a reactionary Senate. As for Nero, all the historical reprobation comes from Xtians and a few Senatorial apologists. The humble people loved him, and long continued putting flowers on his grave.

        “With me dies a great artist”…Nero

  11. Winston Smith

    “The Memo: Gulf grows between Trump and scientists”
    What absolute bollocks!
    There was ALWAYS an unbridgeable chasm between Trump and scientists. Nothing has changed except that it is now costing lives above and beyond what is humanly bearable so it can no longer be excused or ignored.
    Scientists present a fact-based narrative and that has always been an enemy of the Trump’s fantasy-based word salad

      1. Pat

        Not for nothing, but there are many examples of the Democrats saying one thing regarding scientific positions and doing the exact opposite because of markets/donors/hatred of their voters (pick your favorite). My personal belief is that most of our political elite, like the wealthy, consider themselves above anything us ordinary peons must put up with. As such their support is often shallow to practically non existent. (For example, Nancy’s scarf while quite a fashion and wealth statement is practically useless as a mask unless it is covering something else. Silk allows practically everything through it. She might as not be wearing it.)

        1. tegnost

          yes thanks…elite dems are convinced that the market will point us to the best science, and add a nice cushion to their portfolio at the same time

        2. Winston Smith

          Here is the root of the problem: this should be beyond politics but apparently not

        3. carl

          Nancy’s behavior has been quite revealing of late. She’s reputed to be politically intelligent, but she’s not showing it; quite the opposite. Ice cream, indeed.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            Much has been made about Biden’s dementia (he’s always been a moron and is just under stress) and Sanders age, but Nancy besides always having been bad is 80 and doing a full time job as Speaker. Its one of the jobs up there where you really can’t not do it.

            My further guess is Pelosi sees herself as the “Slay Queen” and can’t stand she isn’t worshipped by young(er) progressive women who should see her a “glass ceiling breaker” or something. Zach Carter has claimed Pelosi is favoring the people she likes more, but I would argue the dimwit “moderates” she recruited are probably the kinds of people dazzled by title and kiss her a@@. Subsequently she favors them at this point in her career. Results never mattered as much as window dressing.

          2. Art Vandalay

            No first-hand familiarity with Nancy Pelosi. I will say, however, that about 30 years ago I went to grad school at Berkeley with a person who was reputed to be a “senior policy adviser” to Congressperson Pelosi. Said student was in her 20’s at the time and was unique among students in our program for her relative lack of critical thinking skills.

            I found it amusing at the time that Madam Pelosi would rely upon such a person for policy advice. With the passage of time, it seems about right.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      “….costing lives above and beyond what is humanly bearable….”

      Hyperbole much?

      1. Winston Smith

        I think 85000 dead in a few months is difficult to bear (for humans). Of course, that is assuming that the death count is correct whereas it is likely to be quite a bit higher. I take it you have been unaffected by the virus personally. One thing which is seldom discussed is the health status of those who have “recovered”: many are left unable to resume normal activity (work or play) and there is no medical existing knowledge in this area.

        As for the statement you quote above “….costing lives above and beyond what is humanly bearable….” I should be more precise: it is the seeming indifference of the President to the suffering his denialism has caused that makes it even more difficult to bear. Or take it out altogether, the point still stands: we would be better off if the president had taken the warnings seriously i.e. listened to scientists. Which he never has and never will

        1. jax read

          John Hopkins COVID tracker has the U.S. at 86,651 of this morning. ” … in the next few months” we’re more likely to be well on the way to a quarter million. (Let’s use 3 months to stand in for ‘in a few months’), using a conservative figure of 1,500 per day (unless the death rate drops dramatically), we’re likely to be close to 222,000 by late August. Just in time for flu season.

          My personal feelings about this? And just like that, Eugenics made a big come back in 2020.

          1. Winston Smith

            As reported today, 1.35 pm: Trump offers some remarkably callous comments about the US coronavirus death toll, which currently sits at 86,607: “It’s a very, very small percentage. I say it all the time — it’s a tiny percentage. The vast majority — many people don’t even know they have it.”

            1. juno mas

              ya’ know, I wish Trump would join those Michigan Capitol protesters. Without a mask.

  12. The Rev Kev

    “As people use COVID-19 as weapon, U.S. states mull criminal crackdowns”

    Here in Oz they quickly brought out laws to go after people coughing or spitting on people. In New South Wales a law for that came out back in early April with a fine of $5,000 (US$3,216) for doing so on police and healthcare workers and a week later it was extended for people like supermarket workers and bus drivers-

    1. Bugs Bunny

      In any state in the US, spitting on someone would be considered assault. I don’t see why another law is needed. If there’s intent to infect another person, there are different degrees of the crime that could apply. If it were in the mouth, nose or eyes, it would probably also be battery, with additional degrees, etc. Haven’t practiced criminal defense so YMMV.

  13. The Rev Kev

    “‘We Have No Superpowers’: A New Doctor’s Lessons From the Pandemic”

    Only 52 out of 123 in his class volunteered to go on the front lines? Something tells me that those first few Class reunions are going to get very awkward between those that went and those who opted for the better part of valour instead.

  14. Katniss Everdeen

    As good a description of what seems to be going on here as I’ve read–from the essay linked in Matt Taibbi’s tweet:

    As I began to write this essay a few days ago, I was treated to a low-altitude flyover of a squadron of F-16s, supposedly an official “tribute” to health care workers in and around New York City. Even in the military-mad U.S.A., the idea of honoring doctors and nurses with warplanes — the same aircraft regularly used to pulverize civilians in Gaza — is so patently grotesque that I can’t help wondering if the display was intended (subliminally, perhaps) to send a more threatening message.

    Roaring over my head, along with thousands of my more or less captive neighbors, those F-16s reminded me that instilling terror is the oldest trick in the book of wannabe despots. Maybe the affinity of our public intellectuals with prison language is no accident, after all: we’ve been a society of mass incarceration for many years now; maybe it was only a matter of time before what’s done in our prisons to people of color, and to the poor, started to be exported to large populations in our cities and towns.

    All I know is that those in power rely on our acquiescence, and the shortest path to such acquiescence is through fear. Whether it’s sending warplanes over our houses or ordering us to wear surgical masks everywhere we go — a visible message that solidarity kills, that every human being is a threat to every other — I can only say that U.S. officials seem to be going out of their way to scare us all to death.

    Other “flyover tributes” have been scheduled for other big cities.

    I’ve really nothing else to add.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      I’m on the eastern perimeter of the West Texas Training Area, and under the aerial crossroads between Ft Bliss and Ft Hood, and Goodfellow AFB and all the airforce things in San Antonio.
      So I’ve been treated to lots and lots of aircraft of every description(including helicopters, half mile away, that i could see, but not hear)
      there’s more aircraft when there’s a repub in the white house.
      the choppers are the worst…loud…you can hear them from over the horizon…pavelows, apache, kiowa, and on and on.
      gunships, bristling with firepower…and every time i see a flock of them i get the chills.
      just one of those things, with less than half it’s payload, could utterly end our one little town…and i think of the handful of superpatriots I know who hate the fedgov, with their deer rifles and ar-15’s and camo cosplay outfits…and think, “yeah…ok, man…you go on ahead”.

      1. shtove

        I’m in a similar bind in the south of England – our stretch of coastline forms one side of a triangle of territory described as the most militarised zone in Europe, with the tip somewhere up around Porton Down of Skripal fame.

        Every year we’re treated to an airshow with the eurofighter, which manages to fill the sky beyond the full circuit of the horizon with its diabolical boom. For the rest of the year, it’s mostly chinooks fapping through the twilight.

      1. periol

        Not sure if it was a flyover or what, but an escorted B-2 bomber flew around the LA area yesterday. Nothing subtle about that…

    2. Carolinian

      Remember when Reagan said the Nicaraguans were going to invade via Mexico? Good times!

      The Pentagon is merely reminding us that they are still there, protecting us against Syria and Iran and Libya. It’s not all about ventilators.

    3. mpalomar

      Thanks for posting this. To raise spirits further they should consider taking strafing runs down Broadway with red white and blue paint balls. I’m glad Taibbi has commented on this, these displays are terrifying and in this context obscene.

      “According to figures gathered by, operating an F-16 fighter jet costs $20,423 per hour. Flying a B-52 bomber runs about $48,000 per flight and $94,000 for a B-1B Lancer…

      “The Pentagon has defended the demonstrations by stating the funds going toward operating the formations are money already allocated to the Department of Defense and entail ‘no additional cost to the taxpayer.’ Air Force Global Strike Command spokeswoman Carla Pampe told reporters the flyovers also serve as an opportunity to train pilots to ‘maintain readiness.’ ”

      “On October 3, 2015, a US-led airstrike decimated a Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) medical center in Kunduz, Afghanistan. More than 30 people were injured and 42 killed including 10 patients, three children, and 12 members of the MSF. On March 26, 2019, a US-backed coalition led by Saudi Arabia dropped US-supplied bombs on a hospital in Yemen, killing at least seven including four children.”

      When a nation has abandoned its primary duty, creating a robust safety net for the welfare of its people, all they have left in their ‘morale booster’ tool box is a hammer and of course everything then looks like a nail. Trump apparently thought this a good idea.

  15. CuriosityConcern

    long term COVID cases
    As if you haven’t had your fill of COVID news, some cases(a minority) can last 2+ months. A question I didn’t see answered in the article is: are the long term sufferers contagious throughout?

    1. rd

      Some of the things I have seen indicate that they are not necessarily contagious as the symptoms in the longer cases are actually the result of the patient’s immune system destroying the body instead of the virus infecting it. The long recovery is the body repairing itself.

  16. jef

    Someone needs to unpack the meme that is gaining traction that the economic slowdown will/is killing more people than the virus.

    The virus is a disease that infects any and all exposed, only with the most intensive medical care can it be addressed, and even then many die and millions would die without isolating .

    Economic slowdown mostly affects the poor and the solution is free health care, reasonable housing, and basic income.

  17. Wukchumni

    Guess its only fair for Native Americans to spread disease to haoles for a change, instead. Should see the ‘casino spike’ around mid June in the greater San Diego area.

    Valley View Casino & Hotel in Valley Center has announced that it will reopen on May 22, following recent announcements that Viejas Casino & Resort will reopen Monday and Sycuan Casino Resort will reopen May 20.

    Valley View Casino & Hotel said all areas of the casino and hotel will reopen, with the exception of the buffet restaurant, a free valet service and a shuttle service.

    The announced reopening came the same day Dr. Wilma Wooten, San Diego County’s public health officer, said she strongly disagreed with local casinos’ intentions to reopen and called on federal authorities to halt the plans.

    Because they’re on tribal land, the casinos are not subject to state and local regulations that have limited most business operations in California during the coronavirus pandemic.

  18. allan

    White House’s Kudlow floats cutting U.S. corporate tax rate in half [Reuters]

    … “So, the rate is 21%. Why not try for a couple of years or longer, a 10.5% rate, which would make us extremely competitive and hospitable to new investments here?” …

    Complete shocker, absolutely did not see this one coming.

    If Oumuamua loops back to put us out of our misery,
    Kudlow’s response would probably be to call for a tax cut.

  19. Milton

    File under “not aging well”…

    In a Forbes article published in late Jan. 2020 the author cites a Gates Foundation- backed study that list the U.S. and U.K. as 1, 2 out of 195 nations in successfully dealing with an emergent pandemic (they say epidemic). Some words:

    The index analyzed preparation levels by focusing on whether countries have the proper tools in place to deal with large scale outbreaks of disease, with scores measured on a scale of 0 to 100 where 100 is the highest level of preparedness.

    The United States has the strongest measures in place and it came first with a score of 83.5, ahead of the United Kingdom with 77.9 and the Netherlands with 75.6. China was further down the ranking with a score of 48.2, placing it 51st.

    Well, the U.S. may have had the strongest measures in place but the leadership has yet to release them in the fight against Covid-19.

    1. rd

      The CDC had been a leading world agency for decades. There has been a concerted effort by Congress to defund it over the past decade or so for reasons I do not understand, although it seems to be bogotry related to CDC engagement with AIDS and homosexuals.

      George Bush got serious with organization for pandemics in the mdidle of his presidency. Obama’s adimininstration worked on the organizational structure of pandemic response but did not work with Congress to fund adequate stockpile restocking and maintenance.

      The Trump Administration simply took everything and threw it in the trash can as unnecessary a couple of years ago. Once they realized the CDC was saying things that could “interfere with the economy”, then its messaging ability started to get shut down while its technical ability had already been degraded.

      So it has been a pretty concerted effort to emasculate the US pandemic response over the past several years that the Trump Administration simply turned into an art form.

    2. mpalomar

      Ah, a trusty Gates Foundation backed study.
      Governor Cuomo has also seen the light or perhaps just a beckoning field of green in the near future and signed up Gates to ‘reimagine’ New York’s Education system. And for good measure Google’s Eric Schmidt will chime in with advice on techie stuff.

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