Links 5/17/2020

2020 looks like the year US renewables first out-produce coal Ars Technica

The Carrier is Vulnerable and Obsolete’ according to 100 years worth of military journals Duffelblog


Restaurant Finds A Genius Way To Help Their Customers Feel Less Lonely While Social Distancing Using Pandas (10 Pics) Bored Panda. How could I resist that headline?

Daily new cases by countries Sergey Kashin

Will the coronavirus mean the end of cash? Treehugger

Pandemic planning becomes political weapon as deaths mount AP

Coronavirus and the prospect of mass involuntary euthanasia Al Jazeera

Why East beat West on Covid-19 (Part 2) Asia Times And Part 1 for those who missed it.

No Vaccine in Sight New Republic

COVID-19 Planning: Is It Time to Nationalize Big Pharma? Counterpunch

CDC director says that all of their models predict coronavirus deaths will accelerate in coming weeks and toll will exceed 100,000 by June Daily Mail

People Hated Masks During The Last Pandemic Too American Conservative

Stores Stress Over How to Handle a Customer Who Won’t Wear a Mask WSJ

PPE chic takes off at Asia’s trend-setter airlines Asia Times

Why American life went on as normal during the killer pandemic of 1969 NY Post

Thailand’s travel industry readies for relaunch FT

California newsrooms know how to prepare for disasters Columbia Journalism Review

Cuba’s Resilience Through Economic Crisis Prepared It for COVID Health Crisis Truthout


A human monoclonal antibody blocking SARS-CoV-2 infection Nature Communications

VA says it won’t stop use of unproven drug on vets for now AP

FDA suspends Gates-backed at-home COVID-19 testing program Reuters

‘Llamas are the real unicorns’: why they could be our secret weapon against coronavirus Guardian

Health Care

Class Warfare

Less than a movie ticket or ‘impossible to overpay’? Experts name their price for remdesivir Stat

Can fast fashion’s $2.5tn supply chain be stitched back together? FT

Why the Neoliberals Won’t Let This Crisis Go to Waste Jacobin

America’s corporate elite must stop treating coronavirus as an obstacle to profit Guardian


A State-by-State Look at Coronavirus in Prisons Marshall Project

Food Security

Preventing a COVID-19 Food Crisis  Project Syndicate

The Sickness in Our Food Supply New York Review of Books Michael Pollan.


Italy to allow travel to and from abroad from June 3 Reuters


Mumbai claims to have enough Covid-19 beds. So why are hospitals turning patients away? Scroll

Ground Report: What Really Happened in Violence-hit Telinipara, West Bengal The Wire

Analysis: Who has been put on the committees to advise India on its fight against the coronavirus? Scroll

The unsurpassed 125-year-old network that feeds Mumbai BBC


US Senate passes Uygur Human Rights Policy Act SCMP

Does no-one have the guts to tackle China on the Uighurs? Qantara

China’s Economic Recovery Might Be Slower Than Expected Jing Daily

Coronavirus latest: China’s attitude makes trade hard, Australia warns FT

Coronavirus pandemic pushes US and China into new Cold War Nikkei Asian Review

Battle looms at WHO meeting as pressure mounts on China over coronavirus inquiry SCMP


The Danger of People Starving to Death Is Greater than the Danger from the Virus Der Spiegel

Trump Transition

Washington Post’s Rubin Misrepresents Emoluments Ruling in Latest Trump-Fueled Gaffe Jonathan Turley

Obama claims his presidency was free from scandal — but he’s full of it NY Post. Yes, I am aware this is the NY Post.

Barack Obama attacks Trump administration’s response to coronavirus pandemic Guardian

Obama criticizes nation’s leaders for bungled handling of coronavirus pandemic Seattle Times


Sanders adviser warns of ‘alarming trends’ that could lead to Biden’s defeat The Hill

The pre-election number Trump’s team reportedly fears the most is the COVID-19 ‘body count’ The Week

Antidote du Jour:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. PlutoniumKun

    China’s Economic Recovery Might Be Slower Than Expected Jing Daily

    The article doesn’t mention that the significant growth that has occurred has been remarkably concentrated in one area – construction plant. China’s business has geared up very fast anticipating another government splurge on concrete pouring for more unneeded infrastructure. In the meanwhile, Beijing has been very slow to help out ordinary workers and consumers (apart from regular exhortations for them to go out and spend money). Sensibly, most Chinese people are being very cautious.

    There is also evidence of a massive hidden unemployment issue as companies have taken the opportunity not to rehire casual workers. Its unfortunate that China seems to be missing the opportunity to comprehensively rebalance their economy by directing more of its resources to regular people rather than flinging it at the corrupt construction industry.

    1. ObjectiveFunction

      Yup, more pharaonic high speed rail for make benefit great Chinese Acela ruling class!

      And keeping that oversized machine from running dry, and welders from Xian and other rust belt provinces employed overseas (Mao forbid they would ever train up locals), has been pretty much the entire point of ‘Belt and Road’ as well.

  2. Lou Anton

    Thanks for the Ars Technica “Renewables Outproduce Coal” article. After seeing story headlines like this, I now become a little skeptical after watching Planet of the Humans. From the article, share of utility energy:
    Nat Gas: 35%
    Nuclear: 23%
    Coal: 16%
    Wind: 11%
    Hydro: 10%
    Solar: 3%
    Other: 2%
    Petroleum: 15

    So natural gas is the top source, with hydro/solar/wind making up the same as nuclear (and yes passing coal). It’s strange to me that they left biofuel out though (i.e. cutting down trees and using them for energy).

    And reminders from Planet of the Humans:
    – Renewables require fossil fuels to store energy as backups
    – Renewables require fossil fuels to create the plants in the first place

    So is this a ‘win’ for wind/solar/hydro? Or is it that hydro has always been around in the form of New Deal utilities, and solar & /wind are just picking up a few share points from decades-long declining coal?

    1. PlutoniumKun

      The growth is almost all in solar and wind. Most of the good hydro resources in the US have long ago been utilised, although there is potential in some places for hydro pump storage.

      There is a false dichotomy when people argue that renewables need storage and/or fossil fuels as backups. All efficient electricity production requires some degree of storage and back up, or at least, significant redundancy. Renewables, because of intermittency, have particular issues, but so do big thermal plants and hydro, and everything else for that matter. The US has been able to avoid this due to its huge scale – smaller grids around the world have been investing in this for decades and don’t consider it an obstacle.

      In the US though the main solution for intermittency is not actually storage. Its better internal and external links, in other words, more long distance HVDC lines. These are vital to connect areas with lots of renewable energy (say, Texas/Oklahoma), with high use areas such as the coasts. The obstacles to this is mostly political and institutional, not financial or environmental.

      1. Carl

        IIRC, Texas has its own electrical grid, separated from the national one. There’s a lot of wind farms in West and South Texas.

          1. Bsoder

            Care to share, my knowledge is limited to a single facility that attaches or deattaches to the eastern grid and California. Save me the research.

          2. Olga

            Not sure what you mean by “complex,” PK. Texas is an electrical island in the US, generally speaking. It is connected to the Eastern Interconnection by two DC Ties, and to Mexico by three (though AEP recently announced that Eagle Pass will be permanently disconnected). Texans jealously guard this “power independence,” lest they become subject to FERC’s jurisdiction.
            (The North DC Tie has an operational limit around 200 MW and the East DC Tie is a back-to-back 600 MW HVDC converter; in the south, there is (was) Eagle Pass at about 30 MW, Railroad DC Tie at 300 MW, and Laredo at 100 MW. There are also several thermal units (2-3) that can switch operations from one Independent System Operator (ISO) to another. These numbers are not huge, when compared to the overall TX (ERCOT) system, which reaches close to 75,000 MW at peak, though during the times of system stress, their capacity can be very important.)
            Texas (ERCOT) also has around 24,300 MW of installed wind capacity, and 2,300 of solar. Its interconnection queue features almost 29,000 MW of planned (new) wind facilities; 76,000 MW of solar, and 10,400 MW of storage. Not all of these will be realised, of course, but it is a good indication of the latest trends. When estimating the wind/solar contribution to available capacity, “capacity factors” are used – they vary for on-shore and off-shore wind, and for solar (which is much higher than wind’s).
            Coal-powered plants – and most are older – rarely have capacity factors above 50% – and solar with storage can exceed that number.

            The necessary “back-up” for all power production PK mentions is generally referred to as “reserve margin.” The recommended level (by NERC) is about 13.75% (i.e., the system should have that level of redundancy, calculated off the peak use). (ERCOT has only about 8%; but it may be that there is – mainly – solar capacity that is not counted.)
            BUT this is not the same as having/using energy storage – which can store energy for later use by intermittent resources (e.g., when wind/sun are unavailable or when prices go high). (Storage can also store energy from thermal plants for later use – mainly as financial arbitrage.) The latest trend is precisely for solar + storage (so as to obviate the need for thermal plants). Having some clarity in all these concepts is important, when discussing these issues.

      2. Keith

        About ten to fifteen years ago I read an article in IEEE Spectrum about the installation and activation of a superconducting electrical transmission line between New Jersey and New York City (Manhattan I think) as a demonstration project. I haven’t read anything further about this project and very little about superconducting transmission lines except as a future possibility if new technology/materials are developed.

        Since a lot of superconducting materials seem to be ceramics, I can see how it might be insanely difficult to build power lines using them. I’ve always thought these would have to be underground to protect the cooling infrastructure and prevent sabotage further increasing costs vs conventional lines.

        Has anyone heard anything about developments in this field? Any results from test projects?

        As a side note, every time I see an article about The Boring Company I think tunnels for superconducting transmission lines would be a much better application for their machines than the LA Tesla tunnels.

          1. ewmayer

            That mentions that the longest such transmission cable to date is a mere 1 km, and notes the high cost of the specialized hi-temp superconducting cable and the required cryogenic cooling. I’m guessing that for anything real-world, the cost is prohibitive, otherwise we’d be seeing lots of multi-km/multi-MW such lines installed already, given the multiple decades we’ve been hearing hype about this – I recall hearing investment pitches for hi-T transmission-wire makers as far back as the ’90s.

          2. Ben Gunn

            That article is a good 2002ish overview of how start-ups and university research departments were trying to find practical uses for the new cuprate HTS materials (initially YBCO, TBCCO, BSCCO). The Woodstock of physics happened in 1986, with the announcement of the discovery of High Temperature Superconductors (HTS). In 1987, Bednorz and Müller were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery. The US government went all-in, pouring money through every type of grant/funding mechanism to ensure the US would be the leader in leveraging the new materials properties into marketable technologies.

            Within a year or two, Conductus, American Superconductor, Superconductor Technologies, and many other start ups and university researchers, had millions of grant dollars from DARPA, DOD, DOE, NIH, to name a few. Wealthy and investment funds piled in when these companies went public a few years later.

            Working with researchers at universities and their own internal R&D, these companies tried to find ways exploit these materials. But there were major road blocks to success.

            First, the cuprates are complex to very complex modified perovskite crystals, and are very hard to grow as single crystals. This leads to lossy grain boundaries that degrade superconductive transmission across the boundaries. This contributed to the downfall of companies focusing on circuit-type designs (e.g., STI’s TBCCO cellular antenna circuits).

            Second, these are very brittle crystals. Any size or length metal clad HST wires are prone to having the crystal break in the sheathing, again causing lossy boundaries on top of the grain boundaries inherent when growing the HST crystals in the first place.

            I joined one of these start-up in 1988 as a researcher and left in 2002 as a production manage, when they tried unsuccessfully to transfer the production to China to reduce costs. Good times.

            You still can find some companies selling HTS cuprate wire. AMSC, American Superconductor, is still around. STI and Conductus merged, and is selling wire and a cryocooler STI developed at the turn of the century. You can google HTS wire and find others around the world selling HTS wire.

      1. Olga

        Thanks for the link. Recently, Lambert was looking for a view on the film – Prof. Mann offers a fine answer (and additional links).

    2. lyman alpha blob

      Should hydro really be considered a renewable source? Sure the energy produced may be renewable, but it’s at the expense of driving certain species to extinction, and they are definitely not renewable.

      1. Charger01

        If you have snow and rain, then the hydraulic cycle is renewable by definition.
        Hydro is great solution where it is available.

        1. mpalomar

          Hydro is tantalising. There are downsides, silting as mentioned by others and in some cases the ecological problem of habitat destruction, specifically to important commercial fish like striped bass, salmon, chad and others.

          1. ambrit

            Then there are all the bends and horseshoes in the major, all year rivers, especially the Mississippi, where it would be feasible to install partial flow diversion hydroelectric projects, such as at Vidalia, Louisiana.
            It is also part of the Old River Control Structure, which has been discussed here in days gone bye.
            Some other projectors get in on the action:
            There is more going on here than meets the eye.

            1. mpalomar

              Thanks for the links. The Atchafalaya River alternative course and the past interventions by the corps of engineers is fascinating stuff. “Fred Bayley, the chief engineer of the Lower Mississippi Valley Division of the Corp of Engineers, put it this way, ‘The more water the Atchafalaya takes, the bigger it gets; the bigger it gets, the more water it takes.’ ”

              Attempts to manage the river have often if not always resulted in unintended outcomes; changes to the delta and the wetlands as the flow rates accelerated due to dredging and consequent silt deposit distributions on the Louisiana shelf.

              Resurgent Louisiana Sturgeon, I don’t suppose there is such a thing as Cajun caviar?

            2. ocop

              Unfortunately, in addition to high costs, in general the economics of the projects built using relatively small impoundment structures is that high flows tend to suppress the elevation differential between your upstream intake and downstream outlet. This creates an upside down situation where you have plenty of water to generate with, but very little “hydraulic head” to extract power from.

              And while technically they have water all-year round, it is largely infeasible to design to those highly variable conditions (without large dams) and get more than a few dozen megawatts of power. For example, American Municipal Power recently finished construction on a series of absolutely (physically) massive hydropower projects on the Ohio River, which in total cost north of $2 billion, but only have a combined capacity of a few hundred megawatts.

          2. Ben Gunn

            And also many dams are old, part of the US’s degraded infrastructure. Add in the re-licensing costs to the repair/replacement costs and the ecological cost trade-off of habitat destruction, we are seeing large companies selling off at-risk Hydro assets.

    3. QuarterBack

      Although I am not a fan of coal, before anyone gets too excited about signs that coal is actually being replaced in the near term by wind, solar, hydro, and nuclear sources, we need to consider the context that is lost in the article. What you are seeing is much more likely an artifact of unprecedented demand drops in electricity consumption from the COVID19 shutdown rather than a sea change in how power is generated and consumed.

      A data gold standard for understanding the U.S. Energy picture are the energy flow maps published annually by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LNL), which can be found here:

      The LNL charts show U.S. energy consumption and the sources and uses of the consumption. The unit of measure is Quadrillion BTUs (“Quads”). In 2019, 37 Quads were consumed for electricity generation of which 0.65 came from solar, 8.46 from nuclear, 2.48 from hydro, 2.73 from wind, 11.7 from natural gas, and 10.2 from coal. The key takeaway is that, in terms of consumption, renewables in 2019 (and prior) were a fraction of coal and natural gas.

      In order for one source of electricity to be replaced by another, the source of generation (a physical place on the map) would also need to change, requiring a transmission infrastructure to transfer the newly sourced power to the locality of demand. If demand returns anything near normal, an enormous transmission infrastructure would need to exist from renewable sources. As of now, these do not exist. Also, there is an upper limit of distance that electricity can be effectively transmitted, which means that sources of generation must be nearer to the demand. Wind and hydro are very sensitive to geography, but coal and natural gas can be transported to generation facilities by ship or rail.

      Another context concern of the article is that it summarizes the percentages of the whole of production and not consumption. Producing electricity does not necessarily mean that the energy is being consumed. I don’t have access to electricity production numbers, so I don’t know what the typical consumption versus production is for the various sources. Since the production numbers cited in the article are percentage of the whole, a factor that must be considered is how much production is being dialed down because of the huge drop in demand. Coal, natural gas, and nuclear require fuel to generate, and thus would naturally be dialed down with demand changes, whereas, generation from wind and solar would remain largely constant and any excess would not be transported. If I compare the trends between the Arstechnica article and the 2019 LNL numbers, it looks like there is a significant drop in coal, and to a lesser extent, natural gas and nuclear. This would be consistent with coal generation being dialed down significantly and natural gas and nuclear being dialed down some. I would think there may be a lower limit of how much you can dial down a nuclear power plant, and that they may have already been running near these lows. A fair amount of natural gas comes from oil extraction (especially fracking), so there may be some hidden stimulus to natural gas production to keep it in the mix.

      My point is that I believe that these percentages are an artifact of the fact that demand is way down, and non-renewal sources have been dialed down accordingly affecting the ratios, but once demand comes back, the existing infrastructure will require a mixture of sources more consistent with the prior behaviors.

      Converting to renewables is an enormously complex undertaking that we require figuring out how to generate and renewable energy close enough to demand to be feasible for transmission, and creation of a substantially new transmission grid (requiring and acquisition and right-of-ways) to bridge source with consumption.

      The article also mentions projected drops in CO2 emissions, but I believe these are more a result of the drop in electricity demand for businesses, factories, and air conditioning for the same, plus shopping malls and performance venues, along with greatly reduced automobile traffic from the shutdown. All likely to spike up (albeit probably less than before) after the quarantine lockdown ends.

      1. Rod

        you bring up good points and use the word Consumption at least six times.
        I think you are onto something…

        Consumption is killing us.

        Too much, to needlessly, and too mindlessly.

        1. QuarterBack

          For the best place to start on the demand side, look at the right hand side of the LNL flow charts. Approximately 68% of all energy consumed is “rejected energy”, which is the amount of energy lost to nonproductive loss (from things like heat from a motor or computer, transmission line loss, etc.). More efficient electronics and superconductors have the potential to greatly reduce the energy demand and reduce the heat emitted into the environment. Plus heat often requires air conditioning, which is inefficient and requires more energy demand. We need investment in efficiency technology development as much or more than new energy because we literally waste more energy than we use.

          1. Rod

            I certainly agree. Losing almost 3 times the suggested reserves in rejected/byproduct energy suggests much engineering/ redesign opportunity.
            That dances very well with the overlooked practice of Conservation’s ready impact.

            daydreaming color coded XYZ Electric Customer Billing Statement Explanations highlighting some of your points to that same customer

      2. Bsoder

        ‘upper limit of distance that electricity can be effectively transmitted’, you got that right. So my thinking goes, instead of mega plants, perhaps we should consider generating energy as close to the local need for it as possible. Which entails microgrids in a fashion. I looked at USGS study recently, that with regard to energy needed, identified 633,000 sites were hydro could be used (I don’t believe they took into account climate heating), to produce 100% of the electrical energy used today. The part of the study that got my attention is these sites where picked because, extra capacity or off peak usage was used to spin up a generator to pump water up hill. Creating a reserve. Clearly, entropy states this must be subtracted from overall efficiency, but in general considering that alternatives I liked it. But, hydro has made a mess of eco systems so this plan would have to engineered to to deal with that.

        Obviously one way to deal with energy demand is to decrease it, considerably. Which buys time in keeping global temperatures down. Given that people won’t wear masks, & other demonstrations of their absolute right to kill themselves and others, decreasing demand, because it needs to be done as in the reduction of the use of carbon fuels by 7.6% a year till we reach zero (IPPC) may in fact be impossible. Using Jared Diamond’s criteria, I’ve modeled it and as Spock might say there is only a 41% chance of success if we start now. Zero at 2050. Yet, in the @NC links in the past couple of days is a post of the what seems the inevitability of high heat and humidity making a large part of the world uninhabitable. If we doing nothing the default situation is dire. (Not so much for North America.) (rising sea levels is our problem.) And there I’ll leave it.

        Of course nothing proceeds in a linear manner, maybe we will be one of those rare examples of societies that figures it out. Maybe it’s Easter Island all over again. Clearly we can do it. But life is going to way less complex, big cities shall cease (sorry but they will, too costly(energy=money=energy) to maintain), and doing whatever we want when we want isn’t going to fly. In fact the sociological impacts have been worked out, but I don’t need the grief today. To live is to choose, and choices will be made with human input or without.

        1. Rod


          Obviously one way to deal with energy demand is to decrease it, considerably. Which buys time in keeping global temperatures down.


          To live is to choose, and choices will be made with human input or without.

        2. QuarterBack

          DOD has been investing in micro grid research for decades. A big concern is how to obtain efficiencies (physical and financial) similar to the economies of scale that can be achieved in big power plants. The cost of exotic and highly engineered solutions are easier to financially justify at scale. DOD also has interest in micro grids for their small footprints in physical plant and transmission infrastructure as well as speed of construction and portability.

          Superconducting materials (the holy grail being “room temperature superconductors “) can overcome much of the distance limitations for transmission lines because this is largely a function of cumulative electric resistance from the wires “ leaching away from stable clean electrical transmission.

        3. Michael McK

          I think I saw that same map. It was by an Australian gov. department and had a GIS program figure out possible pumped storage sites and rated them by many factors such as capacity and how much soil was needed to move to make the impoundments. Almost all of them (at least weighted by capacity) in my region relied upon using the riverbed as a series of impoundments for upslope ponds. It struck me that none of them would survive a winter with high flows and would seriously channel the rivers until they were washed away as well as displacing most towns and fertile farmland. I also doubt water could be found in the quantity needed in late summer to make up for evaporation.
          I concluded that, while there is ample opportunity for tiny setups, like most ‘solutions’ it is only a solution after people have radically altered the demand side.

      3. Olga

        “Producing electricity does not necessarily mean that the energy is being consumed.”
        Well, no. El. energy produced must equal energy consumed – at least if the grid system is to remain stable. I think you’re confusing (available) capacity with production. Two very different things.
        And yes, there has been a demand drop since 2008, but it is not “unprecedented.” The typical 2.5% annual growth rate in demand (generalised) has dropped to under 1%. Significant, but not huge or “way down.”
        “…an enormous transmission infrastructure would need to exist from renewable sources.” How do you figure that? All depends where the resources are located. (Though Texas did build new T. infrastructure for wind, but the need for such really varies by region.)
        There is only one major factor responsible for the closing of coal (and many nuclear) plants – and it is cost. Including operational costs (at less than 4cents/kWh for solar + storage, coal loses) plus the cost of environmental retrofits, fuel, and transportation. Also, there is now a greater awareness of the environmental destruction, pollution, and climate change.

        1. ObjectiveFunction

          “…an enormous transmission infrastructure would need to exist from renewable sources.” How do you figure that? All depends where the resources are located.

          As a regulator (?), I know you already know all this, but for example, ISO New England, already badly bottlenecked, has been rebuilding its transmission network to bring wind from its offshore and mountaintop sources to load centers for well over a decade now, fighting the regulatory/intervenor (‘turbines and t-lines are ugly, and bad for tourism’) wars of attrition the entire way.

          Even if FERC went full Keynesian and paid for the lines to be undergrounded (digging holes jerbs!), we’d still face the red tape nightmare; 3 years, bare minimum before Shovel Ready(c).

          And solar is just not viable as baseload in northern latitudes, no matter how many acres they can put under (dumping priced) Chinese panels, or how much magical Chemistry in a Can or flywheels [/rolleyes] the disaster capitalists promise to put in for the low low price of .04/kwh.

          So to go green, it’s wind plus hydro, plus $$$ demand side retrofits to flatten consumption. But then we’re back to “Northern Pass Kiss My Ass”.

          Ain’t easy, that’s for sure.

      4. John k

        Rooftop solar is obviously close to consumption. Some are adding batteries as they drop in price, becoming nearly grid independent. Homes and many businesses, too.
        Solar bids approaching 0.02/kwhr in Tx… existing coal plants can’t march that, much less new ones. Neither can a new nat gas plant, even with giveaway gas prices of today, gone tomorrow bc fracking is dead for now.
        Nearly all new generation is solar now, plus some wind. First of course where the sun shines most brightly and or where electricity is expensive, like ca. But economical now nearly everywhere. And price still falling.
        We need fossil fuel to build solar? Now, yes. Just as we used animal power to build the first coal plants. The old is always used to build its replacement.
        The revolution is gathering force, multiple coal plants shut down before covid arrived. Those shutting down bc of reduced demand today unlikely to restart bc of cheap solar coming on line this year. Coal is dead, nat gas surviving bc of current price under $2/mcf… imagine if price returns to 6… or 12.
        Similarly e-cars are coming fast, VW rolling out their first of many now. IC engines will be gone in seven years. Cars powered by the sun. All that remains futuristic are ships and planes… but a lot of ships are used to move fossil fuel; and people are thinking about e planes…

    4. Olga

      It may be that the Planet film started out with best intentions, but by addressing too many topics, became a muddled mess – to the point that it is still not clear what its main message was. Or, maybe the underlying agenda got in the way.
      Nowhere was it more muddled than in its discussion of renewables. If the takeaway is only that “Renewables require fossil fuels to store energy as backups, and Renewables require fossil fuels to create the plants in the first place,” that’s too bad. Such observations are completely taken out of context.
      The broader context is that we are in the time of a major (fuel source, in this case) transition. I don’t know of any system that can instantaneously and 100% transition – and, particularly, one that is as complex as the production of electricity.
      Folks who badmouth renewables do not have another solution. Or should we just continue to build coal plants?
      If the message of the film was – as someone here suggested – that humanity will need to reduce consumption to survive, I’m all for it. But I don’t see too many people willing to sacrifice all the toys they now have. Plus – given that we live in a system built on run-away consumption – the obvious consequence must be to ditch such a system. Are we capable of doing that? I doubt it.

      1. Rod

        and great sum of Texas grid.

        To those last two sentence as a thought play:
        What would be the consequences of a pause or severe constriction on ‘New’ automotive manufacturing—with a pivot to repair/maintenance emphasis for an analysis period of time—on ‘ run away consumption’ bolstered by the concept of planned obsolescence??

      2. mpalomar

        The message of the film was as you say unclear though over population and a need to act on population control seemed to be the main thrust followed by the conclusion that capitalism is a failed economic model if relied on to engender a useful social ethos, instead we have communal reward subsumed by unbridled individual consumption.

        My take away was it raised useful questions but failed to substantiate the claims it made against renewables. Gibbs and Moore did not satisfactorily back up their take down of renewables with numbers.

        Moore has always been an effective propagandist and there are too many astro turf green groups with corporate ties but the film may have missed an opportunity to engage and instead offended.

        1. MLTPB

          You got Russia pumping oil as much as other producers, people all over consuming, and China consuming and producing.

          Are they all capitalism or some mixture with other isms? Is this about the former, or more broadly about humans in general. Were there no environmental disasters in the USSR?

          1. mpalomar

            I can see a limited use of markets in discovery of demand and tech incubation but relying heavily on market solutions and the invisible hand as the final arbiter of civilisation’s direction on moral, ethical, and social goals has surely proven by now to be a very bad idea.
            The USSR for all its environmental disasters, the Aral Sea was hardly a plausible example of communism it was some bizarre aberration that Marx and Engels would likely have disowned. That said I’m not sure Moore was pushing any isms, only noting what hasn’t worked.

            1. MLTPB

              The USSR did not need to be communistic.

              If the problem is humans in general, here is a non-capitalist example.

              1. Grebo

                If the problem is humans, the solution is..?

                If the problem is something humans do, then perhaps we can try doing something else instead.

                1. MLTPB

                  The solution, in that case, is not to focus on one ism.

                  Focusing narrowly like that gets partial solutions.

                  Total consumption = population x consumption per person.

                  The latter means less consumption.

                  The former can mean delaying having babies.

        2. Olga

          Yes, the charitable view would be that the film was a missed opportunity. It starts out with an attack on renewables, and by the time it gets to population control (lacking ideas on how to accomplish it), any claim to a clear message is long gone.
          There is a much simpler way to get the point across (provided we can agree on what the “point” should be) – the “logic” of capitalism requires constant growth – this on a planet that is finite in its resources. If one were able to think through to the ultimate consequence, that would be all one needs to accept.
          Of course, we can dig up every last inch of this Earth to get at all its resources to propel the required “growth” – but then, where would people live?
          So it’s either humanity or capitalism. Long-term, the two cannot co-exist (not in a healthy way, at least). So far, though, capitalism is winning…

          1. MLTPB

            Is Iran, for example, capitalist, or a mixture in a theocracy?

            She, or it, is also busy extracting oil, wanting to supply to the world.

            Is it enabling or contributing to the problem, even if not capitalistic?

            1. Olga

              Whatever Iran is or isn’t is quite beyond the point.
              The problem is – we’re all capitalists – deliberately or not. IOWs – TINA.
              There’s no way out… no matter where one is located… unless, revolution.
              Which will not come anytime soon.

    5. Oregoncharles

      Aren’t those “reminders” primarily transition effects? That’s certainly true of needing fossil fuels to build the plants: that won’t be true once there’s enough renewable energy to power the process. And it’s really true of the storage issue, too: renewable energy can be stored, too. We can also change the way the grid is managed to deal with intermittency. And hydro, though it has its own bad effects, can be used as an on-demand source.

  3. epynonymous

    I’ve been thinking about this negative rate thing, and am I correct that the messaging is everything goes to hell if we impose, effectively, a 0.5% tax on rent?

  4. Wukchumni

    Will the coronavirus mean the end of cash? Treehugger
    Cash was down to less than 5% of all transactions in the USA before it alluded to being potentially dirty loot in need of laundering, and coins seem similar-a metallic menace in our midst. You used to worry about being robbed @ an ATM, now you’re more concerned about being infected, i.e. withdrawal symptoms.

    It was on the ropes anyhow, the old symbolic semollians, backed by the same mechanism as digital money-nothing. There was certainly an anonymity to it all, heck even the serial # on a FRN really means nothing essentially.

    I’d guess homeless were the biggest audience for old school money, and the claim is their ranks will be going up substantially as the crisis wears on, so what becomes of them, not that panhandling is much of a possibility anymore.

    Lately on the few do re mi retail transactions i’ve done, I say ixnay on the coins given in change eh, you keep em’.

  5. PlutoniumKun

    Thailand’s travel industry readies for relaunch FT

    Good luck to them with that – Thailand is highly dependant on Chinese and European tourists and I don’t see either travelling much for a few years. There is a particular problem I think for Europeans visiting there in that most need to go via hubs such as Dubai, and that creates particular problems for disease control. I think we’ll see a shift to more direct flights.

    If there is one bit of good news for Thailand its that this gives them a chance to reassess their tourism industry. Its heavily dependant on cheap mass tourism and shopping (for the Chinese anyway). I think that’s a dead end industry for now as well as one responsible for a lot of cultural and environmental vandalism. Its an amazing country, so maybe it should look more closely at reducing the number of tourists and focusing on the high end tourist. Thats bad news of course for backpackers, shoppers and sex tourists, but maybe it will allow the Thais to build a more sustainable tourism model.

    1. Procopius

      Thailand has made efforts over the years to attract more of the “high-end” tourists, but the current model is what was recommended by the World Bank back in 1950. The result of trying to re-orient Khao San Road has not been a great success. It has reduced the back-packer and low-cost tourist, but the result is a sterile, boring landscape which will not attract any “higher-end” tourism.

  6. NotTimothyGeithner

    And the Obama legacy is now “free from scandal.” He really was worthless.

    1. Bandit

      on the Obama legacy

      He was worse than worthless if that is possible. As per being “free from scandal” that is clearly not the case. Just watch a recent podcast of the Jimmy Dore Show:
      I might add that president Xi of China had tried to make an agreement with Obama not to militarize the South China Sea. Obama refused. Now look who is squawking about China’s military buildup in the area. Not unintended consequences.

        1. Michael Fiorillo

          With every passing day, we see that he was worser than we ever thought. I feel actual physical repulsion when I hear him speak.

          As a public school teacher, I am simultaneously amused and disgusted to observe the same unhinged liberals with TDS, who ignored (or actually supported) Obama’s union-busting and school privatization policies, puff out their chests and demonstrate against Betsy De Vos.

          We could find any number of issues where Obama was no better, or worse (Libya, Syria) than the Orange Man, yet affluent liberals are so consumed by their moral vanity that they’ll wager everything on preposterous magical thinking (i.e. Russiagate), so long as it absolves them of ever considering their role in bringing us, and enabling, TrumpWorld.

          1. Screwball

            Well said. I live with one who suffers from stage 4 TDS. Last night she was anxiously waiting in front of the TV because the “holy” one was going to speak. And to her delight, he even took jabs at the Bad Orange Man.

            Of course I was nowhere to be found. Good thing we don’t talk about politics as she (and her daughters) just WORSHIP this guy, and I mean WORSHIP. All I want to do is puke, and I know what she was thinking; if only he was still our president.

            I don’t how people can be this delusional and be educated at the same time.

        1. mpalomar

          It was a rejected opening, i.e. a verbal proposal by the Chinese at a meeting between Xi and Obama to demilitarise the atolls and islands in the South China Sea.

          1. MLTPB

            In exchange for? Was there any understanding?

            Was it, just guessing, for not challenging Beijing’s claim, for example?

            1. Duck1

              negotiating usually involves, you know, negotiating
              “obtain or bring about by discussion”

              1. MLTPB

                Was there an understanding that it would involve Beijing’s claims?

                Wouldn’t that be pointless, in that case? Do we have more details about this attempt at an agreement?

                Were there similar offers to, say, Vietnam or the Philippines?

      1. mpalomar

        He was indeed worse than worthless. He destroyed a resurgent movement and turned it to ashes; many of those newly engaged or reengaged became disengaged by the end of his eight year capitulation to the usual suspects.

        1. KLG

          My 20-something daughter at the time registered hundreds of likely Obama voters. There was real excitement among many of them. Then…nothing. He disbanded the movement that got him elected and proceeded straight to his heart’s desires: Top line on a resume, money, visits with the faux billionaire of the Virgin franchise, house on Martha’s Vineyard, monument-to-be in Jackson Park. Did I leave anything out?

    2. The Rev Kev

      I won’t hear a word of criticism about the saintly Leader. Why, every August 4th on his birthday I honour his integrity – by raising a glass of water to him.

      1. Pat

        I am unlikely to outlive the b*stard. But if I do I will be making a pilgrimage to go lift my skirts and water his grave appropriately.

        Like so much else this claim falls apart once you actually examine the record and throw out the meaningless excuses for failures.

        1. Michael Fiorillo

          With all due respect to your intentions, Pat, I must differ: as Sid Hatfield in John Sayles “Matewan” says of the owner of a labor spy agency, “I wouldn’t piss on him if his heart was on fire.”

          Or buried six feet under.

      2. Hepativore

        The thing I hated the most about Obama was the fact that he was largely a neocon in terms of his policies and actual stances on issues while pretending that he was on the left. Basically, he was W. Bush in a nicer package. People were so desperate to believe he was some sort of progressive hero after the W. Bush years that they let him get away with a continuation and expansion of the policies of the previous administration. Even now, he continues to be the darling of the wine mom/PMC class.

        I would have more respect for Obama if he would at least admit to when he was knifing you. Republicans make no bones about the fact that they are going to stab you right in the belly and it is going to suck. Obama on the other hand is great at smiling while stabbing you in the back constantly as you turn around.

        Finally, you can hear from the Great Progressive himself on just how much he agrees with the Republican platform:

        Obama’s dream of a Grand Bargain may yet be realized if Biden somehow makes it to the presidency. Cutting Social Security will be his true legacy, then.

        1. Jason Boxman

          That’s really impressive, that you were able to write exactly what I would have said, if I’d gotten up earlier today.

          Nicely done!

          Remember, it takes a Democrat to ravage New Deal programs!

        2. JP

          I don’t think he pretended. He was always a Chicago politician and (centerest). It was liberal wishful thinking from the very beginning that cast Obama as a lefty.

          1. Yves Smith

            What about “Hope and Change” don’t you understand?

            And he had Volcker at his side while he was campaigning, so the optics were that he’d be tough on banks. Then as I recall, within a week of being elected, he names Geithner and (at some not that far away point in time) exiles Volcker to head a busywork committee.

        3. Librarian Guy

          Well no wonder he was a paragon to the Liberals.

          Your description (accurate) is what nearly all of them are– smug, getting to have their cake and eat it too.

          They’re for Austerity, union-busting, massive imperialism (that noticeably fails utterly, but drags on for decades), police state oppression in the name of “safety”, privatization of public resources, continued redistribution of wealth upwards (which is NOT “socialism” to them, it’s the natural order, etc. The fact that a POS like Rahm Emmanuel personifies the Dems should make anyone with an ounce of human empathy wince, if not puke outright.

          But they don’t want to publicly lynch minorities (some will even bemoan the Police regularly doing so with crocodile tears) or “queers”, are sensitive (unless speaking about the homeless) not to verbally condemn entire groups of people, etc. They have “non-white friends”, or aspire to . . .

          I loved how all the Liberal “left” websites like DKos, etc. dropped any opposition to the endless wars within a month of Obama’s inauguration, or supported his (failed) “Surge” (already a Bush Jr. failure in Iraq) attempt in Afghanistan, or staying there. And of course they were fine with massive drone killings in the ME coz Obama is so “bright”, “articulate”, clearly “cares” abstractly (as if) about minimizing civilian deaths.

          What’s that William S. Burroughs line about America being the greatest betrayer of human hopes and dreams in history? Obama personifies the idea, and the process is seen so well in his record.

          1. Big Tap

            “America is not a young land: it is old and dirty and evil. Before the settlers, before the Indians… the evil was there… waiting.”

            “America is not much a nightmare as a non-dream. The American non-dream is precisely a move to wipe the dream out of existence. The dream is a spontaneous happening and therefore dangerous to a control system set up by the non-dreamers.”

            William S. Burroughs

          2. MLTPB

            Did Trostsky feel the same about Stalin’s USSR? Take one example.

            Were there ohers around the world who similarly regarded their own special misfortune?

            1. The Rev Kev

              I don’t know about Trotsky but there are plenty of quotes to be found that show Lenin hated Russia and the Russians which goes a long way in explaining his callousness and indifference to human suffering.

              1. J.k

                I see, he went from hating russians to to indifference to all humanity. This is nonsense, i have read enough Lenin and know enough early soviet history to say you are grossly misrepresenting the man.

                1. The Rev Kev

                  Try this video of a Russian politician named Vladimir Zhirinovsky who is attacking his enemies by quoting Lenin-


                  If you cannot see the English text, click on the “CC” at the bottom right on that video. I came across a written account of how Lenin regarded Russians as his tools to be used for spreading revolution and a certain Austrian corporal had exactly the same attitude to the German people. In fact, in 1945 the latter wanted the German people destroyed because they had proved themselves not worthy. Sociopaths both of them.

                  1. Olga

                    You may want to know that Zhirinovsky is not considered a serious person/politician in Russia, and is mainly known for his rhetorical provocations. I’d not quote him in any serious discussion.

        4. ObjectiveFunction

          To me, it seems fairly clear that Mr. Obama’s ideology started and ended not with Doing (a policy agenda), but with successfully Being Our First Black President). All other considerations were secondary and tossed under the infamous bus, perhaps with some pleasing lip service.

          By all accounts deeply cautious as a human being (his university nickname was Spock) and a politician, BHO’s sole overriding priority once elected was not to rock any boats. That way, our First Black President would not:

          (1) walk into a bullet like so many others
          (2) be impeached, Clinton style (also feeding ugly stereotypes if personal behavior was alleged, which it would be)
          (3) be a one term president, humiliatingly ejected from office Carter style (which could imply repudiation of said First Black President)

          The greater good he sought was to show the nation by example that having a black guy as your boss doesn’t need to otherwise change anything. Did most of America still need that lesson in 2008, at the expense of so much else? Worthy question, likely unanswerable.

          But in order for Obama to make that case and stay out of the literal and figurative crosshairs, his default behavior was to say Presidential words but to put nothing on the line, and let the system run as it liked.


      3. Michael Fiorillo

        Toxic water, presumably, that you don’t actually drink… a la The Chosen One in Flint.

    3. Carla

      “He really was worthless.” In actuality, he did huge damage at the behest of his owners, whom I’m sure didn’t — and don’t– consider him worthless. And I fear he is going to continue to do that damage until he is stopped, and perhaps even beyond that point.

    4. Edward

      It depends how you define scandal. If it means breaking the law then Obama is wrong; I doubt his drone assassination program was legal. He illegally launched wars against Syria, Libya, and Yemen and organized the coup in Ukraine. Do the lies and propaganda against Russia qualify as a scandal? His White House staff were drawn from a list given to him by a wealthy contributor. Do the Wall Street bailouts/giveaways qualify as a scandal? What about the sanctions on North Korea and Iran or the support for Israeli apartheid or the Honduras coup? Is the military budget a scandal or the inaction against global warming? Is Obamacare a scandal? Is the revolving door/legalized bribery a scandal. Is a voting system run by partisans and with opportunities for cheating a scandal? Not in Washington, alas.

      1. christofay

        I think Obama just relinquished foreign affairs to Hillary Clinton except for feel-good photo ops like the family trip to China and the increase global warming activity of going to Paris for the climate-thing. So don’t pin any foreign affairs crimes on Obama please. It’s all Hillary.

        1. Edward

          He was a weak president and relinquished his policies to campaign contributors and other establishment figures. I don’t think this absolves him of responsibility.

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              I mean promising to end “combat operations” in 2012 and bemoaning the lack of “diplomacy” before excusing Shrub wasn’t exactly newsworthy. Mostly it amounted to pretending the U.S. wasn’t a problem in the region. Obama was still a guy who sought out Lieberman as his Senate mentor.

              Oh look, Obama is for vague good things and workin’ together. His speech said so…the man was such a dullard. I mean he could be the background noise in a political thriller about a plot to kidnap the President’s daughter before her wedding day or something equally stupid.

            2. Edward

              There was probably a lot going on behind the scenes we will never hear about. He began his presidency with a poorly conceived attempt to tackle the Holy Land conflict which went nowhere. For most of his two terms he followed the war agenda.

              I think his presidency was doomed when he selected Biden as VP. It wasn’t clear before this how he was going to align himself politically. The choice of Biden meant he was going with the establishment. Before he ran for president he was being promoted in the press. He was being mentored by Joe Lieberman. I interpret this to mean that he was identified by the right wing, correctly as it turned out, as a figurehead who could fool discontented voters into voting for “change” while they controlled policy.

              At any rate, his presidency was a failure, in the sense that he failed to address the basic problems facing this country and added to them.

              Hillary Clinton got in trouble too; at the beginning of her career as a senator she criticized settlements and faced the wrath of their supporters for this. After that she never crossed them.

              1. JTMcPhee

                Have to give him and his administration credit for being a strong supporter of Israel, with all that means.

                1. Edward

                  Its true, in spite of Israel being fairly hostile to Obama. I think at some point Netanyahu was displaying his racism against Obama, but politics dictated that Obama give Israel what it wanted. Bibi also felt conformable campaigning against Obama in 2012 and opposing the Iran deal. I suppose U.S. support for Israel has survived worse provocations, such as the attack on the Liberty.

        2. Schmoe

          I agree with that. Everything I have read indicates that we was very ambivalent about getting involved in Syria and was eventually talked down from a missile strike after the alleged 2013 Sarrin attack, in contract to the Dotards’s response to the patently ridiculous alleged 2017 and 2018 chemical weapons attacks. I also think that the Syrian “civil war’ (jihadi invasion) might have happened regardless of US participation due to Saudi, Gulf, British and Israeli involvement.

          He did sign a nuclear deal that could have brought stability to a region sorely in need of it.

          I also agree, with the caveat that it might not have mattered above, that HRC was quite rogue on Syria but Obama was the boss (on an unrelated matter, WJC was a allegedly a regular patron of Epstein – check out the recent 92 minute Whitney Webb phone interview with one of his victims).

      1. wilroncanada

        Unfortunately, anon, murdering large numbers of people has never been considered scandalous, as long as it has been done as leader of a nation. Obama is not different from any other President in the history of the United States. And Trump is no different in that regard. The US has been absolutely steady in its continuing disregard of human life. Now, in case members of other nations, like me, become self-congratulatory, none of our nations has been any different. Just the level, as our nations become more imperial.

    5. Bsoder

      Ya, Bush was great and Bill too, and the old ‘ole days of Nixon. And Ronald Reagan, to whom my mother an actress of many years said, I’d never vote for a guy that can’t make a decent kiss. And she would know. It seems of late say the last 70 years or so there’s not much to write home about. All bad in their own wonderfully awful ways. Reflecting I think, you get what you vote for. & deserve.

      1. ambrit

        Re. “ get what you vote for.”
        The choices offered up to the electorate are crucial.
        When the electorate is offered the choice between two equally evil persons, where is the ‘real’ choice? The ‘real’ choice on offer in such a situation is obeisance to the ‘Establishment’ or revolt. A very difficult choice. In such a situation, the “boiling frog” example comes into play.

    6. ewmayer

      Re. “Barack Obama attacks Trump administration’s response to coronavirus pandemic”, I’m picturing BHO laying out what he would’ve done: “Now see, had this happened on my watch, I would started by throwing a few $trillion FedBuxx at the essential business that is our financial sector…” – oh wait, that’s exactly what the Trump-era Fed did, having practiced well and hard during the Obama-era GFC, again with no annoying congressional oversight necessary. OK, but you see, unlike EvilTrump, Obama really knew how to work with our mission-critical American pharmaceutical sector to “get things done”, including secret White House meetings with Big Pharma execs, because that’s the kind of thing you sometimes have to do to “get things done”.

  7. PlutoniumKun

    Does no-one have the guts to tackle China on the Uighurs? Qantara

    Basically, the answer is ‘no’, unless the Uighurs have the good sense to discover oil.

    1. John k

      China would treat them worse than now, either move the lot off the land, maybe to jail, or a final solution.

    2. Yves Smith

      Huh? Look at the Kurds. What has the Kurds is more being very tough fighters in largely mountainous terrain than having oil, so the big powers enlist them as mercenaries for a bit before tossing them over the side.

  8. PlutoniumKun

    The Sickness in Our Food Supply New York Review of Books Michael Pollan.

    Michael Pollen, as so often, writes a lot of truths about how food supply reflects and how screwed up our supply systems are.

    A momentous question awaits us on the far side of the current crisis: Are we willing to address the many vulnerabilities that the novel coronavirus has so dramatically exposed? It’s not hard to imagine a coherent and powerful new politics organized around precisely that principle. It would address the mistreatment of essential workers and gaping holes in the social safety net, including access to health care and sick leave—which we now understand, if we didn’t before, would be a benefit to all of us. It would treat public health as a matter of national security, giving it the kind of resources that threats to national security warrant.

    We need to build in resilience to all our systems, in particular our food systems, but its incredibly difficult to see how we get there from where we are. We’ve become addicted to cheap food, especially cheap meat, and thats a hard thing to take from peoples grasp. I try to buy local, from ethical supplies, and I’m fortunate to have a non-profit co-operative supplier close to me. But there is one problem with them. They are expensive – very expensive (and I know as a co-op member that nobody is making a lot of money from it, its just that this type of operation doesn’t have the ‘efficiencies’ of my local supermarket).

    Anecdotally, I know of lots of people I wouldn’t expect who are now talking about growing their own food, and foraging. Thats no real solution, but at least I suppose its a start.

  9. John

    In 2005 as the Katrina disaster unfolded, George W. Bush said to his FEMA director, “Heck of a job, Brownie.”
    Later February 2020 in response to a reporter’s question about the looming Covid-19 pandemic, Donald Trump said, “we’ve got it under control.”

    Today, 17 May, with 90,000 deaths and counting, I can only say, “Heck of a job, Donnie.”

    1. davidgmillsatty

      It could have been worse.

      And it still may be, if this virus mutates into something even more pathogenic. The way that is most likely to occur is for it to swap out RNA with other known human coronaviruses (recombination) for which we have immunity. And then we could lose the immunity we have with human coronaviruses as well as well as being unable to develop immunity to the coronavirus itself.

      That may be what is already happening now, as the symptoms just seem to get more and more numerous and diverse.

        1. davidgmillsatty

          That is as simple as I can say it. A human virus and a zoonotic virus in the same cell can switch out viral parts as part of the replication process. And when that happens you get what is known as a chimeric virus which has the traits of both. Both change. And if you had immunity to one or both you might lose immunity to both.

          This came from my brother who spent 30 years in a microbiology lab. He is a PhD in biophysics and did microbiology, and biochemistry his whole career. Here was his exact email to me on the topic of Covid and its ability to increase its virulence and he was talking about the recombination of human common cold corona viruses and Covid when he said this:

          Chimerias take traits from a portion of the rna of one virus and mix them with another part of a different virus. That may mean that antibodies you have against common cold viruses provide some protection against the chimera virus, but the chimeras may be a way for common cold viruses to beat your immune system, and those that beat your immune system will spread rapidly. Overall probably a bad outcome, but hard to know for sure.

          1. pricklyone

            Yes, and from an evolutionary POV, the virus is more likely to mutate to a less virulent form.
            Cause killing off the host F***s up the chances to replicate, right?
            SARS CoV-2 so far has not had major mutations, and is still only one strain, popular press hysteria notwithstanding.
            I like TWIV “this week in virology”, also avail at Daniel Racaniello on youtube.

            1. Yves Smith

              Making Shit Up is against our written site Policies. We have zero tolerance for disinformation on Covid019. What you said is nonsensical.

              Sars C0V-2 is nowhere near as deadly as Ebola, which has not mutated into a less fatal form, so even killing hosts at a very high rate does not lead pathogens to mutate favorably (see: And this coronavirus has a long-ish incubation period, and hosts shed it at peak levels before they develop symptoms or shortly thereafter. By contrast, when they die, it’s 2 weeks plus after becoming symptomatic, so dying doesn’t interfere with pathogen spread.

              And your statement about “strains” is also false. There are 14 strains with large differences in how infections they are.


            2. Ignacio

              Selection of less virulent strains, according to epidemiological theory, might occur when there is already herd immunity and those less virulent variants able to pass undetected or causing less harm are favoured. While we are still mostly susceptible and the disease is progressing the variants that are selected are most probably those more infectious because these spread more easily, and by way of high infectivity can result in more virulent diseases. We are faraway from herd immunity.

              Apart from this theoretical framework the unexpected can always occur. We can speculate ad infinitum.

            3. vlade

              Re strains – muahaha. The RNA replication error is about one in three.
              Which means that a population of RNA virus in any host is actually, what virologist call quasispecies.

      1. ambrit

        Some argue that all the ‘developed’ world Covid numbers are “cooked.” We won’t know even a smidgen of the ‘true’ “truth” for some years. The response to an epidemic or pandemic is only partially medical or scientific. A lot of the response is political, as in the ongoing American debates about the “economic” effects of the virus.
        Finding trustworthy data on the virus is very fraught with danger today.

        1. pricklyone

          Some argue that the earth is flat. We won’t know until everyone is able to venture off-planet and see for themselves.
          Hey, ambrit, just to make the point, not to take away from yours. Any response may be partly evidence , but is always 100 percent political, as well.
          Most of the population will be opposed to any response, no matter what basis formed it.
          Some will think it was too much, some will think it doesn’t go far enough.
          Who is included in “CoVid deaths”? If you go to hospital with flu, and respiratory symptoms, and become infected in hospital, and show positive, are you a CoV-19 case?
          Are you to be included in the CoV death number?
          Ad infinitum…

          Yes, those who are in a position to compile those numbers also can have agendas, as do we all. Shocking, aint it?
          “Hindsight, the only perfect science”? Nope, not even then…
          Cheers. Try and stay safe out there.

          1. ambrit

            Same to you and yours.
            I like to “err on the side of caution” when dealing with this, for me and my female partner in crime, very dangerous pathogen. We are both in the maximum possible negative outcomes cohort.
            ‘Stay safe’ is becoming a popular exit salutation in the emporia open for business around here.

      2. Yves Smith

        Making Shit UP is against our written site Policies. Go look at the map of death per capita and look at who is in the OECD. I should not have to waste my time on nonsense like this.

        And the US is believed to have a relatively larger death undercount (as our excess deaths indicate than other countries (save maybe the UK which is pretty bad here too).

  10. timbers

    Sanders adviser warns of ‘alarming trends’ that could lead to Biden’s defeat The Hill

    Weaver played this straight, saying Sanders supporters could cost Biden the vote because they don’t see that much a difference btwn them to make them enthusiastic, and Biden needs to reach out to them. With outreach and “moving left”. No mention of issues taboo to Dem donors that benefit working folk voters them like MedicareForAll. I’m the category of neither and waiting to see who else they will let me vote for. Will there be a Green candidate this time?

    But no mention of the elephant in the room. Every day a new video gets released/recycled showing the Dementia Candidate in action. Makes me shake my head and feel embarrassed, painful. Can’t be the only one. As someone put it…

    “Trump can still speak actual words, out loud, in front of people. The other one, not so much.”

    1. Dr. John Carpenter

      Worth mentioning that Weaver’s name comes up often as Sander’s workers are starting to speak out on “what happened”. It’s good to hear what he has to say from a “know your enemies” standpoint, but I would not assume any comments he makes claiming to represent Sanders supporters are made in good faith.

    2. Mel

      The Sunday Doonesbury in WaPo today is aimed straight at the “dementia candidate” meme. Gary Trudeau is fixing to turn that one around.

      1. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

        Maybe in place of the “Giant Douche” running against “Turd Sandwich” on Southpark, It can be “”Nothingburger” -v- “Turd Sandwich”

      2. ambrit

        I sincerely hope that Trudeau hasn’t succumbed to TDS.
        If he puts anything out favouring Biden, I’ll mourn for another co-opted “radical” thinker.

          1. Procopius

            I consider him right of center, which I suppose would make him a “liberal.” He definitely does not display TDS — or at least hasn’t yet.

      1. Massinissa

        To further HotFlash’s comment below, the Green candidate is probably going to be a boring fellow named Howie Hawkins.

        I vote Green no matter what, every time, but I must say, Hawkins is exceptionally boring, even for a Green candidate. He’ll be lucky if he gets Jill’s numbers. Ah well, still better than writing in Bernie Sanders or something I guess.

      1. John Anthony La Pietra

        He may still get some write-in support, and IIRC he’s also been indirectly quoted as saying he might accept a draft if the medical news in his family is good next month.

        I find myself wondering if he’d do as much good or more as the embodiment of why we need universal free-at-point-of-service health care . . . this famous, well-off (somewhere between top quartile and top 2% in wealth from what I’ve found estimated on line) guy who wanted to run for President to support health care for all can’t afford to run because he’d lose his work-based health insurance.

    3. Stormcrow

      Kshama Sawant’s Socialist Alternative offers a compelling analysis of how to move forward after the collapse of Sanders.

      Bernie Sanders and the End of Neoliberalism by Tom Cream, May 12

      We can’t understate the effect of Sanders abandoning working people at this decisive moment. A dangerous vacuum now exists on the left. But this is not a decisive blow which will set the movement back for a long time. In the short term there is no doubt that the path to forming a new mass party of working people has been blocked by objective developments as well as Sanders’ capitulation. …

      … The best elements will turn to struggle in workplaces, against cutbacks, and against mass evictions. Some, seeing no other path, will for now continue the hopeless effort to reform the Democratic Party. Others will incorrectly conclude that electoral politics is futile. A large number, however, will be looking for deeper answers and will instinctively understand that transformative change requires mobilizing people on all fronts including electoral politics. This is not because of the false idea that change is simply a legislative process. It was Sanders himself who pointed out that only mass movements create real change.

      The politics we need is to give organized expression to the genuine support of millions for the platform which Sanders articulated and which becomes more necessary with each passing day. It is the coming social upheaval in the U.S. that will lay the basis for a new party.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        from a link adjacent to the Jacobin link up there^^^^

        FFP says pretty much the same thing as your quote.
        i sent it to cousin…still living in his truck in the woods and doing roofing jobs.
        during the first month or so of the lockdown, him and i rode around in the Falcon alot with beer in the evenings.
        he’s a small l libertarian, small bidness type…and due to his life’s circumstances, has evolved into that whole “man, alone”…
        first morning he was here, i caught him at 5am with a rabbit on the little pit for breakfast,lol.
        anyhoo…one afternoon, i held forth on movement making and the necessity of banding together against the PTB.
        he almost shouted, “but all the people i know are just like me!”
        so when we got back, i set out several books…like Saul Alynski, Piven, etc.(he was living in my Library, after all.)
        he…like most people i have known who hold those kinds of beliefs…has a heart…laments the poverty, etc he sees…but figures it’s too big to do anything about…so they revert and learn to just look out for themselves.
        things like these 2 links…yours and mine…make me hopeful that it can get better.
        when the suffering is shared, there’s at least that possibility.
        but we all need to be ready to evangelise when the opportunity presents itself…to be ready with a narrative towards a more socialist way of doing things.
        because i guarantee you that the Machine stands ready with a whole mess of narratives…none of which will help the rest of us….only get many of us to believe that they will, and thus subvert ourselves, again.

  11. Wukchumni

    Had another family Zoom get together, and a lot of it was a litany of first world problems, how my sister’s favorite restaurant in Arizona was such a disappointment when they re-opened (their table had nothing on it-not even a tablecloth!, and the waitress who they’ve known for years seemed distant, like she didn’t want to be there) and her to the right of right of right politically husband expressed the desire that every kid go back to school right now!, while telling us of his many shopping forays and must have haircut, no way he was going to let a virus change his lifestyle.

    I’d guess talk of leaving on a jet plane somewhere, took up 15 minutes of the hour session, with a couple of my sisters longing for days of olde @ 30K+ feet, as per a few months ago. Both of them are more content living in the past, than facing an uncertain future.

  12. Dftbs

    I think the NY Post story comparing the 1969 flu outbreak to the present pandemic inadvertently clarifies that the latter is so much worse.

    In two years starting in 1968 100,000 Americans died from HK flu. While the global fatality numbers today remain subdued in comparison to 1969; Americans are close to matching their previous tally in only 3 months.

    I’m no expert and wouldn’t draw the conclusion that COV-19 is a deadlier virus. But the United States in 2020 is a deathtrap for Americans compared to that of 1968 (and those weren’t pleasant years to say the least).

    The silver lining is that parts of the world which would’ve have succumbed to this 50 years ago has shown the development and maturity to withstand and lead in this current crisis. The Unites States of American’t, not so much.

    1. MLTPB

      Global numbers 1969, and now.

      US numbers, 1969 and now.


      I’d be interested in Italian and Spanish (and not so much global) numbers 1969 and now, vs US numbers 1969 and now.

    2. HotFlash

      the United States in 2020 is a deathtrap for Americans

      Yes, this. It has taken 50 years and many willing hands to construct. Thank you, Lewis Powell.

      1. Michael Fiorillo

        Well, Bill Clinton – NAFTA, China in WTO, ending AFDC, repealing Glass-Steagall, the Telecommunications Act, grossly (purposefully?) bungled health care reform, – deserves a little credit, no?

    3. curlydan

      And you can’t really compare death counts in an environment of heavy social distancing (even though the U.S. has shown it’s not that great at it) vs virtually no social distancing in 68-69.

    4. Ignacio

      What was estimated the mortality rate for that flu? Even-though the mortality rate is not a fixture (depends on the age distribution of the population in every country) in Spain it has been estimated at 1,3% for Covid 19.
      Comparisons can be made of course, why not? You might conclude these were different for various reasons.

    5. danpaco

      What this article and my left leaning boomer mother seem to forget is that keeping 5 billion people in their homes was needed to keep the morality numbers this low. So no, its not the same as the flu!

    6. ewmayer

      Wikipedia on the ’68 HK flu:

      “In comparison to other pandemics of the 20th century, the Hong Kong flu yielded a low death rate.[8] The disease was allowed to spread through the population without restrictions on economic activity, until a vaccine became available four months after it started.”

      Entry does not give numbers and the ref. [8] leads to a big archive of “The Story of Medicine in Hong Kong” with no ready numbers, but secondary online search turns up a death rate of 0.5%. The Hong Kong H3N2 flu is a direct antigenic-shift (hybridization event between 2 distinct flu strains, in this case in the hemagglutinin domain) descendant of the 1957-58 H2N2 pandemic virus (also originating in southern China, in Guizhou, a couple provinces WNW of Hong Kong), whose death rate is estimated at 0.67%, again in the absence of massive “global lockdown” measures, and for which a vaccine was also available within months.

      So, yes, both qualitatively and quantitatively dissimilar from Covid-19.

  13. Braden

    So is Covid more like SARS/MERS or the Hong Kong Flu? Or, should we have reacted with mandatory lockdowns in 1968? I admit that some days I feel very proud at how our country is sacrificing to protect the vulnerable (although perhaps we should have paid more attention to nursing homes). Other days I’m reminded that my wife is a few months away from being fired, the business that I work for might be bankrupt by August, my children’s’ education has largely been abandoned, and all the work we did to pull ourselves out of crippling debt since the last financial crisis might be destroyed in less than 4 months of sort-of effective health measures. In 1968 we didn’t even ask whether 100,000 American lives was worth a 3-4 year recession. Is that a sign of progress? I genuinely do not know.

    1. Medbh

      ” I admit that some days I feel very proud at how our country is sacrificing to protect the vulnerable (although perhaps we should have paid more attention to nursing homes).”

      I think our politicians would be perfectly happy letting the vulnerable die. I suspect the caution is just for the unknown. I’ve been reading about people coping with months of symptoms, or recovering, but with serious disabilities (lung/heart impairment, needing dialysis, etc.). Individual sick/disabled people can be ignored and neglected. That’s harder to pull off when it’s affecting many.

      I suspect one of the reasons for the push to go back to work is the realization that covid is mainly hurting the “essential” workers, which doesn’t include the wealthy.

      If we really intended to protect our citizens, we’d have a lockdown with meaningful financial and medical support.

      1. MLTPB

        Sick people.

        1968 or 1969, US pop. 200 million roughly

        Today, 330 million, approx.

        A. That 100,000 may be adjusted to 165,000?

        B. Are there more seniors today? In total, as well as as a percentage of population? Are more seniors in nursing homes? In total, as well as percentage of population?

        C. Someone already commented on general fitness of people today, vs 1969.

    2. Pat

      Anecdotally, I can say this pandemic is worse. I went to school while my mother spent months on the couch with no energy often fighting respiratory issues. She was not alone in being laid low by it. But my family knew no one who died of it in our small community. I personally know of quite a few who like my mother never needed to go to the hospital but laid low. I also know three people who died. Only one elderly and infirm before he got it. The other two were under fifty and while not specimens of peak health were also not fighting other chronic issues.

      Some of this may be the contrary nature of Covid. There is now evidence that the usual treatment with ventilators might not be optimal. It also is suspected of attacking more than the respiratory system regularly.

      This doesn’t mean that there aren’t similarities just that it may be like comparing outcome from a container garden to a hundred acre farm.

    3. NotTimothyGeithner

      I think the asymptomatic spread probably distracted us in general and less focus was put into dealing with clusters and high risk clusters. Much has been made of people behaving badly especially boomers, but outside of banning visitors which was done too late, I mean how do you deal with some of those nursing homes without close proximity short of locking the patients in their cells. Here is where the government failed. The army (life, liberty, and the ours it of happiness…we can use the army for this) and college dorms could have been used to help staff and provide temporary housing for the more spry.

      The 89,000 or so is out of the normal flu season, and steps were taken to prevent spreading. The final number isn’t in yet. From the stand point of the relative Healthcare systems, I would argue 1968 was probably better from providing beds and staff standpoint. Smoking would be an issue then too as to how people were living. Many 70 year olds were simply not around to get sick.

      If the vitamin d and sunshine really matter, we might laugh at the next few months, but it will be fall again. Virginia has 25 days cloudy days on average in November.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Probably another factor was that people were more trim and fit back then. Certainly obesity was not a major problem at that stage, more people did a hard day’s work which strengthened them and there were not so many additives in the food supply as there are now. Take a look at fotos from that era and people looked much healthier back then and to see an obese person was a rarity.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          I met the next West Point cadet (really a nice kid, and he had opinions about agent orange and then men who unleashed it. He brought it up himself. We were discussing museums. The kids are alright. ) from this congressional district, and it struck me how “normal” looking he was. He wasn’t an athlete or a gym rat/phony crossfit weirdo, but he’s supposed to be prepared to march 20 miles, dig in, and fight the next day. More people use to look like him.

          A steady hard days work might be more accurate. Bouncing around and going from as many hours as one can to none is part of the modern world too. This is a whole other stress.

        2. polecat

          You are I believe, referring to an era before the advent of the ‘internet-surfing psuedo-foodlikesubstance-noshing couch/chair/cubical potato ..

          A time before I-$oma prevailed across the Realm(s)

    4. PlutoniumKun

      There is no ‘either/or’ alternative. Its not the shut down which is destroying businesses and jobs. Its the virus. There was a link here just two days ago doing a very useful comparison of Denmark (rapid and near complete shut down) and Sweden (no shutdown). The difference economically? Almost nothing. Retailing, restaurants, tourism would have been devastated without any shut down, and multiple industries would have had to close down due to absenteeism.

      Anyway, its inappropriate to compare the coronavirus to a flu, its a very different little beast. Flu’s flare up quickly and rapidly burn themselves out. Coronavirus is more like polio – a very infectious disease which hits one smaller section of the population particularly hard, and will keep coming back until we find a vaccine.

      1. expose

        And yet hospital personnel still went to work; grocery employees still went to work; gas station employees still went to work; truckers kept driving and providing supplies; Amazon still worked; the USPS still delivered mail, and on and on. Water and electricity were still working. Drive through and food prep/delivery services were still working.

        Liquor stores were still open; hardware stores were open; marijuana stores were open; drugstores were open; car repair shops were open. Plumbing and electric services were still available.

        To say that 31 million lost their jobs because they would have been sick anyway is nonsense.

        1. davidgmillsatty

          Imagine though what might have happened if schools were not closed. The kids at school get sick and bring the virus home to mom and dad who give it to their coworkers and parents.

          What will happen in the fall if the kids start getting sick. We are nowhere near herd immunity (or herd culling).

          And it could well be that this virus begins trading RNA with all the human coronaviruses we are immune to and get regularly during the fall and winter and we may well lose our immunity to human coronaviruses as well as not being able to make an effective vaccine for a mutating novel virus.

          1. Aumua

            And it could well be that this virus begins trading RNA with all the human coronaviruses we are immune to and get regularly during the fall and winter and we may well lose our immunity to human coronaviruses as well as not being able to make an effective vaccine for a mutating novel virus.

            That’s the second time you’ve advanced this somewhat odd idea today. Do you happen to have a reference or two to support this notion of us losing immunity to all coronaviruses?

      2. MLTPB

        Back in Feb and March, for example, when flights were canceled, usually it was in response to a lack of demand.

        And it seems, the answer to the chicken or egg first question, in many instances, is that a lot of us chickened out.

        1. tegnost

          I know in my little neck of the woods the people were taking precautions long before the authorities felt a need to address the issue. Regarding all the workers who were expected to keep working, me included, I can’t remember my last day off…non essential but if I didn’t they would find someone else and there’s the money thing…so precautions, lots of hand washing, coming to understand the utility of masks, etc… but also precaution fatigue eating away at the safety measures. Is it allergies or am I sick questions. It’s going to be a long haul I’m afraid, and we in the US are culturally unsuited to the response necessary to end the threat.

    5. Larry Y

      We should have called it Disease X instead of “clever” names like Kung Flu. This only created a massive framing issue.

      There is still much unknown about the virus, from how it resides in the population (super spreaders, maybe even Typhoid Mary-like reservoirs) to how it damages the body. Many people who recover, even those who avoid hospitalization, have long term problems. And the problems are broader than the respiratory system.

      Even framing it as total casualties is dishonest framing. Do you think in 1968 people would have tolerated the massive spike in deaths and overrun hospitals in an uncontrolled spread, like what went on in Bergamo?

      What I’d like to see is critical care pulmonologists comparing notes from 1968 to now. Would be more honest, at least.

      And to echo Taleb, it’s a false dichotomy and extremely foolish to separate health from the economy, especially since overloading our healthcare system is a proven outcome.

    6. Darius

      That’s why we need to to provide monthly support to people to pay the bills and support for businesses bleeding out with no customers. Other countries are doing this.

    7. ShamanicFallout

      It’s an interesting article (considering the source) and it leaves us some questions: the death rate to the overall population between then and now; how many ‘older people’ there are now vs then (average life expectancy). Probably can’t really compare the overall deaths without taking into account those kinds of comparisons. And of course, we are still in the middle of this thing.

      But what I thought was also interesting (I wasn’t around back then) is that our general lifestyle is so much different. I never really even considered that going out to eat was rare and even a luxury for most people in 1968. Air travel too of course.

      And what do people make of the reference to this 2006 study done by a NM scientist that is the genesis of the social distancing model, inspired by his daughter’s science project? Is this true? Are we in the midst of a huge social experiment? That can’t be all there is to this story. It seems common sensical that the fewer contacts everyone has, the less likely one is to be exposed to viruses. But is that actually true?

      1. MLTPB

        I don’t think people flew dressed like they were at the beach in 1969.

        Today, flying is so commonplace, it’s like walking down to the corner store.

        1. Duck1

          Well, in their defense, in many cases they were flying to the beach pre-covid. So cut the slobs some slack.

    8. Bsoder

      They don’t have an idea how many people died of the H3N1 in 1968-69, counting then was simply inept. The data are all over the place. I’m an expert and CV19 is much worse. Funny we have learned to suppress and when we do it, we step back an say “gee, not that many people died”. CV19 is neither like SARS nor H3N1. In the way The Godfather really wasn’t about olive oil. The SARS guys might argue they can create a vaccine based on the 20 protein similarity in the SARS family and you get a universal vaccine. The Corona guys (guys is guys and gals) say the same. Worth a try, but not my approach which is an anti-viral binding to a CV19 protein in a cell stopping reproduction. Works in the rats. Next step monkeys. (Transgenic).

      1. MLTPB

        No idea how many in 68 – 69?

        Was it just the US, or the West, or also applicable to the USSR and the Warsaw Pact nations as well?

        If CV 19 is worse, perhaps fewer cases there too, in 1969.

        1. Bernalkid

          Your moa seems to be giving assignments to the blog.
          Pro tip: google is your friend
          bring the results to us that your fertile mind seeks

      2. ewmayer

        1968-69 Kong Kong flu was H3N2 – see my note on that and the death rate estimate above.

    9. rd

      I think that demographics and their impacts on perception of disease has been over-looked. There are some interesting slides on the make-up fo the US population from 1940 to today:

      Since 1970, the median age has increased by nearly 10 years from 28.1 to 37.2 (2010). The percentage of the population over 65 has nearly doubled while the percentage over the age of 45 has increased significantly. Since most of these diseases hit older people harder, a higher percentage of the population that is older will greatly increase social concerns and require actions. Young people are less concerned about “old people’s” diseases as we saw during spring break.

      Medical advances and increased longevity (decreased smoking rates a major contributor) have also increased expectations that modern medicine can fix things like infectious disease, so it is shock when it can’t on a grand scale.

      The median age of the US barely budged from 1940-1980 (range of 28.1 to 30.0 years) but then started to climb after 1980. I wonder if the 1957 and 1969 pandemics had anything to do with restraining the increase by culling the elderly? We saw a decline in life expectancy over the past years due to the opiod crisis and we may see another decline now due to coronavirus.

    10. Goyo Marquez

      According to wikipedia the 100,000 was over a period of approx 18 months. In 3-4 months we’re at basically 90,000. Maybe that’s the difference.

  14. The Rev Kev

    “Less than a movie ticket or ‘impossible to overpay’? Experts name their price for remdesivir”

    Let’s see, Peter Bach – director of Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Center for Health Policy and Outcomes – said that a price tag of $1,000 is a fair price to pay and it is. Well, unless you are one of the thirty-odd million people that have lost their jobs that is. And you can’t pay your rent and are depending on food packages. And you can’t pay your utilities either. Then it may be tough. But look on the bright side. The cheque that people will maybe, possibly get from the government for $1,500 should pay for it. Unless the administration charge for the drug is not over $500 that is.

    1. MLTPB

      The inventor* of a free vaccine can have a place on Mt Rushmore?

      Maybe that can be the incentive?

      *flesh and blood personhood, or corporate personhood.

    2. Brian (another one they call)

      Were the remdesivir actually better than a placebo, the results would show it now. They don’t, but that won’t stop them peddling it. But that is moot now that the tests have been stopped without reasons? We have a serious problem in that generic drugs, used upon symptom development or a positive test, work better than anything so far. IF, given early. So we have preventatives, check.
      After symptoms, we have several generic drugs that appear to ease symptoms, check. We know passive oxygen is better than ventilator, after thousands of new ventilators have been sold. Plan is working, make money on fears.
      But what we don’t have is anyone in the medical industrial complex that will admit that a generic drug is going to be functional at all, and dog forbid superior, to the latest claim of big pharma on some super expensive new idea to repackage and claim this old expensive drug is different from the new expensive drug….
      Our failure rests on the belief that new is better. Who is dumb enough to believe that the claims from pharmanation are true? They want to talk to you if you do. They need volunteers to die willingly and spend large money for a panacea.
      For profit health care kills. The doctors know it, the government knows it, the world knows it. Is it only the people of America are stupid enough to belive the solution being offered?

    3. arte

      Based on the article, Gilead seems to be angling for a lump sum payment of sufficient size from all the governments of the world, and USA in particular, for a treatment that is now proven to work. The implied threat is that if the US government does not commit to buying, say, 100 million doses of the drug at the low, low price of $12.50 per dose – just a bit over 10 times the estimated production cost – well then, remdesivir doses will just have to be priced according to the market at $1000 per dose or even higher. Gilead needs to have a modest financial incentive to produce the drug, after all.

      But yeah. $1000 as the “sweet spot to ensure global access to remdesivir”? What a joke.

      1. ambrit

        Gilead may be the Big Pharma overreach that stirs some nation state actors to ditch the pharmaceutical proprietary product model. It doesn’t have to be the US.

        1. Procopius

          I hope so, but note that Martin Shkreli is no longer the CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, but Daraprim is still $750 a pill.

    4. Cuibono

      how would anyone know what it is worth since there are no published data and lots of monkeying around with said data.

  15. Oh

    US Senate passes Uygur Human Rights Policy Act

    What a bunch of hypocrites! Why don’t they first learn to practice human rights in the U.S.? How about closing Guantanamo? Stop caging “illegals” including children. Stop cops shooting black and brown people on the street. Stop the killing in the ME and across the world.

    1. edmondo

      So half the senators who were elected by making sure that poor, black and brown people never get close to a voting machine are concerned about the lack of human rights in China? How touching.

      1. Alex

        Are you seriously comparing difficulties of the minorities and poor in the US to those of the Uyghurs? It’s like the difference between facing obstacles in order to vote and not being able to vote at all.

        1. ambrit

          A matter of degree, not quality. Dead is dead, whether you are shot by a policeman on an American inner city street or shot trying to escape from a Chinese “re-education camp/sweatshop factory” complex.

          1. MLTPB

            You can bring up the US, and I have not once heard someone say, ‘What about of the Soviet Gulag?’

            Conversely, if you bring up the Soviet Gulag, do we say, ‘What about the US? ‘

            Maybe…because we ask more of ourselves, exceptionally more.

              1. ambrit

                Tell that to the American Neo-cons. They flog that putatively dead horse for all the prop-agit it is worth. The last three years in American politics have seen a ‘weaponized’ form of “Son of Soviet Union” fear mongering in support of a failed American politico.
                America has it’s own Gulag.

        2. fwe'zy

          It’s more like, if it were USA “inner city” minorities in armed separatist groups (never mind with ties to foreign governments), their entire city block would be bombed to smithereens (MOVE, Philadelphia). Similarly, Fred Hampton didn’t get thrown in a re-education camp. :/

    2. Olga

      Yes, yes, and yes – and that should be a clear indication that some other agenda is at work here.

      1. MLTPB

        The US is donating 200 ventilators to Russia, per VOA a day or 2 ago (not sure additional to the ones accepted by Ruusia in April or not).

        If so, what is the agenda then?

        1. ambrit

          Virtue signalling? The survival rate for ‘ventilated’ Covid-19 patients is very low.
          If I end up in that situation, I’ll demand hyperbaric oxygen treatment.
          Someone correct me if I am wrong, but I seem to remember that Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment was standard treatment for serious pneumonia patients before antibiotics became common.

        2. Olga

          I thought this was about Uyghurs. What does Russia have to do with it? Would a geography lesson help?

  16. Off The Street

    Go where the evidence leads.

    That used to be followed by credible journalists. The Jennifer Rubinesque variety go where the preconceived notions point. Whatever happened to journalistic integrity, or even editorial policy? Someone may be assigning her those stories, and reviewing them, so why aren’t more of that group being identified? Neo-Professional courtesy?

    1. John Wright

      Jennifer Rubin’s wikipedia page – – has this:

      “In August 2013, former Washington Post ombudsman Patrick Pexton criticized Rubin in an open letter from his new desk at the Washington City Paper, saying that he received more complaint emails about Rubin than any other Post employee. Writing that her columns were “at best … political pornography”, he said “Have Fred Hiatt, your editorial page editor—who I like, admire, and respect—fire opinion blogger Jennifer Rubin. Not because she’s conservative, but because she’s just plain bad.” Fred Hiatt, editorial page editor for the Post, responded in a statement to Politico, “I appreciate Patrick’s perspective but I think he is quite wrong about Jennifer Rubin. Regular readers of her blog know that she is an indefatigable reporter who is as hard on politicians on the right when she thinks they get things wrong as on the other side.””

      Per this, WaPo management supports Rubin, and has for a long time, despite criticism from fellow journalists and readers.

      Maybe the tagline of the Washington Post, “Democracy Dies in Darkness”, serves as a warning about the journalistic “Darkness” the WaPo is now providing?

      1. rowlf

        Wow, when I saw the Doonesbury/WaPo/Biden post above in comments I was thinking “Who bothers with WaPo? It’s just pundit porn.” I guess I was late to the party.

        How about “Dimming the lights of journalism” as a tagline?

      2. Paradan

        Someone here pointed out that the tagline isn’t a warning, it’s a mission statement.

    2. JBird4049

      >>>Whatever happened to journalistic integrity, or even editorial policy?

      It got “rightsized.” Like with all the retail chains that were taken over, hollowed out, and then given a shallow grave, most of the people in the news business were an impediment to the looting especially the best ones.

      Just as in retail, the media was always going to suffer in the brave new world of the internet, but the parasitic masters of the universe ensured their deaths when they might have made a successful, or at least survivable transition instead.

  17. Another Scott

    As someone who has been represented by Markey for his entire life, I think it shows just how little the left looks at actual policy that Markey has become a progressive campion. The biggest thing that he has pushed for over his career is deregulation: of electricity and telecommunications. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 resulted in increased media consolidation, lower quality of service, and higher prices.

    Let’s not forget him putting donors above voters in regards to electricity. In the 1990s, Congressman Markey was one of the biggest proponents of electricity, pausing only when Enron blew up. When he ran for Senate the first time, he was the largest recipient of energy money of any candidate nationwide; this largely came from independent power producers and retailers, two groups who have benefited enormously from his career. As a result of deregulation, his constituents, including me, continue some of the highest electric rates in the country. He also pushed for a cap-and-trade response to global warming.

    Very few Democrats in Congress have done as much to hurt the American people as much as Ed Markey, yet progressives seem very informed about it. When I told my friends about the Telecommunication Act of 1996 and the higher internet and cell bills resulting from it, all they could say is “I like the Green New Deal,” without having read the bill.

    This seems like a pattern in Massachusetts where a corporatist claims they are a progressive based upon a few policies while ignoring their record and past statements. Outside progressive groups and their money then embrace the corporatist. Meanwhile, challengers to Richard Neal get scant support.

    1. JBird4049

      This seems like a pattern in Massachusetts where a corporatist claims they are a progressive based upon a few policies while ignoring their record and past statements. Outside progressive groups and their money then embrace the corporatist. Meanwhile, challengers to Richard Neal get scant support.

      This is SOP. It is all about creating a funhouse full time of reality distorting mirrors which means not looking too deeply at what is being distorted.

      The propaganda of the past fifty years is left=liberal=neoliberal=progressive and actual leftism=Stalinism and liberalism=socialism and identity politics=civil rights with equality of identity being more important than equality or justice for the individual or a group. Having equality of opportunity and choices is less important than equality of identities forget about rights especially of food, clothing, shelter, and education.

      Those outside “progressive groups” ain’t progressive, but rather those wolves in sheep’s clothing working for the system and its power structure.

  18. lyman alpha blob

    Will the coronavirus mean the end of cash? Treehugger

    Well TreeHugger sure seems to think that would be a good idea. The author is “getting really tired of collecting all that change”. But I’d wager billions of people not ready to give up everything about their lives the surveillance state would disagree.

    And about TreeHugger. Never noticed the website before seeing it linked to here in recent years, and the sentiment of the articles I’ve seen posted here seems OK, if generally a little lacking on detail. But in the new Planet of the Humans documentary, it mentions that TreeHugger has ties to some pretty bad actors in the corporate world – IIRC the movie tied TreeHugger to the Koch brothers, but I was unable to make that particular connection through a quick search and I don’t have the time to rewatch the whole movie to verify my memory.

    But there are connections to be made. Checking the ‘About’ section on TreeHugger’s website tells you that they are “part of Narrative Content Group”. If you check Narrative Content Group’s website, you will find that “Narrative has worked with many of the world’s leading brands on a variety of content and marketing programs” immediately followed by a list of those brands which includes Coca Cola, CSX, Delta Airlines, Georgia Pacific, Johnson & Johnson, Miller-Coors, and Walmart, to name some from the list, with promo videos also included for a few of those companies.

    Now Narrative Content Group’s website also says that they are in turn a subsidiary of IAC, a media holding company, and that they sold TreeHugger just this year to DotDash, however they are also a subsidiary of IAC.

    I’ll let someone more interested in byzantine corporate architecture sort all that out, but it appears pretty safe to say that Treehugger is a small part of a large media conglomerate that has no problems promoting the interests of pretty bad corporate actors. In other words, greenwashing, which is exactly what Planet of the Humans was talking about – ostensible environmental groups being taken over by the corporate world.

    I’d take anything from TreeHugger with a full shaker of salt – clearly they have ulterior motives.

    1. MLTPB

      Perhaps we can be herb-huggers, shrub-huggers, or fern-huggers (all the non tree plants) instead?

    2. TXMama

      I take things written by many so-called environmental groups with a bucketful of salt. While I am in agreement with much of what they say, I am skeptical of their corporate sponsors’ goals. I don’t like being cynical, but I am reminded too often how I am not cynical enough. The part in Orwell’s 1984 about the anti-establishment bookshop being just a trap comes to mind.

    3. Rod

      lab—I can tell you are truly a citizen by the action you undertook and brought to share here, as I am sure you are sharing elsewhere.
      It is on Us to take it apart and rebuild it and you have just illustrated a small, but critical, action in that.

    4. Tomonthebeach

      NO. It will not kill cash, but it might finally kill that annoying and pointless “sign here” “press enter if ammount correct” “Enter pin now” nonsense. Has anybody ever, ever, protested an illicit charge and had a merchant protest by showing a signed sales slip? Me neither.

      1. skippy

        Does this qualify for the same thing Moore pointed out on his the awful truth show – those I expose still advertise during my show because of eyeballs demand it and they don’t care what the content is … such is the way of and mentality of advertising.

        1. ambrit

          Money is fungible.
          Cash is difficult to trace.
          Any electronic ‘platform’ is surveilable.

          ‘Life is pain.’ QED

    5. Lee Christmas

      RE: lyman alpha blob

      Your intrepid search seems to mesh well with Whitney Webb’s recent reporting on the pandemic response and its origins within the national security apparatus.

      Regardless of intention, the outcome seems to match well with the document produced form the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, from May 2019.

      A cashless society would not only suffocate the black market, but also the local markets of immigrant groups and the poor and indigent.

      Digital wallets would enable a full panopticon where not only your movements and online behaviour are tracked and logged, but all of your payments matched to your mobile. Unlike individual credit cards, where data must be purchased and aggregated, a digital wallet would be all your proverbial eggs in one basket.

      A mobile phone is paramount for tracking because unlike an IP address, which may not be static, or a single router allowing multiple connections, your mobile phone is easily linked to only one person.

      All of this begs the question, what for? To recreate the Chinese population’s total data dominance by their government, feeding their AI, but without the necessary “force” by which their citizens are coerced into giving their data. The whole brouhaha over Huawei is a thinly veiled attempt at making people examine their choices over who gets control of all this data, the U.S or China.

      1. ambrit

        And nowhere is it debated about the individual keeping personal sovereignty.
        Of interest is the non-interest in private corporations possessing this data. One could infer from such a state of affairs that the corporations are now co-equal with the nation states.
        This highlights one benefit of poverty, the supposed incentive to be telephoneless. However, I have seen that some of the charity groups include in their beneficent policies, the provision of a cheap telephone to the homeless. Even a cynical, conspirationaly minded codger like me will not assume bad intent on the part of the charities for this. Telephonic connectivity has come to define Civic Engagement today.
        Forget about thinking outside of the box. Now it is time to think outside of the society.

        1. JBird4049

          I am all for cash, but in this kerfuffle over cash or electronic payments, has anyone noticed just how increasingly decrepit, even nonfunctional, much of our infrastructure has become? During the last big fires when PG&E was cutting off power to entire counties for “safety” reasons there were areas that got a complete cellphone blackout because the cellphone towers only had limited battery power as a backup. After half a night, no cellphone service for the best part of a week. The landlines still worked.

          Similar problems exist for roads, sewer, transportation, water, power. Everything that has not been maintained, never mind expanded for the increasing population, for decades, which is our entire infrastructure. There are areas of the country that basically has no, or very expensive and slow, internet connections. When the Big One finally hits California (and it is overdue) it will likely be a cash only society for weeks. Or if there are repeated tremors, maybe some months, until the electrical grid and communications are repaired.

          So this talk about the techno future, the internet, a cashless society, and other gee wiz stuff is foolish.

          1. ambrit

            Another aspect I encounter with regularity concerning cash or card is the ubiquity of the bank fees added to the transaction. Even though pegged onto the vendor’s side of the exchange, that fee will be added to the customer’s bill somehow. The direct example of this I encounter is the policy of inescapable transactions such as the electric company and city hall around here to add the percentage charged them by the bank as a surcharge to any card payment. the local Driver’s License Office gives a percentage discount on your License and Tag fees for cash transactions.
            So, the cynic in me sees this ‘cashless society’ program as yet another enclosure movement.

  19. allan

    Joe Kennedy III Wants You to Know He’s More Than Just a Name [Boston Magazine]

    While some might criticize him for being an empty suit who is challenging Ed Markey
    for no visible policy reasons, you have to admit young Joe III gives good word salad:

    “There is an awful lot of opportunity that comes with being a senator from Massachusetts,” he said, “and with due respect to Senator Markey, who is a good man, there’s more to this job than the way you vote and the bills that you file. It comes with an ability to leverage that platform to address the issues we’re talking about and, with due respect to the senator, if you’re not going to leverage that now, given what is at stake for the Democratic Party, for the values that we hold dear in our commonwealth, that have been targeted by this administration literally from day one, if you’re not doing it now, then when?”

    Archimedes, 230 B.C.E: Give me a lever long enough and I will move the world.

    JFK III, 2020 C.E.: Leverage that platform to address the issues.

    That Kennedy is leading Markey in recent polls does not reflect well on the electorate.

  20. The Rev Kev

    “Coronavirus latest: China’s attitude makes trade hard, Australia warns”

    I think that I can understand China’s thoughts here. If it was a straight scientific examination of the origins of this virus then fair enough. But the people really pushing it are Trump and Pompeo and they don’t do science. I read a week or two ago that there is a push for an inspection regime for such biological outbreaks. If so, then it would probably be modeled on the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). The same ones that have been caught editing and falsifying scientific reports to make it sound like Syria launched gas attacks from stocks they got rid of several years ago and not Turkish-supplied Jihadists.

    What would also raise suspicions for China is that the OPCW has been given the legal power to judge who committed chemical attacks and they have already been using this new power by accusing Syria of these attacks. So let us set up the scenario. A new organization is set up called, say, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Biological Weapons and their first mission is to be sent to China. After a brief visit to the labs, they come out with a report that it is all China’s fault. Based on this report, whether true or not, Trump gooses the other nations to cancel sovereign immunity for China so that every country can sue China for trillions in compensation. No way will China let this scenario go ahead if possible.

    1. MLTPB

      1. As of now, the first case was in Hubei. An investigation might confirm or find a new country of origin,

      2. An alternative propsoal by Beijing can be to begin an international ivestigation by now..conducted by a group with people all over that Xi can help put together.

    2. Ignacio

      I think this is not a Pompeo/Trump thing. It goes well beyond the lunatics and it is really necessary to do the much needed research if we want to prevent new outbreaks. But, nothing about this was in the article!

      1. Susan the other

        On another link Ignacio, since you’re here: A human monoclonal antibody blocks Covid infection. There are 4 Covid S protein sites. w. identical primary amino acid sequences which commonly bind the human angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) protein as a host receptor site. The Covid S-1B domain is the specific site on the S protein. This human receptor interaction is known to trigger irreversible “irreversible conformational changes in the CoV2-S protein which enables membrane fusion” i.e. what we might call last-minute lock-on. Sounds like those S-protein domains (A-D) don’t actually finalize their morphology until they find their site and then they conform. So with all this in mind – here’s my question: Why isn’t one good treatment for Covid-19 to simply flood the human system with ACE-2 look alike proteins – baffle the S-protein and save the lungs from overwhelming attack. Or alternatively, give everybody a bottle of ARBs (angiotensin receptor blockers). Take two a day and call me in the morning. Just FYI, I’m pretty sure I had a nasty bout of Covid-19 but it was entirely intestinal, not even a tiny difficulty with shortness of breath. Just pure, very painful diarrhea – it was an entirely different animal from the everyday variety. Complete with bone shuddering chills, headache, dark urine, muscle aches and more. But my most susceptible vital organs (and I’m 74) – heart and lung – weren’t hurt. And yes, I take an ARB (losartan).

        1. Ignacio

          That approach could be by itself very problematic. ACE2 plays a role in the regulation of blood pressure and playing with it (blocking it) could cause lots of trouble, cardiovascular trouble. It is much better strategy to go for the S1 protein as a target.

  21. Shelton

    Am I missing something, or is that NY Post article comparing the 1969 HK flu and the coronavirus spectacularly stupid?

    The 1969 flu killed around 100,000 Americans over the course of two years with virtually no defensive measures (social distancing, etc.) taken. The coronavirus is expected to have killed 100,000 Americans within 4 months (with more deaths to come) notwithstanding drastic preventive measures.

    COVID-19 is much more contagious than the 1969 flu was.

    1. Clive

      Statistics are easy to get wrong, or draw wrong conclusions from due to lack of sensitivity analysis.

      The population of the US in 1968 was 200 million. Now, it’s 330 million. So you have to adjust the estimates for excess deaths between the two infections accordingly.

      That, of course, is just one example. If the deaths due to Hong Kong flu hit the young as hard as COVID-19 hits the old, it has a much more significant impact on average life expectancy. Or the rate of infections can be lower in one compared to the other, but the mortality rate is higher. And so on.

    2. Eureka Springs

      Off the top of my head. In ’69 population was what, almost half of today’s? Definitely spread out, much more rural. Antibiotics probably worked better and health care (a quick scrip) was much less expensive.

      Since the rich in the west got this virus first I suspect that has more to do with what precautionary measures have been taken this time.

      1. pricklyone

        My small city in IL could be considered more rural now than in 1969.
        Late 60’s population was ~40,000, and had several large manufacturing plants, now pop. is ~20,000 , all the plants died in the ’70s into the ’80s, and we have a dying mall, hospitals, and a million insurance agents, along with a “Tractor Supply” and a “Farm and Home”, which we never had before. Oh, and Payday loans & dollar stores
        Reality, of course, is that when MFG died, we were a “bedroom community” for STL, and with “white flight”, we are non-viable. So sad for us…..

    3. Carolinian

      Undoubtedly, given asymptomatic spread, Covid is more contagious than other forms of flu but that isn’t really the question. The question is: is it more deadly, and assuming that it is, then how much more? Some would say the jury is still out on that question and that jury still out thing is what you are missing.

      I was around in 1969, and while I undoubtedly wasn’t paying much attention I wasn’t aware until now that there was a flu epidemic back in 1969. One thing that is undoubtedly different now is the vast media attention being paid to the disease. On that too, I’d say, the jury is still out.

      And finally here’s suggesting today’s New Republic deep dive–No Vaccine in Sight–is worth a read. It’s about how the gospel of intellectual property has corrupted pharma and may be a another reason why we are in more trouble than in 1969.

      1. Jason Boxman

        It’s actually a microcosm of what Stoller discusses in his book, Goliath: The 100-Year War Between Monopoly Power and Democracy, which is definitely worth a read.

      2. Carolinian

        BTW now that I’ve had time to read the article here’s what it says

        While it’s way too soon to compare the numbers, H3N2 has so far proved deadlier than COVID-19. Between 1968 and 1970, the Hong Kong flu killed between an estimated one and four million, according to the CDC and Encyclopaedia Britannica, with US deaths exceeding 100,000. As of this writing, COVID-19 has killed more than 295,000 globally and around 83,000 in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University. But by all projections, the coronavirus will surpass H3N2’s body count even with a global shutdown.[…]

        The virus rarely made front-page news. A 1968 story in the Associated Press warned that deaths caused by the Hong Kong flu “more than doubled across the nation in the third week of December.” But the story was buried on page 24. The New York Post didn’t publish any stories about the pandemic in 1968, and in 1969, coverage was mostly minor, like reports of newly married couples delaying honeymoons because of the virus and the Yonkers police force calling in sick with the Hong Kong flu during wage negotiations.

        In other words the article a) concedes that Covid may well prove worse although it has a way to go to equal worldwide deaths and b) is really comparing the public and official and press response.

        Seems like a legitimate lookback to me…..

        1. pricklyone

          2017 flu season:

          How many here were taking strict precautions, during flu season?
          This doesn’t make the CoV-19 any less of an event, but where are the
          headlines during an event which killed 80,000?
          CoV-19 is dangerous, because of what we don’t know. Flu is an old enemy.
          We do need to remember that the numbers are ADDITIONAL deaths, to the Flu numbers.

          1. Yves Smith

            The official count is widely acknowledged to be an undercount. NYC alone had 24,000 excess deaths March 11 to May 2. You need to gross up the official figures by 50% to be closer to reality.

    4. curlydan

      It was indeed pretty stupid to compare a 2-year virus with no social distancing and 100K deaths to one with heavy social distancing and certainly more than 100K deaths in a mere 3-4 months.

      Despite our weak efforts in the U.S. with social distancing and mask wearing, we’ve still taken a disease that should spread exponentially and made that spread linear. So we’ve done somewhat well there. Where we’ve failed and continue to fail is to crush the disease to manageable and traceable levels like many other countries have successfully done.

      Maybe The Post should try to imagine an America in 2020 with nightly concerts, NCAA basketball tournaments, 16 MLB baseball games a day, universities and public schools open and oh yeah, a deadly virus roaming the streets, stadiums, concert venues, and schools at the same time. That’s the valid comparison to 68-69. 2020 in that comparison would be a bloodbath. Under that 2020 scenario, the “Miracle” for the Mets is if they’d all still be alive by the end of the season or even have any fans. The “Moon Landing” would be the ultra rich ready to blast off from this hell hole.

      1. MLTPB

        Remembering 1968 &1969.

        In 68,

        Prague Spring
        Tet Offensive
        Student protests all over the world

        In 69

        Last public concert by the Beatles
        Debut of Boeing 747
        Moon landing

      2. Carolinian

        I’m not following your logic. They didn’t have to imagine such a thing; they are reporting on on such a time and a disease that killed–worldwide–between 1 and 4 million people. Your assertion that Covid will be more deadly in the end or would be without the lockdowns is just an assertion.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          I think we should breathlessly publicize every death from every cause far and wide on every social channel. And then, globally, have a think about what caused them and what to do next. Let’s start with starvation: 25,000 people die per day. “Today a seven-year old child named Mohammed died in South Sudan because he had not eaten anything in a month”. The experts tell us those deaths are solveable, today, but nobody is proposing a World War-sized mobilization and complete economic shutdown to solve them. In India, with a total of 800 Covid deaths, they have an economic lockdown and financial apocalypse. But this year there will be approx 450,000 deaths in India by a different virus: tuberculosis. If I was a tuberculosis particle I’d be asking “what am I, chopped liver?”. So by all means, let’s get hysterical. But can we do it without the need for a shiny, new, highly-politicized boogieman?

        2. curlydan

          I’m mainly saying that comparing the HK flu of 68-69 to COVID-19 is not very helpful, especially on mortality. They are very different mainly because we have a huge lockdown helping to suppress mortality whereas that did not happen in 68-69.

          If we want a direct comparison, then we have to imagine a 68-69 with a huge lockdown or a 2020 with no lockdown scenario. Otherwise, we’re comparing apples and oranges.

    5. Olga

      Two things (at least) were missing from that picture – globalisation on steroids we now have (much less of an issue back then) and the fear of getting into debt because of a visit to a hospital. But the other differences are certainly worth a deeper look.

  22. carl

    Nice to read some more Michael Pollan. He’s really good on the industrial food system, but the obligatory expression of hope that we’ll change at the end is, to put it mildly, based on wishful thinking.

  23. expose

    And yet hospital personnel still went to work; grocery employees still went to work; gas station employees still went to work; truckers kept driving and providing supplies; Amazon still worked; the USPS still delivered mail, and on and on. Water and electricity were still working. Drive through and food prep/delivery services were still working.

    Liquor stores were still open; hardware stores were open; marijuana stores were open; drugstores were open; car repair shops were open. Plumbing and electric services were still available.

    To say that 31 million lost their jobs because they would have been sick anyway is nonsense.

      1. ocop

        Looks like the same handle 1 minute apart. Infiltration and subversive manipulation via the dreaded double post

  24. The Rev Kev

    “People Hated Masks During the Last Pandemic Too”

    People also hated chocking to death on their own blood so they wore the masks anyway. As 675,000 Americans died in this pandemic, most survivors would have known someone who had been killed by it. Most did not need convincing about the need for masks then. I knew that San Francisco had a great response to the first wave of the virus but a terrible response in the second wave leading to mass deaths and this article explains why.

    1. Bsoder

      My great grandfather died of it, my grandmother on my mother’s side, it really screwed up her life for a long time.

  25. WTTR

    “Coronavirus is more like polio – a very infectious disease which hits one smaller section of the population particularly hard and will keep coming back until we find a vaccine.”

    I came across a very interesting comparison between 1916 and 2014 deaths in Ireland on the Central Statistics Office website. It shows that 54 % of the deaths were aged 55 and over in 1916 compared with 90% in 2014. Deaths were higher in all age groups up to age 55 in 1916.

    The improvement in longevity is a result of medical advancement resulting in greatly decreased numbers dying from tuberculosis, bronchitis, pneumonia, meningitis, encephalitis and the complete avoidance of deaths from measles, scarlet fever, whooping cough and diphtheria.

    The over 85 age group saw an improvement in longevity from 6.2% deaths to 32.8%. However, the main reason for this improvement would be down to mankind getting to grips with more efficiently handling the increase in private and public finances resulting from the advancement in international trade.

    The medical area would be prime beneficiaries of the extra finance and taxation raised from the successful public and financial spheres.

    The worrying aspect is that the capitalist system which has created such benefits operates very much on the margins e.g. a month’s lost turnover could wipe out annual profits and associated taxation. It is quite conceivable that the current world shutdown will become unmanageable. Many businesses operate normally on an knife edge; we are hearing that many businesses will not be reopening.

    Our financial and public leaders have made massive mistakes since the turn of the millennium in connection with the property price scene; culminating in our 2008-10 property burst. We are left with massive related public and private debt; much of which will leave the country via International Vulture sharks as it is paid off. Investments in national housing should have been financed from our local economy and not from foreign borrowing. As it is, much of the associated property taxes went to finance higher civil service salaries, which we are still stuck with.

    We are rightfully hearing from Kristalina Georgieva, director of the International Monetary Fund, she is warning us that the economic fallout from coronavirus is already “way worse than the global financial crisis of 2008.” This in a scenario when most coronavirus deaths are being diagnosed as being caused by the virus and not from an underlying condition, which the vast majority of them are diagnosed with.

    The real worry is that when demand collapses in one country; such agencies as the IMF, the World Bank can be a conduit for the rest of the world to help. But this time, this natural safety valve will not work, because the customary creditor nations are themselves in trouble from shutdowns. Neither, do I see how a Marshall type plan as recently advocated by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen would work either; trying to get it to work will only widen the already opening chasms of disagreement between member countries. If such a plan is to work, it will need to be done by a massive international debt forgiveness and quantitative easing programme.

    I could never understand, how modern society can outline services that are considered essential. This is a very short-sighted way of looking at the overall financial and social economy. As mentioned already, it is the relative success of internal and international trade that mainly is the reason why advances in medicine has greatly improved our health.

    The destruction of our economy with the laying-off what are termed non-essential workers (very demeaning) is flying in the face of advancement in economic and social thinking e.g. starting with Aesop’s fable “the belly and the members”. Your quote above could be self-fulfilling, plus the revival of other illnesses because of the mass slowdown in trade and the massive fall off in associated taxation – much of which finances the medical establishment.

    1. Procopius

      The real worry is that when demand collapses in one country; such agencies as the IMF, the World Bank can be a conduit for the rest of the world to help.

      ????? I’m sorry, but in what world is an entity named “IMF,” or “World Bank,” actually established to help? I’ve seen what they did in Thailand in 1997, and have read extensively about what they did in Portugal, Italy, Greece, and Spain in 2010 and following. It does not look to me like they were “helping.” “Helping” is not what they were created for.

    1. Bsoder

      Except if postive you have to really need to be quarantined away from home with others so inflicted. You can’t wait to see if you killed your family, wife, fellow folks in the commune, whatever. It’s the one truth China has told.

      1. ShamanicFallout

        Probably, in this country, why, if you had say a home test and tested positive, many would not disclose. Where are you going to go? Get dragged out of your house to some isolation unit? Go bankrupt even if you have ‘insurance’? And what about some one like me? I have a five year old daughter and her mom, my wife, died two years ago. I am her only potential care giver. If I were positive what do you think I should do? If I were ‘isolated’ where would my daughter go? Is America full of these kinds of places? If they were I can’t imagine what they would be like. Not going to happen.

        1. Amfortas the hippie


          that’s what immediately came to mind when i learned about the proposed tactic of isolating the positives somewhere away from home.
          latin american dictators…historia officionale…sigh…
          think i’ll take a walk(or a hobble)

  26. anon in so cal

    Lingering long-term economic effects of pandemics (apologies if this has already been posted):

    “Coronavirus Economic Effects Might Last Decades, UC Davis Research Suggests
    Economists Studied 12 Pandemics Occurring Since the 14th Century”

    By Karen Nikos-Rose on April 2, 2020 in Society, Arts & Culture

    “he economy could be suffering the effects of the coronavirus for decades, suggest economists at the University of California, Davis, who researched the financial effects of pandemics dating back to the 14th century.

    “If the trends play out similarly in the wake of COVID-19 — adjusted to the scale of this pandemic — the global economic trajectory will be very different than was expected only a few weeks ago,” the authors wrote in a working paper published this week. “Pandemics are followed by sustained periods — over multiple decades — of depressed investment opportunities.”

    Òscar Jordà, Sanjay Singh and Alan M. Taylor, all professors in the Department of Economics, concluded in their paper that the pandemic will likely depress real rates of return, lead to small increases in real wages and weigh on investment. A real rate of return is an annual percentage of profit earned on an investment, adjusted for inflation.”

      1. Massinissa

        In that context, change ‘decades’ to ‘for as long as the current Capitalist system continues’.

        I give it a few decades tops. If Capitalism is brought to its knees just by this coronavirus, it won’t make it through climate change without, for better or for worse, turning into something unrecognizable.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      but not unexpected.
      (being a Doomer, and all)
      add in the psychological, sociological and emotional…and philosophical…fallout, too.
      such a rapid economic collapse will have an effect.
      reckon we’re all still in shock at the moment…holding our breath for “Normal” to come back.
      Next is “Anger”…which should be fun.

    2. periol

      Honestly, I just think this is a couple of economists pretending the economy wasn’t already in the ICU before COVID-19 hit. Oh, it’s the PANDEMIC that’s going to make things worse for everyone, not the fact that neoliberalism and globalization have been brutally squeezing every last dime of profit from everything that can possibly be commoditized.

      I actually think the sudden nature of the lockdown and massive job loss will be better for us in the long run than the long, slow descent into neo-feudalism would have been. There may be a fighting chance at making things better now.

    3. cnchal

      Decades? How ridiculous. One of the greatest Democratic minds has spoken and Rahm has a solution to mass unemployment. Coupons for coding. In six months you too can become a coder and cyber security expert.

      That the host of the show, George Stephanopolous and the other three members were stunned into silence is an indication of the brilliance of the plan.

  27. Ignacio

    That antidote must be a lesser kestrel, isn’t it?. Their flying style is superb.

  28. Tomonthebeach

    We should empower Medicare to pay all of the medical bills of the uninsured.

    That is another way of saying “Let the elderly pay for welfare.”

    Maybe someday in the future if M4A becomes a tax on all, but right now, we retirees pay a fat monthly premium for Part B that pays for everything but hospitalization – the latter comes from Part A with sucks money out of the SSA trust. Essentially, right now, you are just ripping off your grandparents.

    1. Susan the other

      I’ve been thinking that if the Supremes set a precedent to sanction “faithless electors” they could easily take on faithless senators and representatives. The entire electorate elects them – not just their big donors. And a majority of Americans now wants M4A. Faithless indeed.

    2. Oregoncharles

      It would have to be budgeted separately, using Medicare as a payment mechanism.

    3. HotFlash

      Tom, the real solution is Medicare for all, of course. But since seniors are disproportionately affected (ie, killed) by corona virus, and since M4A seems impossible, at least for now, which is when there is a pandemic raging, seniors may consider it simple self-preservation to insist that Medicare cover all uninsured so as to ensure that they get proper testing and treatment. For instance, many seniors encounter service workers such as grocery clerks, health care workers, taxi drivers, etc., who as a group are largely uninsured, have no sick time, have been declared essential, and mostly cannot afford to not show up for work.

      Perhaps these workers’ employers should cover it? But you must be aware that private insurance is *much* more expensive than Medicare, and those costs would be passed back to you, the customer. In your shoes, I’d take the Medicare deal.

      1. ambrit

        I’m getting the feeling that the Medicare For All drive is a gaslight program. It has supplanted any mention of true National Health for America under the argument, generally trotted out to validify some lesser program, that the optimal programs will be “impossible” to implement, etc. etc.
        We have been navigating Medicare with Phyl’s cancer woes and can attest to the thoroughly Neo-liberalized nature of that beastie. Co-pays and deductibles abound. Even with Medicare, we have been facing medical bankruptcy on several fronts. Don’t even mention Medicaid, which is a sick joke at the best of times. Essentially, Medicare is a State run medical insurance system. Time to get rid of the “insurance” part of the equation.
        National Health. Accept no substitutes.

        1. MLTPB

          The one in England is the 2nd largest in the world.

          Brazil’s Unified Health Sysyem is the largest ( from Wikipedia.)

          Are you still a Brit?

          1. ambrit

            Technically, I can claim dual citizenship, but now, as I look at the ongoing train wreck that is Brexit, I am given pause to any repatriation ideas I may have had.

    4. marym

      M4A bills have always proposed at least a 1 or 2 year transition. Sanders has been consistently saying that as a response to the current emergency we can’t get M4A now, but we have to ensure everyone has medical care.

      This is an emergency proposal to use the Medicare billing and payment infrastructure. Funding would be appropriated by Congress. Pelosi chose instead to include a proposal in the recent House bill to fund insurance company profits some COBRA payments instead.

  29. ChrisAtRU


    17 Across. Involuntary Euthanasia

              |T |
              |E |
              |O |
    |__|__| R |__| E | R |
              | I |
    … to b fair, the article doesn’t mince words, but the lede shouldn’t absolve the perpetrators and proponents of the horrid scheme.

    1. ambrit

      Social Darwinism makes a comeback, which is natural considering the trajectory of the West’s socio-political development.
      “Forward, into the past!”

    1. Massinissa

      My reaction is mostly, Lolwut?

      “The centre said people don’t need to wear masks outside, but still should avoid close contact with others.”

      Yes, social distancing *in Beijing*, one of the most populous cities in the world. Sounds super easy.

  30. HotFlash

    If we really intended to protect our citizens, we’d have a lockdown with meaningful financial and medical support.

    Therefore we may conclude that we don’t really intend to protect our citizens.

    1. polecat

      We all know that it’s only those Citizens who are United that count .. as being the undead – fully protected!

      Supremes included.

  31. Biologist

    From the Guardian: Heathrow boss urges plan to restart flights between low-risk countries
    You can’t make this shit up:

    Holland-Kaye suggested there should be a “free flow” of passengers between the UK and countries that have low risks of transmission.


    He said: “I think that if the UK government, with one of the biggest aviation sectors in the world, were to get together with the European Union and the United States, between them they have the heft and the global, diplomatic and economic power to set that international standard….”

    On what planet is he living? What has he smoked to honestly think that the UK has a low risk of transmission, or will do so in the near future? I suppose he got high on the usual English supply of thinking this is the best country in the world, combined with an utter inability to consider other countries’ points of view. Countries with better success fighting this epidemic might not be so keen on restarting flights with virus-ridden England.

  32. Oregoncharles

    “Why American life went on as normal during the killer pandemic of 1969”
    Get hold somehow of the June “Discover” magazine and turn to page 10-11. On the left is “History of Pandemics,” a timeline receding into the past; on the right is “Death Toll,” with the various pandemics visualized as prickly balls in various colors. Far and away the largest is black – counting only Europe. Partly because the numbers are already old, Covid-19 barely shows up. The Hong Kong flu is pretty small.

    Personal testimony: I was in my early twenties then; 1968-69 looms large in my memory, but I barely remember the Hong Kong flu. The Year of Rebellion, Woodstock, and an extremely chaotic election loom much larger. I think present day 20 somethings will remember Covid-19 all too well.

    I and my wife are now in the high-risk category and as deeply quarantined as we can manage, so I’m not making light of the risks. I am saying that pandemics are part of life. As the timeline makes plain, they come along regularly; if we’re going to react like this, it’s going to happen a lot.

    I would also argue that policies like globablization have greatly magnified the impact; if pandemics are part of life, maybe we should rethink some of those policies.

    1. Oregoncharles

      And a local report: Oregon, which has gotten off relatively lightly, is in the process of opening up, in stages.

      We’ve been deferring some purchases; so our son headed to the building supply stores yesterday. They were jammed – so much so that they weren’t answering the phone. He turned back. Judging by the handy indicator on Google Maps (and how do they generate that?), they still are.

      That’s an easily overlooked effect of restrictions: they concentrate the impact when they’re lifted. They can do that geographically, too: the recreation places that are NOT closed get flooded.

      And although there’ve been 6 deaths in the county, OSU’s random-sample project (n=1000, about, so far) has yet to find a case. Fingers crossed.

      1. rd

        I usually turn off my “Location” on my cell phone when I am not travelling so I can’t be easily tracked by Google and Apple. However, I have made an exception in this shutdown so that my phone can be part of the analysis they are doing on social distancing. The primary thing it would tell the marketing group is that I rarely leave my neighborhood (my car battery actually had to be jumped last week because it had sat without being used for so long).

        1. anon in so cal

          I wish there was location tracking for my iPhone. I’ve even offered a tracking fee to the police dept, no takers.

  33. Oregoncharles

    From the Pollan article: ” The retail food chain links one set of farmers to grocery stores, and a second chain links a different set of farmers to institutional purchasers of food, such as restaurants, schools, and corporate offices.” (Apparently it’s the “institutional” chain that’s now broken.)

    This is an example of monopolization. In principle, ag commodities go into an auction of sorts; that’s roughly what “commodity” means. It shouldn’t make a bit of difference what “chain” they’re meant for. Two separate food chains mean that it’s by contract, no auction, hence difficult to switch from one destination to the other. That should probably be illegal.

    And incidentally – don’t know yet if Pollan addresses this – there’s a 3rd “chain”: organically grown. It has to be kept separate end-to-end, so there can easily be plenty of it, or shortages, when the other chains are blocked up. I’m not seeing shortages at the Co-op, though they did suspend large-unit purchasing for now, to prevent hoarding.

  34. occasional anonymous

    The Carrier is Vulnerable and Obsolete’ according to 100 years worth of military journals Duffelblog

    This article is brutal and bitter even by the usual standards of Duffelblog. Especially this shot at Andrew Bacevich:

    “The latest edition of Defense Tropes Quarterly will feature dozens of time-honored and thoroughly unoriginal articles from mediocre thinkers. One article will argue for a return to the draft to curb US military adventurism abroad. The thinly-sourced article will rely on the singular case study of the Vietnam War, which went on for nearly two decades with massive casualties in no small part because the draft provided the US with virtually unlimited manpower.

    An advance copy also shows the article will completely divorce the Vietnam War from any greater historical context, including the immense social upheaval in the United States during the 1960s as well as the overall strategy of containment during the Cold War.

    The article is also expected to claim that a draft would force Americans to think twice about using military force abroad by forcing the wealthiest 1 percent to serve, even though that totally did not happen the last time the US had a draft and is one of the main reasons the US abolished the draft.”

    1. rd

      Historically, militaries were greatly impacted by unexpected weapons and tactics. Pickett’s Charge largely showed that massed infantry against modern weapons was not a good match. The Europeans did not learn that lesson from the US Civil War, so the machine gun meant that WW I was stalemated very quickly as the generals on both sides had little imagination and just kept throwing troops at machine guns and artillery. Aircraft and aircraft carriers made battleships effectively obsolete early in WW II. IEDs generated numerous casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan and forced the US Army to focus on alternative energy sources for outposts once they realized that fuel convoys were purpose-built to be blown up by IEDs.

      It would not surprise me if the Chinese have something up their sleeve for dealing with aircraft carriers if there was a shooting war. The Iranians are also probably trying to work up something as well.

      1. juno mas

        Aircraft carriers are for projecting power not defending the actual homelands. When you’re attempting to police the world they’re useful; but still vulnerable.

    2. JBird4049

      From what I can see from the Civil War through the Second World War, the sons of elite families very often served. True, they often got prestigious safe positions far to the rear, but they also often serve where the fighting was. It is not the existence or not of a draft because the wealthy almost always have connections to do what they want, but it was less acceptable to hide away from the danger.

      Much like how the c-suite crowd and the wealthy elites were not willing to destroy companies, cities, and whole states just for last bit of profit, but today are monstrous psychopaths seemingly willing to sell their own children for profit.

      There is no shame now for being parasites.

  35. chuck roast

    Cuba’s Resilience Through Economic Crisis

    Written by a true believer. Nevertheless, it touches that Vinceremos spirit that is lost but not forgotten. Thanks for that.

  36. Roady

    May 16th had the Biggest single-day jump in Texas COVID-19 cases partially due to outbreak in Amarillo.

    City officials stated in a news release that this increase is because of an increase of testing volume in the community, including testing conducted by the Texas National Guard at the Tyson meatpacking plant in Potter County. Testing at the Tyson plant consists of 3,587 of the total 12,313 conducted COVID-19 tests reported to the public health department, according to the release.

    The stakes are plain for the processors of plain steaks on the Llano Estacado.

  37. Alice X

    So, I just time traveled back from 2120 and while I appreciate the many perspicacious comments, I’d like to set the as of yet future record straight.

    CoV was never tamed and became endemic. The Capitalists reclaimed the planet though there was persistent fatalities from the virus. Environmental degradation and the toll from climate chaos continued, and increased.

    Then in 2070 the big one hit. A virus with extreme infectiousness and near 98% CFR.

    The very damaged planet rebounded somewhat, minus the millions of extinct species.

    The remaining humans scattered. Et moi, I am dreaming.

    1. JBird4049

      IIRC, humans have gone through at least two near extinction events. As a species we have little genetic diversity. Chimpanzees have more genetic diversity. So losing 98% of our population would be the same old, same old except the last time we were down to maybe less than 20,000 people planet wide. It was very knife edged.

  38. anon in so cal

    Excellent essay by John Helmer, of Dances with Bears, on Covid-19 in Russia, and the lost lessons of Thucydides.

    “It is therefore surprising that so many pundits, even the Russia-hate specialist Anne Applebaum, think to publish an interpretation of the sociology of the plague of ancient Athens, circa 430 BC; and taking Thucydides as their source, give lectures on how much the European and American societies can learn from him on Covid-19, but have failed to learn to date.

    At the same time as they depend on Thucydides for their lessons, they ignore the very first of his – that was his dismissal of the source and cause of the plague among the foreign enemies of the ancient Athenians. In other words, Thucydides wouldn’t be blaming China and Russia for Covid-19 now any more than he blamed the Spartans then.”

  39. Ren

    Yes Mr Sanders you’re right about Medicare. But you see, the people of your country don’t really want that. They are voting for Biden not you.

  40. VietnamVet

    I have no memories of the 68-69 Asian flu pandemic or anyone getting sick or any hospitals being swamped. Late February 1969 I caught rubella/measles in Basic Training, but I have no memory of my week hospitalization that got me out of crawling under barbed wire as machine guns fired overhead. COVID-19 is the exact opposite. Hospitals were overwhelmed in China, Europe and NY State. Today there is no public health system. CDC is sidelined. The extent and spread of the virus are unknown. The NY city, NY state and the federal government initial response was a failure. The closing of borders and lockdown was too late. There is no federal directed testing, tracing or isolation of the infected.

    I have absolutely no idea how dangerous it is to go outside, but I am too old to risk it. Until there are no new coronavirus cases for two weeks in the most severely impacted county in Maryland, I am imprisoned in my home without an ankle bracelet. But still I am hugely lucky. My monthly government pension has been deposited so far, Amazon delivers, but no federal income tax refund or my economic impact payment yet. I have yet to receive Maryland’s June 2nd primary mail ballot. I am going stir crazy but not coughing. COVID-19 is clearly more dangerous and has a much greater impact than measles or the seasonal flu. It triggered the Greatest Depression.

  41. John Anthony La Pietra

    America’s corporate elite must stop treating coronavirus as an obstacle to profit [Guardian]

    Or as a chance for profiteering, either.

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