Links 5/27/2020

Dino-dooming Asteroid Hit Earth At ‘Deadliest Possible’ Angle Barron’s. So there’s hope?

America’s Never-Ending Battle Against Flesh-Eating Worms The Atlantic

Loon stabs bald eagle to death Live Science

Aging Dams, Changing Climate: A Dangerous Mix Weather Underground

Siberian Heatwave Points to a Longer Wildfire Season Bloomberg

An Intuitive (and Short) Explanation of Bayes’ Theorem Better Explained. If you say so….


The science:

SARS-CoV-2 Reverse Genetics Reveals a Variable Infection Gradient in the Respiratory Tract Cell. Musical interlude.

* * *


AP-NORC poll: Half of Americans would get a COVID-19 vaccine Associated Press

Why Immunity to the Novel Coronavirus Is So Complicated Smithsonian

First results from human COVID-19 immunology study reveal universally effective antibodies Rockefeller University

* * *


Indonesia, major advocate of hydroxychloroquine, told by WHO to stop using it Straits Times

* * *


A cluster of coronavirus cases was reported in Arkansas after a swim party CNN. According to the governor. No case study I can find.

How one COVID-19 case at St Augustine’s Hospital led to 135 infections within 51 days – report KRISP. South Africa.

World Health Organization warns of ‘second peak’ in areas where COVID-19 declining NBC

New research rewrites history of when Covid-19 took off in the U.S. — and points to missed chances to stop it STAT

Covid-19 Flares Up in America’s Polluted ‘Sacrifice Zones’ WIred

* * *

Testing and tracing:

SARS-CoV-2 RNA concentrations in primary municipal sewage sludge as a leading indicator of COVID-19 outbreak dynamics medRxiv (dk). Looks solid.

* * *


Moving Personal Protective Equipment Into the Community JAMA

China’s mask boom takes fabric away for nappy makers Agence France Presse

* * *

Financial response:

The Financial Catastrophe That Coronavirus Brought to Small Towns Pro Publica (Re Silc).

* * *

Business response:

A Coronavirus Conversation with Dr. Stephanie Taylor (interview) Engineered Systems (twonine). Look for: “As consulting and specifying engineers and/or facility managers, what steps should we take personally and or professionally to combat this outbreak?”

* * *


U.S. Economy Starts to Rise From Abyss Though Pain Far From Over Bloomberg

Tracking Consumer Comfort With Dining Out and Other Leisure Activities Morning Consult. Not so fast, Bloomberg.

* * *

Remedies and Ameliorations:

Virtual 7th-inning stretch brings ballpark feeling home Associated Press


Hong Kong: Why China’s national anthem bill is so controversial Al Jazeera

Beijing expands proposed national security law for Hong Kong to prohibit ‘activities’ that would ‘seriously endanger national security’ South China Morning Post

US, China & Hong Kong’s Betrayal Patrick Lawrence, Consortium News

Beijing’s new national security laws and the future of Hong Kong Lausan

You gotta know the territory:

* * *

China’s Weaker Yuan Fix Is the Real Cold War Salvo Bloomberg

China’s digital currency not set for launch as trials are ‘just routine’, central bank governor cools speculation South China Morning Post

Rich Chinese Snapping up Luxury Homes From Singapore to Sydney Bloomberg

We Must Resist the ‘China Threat’ Syndrome The Nation

The Limits of China’s Ecological Redline System Maritime Executive. Important.

In Philippine slums, heat, hunger take a toll under lockdown Reuters. Photo essay.

Have reports of Bali’s death been greatly exaggerated? New Mandala


Please perform empathy for the heartwarming story of this one super-exploited migrant laborer’s daughter:

What frosts me about stories like this is that there are tens, hundreds of thousands of similar stories that go unsung. But the collective experience is carefully erased (“Her efforts have made global headlines and won hearts on social media“). I think a Christian would call stories like this and their dopamine loop-inducing reactions cheap grace.


Outcry Over Dominic Cummings Turns Public Against Boris Johnson for 1st Time NYT. For example:

And from the land of Torquemada:

German ECB executive shrugs off court ruling against bond buying FT

Europe’s Easing Timetable Intact With Virus Spread Under Control Bloomberg

New Cold War

Nord Stream 2: Geopolitics, economics or emotions? RT

Russia to test ‘Doomsday Drone’ in high Arctic Asia Times

Marching into Oblivion Irrussianality

Digital Agriculture Benefits Zimbabwe’s Farmers but Mobile Money is Costly Interpress News Agency

Venezuelan Government Seizes AT&T Assets, Looks to Re-establish DirecTV Cable Service Venezuelanalysis

Parched and privatised Development and Cooperation. Chilean drought.


Stop Saying Donald Trump Colluded with Russia The National Interest

Trump Transition

U.S. Withdrawal From Open Skies Bolsters Case for New Strategic Regime Carnegie Moscow Center

Key Senate Democrat withdraws support from House measure on web browsing data The Hill (dk).

Feds Arrest Member of Fin7, Group Tied to a Billion Dollars Worth of Hacks Vice (dk).

Our Famously Free Press

Twitter labeled Trump tweets with a fact check for the first time CNN. Now do RussiaGate. Or Iraq WMDs.

Facebook Executives Shut Down Efforts to Make the Site Less Divisive WSJ

At Least A Dozen Local TV Stations Are Running ‘News’ Segments Produced By Amazon HuffPo. Gutting newsrooms has a bright side!

The New Model Media Star Is Famous Only to You NYT

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Minneapolis police, protesters clash almost 24 hours after George Floyd’s death in custody Minneapolis Tribune

Groves of Academe

Remember the MOOCs? After Near-Death, They’re Booming NYT

Imperial Collapse Watch

A US passport used to be an asset. Under Trump it has become a liability Guardian (Re Silc).

Retiring to a sunny foreign vacation spot was the American dream. Now the coronavirus is forcing some expats to come back. WaPo. At some point in the past, fleeing the country was not the American dream.

World witnessing US century ceding to Asian one, says EU foreign policy chief TASS

Class Warfare

Inside one of Amazon’s hardest-hit warehouses: ‘Why aren’t we closing the building?’ Reveal News

What’s the difference between a universal and means-tested child allowance? James Medlock

Aristotle’s Masterpiece, Or The Secrets of Generation displayed in all the parts thereof New York Academy of Medicine

Cartographers Have Secretly Been Hiding Illustrations Inside Switzerland’s Maps for Decades My Modern Met

Gears of war: When mechanical analog computers ruled the waves Ars Technica

Wartime for Wodehouse The New Yorker

Antidote du jour (via):

Bonus antidote:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Steve H.

    > A Coronavirus Conversation with Dr. Stephanie Taylor (interview) Engineered Systems (twonine).

    Below are some follow-up links. Two points to note:

    : Desiccation changes the concentration of solutes and thus chemical properties in the droplet. This seems to kill bacteria.

    : With enough humidity, a tiny droplet will grow in size. This means that aerosol droplets can grow in size and drop out of the airstream. That’s important.

    (This comment is a repost.)

  2. Lou Anton

    Re: Arkansas high school swim party…

    The neighbors two houses over here in Chicagoland had an all-day graduation pool party over Memorial Day. Mostly young high-school grads coming and going, but some parents too. I get the desire to celebrate, but it’s the “just this once” mentality that gets someone (or two or ten) infected.

    The natural experiment continues I guess!

    1. edmondo

      Based on the number of people who were walking around all weekend without masks here in AZ (the governor “opened up” the state the previous weekend), the coronavirus must have taken off for the 3 day weekend. We went from isolation to dancing in the streets in a 7 day span.

      1. ArcadiaMommy

        Yes, I was aghast driving through Old Town to see people partying away, no masks and I don’t think the tables were set apart far enough on the patios. And I have been driving myself insane trying to corral my extroverted boys and husband and make them remember to wear masks and wash their hands. Truly infuriating.

    2. Louis Fyne

      statistically for under-20s the odds are definitely with them.

      the problem is when graduating senior decides to give grandma a big bear hug the next day.

      I wish the media would do more to educate WHY such a pool party is bad instead of merely tsk-tsk-ing them.

      Keep calm. Carry on. Don’t be a disease vector.

    3. anon in so cal

      Speaking of pandemic parties….the Los Angeles police department and the Los Angeles deputy City Attorney are taking stronger action against party houses. Large Airbnb parties (always a huge problem) apparently became a substitute for closed bars and clubs. Now there’s an additional hot line and stricter, and escalating, penalties.

  3. Steve H.

    > Musical interlude.


    Here’s my son with him. Son’s a bassist. Or was. Been banging on the drums all day lately. And he got a job as a dishwasher. Ok it’s in a biology lab, but dang… Still no tattoo.

      1. rd

        It will take 3 weeks to get a good handle. Incubation time before being transmissive, incubation time to people showing symptoms, spreading it to other people with their incubations times, people getting sick enough to go to doctor or hospital, and then getting test results back. so We should know the imapct of the Lake of the Ozarks shindig around June 15.

        Quebec had spring break in early March (two weeks earlier than otehr Canadian provinces), so lots of domestic and internaitonal travel before anything started to shut down. That caused Quebec to have the biggest caseload in Canada.

      2. Eureka Springs

        Lake of the Ozarks is rather far north of the Ar/Mo border. It would be closer miss to call LOA Nebraskans than Arkansans.

  4. allan

    FISA update: the GOP expertly pivots to the left of the Dem `leadership’.

    House to vote on additional restrictions on government surveillance powers

    … The House is set to vote on an amendment offered by Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California and GOP Rep. Warren Davidson of Ohio that would prevent the collection of internet search and browser history for US citizens and permanent residents under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The amendment was agreed to following negotiations on the provision over the long weekend, according to congressional aides. …

    But Trump threw a new wrench into the matter Tuesday evening when he urged Republicans on Twitter to oppose Wednesday’s vote. “I hope all Republican House Members vote NO on FISA until such time as our Country is able to determine how and why the greatest political, criminal, and subversive scandal in USA history took place!” Trump tweeted.

    House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has asked Speaker Nancy Pelosi to pull the bill reauthorizing FISA authorities from the floor on Wednesday, according to a House aide.
    McCarthy’s request came after Trump’s tweets. …

  5. The Rev Kev

    “Indonesia, major advocate of hydroxychloroquine, told by WHO to stop using it”

    This whole thing about hydroxychloroquine is really starting my spidey senses tingling. So a drug that has been used for several decades and has been administered hundreds of millions of times with not a single proven case of a directly related death, now, suddenly, has been called by the WHO a dangerous drug. And we know how good the WHO’s track record has been lately. I guess that this makes me a Trump supporter. :(

    The reason for this advice is that Lancet study that came out a coupla days ago. The one that caused the WHO to suspend hydroxychloroquine trials. The one that was so comprehensive. But not comprehensive enough as there were zero mentions of zinc in it nor was there any mention about when hydroxychloroquine was actually administered. Very suspect that. But wait, there’s more.

    So I was watching that Chris Martinson video today and he talked about this study. A French professor named Didier Raoult came out and said “About the paper published in the Lancet: data coming from five continents cannot be so homogeneous. There is ether data manipulation (not mentioned in Material and Methods), or incorporation of faked data.” And when you looked at the tables, the levels for cigarette smoking and hypertension for example were remarkably similar, even though you are talking about data from five different continents. Here is that video link and the time index goes from 15:45 to roughly 29:15-

    Have just read that France is banning the use of this drug now-

    1. Trent

      That is the only thing about this virus that has your “spidey senses” tingling?

    2. allan

      A French professor named Didier Raoult came out and said “About the paper published in the Lancet: data coming from five continents cannot be so homogeneous. There is ether data manipulation (not mentioned in Material and Methods), or incorporation of faked data.”

      OMFG. How do you say chutzpuh in French? That’s this Didier Raoult:

      … In 2006, Raoult and four co-authors were banned for one year from publishing in the journals of the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), after a reviewer for Infection and Immunity discovered that four figures from the revised manuscript of a paper about a mouse model for typhus were identical to figures from the originally submitted manuscript, even though they were supposed to represent a different experiment.[21] In response, Raoult “resigned from the editorial board of two other ASM journals, canceled his membership in the American Academy of Microbiology, ASM’s honorific leadership group, and banned his lab from submitting to ASM journals”.[21] In response to Science covering the story in 2012, he stated that, “I did not manage the paper and did not even check the last version”.[22] …

      1. TXMama

        This illustrates that you can’t take everything on a YouTube video as gospel even when it comes from an MD, like Chris Martinson. You still have to investigate his sources which he does link to all the time. I have watched several of his videos, and while they often have some good advice, there is a lot of entertainment added in the way he presents things. In making videos that will get viewers coming back daily there is the temptation to make it more entertaining with OMG parts. This is true for most YouTube videos, but some are more reliable than others. I find Dr. John Campbell from the UK to stick to just the facts more without the entertainment in his daily YouTube videos. But the caveat for all info online is to research it further yourself and then draw your own conclusions.

      2. GettingTheBannedBack

        I cannot understand how a patient can be on hydroxychloroquine for YEARS for rheumatoid arthritis with few side effects. It is a medically sanctioned treatment, prescribed by rheumatologists of the highest standing. And yes I know that said patients have to be tested yearly for side effects. But that is YEARLY, not daily.
        But we are told that giving the same hydroxychlorquine to patients in similar doses for 5 DAYS or so for COVID-19 is irresponsible, life threatening and monstrous.
        I have seen no doctor explain why this treatment becomes poisonous, toxic and deadly only with COVID-19 patients.
        Perhaps someone can enlighten me. And with a scientific explanation, not a tribal explanation.

          1. GettingTheBannedBack

            Thanks for your answer Yves, but I don’t think is answers my question, which is:
            Why is hydroxycholorquine toxic as a prophylactic or a treatment for mild COVID-19, while it is an approved long term treatment of choice by physicians for rheumatoid arthritis? In similar doses.

            My data on Rheumatoid Arthritis: Reference is
            “Usual Adult Dose for Rheumatoid Arthritis is as follows:
            Initial dose: 400 to 600 mg salt (310 to 465 mg base)/day orally divided in 1 or 2 doses
            Maintenance dose: 200 to 400 mg salt (155 to 310 mg base)/day orally divided in 1 or 2 doses
            Maximum dose: 600 mg salt (465 mg base)/day or 6.5 mg/kg salt (5 mg/kg base)/day, whichever is lower”

            My data on COVID-19 as a prophylaxis or treatment for mild cases: where EVMS is the Eastern Virginia Medical School
            “Optional: Hydroxychloroquine 400mg BID day 1 followed by 200mg BID for 4 days [22]. Recent evidence suggests that HCQ has no role in the treatment of COVID-19 in hospitalized patients.[23] However, the potential role of HCQ in early symptomatic patients (prior to hospitalization) is unknown. ”

            EVMS has included it, and used it, because of case reports of efficacy elsewhere. But at this stage my question relates solely to toxicity.

            1. Yves Smith

              That isn’t what a fresh article in Clinical Pharmacology says. The loading dose is <3x as high as the level routinely prescribed for autoimmune diseases, and then 4 days at 1.5 to 3x the maintenance dose:

              Hydroxychloroquine is an antimalarial drug being tested as a potential treatment for the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2( (SARS-CoV-2. Although the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 remains uncertain, it may serve as a potential prophylactic agent especially in those at high risk, such as healthcare workers, household contacts of infected patients, and the immunocompromised. Our aim was to identify possible hydroxychloroquine dosing regimens through simulation in those at high risk of infections by optimizing exposures above the in vitro generated half maximal effective concentration (EC50 ) and to help guide researchers in dose-selection for COVID-19 prophylactic studies. To maintain weekly troughs above EC50 in >50% of subjects at steady state in a pre-exposure prophylaxis setting, an 800 mg loading dose followed by 400 mg twice or three times weekly is required. In an exposure driven post-exposure prophylaxis setting, 800 mg loading dose followed in 6 hours by 600 mg, then 600 mg daily for 4 more days achieved daily troughs above EC50 in >50% subjects. These doses are higher than recommended for malaria chemoprophylaxis, and clinical trials are needed to establish safety and efficacy.


              1. GettingTheBannedBack

                Thanks for this link – an interesting paper on simulation study of in vitro concentrations and suggested concomitant dosages which might have efficacy for COVID-19.

                So, in theory, they say effective dose for prophylaxis might be an 800mg initial dose of hydroxychloroquine followed in 6 hours with 600mg daily for at least five days. That is slightly higher than the EVMS dosages of 800mg followed by 400mg daily for 5 days.

                The authors address toxicity by saying “systemic severe adverse effects include retinal- and cardio- toxicity, however these toxicities are mostly associated with daily, long-term use”. And inferred, so probably doesn’t apply to our recommended dosage regime over 5 days. eg the risk is there but it isn’t significant enough to stop it’s consideration.

                It might turn out that HCQ is of no benefit whatsoever prophylactically or for the mildly symptomatic. But the way to find out is to trial it.
                I know it is being trialled (RCT) on some of our health care workers, and that the researchers are resisting media attempts to shame and stop them eg “Researchers using unproven drug on workers in COVID-19 studies”. The major problem for researchers now is a lack of infected patients.

                What is going on? It just looks like a medical Russiagate to me. But for reasons that elude me.

    3. Krystyn Podgajski

      It seems to be more about timing. Hydroxychloroquine modulates the immune system in a way that has yet to be determined. So it could help prevent infection but once you have COVID19 it could make things worse. I think this is what the data is showing.

      Hydroxychloroquine seems it helps people with Lupus becasue we have over active T Cells and Hydroxychloroquine inhibits T Cell activation and therefore lowers our highly sensitive inflammatory response. This to me means people with Lupus are less likely to have high viral replication when infected with COV2 and is probably protective against COV2. But I can tell you, having Lupus is like walking around with a flu for the majority of time.

      Hydroxychloroquine also controls calcium entry into the cell and this may help control viral replication another way, possibly by starving FURIN from getting enough calcium. FURIN is an enzyme that COV2 uses to break open once it is in the cell.

      1. The Rev Kev

        ‘It seems to be more about timing.’ Absolutely. That video mentions a Texas aged care facility that found 56 residents and 33 staff members with Coronavirus so as soon as they presented with symptoms, they were put on hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin & zinc and only lost one person to this virus when normally you could see a death toll in the dozens.

        Needless to say, you are seeing stories that say ‘concern is mounting’, ‘it could cause heart rhythm problems’ and ‘And where might we find them but in Texas?’ Of course it is not a study but the anecdotal data is convincing enough that there should be at least one solid study done but the WHO for reasons of their own are trying to quash this. Strange if not damning.

        1. anon in so cal

          Read somewhere that it is the addition of the azithromycin that triggers the arrhythmias in those susceptible.

          1. Krystyn Podgajski

            “I’m begging you to do the news Joseph!” Classic.

            Andrew tries to bring humanity to c(r)apitalism but it will always fail. Joseph will be there, always in spirit.

    4. anon

      Further, in the Lancet paper they used qSOFA to normalize severity of illness, which is a lousy tool for this and one that has been shown to not define sepsis or severe sepsis in COVID patients. This leaves the big question of whether physicians use HCQ in sicker patients.

      1. anon

        Also, the treatment groups appear to be more ill than the control group (21% requiring mechanical ventilation vs 8%). The data presented do not allow us to determine how much more ill and how the severity of illness drove treatment decisions.

    5. Biologist

      There are more people criticising the paper:
      This is a webpage where people can anonymously flag potential problem with published papers, with discussion usually quite technical.

      An example:
      “Another confounding is the exclusion criteria. Fig. 1 shows that 1102 patients were excluded because they received CQ derivatives after intubation.
      This doesn’t look like a serious problem, but it is not a negligible number if we compare with the total number of patients who received HCQ before intubation (1243+616+814+403 = 3067). 26% intubated patients were excluded!
      This may sound nothing, but it may significantly imbalance the baseline between treatment and control group, because no one is excluded in the control group. For example, the observation can be completely changed if:
      1. selection bias towards those who are strong & young who can tolerate nasal feeding tube (intubation prohibits swallowing HCQ pills). –> treatment group is biased towards the elder after excluding youngsters.
      2. selection bias towards those who looks hopeless, so doctor was hoping that HCQ can save his/her life. –> treatment group is biased towards the healthier after excluding the serious ones.
      3. HCQ is a game-changer (or toxic drug) especially when a patient is intubated, compared to before intubation. The current exclusion criteria will worsen (or inflates) the observed survival, because it will selectively exclude the intubation-then-survive (or intubation-then-death) in the treatment group but not in the control group.”

    6. rtah100

      The dosing is very different, between giving high-dose HCQ in ICU patients and giving it orally once a week in malaria prophylaxis or even, in slightly higher doses, for immunosuppression in patients with lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.

      The ICU treatment protocols are (Lombardy protocol c. end of March):
      400mg every 12h for 24h
      200mg every 12h thereafter

      Whereas the malaria prophylaxis dose is 500mg once 7 days before travel and 500mg once every 7 days during travel and for four weeks after your return. In the first week, the prophylactic dose is 500mg and the ICU dose 3,200mg, just under 7x as much.

      The high dosage *may* be causing deaths from arrhythmias.

  6. dk

    The link for SARS-CoV-2 RNA concentrations in primary municipal sewage sludge as a leading indicator of COVID-19 outbreak dynamics medRxiv has an extra “s” at the end, should be:

    I want to point out that the paper is about one observation, not replicated, and not a conclusive demonstration of *ahem* firm correlation between presence of viral RNA traces in waste sewage and COVID-19 hospitalizations.

    I somehow ended up in a twitter exchange with someone who feels that dual-axes charts are inherently flawed and inappropriate unless indexed (by percentage or similar scaling). And while I don’t completely agree on the principle, it’s true that the chart (fig. 2-C) makes a big impression in representing what could be a statistical anomaly.

    They posted this link about misuses and weaknesses of dual-axes which is cautionary and informative, and if you’re into this sort of thing, entertaining:

    The further reading in footnote 1 is for chart junkies who just can’t get enough.

  7. Off The Street

    Twitter, Trump and any others starting with T or any other letter present some challenges to a concerned citizenry. Given the policy positions that they stake out so boldly, what endgames do they foresee, if at all?

    When there is documented evidence freely available to contradict Twitter, say, in the case of a guilty plea by a judge of elections of ballot fraud, can there be any happy ending?

    Paper ballots, hand-marked and then counted according to what used to be standard procedure, continue to be the strong preference of many. I’ll still vote at my local precinct, mask and all.

    1. marym

      Concerned citizen Trump is railing against vote-by-mail. The case cited in your link references polling place fraud. In recent history of absentee ballot fraud there’s this.

      On vote-by-mail fraud in general:

      Hans A. von Spakovsky, manager of the Election Reform Initiative at the conservative Heritage Foundation, said all-mail elections create opportunities for fraud because ballots aren’t cast under the watchful eyes of election officials at polling places.

      ^ Amber McReynolds, CEO of the National Vote at Home Institute and Coalition, said fraud with mail or absentee ballots is “exceedingly rare.” She pointed to Heritage’s own election fraud database, which has documented 206 cases of fraudulent use of absentee ballots since 1991. For the five states that conduct elections entirely by mail, the database has no such cases in Hawaii and Utah, two in Oregon, five in Colorado and six in Washington.

      On voter fraud in general:

      On Trump administration’s own investigation of voter fraud:

    1. Synoia

      The real uncertainty is the probability of a free round of drinks, or finding a future partner.

      Even if one assumes the probability of a bar with drink is 100%

      Personally I suspect the highest probability of error is upon exiting the bar, not entering it.

      1. ambrit

        I would put the highest probability of error in determining the sexual compatibility of any two exiting said bar together.

  8. PlutoniumKun

    The Limits of China’s Ecological Redline System Maritime Executive. Important.

    A lot of this sounds incredibly familiar. The same problems seem to arise everywhere.

    The environmental impact assessment (EIA) for a 110 million yuan (US$16 million) dredging project in Shenzhen Bay, was commissioned by Shenzhen Shipping Channels Centre and carried out by the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ South China Sea Institute of Oceanology. The report was published online for public consultation, but careful readers noted that some sections were identical to an earlier report on the dredging of another channel in Zhanjiang port, also in Guangdong province. Even the word “Zhanjiang” appeared repeatedly. This caused outrage. On 15 April, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment described the case as “particularly grave” and said an investigation had been ordered.

    This is very common in Environmental Impact Reports of many types – I’ve come across it many times in the UK and Ireland. Sometimes, it’s just standardised sections getting cut and pasted by busy people who then don’t read them clearly. Sometimes, yes, they are just reproducing fake analyses. The one advantage of these reports going online is that its becoming easier and easier for people to identify the cut and pasted bits. Its particularly an issue when specialized sections are being written for interpretation by non-specialists. Without strong peer review, its incredibly difficult for a generalist scientist or analyst to go through a report produced by, for example, a specialist in modelling the impact of dredging on littoral waters. A lot has to be taken on faith (unless someone will pay for a shadow set of consultants).

    Wang Canfa thinks that despite being the focus of environmental protection work in recent years, the redline system still needs to be toughened up. “Initially we understood these redlines would be like those for arable land – a line you absolutely cannot cross. That doesn’t seem to be the case,” he said. “It looks like development is banned in principle, rather than completely, with a strict ban on development not in line with the area’s ecological functions. These principles will be hard to apply in practice.”

    This too, will sound very familiar to anyone who has dealt with wildlife law, in particular in the EU. The Habitats and Wild Birds Directives are models of clarity and simplicity. However, when brought down into the details of national implementation and regulation, they have become legalistic nightmares. Especially for those developing linear infrastructure features, which will almost inevitably pass through some protected area or another. Its made even harder because wildlife isn’t always co-operative with red lines. Birds have an unpleasant habit of changing their locations all the time. A ‘red lined’ are for breeding one year, may have no meaning for the bird after another year as vegetation naturally changes.

  9. nippersmom

    Thank you for Wartime for Wodehouse. It’s nice to see that The New Yorker still does pieces like this one.

    1. Lee

      Ditto. A lovely piece. But I cannot help but wonder if Wodehouse was himself more the clever and cunning Jeeves than the hapless Wooster. Reminds me of another British WW2 detainee and author, R.H. Blyth, imprisoned in Japan as an enemy alien. But he was known as a great admirer of Japanese art and culture, and was a Zen practitioner. He was relatively well treated while interned and wrote Zen in English Literature and Oriental Culture during that time.

      1. Bugs Bunny

        I’ve always thought that P.G. Wodehouse was both Jeeves and Wooster. The love for each of them is moving. When I finished the books I became very teary eyed.

  10. The Rev Kev

    “Outcry Over Dominic Cummings Turns Public Against Boris Johnson for 1st Time”

    His whole story seems weird. So he is sick with the virus and so is his wife. So they go on a 260-mile car trip with their 4-year-old strapped in the back who did not have the virus. Was that wise? Did he make any stops to fill up on fuel? Was he wearing disposable gloves when using the pump if he did? Did he tell that eye doctor that he was infected?

    From what I have read, Boris does not have a deep bench with his Cabinet and Cummings is one of the few heavy weights there. Of course this was by design, his own apparently, but it has led him to being vulnerable. Couldn’t happen to a nicer fellow.

    1. John A

      Not only is the whole story weird, his wife, who writes a column for The Spectator, a right wing weekly magazine in England, wrote a very contradictory version in her previous column, not only giving the impression that her husband was seriously suffering from coronavirus symptoms, but that the family had been in London all the time.
      Apparently on Sunday, Johnson and Cummings spend a couple of hours together where the latter explained his reasoning. It seems more likely they spent the time thinking up some kind of ‘plausible’ excuse along the lines of the dog ate my homework. Including that before driving back to London, Cummings was worried that the virus had affected his eyesight and to test this, he drove a 60-mile round trip along busy roads. His wife, incidentally, has a driving licence.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Just a sign of the times. Merkel is on the way out. Macron is finished, 16% approval. The usual suspects would like Bojo out. Trudeau in Canada is a joke. Bolsonaro looking shaky. Xi Xinping has his hands full, serious capital flight and the yuan crashing. Trump trending down.

        I get that people want to lash out against the virus and the worse cure. But what comes next? Massive lurch leftwards like Espana? I don’t think so. Looks like Sloppy Joe needs Sistah Harris on board to stop the bleeding. Oh goody, an arrogant neo-lib entitled woke complete lightweight best known for giving banks a free pass, giving Willie free BJs, and prosecuting people for crimes she committed herself.

        At what point do we yell to the heavens What Happened To My Country/My World? 320 million people including the best minds in science, tech, finance, and industry and the best this country can come up with is Kamala F*cking Harris?

        If this country was an automobile, this is the part where the pistons go haywire, crash straight through the engine block at high speed, oil explodes everywhere, all the moving metal locks up tight and the thing is left by the side of the highway.

      2. AbateMagicThinking But Not Money

        Ah, “The Spectator”, reminds me of that wonderful British term “dogging*” it is not a term for taking the dog for a walk. It is to do with consenting adults, doing what comes naturally in public, with spectators.

        Seemingly the mag is about family-blogging a whole nation over – watching and engaging.


        Check out a Youtube vid: Peter Kaye dogging

    1. sd

      It doesn’t leave one with much confidence in BR under the circumstances regardless if that
      is how the game is played.

  11. anon in so cal

    There have been reports that the U.S. has been setting fire to some of Syria’s wheat fields, which would be a war crime. Turns out, this tactic was recommended by the Center for A New American Security (CNAS), a Democratic and government-funded think tank.

    “‘Wheat is a weapon’: US gov-funded, Democrat-linked think tank proposes starving Syrian civilians to weaken Assad”

  12. The Rev Kev

    “Nord Stream 2: Geopolitics, economics or emotions? ”

    What complicated the situation here was that the US Ambassador to Germany – Richard Grenell – is a true Trumpster and has a record of making demands on the German government like he was some sort of Viceroy which did not go down well. He has been making a series of threats against Germany and the Nord Stream 2 project as well as any firms connected with it. Typically, US Ambassadors makes solid connections with the locals so that they almost becomes friends but now that Grenfell is leaving his post, the Germans will be glad to see the back of him. Grenfell is expected to take up a senior position with the Trump campaign team-

  13. Carolinian

    Re Consortium News/Patrick Lawrence–with the usual disclaimer that I know nothing about Hong Kong, isn’t this article an affirmation of what the skeptics have been saying all along, that the long standing democracy movement has allowed itself to be transformed into a US backed regime change operation? Those who poohed poohed the involvement of Rubio might want to have a rethink. He has a fat finger in every foreign policy mess. Or maybe it’s Pompeo’s finger. Lawrence:

    Ever since the Pentagon declared China a strategic adversary two years ago, Washington has sought to push Beijing ever further into a corner with a trade war, threatened sanctions, aggressive maneuvers in the South China Sea, and lately shrill, ungrounded accusations of malpractice in managing the Covid­–19 outbreak. Pompeo threatened Friday to rescind Hong Kong’s status as a favored trading entity.

    A few weeks ago in this space I warned that if Washington pushes Beijing too hard and too offensively it risks doing to China what Versailles did to Germany when it settled the peace in 1919. It is difficult to overstate the importance China attaches to the achievement of parity with the West. Westerners refuse to recognize this at their peril.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      “…the achievement of parity with the West…”

      i’ve never understood the wisdom of denying a big potential rival a “sphere of influence” adjacent to themselves…whether china, russia or whomever.
      That it was foolish and largely unnecessary( given our own blundering history of actually causing the majority of our foreign policy problems since WW2, at least) to be all up in everybody’s business, demanding this, forbidding that.
      Maybe just congenital anticoldwarism/antiimperialism…always felt provocative and asshatted, to me. An Hegemon= a big frelling bully that everyone secretly wants to murder.
      but, then again, that feeling/opinion was formed when i still thought this was My country, and that i had some small say in it’s affairs.
      (and add the link above about a demparty adjacent outfit advocating starvation in syria. )

    2. L

      I think Lawrence is overstating it and is guilty of focusing only on one side. He seems so eager to paint the decline of the US that he is undercutting the credibility of his points. First and foremost, he conveniently ignores the oroginal betrayal here which is that China’s premier assured the people of Hong Kong that they would have democracy and an elected executive under the terms of the handover, then Tienamen Square took place. Since then the CCP has betrayed one promise after another as they only grow more dictatorial. At this point the lame duck chief executive is only promising that they can maintain their rights “for the time being.”

      So while he is right that Pompeo is a terrible ally and that publicly turning to the US did not help the look of the democracy movement the fact is that the betrayal by the CCP is longstanding and the US is not the cause.

      1. Carolinian

        Well if there really is a new cold war brewing between the US and China–both Dems and Repubs seem to be on board?–then surely Lawrence is right that the demonstrators have made a mistake by pitching in with China’s opponents. He isn’t unsympathetic to their cause but their strange bedfellows (Rubio a champion of democracy???) raise questions.

        1. L

          Well they certainly are odd bedfellows. That said Lawrence is also ignoring the nuance of the more recent history. For the most part the local political groups have been independent. Demosisto itself is very recent and does not speak for everyone. The requests for help came from some leaders of that group not from some pan-democratic council. I think that it is more accurate to say that things have been coming to a head for some time and the US is actually quite late to sign on. The PRC press has been labeling this a plot by outside forces for years but they do that for anything bad that happens to China. In effect anytime Xi Jinping doesn’t get his way the US is to blame. IMHO Lawrence overstates how meaningful the imagery was.

          The reality is that Hong Kong has been progressively less independent for some time as has all of China. Trump has always been opposed to how we treat them but the rest of the DC establishment (Rubio included) has only recently decided to get with the program. Now the political classes in both countries see advantage in division.

    3. Yves Smith

      *Sigh* We’ve discussed at length why the idea that the Hong Kong rebellion as being anything other than home grown driven is bunk. The US would love to take credit and may have a few hangers on but the US doesn’t even have enough speakers of Cantonese with the right accent to foment anything. The rebellion has been long in brewing and has extremely deep support among the citizenry.

  14. Tinky

    “A US passport used to be an asset. Under Trump it has become a liability”

    Trump can reasonably be blamed for many things, but a U.S. passport had arguably become a liability long before he took office.

    1. LawnDart

      True, but in different ways: at least you could enter foreign countries with it, but now that the WHO has labeled the USA as the epicenter of Covid-19, I suspect that we’ll be seeing a lot more doors shut to holders of USA passports.

      I am still hoping to high-tail it outta here in a few years after I get some obligations taken care of, but the way things are going it seems like the gates are closing and the walls are moving in.

      1. Tinky

        I escaped a few years ago, and am sad to see what I had broadly anticipated unfold.

        As you may know, renouncing is becoming increasingly difficult.

  15. russell1200

    The Russian nuclear submarine drone makes the most sense as a killer of US Ballistic Missle Submarines, with a secondary interest in our carriers.

    It is better to blow up the missle before it ever leaves the launcher if you can. Nuclear depth charges have always been an item to use against submarines, but most of the platforms couldn’t launch particularly large ones. In addition, under the ice caps has always been a difficult place to hunt except with other submarines. Find the exact location of a submarine under an ice cap isn’t easy and is dangerous because they can hunt back.

    1. Screwball

      I hope they both get fired. Because they both suck, always have, always will.

      A piss poor excuse for a business channel.

      1. Krystyn Podgajski

        “I’m begging you to do the news Joseph!” Classic.

        Andrew tries to bring humanity to c(r)apitalism but it will always fail. Joseph will be there, always in spirit.

  16. Tomonthebeach

    Trump-Russia Collusion – CATO Inst wants to stop saying that?

    I find it curious that articles still yammer about Trump NOT colluding with Russia to win 2016 as if because there was insufficient evidence for criminal prosecution. CATO wants me to disbelieve what I saw and heard on TV coming out of Trump’s big mouth – repeatedly inviting RU to help him.

    Next, I should overlook the tit4tat since his election. Trump has likely exceeded Putin’s wildest dreams. Trump weakened NATO, weakened diplomatic links between the US and EU, gone to trade war with the entire world economy, enabled RU Big Oil to advance globally (even arranging a truce with Arabia), continued to bog down the US military in stupid conflicts at great US expense, and driven the US economy into the ground by mismanaging an epidemic – and that is just for starters! Sure! No collusion.

    1. anon in so cal

      With all due respect, Trump was joking when he invited Russia to help him.

      Otherwise, have you followed Trump’s actions since taking office?

      –Starting w/ imposing additional sanctions on Russia (Obama slapped sanctions on Russia when Putin dared complain about the 2014 Obama Biden McCain Nuland putsch in Ukraine, that initiated a US proxy war with Russia, on Russia’s doorstep) and on EU firms that dare work on Nordstream2

      –Most recently, abandoning Open Skies

      Here’s Caitlyn Johnstone’s “25 Times Trump Has Been Dangerously Hawkish on Russia”

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      I know. Can you believe it???

      These bums at CATO are the same ones who want you to believe there’s no Santa Claus, even though there are presents under the tree Christmas morning that weren’t there the night before! And who do they think drank the milk and ate the cookies and carrots left out for Santa and the reindeer–the parents?????

      Sheesh. What a load.

    3. km

      If Trump were “colluding” with Russia, he wouldn’t need to say things in public, nor would he want or be allowed to.

      1. jsn

        Never ascribe to ill intent that which can be accounted for by incompetence.

        DC since 2000 or so has become a policy auction house for corporations.

        Trump didn’t create this, but I’m enjoying that the contradictory policies acquired by disparate corporations with disparate interests is manifesting on the big cheeto’s watch.

        Unfortunately for the US, institutional incompetence has become codified in law and only a change in who can access the legislative process (recriminalize bribery) can restore governmental competence.

          1. jsn

            Option 1: revolt.

            Option 2: ride the collapse down until some competent authoritarian picks up the pieces Putin style and hope to live through it.

            Option 3: learn something…

    4. occasional anonymous

      I reeeeeeaaaaaaallllly want to know how you conspiracy theorists fit Cold War 2.0 into your calculations. Where exactly is ‘getting everyone killed’ in Putin’s supposed master plan?

      1. Dicey'ghost

        I really believe he’s furrowing the path of least resistance since if Cold War is an ideological curtain for socio-economic gain, where is there left for him and those like him, to turn? A ‘legacy’ or one of the few from a (sparse) handful of Russian leaders who wilfully chose not to let the cannon fodder fall as it may? Annnnnnyway he thinks everyone ‘is going to heaven’ (I don’t speak it but) is that orthodox or not, as master plans go!?

      2. Nevermore Anon

        Cold War 2.0.. Well the man now has more bots, roboclicks and tings, like, more than a French rap star,at his disposal to ensure he’ll never be misquoted on the internet now, as a commodity..valuable,that.

        1. occasional anonymous

          ‘Russian bots’.

          Russiagate really rots the brain. You hate to see it.

    5. Yves Smith

      Are you serious???

      Trump was clearing being satirical. If he really had any contacts and desire to get help, he’d never joke about it on TV. Oh, and he asked for help from China then too.

  17. Dalepues

    Thank you very much for Rivka Galchen’s article on P.G. Wodehouse. I wish I could have known him.

  18. anon in so cal

    Los Angeles Unified School District’s plans for reopening:

    “Sixteen students to a class. One-way hallways. Students lunch at their desks. Children could get one ball to play with — alone. Masks are required. A staggered school day.

    These campus scenarios could play out based on new Los Angeles County school reopening guidelines. The 45 pages of planning would affect 2 million students and their families as educators undertake a challenge forced on them by the coronavirus crisis: fundamentally redesigning the traditional school day.

    The safe reopening of schools in California and throughout the nation compels the reimagining — or abandoning — of long-held traditions and goals of the American school day, where play time, socialization and hands-on support have long been essential to the learning equation in science labs, team sports, recess and group work.”

      1. periol

        At least coronavirus is fixing the student-teacher ratio. It should have been 16:1 before, if the goal was to actually help children to learn.

    1. Medbh

      I wonder how many parents will continue to keep their kids home, regardless of whatever physical modifications are made within the schools. What are the financial implications for schools if 10 percent or whatever of families don’t return?

      If in-person classes resumed today, I wouldn’t send my kids. If the school demanded it, I’d withdrawn them and homeschool.

      I’d like them to go back eventually, but the virus is new and unknown. We’re going to be cautious until more is known about the long term effects.

      I suspect it will play out similar to the lockdown issue. It doesn’t matter if the shutdown ends if people won’t attend. In the case of schools, it could have financial implications since budgets are at least partially determined by the number of enrolled kids per school.

  19. John k

    WHO advises to continue allowing plane travel with China after pandemic is established there.
    Now shuts down HCQ studies… a drug used successfully and pretty safely for decades… so off patent.
    Wasn’t it promoting a new drug under patent?
    Am I off base to wonder if we’re on the same side?

    1. jrkrideau

      WHO advises to continue allowing plane travel with China after pandemic is established there.
      I believe this was based on earlier experiences with pandemics such as Ebola where travel bans tended to lead to smuggled persons, lying, etc, (See Trump Build that Wall) that made screening travelers even more difficult. Probably the wrong call for intercontinental travel but may make sense for land borders.

      Now shuts down HCQ studies… a drug used successfully and pretty safely for decades

      Hydroxychloroquine — a drug used for lupus and rheumatoid arthritis with known sometimes serious (like deadly) side effects if not used carefully. And so far except for Raoult’s farcically crappy studies showing no or negative effects. It might still be worth trialing but a bit of caution probably is worthwhile.

      Wasn’t it promoting a new drug under patent?
      No,that was Trump and the CDC.

  20. Jeremy Grimm

    RE: “SARS-CoV-2 Reverse Genetics …” — Based on this laymen’s quick read, this is the kind of research that must be done on how viruses spread and infect. Corona is not the last such virus we can expect — nor the most lethal. Now is time to learn and understand as much as possible and continue research after Corona.

    The research paper is beyond my full understanding but I did pick up a couple of pieces of useful information: lines 530 and 531 p. 26 suggest to me we will be wearing masks in public like they do in the Orient and line 533 p. 27 regarding the possible value of nasal lavages in the onset of Corona may instigate even wider use of Netti pots and possibly some more potent washes than a saline isotonic wash alone.

    1. Ignacio

      Yeah it is an excelent piece of work, the only thing I devoured today. See how important is virus nose infection for virus spread. This must be the most salient difference with SARS1.0 and MERS from an epidemiological point of view. And please, please, I see lots of people with masks covering mouths but not the noses. If you need to choose, cover the nose first.

      What has become something crazy in scientific and medical literature is the abuse of acronyms.

  21. Edward

    The screwworm parasite, native only to the Americas, amazingly found its way to one of the most isolated countries on the planet during the 1990’s, Iraq, when that country was under a blockade and struggling to feed itself. Before that it had amazingly appeared in Libya.

  22. aliteralmind


    Please perform empathy for the heartwarming story of this one super-exploited migrant laborer’s daughter:
    What frosts me about stories like this is that there are tens, hundreds of thousands of similar stories that go unsung. But the collective experience is carefully erased (“Her efforts have made global headlines and won hearts on social media“). I think a Christian would call stories like this and their dopamine loop-inducing reactions cheap grace.

    These stories irk me to no end. What she did was, of course, wonderful. That she, a child, was pushed to do this in a society that could easily have provided her father an **ambulance ride**. Let alone food. Let alone… what?… in order to prevent it from happening in the first place.

    Instead of stopping the abuser, WHICH THEY COULD EASILY DO, they praise the abused for *temporarily* rising above their abuse and station…which saves the privileged the trouble of, you know, having to deal with the consequences of their actions.

    Beautiful individual, disgusting society.

    Bush during a town hall in I believe 2000: “You work three jobs. Innt that… innt that uniquely American?”

    Another major kind of beautiful-individual-disgusting-society story is about moderately comfortable individuals providing the less comfortable something the state should – and could – have prevented from ever occurring. Such as a parent buying a car for their child’s teacher who had to walk miles to and from work. (The state should not provide all with a car, necessarily, but certainly a better salary, or **empowering workers** so they can demand… something… to remedy this.)

    The third kind is a wealthy person paying for something huge that should not have no cost in the first place. Such as the recent story of a billionaire paying the college fees for an entire class of students, or Jenifer Aniston and Jimmy Kimmel providing an entire floor of nurses during coronavirus $10,000 food delivery gift cards.

    Our daily survival depends on the random charity of random rich people, who, of course, can only help a very small (random) population of the desperate, since not even Bezos issues currency.

    Government is powlerless to do anything at all about our suffering, because “how are you gonna pay for it?” Therefore, the rich are necessarily our saviors.

    (As a student of MMT, I’m slowly learning that the bulls**t-seed justifying much of this nonsense is the myth of barter. It’s why we have Neoliberal Economics. The truth is that money is actually state-based (chartalism).)

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