Links 5/5/2020

Bird-watching takes flight amid coronavirus outbreak as Americans head back outdoors Los Angeles Times. And as long as you’re watching:

German court calls on ECB to justify bond-buying programme FT

Global Oil Demand Starts a Long, Painful and Uncertain Recovery Bloomberg. That’s a damn shame.

Forget pork. Here’s why you can’t buy flour CNN

The COVID-19 response for vulnerable people in places affected by conflict and humanitarian crises The Lancet

Who pays the bill? The coming deluge of pandemic litigation FT

Five Steps to Eradicate COVID-19 Outbreak.Asia. A dash of cold water.


The science:

A human monoclonal antibody blocking SARS-CoV-2 infection Nature. “Here we report a human monoclonal antibody that neutralizes SARS-CoV-2 (and SARS-CoV) in cell culture.” Only in vitro, before animal testing and human trials.

Effectiveness of isolation, testing, contact tracing and physical distancing on reducing transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in different settings medaRxiv. “Consistent with previous modelling studies and country-specific COVID-19 responses to date, our analysis estimates that a high proportion of cases would need to self-isolate and a high proportion of their contacts to be successfully traced to ensure an effective reproduction number that is below one in the absence of other measures. If combined with moderate physical distancing measures, self-isolation and contact tracing would be more likely to achieve control.”

Virus-afflicted 2020 looks like 1918 despite science’s march AP

* * *


15 Children Are Hospitalized With Mysterious Illness Possibly Tied to Covid-19 NYT. Kawasaki syndrome.

Virus Mutations Reveal How COVID-19 Really Spread Scientific American. NextStrain data, annotated:

(Larger version here.) Say what you will about the Reopen protesters, they didn’t bring the virus here. And, for some reason, nobody who is anybody is asking who did.

Coronavirus spread in different countries is related to speed of response. Six charts tell the story ABC Australia

The Covid-19 Riddle: Why Does the Virus Wallop Some Places and Spare Others? NYT

* * *


Face masks: What the Spanish flu can teach us about making them compulsory World Economic Forum

Understanding Changing Guidance on Mask Use Johns Hopkins University. From last week, still germane.

How Profit and Incompetence Delayed N95 Masks While People Died at the VA Pro Publica

A City Walked Back Its Face Mask Rule After Store And Restaurant Employees Received Threats Buzzfeed

* * *


Cost of vaccinating billions against Covid-19 put at more than $20bn FT. So, pocket change? And three bucks a pop?

* * *


Convalescent serum lines up as first-choice treatment for coronavirus Nature

Fair price for Gilead’s COVID-19 med remdesivir? $4,460, cost watchdog says FiercePharma. For some definition of “fair.”

* * *


Dogs are being trained to sniff out COVID-19 in humans Live Science. A second project, the first being in the UK. “Trained dogs could be ready to start sniffing out COVID-19 in humans by July, according to the Penn Vet statement.” I find this a lot more believable than any timeline from Big Pharma.

* * *

Corporate response:

FDA to rein in flood of coronavirus blood tests after lax oversight Los Angeles Times. The magic of post facto regulation.

* * *

Political response:

Small Firms Still in Dark on Loan Forgiveness as Clock Ticks Bloomberg. Reminds me of HAMP…

Key U.S. Allies Skeptical of Trump’s Coronavirus Lab Leak Claims Foreign Policy

Australian intelligence knocks back US government’s Wuhan lab virus claim Sydney Morning Herald

Remember when people were naming their dogs after Mueller?

* * *


Reopening Narratives Bond Economics

Trump cheers on governors even as they ignore White House coronavirus guidelines in race to reopen WaPo. Federalist 45:

We have seen, in all the examples of ancient and modern confederacies, the strongest tendency continually betraying itself in the members, to despoil the general government of its authorities, with a very ineffectual capacity in the latter to defend itself against the encroachments. Although, in most of these examples, the system has been so dissimilar from that under consideration as greatly to weaken any inference concerning the latter from the fate of the former, yet, as the States will retain, under the proposed Constitution, a very extensive portion of active sovereignty, the inference ought not to be wholly disregarded. In the Achaean league it is probable that the federal head had a degree and species of power, which gave it a considerable likeness to the government framed by the convention. The Lycian Confederacy, as far as its principles and form are transmitted, must have borne a still greater analogy to it. Yet history does not inform us that either of them ever degenerated, or tended to degenerate, into one consolidated government. On the contrary, we know that the ruin of one of them proceeded from the incapacity of the federal authority to prevent the dissensions, and finally the disunion, of the subordinate authorities. These cases are the more worthy of our attention, as the external causes by which the component parts were pressed together were much more numerous and powerful than in our case; and consequently less powerful ligaments within would be sufficient to bind the members to the head, and to each other.

Auto dealerships in your local Chamber of Commerce are, as it were, over-ruling the pencil necks at the CDC and the NIH. Local oligarchs are filling the power vacuum left at the Federal level, and our globalist oligarchs are indifferent (denial) or favorable (eugenics). This outcome is consistent with declining life expectancy never having become a political issue, along with deaths of despair and the opioid epidemic. Benign or malign neglect, it comes to the same thing.

Lebensunwertes Leben:

What are the ‘reopen’ protesters really saying? The Conversation. (Compendium of tight shots of the protesters; no wide angle or aerial shots at all.) Perhaps not totally organic:

Antivaccination Activists Are Growing Force at Virus Protests NYT

Texans Brace for a COVID-19 ‘Explosion’ Just Days After Reopening Daily Beast. Should be two weeks, no?

Business Is Far From Usual as Large Swaths of the U.S. Reopen Bloomberg

The great re-opening debate takes Capitol Hill USA Today. What debate? The Democrats have articulated no alternatives — because There Is No Alternative — and haven’t provided the means for workers to stay safe by “sheltering in place” (vile, horrid phrase). The only bright side is that we have clear proof that the political class are not “essential workers.”


Chinese virologist at centre of ‘coronavirus came from a laboratory’ claim denies defecting South China Morning Post

Milk is thicker than blood: An unlikely digital alliance between Thailand, Hong Kong & Taiwan Hong Kong Free Press

Japan’s health system exposed as empty hospitals reject Covid-19 patients FT

Singapore Was A Shining Star In COVID-19 Control — Until It Wasn’t NPR

Tanzanian president sees ‘sabotage’ as papaya, quail and goat test positive for coronavirus Straits Times


Iraq, China launch ‘oil for reconstruction’ agreement Al Monitor. Just in time for W’s rehabilitation!


‘Biggest failure in a generation’: Where did Britain go wrong? The Australian

Hot-desking banned, separate with screens, canteens closed and over-70s and the obese working from home under leaked plans to reopen offices that could remain in place for a YEAR Daily Mail (Re Silc).

UK COVID-19 contact-tracing app data may be kept for ‘research’ after crisis ends, MPs told The Register

New Cold War

Why Warlike One-Upmanship Works to Russia’s Benefit The National Interest

Spread of COVID-19 cannot be fully stopped now, Russia’s chief sanitary doctor says TASS

Venezuelan Armed Forces: Paramilitary Incursion Neutralized Venezuelanalysis. With a copy of the contract (!).

Chile’s Six Months of Struggle Jacobin

Trump Transition

White House prohibits coronavirus task force members from testifying before Congress in May The Hill

Our Famously Free Press

Why You Should Oppose The Censorship Of David Icke (Hint: It’s Got Nothing To Do With Icke) Caitlin Johnstone

Health Care

Private Hospitals, Now Demanding Bailouts, Lobbied to Defeat Cost-Saving Health Reform as Coronavirus Crisis Grew The Intercept

‘The Industry Chose to Protect Billions of Dollars a Year in Its Own Profit’ FAIR

Class Warfare

Mass unemployment is a choice. A federal job guarantee could eliminate it (interview) Pavlina Tcherneva, Vox

Not just Europe:

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. The Rev Kev

    “It’s definitely window-strike season”

    I don’t know if they work or not but many years ago I saw in Germany how you could get large black decals to put on your windows which were in the shape of flying predator birds. The idea was that any birds seeing that shape would veer off which sounded like a great idea if they worked.

    1. Tom67

      We still have them in Germany and they work. When I was a kid we lived in a new house with unusually big windows. On top the house was in a fairly rural area. Almost every day some poor bird would bang against a window. The we got the decals and afterwards there was peace for us and for the birds.

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      I collect old sunglasses and put them in the fruit trees.
      birds think it’s some creature waiting to eat them.
      a beer can suspended by a string does the trick as well, as does a bit of galvanised flashing suspended and whirling in the wind.
      paint eyes on the most popular windows, perhaps.
      here, the mockingbird males have an apparent hatred for the driver’s side mirror…all of ours are scratched.
      easiest tactic…simple to remove when we go somewhere…is an old t-shirt neck(for the elastic) with some part remaining slid over the mirror.

      1. Wukchumni

        The oldest (5 years young) cherry trees in our bakers dozen worth, have been paying out like a compromised slot machine as of late with the Lapins variety leading the way with perhaps a jackpot of 300, and for whatever reason the birds as of last year’s harvest, haven’t figured out how tasty they are and have left the ‘stem cells’ alone.

        Every fruit tree here has a triangular enclosure around 7x7x7 feet wide on 8 foot posts, with chicken wire* 6 feet high around the periphery, and this year as harvest comes closer, i’ll be putting up 10×14 feet bird netting on top, and then will bungee the net around the chicken wire.

        The 2nd incarnation of Bing is dying for no apparent reason, and sorry but Bing there-done that. I’m planting another Lapins in it’s place.

        * many years ago, I went into the now closed down OSH (Outdoor Supply Hardware) and asked a clerk where the chicken wire was?, and the first thing he told me was:

        ‘Sir, it’s called ‘poultry wire’ now’

        Politically correctness had it’s day even with fowl play!

      2. polecat

        I take a different view in that birds gotta eat too. If they’re able to graze on some of our cherries, who am I to sqwak ! They do knock down those insect pests after all. All this hominid asks is – don’t break the branches whilst noshing! … especially for any Corvids who may be reading this.

        1. Wukchumni

          Had a 4 varieties in 1 apple tree get savaged by a black bear last fall. Boo-boo decided that the leader trunk with a branch drooping 8 apples on it ought to come apart as a package deal when dining, grrrrrr.

          The same bruin bent one of those 8 foot high metal poles surrounding a Satsuma tree and helped itself to 65 plums, leaving me a like amount left over, how nice of it.

        2. eg

          There’s “some” and then there’s “all”

          We get a handful of cherries off our tree after the birds have ravaged them, depositing the aftermath upon our cars on the driveway below as the final indignity.

      3. HotFlash

        I collect old sunglasses and put them in the fruit trees.

        Brilliant! Gonna try that with my blackberries.

    3. Kurt Sperry

      They use similar decals in Italy on the windows in the acoustic barriers separating train lines from urban areas. The silhouette looks like a crow or raven.

    4. mary jensen

      “I was the shadow of the waxwing slain
      By the false azure in the windowpane;
      I was the smudge of ashen fluff – and I
      Lived on, flew on, in the reflected sky.”

      V. Nabokov: the opening lines of Canto One from “Pale Fire”.

    5. marieann

      We hang brightly coloured ribbons from the eaves of the house. We have a glass patio door that often has bird strikes, the ribbons seem to help quite a bit. There are 7 ribbons blowing around in the breeze

    6. MarkT

      Just got back from the local “Countdown” (Woolworths in Aus). Very distressed to see a Fantail/Piwakawaka flying in the rafters. Harbinger of death …

  2. Krystyn Podgajski

    RE: 15 Children Are Hospitalized With Mysterious Illness Possibly Tied to Covid-19

    I would say that this expression of infection down to genetic risk. Kawasaki is linked to a gene called ITPKC, which does not cause it Kawasaki but is associated with an increased risk. The ITPKC enzyme limits the amount of T Cells, and therefore cytokines, we release when faced with an infection. So a bad ITPKC gene means more cytokines are released when you have an infection. There are other genetic links but this is the most well known.

    So if we are hoping to just quarantine some “vulnerable population”, good luck in trying to find them.

    1. Robert Hahl

      Re: yesterday’s discussion of happy hypoxia

      “Albert Donnay
      May 5, 2020 at 5:57 am

      “Please look at the carbon monoxide also released by HO-1 induced heme catabolism in equimolar concentrations with biliverdin and iron. The latter go to bilirubin and ferritin that all COVID-19 studies find elevated, so we can infer that CO is elevated as well. So where is this CO coming from, going to and what effects is it having?

      “Every abnormal sign, symptom and complication of COVID-19 is in the literature on CO poisoning, although in this case the source is endogenous not exogenous.

      “Want to learn more?

      “Here is warning I posted April 9 that COVID-19 patients are dying of CO poisoning that pulse oximetry can’t distinguish and that both oxygen therapies and ventilators are making worse

      “If you need more, here is 4500 word preprint on the role of CO in COVID-19 with 63 refs

      1. Rhondda

        Interesting. Made me ask the internet “What are the sources of endogenous carbon monoxide?” answered: “Endogenous sources of CO include the heme degradation to bile pigments, catalyzed by heme oxygenases.”

        Rhymes with some recent heme and biliverdin comments here on NC…
        “It was discovered in the 1960s that CO can be endogenously produced in the body by heme oxygenase (HO) metabolism of heme to produce CO, iron, and biliverdin. There are three isoforms of HO: inducible HO-1 and two constitutive forms, namely HO-2 and HO-3. CO can interact with a vast array of heme-containing proteins, such as soluble guanylyl cyclase (sGC). CO signaling can be antagonized with inhibitors of HO production of CO or sGC generation of cGMP and it will target all cells, as intracellular heme-containing proteins are ubiquitous in cells, thus affecting a vast array of biological processes, including regulation of the cardiovascular and nervous systems.”

        John Alexander Donald, in Handbook of Hormones, 2016

        1. Krystyn Podgajski

          All good stuff. You see this is the formula for Heme Oxygenase:

          heme + 3 O2 + 3 reduced [NADPH] =>
          biliverdin + CO + Fe2+ + H+ + 3 H2O + 3 oxidized [NADPH]

          So the biliverdin + CO + Fe2 are all shown to be high, maybe the high H2O is what is causing the edema as well?

          This all comes back to the fact that they should be trying to lower Angeotensin II by recombinat ACE2 since it is possible ANGII is the trigger for the breakdown of Heme. The high ANGII somehow creates high levels of H2O2 and that triggers heme oxygenase. It looks like this happens when it stimulates the AT1 receptor. So drugs that block that should help as well.

          To me this means catalase and glutathione perioxidase are crucial once someone is sick since they both get rid of H2O2 and also to reduce the NADPH again. So vitamin C, Selenium, Riboflavin, P5P, and Magnesium could all play a small role in helping people out of this.

          Thanks for that link to Albert Donnay. Interesting.

          By the way, carbon monoxide is anti-inflammatory so this is a way the body helps control inflammation when we are sick.

        2. Krystyn Podgajski

          This is how I see the pathway:

          High ANGII > AT1 Receptor > NADPH Oxidase > Heme Oxygenase > (High CO, Biliverdin, Ferritin, and H2O)

          1. Albert Donnay

            a minor correction:

            HO-1 and HO-2 yield CO, biliverdin and iron. BV reductase (and sufficient zinc substrate) are needed to get the biliverdin to bilirubin. The iron is supposed to go to ferritin. If it doesn’t, toxic free iron will accumulate. The CO thus released may be quickly rebound if another heme binding site is available, but if not –as occurs when hyperoxygenation therapies take all the available sites– then the CO stays free in plasma as a gas with VERY LOW solubility Almost like oil and water. This increases PaCO compared to therapies that don’t displace CO from Hb, which creates larger diffusion gradient with tissues, causing more not less CO to leave blood for tissues. Oops.

            This is why I am urging clinicians to start testing for CO and stop hyperoxygenation therapies:


            Mechanical ventilation also increases endogenous CO buildup when used for any condition, and COHb level in ICU correlates with days it will take to get off vent as well as risk of death from acute hypoxic multi-organ failure (as CO driven from blood accumulates in organs beyond blood where it builds up gradually until tissues are supersaturated with no more CO binding capacity and organ fails)

    2. oliverks

      My daughter got Kawaski’s disease last year. She got shocking low hemoglobin counts when she had the illness.

      1. Krystyn Podgajski

        Sorry about that. :(

        Higher levels of Heme Oxygenase are associated with Kawaskai’s as well.

        1. oliverks

          She had to get a blood transfusion when her levels dropped to 5.4. She looked a lot better after that.

          She did suffer from a really long cold (series of colds) right before she developed Kawaski. I don’t know if colds are considered a trigger, but I believe people think there might be an environmental factor as cases tend to cluster.

  3. zagonostra

    >Caitlin Johnstone, censorship of David Icke

    While I agree with Caitlin’s concern on the increasing occurrences of censorship by digital platforms, what I want to comment on is her own self-censorship, note how she very carefully prefaces her article with:

    This article is not about David Icke. I will say it again in italics for the especially dense: this article is not about David Icke…I know next to nothing about David Icke, and I have done exactly zero research into his views for this article; for all I know he’s every bit the raving lunatic the narrative managers say he is.

    And it’s even in her title, “Why You Should Oppose The Censorship Of David Icke (Hint: It’s Got Nothing To Do With Icke.” What I want to suggest is that she has fallen prey to what she herself has called the Narrative Matrix. Alex Jones and Icke occupy what most of those, including NC readers, consider a fringe class of quacks. Caitlin does not want to be subject to being grouped/classed with them and she goes out of her way to stress what the article is about.

    The readers/viewers should be trusted to separate the wheat from the chaff otherwise you belie your faith in democracy and tacitly accept that they must be guided by the intelligentsia, technocrats and Ivy League system administrators. Caitlin should chill. But she doesn’t. She frets that you might not her seriously and sub rosa coming from her, that reveals much to consider.

    1. Yves Smith

      I don’t agree with this viewpoint at all. Some ideas are demonstrably false, like all of that Bell Curve racist claptrap, or the “it was too hard to prosecute bankers”. There is a big tendency for guilt by association. Alex Jones (and I don’t know Icke’s work at all but I assume he falls in the Alex Jones category) is so flagrantly unconcerned with accuracy that he makes Fox News look like a paragon of responsible reporting. If you defend him, I think it is entirely valid to say you are defending his right to express his loony ideas and not the ideas themselves.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        aye. Icke has just as much Right as anyone to say and believe nonsense.
        “Shouting Fire in the Theater” is about as far as I’m willing to go.
        when i was a budding weirdo, in the late 70’s/early 80’s, I kept seeing and hearing references to …variously…communism, socialism, Marx, etc etc.
        being a precocious youngster, I wanted to know what all this meant…and nobody wanted to explain.
        Deluxe Encyclopaedia Britannica, for all it’s value otherwise, had little meat in it’s explanation…so next trip to the library(I was well known there, by this time), I rummaged around for Source Material…like Marx, himself.
        asked Librarian(who, again, knew me well)….Hmmm and Haw…and shuffling of feet, looking at floor.
        save “why do you want to know?”
        vibe of suspicion…
        THAT is the price of censorship: being unable to find and read the source material of Ideas and Concepts that someone in Power finds objectionable….and decide for oneself if such ideas have merit.
        The First Amendment means nothing if we allow even the most egregious and objectionable ideas to be shot down and removed.
        In the same manner that war criminals and child molesters deserve Due Process, lest Due Process become meaningless…err on the side of caution.

        1. Wukchumni

          Did any of you ever order books from a company named ‘Loompanics’?

          Written forbidden fruit was their forte…

          Loompanics Unlimited was an American book seller and publisher specializing in nonfiction on generally unconventional or controversial topics. The topics in their title list included drugs, weapons, anarchism, sex, conspiracy theories, and so on. Many of their titles describe some kind of illicit or extralegal actions, such as Counterfeit I.D. Made Easy, while others are purely informative, like Opium for the Masses. Loompanics was in business for nearly 30 years. The publisher and editor was Michael Hoy.

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            Yeah. I’ve got a fair amount of their stuff in my Library.
            Headshops are the go-to places to get those sorts of things(Anarchist Cookbook) without leaving a paper trail.
            Oat Willie’s in Austin(the original, on the Drag) has an excellent book section with all manner of subversion on offer.

            1. Bugs Bunny

              I didn’t know places like that existed anymore! A real old fashioned headshop. If I ever get to Austin I know where I’ll be making a stop.

        2. TMoney

          Which is why when I asked for source material, I asked for something else and paid a good deal of attention to the process of finding not what was being found. Of course my tastes at the time were more salacious than seditious. Pro-tip – never sit where you find your material. Tradecraft matters.

          Grown ups paid no attention to a kid in a library reading quietly. Still true today.

        3. Userfract

          A similar situation led me to becoming somewhat of a Russophile in my youth. I wanted to know more about these people that we were being conditioned so much to hate and it turns out that they have a pretty interesting history and culture. I took a language course as well. I’m glad that I was able to dig out some materials from the university library since it has made me skeptical of these efforts to demonize others ever since. This world needs more opportunities to understand and sympathize with others, and it’s a big red flag for me any time that someone suggests that it is wrong or a waste of time to do so. Even if you accept that someone is your opponent, or that a certain set of ideas are dangerous, should you not at least try to learn about those dangers to develop a defence? Censorship, formal or informal, only makes the world more dangerous and stupid.

        4. MarkT

          Yup. The minute something is censored, you know something is going wrong. Let citizens judge for themselves.

      2. a different chris

        >I don’t agree with this viewpoint at all.

        Me either. CJ is a journalist. If she doesn’t know (family blog) about David Icke beyond the same stuff the rest of us have heard, then she needs to make that clear. And she therefore does.

        This is for Icke’s protection as well as hers. It’s the professional thing to do.

      3. zagonostra

        My point is that Caitlin is so hypersensitive in making it clear to the reader that, as you say, she is “defending his right to express his loony ideas an not the ideas themselves” that her disclaimer is prominently inserted in the title and in the first paragraph. To me this suggest she is paying obesience to the power of what she calls the “Narrative Matrix.”

        Would in not be better to let the reader decide if the ideas are “demonstrably false?” There is a lot of “claptrap” to be found not only on the fringes but in the mainstream. At what point should the author tip her bias on something that she acknowledges she has not looked into, as she states in her article? She said she knew nothing about Ickes, so why was she so diffident in even mentioning his name? There is something at play here that I think is noteworthy.

        Fox News, existing as it does in a universe populated by the likes of an MSNBC and CNN, is ,relatively, doing the occasional “responsible reporting,” as noted by various Tucker Carlson segments referred to here at NC, in the past.

        What I fear is that people will never be exposed to radically, yes and potentially evil, fallacious and outrageous views when the author self-censors, if but in the most subtle of ways.

        1. HotFlash

          OK, this is a totally unauthorized paraphrase of Ms Johnstone’s disclaimer, but I think it works out to, “I may (or may not, don’t know ‘coz I haven’t actually read his stuff), but I will defend to the death his right to say it.”

          Re Fox News, when Rising’s Krystal Ball made approving noises about *one* comment by Tucker Carlson, she got a whole lot of flak from the pseudo-Left. When Joe Rogan said, yeah, he would probably vote for Bernie Sanders, Dem twitter went berserk.

          Does Ms Johnstone have to draw a diagram? Apparently.

    2. Jessica

      If @Caitoz did not make it clear that she was not defending Icke’s ideas, only his right to promulgate them, she would have been deluged with folks focusing on Icke not on the censorship. It would also imply that his (and our) freedom of expression somehow depended on the caliber of his (and our) ideas as judged by some oligarch-backed credentialed folks. That would be utterly false.
      I read Icke about 20 years ago. I found him manipulatively misleading. I also noticed that the folks I knew who got into him never seemed to benefit from his ideas. They were mostly spiritual folks of the rainbow unicorn variety who shied away from politics most of the time, but whose shadow showed up big time when they did get into politics.
      Another friend who was into Icke was the child of survivors of both the Ukrainian famine and the Holocaust, so the paranoia was understandable and sad.
      Your mileage may vary.

    3. Carolinian

      Since ad hominem is increasingly the mode of those who don’t actually have an argument she has to swat away objectors who will says that defense of Icke means she is the same as him. In other words that which should be obvious and assumed now has to be spelled out.

      And extending Caitlin’s argument–even though the NYT and WaPo are well known for publishing falsehoods I defend their right to carry on doing so because of the first amendment. The many calls for the NYT and WaPo to be properly regulated and put on a truth only basis must cease (unless they want to do it themselves).

      1. Off The Street

        An enterprising young journalist at the New York Times probably has another Pulitzer, er Duranty, err, Pulitzer Prize locked up, with a thoughtful column on an object, er, subject. 1619 down, now to 1620. The Grey Lady will need to do some housekeeping due to all of the droppings left behind by prior Pullet Surprises.

    4. Geo

      I’m just joining in to say that such preemptive disclaimers are necessary. There are uncountable examples of this from the Joe Rohan “endorsement” hoopla to TDS to Russian Operative accusations. Every defense of principles which happen to benefit anyone deemed “bad” will be turned into a defense of that “bad” person by those without principles. Better to address it from the start.

      Christopher Hitchens said it brilliantly in this speech from 2006:

    5. skippy

      I can imagine caution over having Icke people targeting the author for payback, just the flood to any social media they have or use.

  4. zagonostra

    >The Great Main Street, Wall Street disconnect.

    The Fed has said it will do everything it can to send the market up that astral path to its most mind-blowing experience. That means, even if US businesses burn out in the withering flames of the coronavirus, they may continue to exist in name only on the faintly glowing displays of US stock exchanges, carrying the greatest values they’ve ever had … as nothing but chips in a casino.

    That still won’t save the economy, but it is the weird ground zero for the Fed’s current rocket ride if the Fed manages to keep pushing stock values up on near-infinite streams of money. In that paradoxical sphere of existence, the economy collapses under a coronavirus siege that keeps taking businesses down, while their stocks ascend to an unearned zenith.

    1. Wukchumni

      The invisible virus named electrons, which allowed Wall*Street to prosper for the past dozen years in an odd chimera ruse, might’ve lost it’s potency while the middle class turns into poors like some sort of twisted version of Cinderella, as the clock strikes midnight on their American Dreams.

    2. cm

      Federal Reserve has a dual mandate, one of them being full employment. Too bad that is universally ignored.

      The 25 lb bag of rice we get just increased in price from $56 to $71. Good thing inflation is under control.

      1. Wukchumni


        The cheapest 20# bag of rice on Amazon is $45, and yet you can buy 3 different types of rice @ a local supermarket around these parts for $15 to $17 per bag.

        What happens is the supermarket has a bit of a run on rice, orders more and the next shipment when it arrives is more in line with what ‘shut-ins’ (did I just call us that?) will pay for delivery to their door w/o leaving home, in a twisted game eventually not too dissimilar from the PPE games played of pitting one against others, but more of a war of nourishment and how much it’ll take to get fed up to the point where you can’t afford to play the game anymore.

    3. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      I’m all for it, none of us will have to do anything or make anything any more, we can just earn our daily bread from the ASGMS (All-Seeing Great Manna Spigot). While we suspend everything to eliminate ROD (Risk of Death) our Manna Mavens have been busily working to eliminate ROL (Risk Of Loss). Just as it is unacceptable that a vulgar little virus should claim a life, so it is unacceptable that an Asset Owner should see one of their holdings die. If the health of said Assets is not up to par then the ASGMS simply purchases them for full price and quarantines them where their putrefaction does not spoil the remaining barrel of apples.

      It’s a much better system than all of that “economy” and “business” and “profit” nonsense.

    1. Chris

      I’d file the glass princelings (Silicon Valley Elite) and all they do under the re-open protesters coverage. Schmidt and others are the vultures circling the great beast of the US as it shambles towards the elephant graveyard to die.

      And, Re: Re-Open Protesters and what they didn’t do…

      The people who think we should re-open also didn’t botch the government’s response to the virus so that we’re in this position, they didn’t outsource all our manufacturing capacity to China so that we don’t have domestically manufactured supplies and material, they didn’t “re-invent” welfare so that now we can’t get people the money they need in what will likely be a Depression, they didn’t ignore the opioid crisis or the rural healthcare crisis, they didn’t push us into war or whatever it is we currently have with Syria, they didn’t underfund our national infrastructure, they didn’t squash attempts to make broadband internet service a national utility, and they didn’t mismanage our country’s water supply, and they’re not the ones profiting from our country’s refusal to have a national health care system that provides free of cost care at the point of use.

      Three things that would help everyone right now that the government could do still easily and is refusing to even consider as far as I’m aware:

      1-Issue everyone a Medicare card. You still have employer provided insurance? Great. You don’t have to use it. But until further notice everyone in the country should have one and be enrolled in the program.

      2-Enroll everyone in the SSDI program as a way to disburse funds, if not quickly, then at least more reliably than the current attempts. Another benefit of this as far as I know is that bill collectors can’t garnish that payment like they can tax refunds. The details of having more federal money supporting the fund could be worked out.

      3-Deploy the US Army Corps of Engineers to start working on bridge and roads and dams and water treatment facilities. Include trainers with that mandate to teach local people who want to work and are out of work construction trades and support them at $15/hour plus benefits.

      Maybe this wouldn’t work like I think it would. Maybe Yves and everyone else who say the USA lacks the operational capacity to lead itself out of a paper bag are right. But the most enraging experience of the past weeks has been all the supposedly smart people who publicly beat their chestS and confess how much hate Trump and yet can’t find a way to use the system we’ve got to help the people who need it. They’re innovative and smart and they break all the rules until you ask them to think of something besides the status quo. They’ve got 10 flavors of chocolate ice cream in their third refrigerator but zero interest in how to use the system they supposedly know so well to help their fellow citizens.

      If only we could ensure that the Democrat party and their enablers would die of Covid-19. That would be a just result to this disaster.

      1. a different chris

        they didn’t outsource all our manufacturing capacity to China so that we don’t have domestically manufactured supplies and material, they didn’t “re-invent” welfare so that now we can’t get people the money they need in what will likely be a Depression, they didn’t ignore the opioid crisis or the rural healthcare crisis, they didn’t push us into war or whatever it is we currently have with Syria, they didn’t underfund our national infrastructure, they didn’t squash attempts to make broadband internet service a national utility, and they didn’t mismanage our country’s water supply, and they’re not the ones profiting from our country’s refusal to have a national health care system t

        Those people didn’t vote for Republicans over and over again? You sure? Because looking at the “heat maps”….they would be one of the rare ones in their locale that didn’t.

        Agree with the rest, that is if we could issue all those people an N95 every day.

        1. Chris

          Ah fellow Chris, my understanding is that these people largely don’t vote. For Republicans or Democrats :(

      2. Jessica

        The re-open protesters are also not the ones who said that travel restrictions were needed back in the early days when that would have meant quarantining China, not the ones cutting Medicaid in NY in the middle of the pandemic, and not the ones who said masks were unnecessary.
        They are canaries in the coalmine concerning the loss of social trust in the US.
        Though canaries with guns could do real damage.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Personally I find it ironic how conservatives are supposed to be macho people with their big trucks, their stash of armaments, individual dress and the like but when it came time to test their mettle with a world-wide pandemic, they literally lost the plot. The pressure of isolation proved too much for them and they folded like a cheap lawn-deck chair and started storming public buildings, waving around their long-rifles in one hand and the American flag with the other. Didn’t help when you had the Village Idiot in Chief egging them on.

          1. Chris

            This is entirely anecdotal and based on my group of friends and acquaintances, but I haven’t seen that at all.

            All the people I know who were self sufficient and could have placed on the prepper spectrum are doing fine and are prepared to weather this pandemic in their homesteads as long as necessary. They tend to be mainly conservative too. A few of them a crunchy environmentalists living in yurts but most are proud GOP members and enjoy “owning the libtards.” So I don’t know how real it is that conservatives are folding under the pressure of isolation.

            It’s almost too great a storyline to pass up if you’re a Team Blue fan. I’m on board with the assumption that the re-open protests aren’t organic and to the extent people are agitating for a real opening of society again it’s because the pay have no way to support themselves. But this story line smells too convenient to me.

            1. The Rev Kev

              Probably I used too broad a brush here which is unfair. This whole thing does smell like agitprop of the worse sort to get popular sentiment to go with forcing people back to work again. It seems that the people that went to these buildings were recruited over the net and certainly through certain conservative interest groups. The Blue equivalent of these people would probably be the Pink Pussyhat groups I suppose. If they had all worn masks they would have gotten a bit more respect. The trouble is that in the same way that open carry advocates give all gun owners bad publicity, groups like this do give conservatives bad publicity. But then again, the people that used these people wouldn’t care about that.

              1. wilroncanada

                I suspect that most of these “protests” were organized by a small number of either true believers or well-financed oligarch-backed s**t disturbers, for reasons of their own. I doubt that most of them, at least at the organization level, are really the desperate unemployed.

              2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                In another world a pandemic (if the threat is anywhere close to justifying 450 jobs lost per virus death) would be an opportunity to rally behind the leader, or at least behind the concept of a “nation”. Instead it is viewed as a prime opportunity for scoring political cheap shots, exacerbating divisiveness, and selling media clicks. After what our current president has been through, including a hounding by the losers of the last election since before inauguration that included the full and awesome powers of the nation’s spy agencies and organs of justice, I would not be surprised at all for him to simply say F U, you can have it.

          2. bon

            At best foolish. We have a total lack of compassion for people who are going broke and losing everything. Don’t just dismiss their concerns.

            1. Monty

              Crazy idea but… Maybe it’s a better idea to protest the lack of financial support from the government, rather than the one thing they actually did to help save lives.

      3. Wukchumni

        The actual amount of armed protesters at re-opening contraction sites is small, of a similar amount outside the Bastille when stormed by 900, few of whom had guns.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          and this, from the article:
          “Some protesters demanded governments allow people to make their own decisions, and even displayed the pro-choice slogan “My Body My Choice.””

          that’s pretty clever, assuming that most of these folks lean to the Right.
          I can certainly sympathise….when i had to stop working due to hip/global arthritis, I lost a big chunk of Me…I had had an Identity:”The Chef”…and that was gone.
          Who was I now?
          Being a “stay at home dad” or a “disabled person” didn’t quite make up for it…especially among the Mundanes i would encounter on days with less pain.
          decades of ‘welfare queen” a$$holery had had their effect, of course…and the almost universal default stance within the Poor People Programs…”you are most likely a fraudster!”…had long ago seeped out into the collective consciousness, and wasn’t questioned…until by necessity on an individual basis, when people who used to believe all that found that they needed medicaid, etc.
          Our Work has always been tied into our identities(see: surname “Smith” or “miller”)…but from Reagan on, it’s been pathologised and made into a weapon against anything we might find in common with one another.

          1. Wukchumni

            My neighbors are really conservative on one side and really liberal on the other…

            About 6 months ago on a rare occasion when the F-35’s could get it up and were overhead for about 45 minutes, I spied my far right neighbor doing yard work and thought i’d spark up a conversation by saying ‘that was interesting, we haven’t had a flyover for months!’

            And he goes into defensive posture and tells me how Trump is making the military strong again, la de dah, and goes long on Fox News talking points (it’s on at any waking hour in their house) as i’m in wonderment how a nothingburger of a statement from me could be construed to the point where my neighbor had to make a stand, of sorts.

            Slavery to politics is what will do our country in…

          2. Charger01

            This reminds me of a YT clip from Chapo Trap House “let them eat cheesecake”, this armed protester thing in Michigan is a solidly upper to middle class affair. The attire and certain the armament of the protesters suggest that they are likely doing fine to show off their $1-2k firearms in public. The suggestion that they are a cats-paw for DeVos or some other wealthy political insider seems accurate. Ultimately, their protest does little to change their gov’t approach to the quarantine and just draws out the media spectacle.

          3. Bsoder

            Seems to me to work both ways the ‘protesters’ want Gvt off their backs, well I want the protestors off mine.

            1. JTMcPhee

              Gov Whitmer backed off a principled position on maintaining what we call a lockdown, presumably in response to armed and angry “constitutional citizens” making a stand in the statehouse. Appears the cops were not about to back up the power of the state against the demands of “the people who showed up with guns and an agenda.”

              Too bad that decent people do not seem to be capable of standing up the same way for principles they adhere to. But maybe this kind of power only works one way — not much history of decent people standing up to thuggery and idiocy, is there? And the Warsaw Ghetto is not a good example. Carrying that forward in time, please note how the Israelis treat the people they have displaced into Gaza and the West Bank, and the success the Palestinians have had attempting to resist the long strangulation by people organized and ready to use violence against them.

              What would it take to get people who know that the virus is spread to them and their families by this kind of yahootery to push back, rather than waiting hopefully for the institutions of state power to protect them?

      4. Dickeylee

        Most bridge building is union prevailing wage work and as such is a wee bit more than $15 per hour. Building dams takes years, and I thought it is now bad to impound rivers? Learning these skills uses apprenticeships in the trades. How many locals died building Hoover dam again? OK since they were Democrats i guess…

        1. Charger01

          A job guarantees of any stripe ( a la WPA-style program) would be a welcome relief compared to the academic treadmill to obtain an engineering degree. Organized and/or skilled labor would be a superb alternative to get unskilled but eager folks into a productive trade without debt.

          1. Wukchumni

            Acquired a photo album of a fellow who was in the CCC @ the Potwisha area in the upper foothills.

            Potwisha was one of 9 camps in Sequoia NP and close-by environs, and the first operational CCC camp in the west, opened in 1933.

            One of the reasons for the CCC camps, was WW1 Bonus Army vets that had camped out in DC and got rousted by the likes of Ike, Patton & Eisenhower in 1932, was a 2nd Bonus Army gig had been planned for 1933.

            The first enrolled in the CCC were WW1 vets, who were way over the 25 year old threshold limit on younger CCC enrolees to come.

            The album has 80 photos of life @ Potwisha CCC camp, one of which has the entire compliment of 150 or so in a group photo.

            The camp was there for almost a decade…

            Potwisha is now a car campground & I walk by the work they did almost a century ago often, and it’s held up rather well

            He was at this camp for 3 years

            1. Amfortas the hippie

              my maternal grandad was CCC…learned a trade, Lathe and Plaster, that served him the rest of his life…Union, and all.
              Their product is underfoot in numerous county parks and such, scattered around all over the place.
              if you know what to look for.

                1. HotFlash

                  Mms Mary,

                  I’ve tried several times today, get a 520 (cloud error?). Do you have any other source for this?

                  1. marym

                    No, I just tried again and it worked. It’s a great site. Hope you’ll be able to access it.

                    1. HotFlash

                      Wierd! For me just now, still the 530 “Web server is returning an unknown error.” Something about the Cloud? Perhaps it is b/c I am not in the US? or am using LInux? I will keep trying. This is what they tell me to tell the host:

                      You Browse Working
                      Toronto Cloudflare Working (earlier today it was Winnipeg)
             Host Error
                      If you are the owner of this website:

                      There is an issue between Cloudflare’s cache and your origin web server. Cloudflare monitors for these errors and automatically investigates the cause. To help support the investigation, you can pull the corresponding error log from your web server and submit it our support team. Please include the Ray ID (which is at the bottom of this error page). Cloudflare Ray ID: 58ee99aefffdcacc

        2. Bsoder

          Right at least pay union scale in my area $23 in take home per hour, for carpenters $57, Ironworkers $81. Average living wage for 2020 should be $30.

          1. The Historian

            Do you have a link that verifies what carpenters and ironworkers make in your area? Because I’ve never heard of a carpenter or ironworker making over $100,000/year and in fact, the search engines say that carpenters make on average about $41,000/year and ironworkers make about $49,000/year.

            I do know some carpenters and ironworkers who would gladly move to your area if your figures are correct.

            1. Left in Wisconsin

              Union (hourly) scale and average (occupational) wage are two different things. I believe “carpenters” as an occupational category covers a wide range of skilled and less-skilled work, mostly not-unionized. Not so sure about ironworkers. Also, hourly rates for construction workers can’t necessarily be multiplied by 2000 to get annual wages because there are often periods of UE. But yeah, in a good year a union construction worker in these parts can make 6 figures.

        3. Chris

          And here we go. We have laws in place to provide going wages for federal contracts. Most that I’m aware of would start around $15, but fine, forget that. My point was let’s stop waiting for a miracle and start using the systems we have.

          There are lots of dams that could be dismantled. There are lots of dams that could be built. There are lots of dams that could be repaired. Comparing any of that to the construction of Hoover Dam is a straw man argument. OSHA and a lot of other things didn’t exist back then. But you dont like dams, ok, so let’s pick anything else that falls under the US ACEs mandate do that the amount of arguing is minimized and we get the work done ASAP.

          I don’t want anyone to die. Certainly not the people we’re talking about while have had zero agency in the causing the current state of affairs to become so bad.

          1. JTMcPhee

            Add a possible other task — maintenance dredging, marking and improvement of the Intracoastal Waterway and other water arteries of commerce in this country.

            They don’t go all the places rail does, but I believe the cost per ton of shipped goods, both dollars and carbon, is a lot less than by rail or truck.

            1. Bob

              The river systems Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee, Missouri, Columbia, and others operate lock and dam systems to facilitate barge traffic. Some of these civil works were designed and constructed in the 30s.
              Barge transportation is among the cheapest transportation modes for bulk cargo. And for large bulky items.
              Note that the industrial revolution in Britain was based on the transport of goods via barge.
              As far as dams go (and I’m sure that this will raise hackles) Hydro power is among the cheapest electrical generation @ about 2.2 -2.5 cents per kWh.

              The point is that we (America) are blessed with superb natural resources which we know how to build, maintain, and operate.

              What is lacking is the political will to do so,

    1. Oregoncharles

      Why don’t I see any responses to that? Holy family blog, everybody: that’s the smoking gun. It’s an admission, from involved officials, that they were risking creating a pandemic.

      Guess what? we HAVE a coronavirus pandemic. From Wuhan, where NIH was funding gain-of-function research:

      Whether or not it actually came out of the Wuhan lab – and I think the chances are excellent, so to speak – Covid 19 is the reason that kind of research should be criminal. For one thing, the justifications are wafer-thin.

      And I don’t see any reports of shutting down gain-of-function research around the world. Maybe it’s happening, but we don’t see it. Are they trying to avoid huge liability exposures? And I haven’t even read the ncbi article – that’s next.

      Monty – have you sent these links to “blogger@nakedcapitalism”? Because they definitely should be up top.

    2. Oregoncharles

      The ncbi article: The TECHNICAL smoking gun, straight from NIH. Just the list of names – Shi is there, and a bunch of Americans. 15 names. And where were the Americans? “Reported studies were initiated after the University of North Carolina Institutional Biosafety Committee approved the experimental protocol (Project Title: Generating infectious clones of bat SARS-like CoVs; Lab Safety Plan ID: 20145741; Schedule G ID: 12279).”

      Great “Biosafety Committee”. So the virus IS from N. Carolina and Wuhan. No theft involved: they were collaborating.

      SHCO-14 may not be exactly the same virus, but this proves that they were doing exactly this gain-of-function research, 5 years ago. Incidentally, 2015 was BEFORE Trump was even in office, and AFTER the NIH had supposedly stopped funding this type of research.

      15 researchers, plus funders. That’s a big conspiracy, right before our eyes.

  5. The Rev Kev

    “Key U.S. Allies Skeptical of Trump’s Coronavirus Lab Leak Claims”

    I do believe that at this stage the Coronavirus could have ‘Made in China’ stamped on the side of it and the allies would be wary about saying so. The reason is simple. If this was an honest investigation then it would probably not be a story but it is not. This is like how the OPCW has been politicized to make bs statements saying that the Syrians did gas attacks while relying on the evidence supplied by Jihadist groups.

    It is obvious that the Trump government wants to label the whole pandemic as China’s fault in order to undertake a huge array of actions. For a start they will probably sue China for trillions in compensation – probably in a New York court. Maybe seize Chinese assets worldwide. They will also seek to gather an anti-China coalition to try and isolate China internationally and cripple their economy. I do not think that they would be stupid enough to launch military actions but that does not say that if they pushed China hard enough, that China might strike back militarily somewhere in the world.

    And with the whole world’s economy reeling, how many countries will have the financial resources or interest in picking a fight with China? And I think that this is why there is so much push back against this idea which was probably thought up by Pompeo. Obama already re-started a Cold War with Russia. Who really benefits from starting a new additional Cold War with China?

    1. voislav

      Doubtful, for several reasons. US court decisions are only applicable in US, US courts have no authority outside its borders, so no worldwide asset seizure. US also operates outside the international system of justice, so it makes it impossible for US to sue China in international courts, as it doesn’t recognise their jurisdiction.

      Only leverage against China would be to evict China from SWIFT or a similar more drastic action that would impede financial flows, which would be very unpopular in the corporate world. Any asset seizure by US on US territory would be followed by swift retaliation against key US assets in China, which are far more valuable than Chinese assets in the US.

      China blaming looks to be solely for election purposes, with no real endgame. US industry is wholly dependent on Chinese supply chain, so any trade disruptions would have serious consequences.

      1. barefoot charley

        I think that’s right. Trump is an eyeball-bagger, not a strategist. He obviously has no plans extending farther than a tweet-storm. As an imaginative blusterer he will tweet all kinds of crude and alarming things against China. But he won’t remember them.

        Pompeo is an arm-waving loon, but Trump won’t let him start a war, the risk is too great that Pompeo would get credit for it.

    2. Ignacio

      I think there is a second intention with this lab thing. Blame it on public research facilities, cut research funding in public facilities and more precisely justify why previous projects on SARS1.0 that could have saved many lives were cut. Let’s kill the messenger, blame the scientists that called for the risk of emerging zoonosis.

    3. HotFlash

      Here’s my little conspiracy theory. Virus cultivated in China by Deep State/5 Eyes professional spooks. Black project, as in, “If any of your team are caught or killed, the Secretary will disavow …” Even (esp!) the Prez doesn’t know. Oopsie in the lab, all hell breaks loose, Prez fingers China, China denies, of course. Meanwhile, a very nervous 5 Eyes murmurs, “Nothing to see here folks,” and looks desperately for a shiny object.

      Well, it might make an OK movie.

    4. Maxwell Johnston

      I agree: the USA has lost so much credibility that it’s unlikely to get much support for this ‘investigation’. Which is unfortunate, because I don’t think the Chinese government is being (ahem, clearing my throat) completely transparent about the origins of the virus. Witness their reluctance to allow the WHO to investigate the virus’ origins. Even Russia (China’s supposed ally) is getting a bit tetchy as its hospitals fill up; a top Russian scientist recently publicized his suspicions that the virus might have originated from the Wuhan lab…..and I doubt that he would have come out so openly in the Russian media unless he had clearance from the top to express his views. That said, China’s role in this debacle does not excuse the clumsy response that we are seeing by many public health authorities in Europe and the USA.

      1. Ignacio

        The Chinese government is indeed anything but transparent on the origin of the outbreak and the opacity feeds all kind of conspiracy theories.

        1. Olga

          Kinda like we knew Iraq had WMDs… because we sold those to them in the 1980s and still have the receipts. Same logic… And Pompeo concurs … until he does not:

          ““The best experts so far seem to think it was man-made. I have no reason to disbelieve that at this point,” Pompeo said. When the interviewer pointed out that was not the conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies, Pompeo backtracked, saying: “I’ve seen what the intelligence community has said. I have no reasonto believe that they’ve got it wrong.”
          Hope that helps…

    5. geovock

      Regardless of any political agenda on the right for advancing the notion that Sars-CoV-2 came from the WIV, there is a substantial body of solid circumstantial evidence pointing to exactly that possibility. So it is disheartening to see, intelligent, highly informed and politically neutral discussion (see links below) about that either ignored or derided as agenda driven right wing conspiracy theory. Furthermore the fact that scientific assertions denying the possibility that this pandemic started in a lab ignore important considerations – involving “gain of function” research – that are consistent with a position in favor of such. Here it is important to note that the debate over the necessity and safety of gof goes back several years, with a halt put to its use in U.S. labs from 2014-2017. In this regard a cogent critique of gof was put forward by John Altman in the comments section to a recent post on “Virology Blog,” (linked to here last Saturday and now below) countering the assertion made there that gof research could have helped prevent this pandemic. (15:00-41:00 and 47:30-57:20)

    6. Synoia

      I believe China a Sovereign nation, and that Sovereigns can not be sued.

      Where am I wrong?

      1. The Rev Kev

        Late in replying to your comment. Trump has talked about suspending sovereign immunity for China. Totally illegal of course but would he care? Or any of his anti-China team either?

      2. eg

        In this world, you can have all the sovereignty you can take and keep — no more, no less.

  6. Wukchumni

    If Hollywood ever makes films again, the 3rd version of Red Dawn is where America wakes up broke, as the almighty Dollar isn’t that anymore, for the rest of the orb agrees with us, that if we don’t play well with others, then why should the financial world revolve around us?

  7. Chris

    Your daily dose of “Why God Why?” brought to you by Joe Biden’s campaign and Hillary Clinton. Virtual Dinners with Hillary to raise money for the Victory Fund.

    The opportunity to host the virtual dinners on Zoom with Hillary go for 100k$ each, the tickets to attend range from $5600 to $50k with a limited number available at $2800.

    At this point we may have to start voting for the murder wasps…

      1. Arizona Slim

        Yes. One of my longtime friends is an Arizona legislator. She and a couple of colleagues recently hosted a virtual town hall that was Zoom-bombed. The pictures that the bombers planted were not appropriate for display on a family blog.

        1. HotFlash

          Are pranksters still crashing random Zoom meetings?

          Then perhaps the pranksters need to become more focused.

    1. Geo

      With a serious and sad face Sally Struthers addresses the camera: “Today in Westchester Country a woman goes hungry. Hungry for the adoration and attention she has been deprived of and without your help she will starve.”

      Camera zooms out and reveals Hillary Clinton huddled on the ground swatting a fly from her face then looking back into the camera with desperation in her eyes.
      Struthers: “But, for just $2,800 you can help feed her ego. Won’t you please help Hillary? Make a difference and donate today”

      Fade to black.

  8. Wukchumni

    One godsend of the crisis has been the near complete lack of robo or human assisted sales calls, but did I get a doozie yesterday.

    Some bigwig from a dinosaur distillate too big to fail asked if I had any storage capability here for Texas Tea to sell, and would I mind if they used heavy equipment with 10 foot tall tires, to excavate a giant hole to stick it back in the ground for a spell?

    1. Monty

      Could it be because they realized that there was no demand for all the “free cruises” they were awarding anymore?

  9. The Rev Kev

    “Why Warlike One-Upmanship Works to Russia’s Benefit”

    Sounds like the National Interest is still at it. I liked it when they said ‘In recent years, Russian warplanes have resumed their Cold War practice of buzzing American ships or aircraft that venture into any sea or airspace that Moscow considers a Russian preserve.’ They are right there. If you consider the Russian border and Russian coastline a Russian preserve that is. Probably Russia feels about the Black Sea too the same way that Americans feel about the Gulf of Mexico.

    And I can only imagine what would be said if Russian aircraft started buzzing American ships and aircraft off Nova Scotia or the Gulf of Alaska. I’m not sure how well that would go down. Just today I read how the US Navy sent ships into the Barents Sea for the first time since the 80s off of Russia’s Arctic coastline. It was ‘to assert freedom of navigation’ and all that of course so entirely peaceful.

    There was one bit that I thought was tongue in cheek when they said ‘The Russian armed forces—like all armed forces—have to live within their means.’ I think that the Pentagon is the only organization in history that does not have that worry. Would the US military have better weaponry if they were forced to live within their means? I guess that we will never know.

  10. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Birdwatching

    I have been doing this more myself recently too. I’ve always liked just sitting by a pond watching the ducks play around. Mostly we have mallards and some Canadian geese and I always enjoy the ducklings about this time of year. But now being home during the day, I’ve taken to bringing my binoculars with me on some mid-day walks and noticed that not all of the ducks floating around are mallards. I’ve also seen red breasted mergansers (which look like mallards from a distance), buffleheads, a common goldeneye, eiders, and some surf scoters, all just a short walk from my house.

    Who knew there were so many around?

    1. Dr. John Carpenter

      I set up a feeder outside my window where I work. When I have to go back to the office, I’m really going to miss it. ( I work in the center of an open office, not a window in sight.)

    2. rd

      I have been setting up my garden as an ecosystem with native plants for about 10-15 years now. I just put several new species in this spring to continue to build bio-diversity.

      My new home office looks out a back window over the backyard and a stormwater basin that converted into a high quality wetland. There are several large trees in view (not in leaf yet). It has been a parade of many different species of birds (and bunnies, chipmunks, squirrels, etc.) over the past few weeks. Many are getting ready to nest in the shrubs and trees using some of the grasses and other plant matter that I let stand over the winter to build the nests. You can watch the birds climbing on the branches and hunting on the ground for the insects that are their major food source this time of the year.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        That sounds very nice! We planted some asters in the flower bed last year – they are native to this area and coming up nicely this year. It’s supposed to be good caterpillar food, which will hopefully attract more birds too.

        I have a pair of chickadees nesting in a birdhouse and a whole flock of cedar waxwings enjoying the remnants of last year’s fruit from holly bushes and crabapple trees. And my wife identified some ruby crested kinglets which I’d never seen before. They seem to be enjoying the tamarac tree in our yard – not sure if they’re nesting in it (evidently they do prefer conifers) or just eating some bugs.

      2. barefoot charley

        My home office looks into an enormous live oak flitted through by many migrants and squirrels but especially by squalling acorn woodpeckers. But they principally attack my barn wall of old redwood siding, where they drill without deposit, though my 2 x 6s holding up the deck roof get stuffed with scores, maybe hundreds of acorns every fall, and emptied out every summer. I’m a food bank!

    3. The Historian

      Sadly, the bird population that used to hang out in my linden and apple trees is way down this year. I think it has to do with the hawks that have set up residence in the park behind my house this year. I haven’t seen any cats around lately because the coyotes have also moved into the area.

      1. barefoot charley

        My barn swallows didn’t reproduce as well as usual last year (usually two clutches of 4 nestlings per nest), and this summer we see only one (not yet) breeding pair. It’s really upsetting, and I suspect the damn ravens have something to do with it, though I like them too.

  11. CuriosityConcern

    Re: Lebensunwertes Leben, Trump, the Republican Senate, and the ineffectual Democratic house are presiding over a mitigatable 9/11 per day.

  12. Monty

    UK Office if National Statistics released the all cause mortality data from weekending 4/24.

    The provisional number of deaths registered in England and Wales in Week 17 (week ending 24 April 2020) decreased from 22,351 in Week 16 (week ending 17 April 2020) to 21,997. This is 11,539 more deaths than the five-year average of 10,458.

    Excess deaths running at an eye watering 110% of the expected average for England And Wales.
    26% of all deaths in care homes.
    40% of all deaths in over 75 age group.

    1. Ignacio

      Yep, this is sad. In Spain there were about 9.000 casualties “in excess” in between March and April after counting Covid-19 official casualties. I guess not everyone counts equally “just pneumonia, sorry not tested”.

      1. Pat

        I will point out that here in NY, I was told by a police officer that they are the ones deciding if someone died of natural causes if the death occurs outside of the hospital. The ME’s office is so slammed they aren’t even coming if unless the death is suspicious. How can this non medical expert tell if this was a heart attack or cancer or a stroke or yes, pneumonia from Covid-19? And if the person had been sick, is that enough to make it ‘suspicious’. IOW, it isn’t just the being slammed on testing, here it is probably avoiding the doctor because they cannot afford it unless it is urgent…oops waited too long. Then it comes down to how how much the police precinct feels pressure not to add to the back up for autopsies to find out after the fact that someone who didn’t try to get tested was sick with the virus.

        IOW, our system is so broken it doesn’t even get that far, Spain is still closer to functioning by comparison.

  13. dougie

    “Small firms still in the dark about loan forgiveness”

    My auto repair shop applied for, and received, funding from the PPP. We were lucky enough to slide in on the last day of the first tranche. Considered an essential business, we have been able to remain open, albeit with many modifications to how we transact business( all touch free). It was our worst revenue month in over 10 years.

    These funds have allowed me to avoid pay cuts to our staff of 9, pay rent, etc…..The lack of guidance on many key concerns(will I be penalized for dismissing, with cause, 3 employees who were not cutting the mustard in their first 30-60 days with us?) If so, I will have $17k of clawback. There are more…..

    When you realize that ALL the forgiven money has to be taken as normal income, on top of your regular business income, the back door tax ramifications could be staggering( and costly). I have just about come to the conclusion that I want to repay the entire amount over 18 months,which can be expensed out in a much more tax friendly way.

    I am glad we got the funding, but there are so many Catch-22 scenarios that it is ridiculous. It’s going to screw a LOT of small business people lacking the acumen to deal with it before the inevitable trainwreck.

    As Lambert says, It’s not a bug, it’s a FEATURE”!!

    1. Geo

      Was talking with some friends who own a business and they said their bank rep was pushing them to apply for the loan even saying they (the bank) would do all the paperwork. They turned it down for the reasons you stated. Never trust a money-lender who offers a free loans anymore than a man in an unmarked windowless van offering free candy.

      Glad you got the immediate aid needed and really glad you’re being cautious about the long term ramifications. All the best to you and your employees. We’re in for a tough time for all the “little people” as the disaster capitalists go on another Viking rampage.

      1. dougie

        OH, I could tell some surreal stories about this shit show….. About how my application languished in the queue of a TBTF bank, while they took care of their large corporate customers first. I learned from an industry group that PayPal had affiliated with a banking outfit. I submitted with them, and was funded in 15 hours. through PAYPAL!!

        You can’t make stuff like this up.

        The banks are on the hooks for these loans, and are funding them with their own money, not government money. The government started out with a 4% loan that the banks could make money on, then sliced it down to .5, or 1% last minute. The banks are taking all the risks, and all they get are origination fees down the road. And full liability if the loans are not repaid.

        My banker admitted that, when I asked him point blank

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Not so fast, anyone paying attention (post 2008) would know that banks do not ever risk losing money, no never not ever. We had some misdirection initially (Oh oh $700B for TARP, Congress must act!) followed by the real show where banks received $29 T-t-t-rillion (GAO number) with lovely Citi receiving $2.6 T-t-t-rillion so they could keep the bonuses flowing.

          Appreciate that maybe your local banker is not fully fluent with the GGG (Great Grifter Game) but be assured that *bankers* as a class will be one of the best-protected groups in this whole BNN (Bad New Normal).

    2. The Historian

      My daughter who runs a small business has also refused to apply for that loan because it is still a loan and she says no one has been able to adequately explain to her what the terms for loan forgiveness are in detail. She has managed to keep her company in the black for 10 years and does not want to risk her business on some fluffy language in that bill that may or may not work as outlined. She has been hustling to keep her business afloat and her employees paid, using her internet skills in as many creative ways that she can think of, and so far, so good.

      1. periol

        I have counseled my mother to treat this money as a loan until we hear definite terms for forgiveness. Her non-profit qualified for $34k of funding in the second round (more than she asked for hmm…). She is going to be using this exclusively for payroll only until the forgiveness guidelines do or do not come out. If the loan will not be forgiven, she is planning on not spending another penny of it, paying it back and just taking that 1% fee as worth the potential risk.

    3. Astrid


      I believe as long as you hire someone else to replace them and keep your payroll headcount the same, you should qualify for forgiveness under the PPP. This isn’t legal advice, just heresay from me reading askamanager, but it’s worth investigating whether you can mitigate your exposure.

      1. dougie

        Actually, per the “high net worth client” accounting firm that I paid $500 to guide me through this……Disclosure: I am NOT a high net worth client, but I know people who are, and they hooked a few “deplorables” up,(grins)….. there is not clear guidance on that yet, original guidance did not differentiate between laying off “with cause”, or laying off due to the virus. If you laid off due to the virus, for total forgiveness, the gubmint wants you to rehire the layoffs, and pay back pay from when they were laid off.

        That wasn’t going to work for me, we had hired for a growth surge we were having.They were an unspectacular lot. Letting them go did not affect my headcount, since we were allowed to do the head count based on employment levels of a year ago. I think it will resolve in my favor, but we shall see. Life’s an adventure!

        1. periol

          I found an article that lays out the formula for determining headcount for PPP Loan Forgiveness. You should do this calculation upfront, before you spend the money, so you understand what your forgiveness situation will look like. If the headcount for your payroll is lower than the amount determined by this formula, you lose a percentage of the forgiveness.

          This site was very helpful:

          Here is the calculation you can use to determine if you’ve met this requirement:

          First, determine the average number of full-time equivalent employees you had for:

          The 8-week period following your initial loan disbursement, (A)
          February 15, 2019 to June 30, 2019, (B1)
          and January 1, 2020 to February 29, 2020. (B2)

          Take A and divide that by B1. Do the same with B2. Take the largest number you obtain. If you’re a seasonal employer, you must divide by B1.

          If you get a number equal to or larger than 1, you successfully maintained your headcount and meet this requirement.

          If you get a number smaller than 1, you did not maintain your headcount and your forgivable expenses will be reduced proportionately.

          1. periol

            Just to follow-up, because the wording in the article is a little muddy…

            In order to qualify for full loan forgiveness, your current headcount needs to match your headcount during either Feb. 15-June 30 last year, or Jan 1- Feb 29 this year.

            Whichever period most closely matches your current headcount is the one you pick.

  14. Ignacio

    RE: Texans Brace for a COVID-19 ‘Explosion’ Just Days After Reopening Daily Beast. Should be two weeks, no?

    Median time from contagion to hospital is about 16 days… so two weeks sounds fairly accurate.

    1. Wukchumni

      I’m steadfastly against using human guinea pigs for research work in an open air lab test-but if they’re gonna volunteer, i’m going to watch what happens in the aporkalypse a fortnight to come.

      1. Geo

        Been trying to stifle it but my cynical nihilistic side has been beating out my optimistic humanist side lately. I’m with you on this. If they want to be volunteer test subjects then have at it.

        I worry for those who lack options and resources to protect themselves and those who must work and risk their own health to serve and save the Market-worshipping death cultists.

    2. rd

      Three weeks. It will take a week for them to do the testing and get test results get back. So that will give it another week to spread before anybody realizes what happened. States like Texas don’t really want to know what is going on, because it would look bad.

      1. Geo

        “States like Texas don’t really want to know what is going on, because it would look bad.”

        This is true for all topics of social importance.

      2. Amfortas the hippie

        some Texans sure would like to know what’s going on.
        besides me and mine, the 3 nurses i talked to today…including the one who stuck the cotton on a stick so far up my nose i felt sure my brains would start leaking out.
        They would really like to do a whole lot more testing. Told me that because we are considered a “hot spot”, due to the ratio of the population that suddenly presented, they have enough tests to forgo the previous rules about rationing the tests to those already sick.
        All of them, when queried, said they were worried most about the asymptomatic spread…as well as about how much is still unknown about this bug.
        As for me, i am instructed to essentially do what i have been doing: stay home…along with everyone who lives with me.
        so i get a reprieve from the derned supply runs that it feels like i’ve gone on every day.
        Since friday, when we had our explosion of cases, masks have become a lot more common in town.

        please remember that not everyone in Texas is a sheet-wearing, gun-toting moron with boots.
        The vast majority look just like any other urban or suburban dweller in USA, and are no more likely to be an extreme right wing nut job than your neighbor in New York.
        we do tend to talk funny, the more outside the city you get.

        1. Wukchumni

          Houston (pronounced ‘HOW-stan’) we have a problem with half of the country in contempt of the other half, who are as contemptuous if not more of those in contempt of them in a miasma of misunderstanding an inch deep and almost 3,000 miles wide.

        2. Oregoncharles

          From backwater to hotspot in one weekend – what an achievement!

          Good luck to you and yours, anyway. I assume you’ll keep us informed; I enjoy your posts.

          It’s nice to hear there still IS a regional accent there – I’ve encountered some evidence those are fading away, like people from Tennessee or Norleans with no accent.

          Personally, I was glad to be rid of mine; southern Indiana is not one of the euphonious ones. More hill billy.

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            west central texas’ accent is different from my east texas drawl…so i still stick out.
            words like “Hog” have five syllables, for instance, when i say them…the natives say it in a more clipped way.
            These weird regional accents are dying out…due to TV, mostly…and so many going to college and just plain moving away.
            there’s actually a fair bit of linguistic study on this out there(links not to hand, atm).
            They survive most out in the sticks, “far from the maddening crowd”…the more isolated the population, the more distinct their dialect.

            1. Wukchumni

              Regional accents have softened since I was a kid. Our neighbors relatives from Texas came out west every year for a few weeks, and I remember not understanding 2 out of 5 words that emanated from the mouth of a Tejas 9 year old, who in all other respects-habits-etc, looked just like me.

      3. Ignacio

        A phrase cited in the article attributed to Dallas County Judge Jenkins:

        “But at this point it’s up to each person in Texas to make good choices”

        Well, an epidemic is not exactly about personal choices but the fate of the community. This is apparently hard to comprehend.

        1. Wukchumni

          Isn’t imploring people to ‘make good choices’ something a parent instills in their 6 year old?

  15. Trent

    Anyone have any ideas how a global reset would go? Say if China and Russia decided not to play to Americas tune anymore?

  16. antidlc

    Fed Chair Powell Has Upwards of $11.6 Million Invested with BlackRock, the Firm that Will Manage a $750 Billion Corporate Bond Bailout Program for the Fed

    I am unable to post a link. It is at wall street on parade dot com

    Powell is a member of that one percent class. According to his 2019 financial disclosure, his net worth could run as high as $55 million. Much of his investments are with Goldman Sachs (a Wall Street bank that is supervised by the Fed) or with BlackRock and its iShares Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs). The government mandated financial disclosures report investment values in a range. The upper value of Powell’s holdings with BlackRock is $11.6 million. The upper range of Powell’s holdings with Goldman Sachs is $16.55 million. The name Goldman Sachs has been shortened to “GS” in the disclosure document.

    These would appear to be large conflicts of interest. BlackRock has been selected to manage the unprecedented buying of both investment grade and junk bonds on behalf of the Fed to the tune of approximately $750 billion according to the most recent term sheet from the Fed. Even more conflicted, the Fed will allow BlackRock to buy up its own sinking junk bond ETFs using taxpayer and Fed money.

    1. Yves Smith

      BlackRock manages a ton of ETFs. This is a nothingburger. BlackRock makes very little in % terms and any broker can buy and sell ETFs.

  17. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

    I would like to thank the editors for presenting occasional skeptical views about the ‘Rona panic. We know so little about where it actually came from and exactly how much of a doom-threat it is (what, less than a million world wide fatalities on a planet with 7 billion humans?). I’m disappointed that so many of my ‘radical’ favorites have gone full on Accelerationist. I suppose Mr D. Henwood and so many others hope the Covid will derail capitalism somehow. That would be cool but I wouldn’t invest too heavily in that proposition.

    1. Monty

      Everyone is a genius with the benefit of hindsight.

      To be honest, I’m glad we ended u up with less, rather than more deaths.

      Can you tell us what’s going to happen in 2 months from now, so that we can profit from your amazing clairvoyance?

  18. Wukchumni

    Norwegian Cruise Line says it has “substantial doubt” about its ability to meet its financial obligations as a “going concern” while its industry remains in limbo due to the coronavirus.

    In a securities filing Tuesday, the cruise company said it expects to see hits to operations, growth, reputation, cash flow, share price and more as customers weigh whether it is safe or even feasible to travel. Bookings for the rest of 2020 are “meaningfully lower” than last year even with deep discounting, with declines projected for 2021 as well.

    I’m guessing the refund voucher on our ill-fated family cruise for a future NCL cruise is worth approx bupkis, but in our favor at least we won’t have to deal with herd mutiny.

    1. Massinissa

      Herd Mutiny, lol.

      Sounds like what will happen if either US or UK reach a million deaths…

      Give it 3 months IMO.

  19. Susan the other

    Thanks for the gallery. Surreal art = amusing; funny; sobering. A profound natural process.

  20. marym

    It’s a big club…

    K Street requests taxpayer bailout of corporate lobbyist
    Lobbyists have stepped up a campaign to make sure professional influence peddlers are eligible for the PPP, or P3, funds.

    Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., and Rep. Ami Bera, D-Calif., two leading moderate Democrats, have expressed support for the campaign. The two lawmakers participated in a conference call last month with industry executives and lobbyists, pledging to try to change the eligibility requirements.

    (Other Dems in support: Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill.

    Despite skyrocketing unemployment, Tennessee Valley Authority plans to outsource hundreds of federal jobs to overseas companies
    As Donald Trump vows to save the economy amid the global pandemic, while the number of Americans filing for unemployment has skyrocketed to 30 million, the Tennessee Valley Authority, or TVA, the nation’s largest government-owned power provider, has announced plans to outsource 20 percent of its highly-skilled technology workforce to Capgemini, CGI, and Accenture — companies based in France, Canada, and Ireland respectively.

  21. VietnamVet

    The Pandemic fell the Western Empire. But instead of a multipolar world, it now bipolar. Nations that controlled the Wuhan Coronavirus and those who can’t. Russia could join the USA and UK as failed states. Boeing is finished. Their planes will only fly in the dirty countries. The clean nations will have to erect strict barriers so people and goods that could carry the virus are disinfected and quarantined for months. Wall Street and City of London will no longer be safe havens. The high irony is that if the Master of the Universe could have ignored their greed and spent a fraction of their wealth to save the lives of unfortunates and restored the public health system, they would have kept a good portion of their wealth instead of losing it all. From this point forward, US dollars (Paper Greenbacks) are dirty possibly contaminated with an invisible deadly virus. Only digital money is virus free, but it needs a continuous supply of electricity and healthy essential workers. The death throes will be severe and bloody.

  22. MarkT

    Forget the hysteria about a Covid vaccine which may never come. Focus on other “non profitable options”.

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