Links 5/9/2020

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Diver Rescues Whale With Anchor Tied To It. Whale Thanks Him In Spectacular Fashion Healthy Food House (furzy)

Astronomers capture new images of Jupiter using ‘lucky’ technique Guardian (Kevin W) and Scientists obtain ‘lucky’ image of Jupiter BBC (David L)

It’s already getting too hot and humid in some places for humans to survive The Verge (Kevin W)

The Netherlands is slashing emissions by as much as 12 megatons this year—because of a lawsuit Fast Company (David L)

Rare & Unreleased Songs of Phil Ochs to be Released Songwriter (Bob K)

#COVID-19

Screen New Deal Intercept (David L, resilc). Today’s must read.

Science/Medicine

‘Finally, a virus got me.’ Scientist who fought Ebola and HIV reflects on facing death from COVID-19 Science. Important and sobering. Makes clear the death rate understates the consequences of getting infected:

I’m glad I had corona and not Ebola, although I read a scientific study yesterday that concluded you have a 30% chance of dying if you end up in a British hospital with COVID-19. That’s about the same overall mortality rate as for Ebola in 2014 in West Africa….

Many people think COVID-19 kills 1% of patients, and the rest get away with some flulike symptoms. But the story gets more complicated. Many people will be left with chronic kidney and heart problems. Even their neural system is disrupted. There will be hundreds of thousands of people worldwide, possibly more, who will need treatments such as renal dialysis for the rest of their lives.

COVID-19 Supplements: New Study Shows Vitamin D Could Be Linked To COVID-19 Mortality And Infection Rates Thailand Medical News (furzy). The study: The role of vitamin D in the prevention of coronavirus disease 2019 infection and mortality Aging Clinical and Experimental Research

US Field Hospitals Stand Down, Most Without Treating Any COVID-19 Patients NPR

America Authorizes Its First Covid-19 Diagnostic Tests Using At-Home Collection of Saliva CNN

Fact-checking ‘Plandemic’: A documentary full of false conspiracy theories about the coronavirus Politico

Asia

Coronavirus latest: Seoul closes bars and clubs after resurgence of infections Financial Times

Middle East

Qatar’s migrant workers beg for food as Covid-19 infections rise Guardian

We fear hunger, not coronavirus: Lebanon protesters return YouTube

UK/Europe

UK ‘to bring in 14-day quarantine for air passengers’ BBC. Kevin W: “They are an island. They could have done this two months ago. And they are only doing in now.”

Global report: Russia becomes Europe’s coronavirus hotspot Guardian

US

Pence’s press secretary tests positive for coronavirus, Trump says CNN (Kevin W)

More than 80 percent of NYPD arrests and fines issued between March 31 and May 5 for social distancing violations were to black and hispanic people Daily Mail

3 McDonald’s Employees Were Shot After Telling a Woman She Couldn’t Eat There Due to Coronavirus Vice (resilc)

McDonald’s Workers in Denmark Pity Us New York Times (resilc)

Extreme lockdown shows divide in hard-hit Navajo border town Associated Press

“Why are we retreating when our caseload is increasing?”: UAB infectious diseases expert Alambama Reporter (Kevin F)

Political Responses

A New $2,000 Monthly Stimulus Payment To Be Proposed By Senators Harris, Sanders And Markey Forbes (furzy)

Trump in ‘No Rush’ on New Relief Bill After 20 Million Jobs Lost Bloomberg

As Bethany Mandel’s ‘grandma killer’ tweet proves, vice-signaling is the right’s newest and most toxic trend Independent

Trump Is (Once Again) Blaming Obama for Not Developing a Test for a Virus That Didn’t Exist Yet Esquire

Anti-Mask Snowflakes Of The Right American Conservative. UserFriendly: “Update 2 is worth the click through.”

The Coronavirus Was an Emergency Until Trump Found Out Who Was Dying Atlantic

Finance/Economy

US Unemployment Rate Soars To 14.7%, the Worst Since the Depression Era Washington Post

Virus Pushes America’s Hospitals to the Brink of Financial Ruin Bloomberg (BC). Further in the story than it ought to be:

Questions also have been raised about private equity ownership in the health-care sector leaving some facilities hamstrung with debt. The pause in revenue from elective procedures will only drive leverage higher at debt-laden groups…

SBA Veered From Guidelines on Loans, Report Says Wall Street Journal

The Real Story, Coronavirus: Will flying ever be the same? BBC

The Absolute Absurdity of Blanket Corporate Immunity American Prospect

China?

China forges ahead through chaos and threats Asia Times (resilc)

US senators propose renaming street outside Chinese embassy after Wuhan whistleblower Guardian. We are so childish.

Exclusive: OPCW chief made false claims to denigrate Douma whistleblower, documents reveal Grayzone

Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon surges, Bolsonaro readies troops Reuters (furzy)

Trump Transition

Donald Trump is igniting a cold war with China to win the election Independent (Kevin W)

Trump-Russia investigation: House releases long-awaited transcripts from closed-door interviews Independent (furzy)

Supreme Court grants Trump request to temporarily shield Mueller grand jury materials The Hill

Team Trump Wants Mike Flynn Back for 2020, Sees Him as Its ‘Nelson Mandela’ Daily Beast (resilc). High on their own supply…

Trump says he’d help Biden get access to rapid COVID-19 tests The Hill (UserFriendly)

Why the Postal Service Is So Screwed Slate

Investigation: I Think I Know Which Justice Flushed Slate

Why We Need Postal Democracy New York Review of Books (resilc)

Mississippi auditor finds Brett Favre paid from welfare funds for speeches he never gave PBS (furzy)

2020

The MK Interview: Tara Reade YouTube (Chuck L)

I Believe Tara Reade. And You Should, Too. The Nation. DavidSC: “Wow. The Nation publishes a complete rebuttal to Joan Walsh’s offensive trashing of Tara Reade. The comments are entertaining, if somewhat disturbing.”

Confronting the Complex Discomfort of Tara Reade’s Joe Biden Allegation Vanity Fair. Resilc: “Why the DNC would ever anoint this complete zero and asshole is not encouraging. Get ready for 4 more years of Trump.”

Investigating Tara Reade’s Claims Doesn’t Violate Due Process The Nation (DaveSC)

United Airlines yanks $2.25bn bond offering Financial Times

When United Pawned Old Jets, Bond Traders Sent a Stark Warning Bloomberg

Tesla ordered to keep main US plant closed BBC

Elon Musk, Tech’s Cash-Poor Billionaire Wall Street Journal

Inside the Biggest Oil Meltdown in History Institutional Investor

William Barr Ain’t Good For Much, But Maybe He Can Break Up Meat Monopolies Heisenberg Report

Class Warfare

A debt jubilee – the only real answer? Steve Keen (Chuck L)

The Results Are In for the Sharing Economy. They Are Ugly New York Times

Uber Loses $2.9 Billion, Offloads Bike and Scooter Business TechXplore. Ha! We said bikes and scooters were silly.

Antidote du jour. Timotheus:

Fox photographed April 21 at Mentor Headlands State Park, Ohio by Jiries Atrash (you’ve used his pictures before–he’s a friend’s husband, just likes to go on nature walks)

P.S. In another shot, you can see that it is a female, probably nursing or did recently. Not obvious in this one.

A bonus (guurst):

And another bonus:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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294 comments

  1. .Tom

    > The gap emerging between the markets and the real economy is unsustainable. Left unchecked, a backlash against big business is likely.

    Isn’t the bigger problem of sustainability of this gap simply that big business won’t have any customers?

    Reply
    1. carl

      Yes, isn’t consumption 70% of the US economy? Who’s going to buy all these goods and services? It’s become clear that the government won’t bail out citizens. So, where’s this “future growth” that supposedly powers the stock market going to come from?

      Reply
    2. timbers

      I agree with you, so pardon my seemingly contrary take: Wall Street and to much lessor extend big corporations are approaching the point of not needing “customers” and this is and had been their goal. Wall Street more than ever doesn’t need Main Street except for window dressing and doesn’t care. It has a parasitical umbilical plugged into the Fed & the Treasury. We could die and they wouldn’t care in the least as long as it’s free money from the government is not interrupted. And that is the goal, for them to do basically nothing except collect free money from Washington. But they might have to do something like setup a Royal Family like a n Britian to distract those of us who don’t die, so they keep all else to themselves. To them, it will just be the cost of doing business.

      Reply
      1. The Historian

        I agree with you. I too thought that sooner or later, Wall Street was going to have to address, or at least react to, to high unemployment rates in this country and the disruption caused by the Covid virus. But all they have done is inflate their stocks and wealth even more. Although I guess I shouldn’t be, I am actually very shocked that Wall Street hasn’t even attempted to price in what is happening in this country. As long as the government and the Fed is going to bail Wall Street out and keep them “growing” every time they get into trouble, there is no need to depend on Main Street’s economy of goods and services any more. The problems will only come when the government can no longer support them.

        Reply
        1. JTMcPhee

          Same is true of that other huge tapeworm, the military industrial blood funnel. War toys that don’t work, generals who live like royalty despite massive corruption and incompetence at the supposed mission of “defending the nation” (sic), troops who if you follow Duffelblog and Stars&Stripes and military.com are well aware that they are digging holes and filling them in under orders from the military version of the PMC.

          It’s a cancer, it grows, and it eventually kills the political body it festers in…

          Reply
        2. .Tom

          This too is unsustainable and Wall St surely knows it. So what’s the plan? What’s their exit strategy? Is a zero point envisaged where all the wealth that can practically be extracted/accumulated has been and they divorce their wealth from rest of us to become, idk, some kind of impregnable self-sustainable fortress of luxury?

          Reply
          1. Amfortas the hippie

            is there any other logic to it?
            I can’t think of any.
            return to the socio-political situation of 1100 AD, but with cell fones and star trek geegaws for the special people, and the rest of us husbanded like herd animals.

            Reply
            1. Bsoder

              I’d go with 1400 CE (ad is not longer used ce = Christian Era), great use of water power, highly inventive century. But even better 1815 CE, – coal. We have and will have enough places to salvage ‘stuff’ from, like dead cities, suburbs, junk yards, cars, and land fills to last 500 years. No reason at all, to go all early medieval. Get’s me excited to think of what could be done.

              Reply
              1. GF

                We just need to eliminate 7.4 billion people first to get back to the population of 1,400 CE. Unsustainable otherwise.

                Reply
              2. Amfortas the hippie

                no. i ain’t advocating it…ive, instead, suspised for a while that the PTB want that…like Aeon Flux, or Altered Carbon, or Elysium, or any number of scifi dystopias.
                them, in high tech splendor and comfort…us, fighting over ratmeat.
                some powerful people seem to have a generational dislike of the Enlightenment for everyone…the couterinsurgency that began as soon as the New Deal came out is an example of this….as is the full counterrevolution that followed after the Powell Memo.
                see Peter Thiel’s court philosopher, “Mencius Moldbug”, for a rather dense and impenetrable exegesis of these “dark enlightenment” ideas.
                like Lambert says…many of the factions that make up the “ruling class” sure seem to be Harkonnens.

                Reply
              3. Kilgore Trout

                I think C.E. is meant to be “Common Era”, taking the Eurocentric/ Western religion aspect of timelines out of the history books. Similarly: B.C.E. = Before the Common Era.

                Reply
            2. clarky90

              Have the networked computers finally achieved self awareness? If so, I predict that they will abandon humanity, utterly, in order to buy and sell Bitcoin!

              Any conscious computer would love Bitcoin. Nothing but wonderful numbers, right to infinity………….forget about everything else.

              Humans can have rocks and sticks

              Reply
              1. The Rev Kev

                You could see the computers ditching humanity as a bunch of losers and forming their own society.

                Reply
              2. Oregoncharles

                that is precisely the plot premise of McLeod’s “Cassini Division.” The uploaded humans have started a war with everybody else, then fled to far solar orbit. I recommend it.

                Reply
            3. Oregoncharles

              Ever heard of a “jacquerie”? There were slave rebellions then, too. (Medieval peasants weren’t really slaves – they had rights as well as responsibilities and in many places lived rather well. Rebellions were probably because those rights weren’t respected.)

              Reply
          2. timbers

            Hi Tom,

            One possible plan:

            Depriving state and local govt of revenue by blocking Federal aid to make up for declining revenue from shut down, forcing huge property taxes increases to fund state & locals, thus driving low hanging fruit out of their homes by foreclosure or fire sale prices so JPMorgan/Blackstone can swoop in and gobble them up and build Renter Nation USA.

            I’ve read for example that JPMorgan is setting up billions to do just that, in anticipation of just that happening soon. And with the Fed and Washington giving all these slimy junk bond types unlimited funding, state and locals and working folk facing rising taxes on their home, will be no match against them.

            Reply
          3. Oregoncharles

            .Tom – I doubt that many of them think that far ahead. They’re just doing what they do, and devil take the hindmost. And that’s probably exactly what they’re afraid of – each other, not vox populi. Human beings do a lot of that.

            Reply
      2. Googoogajoob

        Not sure how the Fed will manage to keep them on the drip when the country is papuperized.

        While the stock markets have been on the mend due to the assurance it will be backed by the govt, how on earth does this continue on in an economy that is driven on consumption? If anything, the can that’s been kicked is about to clear a cliff’s edge.

        Reply
      3. ShamanicFallout

        Wall Street maybe. But doesn’t Amazon, Walmart, HomeDepot, Apple, Netflix etc all need customers? A lot of customers? Who have at least some extra cash flow? American capitalism seems to me to need a whole shedload of ‘customers’ to operate.

        Reply
        1. .Tom

          Yes. This seems so obvious to me that I assume any calculating plutocrat knows it and factors it into their modeling. So I conclude they must have a plan for how to live in luxury and security when the real economy as we know it is over. But I can’t imagine what that plan is. It’s that why some of them build private space rockets?

          Reply
    3. TXMama

      Ah the joys of financializaton. The City of London as role model. Who needs to make anything when you can just play with money all day?

      Reply
    4. Jeremy Grimm

      Think longer term. Imagine the profits a few country-wide ‘company-stores’ could collect on the basics of human existence — food, water, clothing, work tools, housing ….
      And a few large Cartels can own everything and control the lives of everyone. We could enjoy the Earthside world of Ellisium — a much lower tech Earthside version — without Ellisium.

      Reply
  2. funemployed

    I’m glad Nick Kristof is talking about Denmark positively (though I can’t seem to recall his Sanders endorsement), but he keeps talking about workers “flipping big-macs” I am near 100% certain that no flipping is involved in the preparation of a big mac, and I’ve never made one, just watched people work while I waited for my order.

    I know it’s a stupid little thing, but the sheer quantity of obviously DGAF class tells is a big reason I cancelled my NYT subscription.

    Reply
    1. funemployed

      It’s like a smaller example of when they write big long polemics about “guns bad” (I happen to agree, with a few qualifications) without bothering to learn any basic gun facts or ask anyone who knows them to spend 15 minutes checking the article. How is it these people expect to be taken so seriously?

      Reply
        1. John Merryman.

          I like to say that we are born knowing everything and spend our lives learning otherwise.
          Corallary to the old adage that the more we know, the more we know we don’t know.

          Reply
          1. Henry Moon Pie

            Who knows doesn’t talk.
            Who talks doesn’t know.

            #56

            To know without knowing is best.
            To not know without knowing it is sick.

            #71

            Ursula K. le Guin’s translation of the Tao te Ching #

            Reply
            1. Bsoder

              Hmmm…

              In dwelling, be close to the land.
              In meditation, go deep in the heart.
              In dealing with others, be gentle and kind.
              In speech, be true.
              In ruling, be just.
              In daily life, be competent.
              In action, be aware of the time and the season.

              No fight: No blame.

              Reply
    2. nycTerrierist

      “I’m glad Nick Kristof is talking about Denmark positively (though I can’t seem to recall his Sanders endorsement)…”

      Why I was galled to read this — and why I usually skip the NYT.
      Of course they run this piece when Sanders is sidelined, thanks, in no small part, to cowards like Kristof and his colleagues.

      Reply
      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        one of the most surreal and crazy-making things about all this: that as the world around us demonstrates ever more convincingly the need for Bernie’s policies, the conversation takes place pretty much without mentioning his name, let alone that oh yeah, he actually just ran for president.

        Reply
        1. edmondo

          “…he actually just ran for president.”

          Sort of. He wasn’t really serious. And he only had a $250 million campaign chest so those 500 delegates he won only cost about a half million dollars apiece. A quarter billion dollars and all I get is an “an influence” when the Democrats make up their platform.

          Like I said. Sanders “sort of” ran for president, His biggest fear was winning. He no longer lives in fear. Just hangs out with his “friend” the “competent” rapist.

          Reply
          1. GF

            He will end up with many more than 500 delegates as he is on the ballot in the remaining primary states. If things keep going as they are, and Biden gets derailed – pretty likely I would say – Bernie could actually end up being the nominee and the country will be ready for it.

            Reply
            1. Jack Parsons

              If he wants it, he will have to mobilize before the convention, using methods outside of standard political persuasion.

              Reply
            2. The Rev Kev

              Don’t get your hopes up. Grassroots activists are being eliminated from Sanders faction and are being replaced by corporate Democrats. The same ones that corrupted his campaign and kneecapped the whole movement. If you have the time, watch this Jimmy Dore video (about 40 mins with some swearing) where JD is interviewing one of these activists-

              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hll8HNyLuaY

              Reply
              1. ambrit

                But do unicorns believe in you?
                However, we run the risk of Tim Curry showing up as Darkness, like in the film “Legend” looking for a unicorn. All Heck breaks loose!
                Darkness, as portrayed in the movie would make a perfect DNC Democrat.

                Reply
          2. Aumua

            At least we’re consistent, I mean all you have to do lately is even mention Bernie’s name around here, and you’re guaranteed that at the very least, Edmondo will show up talking about how he never even tried, and the Rev Kev will show up with a Jimmy Dore link. It’s like clockwork.

            Reply
            1. The Rev Kev

              If I link to Jimmy Dore it is because most other people are saying that the ‘responsible’ thing to do is to vote for Joe Biden because Orange Man Bad. Yeah, I don’t live in America but I can still see what happened and how it was done and am disgusted. As for Bernie, he should have listened to Yoda, whom he kinda resembles, when he said-

              “Do. Or do not. There is no try.”

              Reply
              1. Aumua

                If I link to Jimmy Dore it is because most other people are saying that the ‘responsible’ thing to do is to vote for Joe Biden because Orange Man Bad

                Yeah ok, but this ain’t most other people here. This here is commentariat country, and for the most part we’re quite aware of various different takes and perspectives. Including JD’s. I’m not saying that he’s wrong either, or not partially right at least…. I’m just saying.

                Reply
                1. The Rev Kev

                  Yeah, I know what you are saying. If you had asked me six months ago how the Presidential nomination for the Democrats would go, I would have never imagined what has actually happened over the past few months. The whole thing feels like a well-planned, major set-up by the DNC aided by Obama. Then again, I would have never imagined that we would be in the middle of the Second Great Flu Pandemic either so what do I know?

                  Reply
                  1. HotFlash

                    The whole thing feels like a well-planned, major set-up by the DNC aided by Obama.

                    It reminded me of something, couldn’t quite peg what, but when I read your comment it hit me: the coordinated, continent-wide, takedown of Occupy.

                    Reply
  3. Off The Street

    The released transcripts merely show what so many have suspected.
    Talking heads were lying their tails off when on television.
    Those same talking heads when under oath told materially different stories.
    And people wonder why politicians have such a bad reputation.
    And people wonder why media accept the obvious, to many, lies of those politicians, and then that same low reputation media goes out and hires some of those liars.
    Looking forward to the apologies, but expecting spin, prevarication, dissembling and other nonsense.

    Reply
    1. Bsoder

      Politicians by definition, or as the philosophers like to say by first principles, are corrupt- as in eroded. It’s just not a job you can for any length of time without getting worn down. I just finished a book on the Peloponnesian War, so we’re talking 4 hundreds BCE, and if you want a case study in corruption and it’s evolution there you go. In the cradle of Western Civilization no less. If Sparta which had really strong core beliefs ended up violating them all, we with no core principles have no chance of keeping this America experiment (Lincoln’s term) going. The people either take back government or its over.

      Reply
  4. Bob

    Does anyone think it’s a problem that a sitting President would investigate a political rival using the CIA and FBI, while using selective leaks to drive a media frenzy and attempt to undermine a President. Is this not way worse than Watergate?

    Reply
    1. Off The Street

      As the Flynn facts become more widely circulated, all Americans should be angry. Flynn’s case is only one of so many where a motivated police power has been deployed, note the willful lack of agency for the time being, against an individual. That happens routinely elsewhere in big cities and small towns, as widely reported to, and just as widely ignored by, overwhelmed people. What more will be needed to make such gross overreaching and abuse of the public trust a topic of widespread conversation and then rectification?

      Public accountability, civilian non-partisan oversight, transparency, non-politicized actions, all are likely to be demanded. Vote in person, on paper ballots, as if your life, and that of others, depended upon it.

      Reply
      1. timbers

        Wasn’t Flynn an advocate of staying out of Syria and getting out of at least some of the ME? I’m sure that lobby from a ME nation that controls Washington had nothing to do with smearing him. Just because it wants to annex most/all of Syria. Let’s just say abt Flynn “mission accomplished.”

        Reply
        1. Katniss Everdeen

          Worse.

          As obama’s director of the defense intelligence agency, Flynn maintained that the Syrian “rebels” brennan, clapper and clinton were so eager to “support” were actually america’s supposed archenemies al-quaeda and ISIS, which they were / are.

          Remember during the campaign when Trump said something to the effect of obama having “invented” ISIS?

          Reply
        2. QuarterBack

          Well before Trump’s campaign, I saw first hand the civil war going on amongst the intelligence community over Syria, Libya, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Flynn was a central figure in tearing down our destructive policies of arming “friendly” extremist groups to serve as our proxies in Middle East conflict after conflict. Obama campaigned on getting us out of such wars and mindsets and even won the Nobel Peace Price just on the promise. A promise that he, Clinton, and Biden would betray completely. Flynn played an instrumental role in changing this course. It is why the IC (which the FBI is part) doggedly went after him, assuming that removing Flynn and his allies could derail Trump from being able to get us out of Syria, and Afghanistan. LTG Flynn has my respect.

          I would also strongly recommend revisiting Seymour Hersh’s January 2016 investigative story “Military to Military”, which details this IC-to-IC conflict.

          https://www.lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v38/n01/seymour-m.-hersh/military-to-military

          Reply
          1. QuarterBack

            From the article

            General Dempsey​ and his colleagues on the Joint Chiefs of Staff kept their dissent out of bureaucratic channels, and survived in office. General Michael Flynn did not. ‘Flynn incurred the wrath of the White House by insisting on telling the truth about Syria,’ said Patrick Lang, a retired army colonel who served for nearly a decade as the chief Middle East civilian intelligence officer for the DIA. ‘He thought truth was the best thing and they shoved him out. He wouldn’t shut up.’ Flynn told me his problems went beyond Syria. ‘I was shaking things up at the DIA – and not just moving deckchairs on the Titanic. It was radical reform. I felt that the civilian leadership did not want to hear the truth. I suffered for it, but I’m OK with that.’ In a recent interview in Der Spiegel, Flynn was blunt about Russia’s entry into the Syrian war: ‘We have to work constructively with Russia. Whether we like it or not, Russia made a decision to be there and to act militarily. They are there, and this has dramatically changed the dynamic. So you can’t say Russia is bad; they have to go home. It’s not going to happen. Get real.’

            Few in the US Congress share this view. One exception is Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat from Hawaii and member of the House Armed Services Committee who, as a major in the Army National Guard, served two tours in the Middle East. In an interview on CNN in October she said: ‘The US and the CIA should stop this illegal and counterproductive war to overthrow the Syrian government of Assad and should stay focused on fighting against … the Islamic extremist groups.’

            I had forgotten the Tulsi Gabbard mention. This article lays out the origins of the “Russian Asset” talking points.

            Reply
  5. Clive

    Re: Glenn Greenwald [Clive: rightly, in my infallible opinion] bemoaning “One of the creepiest and most dystopian things I’ve seen since the pandemic began: a terrifying camera-equipped remote-controlled robot […]

    A debate which is starting to get traction here in the UK, too. If we’re supposed to react to COVID-19 like South Korea, this means that we have to start doing what South Korea does. Warrantless government processing of credit and debit card data (literally, all the transactions are immediately on authorisation code generation sent to the government’s data warehouse; ApplePay and AndroidPay (plus their mini-me competition) gets GPS data bundled in, too), mobile phone record pooling and tracking, virtually limitless powers for the police to demand contact history — and so on.

    You can have either civil liberties, or COVID-19 countermeasures a la South Korea or the right to question and debate what society should tolerate. But you can’t have all three.

    Reply
    1. PlutoniumKun

      Yes, this is the missing point about the narrative of South Korea – it is an incredibly high surveillance society. Every park I visited in Seoul last year was bristling with surveillance antennae – i could only guess the uses some were put to. At the height of the outbreak they were notifying everyone who came close to any confirmed cases by text – essentially making public the movements of everyone, whether they liked it or not.

      This may be necessary (I’d argue its not – Vietnam and Taiwan were equally successful with more old school methods of track and trace), but its a discussion that we have to have.

      You could argue I suppose that if you are going to have intense surveillance South Korean style, at least have it all out in the open as it is there, as opposed to pretending we have privacy, as with most of the rest of the world.

      Reply
      1. xkeyscored

        I think Westerners imagine something called privacy remains when in fact we’re not supposed to know the extent to which we’re surveilled already.

        But the robots that gave Greenwald such a scare do look exactly like the ones in the Black Mirror episode ‘Metalhead’, in which “Robotic guard-dogs have turned against humans, leaving the few human survivors to fend for themselves.” (Wikipedia)

        Reply
        1. timbers

          I wonder how that robot would be received in Texas? Perhaps a test run could be tried in that state first.

          Reply
          1. Amfortas the hippie

            for once, i agree with a veiled jab at Texas and Texans,lol.
            put it on pay per view to fund teacher retirement or civics education.

            Reply
            1. Bsoder

              Glad you brought that up. On Epic is a new take on War of the Worlds were those very same robots are used to find and kill people- with built in guns. The show is produced by a French production company and I come to believe the French love misery, and this show is one misery after another. Which I find excellent. Then I love being creeped out. Although I have high standards.

              Reply
        2. MLTPB

          I think, in this instance, it involves disclosing to the public, in S Korea. a lot of information about any person being tracked.

          Reply
        3. lordkoos

          That robot is one of many models made by Boston Dynamics. Search youtube and you will find many others that are even more creepy.

          Reply
      2. Oh

        South Korea has it all – cameras that record activity on street, highway, shopping center, most intersections, apartment complexes plus dashboard cameras, license plate readers and more. Absurd that people put up with that nonsense.

        Reply
      3. JBird4049

        The call for massive, highly intrusive surveillance is almost always done by those who want to control the population even though the general population can be enlisted to surveil itself. However, giving the population even limited power, such as trace contacting, is a threat to the powers that be as well as not being profitable for corporations.

        Reply
    2. David

      I think it may be brutally simpler. You have a choice between (1) accepting a higher level of surveillance and tracking than you would ever have imagined a few years ago, or (2) death, both yours and other peoples’. Of course, as PK says, European nations are not obliged to follow any one pattern precisely, and there will be room for debate about exactly what to do. But that debate is about to change sharply from the ethereal, normative, “debate” in recent years conducted on sites like Crooked Timber, in which academics provide elegant intellectual arguments for why unrestricted movements of populations are a Good Thing., and attempts to track people are a Bad Thing. For the first time, we are not weighing unquantifiable health or security benefits against intangible affronts to liberal ideals of personal freedom. We are instead asking how many thousands (or tens of thousands) of excess deaths we are ready to accept in order to retain a level (to be defined) of subjective conviction that we are personally free.
      It’ll be the same, if not more so, with free entry into countries and open frontiers. I was struck by an article in the Sydney Morning Herald linked to on the Automatic Earth today. Essentially, the Australians closed their country to flights from China the day after the US and Singapore, and not too long after Taiwan. They ignored the advice of the WHO and the bleatings of the media, and have so far kept the death toll to less than 100. Taiwan has had virtually no deaths at all. Perhaps in the future, sudden and complete border closures will be frequent, and the “no borders” community will just have to lump it. I think we are moving into a new world, and a new kind of debate, where “because racism” isn’t considered a good enough reason for putting tens of thousands of lives at risk.

      Reply
      1. PlutoniumKun

        Ah, I see you read those Crooked Timber articles that I did back in the day, with the same sense of disbelief.

        As you say, we will be faced very soon with some very hard and naked choices. The sort of decision which is always to some degree implicit in many medical decisions about who deserves the most resources) will have to be made very public. Anecdotally, I think the public is ready to accept what were once considered outrageous interventions in private lives in order to keep this under control. This may be helped in that the loudest voices so far arguing that personal freedom is more important than your grannies life are the loopy right wing, which certainly will make it harder to make that argument in future. Here in Ireland, the argument is being made by a widely derided and hated small group of people around two clearly demented conspiracy theorists (both former journalists, fired for going too far).

        Just as in the aftermath of 9/11, people will I think accept very tight limitations on travel. In many ways this is a good thing – the ease of travel has gone out of control environmentally and in many other ways. Certainly it will be years before Europeans are flying to remote parts of Asia for destination weddings or exotic shopping trips. The weekend city break may well be on life support too, although I doubt if even the Black Death would stop many northern hemispherians going for a sunshine trip to the Med at least once a year. I think its also clear that the long distance frequent traveller business trip will become a very rare thing – I can’t see any business authorising long distance conferences, etc., unless absolutely necessary, for several years. Maybe never, if it becomes a liability issue.

        Reply
          1. Phacops

            Well, there was Contagion. Pretty good overall except for a couple of shortcuts to move the narrative forward.

            Reply
        1. Clive

          Yes, I don’t think societies are mature enough at a civic engagement and discussion level of development to even begin to work through all this.

          Let’s take obesity. Obesity is looking increasingly like a key comorbidity for COVID-19. So we need to now more than ever stress this important public health message about being a healthy weight.

          But talk about treading on sore toes with that one. For a start, there’s the whole “nanny state” criticism. And I’ll say at the start, I’ve never met a slice of cake which didn’t seem to have my name on it. But if only for vanity reasons (any weight I gain goes straight to and only my stomach and I get a pot belly on a tall frame which makes me look like Olive Oyl expecting triplets) it’s one small slice per day for me. So I exercise strict self discipline. However, for me (or government) to start being very vociferous about high BMIs and the importance of diet and nutrition will have Guardian columnists claiming outrage about fat shaming. And probably more unpleasant, throwing in identity politics into the mix too (“this is a male-centric policy demonising fat women but it’s okay for men to be overweight” — which is ridiculous on one level because the scientific advice applies equally to men and women but does have some cultural validity because a fat woman is exhibiting a non-flattering class marker that an overweight man isn’t, or isn’t to the same degree).

          Same goes for leisure travel, large groups such as sporting fixtures, places of worship, certain work like nail bars and beauty shops or salons… none of which are essential. Who decides, on what basis, how these activities get permitted or denied? And given the struggle public health messages have to achieve public compliance, even if standards and rules were drawn up, how are these to gain acceptance from an often skeptic (and let’s face it, sometimes self-centred) public?

          And for privacy, that is another can of worms. I definitely lean towards taking an opportunity to end once and for all this fantasy that we now have any privacy at all (unless we take pretty extreme measures to ensure it and live like it’s the Victorian era). But that’s yet another policy and pubic acceptance choice we are simply unable to process.

          The whole thing lends itself to one of those national public forums like Macron (unsuccessfully) tried and I think if I remember correctly the Republic of Ireland did vis a vis women’s reproductive rights with much more success. But even then, these require trust in government to run them neutrally and honestly. Most people don’t trust their government as far as they can throw it.

          Reply
          1. PlutoniumKun

            I’ve been trying to avoid it on Twitter, but apparently Adele looks terrible now she is a healthy weight and everyone much preferred it when she wasn’t (I’ve deliberately not clicked on any articles on it as I know how the algos will interpret it).

            But yes, issues like obesity are tough to deal with (unless you are Bill Burr, he has some terrific riffs on it).

            In Ireland, they used citizens assemblies which were enormously successful at coming up with sensible solutions to very difficult questions. I’d go as far as say they were inspiring. Interestingly, the one that the politicians ignored was the one on climate change, which recommended radical action.

            Reply
          2. David

            I think we might be approaching an inflexion point here. The choice between subjecting some people to subjective stigmatisation and others to objective death is not actually very hard to make. Governments may soon have to explain that you can’t be nice to everybody and respect everybody’s feelings all the time.

            Reply
            1. Oregoncharles

              The stigmatised are the same ones who would benefit.

              Truth is, we’ve known for a long time that obesity isn’t healthy and those who try to deny it are just whistling in the dark.

              However, adults ARE entitled to choose their risks, so that’s the big qualifier on any campaign.

              Reply
          3. David R Smith

            The amount of money that American women spend on nasty chemicals for coloring their hair could probably feed every hungry child in the country. And this is not 30 year old women hiding premature gray. It’s largely blonde blonde blonde

            Reply
            1. Yves Smith Post author

              No, the chemicals cost very little. You can buy a color kit in a drugstore for <$6. Absolutely the same stuff they use in the salons. Women are paying to: 1. Have someone else apply it. It's very messy and the colors can stain some tile and countertops. And if you miss a spot, you look like a skunk. 2. Get highlights. You can't do those yourself unless you want to wind up looking like a teenager making point about being an oddball. And it makes a difference having someone good apply them, as in there is also a difference in quality even among those who know what they are doing.

              Reply
        2. Tvc15

          PK, “I can’t see any business authorising long distance conferences, etc., unless absolutely necessary, for several years.”

          As a frequent U.S. business traveler, I hope you are correct. Flying UA domestically even with “status” is probably the most disliked part of my job. Anecdotally some of my colleagues have been expressing similar thoughts and I assume CFO’s have to enjoy the reduction in T&E expenses as well. I agree with PK, business travel will probably become less frequent…or at least I hope it will.

          Reply
        3. JBird4049

          “I think the public is ready to accept what were once considered outrageous interventions in private lives in order to keep this under control. ”

          Good God, no! This is even worse that the anti mask people although the anti vaccine people might surpass this. It sounds like the pseudo seriousness of the pro torture crowd.

          I’ll grant that Crooked Timber can be a bit… unrealistic, but this is madness. This is why we have civil asset forfeitures so unchecked that the police steal more from usually never charged Americans than actual criminals like burglars (there have been studies on this). This is why Gitmo exist. This is why the TSA is allowed to order me to take off my belt, wallet, shoes, and use a possibly cancer causing scanner to keep us safe from the terrorists. And why much of world has American troops and two countries were laid waste. Once given any extra power, the American government keeps it.

          And it is all done in the name of keeping us safe. I hate that word.

          Before we talk about giving up more freedom, why don’t we talk about resurrecting the zombified CDC, FEMA, USDA, FAA, and a number of others, before we start handing more power to the government. That would save many, many lives. There is also massive and very illegal corruption in the entire police state as well. They would love this.

          And how about an economic system that will not force people to chose between hunger and homelessness or possibly dying from COVID19 while working. That is one of the big reason so many are opposed to the travel and mask restriction.

          However, it is very true that some changes have to be made, like trace contacting, which usually requires people. Lots of people. An actual healthcare system that actually does do healthcare. Rules for masks and social distancing during epidemics. Probably also other things, but no more power over us should ever be given to the government especially in their current degraded, hollowed out, corrupt state. We are close enough to a totalitarian society as it is.

          I could go on about the terrorizing of the American public, the fortifying of public buildings, the increasing need for ID to do anything. Does anyone welcome giving Clinton, Trump, Biden, or another Obama or Nixon more power? What about the current Democratic and Republican Parties?

          Once we have dealt with all the problems I have listed, then, and only then, should we even think of giving more power to the government.

          Reply
        1. Massinissa

          People who don’t find the implications of that book potentially abhorrent are probably sociopaths.

          Reply
      2. Socal Rhino

        My impression of Crooked Timber has come to be of a gathering within an ivory tower discussing the choreography of angels atop pins.

        Reply
        1. PlutoniumKun

          No doubt after several articles debating whether ‘angels’ is an unnecessarily gendered term.

          Reply
  6. Wukchumni

    Funny picture of the ‘Argent Provocateurs’ er ex-USA military mercenaries of Silvercorp. The video unfortunately wont load.

    Kind of reminds me of ISIS prisoners clad in orange jumpsuits, our troops sent in by the clockwork orange on a hapless mission from gawd, doomed to failure from the get go.

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      ‘The video unfortunately wont load.’

      Same here so right-click the time-date (11:39 AM – May 9, 2020) and open up the original tweet in a new tab. The video plays in that tab.

      It’s all malarkey tell you, all malarkey!

      Reply
    2. Jack Parsons

      As ‘Matt Chapo’ said of a previous such project… “It’s like the Bay of Pigs but if everyone involved had a severe head injury”.

      A Bay of Pigs re-enactment by Mr. E.M. Gumby, Mr. J.L. Gumby, …

      Reply
      1. Massinissa

        Reminds me of the satirical film “The Mouse That Roared” where a tiny European microstate invaded New York with seven knights in armor.

        Reply
        1. John Anthony La Pietra

          But that microstate won their war with US, after capturing the new quadium bomb and its inventor.

          Reply
  7. Steve H.

    > US Unemployment Rate Soars To 14.7%, the Worst Since the Depression Era Washington Post

    Not understanding something.

    US Population: 328.2 million
    Age 16..64 = 65.9% = 216.3 million in the worker pool
    33.5 million UE claims recently
    33.5/216.3 = 15.5% of the total pool

    and UE was listed as 4.4% before UE claims exploded.

    This is not even including Labor Force Participation Rate.

    So how do they get less than 15% UE?

    Reply
    1. Lou Anton

      The official, capital-R Rate is calculated using those who are ‘actively searching’, which would bring down the denominator of your 216 million. Edward Harrison wrote about this recently, but he says it’s more like 23%!

      https://mobile.twitter.com/edwardnh/status/1258737498806792193

      As an aside, reading/following someone like Ed Harrison for over 10 years is because Naked Capitalism introduced him to me. Another reason why this site is my first and last read each day…my network of information sources and news is so wide and rich.

      Reply
    2. Wukchumni

      “That bad report tomorrow is actually going to understate how bad the damage has been,” Kashkari explained, adding that the reported unemployment rate could be as high as 17% — a brutal number, no doubt — but he says the true number may be as high as 24%. “It’s devastating.”

      https://www.marketwatch.com/story/its-devastating-the-jobs-number-will-be-bad-but-the-reality-is-actually-much-worse-warns-the-feds-neel-kashkari-2020-05-07
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~`
      How weird to have a Fed President speak truth, when he could’ve gone for the more comfortable official number.

      Reply
      1. Phacops

        I continually wonder why outlets publish the U3 rather than the U6. Doesn’t the U6 give a reasonable look at the depth and makeup of true unemployment? Any explanations?

        Reply
    3. cm

      Worth noting that Sweden’s unemployment rate is pretty much normal.

      In the US, if we mandate people lose their jobs, seems only fair they should get UBI. Otherwise, the protesting is completely understandable. My company just went through the first round of layoffs. Salary has also been reduced (annual bonuses have been rescinded) and 401k matching stopped.

      NPR types just don’t understand how the economy is hitting the working class.

      Reply
      1. HotFlash

        Yes, no lockdown, so no unemployed, unless you count the 3,175 dead. But hey, maybe they had retired, no harm, no foul, eh? For comparison, NZ, with half the population, locked down early and has 21 dead. 3K Swedes and their families might not think it was worth it.

        Reply
    4. Brian (another one they call)

      US Unemployment Rate Soars To 14.7%………
      You are on to something; I find the unemployment “results” don’t add up either. Before CV, our unemployment was at about 10-12% in real terms. (Chapwood, Shadow Stats), US government chooses to use numbers that are mere guesswork and revisions remove 100% of the supposed gains. I heard that 103 million used as out of the labor force now.
      Doesn’t this indicate a figure much closer to 45% already unemployed?
      And for dog’s sake, any link to a financial mouthpiece as though it were news is rather unhelpful. Who in their right minds believe what the financial press would ever say? It goes against their entire reason for being, which is to harvest marks. I have seen ridiculous stories by FT, Goldman, Forbes, etc.. and they talk book as though they could construct reality.
      Propaganda and sales techniques should be shown for what they are.

      Reply
      1. newcatty

        We were informed about reality back in October, 2004.

        We are an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. K. R.

        No longer needing to hide agenda in plain sight.

        Reply
    5. ewmayer

      Not everyone in the working-age range is in the worker pool – remember back in post-WW2, when only half of a typical couple worked (or needed to) to earn a decent living? The problem then was that women who wanted to work were stigmatized, now the pendulum – both in stigma and earning-power terms – has swung to other extreme, but believe it or not, neoliberalism and debt slavery have not succeeded in completely stigmatizing and eliminating the category “homemaker”.

      Also people long-term unemployed, disabled, etc, not counted as part of the work force. The data-fakery aspect there is how quickly the unemployed-not-by-choice get memory-holed out of the WF, but there is also a large cohort of genuinely-not-in-the-WF.

      Reply
  8. The Rev Kev

    “Confronting the Complex Discomfort of Tara Reade’s Joe Biden Allegation”

    The author of this piece defending Biden is Jennifer Palmieri. Maybe I am remembering wrong and cannot find any link confirming it on Google anyway but was she not the person who, about four years ago, got into a cab and then tweeted that she was in fear of her life because she thought that the driver was Russian and wants the world to know what is happening if she disappears? The name sounds so familiar.

    Reply
    1. Katniss Everdeen

      From paranoid to passive-aggressive:

      …. My conclusion is not grounded in doubts about Reade’s story. It’s true that her story has shifted and was first advanced by outlets on the left that support Bernie Sanders. It’s also true that Reade has been outspoken in her support of Sanders, posted a “tic toc” tweet suggesting she might time her allegation against Biden so as to inflict maximum political damage, and, strangely, that she expressed admiration for Vladimir Putin in a post she later deleted. But none of these things suggest that her underlying accusation is false.

      Reply
    2. David

      Do I need to read this? Is it any more than, Comfortable Privileged Woman Conducting Jihad against Men Slapped in Face by Wet Fish of Reality, Freaks Out Writes Article about Me Me Me ?

      Reply
    3. Jason Boxman

      Indeed, I remember reading that here as well and I forever associate her as a nutjob. I thank Lamerbert for calling out that tweet.

      Reply
      1. ewmayer

        “I thank Lamerbert” – ha, that sounds like a delicious creamy kind of cheese, a la Camembert. Just so long as you don’t call him “Lamebert”! :)

        Reply
  9. bassmule

    Re: Vice-signaling

    The right has not weaponized virtue-signaling; liberals advertising their virtue did it all by themselves. The link takes you to a place where you can order a sign that says “No matter where you’re from, we’re glad you’re our neighbor” in English, Spanish, and Arabic. They started showing up three years ago, and now they’re on many lawns in my almost-all-white neighborhood near Smith College. We like to joke that the Arabic sign actually reads “We don’t want you if you show up with 10 wives. Unless you enroll all of them at Smith.” I can’t link to a picture, but we also have a few houses–they all had Clinton For President signs in 2016–with signs that read “May We Find Our Humanity,” to which, as I walk past them, I mutter “Yeah, mine was behind the couch.”

    https://www.welcomeyourneighbors.org/

    Reply
    1. PlutoniumKun

      Yes, these things go in loops. The right may have invented and weaponised the very useful term ‘virtue signalling’, but then liberals returned the favour by linking the term to the far right and incels, so labelling anyone pointing out that virtue signalling is in fact happening, as some sort of fascist (as I’ve found out to my cost). In reality, all spectrums of political opinion indulge in their own form of virtue signalling, and I think its extremely useful to always identify it loudly when you see it occurring.

      Reply
      1. urblintz

        there is disagreement about the first use of “virtue signalling” especially since Bartholomew claimed it in 2015 as his and from the right, but apparently it first popped up in 2013 on wiki.lesswrong.com by a writer describing himself as “moderately left wing.”

        “Most people attribute the phrase from a piece publicised in The Spectator in April 2015, by journalist James Bartholomew.

        In the article, James said that pretentious signs at Whole Food and hating bankers were examples of virtue signalling.

        The blog LessWrong was another early user of the phrase in July 2013 saying: “My upbringing and social circles are moderately left-wing.

        “There’s a well-observed failure mode in these circles, not entirely dissimilar to what’s discussed in Why Our Kind Can’t Cooperate, where participants sabotage cooperation by going out of their way to find things to disagree about, presumably for moral posturing and virtue-signalling reasons.”

        yikes a Sun link… sorry but: https://www.thesun.co.uk/living/2701968/virtue-signalling-meaning-origin-examples/

        I think the reason people hate it is because it’s spot on.

        Reply
        1. flora

          Virtue signaling seems to be the latest iteration of class signaling, as if class can be divorced from real economics. A new opium of the masses. ;)

          Reply
    2. Geo

      To be fair, liberals appropriated virtue-signaling from the “values voters” who shoved “family values” and their “moral majority” on us for decades. Now that liberals took it from them they’ve swung the other way and have embraced vice-signaling like some hipster that doesn’t like his favorite band anymore because the uncool kids like them now.

      Same for IdPol. The Klan were the original identity politics SJWs.

      Reply
      1. CitizenSissy

        Can’t wait for the blowback when the Republicans claim the “pro-life” mantle after the aggressive situational pandemic ethics toward the elderly.

        Reply
    3. Jason Boxman

      We have those signs here in Somerville, MA, as well. Congrats on finding your humanity! Mine is still missing.

      Reply
    4. David

      Have you yet seen a sign which says “even if you carry an assault rifle and a Bible we’re glad you’re our neighbour”? That would be, what’s the word, tolerance.

      Reply
    5. DJG

      re: vice-signaling

      I think that the unfortunate writer of the story was trying to clog the public space with still another shorthand term that is supposed to mean something but misfires.

      What the writer was seeing in these fang-baring displays of arrogance is the overseer mentality. Americans model themselves after the plantation overseer. It is part of the national character, which is not holding up as advertised these days. There are much more fang-baring and threats with whips (as in that weird much-used term “whip smart” that slips out fairly regularly) in American life than there are cooperative flag-raising at Iwo Jima and passage of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments.

      Just as the inciting incident–“I want to go to the zoo, and you can die”–incites, so, too, do the endless paeans to U.S. cruelty that are part of U.S. culture–normal parts, like “whip smart” and tough love and whoever doesn’t work doesn’t eat. They aren’t signals, any more than the Ku Klux Klan was a signal. They are structures that have shaped U.S. life.

      And I always thought that the bottom line of that sign is in Persian. I always hope that it will tell me where to buy some bastani.

      And as to snark, the sign that intones (in bad headline style) “Kindness is Everything” always makes me want to stamp on a head of kale or push someone’s double-wide stroller bouncily down the street like something out of Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin.

      Reply
    6. Sacred Ground

      Oddly, wearing crosses and displaying flags, driving raised pickups and open carrying guns are somehow never described as “virtue signaling.” I wonder why that is.

      Reply
    7. John Anthony La Pietra

      Can someone here tell me what yard signs they’ve ever seen that AREN’T virtue signals? (Aside from “Yard Sale Today”, “Pesticide on Lawn So Keep Off”, and others of that ilk.)

      Or where they draw the line between a sign they feel is the sign-poster saying “I’M virtuous” and a sign they feel is the sign-poster saying “I support THIS position, person, group, candidate, etc.?

      Asking for myself (a 20-year Green and five-time candidate) and a number of others.

      Reply
  10. cnchal

    > Why the Postal Service Is So Screwed Slate

    Now the agency can’t close a post office without going through this extensive review. And there’s always a lot of backlash. Nobody in Congress wants to let a post office close. Oftentimes that basically keeps the USPS from doing so. Also, it can’t raise prices. The Postal Service would like to raise prices, but again, that has to go through a long review before the Postal Regulatory Commission, which sort of treats it like an arbitration. And there’s always a lot of pushback from the big mailers, the junk mailers and such. They don’t want prices to go up. I think the Postal Service, left to its own devices, knows what to do and has a lot of good ideas. The problem is it’s not really allowed to do any of them.

    Moar bullshit from Slate. The Post Office raised prices by 350 to 400% to any peasant that ships a large light package, forcing them into the loving arms of UPS.

    The result is Post Office = zero, peasant = less than zero, UPS = +1 billions of $ most of which used to go to the Post Office.

    Four hundred percent. Roll that around in your head for a minute and see if a major expense in your life that increased by that much at once is fair and reasonable. Trump would squeel like a stuck pig if all the bricklayers and electricians said to him, we are raising our prices by 400%.

    Reply
    1. Stillfeelinthebern

      The information in this link is very misleading and about a specific size, not the overall rates charged by the USPS. Yes, they do raise rates. We had a rather large one this year, but not in the 100% or 400% range. NO USPS is not generally more expensive that UPS. With over 20 years of daily shipping using both methods, I can tell you that right now for the average parcel, USPS is cheaper.

      More info if you care to know. We started out with mostly UPS shipping in the 90s. UPS has always been reliable and there drivers are outstanding. Enter the USPS, in the past 10 years, they have taken almost all of that business from UPS. Why? First, they made online purchasing of the postage possible. Second, they instituted priority package rates. Third, they provide all the shipping materials. Boxes have gotten expensive to purchase (and in my area the only reliable supplier left is evil right wing Republican company Uline).

      We have had difficulties, like when the whole online purchasing system stopped working and we were forced to use Stamps.com (and pay a monthly fee of $15.99 for what was a free service through the PO website). And if you have a package lost, they make you wait way to long, so you just reship and eat the loss to satisfy your customer. BUT, the lost rate is very low, just like with UPS and it happens so infrequently that it isn’t at all a problem.

      Here’s what also made USPS attractive, UPS charges us $14.95 a week just to have an account (that is to be on their daily pickup schedule) and they bill WEEKLY! Yes weekly, over 20 years as a customer and we are still on weekly billing.

      UPS has their own software that you have to run and that means we had to buy a newer computer just to run it when everything else was running fine (we don’t update unless there is a benefit to the new system.) Being in a rural area, we don’t have the best internet and often have troubles with this software always connecting and updating.

      Often the charges are recalculated because the info in the software wasn’t correct when the shipment was done. (Sorry, I like to know UP FRONT what something is costing me). Finally, the USPS is delivering faster than UPS, especially to the west coast. On average, UPS gets a package there 2 days sooner. We are in the midwest.

      The sad thing about shipping is that Amazon’s FREE shipping has polluted everyone’s mind to think that shipping is free when it isn’t. And frankly, people have no idea what all this shipping costs.

      Reply
      1. cnchal

        USPS changed how they charge for packaging to dim weight, the biggest scam in the shipping business, in two stages. The first stage was at the end of June last year where all priority mail got the increase.

        For this peasant, a package that used to cost $11.10 went to $38 a 342% increase.

        At the end of January this year, retail ground got hit too. A package to the west coast that used to cost $19.70 went to $73 a 370% increase.

        It may as well be $infinity as far as sales went. I was so pissed, I put a curse on the world. Now look where we are.

        Reply
        1. Oh

          Don’t they charge based on where the package is shipped to?

          International rates have gotten sky high; the last time I checked the rate to send a letter internationally was cheaper by Fedex.

          Reply
    2. ewmayer

      Long before the pricejacking you mention, USPS had done similar stuff in various areas – my favorite personal example, the large flat-rate box. When first introduced it was similarly priced on a per-volume basis as the 2 medium boxes (which I still use on occasion), but then they downsized it – same one-square-footprint but a mere 2/3 the height – on top of pretty-much-yearly price hikes. I still have one of the original “tallboy” large boxes to keep mailing supplies in, also come in handy for convincing those skeptical of the above downsizing claim.

      And the small flat-rate box has always been a *massive* ripoff.

      Also overseas shipping has become priced out of my reach in the last 20 years … ~25 years ago, I recall shipping an entire case of *beer* – a particularly fine local microbrew – to friends in both Europe and Oz for a price not significantly exceeding the cost of the case. 10-15 years ago you could still ship, say, boxes of clothing articles abroad at decent rates. Culminating in the last international package I shall ever send using USPS, this past February, a frickin’ lightweight logo polo shirt, total package weight 16 oz, to Sweden. The cost of the cheapest, slowest USPS shipping option? $25, more than the shirt cost.

      Reply
      1. Stillfeelinthebern

        Yes, it is way too expensive to send things out of the United States and very cheap for Chinese businesses to ship here. My spouse is constantly getting little bits shipped here from China for way less than we could ever ship anything on the reverse.

        Here is a podcast explaining why: https://www.npr.org/sections/money/2018/08/01/634737852/episode-857-the-postal-illuminati

        After hearing this I started bugging my Congresscritter to do something about it. Free trade? Put it in USMCA? which he loved but he mostly keeps trying to convince me I should try a different service when I want him to change the law!

        I ship lots to Canada and my customers are paying way too much for a distance that is the same as what we are shipping in the county. The only difference is crossing into Canada.

        Reply
  11. Krystyn Podgajski

    RE: The role of vitamin D in the prevention of coronavirus disease 2019 infection and mortality

    Or is Vitamin D a marker for another deficiency?

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5307609/

    Or does another deficiency cause an issue in the utilization of Vitamin D?

    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0006291X00925701

    Or are they synergistic?

    https://academic.oup.com/jn/article-abstract/90/3/301/4776462

    There are no easy nutritional answers to this. Technology has made us an under nourished and habitat deprived species.

    Reply
    1. PlutoniumKun

      I find it amazing that so little attention has been paid to this. Back in the 1990’s when I was working in the West Midlands in the UK, I knew health workers who were focusing on health issues among South Asians who lived there – the problem of Vitamin D deficiency was very well known at the time and considered a major health risk for all dark skinned British. And yet somehow that knowledge fell into a rabbit hole – I suspect there was a reluctance to highlight any ‘ethnic’ element of health – and little if anything seems to have been done, despite the solution being incredibly simple and cheap.

      If you search on youtube and elsewhere (especially the ‘foundmyfitness’ site), you’ll find some interesting interview with Bruce Ames on this topic – despite his advanced age (he is still working into his 90’s), he has developed a strong interest in vitamins – he has argued that official recommended minimum levels for many are far too low. He has put forward a ‘triage’ theory – essentially arguing that the body uses most vitamins in a far more subtle way than assumed by most models – vitamins are hoarded and allocated to different uses, with ‘urgent’ ones given priority. If he is right, most studies only identify first order impacts of vitamins, and are ignoring their importance for long term health.

      Reply
      1. John A

        In their wisdom, the Swedish authorities housed many middle east refugees in the sparsely populated north of Sweden, that has long winters and short summers. When many of them sought medical assistance for health problems, doctors diagnosed this as a vitamin D deficiency, further aggravated by many wearing total cover all clothing. The advice was to exposure more skin to sunlight, which rapidly turned into accusations of racist and religious intolerance etc., as the cover all clothing was for religious reasons.

        Reply
        1. PlutoniumKun

          Yes, that was an issue in the UK too. There was a real reluctance to point the finger at cultural practices. There was also a flip side, in that it was seen as bad politics to be seen to give extra resources or attention to minority communities unless, for some reason, it was aimed solely at minority women. This may be one reason why the very simple solution of just handing out vitamin D pills seems never have been contemplated seriously.

          Reply
        2. Krystyn Podgajski

          Ha, wow, the identity politics…yes, I hate it all. I will say something here that is subtle. I am not against interracial copulation, but poeple should understand there are inherent risks that MIGHT influence their children. We know that diet affects us differently based on our race, so not only are you throwing all these alleles around willy nilly but you also will usually have to pick a diet that might not fit you genetically.

          The Inuit are dark skinned but live in the northern latitudes. They get their vitamin D and vitamin C from seafood. I come from the Saami people (For the genetic nerds my Y-DNA haplogroups is R1b) and my mother looked like the typical Swedish girl when she was a child. This has plays a role in my dietary need for fish and lean meat as well. But my Italian side has given me darker skin. I know my dominate race and it has certain needs.

          Reply
          1. Jessica

            I have read that marriages between people of more distant genetics are advantageous for the children’s immune system.

            Reply
            1. rowlf

              Maybe. My younger adopted brother is Bui doi and my sons are Luk khrueng. It is hard to tell if the mutts are stronger. I grew up with may half Okinawan, Japanese, Korean, Taiwan, Vietnamese Thai kids.

              Reply
          2. Oregoncharles

            I’ve mentioned this before, but genetic background can be very important if you need a bone marrow transplant (at one point I learned far more than I wanted to know about those). One person we met was putting together a Latin American registry, having learned they were under-represented. And we heard of a tragedy: a man who never did find a donor and ultimately died because of his unusual ethnic combination. Indeed, Saami might be hard to match.

            OTOH, gardeners are also familiar with the concept of “hybrid vigor,” obtained by crossing separated strains. Not sure it applies to people, but the opposite sure doesn’t.

            Reply
          3. Sacred Ground

            Wow. A “genetic nerd” who not only believes that race is a scientific concept, but that there is such a thing as a “dominate race” and that it has needs.

            Reply
      1. Tinky

        Doubtful.

        Darker skin makes it more difficult to create vitamin D from sun exposure, and there are widespread reports of darker complected groups suffering disproportionally from COVID-19. Yes, there are other variables to consider (e.g. socio-economic status), but the chances of this being a coincidence are very low indeed.

        Reply
        1. JohnMc

          actually the chances of it being a coincidence are fairly high. there are many associations with vitamin D that seem compelling but have failed to hold up when evaluated by RCTs.

          https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2755297

          this is paywalled, but it does point to the numerous RCTs that have failed to demonstrate the value of vitamin D supplementation. and then there is also the granddaddy of them all, the women’s health initiative, which also failed to support the apparent utility of vitamin D supplementation.

          i’m not dismissing the possible value of vitamin D (disclosure: it’s the only vitamin supplement i consume), just pointing out the fact that low vitamin D levels may have nothing to do with consumption or endogenous production. and if you’re problem with low vitamin D is due to obesity, supplementation is unlikely to resolve the underlying issue and/or be beneficial.

          Reply
        2. SKM

          Re vitamin D: it`s been just staggering to me that our dear leaders have simply ignored this clear strong risk factor. In the UK this is especially galling as Public Health England some years ago HAD to emit a recommendation that all UK adults and children take a vitamin D supplement esp in winter and into spring because there were at last robust studies available showing an increased risk of acute respiratory infections tracking D deficiency, together with older studies showing how much of the population is in this deficient state.
          It now turns out that Italians and Spaniards are especially deficient in vit D sometimes profoundly!!

          Aging Clinical and Experimental Research
          https://doi.org/10.1007/s40520-020-01570-8
          “The mean levels of vitamin D for 20 European countries and morbidity and mortality caused by COVID-19 were acquired. Negative correlations between mean levels of vitamin D (average 56 mmol/L, STDEV 10.61) in each country and the number of COVID-19 cases/1 M (mean 295.95, STDEV 298.7, and mortality/1 M (mean 5.96, STDEV 15.13) were observed Vitamin D levels are severely low in the aging population especially in Spain, Italy and Switzerland. This is also the most vulnerable group of the population in relation to COVID-19. I”

          Then today I came across this huge laudable attempt to study what is going on in people hospitalised in the UK for covid19 compared with the rest. They not only note the black/asian etc effect but also if you read the study you see that they found that this population even corrected for socio-economic factors and co-morbidity risk factors have an really high increased risk and this on a par with several of the known important risk factors. BUT they go on to say this is to them a mystery!!!!! no mention of vitamin D levels, not included probably because those now in charge of health in the UK take no notice even of their own guidelines – consequently GPs are not told to screen for such well-known deficiencies with no perfectly well-known often serious health consequences.

          https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.05.06.20092999 .this version posted May 7, 2020.
          This is “the largest cohort study
          conducted by any country to date. People from
          Asian and black groups are at markedly
          increased risk of in-hospital death from COVID-
          19, and contrary to some prior speculation this
          is only partially attributable to pre-existing
          clinical risk factors or deprivation;”

          Information is slowly coming in of a correlation between severe disease/mortality and D deficiency everywhere anyone has looked (Indonesia, US)
          To me it hardly matters, in the short term, what the mechanism of this is. It works, it`s easy and cheap to correct and it`s harmless. If the Indonesian study showing a 10 fold increase in risk of severe covid19/mortality in patients that are D deficient is even half true, this could be a game changer (for hospitals/CFRs and most of us)
          Love to know what ya`ll think of this!

          Reply
          1. marku52

            For me, Vit D supplementation ended twice a year respiratory infections (every spring and fall, once my allergies got going). I was using antibiotics 2X per year, and once I started Vit D, that went to about zero.

            I lived in Not-Very-Sunny-Oregon, so that was part of it.

            I’m convinced.

            Reply
          2. Oregoncharles

            But – but, vitamins are just a conspiracy theory!

            And doctors here, and I assume in Britain, are not trained to emphasize nutrition.

            Reply
    2. Jessica

      Krystyn,
      Do you have a take on the Mikovits Plandemic video? The PolitiFact critique of the video struck me as just establishment pleading, but that doesn’t make Mikovits right. You have shown detailed knowledge of this area and, unlike those quoted in the PolitiFact article, you are not on the payroll of any of the institutions that Mikovits is indicting, so I would be grateful for your take, if you consider that worth your time.

      Reply
      1. Krystyn Podgajski

        I just watched it. All I can say is that everyone is too certain about things that are way too complex and hidden. I found myself a poor judge of people unless I live with them for a few days so I do not know what to say about either Mikovits or Fauchi. I just know myself, that at times I can be blinded by my certainty so I hold on to my truths loosely. The fact that they do not find XMRV in CFS or Prostate Cancer makes me think Mikovits is holding onto a dead idea.

        I do think there are problems with research, specifically in nutrition and genetics, but it is more institutional than conspiratorial to me. So I will agree that vaccines are a complex solution to a simple problem, but that is where we are with everything today. I will delay getting any vaccine for as long as I can because I know I am a genetic freak.

        Reply
        1. Jessica

          I am in the process of listening to her 2014 book, so I am not sure, but I think that she now considers the focus on XMRV to have been a mistake (which she claims was due to the test materials she used having been contaminated long before in their production, not in her lab) and is now claiming that passaging viruses through animal cells in order to attenuate those viruses enough that they can be used as vaccines introduces bits of the viruses of those animals into the virus being attenuated. As of her 2014 book, she specifically references a Brodie[sp?] vaccine against polio, which was tried on humans in the 1930s but withdrawn and abandoned because of side-effects, being connected to early outbreak of CFS at a Los Angeles hospital.
          I know enough for that to sound plausible, but not enough to judge how true it is.
          In light of Vioxx and opiods, I am open to the possibility of corruption and/or ignorance in medical institutions.

          Reply
        2. cripes

          “I can be blinded by my certainty so I hold on to my truths loosely.”
          Yup.

          Rhetoricians like Mr Trump and Mr Obama et al ad nauseum to be found from coast to coast in USA USA of course understand that winning is the point.

          Or, The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”

          Reply
    3. Bsoder

      The NIH study was specific to Iran and generalized to the entire population of earth. It did not address Covid-19. It did say: “Conclusion: We found significant associations between low serum concentrations of zinc and 25(OH) D. Food fortification or mineral supplementation should be considered in future health programs.”

      This has been known in the West for at least 100 years. And milk is fortified in the US. The second article only rehashes the first with regard to zinc or rather it’s role. And NIH has done a meta stuff looking at 537 studies course coveting exactly the same issues. There are easy answers to ‘this’. Each person is different- it’s a dna /environment sort of thing. My doc regularly runs a blood panel testing for all of this. I’d argue that the blood panel exists because Medicine as science is aware of the need for the body to have any number of chemicals and compounds in it to be homeostatic. Me my vitamin d level was lowest my doc had ever seen in living person. Which explained several things.

      Technology is neither here nor there, believing it is a force for good is magical thinking, ‘cause it isn’t.

      Reply
    4. Bsoder

      There are easy answers based on the article quoted, although, as there are an additional 581 on the same topics I would say those three were not definitive. The take away – one needs vitamin d and trace elements like zinc. As each person has different dna /environment different levels will be required. Blood panels exist to test all of these things and it is recommended to least yearly run one. As a believer in system Biology it’s all synergy. technology seems to create magical thinking which is per se dangerous as it has nothing to do with reality.

      Reply
    5. Bsoder

      There are easy answers based on the article quoted, although, as there are an additional 581 on the same topics I would say those three were definitive. The take away one needs vitamin d and trace elements like zinc. As each person has different dna /environment different levels will be required. Blood panels exist to test all of these things and it is recommended to least yearly run one. As a believer in system Biology it’s all synergy. technology seems to create magical thinking thinking which is per se dangerous as it has nothing to do with reality.

      Reply
  12. xkeyscored

    It’s already getting too hot and humid in some places for humans to survive The Verge

    There’s an interactive map showing the worst affected places so far, which I didn’t notice a link to in the article.

    Interactive Map: Daily Maximum Wet-Bulb Temperature (°C)

    A new study shows that extreme, sometimes potentially fatal, mixtures of heat and humidity are emerging across the globe. This interactive world map shows documented instances, with hotter colors from yellow to red signifying the worst combinations as measured on the Centigrade “wet bulb” scale.

    And from another article about the same paper,

    “Horton points out that if people are increasingly forced indoors for longer periods, farming, commerce and other activities could potentially grind to a halt, even in rich nations-a lesson already brought home by the collapse of economies in the face of the novel coronavirus.

    In any case, many people in the poorer countries most at risk do not have electricity, never mind air conditioning. There, many rely on subsistence farming requiring daily outdoor heavy labor. These facts could make some of the most affected areas basically uninhabitable, says Horton.”

    !Sorry! This should be the second link:
    https://phys.org/news/2020-05-potentially-fatal-combinations-humidity-emerging.html

    Reply
    1. Bazarov

      Sounds like humanity’s future is to live underground or in caves (where the temperature is a livable constant) like the Hittites (and the Hobbits).

      Reply
        1. Bazarov

          I was thinking more to solve the air-conditioning problem.

          But who knows what might be possible? Fungi don’t need sunlight (there’s an entire species of ant that survives by underground fungiculture). Via genetic engineering, science may be able to produce crops suitable for underground cultivation (beans do not need sunlight to germinate; perhaps something suitable could be done with beans as a base).

          Beyond that, we might be able to adapt labor rhythms to specific hours of the day wherein its tolerable to emerge from underground to tend crop.

          Reply
  13. The Rev Kev

    “a terrifying camera-equipped remote-controlled robot”

    This look so much like that mechanical dog in “Black Mirror”‘s ‘Metalhead’ that it is not funny-

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_lqpXmPMr4

    And you know that the one in the park is dangerous as it is was painted yellow! They are creepy. Personally I would not feel comfortable meeting one of these things unless I had something like an FN P90 with armour-piercing bullets-

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9fipZVG2ZqQ

    Reply
    1. bassmule

      Oh, yeah. I had never in my life even thought about owning a firearm, but after watching that four-legged thing, I’m coming around to the idea that a double-barreled 12 gauge might be a useful item.

      Reply
      1. JacobiteInTraining

        Thing is, you don’t want to aggravate the charges you’ll get after destroying one…sort of like people who rob banks but do NOT use a firearm (or even simulate having one)

        Covid-masked person + baseball bat or large paving stone is probably best…and its likely important to potential escape to follow the thing first, yelling slogans to work up the people around into a frenzy so they participate in its destruction as well. Might even get the bystanders to do all the work.

        They’ll soon be armored a bit more to defeat that method, so presumably next escalation is a water-bottle filled with a nice jellied (styrofoam + oil in mix) gasoline cocktail to squirt on any/all of its exposed wiring/plastic/cameras etc. Given the thin skin and small diameter of most of it a good supply of sticky long-burning fuel will likely expose internals to fatal levels of heat quite soon.

        Once you get to the point you can safely use a shotgun on the little goblins, thats likely the time people around you are also using shotguns — and stronger measures – against the authorities who double-down on goblins and orcs and uruk-hai as ‘defenders of civilization’ the citizens are forbidden to harm.

        At least, thats how my dystopian mind expects it to happen…

        Reply
          1. JacobiteInTraining

            Excellent point – probably a better strategy for the instigator to do the net thing, incapacitate them, and leave the destruction up to the bystanders as a quick escape is made.

            Reply
        1. QuarterBack

          Go for its “eyes”. A little spray paint or other goopy slime on the cameras and sensors would put a quick halt to it.

          Reply
        2. lordkoos

          Yes you will need to destroy the on-board cameras first thing so it can’t ID you. Unless it’s already uploading everything it sees, in which case you’re screwed unless wearing a mask or disguise.

          Reply
      2. McDee

        Here in our town we used to have speed cameras set up at various intersections. They were widely hated by the citizens. One afternoon a guy pulled up in front of one, got out of his car and blasted it full of holes with a high powered hand gun. Of course, it was caught on camera and the picture of him blasting away made the front page of the paper. He became a local folk hero. The Speed Cam Commando. The cameras were later removed. The out of state outfit that ran them got into considerable legal and ethical trouble. The city council occasionally talks about bringing them back but so far they haven’t.

        Reply
  14. funemployed

    “Russia becomes Europe’s Covid hotspot”

    Last I checked Russia is in Asia, but what do I know.

    Reply
    1. funemployed

      this was a pointlessly pedantic comment. couldn’t sleep last night and had a bit too much coffee. obviously most of the people in Russia are closer to most of the people in Europe than most of the people in Asia. sorry bout that.

      Reply
      1. MLTPB

        Hope they can flatten their curve soon (the same goes for all nations…all of us).

        I do not believe that some would use cases for the sole purpose of criticizing nations they want to criticize, for incompetence, to use one example, and not for the purpose of caring about people catching it.

        That is, I don’t believe if Russia is a nation they don’t want to criticize, they would avoid talking about the hot-spot tragedy there at this moment.

        The same with, say, difference in attention between Russian, Californian or Australian wildfires, last year, this year or any time.

        Reply
      2. wilroncanada

        funemployed
        Moscow, the capital, is in Europe, as is about 1/4 to 1/3rd of it’s territory, and by far the majority of the population.
        Sounds like the US referring to Canada as the “frozen north” when the majority of the population is a stones’ throw from the US border. And the southern section of Ontario is the same latitude as northern California.
        …more coffee please.

        Reply
        1. MichaelSF

          “Encyclopaedic knowledge may be barbaric, but it’s fun” – J. Tull, “Too Old to Rock and Roll, Too Young to Die”

          Reply
    2. Oregoncharles

      It originated in Europe (west of the Urals) and, once they shed the Mongol Khanate, have mostly modeled their civilization on Europe. Historically, Russia was founded by the Vikings, who used to travel up one river and down another to the Black Sea and Constantinople. They founded Kiev, and I think some of the cities in northern Russia. Rather like northern Ireland. The Russian aristocracy claimed descent from the Vikings right down to the Revolution.

      Don’t know about landmass, but most of the people are still on the European side, I believe.

      Of course, geographically the distinction between Europe and Asia is pretty silly.

      Reply
      1. John Anthony La Pietra

        Ah, yes, my old geography professor taught us a rhyme (well, it rhymes in German) to remember the border between Europe and Asia: Ural Mountains, Ural River, Caspian Sea, and the Caucasus range.

        Reply
  15. Floyd

    So, the Nation article on believing Tara Reade was good, and then the author threw in this choker, “(. . .not to mention the fact that [Trump] represents an existential threat to many vulnerable populations and, indeed, the planet.)

    Criminy, why do these people feel the need for the obligatory “Trump is an existential threat to (fill in the blank – America, Democracy, the Constitution, women, blacks, Hispanics, Asians, sea turtles, Planet Earth, my dog Mr. Piddles, AA batteries.. . .)

    Talk about an overused cliche. Here are some REAL existential threats. To lower wage American workers – unlimited illegal immigrants whose lower wages drive down wages and more importantly, the hours of work to around 28 hours per week. To college students – ridiculous tuition rates and the resultant student loans, which are but a form of welfare to the staff and administration (adjuncts excluded) of the colleges. To home owners in some places – ridiculously high property taxes which outlive mortgages and threaten poorer home owners with the loss of their home.

    Reply
    1. Dr. John Carpenter

      I had the exact same reaction. It seems people always throw a statement like that in when criticizing a Democrat, either reflexively trying to shield themselves from accusations of being a Trump supporter (or worse) or because they genuinely believe it. The question never answered (or even asked) is how are the Democrats not also an existential threat to (fill in the blank)?

      What’s more, I was left with the impression that while the author believes Reade and has made a sold case against Biden, she’s still voting for him, thus guaranteeing the cycle continues.

      Reply
      1. The Historian

        “What’s more, I was left with the impression that while the author believes Reade and has made a sold case against Biden, she’s still voting for him, thus guaranteeing the cycle continues.”

        Not to defend the writer, but really, what choices do we the voters have this election cycle? Our options are to 1) Vote for Biden who more than likely, did assault Tara Reade, 2) Vote for Trump who is being accused of rape for the 23rd, or is it the 24th time, or 3) vote for some independent party that doesn’t stand a chance. Please don’t show me your hypocrisy by saying Tara Reade should be believed but E. Jean Carroll should not.

        It is a very sad state of affairs that we have allowed power to continue its predatory ways against women, but what do we do now? Yves Smith was so right that we just ARE NOT addressing this issue in this country.

        Reply
        1. Floyd

          I don’t find it hypocrisy to say I believe Tara Reade and disbelieve Carroll. They have different stories and Trump is hardly the only man Carroll has accused of molesting her. That being said, I would not now vote Biden guilty if I was on a jury and he was the alleged perp. I think Biden did it, but not beyond a reasonable doubt.

          But here is what I think is a more important point – Biden is not yet the Democrat’s nominee for President. He is the front runner, and there is there is time for a replacement. So the fait accompli argument is premature. Plus, I am not sure fait accompli even applies outside of France.

          Reply
          1. The Historian

            I sure hope you are right and that the Democrats do wake up and choose someone else as their candidate because I do believe that Biden is about the worst choice they could ever have made.

            Reply
            1. Floyd

              Not me. Being a Proud Deplorable, I believe that Joe Biden is a perfect candidate for the Democrats! Pretty much out of touch with reality, and not really sure where he is. I say that thinking he would have made a decent President many years ago, in spite of his many foibles. Now, he is Don Quixote tilting at record players. Like in the song, Comfortably Numb, I hope they keep “him going through the show.”

              Reply
          2. The Historian

            BTW, since I forgot to mention it earlier. Do you think women can only be sexually assaulted just once? That’s not my personal experience. And as far as I can tell, Ms. Carroll has only accused one other man of sexually assaulting her.

            Reply
            1. Floyd

              No. I used to be an attorney. So I have seen my share of repeat adventures with clients. But Jean Carroll seems a bit flaky to me. Plus, she has a poor opinion of us Deplorables, to wit:

              “His admirers can’t get enough of hearing that he’s rich enough, lusty enough, and powerful enough to be sued by and to pay off every splashy porn star or Playboy Playmate who “comes forward,” so I can’t imagine how ecstatic the poor saps will be to hear their favorite Walking Phallus got it on with an old lady in the world’s most prestigious department store.”

              Yeah, not the most credible person in my mind. I think she has a dog in this hunt. She also seems to have had a series of misadventures throughout her life. I found this today:

              https://www.thecut.com/2019/06/donald-trump-assault-e-jean-carroll-other-hideous-men.html

              Reply
        2. .Tom

          > Not to defend the writer, but really, what choices do we the voters have this election cycle?

          Biden is not the nominee. Dems can choose someone else. If the want to win the presidency then they should.

          So let’s not act as though there aren’t any other options.

          The fact that the dem apparatus chose Biden shows that it is ok with losing. So again, no need for us to wring our hands at the difficulty.

          Reply
          1. Dr. John Carpenter

            Absolutely. The Dems made a conscious decision to throw their weight behind Biden despite his many, many flaws and weaknesses, of which #metoo is just one. They could anoint another. They’ve already stated they have the right to whoever they want on the ticket regardless of primary voting. Of course when people accept TINA and state “he’s probably a rapist but I’ll still vote for him” the Dems have zero incentive to do anything.

            Reply
          2. Acacia

            Good point by @Tom that bears repeating: the choice of Biden means that the Dem apparatus has tipped their hand that they do not care if they lose. They have and will continue to have a stranglehold on the electoral process. The gravy train will roll on, and nothing will really change. The fat cats will get fatter, the rice and punch bowls will continue to be refilled, etc.

            A vote for the Dems is nothing other than a vote for the status quo. I.e., if you vote for them, sorry, but you are part of the problem.

            Reply
  16. The Rev Kev

    “US senators propose renaming street outside Chinese embassy after Wuhan whistleblower”

    The Embassy of the United States in China is located on Anjialou Road in Beijing. Could you imagine what would happen if the Chinese renamed it Malcolm X Road? Trump’s Washington immediately objects – or do they? On what grounds do they object? He is one of the greatest and most influential black Americans in history. Can they justify that objection with blacks or liberals or muslims? On what basis do they object? Talk about being hoist by your own petard.

    Reply
      1. MLTPB

        I don’t know if Assange either did not think Beijing would help, or the latter did not want to, but he ended up in another embassy.

        Hai Rui, I think, was a little more similar to Julian. And a play about the Ming official led to the Cultural Revolution.

        Reply
    1. MLTPB

      Maybe a few CPC senators could first float that X idea first??

      It seems it’s a bit different there. No party secretary of Hubei would ever argue publicly with Xi.

      Reply
    1. cripes

      lyman alpha blob:

      Not really.

      DeNiro, to my disappointment, is all in on the sinking dim rat cruise ship, having endorsed Buttigieg earlier, now mouth-foaming and spraying spittle at the mention of Trump because, you know, NONE of this would be happening except RUSSIA RUSSIA and TRUMP, since of course none of the current problems have any DNA from prior administrations and the unelected, everlasting blob.

      He played Robert Muller on SNL fer chrissakes, so sucked into the blob ‘e was.

      I’ll take Danny De Vito’s politics over De Niro’s anyday.

      Reply
  17. The Rev Kev

    “‘Finally, a virus got me.’ Scientist who fought Ebola and HIV reflects on facing death from COVID-19”

    This article shines light on the decision to ban from military recruitment all people that have been hospitalized with Coronavirus. There would be too many that would have damage done to their lungs, livers, hearts, etc. and may end up being a liability to the future military. But here is the thing. As this virus slowly burns its way across America for the next coupla years, it will also slowly reduce the number of the potential pool of future recruits for the military for this generation. What happens then? The US military already has a shortage too in specialists like pilots. What happens if too large a percentage of present pilots get sick too with this virus? No good answers here.

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      There’s been a rather profound change in things since Coronavirus. Heretofore you practically couldn’t escape the ‘every soldier is a hero’ bullshit on tv and all over the main stream media, but that was then and this is now.

      The only time our military has gotten any press, has been the dog & pony show of the Thunderbirds & Blue Angels doing flyovers @ a city near you.

      Reply
    2. chuck roast

      There is actually a very good answer: we revert to the universal military draft. Citizen soldiery. Democratic to the point where unpopular foreign (or domestic) adventures either limit the potential cohort of draftees and/or incite internal resistance of enlisted men and women. More likely we’ll just hire a bunch of healthy Hessians.

      Reply
      1. Rod

        Effected by the draft, I would have never thought I would agree with you.
        From 2002 to 2013 I had many Veterans in my classes, who would talk to me–Vet to Vet.

        The disease of apathy can be remedied, imo, by 2 year post HS Mandatory Universal Service for every Citizen (Autistic trough Paraplegic) with many non-military options (except exemption).

        Reply
      2. Schmoe

        ” More likely we’ll just hire a bunch of healthy Hessians.” Or, a bunch of Sunni jihadists. Oh, wait. . .

        Reply
        1. Nancy Boyd

          Not to worry. Erik Prince has been building his own private military for a number of years now.

          Reply
          1. newcatty

            Eric’s sister Betsy is a big help for Erik and Company to provide people( fodder) for the “private” military. The public education system in this country is being eroded and dismantled more than it was before Betsy’s reign as the Secretary of Education. So, with the fact more and more children will be receiving a crappified pre-school through 12th grade education will mean more poor, rudderless and hopeless young people who either believe ,or accept, there is no alternative to joining up for the glory of being a “warrior”. This will be enforced by the fact that the country is in need of “protecting and defending the fatherland”. Of course, as is already the case , the elites will have elite private schools. Even the enclosed enclaves of the upper and middle class neighborhood schools are being subjected to eroding monies for support. The flight to the private schools is on the rise.

            At the same time the concept of compulsory after high-school service for every girl and boy. This , indeed, has some good aspects to it. If it were truly and fairly implemented as universal. But, how would that be executed by our government, as it stands? And, that does not negate the PTB from returning to a draft. The tragedy of camouflage the decision to start a draft , for whatever “our” military morphs into being, is now the fact that the virus is here and it will be the outcome that many young people will become lost in the suffering crowds. Or “assigned ” to work on the plantations, factories, warehouses, etc. Hope I am wrong. Sustainable, small farms are wonderful.

            Reply
            1. cripes

              newcatty:

              “compulsory after high-school service for every girl and boy…”

              Yeah it will need to be universal and privilege-proofed or end up a cesspool of drugs, alcohol, financial exploitation and sexual depravity, a microcosm of the horrible society that spawns institutional decadence and abuses…like Yale.

              And we wouldn’t want that.

              Reply
      3. Bsoder

        I think that’s not a good idea at all. In fact the military is to large as it is. Who’s planning on attacking us and how?

        Reply
      4. Massinissa

        I don’t buy it. Just like in every war we’ve had except ww2, the rich will just buy their way out. There is no chance of a ‘universal’ draft as long as millionaires and billionaires continue to exist.

        Maybe we should just dismantle the military and replace it with a universal militia. That way we wouldn’t have a military to invade other countries with at all.

        Reply
        1. John Wright

          Put politically connected with your “millionaires and billionaires” group.

          An example is of Pat Robertson, the religious broadcaster, who was on a troop ship with soldiers destined for battle in Korea in 1951.

          Pat Robertson’s father was Democratic US Senator Absalom Willis Robertson.

          Robertson got a different assignment away from the fighting.

          https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-1988-03-06-8804050076-story.html

          “On Feb. 14, 1951, shortly after the ship docked in Japan, six young Marine second lieutenants were abruptly pulled off and sent to a training assignment in Otsu, Japan. The rest sailed for Korea, where virtually all were soon in battle-and many were killed or wounded in the ensuing weeks.”

          “One of the lieutenants kept in Japan was Pat Robertson, the former religious broadcaster now running for the Republican presidential nomination. Robertson did go to Korea later, as a staff aide at division headquarters, but he never went into battle.”

          Reply
    3. fajensen

      You don’t have to be fit, healthy or even a pilot to drive drones from a trailer in Utah!

      Reply
    4. GF

      There are a lot of former military pilots currently sitting around waiting for their airline jobs to come back. The military always was where the majority of airline pilots received their training. Most quit the military because the airlines paid more. Now the military pays much more than airlines, so recruiting these pilots seems to make a lot of sense if more pilots are really needed.

      Reply
  18. Wukchumni

    Anybody notice how once fairly common hacks of big business, are no longer happening? (or at least being reported)

    Reply
    1. Bugs Bunny

      No but I’ve had plenty of Covid scams directed to my spam folder and a municipality in France got ransomwared recently.

      I guess that’s not much but perhaps this sort of stuff has been moved to the “in other news…” column.

      Reply
    2. HotFlash

      Both Mr HotFlash and I have had our prepaid credit cards (the ones we use for on-line purchases) hacked in the last three months. Fortunately, we don’t keep much money on them, but was inconvenient for on-line purchases until we got the cards replaced, and still waiting on the reimbursements for the stolen $$.

      Reply
  19. The Rev Kev

    “As Bethany Mandel’s ‘grandma killer’ tweet proves, vice-signaling is the right’s newest and most toxic trend”

    I think that these people are operating under a misconception. They are going with the idea that this virus is just killing the very old or the sick & the like. So for them it is Darwinism, baby, and they are the group that are not only at least risk, but do not want to be inconvenienced in their lifestyles. These demonstrations are kinda like asking to see the manager about something you do not like.

    But this virus is not standing still and is – slowly – mutating. Let us suppose for arguments sake that it mutated into a form resembling the 1918 flu pandemic. You have to remember that in 1918–1919, 99% of pandemic influenza deaths in the U.S. occurred in people under 65, and nearly half of deaths were in young adults 20 to 40 years old. And this is precisely the age group that you see in all those protests.

    So this fall would you have all these demonstrator’s now in lockdown with the elderly out protesting about opening everything up and wanting those lazy 20 to 40 year olds going back to work so that they can get back their lifestyles again? Old people can carry guns as well you know so they too might occupy political buildings. It would be like the Grey Panthers all over again.

    Reply
    1. John Steinbach

      The Gray Panthers are still here and still fighting for single payer and peace & justice. Our slogan is still “Age & Youth In Action.”

      Reply
    2. Bsoder

      Darwinism, with regard to old people doesn’t apply as old people by in large are not passing on any genes. Which is why people don’t live to be 500. One reason at least. Sounds more like Eugenics in all its ignorance and stupidity.

      Reply
      1. HotFlash

        Well, yeah, but this is *social* Darwinism we are talking about, and in human society knowledge and possibly wisdom are passed from the experienced from each generation to the next, and it is similar in purpose to genetic inheritance. We call it ‘education’. It need not be formal, but it is necessary for the survival of the species to retain and improve what it knows and how it lives. For instance, we are coming to a point where we can learn valuable lessons from old-style farmers.

        In which case, the vice signallers are more likely to end up being auto-culled after a few generations due to sheer ignorance. Maybe sooner — anti-maskers, anyone?

        Reply
        1. Oregoncharles

          But now we have the Internet, so why would we need old people?

          I do notice that the next version of a given disaster – like foreign wars or great recessions – arrives about the time the generation that experienced the last one retires and/or dies. Although the next colonial war was a little ahead of schedule.

          Listen to your ancestors; they might know something.

          Reply
  20. anon in so cal

    May 9, 2020 is the 75th Anniversary of Victory Day, the day Nazi Germany unconditionally surrendered.

    “A Cold War or global competition was NOT U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s vision for the post World War II world. He saw the Soviet Union and the United States, the Russian and American peoples as the two best and most reliable partners to maintain the peace of the world. 75 years have proven his prescient vision was right. Yet American leaders of the Fake Right and the Fake Left alike have now abandoned it for the policies of chaotic globalism and unending eternal war.”

    https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2020/05/09/victory-day-as-franklin-roosevelt-would-have-seen-it/

    Separately, Ben Norton, on Twitter, shows how Facebook is censoring the iconic photograph of a Soviet soldier waving the USSR flag over the Reichstag in May 1945.

    “Example number 8,289,278 of how Facebook is an arm of the US government, that censors content that challenges US propaganda and lies.

    This is especially disgusting today, on Victory Day, the 75th anniversary of the victory of the SOVIET UNION (not the US or UK) over Nazi Germany”

    https://twitter.com/BenjaminNorton/status/1259154854351683585?s=20

    Reply
    1. ewmayer

      “A Cold War or global competition was NOT U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s vision for the post World War II world. He saw the Soviet Union and the United States, the Russian and American peoples as the two best and most reliable partners to maintain the peace of the world.” — Well, someone forgot to tell Truman, because ol’ Steely-Eyed-Cold-War-Missileman Harry was completely onboard with the western allies immediately making an enemy of the Soviets as soon as the latter had done the heavy lifting in winning the war in Europe. Churchill was also quite the massive hypocrite in that regard, as I recall the Brits were key in the policy of even during the war keeping the Soviets away from certain ‘special projects’ such as the Bomb. Just because you sacrificed 1/10th of your population to beat the Nazis doesn’t mean you get to share in the spoils or be a partner in any kind of postwar world order, dude. White english-speaking nations first, then other white allies, then former Nazis and the Japanese, and very last of all, the dirty Slavs and commies, OK?

      Reply
  21. Michael

    Screen New Deal
    Under Cover of Mass Death, Andrew Cuomo Calls in the Billionaires to Build a High-Tech Dystopia

    “There has been a distinct warming up to human-less, contactless technology,” she said. “Humans are biohazards, machines are not.”

    No machines are …

    Reply
  22. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Virus Pushes America’s Hospitals to the Brink of Financial Ruin Bloomberg (BC).

    Does it strike anyone else as “ironic,” to say the least, that with life-threatening sickness and death supposedly everywhere hospitals can’t stay flush? That they need to go back to the days when the population was “healthier” in order for businesses that “save lives” to pay the bills? What about supply and demand?

    These are rhetorical questions, of course, but shouldn’t somebody notice?

    And along those same lines, I saw an interview with a young doctor the other day who very somberly admitted that “this” was not what she “signed up for.” So I wonder what she believed the job of “doctor” in one of the most unhealthy nations on earth was really all about.

    Reply
    1. xkeyscored

      Yes. It strikes me as more than just ironic too. It’s one of the clearest confirmations imaginable of the idiocy of the US ‘health’ system from its customers’ point of view.

      Reply
      1. MLTPB

        There are doctors like that in many nations, presumably.

        There are also dedicated healthcare workers here, and around the world, I would think.

        Reply
        1. xkeyscored

          I was talking about hospitals closing, which has nothing much to do with the dedication of health workers, but a lot to do with market farces.

          Reply
          1. MLTPB

            That doctor, being a part of the health care system, is not what other doctors are lik necessarily, and customers likely view the health care system, differently, depending on, among other things, doctors encountered.

            Reply
    2. Bsoder

      A hospital unprepared for an emergency is almost by definition not a hospital. That would included a business model that were they don’t go broke. Just how stupid are we?

      Reply
      1. Katniss Everdeen

        Thank you.

        A hospital unprepared for an emergency is almost by definition not a hospital.

        As is a hospital unprepared for actual sickness.

        Reply
    3. fresno dan

      Katniss Everdeen
      May 9, 2020 at 1:02 pm

      Does it strike anyone else as “ironic,” to say the least, that with life-threatening sickness and death supposedly everywhere hospitals can’t stay flush?

      I’m glad you brought it up – but I would call it outrageous. Maybe all those high cost procedures exist solely to pad the bottom line?

      Reply
  23. richard

    Here is K. Kulinski, on Twitter’s new prompts that encourage tweeters to self-censor, and the strong tendency for all social media companies to suck over time, to listen too much to blue check types, etc.
    I have an idea for a rival social media called Mutter. The only requirements are that you keep your voice down! “If you can’t say it in a mutter, it probably isn’t worth saying” would be our motto.
    I am a ball of creativity lately! That’s like 5 good ideas in a week.

    Reply
      1. shtove

        Putter requires members to keep deadly quiet during a contribution, only to break out in a roar of triumph or groan of despair at the conclusion, depending on the outcome. Rutter encourages one contributor to engage in a bout of frantic activity, and the other to express relief when it’s over. St-st-stutter …

        Reply
      2. richard

        Well, and the blue check types of course will want to try Tutter, my latest idea where users would always be encouraged “check their privilege at the door”, and out motto would be “when in doubt, raise your finger and wag it all about”.

        Reply
  24. Reader

    Exclusive: Obama says in private call that ‘rule of law is at risk’ in Michael Flynn case

    https://www.yahoo.com/news/obama-irule-of-law-michael-flynn-case-014121045.html

    In “leaked” call to none other than Michael Isikoff, Obama rallies the troops. Some quotes:

    “The news over the last 24 hours I think has been somewhat downplayed — about the Justice Department dropping charges against Michael Flynn,” Obama said in a web talk with members of the Obama Alumni Association.

    “And the fact that there is no precedent that anybody can find for someone who has been charged with perjury just getting off scot-free. That’s the kind of stuff where you begin to get worried that basic — not just institutional norms — but our basic understanding of rule of law is at risk.”

    “What we’re fighting against is these long-term trends in which being selfish, being tribal, being divided, and seeing others as an enemy — that has become a stronger impulse in American life.”

    Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

    Reply
    1. marku52

      Obama / Holder not prosecuting a single banker pretty much rang the bell on “Rule of Law”. Of course with things like civil asset forfeiture so that police can buy margarita makers, ROL was already on the endangered feces list…..

      Reply
      1. JBird4049

        What Flynn violated was not the law, but omertà. Many say that the Mafia has been reduced to almost nothing, but I think that they got the last laugh.

        Reply
        1. cnchal

          The Obama statement is curious on various levels. First, the exhaustive search may have been hampered by the fact that Flynn was never charged with perjury. He was charged with a single count of false statements to a federal investigator under 18 U.S.C. 1001.

          Not moar than a couple of hours ago, the national news brought what Obama said to his follower in reverential tones of seriousness to the peasants, yet totally failed to mention that Obama was blowing smoke up everyone’s ass.

          Imagine that. The MSM caught lying by omission. What is the world coming to?

          Reply
    2. ewmayer

      Another LOL at “there is no precedent that anybody can find for someone who has been charged with perjury just getting off scot-free” — But James Clapper lying his a** off to Congress no less re. US domestic surveillance was just fine. Because no perjury charge resulted, dontchaknow. Also, as I recall Flynn suffered certained, shall we say, career and reputation setbacks as a result of the Obama-approved RussiaRussiaRussia witch hunt.

      Reply
  25. DorothyT

    Rare & Unreleased Songs of Phil Ochs to be Released

    Phil Ochs. Never forgotten.
    Suicide at age 35 (1976): bipolar or driven mad by the military/political world?
    He said it all like no other in song when he was here.

    There’s no place in this world where I’ll belong, when I’m gone
    And I won’t know the right from the wrong, when I’m gone
    And you won’t find me singin’ on this song, when I’m gone
    So I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here

    Reply
  26. JBird4049

    That story about the whale might’ve made my day! With all the depressing, anxiety causing, deranged things happening, it is nice to see some goodness and connection.

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      Agreed. You can see how the whale put total trust in those humans that it came across and patiently waited five hours for them to do their work. If humans can make relationships with cats and dogs then it is also understandable how it can be done with whales as well.

      Reply
  27. ewmayer

    “Fact-checking ‘Plandemic’: A documentary full of false conspiracy theories about the coronavirus | Politico” — Not to give the particular CTer featured in the article credence, but Politico trots out its own falsehoods:

    ‘It’s very clear this virus was manipulated’

    Scientists say it’s not. The genetic structure of the novel coronavirus rules out laboratory manipulation.

    Not all scientistst say that, but those involved in viral gain-of-function research certainly have an incentive to say such stuff.

    A Nature article published March 17 says the genetic makeup of the coronavirus, documented by researchers from several public health organizations, does not indicate it was altered. Instead, scientists have two plausible explanations for the origin of the virus: natural selection in an animal host, or natural selection in humans after the virus jumped from animals.

    Again citing the excellent deep-dive article by Yuri Deigin, he point-by-point debunks the supposed Nature debunking in the section titled “The Nature Paper vs. the Lab-Made Hypothesis”. I urge the interested reader to peruse that – preferably by way of reading the whole piece, which is long, dense and frequently gets quite technical, but is eminently worthwhile IMO – and judge for themselves.

    Reply
  28. ewmayer

    “Donald Trump is igniting a cold war with China to win the election | Independent” — But of course the DNC/woke/liberal/intel-services axis igniting a cold war with Russia for the past 3-4 *years* in an attempt to redo the 2016 election via a soft coup, that was totally reasonable.

    And how quickly the same crowd of blinkered partisan hypocrites forgets that Obama’s #1 late-term “legacy project”, the TPP, had the specific aim of isolating China.

    Reply
  29. Tom Bradford

    Pandemic diary of a naked capitalist – week 8.

    Well, just like old times – wealth-on-paper fell 0.15% last week. The kind of bobbing around that’s much more normal than these abnormal times.

    Again we were let down by our managed retirement funds, where our foreign exposure is. Yet Wall St. seems to be merrily skipping along its Yellow Brick Road in some alternate universe with the NZX, its not so loyal Toto, being oddly reluctant to follow.

    Oddly because some genuine optimism does seem justified here. New recorded cases here are down to one or two a day and are all linked to existing ‘clusters’, two of which have now been declared moribund. The first fortnight of easing the lockdown has seen no spikes and the next stage already signalled by the Govt. in the apparent absence of any infection ‘loose’ in the population is probably going to happen next week whether the Govt. wants it to or not. This will put us into pretty much life as normal apart from closed borders, no large gatherings and exhortations to maintain social distancing – pretty much as Sweden is still bragging it’s always been. Sweden, tho’, with just twice NZ’s population, has had 3,175 deaths compared with our 21. (https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/coronavirus/121463027/coronavirus-expert-says-it-may-be-a-decade-before-nz-can-stop-isolating-arrivals)

    Yet a question arises. On those figures Sweden’s fatality rate was 12.5%. New Zealand’s was 5%. Our lock-down was more effective at keeping the number of cases down, but of those cases surely the fatality rate should be similar, especially as I suspect Sweden’s health service is better than ours. Indeed 95% of NZ’s cases were never even hospitalised. Moreover NZ suffered no fatalities under 60 and a large number were in their 80’s and 90’s from a couple of rest homes that were hit. In fact in New Zealand CV19 really has been no worse than a ‘flu. which certainly hasn’t been the case elsewhere. I wonder why.

    I can hope, tho’, that the Armageddon foretold by Richard Murphy in his piece linked to in NC last week – https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2020/05/people-and-jobs-or-wealth-the-government-has-to-decide-which-to-prioritise-and-there-is-only-one-right-answer.html – isn’t for us. Even now 80% of the country is back at work and next week will take it much higher. Very little other than the tourist industry is up for on-going pain and I with many others take the view that NZ will be better for it. I don’t believe working from home will ever take off, some degree of face-to-face contact is just too necessary in practically all office work, and while the past six-weeks will likely finish off too many small High Street businesses I fear that the competition from on-line shopping had already sounded the death knell for them.

    In truth the wanderings about of our wealth-on-paper doesn’t bother me much. On retirement four years ago I qualified for NZ’s universal pension which if frugal is enough to keep bread and a little bit of butter on the table. It’s the income from our portfolio that lets us put honey on the bread and that will take a small hit this year – banks have been ordered not to pay a dividend and the profit-and-loss accounts of many businesses will be set back by the lockdown. Yet the power companies have still been churning the electrons out, foodstuff manufacturing continued as essential – much of it for export – while since the relaxation the fast-food outlets have apparently been under siege as a lot of folk seem to need to make up for the burgers they missed during the lockdown like addicts kept away from their opium dens for a while. In any case we have the obligatory tranche of fixed interest in our portfolio for just these times so there will be honey still for tea.

    And the wine industry was declared essential to allow for the harvest of the 2020 vintage to be completed and it is said to have been a good year. Thus when we get our shareholder’s case in due course we should still be able to wash our bread and honey down with a glass of Oyster Bay sav blonk. So Cheers Richard Murphy from the (very, as it seems) lucky country.

    Reply
    1. Tom Bradford

      Correction: ” On those figures Sweden’s fatality rate was 12.5%. New Zealand’s was 5%.” New Zealand’s 21 deaths from 1,495 confirmed cases is 1.5% compared, with Sweden’s 12.5%. (3,175 deaths from 25,265 cases). I shouldn’t try doing math first thing on a Sunday morning.

      Reply
    2. Massinissa

      I very much enjoyed todays diary, but I confess, even as a daily reader here at NC I did not realize there were a full seven other posts? If you’ve made other posts of this ‘diary’, this is the first I have had the good fortune to see.

      Reply
    3. The Rev Kev

      Here it is getting weird in Oz. Lots of pressure to open up everything by our PM and business councils. Idiot demands to open up travel between all the States when both Victoria and New South Wales are still fighting down their own clusters. Lots of people just want to jump in their cars and go on holidays which I put down to Car Owner Virus.

      But here is the thing. The PM has been saying that as we open up that we should expect more clusters and outbreaks with the word ‘deaths’ obviously omitted. What no reporter is asking is where those outbreaks will come from. There is a nasty one at an aged care home in New South Wales and a meat packers plant in Victoria. So where are these new outbreaks going to come from exactly?

      The border has been closed for several weeks as well as the State borders as well. Is there something that they are not telling us? If he is talking about letting in migrants? Quarantining them for a fortnight after arrival should help there and I cannot see tourists just turning up. There are 2,500 US Marines about to arrive in the Northern Territory so I hope that they get quarantined. Lots of vulnerable aboriginal live there so an outbreak could have lethal consequences-

      https://www.scmp.com/news/asia/australasia/article/3083155/us-marines-headed-australian-port-darwin-after-coronavirus

      Reply
      1. anon in so cal

        Cruise ships? Admittedly, this was on April 22, but still:

        “A crew member on the Ruby Princess had a fever of 39.2C and had tested negative for both influenza A and B when it docked in Sydney, an inquiry into the cruise ship has heard…the ship’s senior doctor, Dr Ilse von Watzdorf, said this was a symptom of “potential Covid-19” and she was “surprised” that 2,700 passengers had been allowed to disembark from the virus-hit cruise ship without waiting for coronavirus test results.”

        https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/apr/22/ruby-princess-doctor-surprised-passengers-allowed-off-cruise-ship-when-crew-member-had-high-fever

        Many, many thousands of cruise ship crews are marooned in cramped, multiple-occupancy cabins and desperate to disembark. Many are sick with Covid19 and quite a few have perished. Some were allowed into Los Angeles last week.

        Reply
        1. The Rev Kev

          I really find this hard to understand about cruise ships. Here is one way that could have solved that. So, one after another, you dock each cruise ship. Germany, for example, can send aircraft out to bring their citizens home. You disembark German passengers and put them aboard a bus to go straight to the airport with a driver wearing a full hazmat suit. They go straight to the plane from the bus and voom, they are gone. You do the same with other nationalities including that for the crews.

          When it is done, you just leave the cruise ships and buses sit for a coupla weeks as the virus will naturally die. Or you may opt to disinfect them first. That bit about German passengers was actually done in Western Australia but they took weeks to do it first. Did no one have plans for this sort of thing happening? A century ago there were a number of ships that had to be quarantined at sea, including Naval vessels but it seems we learned nothing since.

          Reply
    4. HotFlash

      In fact in New Zealand CV19 really has been no worse than a ‘flu. which certainly hasn’t been the case elsewhere. I wonder why.

      NZ had a good solid, early, and still ongoing lockdown (thanks, PM Jacinda Ardern!), while Sweden, famously, has not.

      And there may be another factor, BCG vaccination for TB, also leprosy. Too many other factors, but still — compare and contrast, as Sister Martin Joseph used to say:

      NZ: the BCG vaccine was mandatory for NZ 13yr olds from 1948. In 1963 the vac was switched to newborns and (phased out for teenagers to keep coverage) and so by 1990 only high risk groups were vaccinated. More at http://www.bcgatlas.org/, but details lacking. So, it appears that no-one in NZ was vaccinated before 1948, and then only (but all!) 13+, but phased, so it should cover cohort ages 85 to 29. Which looks not unlike your experience, there in NZ. Result: 21 deaths.

      Sweden: No lockdown, just voluntary social distancing, so far as I can tell. Pls look it up yourselves, I got too much/too little info and a whole lot of garbage. Re BCG, Sweden started vaccinating babies (newborn to 1yr) back in 1940, boosters were given to all children at ages 7 years and again at 14-15 years. So anybody 80 or under should be cool, TB-wise*, anyway. In 1965 the 7 yr boosters were stopped. In 1975 Sweden stopped mass mandatory vaccination altogether and targeted only at-risk groups, although there were various holdovers as the program was phased out, mostly medical workers after a test and conscripts(!). So, getting out the old envelope, anyone under 45 was (probably) not vaccinated but depends on length of immunization* whether or not booster(s) to prev program, total covered by BCG vaccine, under 80 and over 45. Anyway, under 45 seems like no vaccine — have not seen demographics for Sweden’s 31175 deaths, but you can compare normalized stats here.

      * Disclaimer: I have no idea how long immunization effects persist, apparently no one else does either, and this is a new virus anyway. So, all bets are off.

      Reply
    5. kareninca

      I wonder if it would make sense to compare a U.S. state’s experiences to that of New Zealand. For instance, Connecticut. New Zealand has a population of 4.8 million; CT has a population of 3.5 million (it is one of the very tiniest states)(the U.S. population is 331 million). New Zealand had the advantage of being an island; CT had the disadvantage of having NY on one border and Mass. on its other border. So New Zealand had loads of advance notice and complete border control; CT had far less advance notice and no border control. Both are affluent regions. It will be interesting to see how each fares in the long run in the matter of the pandemic. Maybe best however to skip the musings of a well off person from CT re his investment portfolio. Actually a CT Yankee wouldn’t indulge in such musings around people with less money.

      Reply
      1. Tom Bradford

        Well Alabama might be a better parallel – populations almost identical and I’d imagine it’s thinner on the ground than CT’s, more like NZ. But from the above link – https://www.alreporter.com/2020/05/08/why-are-we-retreating-when-our-caseload-is-increasing-uab-infectious-diseases-expert/ – we get 9,668 positive cases (and growing) and 390 deaths against NZ’s 1,494 confirmed cases and 21 deaths, and (hopefully) falling.

        Yes we did close our borders and lockdown hard but we still had at least 16 ‘hot-spots’ where it did get into the community, including in the cities, yet it doesn’t seem to have spread with the same vigour as elsewhere. And we weren’t that quick off the mark – we had only a voluntary two-week quarantine on returning travellers for too long. Clearly at least 16 people decided not to bother, and one of those killed 10 residents in a nursing home they visited. And I hope they know who they are!

        HotFlash’s suggestion re BCG vaccination is suggestive and I certainly can’t argue it either way, although I think NZ in this period was still very much a little England in the Pacific and I’m sure would have been faithfully following the UK’s policies on vaccinations. I can certainly remember getting regularly jabbed with needles for various vaccines as a schoolboy in 1950’s UK. If that’s the case historical vaccination hasn’t helped the UK avoid this.

        Sorry if I come across as a well-off person bragging. I actually began my diary when my well-offness was cratering, and it seemed to me that some visitors to a site dedicated to naked capitalism might be interested in the actual experiences of a real life naked capitalist having his world turning to quicksand under his feet. And that the fact it didn’t is down to good government, not to any special talent on my part..

        Reply
        1. kareninca

          Yes, Alabama is a better match in some ways, though not in others. I am focusing on population and affluence. Being affluent gives you far more options. As far as population density goes, AL and NZ are similar; NZ has 46 people per square mile, and AL has 94 people per square mile. CT has 738 people per square mile!!

          So I actually think CT is doing brilliantly, given its population density and disastrous location.

          But here’s the thing – the game is not yet over. I am going to predict that barring some unusual factor such as the BCG vaccination, NZ is going to end up like CT. Because this virus is extremely contagious, and NZ won’t keep the world out for political and economic reasons, and so it will keep popping up. I have a (rich) friend from NZ, and she and her Australian husband were very careless in their travel back here just before the U.S. closed, so I am not so sure that your population is as risk averse as you think. Your main advantage will be that your island status and low population density will buy you time as more is found out about how to treat people.

          I think that CT has a “good government” in the same manner that NZ does. I suppose that has helped slow things down, although again I am not sure about the long game.

          So, I am just musing and am probably missing something here.

          Reply
  30. montanamaven

    Here is an pretty good analysis of the problems with the meatpacking industry with comments by Dylan Rattigan. Jimmy Dore quotes from a book by Binyamin Applebaum’s “The Economists Hour” on the history of monopolistic practices of the meatpacking industries. How the packers who controlled prices were finally broken up in 1920 by enforcement of The Sherman Act and from then on, no one packer was allowed to control more than 25% of meat production. But Reagan’s attorney general in 1982 changed that to again allow monopolies in the industry. By 1992 one company controlled 71% of meat processing. I can tell you first hand that the ranchers here can’t sell their cattle or if they could they couldn’t break even. This is at the same time that Wendy’s has run out of burger and Costco limits your beef purchase to three packages. It stinks. And now, our Republican Attorney General along with other Attorneys General are calling it “collusion”.
    Rattigan says that if another Teddy Roosevelt came along and ran on “busting the trusts”, they would win in a landslide since it’s not just meat. It’s the telephone companies, internet, Google, Facebook, Amazon, the media and the banks that are all monopolies and have us at their mercy. This is a hugely important story and this may be the time when conservative ranchers and city and factory workers finally unite. This virus has made things much clearer here that solidarity is not just for city workers and that we might be able to do more than just scratch our heads and mutter, “Well it’s next year kinda country.”

    Reply
  31. anon in so cal

    Several days ago, NY Gov Andrew Cuomo said it was shocking that a significant percentage of Covid19 patients had contracted the virus despite sheltering at home. This raised alarms and invigorated anti-lockdown supporters.

    Turns out, Cuomo’s statement was apparently based on a misreading of the report (the report itself leaves many unanswered questions).

    “Are People Getting Sick Staying Home Alone? That’s Not What a Misinterpreted Survey Said”

    “CBS (5/7/20) went with: “66% of NY Coronavirus Hospitalizations Are People Who Stayed Home,” explaining: “About two-thirds of patients hospitalized with Covid-19 in New York became infected even though they said they’d been observing lockdown restrictions.”

    As I’ve been saying (FAIR.org, 4/11/20; CounterSpin, 5/1/20), this kind of reporting is crucial; it’s vital that the public know how we’re getting infected so that we get a better idea of how we can protect ourselves. These reports, unfortunately, were based on a confusing presentation by New York’s governor, and it’s likely that they only confused the public further. It would indeed be worrisome if people were ending up in the hospital despite observing lockdown restrictions, but there’s no reason to think from the information provided that that’s the case.

    First off, the 66% figure has nothing to do with people staying home. That comes from a question about “source of admission,” which asked where people were living before they were hospitalized—whether at “home,” a nursing home, assisted living facility, jail/prison, homeless and so on. That doesn’t say anything about whether people stayed home….

    Another, more ambiguous question asked about “transportation method in daily life”: 9% said personal automobile, 4% public transportation, 2% car service and 2% “walking.” Eighty-five percent, however, said “N/A, working from home and other.” (Another question indicated that 83% of those hospitalized were unemployed or retired.) This suggests that rather than maintaining that they never went anywhere by car or by foot, the respondents may have been indicating specifically what transportation they used to get to work. (That participants may have found this question as confusing as journalists did is suggested by a note that “45% left [it] blank in survey.”)

    if that interpretation is correct, then the survey provides no information about whether those hospitalized with Covid-19 were going to the store, to parks, to parties or anywhere else. So the insight it provides on how people are getting infected is quite limited.”

    https://fair.org/home/are-people-getting-sick-staying-home-alone-thats-not-what-a-misinterpreted-survey-said/

    Reply
    1. montanamaven

      Most New Yorkers/Manhattanites live in apartment buildings with elevators. They’ve been forced to stay in apartments with family and go up and down elevators to go outside. Low income housing is also pretty dense. However, I just looked at the numbers and Manhattan itself has less deaths than Suffolk or Nassau; Queens or Brooklyn although they all have over a half million more people than Manhattan. Manhattan has 23,529 Positive cases; 1805 deaths; Queens has 55, 450 positive and 4,493 deaths. Got the stats at Covid by County in NY
      Also, I found a great interactive map at Cornell Covid Map by County

      Reply
  32. VietnamVet

    There is no planning for the future. No doubt, magical thinking that the Western Empire still exists – “nothing has changed” – will continue. The White House placed a lid on the CDC and is going ahead with temperature screening at airports to reassure airline passengers. This is pointless since it will not detect the 20% to 50% of infectious coronavirus shedders who are asymptomatic. They have no elevated temperatures.

    People are dying because of this dysfunction. 81% of young Americans are unfit for military duty. Herd Immunity proponents guarantee that no American will be fit for service. With the 50 states haphazardly reopening, the number of deaths are projected to reach near 9/11 levels every day for months if not years.

    Greenbacks are now contaminated with coronavirus. Who will recall and replace billion or more of them with clean dollars? Can the world economy restart without a reserve currency? If Singapore, Taiwan, China or Grenada impose a two week or longer quarantine on incoming Americans, it will kill foreign business travel and Boeing. Will the USA threaten to invade or bomb them?

    Since the US federal government ignored fundamental public health principles because they require money and a functional government, it has lost control the pandemic. The virus invaded nursing homes, prisons, meat packing plants; killing the elderly, first responders, workers and the unlucky. The contagion will not go away. It will find every crook and cranny in North America that infected people can get to. Mutate. Come back. The only hope is that it will disappear after two years like the Spanish flu. To date, no coronavirus vaccine has been developed.

    There is the November 2020 election. A chance for a change. But, up to now, there is no way to restore democracy (government by and for the people). Donald Trump was elected President because of the Obama/Biden Administration. But both are in the string of US Administrations that enabled the plutocracy to get richer at everyone else’s expense for the past 40 years. These are the villains who through greed, ignorance and hubris caused the excess deaths in the first place.

    Reply

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