Links 6/23/2020

First rescued snow leopard cub in India returns to mother Third Pole

June snow in Siberia’s south as highest-ever Arctic heat is recorded in Russia’s coldest region Siberian Times

US dollar funding: an international perspective (PDF) Committee on the Global Financial System, Bank of International Settlements

China warned to prepare for being cut off from US dollar payment system as part of sanctions like Russia South China Morning Post

Global Markets Face Reckoning With Risks Coming True All at Once Bloomberg


Coronavirus was already in Italy by December, waste water study shows The Local

Mysterious deaths of infants and others raise questions about how early coronavirus hit California Los Angeles Times

The Double Pandemic Of Social Isolation And COVID-19: Cross-Sector Policy Must Address Both Health Affairs. This is a must-read.

A Common Snake Oil Reemerges for the Coronavirus The Atlantic

Vietnam trials chloroquine in COVID-19 treatment Tuoi Tre News. Hydroxychloroquine is not prescribed for COVID-19 in Vietnam.

D.C. Is Entering Phase 2 Today, and D.C. Should Wait Mike the Mad Biologist

Why It Would Be Hard to Link a Coronavirus Spike to Recent Protests Scientific American

As Problems Grow With Abbott’s Fast COVID Test, FDA Standards Are Under Fire KHN

Virus numbers surge globally as many nations ease lockdowns AP

Coronavirus Vaccine Tracker NYT

Coronavirus testing indicates transmission risk increases along wildlife supply chains for human consumption in Viet Nam (preprint) bioRxiv. From the abstract: “Our analysis also suggested either mixing of 68 animal excreta in the environment or interspecies transmission of coronaviruses, as both bat and 69 avian coronaviruses were detected in rodent feces in the trade. The mixing of multiple 70 coronaviruses, and their apparent amplification along the wildlife supply chain into restaurants, 71 suggests maximal risk for end consumers and likely underpins the mechanisms of zoonotic spillover to people.” Also bat guano (used as fertilizer).

Effect of Dexamethasone in Hospitalized Patients with COVID-19 – Preliminary Report (preprint) (PDF) medRviv. Last week we saw the press release; this week the paper. From the abstract: “In patients hospitalized with COVID-19, dexamethasone reduced 28-day mortality among those receiving invasive mechanical ventilation or oxygen at randomization, but not among patients not receiving respiratory support.”


Full draft of Hong Kong national security law will only be made public after it is passed by China’s top legislative body South China Morning Post. Seems legit.

Ties That Bind: Xi’s People on the Politburo Macro Polo

National Gallery of Australia to shed staff and slash acquisitions from 3,000 to 100 a year Guardian. And the Board must love that business model…


India & China agree to step-wise de-escalation in eastern Ladakh, including Pangong The Print vs.

Arundhati Roy warns of ‘genocidal climate’ in India Open Democracy

India’s Top Adviser Sees V-Shaped Recovery If Virus Is Contained Bloomberg

Pressure mounts on India to allow foreign airlines to operate flights, US fires first salvo; EU holding talks Times of India

The Koreas

South Korea reports 46 new COVID-19 cases as it tackles ‘second wave’ Channel News Asia


Saudi Arabia to hold ‘very limited’ hajj over pandemic Agence France Presse

Iranian Tankers & the Age of Interdiction Patrick Lawrence, Consortium News

Yemen’s Houthis attack deep in Saudi Arabia, al Masirah TV says Straits Times

East Africa: Ethiopia to Fill Contested Dam As Nile Talks Falter All Africa


It’s been four years since the Brexit vote: everything and nothing has changed Guardian


Britain nearly went bust in March, says Bank of England Guardian. Britain is not a currency-issuing sovereign?

Coronavirus: why did England ignore an army of existing contact tracers? The Conversation

5 Facts BBC’s “The Salisbury Poisonings” Forgot to Mention Off Guardian

Exclusive: British army sent unqualified investigators to Iraq where troops ‘got away with murder’, veterans say Declassified UK

New Cold War

Putin aims for patriotic boost from victory parades FT

$1 Billion Gold Case Pits Maduro, BOE in Political Fight Bloomberg

Trump Transition

Nadler to subpoena AG Barr over Berman firing The Hill

Bolton’s Win Could Cost Him More Than Just Profits Jonathan Turley

Police State Watch

‘BlueLeaks’: Group Releases 270GB of Sensitive Police Documents Vice (Re Silc).

How conspiracy theories about the NYPD Shake Shack ‘poisoning’ blew up NY Post

Big Briother Is Watching You Watch

The EARN IT Bill Is the Government’s Plan to Scan Every Message Online Electronic Frontier Foundation

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Riding the Protest Wave: How Elites Will Co-opt BLM Chris Arnade, American Compass

‘It is our history’: Families of Aunt Jemima former models oppose Quaker Oats’ planned brand changes USA Today

Our Famously Free Press

NYT Is Threatening My Safety By Revealing My Real Name, So I Am Deleting The Blog Slate Star Codex (bwilli123). The Times takes out a competitor…

Failed State

Trust in Science and COVID-19 Johns Hopkins School of Public Health

Facebook Announces Plan To Break Up U.S. Government Before It Becomes Too Powerful The Onion

The Confederacy Was an Antidemocratic, Centralized State The Atlantic


Spirit AeroSystems asks lenders for relief after deeper Boeing 737 production cut Reuters (Re Silc).

Class Warfare

I didn’t realize my blood and bones were next Welcome to Hell World. And for restaurant re-openings especially:

See paragraph four:

It’s not “state-sanctioned violence.” It’s class warfare.

A Moratorium on Evictions Ends, Leaving Thousands of Tenants Fearful NYT

Why some physicists really think there’s a ‘mirror universe’ hiding in space-time Live Science

Vast neolithic circle of deep shafts found near Stonehenge Guardian

Extreme climate after massive eruption of Alaska’s Okmok volcano in 43 BCE and effects on the late Roman Republic and Ptolemaic Kingdom PNAS

The City of Philadelphia is cracking down on… dumpster pools Billy Penn

Petition to rename Columbus, Ohio, ‘Flavortown’ to honor Guy Fieri attracts thousands of signatures The Hill. I am here for this, as I was here for “Boaty McBoatface.”

Antidote du jour (via):

Normally I don’t do zoos, but Gloria the Baby Hippo is very cute:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. John A

    Putin aims for patriotic boost from victory parades FT

    This is behind a paywall so cannot read, but isn’t that the purpose of victory parades? Back in Thatcher days, she banned any prayers for the dead in Spanish after the Falklands victory ceremonies.

    1. The Rev Kev

      She also banned the wounded and the amputees marching in parades after the war as she did not want the public to see some of the real cost of the war.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      Thatcher had a weird thing about languages – presumably the paranoia of someone who only speaks one. A few years ago when some official papers from the 1980’s were declassified, it was found that she’d made multiple complaints about the Irish PM Garrett Fitzgerald’s* behaviour during European meetings – because he spoke French to Francois Mitterand. She was convinced they were plotting something behind her back, despite her aides telling her that all they were talking about was the food and their favourite writers.

      *The joke in Ireland used to be that Fitzgerald was equally incomprehensible in all three of the languages he spoke.

  2. fresno dan

    How conspiracy theories about the NYPD Shake Shack ‘poisoning’ blew up NY Post
    The three cops at the center of the NYPD milkshake “poisoning” scandal never even got sick, and there wasn’t the slightest whiff of criminality from the get-go — but that didn’t stop gung-ho brass from rolling out the crime scene tape and unions from dishing out empty conspiracy theories, The Post has learned.
    Is the Post a left wing or right wing rag? I had been under the impression it was a Murdoch publication and therefore the approved narrative could only be “police brave and true”

      1. Sutter Cane

        It is definitely a right wing tabloid. However, I must admit that their front page headlines do often attain a certain kind of genius.

        1. a different chris

          It’s maybe weird to us but major and mid-major publications just hire who they hire, they are surprisingly not actively looking for “a particular point of view” outside of the editorial pages, for which the owners already have strict control over.

          So the guy who writes the headlines is probably just “some guy”, he may be completely apolitical but somebody noticed he was extra clever with words. The top editor will likely do a quick pass/fail check (no “Hilary Clinton is a Goddess” would be allowed thru) but otherwise mostly whatever is fine. There’s another paper to come out tomorrow so everything is quickly water under the bridge anyway.

          The newz business is really so weird in many ways. Like the oil bidness, once you look closely enough it makes pretty much an analogous transition as that from Newtonian physics to quantum physics.

          You know what they “are” collectively, how they will behave in really any situation, but from close up you can’t make any sense at all of how they continually and reliably get to that point.

          1. False Solace

            > It’s maybe weird to us but major and mid-major publications just hire who they hire
            …. from close up you can’t make any sense at all of how they continually and reliably get to that point.

            This topic was covered 30 years ago quite persuasively in Manufacturing Consent. The ink-stained wretch churning out copy for a tabloid might not be individually aware of a specific editorial slant. But if that person wants to advance or build any sort of career in journalism, especially in the elite newsrooms, they absolutely need to hold the correct views. If they don’t, they don’t get hired and they don’t get promoted. There’s no mystery about how it works.

            Today with news budgets slashed across the country the competition for jobs is even fiercer. Everyone in the business has to constantly build their resume by reproducing the correct views on Twitter, where if you don’t toe the line you get hounded out of your job. Good luck differing with the neoliberal consensus when the thought police can check your opinions going back 10 years. Good luck getting interviews or official sources if you’re viewed as “difficult” or argue too much with whatever the establishment says.

        2. Michael Fiorillo

          “Headless Body In Topless Bar” being among the classics…

          The guilty pleasures of Page Six aside, whenever some apologist for mainstream media dreck tells you that you’re being offered “what people want,” please point out to them them that the NY Post has never done anything but lose money ever since Murdoch bought it it 1976: it’s never been anything but a right-wing propaganda vehicle, and a medium for degrading actual news and reporting.

            1. Michael Fiorillo

              Not to be pedantic, but that headline appeared on the front page of the Daily News, not the Post. Also, Murdoch had not yet bought the Post when that headline appeared; it was still a liberal tabloid published by Dorothy Schiff.

        3. Lambert Strether Post author

          Same with Daily Mail, whose science story aggregations are usually very good, and often best-in-class — with links to the orginals and sometimes even quotes. Not just ripped from the wires. Odd!

  3. Jen

    On early cases of COVID-19. Last weekend I went over to the local lumber yard, where I ran into a guy I hadn’t seen for a long time. We started catching up and talk eventually moved on to the virus. He said he wasn’t worried about it because he’d already had it. I was curious because we’ve had something like 50 cases in our entire region. He describe the endless dry cough, the pain (even his hair hurt), the exhaustion. He’s still not 100% better.

    He was sick in December. And I live in rural NH on the border of vermont. Of course he went to work. Several of his co-workers got it as well, as did his wife.

    Maybe he’s nuts. Maybe there’s some other big bad out there. Or not. I related this story to some of my coworkers yesterday (I work at a medical school), and none of them thought it was crazy.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I’ve heard similar stories from Chinese friends. One friend has a small shop in the airport here and she said that she and her staff were very sick in December, they associated it at the time with a bug one of her staff brought from China, or caught from a Chinese customer as they’d been hearing rumours from home. She is quite convinced it was Covid, as are her friends. But of course there was also a nasty flu virus around this year, so its hard to know. There is certainly something very odd about the information coming out about the virus. I think its quite possible that it was circulating in parts of China since November at least and that it was travelling by air and causing mini-outbreaks in various places around the world well before it got a full foothold anywhere.

      One of the curiosities about the disease is that its been so slow to take hold in some places, but is definitely there, and is definitely infectious. The manner in which there has been such a huge regional variation in the US and parts of Europe, and that its been so slow to take hold in Africa and South America certainly seems different from what the models were predicting back in February/March/April. It also seems to have an ability to lurk in a population for some time without spreading – for example, the current outbreak in South Korea, and the recent one in Beijing seem to have been from local sources, not from travellers (whatever the Chinese claim).

      There is so much we don’t know – which is one reason I’m so suspicious of any statements of certainty we’ve heard from so many government or academic sources.

      1. madarka

        A friend who lived in China believes he and his housemate (both uni students) had it in november. He wasnt in Hubei, I believe he lived in Beijing but can’t quite recall, but he told me he remembers feeling very sick and identifies his symptoms with corona. He’d recovered by December and came home (Latin America) to surprise his mother with an improptu Christmas visit, thus escaping the lockdown by sheer luck.

      2. voteforno6

        I have an in-law in the extended family from an African country, and he relayed some speculation from one of his brothers (a doctor), that since so many people in African countries live closer to certain types of animals, that they get exposed more to different types of coronaviruses, so that their immune systems are better equipped to respond to COVID19. Who knows? It sounds more plausible than some of the speculation that I’ve seen, but there’s still so much that isn’t known, so it could be just that – speculation.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      I had the start of a nasty cold on December 17th. I was at the UVA vs UNC game on 12/8. Others came down with it. My dad thinks it was Covid, but despite the extreme exhaustion (at that point, I barely notice), I didn’t have much in the way of flu like symptoms. I didn’t have much of a cough, and my sense of smell went away over 20 years ago.

      Right after the stay at home order and matching the incubation period, I had two spells with an up two days that match the more flu like symptoms.

    3. km

      A friend of a friend and her immediate family all had something much like the COVID back in December or January or so. Terrible cough, body ache, dead tired, fever but not super high.

      Their tests at the time all came back negative for influenza.

    4. NotTimothyGeithner

      Though if your friend had Covid, the anti-bodies are supposed to last six months or less, hence why the herd immunity idea was always junk.

    5. Clive

      My next-door neighbour here in the UK went to Primary Care last week for a (routine) blood test. While she was having it done, she was asked by the nurse practitioner there if she would like to have a COVID-19 antibody test, which she went along with, just out of interest.

      When the result came back, it was positive. My neighbour wasn’t surprised at all — in early January, she’d had what she described as not quite the flu, but a debilitating shortness of breath and a feeling of tiredness and lethargy (which was quite unlike her, she’s a real keeping-busy active sort of person) that went on for weeks.

      The nurse practitioner said, “yes, you and everyone else here in (my town here in Hampshire, England) — it was endemic December and January”.

      Not the first story of this sort I’ve heard, but it is one which is confirmed by both a healthcare practitioner here in my locality and a blood test.

      If true, then it wasn’t so much when lockdowns were imposed, or what sort of lock downs there were but more how effectively older people were shielded from the virus and how well — or badly — care homes managed patients discharged from hospital (either with or without COVID-19, the key was testing to know which was the case) in their populations of highly susceptible people. Both of which the UK did badly at in its (entirely political) eagerness to “protect the NHS”.

      1. Susan the other

        These stories of “everybody has had it” are making me wonder if what we are seeing now isn’t the third wave of this virus. The first wave was in December, second in February and then the lockdown to keep hospitals functioning, and now the third – attributed to people getting together again. We quarantined everyone to protect the health care system, but the virus is so contagious it manages to survive and quickly creates a new wave. The lab tech who took my blood for my yearly “wellness checkup” said she thinks everybody has had it and that she had it in March and was down for 2 weeks like a bad flu. My new Doc says the same. And the stories are told with a certainty that it was not the flu, they could tell the difference. It’s a very distinctive illness if it is the one I got – only lasted a week for me. So that’s worrisome because the antibodies do not last; this thing could go round and round forever. Our cases have doubled in less than a month with the newest “wave”. Northern Utah/southern Idaho. Now its getting young people, under 20.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > These stories of “everybody has had it” are making me wonder if what we are seeing now isn’t the third wave of this virus. The first wave was in December, second in February and then the lockdown to keep hospitals functioning, and now the third – attributed to people getting together again.

          That’s a frighteningly plausible theory. If sewage samples are archived in some way, somewhere, I bet they could tell us a lot.

          I’m not sure whether this conforms to the China experience or not, I’m IIRC the “flu season” was unusually bad that year, so maybe the virus signal was hidden in that noise.

      2. petal

        Clive, what your neighbour described, that’s exactly what I had-that horrible shortness of breath and tiredness/lethargy. I just wanted to sleep. Had zero energy, felt so drained. That’s what my Irish friend was telling me about being described over there. At the time, it didn’t match up with what the CDC was putting out so I figured it must be/been something else…until our discussion.

      3. Whistling in the Dark

        Okay, I’ll add mine, too:

        A couple weeks into January, my wife and I came down with something that I found astonishing at the time, in the sense that I’d never had anything like it. It was a deep, deep cough and beyond that—fluid in the lungs that sounded like a death rattle, just gurgling away when you laugh or just breathe a little deeper. Neither of us are smokers, but it did sound like those nasty coughs smokers have. Yes, I was terribly tired—but, the weird thing was that I kind of felt fine besides that. I had a fever probably during the first 24 hours of the thing, but I don’t think I had one after that. Never went to the doctor, and just kept working through it the whole time—which was only hard because of the tiredness. My wife had similar symptoms. I have 3 kids under 10 none of whom showed any signs of getting touched by this thing. Fun part: I am a teacher and had exactly two students from Wuhan itself this past semester (and others from China as well). Like I said, it lasted right about 2 weeks and also showed up around two weeks after the students came back from break. To be clear, my students from Wuhan did go home during the December break…. On the other hand, no one I know has been diagnosed with corona, and I have little doubt I spread this thing, since I worked the whole time, which I don’t feel exactly good about, though I was careful.

    6. Keith

      It was a pretty bad flu season. My girlfriend got it around Dec and passed it onto me. I have not had the flu in ages, but this completely kicked my rear to the ground, so much so I had to call off of work due to vertigo (I work from home, so generally no reason not to work due to illness). We joke that it might have been COVID, but I do not want to get tested (I’m one of those fearful of being on the govt dossier). In Dec, girlfirend went to the doctor who said it was the flu, but that was before COVID became all the rage in the West. She still suffers from symptoms, while I have recovered.

    7. anon in so cal

      “A new study from Penn State estimates that the number of early COVID-19 cases in the U.S. may have been more than 80 times greater and doubled nearly twice as fast as originally believed. Findings suggest an alternative way of thinking about the COVID-19 pandemic.”

      There’s a Reddit discussion of this, with many early potential cases described.

      A worrisome case of “atypical pneumonia” was noted in Wuhan on November 17,1019. Plenty of time for the virus to have spread internationally by December.

    8. Arizona Slim

      One of my neighbors works in a grocery store here in Tucson. Back in February, she and several coworkers came down with *something* they’ve never had before. And, oh, man. Did they get sick.

      My neighbor says that, among other things, she slept for two days straight and she also lost her sense of taste. It’s back, thank goodness.

      She and her coworkers are convinced that they had COVID-19. One of them had the antibody test, which came back positive.

    9. petal

      Jen, mid-March I had what I thought at the time was the worst asthma episode I’ve ever had. Felt like a strong dude was pushing my chest in from all 4 sides, like a complete chest vise. Also had sniffles and shallow cough. My asthma is very mild and generally isn’t an issue, especially at that time of year, so I don’t carry an inhaler because it’s such a rare thing for me. I would’ve paid someone good money for a puff of their inhaler. I was getting desperate and starting to panic(which is unusual for me) and thinking about who carried one so I could ask. It was getting scary and it wasn’t going away. Kept thinking “this is different”. That weird chest tightness/breathing difficulty finally eased up after a week. It was nothing like any asthma episode I’ve ever had. Completely different and much longer, but because of the chest tightness and trouble breathing, at the time, I chalked it up to asthma as it wasn’t matching what the CDC put out. One of my coworkers, their spouse had been at the notorious Tuck party. The spouse had been quarantined, but my coworker kept coming in. They didn’t display any symptoms, but who knows-they’re both young. I casually mentioned my symptoms to my Irish friend(we’re both scientists and so talk about science stuff sometimes), and they said people there that had been diagnosed with covid were describing the same symptoms. That’s when I started to wonder.

    10. Ignacio

      Now, stories of december Covid-19 cases arise as flowers in the desert after rain. I don’t believe 99% of those, though a few can be true. Yes because in many cases, probably in most cases, individual infections do not end in epidemic clusters. Whether a small cluster as the one you mention can be contained without further spreading and noticing is less probable though it depends on the social life of those involved.

  4. jackiebass

    Without actually being tested he really doesn’t know if he was infected. His illness could have been something else.

    1. Duke of Prunes

      My wife, daughter and I were sick in late January/early February with fatigue, body aches and cough. They got the antibody test, and it was negative. After those results, I didn’t bother to test myself. The lab tec said a lot of people getting tested are saying the same thing. It seems like there was a similar bug going around (or the tests don’t work well).

  5. Krystyn Podgajski

    RE: The Double Pandemic Of Social Isolation And COVID-19: Cross-Sector Policy Must Address Both

    NOW they care about social isolation? Must be enough people lonely enough to start making some big money.

    Wherein I look up the “The Coalition to End Social Isolation & Loneliness” members:

    Uber Health! PhRMA! American TelemedicinE! Humana!

    1. HotFlash

      My dear Krystyn, I now have coffee in my sinuses! It might actually be a prophylactic, so bonus that. I will keep track and report.

      1. John Anthony La Pietra

        Is it a good sign for a society when it’s the vampires of a crisis who hold the stakes?

  6. Wukchumni

    The Confederacy Was an Antidemocratic, Centralized State The Atlantic

    The CSA also had nearly a 100% pure fiat* monetary system backed by nothing other than it’s military prowess, sound familiar?

    *they issued a thousand or so silver 50 Cent coins, and that was it. In comparison, the Union issued more than 20 million ounces of gold in monetized coins during the Civil War

    1. The Rev Kev

      Never thought about Confederate currency until you mentioned it so went looking for the Wikipedia entry which is quite interesting. Maybe they should have pegged its value to tobacco or something but as the war went on, inflation caused the “Greyback” to go into fiat free-fall-

      It did have some value after the war – as toys for children. When George Patton was a kid, he played with blocks of Confederate currency. But now they are selling for good money on eBay.

      1. Wukchumni

        When I was a kid you could buy brand new 1864 $20 CSA banknotes for $2 and how many would you like, for there was a pretty much unlimited supply…

        Now every CSA banknote in $1 through $20 denominations is worth more than the stated face value, so yes the south will rise again!

        1. MLTPB

          Intersting you have erstwhile money here whose urrent value is not derived from taxation.

          Just like other numismatic couns, but presumably much more in quantity.

      2. Keith

        I actually have a Confederate War bond from Virginia. It is a family heirloom, as my line fought for succession twice (Revolution and Civil), according to family lore.

      3. HotFlash

        If the Confederacy had won, their money would have been worth something, no? “Full faith and credit…,” and all that.

        1. JBird4049

          IIRC, even Federal money during the war was somewhat fiat money as they didn’t have enough gold and silver as backing. They basically printed the money needed and said trust us.

          If anyone has the details, I would love to read the comments or any suggestions for reading.

  7. JohnHerbieHancock

    When I expressed these fears to the reporter, he said that it was New York Times policy to include real names, and he couldn’t change that.

    Unless it’s an anonymous intelligence official not authorized to speak on the record, reporting on the danger Saddam’s WMDs pose to the US, right?

    1. Pelham

      I worked at a (formerly) major newspaper that about 15 years ago instituted a policy that didn’t ban anonymous sources but required reporters to reveal to their supervising editors the identity of any anonymice they used.

      Apparently, the directive was ignored from the get-go. I know because as a mid-ranking but non-supervising editor, I had occasion to question a reporter’s use of two anonymice — one identified as an American diplomat and another (crucially) identified only as a “Western” official of some sort. I had seen this “Western” business often enough in wire copy out of the Middle East to begin to wonder 1) why couldn’t the reporter narrow the ID down just a bit with an actual nationality, at least, and 2) are these folks really Americans who want to sound as if they’re more objective than readers would otherwise give them credit for.

      So I took the story and my question to the supervising editor, who had no idea who the sources were but agreed to phone the reporter and find out. Turns out the American and the Western sources were one and the same person who agreed to be quoted twice in the story only if he was identified as a “Western” official in the second quote, which basically supported his first “American” quote. I was told this sort of thing was common practice and if reporters didn’t agree, they would risk losing all their anonymice.

      Not long after this I was booted out of the profession along with many others for unrelated reasons (the newspaper business outside NY and DC was dying). But I take minor solace in no longer being required to take part in such routine mainstream deceptions. (I could relate others, but the banality of this one was striking to me.)

  8. The Rev Kev

    “Extreme climate after massive eruption of Alaska’s Okmok volcano in 43 BCE and effects on the late Roman Republic and Ptolemaic Kingdom”

    What would be fascinating would be a meteorological history of this planet over the past few thousand years. There is even a science about past climates – Paleoclimatology – so the techniques are there to start to put together a narrative of how the climate has changed over time. Between using ice cores like in this article, tree rings, bat guano deposits, sea floor layers as well as other techniques, it could make a very interesting reference text that-

    1. Gc54

      “Paleoclimatology: reconstructing climates of the quaternary”,’ Raymond Bradley, 3rd Ed.
      ISBN 978-0123869135 is the standard reference.
      Exhaustive treatment of all the techniques.

    2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      The PBS Series “Eons” is on YT and is quite good, includes climate but also accessible science on evolution, plate tectonics, extinctions, etc.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I think the level of infection found on seafood has really freaked the Chinese. Almost all my Chinese friends have been swapping things on social media about it – I even got warned by one friend ‘not to touch sushi, its dangerous’. The thing is of course that there is very little evidence that food is a major vector.

      When things circulate on Chinese media, I always question why the Chinese censors allow it (because it is very tightly controlled). In this case it’s either because they genuinely want to get the message out to be careful with food, or because it follows the narrative that any future outbreaks are due to foreign contamination (either people or materials) and so not the fault of the government (and also to buy into the rather questionable assertion that the virus has been entirely eliminated from China). The emphasis on the infected salmon being Norwegian makes me believe that in this case its the latter.

      1. Duck1

        No expert on farmed salmon logistics, but I thought one of the jawbs done in China due to labor arbitrage was filleting the fish. So don’t know if Norwegian fish go to China for processing, but seems like a possibility, obviating the Norwegian virus origin theory in certain respects. Seems like harvesting the fish and chilling and sending to a low wage processing area would involve minimal human contact with the fish, compared to cutting them up and packaging for ultimate human consumption.

      2. Cuibono

        frankly I am delighted to hear of this paranoia about sushi
        maybe our fish stocks can recover

      3. J.k

        “ In this case it’s either because they genuinely want to get the message out to be careful with food, or because it follows the narrative that any future outbreaks are due to foreign contamination (either people or materials) and so not the fault of the government (and also to buy into the rather questionable assertion that the virus has been entirely eliminated from China).”

        They are referring to it as a foreign mutation of the virus. As in , its a good possibility one of the strains hitting China recently came back from abroad with the mutation and as a new variant.

        The Chinese citizens will still hold the ccp accountable whether its a foreign virus or not. Its still the governments responsibly to ensure their security. Sure, their will be some dupes who will lap up that kind of propaganda to shore up their own xenophobia towards foreigners and outsiders but on the whole i dont imagine the ccp has any delusions about successfully shifting the blame elsewhere in the event it gets truly bad in China.

        The whole finding virus in the mouths of fish sure sounds fishy.

    2. Keith

      I think traders. Soybeans are important to US farmland, so it makes sense for the Chinese to play with that. I read elsewhere (Zerohedge, maybe?) that both the US and now Europe are getting tougher over Chinese trade.

  9. Wukchumni

    $1 Billion Gold Case Pits Maduro, BOE in Political Fight Bloomberg
    One interesting thing in regards to #79 stories, is they are always for penny ante amounts (did I just call a billion bucks worth bupkis?) and compare to:

    Britain nearly went bust in March, says Bank of England Guardian. Britain is not a currency-issuing sovereign?

    Amid widespread investor panic as the virus spread, the Bank of England stepped in by pumping £200bn into the market for UK government bonds under a policy known as quantitative easing (QE).

    1. Synoia

      Britain nearly went bust in March, says Bank of England Guardian. Britain is not a currency-issuing sovereign?

      Yes if you are upper class..

      No if you are working class.

  10. Fireship

    The links today. Just WOW. If this blog was called “United Fail States of America” or something similar, it would still work. You wouldn’t have to change much. It really chronicles the disintegration of America like nowhere else. I would suggest adding a links section under the heading “Surviving Downfall” to curate links that might help people weather the storm. How to get a second passport, emigrate, form a left wing militia etc.

    1. Winston Smith

      Wasn’t there a website site called Banana Republic which detailed the ways in which the US was fast degrading to this status…with sort of famous economist Simon Johnson. Ha! The name is Baselinescenario

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > It really chronicles the disintegration of America

      Every so often I hear that I’m too gloomy but I just sit down and collect links out of the news flow. I don’t go out of my way to collect positive or negative.

      Now, to be fair, there’s a lot of stuff to be optimistic about, but it occurs mostly at ground level (IMNSHO). Also science. Science is popping, despite attempts at gentrification.

      I don’t know about a Prepper section, though. We go more for systems than individual solutions (though of course we do run “News You Can Use” every so often).

      Adding, I think “Flavortown” is a real bright spot and should be encouraged.

  11. Wukchumni

    The President looking disheveled when getting off the helo on the WH lawn the other day was quite something, as he’s an ‘image is everything’ sort, and his body language was that of somebody who has given up, no bluster left.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      What other president has faced a national media that from even before his inauguration was 100% viciously arrayed against him?

      That then manufactured a ridiculous hoax out of whole cloth (RussiaGate) that turned the entire body politic into a bunch of ninnies screaming “traitor!” at him for 3 years?

      And that, when finally confronted with the absolute bankruptcy of their hoax, that it was nothing but a political witch hunt designed to undo the votes of 64 million Americans, just shrugged the episode off like it was nothing? And then proceeded to egg on a violent mob bent on destroying the country’s entire history?

      If I was him I would head back to Mar-a-Lago and let the history books decide whether he was a reasonable president, or whether a bunch of neo-con billionaire news oligarchs were just trying to make a few bucks selling clicks and in the process ripped a nation apart.

      But fear not! They’ll install one of the architects of the failing order, a dementia patient best known for working to cut Social Security and criminalize poverty while making shady business deals in places like the Ukraine and China, and we’ll be assured we live in the best of all possible worlds. So, not with a bang, but with a whimper.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > one of the architects of the failing order

        I feel like I’ve got political cancer, and a choice of remedies from two quacks (although, to be fair, one of the quacks is said to be empathetic and has a lot of good references from finance, Silicon Valley, and the intelligence community).

  12. russell1200

    Confederacy was not a particularly well run enterprise and while I see why the author says they were “centralized”, they had huge issues with States going their own way and not being particularly cooperative. Georgia and North Carolina have been noted for being uncooperative. Balancing that official numbers have North Carolina losing more troops to the (they fought in both the East and the Western Campaigns) “cause” than any other State – though recent (cooperative) efforts at going through the records by NC and VA have it at a virtual tie with maybe VA leading.

    The Confederate States were so oppressive of dissent, the article doesn’t even touch on a fraction of it.

    The Cotton States were at the end of a financial bubble that had pushed the prices of land/slaves sky high. Support for secession tracked closely with cotton production.

    Virginia, the exception, took a very long time to leave, and likely was helped along by a general understanding that the Northern States were challenging their once dominant position within the Nation. North Carolina was last to leave, and by that point were surrounded by Confederate States.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I agree with what you say but I do not agree with the author’s attempts to say that the CSA can never be a part of American heritage. What is, is. And for better or worse, it is a part of American history as well as it’s heritage. If Professor Stephanie McCurry went digging into her own Belfast ancestry and found dubious ancestors, would she seek to deny that they are part of her history as well as her DNA? You just never know who you will find in your ancestry/history and this point was reinforced to me over the weekend.

      Pinkerton’s Detectives has been mentioned several times recently so I went to look at the story of the guy who founded it – Allan Pinkerton. You would think and expect an authoritarian, jackboot wearing fascist, right? First surprise was that this guy was originally a Scottish Chartist. Saywhatnow?

      When he went to America he became an Abolitionist. In fact, his home was a stop on the Underground Railroad. It gets better. He attended the secret meetings held by John Brown and Frederick Douglass in Chicago and helped purchase clothing and supplies for John Brown’s raid on Harper’s ferry. And it may be that the suit that John Brown was hanged in was supplied by Pinkerton. Who would have ever suspected that?

      So, in short, trying to censor and remove the Confederacy will not work so the best that you can do and say is that yeah, their soldiers fought well but the Confederacy never deserved to survive and some of their leaders were just total d**** as were their war aims.

      1. voteforno6

        The problem that I have with all those Confederate monuments is that they attempted to tell a false history, to propagate this myth that there was something noble or honorable about “the cause.” I’ve run into so many people (a lot of Southerners, but not always) who insisted that the causes of the Civil War were anything but the most obvious, and correct ones. As someone who has studied a great deal of history, I find that to be particularly grating. In a way, tearing down those Confederate monuments is only part of the effort to tear down this false history.

        That being said, I do not approve of tearing down monuments of U.S. Grant, if that in fact happened. I have long found him to be the most interesting figure from the Civil War era.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          It is too bad there isn’t some way to replace the statues torn down with modern statues to fill the space on the plinth. I like especially like Calder. Are there no artists in America who might be tasked to fill the empty plinths?

          I have a problem with any war monument that acquires or projects a sense of a noble or honorable casus belium. I think that may be the genius of the Vietnam Wall. If a statue must tell a myth I prefer something ancient Greek with Muses.

        2. marym

          Not only a commemoration of the myth of the Lost Cause, the statues were also a reinforcement of Jim Crow and anti-civil rights sentiment. The current defense of the statues and the Confederate flag as “our history” or “our heritage” by people whose family history is in northern states or Trump, (family arrived 1885, doesn’t – on other issues – acknowledge as ‘us’ most demographics which have participated in US history) may also be commemorating/reinforcing something other than history.

          “Eventually they started to build [Confederate] monuments,” [Mark Elliott, University of NC history professor] says. “The vast majority of them were built between the 1890s and 1950s, which matches up exactly with the era of Jim Crow segregation.”…White women were instrumental in raising funds to build these Confederate monuments. The United Daughters of the Confederacy, founded in the 1890s, was probably the most important and influential group, Elliott says.

        3. Wukchumni

          That being said, I do not approve of tearing down monuments of U.S. Grant, if that in fact happened. I have long found him to be the most interesting figure from the Civil War era.

          It has turned into open season on anything on a pedestal high enough to be brought down via lasso, and for now its only historical figures…

        4. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Yes, by all means, let us not try and embrace the diversity of stories and trends and factions and myths and struggles and events and leaders that taken in total have become our shared national myth. Instead, as you say, let’s retroactively destroy the “false” parts of that myth, to be decided through the unquestionable “rightness” of the latest custodians of the correct ideology of the day.

          For inspiration, our current day “Myth Correcters” can look to other similar movements that were temporarily successful in correcting their country’s history: The Communists in Russia, The Taliban in Afghanistan, and the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. Ideological purity of course is essential: I’m sure they will suggest a wonderful new name, for example, for the nation’s capitol. It may be trickier, however, to erase the man associated with that capitol but I’m sure they will think of something, maybe they will rename the place “PostVille”, asserting that his slave Cyrus Post was actually the one who gave so-called “Washington” all of those ideas about a revolution and a Constitution and how to defeat the British and make a brave new nation.

          When it’s all over and done I assume they will send out a message to all citizens explaining what the country is, where it came from, and what it stands for. Or maybe it’s an ongoing process, with each successive wave of truth enforcers deciding which parts of the reworked past to keep and which to erase, based on the then-current dictates of ideological rectitude.

          (Squeaky little voice at the back of the class asks “but if the country no longer has a past, how can it still have a future?”)

          1. Massinissa

            The whole myth is bullshit anyway. That’s why they call it a ‘myth’. The Confederates were just the part that was most obviously bullshit.

            Theres a difference between a ‘national myth’ and history. For some reason all these Confederate generals have statues and great men like Eugene V. Debs don’t. We don’t need a bunch of Ozymandias monuments to learn about our history and ‘national values’, if America has ever even had those at all.

          2. marym

            The history of the South, the Civil War and everything else is constantly being reinterpreted and revised. We’re talking about statues, many produced by the same few companies. Their “history” is their political purpose during the Jim Crow and segregation eras. The movement to remove them from public spaces has always included the alternative to move them to a museum where this history can be explained. I read recently that some city governments have voted to do that, but get overridden by state legislatures. That will be part of the history of our times that today’s young people will write.

            1. The Rev Kev

              Not just statues are being revised and opinions changing. Back in 1993 there was the film “Gettysburg” which was a pretty good treatment of both sides of that battle. I can recommend it. But then ten years later a follow up film was made called “Gods and Generals” which I would call Confederate propaganda. Was it the zeitgeist of the George Bush era at work? I have no idea but the difference in the two films was both heavy-handed and blatant.

            2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              LOL “the movement to remove them has always included the alternative to move them to a museum” LOL.

              Tell that to the “movement” folks with ropes who are pulling them down or to the media cheering on the spectacle. Are they preparing the cranes and trucks to respectfully cart them off to a “safe” space such as a museum where they can continue to be a part of the discussion and debate about the nation’s roots? And maybe tell that to the board of the Museum of Natural History, currently removing the statue of the most popular president in US history because he is now all of a sudden persona non grata. Maybe if we wait long enough Teddy can be “rehabilitated” like a former Politboro official? And maybe they can keep some paint remover handy when it’s time to uncover the New Deal murals at George Washington high school? Not holding my breath.

                1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                  I think on the whole Teddy was an excellent president and I’m sad to see him go.

                  I’ve never been a fan of book burning a la Savonarola, the Committee on Un-American Activities and the like. So why not leave the statues where they are and *teach* people what you think about them, including the now-repudiated narratives about why the statues were erected? We may someday believe that Christianity was evil that encouraged pederasty and resulted in the deaths of millions but I hope that does not equal dynamite for the Chartres cathedral.

                  Saddiq Khan is removing Churchill. Just the man who was probably personally the most responsible for ensuring that England is still a thing today. As somebody commented “good thing Khan is not the mayor of Rome”.

    2. Carolinian

      Not only was slavery a motive for the South it was arguably the motive and the reason they insisted on trying to leave. I’m reading a book about this now and it suggests the attack on Sumner was in fact a big factor in the dispute. In a repressed age, the Southerners thought his hints about sexual congress with slaves–all true of course–besmirched their “honor” and made them second class aristocrats in a nation that remained whole.

      Which is to say that like everything in the US, money, not race, was the underlying factor but the SC aristocrats and others didn’t want to admit that other thing that it was about. The North called the South “deluded” and indeed they may have badly needed a psychiatrist or “alienist” as they were called then.

      Rational versus Irrational….it’s always at the root.

  13. PlutoniumKun

    Coronavirus: why did England ignore an army of existing contact tracers? The Conversation

    This article expresses things very mildly. Yes, there is an existing army of experienced contract tracers in the NHS (its actually the subject of a very funny sitcom now on Netflix called Lovesick). There are also thousands of experienced local government public health officials with existing powers and training in health. But London ignored all this in favour of handing out a huge contract to Serpco. Really, one can only wonder why.

    1. Ignacio

      Oh, in a related story the HC authorities in Madrid handed out the management of the epidemic in nursing houses to an obscure and inexperienced private organization with “excellent” results: few thousands of pensions erased in a couple of months. Spain had by far, the highest incidence od Covid-19 in nursing homes in Europe.

  14. Wukchumni

    4.6 magnitude earthquake strikes near Lone Pine in east-central California

    I barely felt this one in Mineral King last night about 40 miles away as the crow flies.

    One of the largest earthquakes in California since it has been a state was in 1872 in Lone Pine. How powerful was it?

    It was felt from San Diego to Redding…

    1. The Rev Kev

      I have it on good authority – “Doc” Emmett Brown – that Lone Pine before 1872 used to be called Twin Pine.

  15. Pookah Harvey

    South Korea reports 46 new COVID-19 cases as it tackles ‘second wave

    Population of South Korea is around 50 million
    Population of the US is around 330 million

    To have to be worrying about a second wave of the same severity as South Korea the US would be looking at 304 cases a day.

    US reports 31,012 new cases on 6/22

    South Korea is thinking about reimposing social distancing, US is opening up.
    Good job Trumpie.

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      I’m getting irritated by all the local talk of a ‘second wave.’ Here in FL it’s just the second step on the left side of the ziggurat.

    2. The Historian

      Tackling 46 cases? Well, that’s one of the reasons SK is doing much better than the US.

      In Ada County, population just less than half a million, we went from 1 or 2 cases a day at the end of May to over 70 cases a day recently. Ada County did backtrack from Stage 4 to Stage 3, starting tomorrow, basically meaning bars have to close and no gatherings of over 50 people. I doubt that it’s going to be enough. In any event, some of the bar owners are upset. Here’s what one bar owner said:

      “Bar owners are upset, Challenger said, partly because they believe rising coronavirus numbers shouldn’t surprise anyone.

      “We feel that this is actually natural; that when you open the bars, that the numbers are going to go up,” he said. “ I had a crew of eight (employees) get it. They’re done with quarantine, they’re back to work. They were sick for a day.

      “I kind of feel that we need to let it run its course in this valley while protecting the people that are old or that have secondhand conditions for which this is deadly. You quarantine, it just shows up as soon as you open anything. Did they really think this wasn’t going to happen?”

      Sick for a day??

      You don’t have to guess where his head is at, and it isn’t with his employees or his customers. He obviously misses the point that an adequate quarantine long enough will stop numbers from going up when bars reopen.

      1. Pookah Harvey

        Early on one epidemiologist stated Covid was in the pandemic sweet spot. High enough mortality rate to be a real danger but low enough people could try to ignore it (especially if the government’s pandemic economic policy is open and work or bankruptcy and starve)

    3. ewmayer

      I’ve been tracking the daily case counts here in Marin county using the Weather Underground zip-code-level forecast page, and from yesterday to today we had our by-far-biggest daily case-count jump, from 901 to 1029, more than double the new cases reported for all of South Korea in the above screaming headline.

      Here is the county re-opening timeline … make of that what you will.

  16. jr

    The piece on Phillys crackdown on “dumpster pools” brought back a miasma of memories of my 12 years living in that sinkhole. With typical Philly “‘tude” these entitled nit wits drain the fire hydrants so as to flop around in scummy water for a few hours. The looks on the faces of the idiots tells the whole tale: “No one is going to tell us what to do! Cause we’re free!” or some other blanket sentiment cribbed from the labels of the beer cans they’re holding, The pregnant pause in the title of the piece let’s you know that…………..something ridiculous will soon follow, like the notion of a city acting to protect the public good.

    All of this ties into a popular delusion about Philly, that it’s inhabitants are too fierce, too “gritty”, too free to be held to mundanities like basic notions of community safety. The truth is the place is an urban wasteland filled with desperation, racial rage, and shocking acts of violence. The poor are trapped there in cycles of poverty and ignorance that span generations. When I taught there in the early ‘00’s, I was told some of the public schools were using history books from the ‘80s. The neighborhoods are so insular, so ingrown, that the Cryps and the Bloods gave up recruitment efforts because their recruiters were getting shot on the regular.

    On the other hand, upscale types move into the gentrifying DMZs and, upon realizing that despite what their really lovely real estate agent told them they’ve actually just signed a mortgage in a war zone, instantly exude a thick, waxy coating of attitude to protect them from thinking about it too much. Their favorite spots for food and fun morph from neighborhood amenities to psychological bunkers, island redoubts in a sea of insanity. Philly becomes “My City!” and brave talk ensues about not letting anyone push them around. When their neighbor gets a gun stuck to their head on a cloudless spring afternoon in the middle of the block, they growl and look up the street towards the “bad side” of town. As if that didn’t lay in all four directions…

    Which leads me to another agent of distraction: the Philly Cheesesteak. Have you ever tried one? They are nothing special. If you opt for the vaunted Cheez-Whiz topping the sandwich blurs the line between food and bio-waste. But this too is a part of the Philly “scene”, it’s a part of the city’s’ “culture.” I’ve heard those sandwiches regularly referenced, with approval, in political speeches, real estate ads, the nightly news, classrooms, you name it. It’s just a ball of cheap ingredients, sold at a markup heroin dealers dream of, but from the talk you would think William Penn himself was eating one as he surveyed the land. And don’t dare stray from the proscribed list of toppings, remember John Kerry very likely lost votes in Philly because he dared to ask for Swiss instead of the traditional shiny, quivering blob of emulsified oils:

    “If Sen. John F. Kerry’s presidential aspirations melt like a dollop of Cheez Whiz in the sun, the trouble may well be traced to an incident in South Philadelphia on Monday,” wrote Dana Milbank of the Washington Post. Kerry had gone to Pat’s, a Philly mainstay, and asked for Swiss cheese on his cheesesteak, instead of the Whiz or the American or provolone usually consumed. Then it got worse: “If that weren’t bad enough, the candidate asked photographers not to take his picture while he ate the sandwich; shutters clicked anyway, and Kerry was caught nibbling daintily at his sandwich, another serious faux pas,” Milbank wrote.”


    “The picture spread widely on the early internet. Milbank interviewed the Philadelphia Inquirer’s food critic, Craig LaBan, who called the act of requesting Swiss cheese evidence of “an alternative lifestyle.” In reference to what Milbank calls Kerry’s “dainty bites,” LaBan offers advice on the manly way to eat a bad sandwich. “Obviously, Kerry’s a high-class candidate, and he misread the etiquette. Throwing fistfuls of steak into the gaping maw, fingers dripping—that’s the proper way.”

    See the theme?

    All of this, the “‘tude”, the “grit”, the fetish for garbage food that you eat like a caveman, is a kind of mask on the face of a fly-blown corpse, a species of virtual swagger as the city collectively circles a graveyard at midnight. Philly has a beautiful side but it’s hidden under a thick, grimy coat of racism, corruption, and both benign and malignant neglect. So the next time you see a photo of some irascible Sillydelphians blatantly blowing off notions of public safety or bloviating on about how tough their town is remember it’s a facade, an act, to sooth their fears that the next time they get in a kerfuffle over someone drinking on their stoop at 11 AM they don’t get shot in the face…

    Did I mention the guns?

    True story: at one time I could have purchased an AK-47 for a couple of grand, a fellow teacher had a neighbor with, in his words, an “armory” in his basement. Bargain prices on black market pistols and shotguns.

    True tip: if you are in a tough part of the city, watch for the young men who walk oddly or whose hands stay around their belt lines…they’re packing and they are commonplace.

    1. Billy

      Useful information in the article about slowly opening and closing fire hydrants to prevent line breakage.
      And those black kids who open fire hydrants on hot days? Who will stop them? Fine them? Collect from them?

    2. edmondo


      The Cheez Whiz is only for tourists. No one who was born and raised in Philadelphia would ever touch the stuff. I guess you didn’t notice but anyone who orders Cheez Whiz on their steak sandwich just gave permission to the guy at the counter to over-change for a steak sandwich. You may find it more useful to roam the city streets with someone local to ensure that your lack of familiarity with local customs and language doesn’t make you stand out to much.

      1. jr

        @ Billy

        Gotta wonder why members of any race have to break the law to cool down in Philly, huh? I wonder what the state of the public pools is in town…actually, I can just make an educated guess: overcrowded, underfunded, marginalized…

        @ Fireship

        Thanks, I’ve considered it…and thank you to our gracious hosts for allowing me the space to express myself in. It is a literal treasure.


        Are you referring to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania? Terra?Cause I’ve never known a native in my 12 years there who reacted with horror to the Whiz and I wasn’t some slice of Wonderbread who hid in their walk up the Art Museum district pretending they are hearing M80s going off down the block at night. I have seen sides of Philly many natives don’t know exist and believe me I know firsthand the necessity of not attracting attention for fear of violence. But the sandwich: It’s not the history or the existence of the thing itself, I think local food variations and specialties are a wonderful thing and Bog knows I love a cheesesteak. point is to call out this phony notion of community in a city of horrific violence and deprivation of which the sandwich is merely a particularly silly symbol…..

      2. roxy

        A friend of mine visiting Philadelphia knew a different definition of the word used to describe the “cheesy” topping. On ordering the steak sandwich he was asked, “Ya want whiz on that?” Alarmed, he said “No!”

    3. Alex

      I think you are not being fair… but I only lived there for a few months so probably didn’t have time to absorb the vapours of the miasma.

      Just curious, what’s wrong with using 80’s history books? It’s not that the history *changed* since then. Or do you mean they were in bad shape by that time?

      1. jr

        Well, as a former student of history I can assure you that the history does *change.* At least interpretations of the primary and secondary materials do and those interpretations actually are the histories, not some vague reference to the mere existence of some set of events. Thus historiography. So, in addition to their study materials missing the 25 years since the ‘80s, I was there in the early ‘00s, the students were denied access to current trends in historical thinking. And if that was the history, what of the biology or chemistry? Did nothing change in that quarter century in those departments? Are you aware that when inner city Philly honors students graduate H.S. and apply to Temple they quite often have to take, to their shock and humiliation, “refresher” courses in basic subjects? After Penn and Drexel get done cherry picking, that is. And yes, given what I’ve seen of the school system there, the books probably were trashed…

        In terms of fairness, I call em like I see em. Philly is a scary, dangerous place and people try to mask that with a tough guy routine. I abhor that because I worked and taught amongst some of the worst off there, I’ve seen the realities those illusions try to cloak. But if you don’t believe me, talk to some of my old native pals, guys who grew up in West Philly. They’ll tell you stories you wouldn’t believe…

        1. newcatty

          Appreciate your candor and sympathy for the inner city students you taught, while in Philly. It is the same in many, if not most, inner cities or the poorer sections of cities and towns across this country. The dismantled public school systems are hand-in-hand with the dismantled economic equality of our people. The large city we used to live in had obvious racial, ethnic and economic inequality in the public schools. It literally was divided by race, lower economic and cultural geographic locations. In this case the racial divides were mainly the whites and the Latinos. The economic divides were cross cultural. Poor people of any color could afford to live in the lower economic areas.

          Not a Philly story, but related to the Spector of guns and violence. We sold our house in this southwestern town to a builder who hailed from Chicago. He was a really nice guy. He had a confident air about him and helped us move to our new house in the town. We got to know him and hung out in old neighborhood for awhile. He was amazed that the place was so peaceful. He told stories of his old Chicago neighborhood. He and his friends would like to sit on his front porch in the hot summer evenings. He would always have his gun next to him, just in case some protection might be needed. They often saw street scuffles and heard gunshots every night. Think it was one reason he moved to a southwestern town to build crappy expensive condos in booming high end of city. He said it was like coming down from PTSD to be able to sit on his porch and enjoy a quiet evening. He left his GF in Chicago. She was an attorney with a lot to give up. We hoped true love would win out for them. We moved out of city, so never heard about end of story.

        2. Alex

          Yes, you are right that the interpretations do change and what is deemed worthy of including in the textbooks changes as well. But I’m not sure that it’s a one-way street with later interpretations necessarily being superior to the older ones. But again, I have zero knowledge about 80s history textbooks in the US

  17. The Rev Kev

    “China warned to prepare for being cut off from US dollar payment system as part of sanctions like Russia”

    China years ago set up their Cross-Border Inter-Bank Payments System (CIPS) so that they are not dependent on SWIFT as it has been politicized. The Russians have set up the SPFS for the same purpose and I think that not only are both system compatible but that India may be joining. The US has already had SWIFT cut off Iran twice now due to political pressure, even though it is based in Belgium, but I have doubts as to whether the world would let SWIFT cut off China. What would be the economic effect of that on the world? I have no idea – and I don’t want to find out either. And how would the US pay for all the imported medicines from China if they did so? Would the Chinese demand that the US send gold and silver to pay for it? If the US told SWIFT to cut off China, I would expect the EU to nationalize SWIFT first to prevent the world wide economic damage.

    1. Glen

      This would seem to be some kind of tipping point.

      How close are we to China just deciding it no longer needs the US as a primary market for goods?

    2. RabidGandhi

      A rather silly little article based on a couple of off the cuff statements by a Chinese securities market oversight board VP.

      Not only does it not take any of the bilateral impacts you mention into account, but it also goes off the macroeconomic deep end:

      At the same time, Fang said the value of the US dollar is facing an uncertain future due to additional money being printed by the US Federal Reserve, posing risks to China’s holdings of US dollar-denominated assets.

      Great so even Chinese economists can’t grok that they need to buy TBills to keep their trade surplus. Or–on an even more simplistic level that even Harvard economists can understand–QE∞ has done precious little to diminish their USD holdings.

      I can see why the journalist called it a day after getting just this one opinion.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Just like the headline “Bus crash in India kills 146”, the headline “US Dollar losing reserve currency status” can just be run every few years or so.

        Meantime here in the real world the USD has slipped from something like 64% of all trade to 61% in the last decade

      2. Susan the other

        I was surprised by that blurb from the Chinese economists about US “domestic debt”. That if we continued to spend on our fiscal needs the dollar was destined to crash and the Chinese were claiming to be worried their US Treasuries would be worth less. Well, that just sounded either so superficial as to be stupid, or disingenuous – take your pick – that I decided China was knowingly pretending to be pristine – to be the finest example of neoliberal accountability – and that maybe the underlying point was that neoliberal austerity accounting was patient zero of this global crash. The Chinese usually don’t make statements like that. And they are just not stupid.

  18. Carolinian

    Re EFF and the proposed bill that would allow the govt to read all digital mail

    The Commission won’t be a body that seriously considers policy; it will be a vehicle for creating a law enforcement wish list. Barr has made clear, over and over again, that breaking encryption is at the top of that wish list. Once it’s broken, authoritarian regimes around the world will rejoice, as they have the ability to add their own types of mandatory scanning, not just for child sexual abuse material but for self-expression that those governments want to suppress.

    Traditionally the people who get their mail read are prison inmates so clearly Lindsey and his co-sponsor Blumenthal are sending the public a message about their true status in the land of the free. Critics should stop going on about Graham’s supposed gay-ness and concentrate on the real reasons he is quite horrible.

  19. richard

    Hey, just an FYI, I’ve been getting a banner ad popup at the bottom of my screen the last few days I’ve visited.

  20. PlutoniumKun

    Trust in Science and COVID-19 Johns Hopkins School of Public Health

    The problem with this article (and the research its based on), is that it refers to ‘science’ without defining what ‘science’ actually is. Simply berating the public for not ‘believing science’ is not good enough. In reality, many members of the public seem to have a finer grained conceptualisation of ‘science’ than the scientists themselves. Not least, a realisation that ‘science’ does not have agency, only scientists themselves have agency. And the public are not entirely stupid – they know that many ‘scientists’ have their own agendas. They can see it most clearly in the contradictory recommendations over masks, chloroquinine, public protests, flying, and so on.

    You would think reading articles like this that scientists have been doing nothing but giving sober and correct advice, the only problem is those stupid politicians and bone headed members of the public who won’t believe their betters. But the reality is that the broad field of ‘public health’ science has gotten many things badly wrong so far. They didn’t call repeatedly, and in public, for all flights to China to be stopped at the beginning. They didn’t call for the end of all international flights from early February, when it was clear that it was spreading the disease. They didn’t call for universal mask wearing. They didn’t issue urgent advice on personal health beyond hand washing. The didn’t call out the manipulations of Big Pharm. They didn’t call out those scientists such as the Stanford group, which were clearly following an agenda. There have been truly terrible papers published in reputable science publications. They didn’t adequately address the more fundamental problems that analysis’s like Nicholas Nassim Taleb were raising from the very beginning.

    Yes, of course many, many individual scientists and scientific bodies have been doing excellent work, and have gotten involved in public discussions on those issues, and many have spoken very bravely (or at least, risked their jobs and grants by speaking out). But its all too clear that ‘official science’, such as it exists when it comes to public health have been found wanting. Scientists need to have an honest discussion about what went wrong before pointing the finger at politicians or, worse still, the general public.

    1. KevinD

      I’ve often wondered about science’s role these days. Very good points you make. Two thoughts I keep coming back to:

      1. Good science takes time, especially when it comes to a novel virus, but society today has the attention span of a gnat. It’s hard to explain science in a soundbite culture.

      2. How much of science is politicized bs – not interested at all in finding facts/truth, but only in promoting an agenda? I would guess a good portion of it, especially when it comes to politically charged topics – and these days, what is is not politically charged?

  21. s.n.

    apologies if this was already noted:

    Authorities are letting Jeffrey Epstein’s fixer Ghislaine Maxwell get away with it

    …Maxwell is one of the world’s most wanted women, sought by the FBI for questioning. Yet before the lockdown, she was seen swanning around Paris, patronizing high-profile, four-star restaurants and cafés, dropping into art galleries, a scarf tied around her head as if she were Jackie O on Fifth Avenue….

  22. Susan the other

    The mirror image universe? So it’s a new model of a double-cone universe in which each cone actually shares some of the original Big Bang dark matter particles? Finally giving symmetry to existing equations modeling the structure of the single universe? More to come, I hope. I’m too puzzled to be puzzled.

    1. Glen

      Ha, mirror image universes? Like in the Star Trek episodes?

      So there is an “evil” me out there? That likes works on Wall St as a quant, and a neolibreal?

      Or, maybe I’m the evil one…

      1. richard

        Hmm, well the Shatner rule of thumb on evil/good universe counterparts is that the screaming one is always evil, and the boring one is always good. Whatever, let’s not even worry about whether you’re good or evil. The more important matter is to establish a “signal word” or some little undeniable mark of identification, to help confused friends with phasers.

  23. Wukchumni

    Made a third trip to the Arm Tree in the Atwell Grove in somewhat record time, a bit under 5 hours roundtrip of steep all off-trail terrain to be in it’s presence. The route is lousy with lupines about to go purple in a big way, but not yet yesterday. The General Grant (the Nations Xmas Tree since 1926) Tree in Kings Canyon is a much more impressive specimen and around 1650 years old and the 3rd largest. The Arm Tree might not even break into the top 100, it’s more of a Yoda, and at least 3,000 years old, perhaps the oldest Giant Sequoia?

    1. Norge

      Wakchumni, like many of we NC’rs, I wish I lived close enough to you to tag along on your field trips.

    2. Carolinian

      How’s the summer going? AZ is already covered up with fires.

      I have a book out on the Paradise fire but not sure I really want to read it. All very grim.

      In Arizona the fire season seemed to start with the end of lockdown–go figure.

      1. newcatty

        We figure your right on the right track. We are in North country. So far, so good. Just tales of clueless, or hubris visitors escaping The hot cities to play at camping thinking in forests and leaving trash at their sites, making illegal campfires and, most importantly: not even putting them out safely. Praying to rain spirits to bless us even though so many do not show respect.

  24. allan

    Feds About To Bail On Supporting COVID Testing Sites In Texas And Other States [TPM]

    The Trump administration is ending funding and support for local COVID-19 testing sites around the country this month, as cases and hospitalizations are skyrocketing in many states.

    The federal government will stop providing money and support for 13 sites across five states which were originally set up in the first months of the pandemic to speed up testing at the local level.

    Local officials and public health experts expressed a mixture of frustration, resignation, and horror at the decision to let federal support lapse. …

    Testing doesn’t just slow down by itself.
    It’s hard work. Remarkable, really. People say to me, Sir, we’ve seen anything like it.

    When someone tells you who they are, believe them.

  25. Jessica

    Trust in science
    Vioxx, opioids, the WHO telling us that there was no need for restrictions on international travel when that would have meant quarantining China
    A blanket trust for actually existing science is the opposite of the scientific method.

  26. Ignacio

    RE: Coronavirus testing indicates transmission risk increases along wildlife supply chains for human consumption in Viet Nam (preprint) bioRxiv. From the abstract: “Our analysis also suggested either mixing of 68 animal excreta in the environment or interspecies transmission of coronaviruses, as both bat and 69 avian coronaviruses were detected in rodent feces in the trade. The mixing of multiple 70 coronaviruses, and their apparent amplification along the wildlife supply chain into restaurants, 71 suggests maximal risk for end consumers and likely underpins the mechanisms of zoonotic spillover to people.” Also bat guano (used as fertilizer).

    First, thanks a lot for this link that I have read in full. These days I no longer have time to search and update or virology news. This is an excellent piece of a study on CoVs and the risks of zoonotic spill into humans that merits comment and strongly supports the possibility of zoonosis through human activities related with farming, trading and consumption of wild animals. The most salient conclusion is that these human activities act as virus amplifiers as the incidence of CoVs is seen to increase throughout the supply chain in the case of rat trading in Vietnam. It is not surprising to see that after the capture, grouping, caging, transporting and manipulation of the animals the probability of CoV infection in traded animals increases and so will increase the risk of zoonosis. If you were wondering how the zoonosis origin could be at the wet market in Wuhan just stop and think twice unless you are of those more prone to believe that Bat Virology researchers tend to concentrate and have dinner in wet markets when a paper is accepted for publication.

    The article also cites previous work that have before showed that a significant (about 3%) percentage of human rural populations exposed to indirect contact with bats (for instance in animal farms, wild or not wild) are CoV positive using SARS or MERS antibody tests.This says a lot on how easily CoVs jump host though the next step of amplification within the new host and spread between members of this new host species is a low probablility event, but as we have seen, it can have lethal consequences. So, now compare the population of Chinese virology scientists working with bat viruses in Wuhan (let’s say about 20) with a 2-3% of the Chinese population involved in the supply chain of wild animals and possibly already having been infected more than once with a non-human CoV which could be in the many thousands or many dozens of thousands probably reaching more than a hundred of thousands and tell me it is more likely SARS CoV 2 was a lab spill and quite unlikely a zoonosis derived from rural human activities that tend to amplify CoVs as this paper demonstrates.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > First, thanks a lot for this link that I have read in full

      You’re welcome. I enjoy finding them.

      I like the idea/framing of the supply chain as “a virus amplifier” that encourages “zoonotic transmission.”

  27. Bugs Bunny

    I’ve only seen Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives a few times and I don’t understand all the hate for Guy Fieri. It’s a really good food show. I’d love to visit all those places. What a cool job.

    So, Flavortown? Why the heck not? But then you’re going to have to live up to it, fair city of Flavortown. I think every meal will require a side of cornbread or something fried, stuffed with some other really rich and savory thing, with homemade hot sauce. And then a dessert that’s so sweet my teeth hurt. I’m actually salivating thinking about it.

    G-d knows what Christoforo Colombo and his scurvy crew were eating. Probably dried fish and barrels of fermented spinach.

    1. jr

      Word is in the industry that Fieri, despite his haircut, is a nice guy and a decent chef to work for. According to a chef I met a while back, anyway…apparently Alton Brown really is an angry, bitter nerd who thinks he’s smarter than everyone because his science fair project went State…

    2. albrt

      Won’t happen.

      When Columbus got a hockey team the people voted to call them the Mad Cows. Instead we got the Blue Jackets, which allegedly has nothing to do with the historical Shawnee chief Blue Jacket. Instead the team backers claimed it was an “insect with attitude.” Now they claim it is a reference to civil war uniforms and the logo is apparently a Dallas Star with an Ohio flag wrapped around it.

      By next year the city leaders will be claiming that the name Columbus was actually taken from the 1970s TV show Columbo with Peter Falk. The Blue Jackets will adopt the NBC Mystery Movie theme by Henry Mancini as their fight song.

      Nothing interesting or original will ever come out of Columbus, Ohio. Instead it will continue to be used as the leading test market for crappy new flavors of Dorito.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      While we’re at it with the chefs, let’s rename Charlestown, South Carolina Rodney Scott City.

      I like the idea of naming cities after people who provide nourishment and conviviality, instead of conquerors and militarists. More like “Flavortown,” please.

  28. D. Fuller


    It’s whackadoodle mysticism. A hypothesis (at best and that is being generous) that can not explain matter in the Universe.

    The cone in the article if laid along an X-Y Axis describes a Big Crunch before the Big Bang.

    Effect coming before cause; the synchronization required between both “Universes” would have to be instantaneous at ALL points at ALL times. That amount of information processing would requre something bigger in computational power than exists in both “Universes”. In essence there would have to be a 3rd Universe that encompasses both where all synchronization between both “Universes” ensured that all actions in one Universe are mirrored in another Universe.

    The article of the absurd hypothesis is called a “mirror universe” for a reason. All effects in one are mirrored in the other. De-synchronization in one Universe would lead to impossibilities in the other.

    This alone DOOMS the mysticism of the article.

    And it is whackodoodle mysticism. Scientists are now chasing mysteries where one mystery begats one or more new mysteries. Scientists will never find answers that way. They’ll have to ad-hoc everything in the end. To the point were their hypothesis of the absurd renders the Universe, impossible to exist. Despite all sensory inputs to the contrary.

    You want real science? Head on over to Electric Universe for starters. Check out the SAFIRE project. Not everything they present, I agree with. I find some material presented by The EU to be hokey – not as hokey a lambda-cold-dark-matter mysticism that can not explain the basic fundementals of the existence of matter. However, EU theory does get real results in real experiments through observation instead of mathematical constructs that tell the Universe how it should be behave. As opposed to how it actually behaves.

    Do Black Holes exist? Here’s a taste.

    Probably not.

    Most people still don’t know that a commonly used MRI imager violates one of the fundamental foundations of physics: Kirchoff’s Law. A “law” that is the underpinning of CMB.

    Fun stuff. Draw your own conclusions.

    1. Synoia

      Kirchhoff’s voltage law states that the algebraic sum of the potential differences in any loop must be equal to zero.

      Where does MRI imaging break that law? Please elucidate or post reference.

      1. D. Fuller

        My apologies. Kirchoff’s Law of Thermal Radiation.

        In MRI, there is energy that is not available for thermal emission, regarding proton spin and lattice structure. Kirchoff’s Law of Thermal Radiation require that all energy be available for thermal emission. If latter were the case? MRI could not exist. MRI is performed daily across the globe.

        An MRI of sufficient power exists that should turn a person into a human meatburger if one follows Kirchoff’s Law of Thermal Radiation. That does not happen. That MRI machine is the 8 Tesla nuclear magnetic resonance machine, from 1998.

        Kirchoff’s Law of Thermal Radiation provides the foundation for Plank’s Universal Constant & Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation.

        Regarding the mirror universe hypotheses as an attempt to apply a band-aid to lambda-cold-dark-matter, if time is reversed in that mirror universe, the mirror universe is shrinking towards the singularity that gave birth to our universe.

        In the mirror universe proposed by the paper, the future has already happened. In this universe, everything has already happened in the other universe. There is no randomness. This universe has predestination, no free will. Everything that will happen, has happened.

        This is religion.

        Not only is instantaneous, super-luminal communication occured between two universes, effect has preceded cause in one universe, while our universe, cause precedes effect. Time travel of information between the two universes occurs.

        So, the hypothesis would require:

        1. Future is already determined in our universe. As it has already occured in the mirror universe.
        2. Super-luminal communication from one universe, using time travel of said information BOTH ways, between the two universes.
        3. A medium to exchange information super-luminally, between two universes involving time-travel both ways.

        Point 3 raises interesting possibilities. A 3rd universe that is static, never changing provides the means of communication. In which both universes are represented. These leads to the illogical conclusion that the 3rd universe is both expanding & contracting. That time flows both backwards & forwards in that 3rd universe.

        That superluminal, instantaneous, time-traveling information is being somehow focused through the “cosmic egg” of the Big Bang.

        Wormholes provide that time-traveling, superluminal communication between 2 unverses, one expanding and one collapsing.

        What happens to the “mirror universe” when they encounter annihlation in a Big Crunch? What comes after that? This point especially, will require even more absurdity & band-aids from scientiests. Ad infinitum. Also gives rise to infinite universes communicating between each other in pairs.

        Since a big crunch will eventually occur in the “mirror universe”, how is that a mirror of our universe? We’re expanding.

        The current state of physics is one of absurdity and mysticism. Priest-Scientists.

        1. Susan the other

          Thank you for this junket, D. Fuller. The Electric Universe. I assume these ideologues calculate the universe as various states of electromagnetism, whereas standard physics is calculating the various states as parts of a mysterious whole. It’s all Greek to me, but Steven Crothers was pretty interesting. He sounded like an apostle of Godel – but instead of proving that math itself has an intrinsic paradox, he is saying that the variables of standard physics are so ill-defined they are contradictory nonsense. I’d like to believe that and learn that everything is electromagnetism. It sounds right. But then what on earth did LIGO discover? If gravitational waves do not exist, they must have recorded a mystery wave, no?

          1. D. Fuller

            I like some of Electric Universe theory. I’m rather skeptical on other aspects of it.

            Science is not only about success. It is about failures in hypothesis and theory. Failures of such are learning moments in science.

            Einstein’s theories have issues. However, it is good enough to have advanced our understanding of our Universe. Is it complete? No. Einstein’s theories are but a step in the right direction.

            However, once one starts seeing absurdities such as “mirror universes” that give rise to even more absurd results (many of which can never be tested)… there is a problem.

            Take EU theory with a grain of salt. However, they do produce interesting predictions and results. Pay special attention to their SAFIRE project (avialable through the youtube channel).

            For more information, has a more-or-less complete rundown on Electric Universe theory that is no more bizarre – and frequently less so – than current main stream physics.

            And you are welcome.

          2. D. Fuller

            The EU website,, has an alternative explanation to the LIGO signal.

            Cosmologists also ignore the effects of plasma and electro-magnetic effects upon structures in the Universe. Plasma produces EM effects many, many orders of magnitude greater than gravity on a smaller scale. Plasma also composes most of the matter in the universe. While gravity, being much, much weaker has a far greater area of effect than plasma. It is the abundance of plasma in the Universe which extends the shorter range, yet powerful effects of EM radiation across the Universe.

  29. Edward

    The Covid-19 transmission rate seems much reduced outdoors. Perhaps with masks businesses could operate safely outdoors.

    1. Edward

      Businesses that operate indoors could open their doors and use fans to circulate the air.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        And windows for sun. It’s all possible, given a level of effort. UV lights are hopeful too, apparently.

        However, see the Tweet under class warfare on patios. I placed it under that for a reason.

        1. Edward

          I think we have been presented with a false dilemma about whether to have a lockdown. I think Trump is right that the economy needs to be active, but it must be done safely. The question should not be whether to have a lockdown but rather what steps businesses must take to operate with an acceptable level of risk of transmission.

          Unfortunately, many selfish Americans seem unwilling to make an effort to fight the epidemic. This is where some leadership would help. You probably can’t get rid of 100% of selfishness, but a public relations campaign, especially by the Republicans, who seem unlikely to admit they were wrong, would be a big help.

  30. Maritimer

    “Full draft of Hong Kong national security law will only be made public after it is passed by China’s top legislative body South China Morning Post. Seems legit.”

    Finally, China is acting like free and democratic America. I hope also that in the tradition of openness and integrity, they don’t read the laws before they pass them. Hooray, that America engaged the Chinese Communist Regime and, by example, won them over to our way of doing things.

  31. roxan

    Good article on Matt Taibbi. He is one of my favorite writers! So true, how the MSM vacillates. The links were also excellent. Everything going on these days is so crazy! I wish I had the money to become an ex-pat.

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