Links 7/2/2020

Cloud cuckoo land? How one bird’s epic migration stunned scientists Guardian

Fed’s Bullard says risk of financial crisis remain FT

Russian Arctic sets ‘fantastical’ heat records: weather chief Agence France Presse

House Democrats’ Climate Plan Embraces Much of Green New Deal, but Not a Ban on Fracking Inside Climate News

Guest post: How climate change misinformation spreads online Carbon Brief


Revealed: Covid-19 outbreaks at meat-processing plants in US being kept quiet Guardian

More than 40 Bay Area school principals in quarantine after in-person meeting San Francisco Chronicle

Hundreds of teens at ‘pong fest’ party exposed to coronavirus, officials say CNN

Newsom orders new shutdown of restaurants, other indoor business in 19 California counties Los Angeles Times

Ex-FDA Chief: U.S. May Actually Have Over 400,000 New Coronavirus Cases Per Day, But Not Testing Enough To Show It Forbes

Trump maintains coronavirus will ‘just disappear’ at some point The Hill

* * *

Early Herd Immunity against COVID-19: A Dangerous Misconception Johns Hopkins

Cost Benefit Analysis of Limited Reopening Relative to a Herd Immunity Strategy or Shelter in Place for SARS-CoV-2 in the United States medRvix. From the abstract: “A limited reopening to achieve partial mitigation of COVID-19 is cost effective relative to a full reopening if an effective therapeutic or vaccine can be deployed within 11.1 months of late May 2020. One additional month of shelter-in-place restrictions should only be imposed if it saves at least 154,586 lives per month before the development of an effective therapeutic or vaccine relative to limited reopening.” Taleb would argue that since the downside of betting on herd immunity is ruin, we should not make it; more, we should not be applying so-called cost-benefit analysis in the first place. I agree with Taleb. Note the spurious precision of “11.1 months.”

* * *

Large SARS-CoV-2 Outbreak Caused by Asymptomatic Traveler, China Emerging Infectious Diseases. Commentary:

Suppression of a SARS-CoV-2 outbreak in the Italian municipality of Vo’ Nature. From the abstract: “Notably, 42.5% (95% CI 31.5-54.6%) of the confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infections detected across the two surveys were asymptomatic (i.e. did not have symptoms at the time of swab testing and did not develop symptoms afterwards). The mean serial interval was 7.2 days (95% CI 5.9-9.6). We found no statistically significant difference in the viral load of symptomatic versus asymptomatic infections.”

Finding Antibodies that Neutralize SARS-CoV-2 NIH Director’s Blog

Will COVID-19 be evidence-based medicine’s nemesis? Trisha Greenhalh, PLOS One

* * *

Life, Liberty and Face Masks: A Virus Preys On a Divided America Bloomberg

Ensuring Uptake of Vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 NEJM

‘Superforecasters’ Are Making Eerily Accurate Predictions About COVID-19. Our Leaders Could Learn From Their Approach Time

The psychology of misinformation: Why we’re vulnerable FIrst Draft (TH).

COVID Underdogs: Mongolia Medium


The end of one country, two systems in Hong Kong FT

Explainer: 10 things to know about Hong Kong’s national security law – new crimes, procedures and agencies Hong Kong Free Press

Britain offers millions of Hongkongers residency rights and path to citizenship after national security law implemented South China Morning Post

China threatens retaliation against UK for Hong Kong offer Guardian

Some Of China’s Freed Labor Activists Start New Lives, But State Pressure Lurks NPR. Amusingly, the CCP arrests Marxist labor activists.

Indonesian province declares state of emergency over forest fires Reuters

The Koreas

U.S. Politics Should’ve Seen K-Pop Stans Coming New York Magazine

They just… fade away:

Vietnam’s economy unexpectedly expands in Q2 amid Covid-19 outbreak Straits Times

Threat of Further Big Dams on the Mekong Diminishes Asia Sentinel

Wet War in a Dry Land Exponents


Lack of local Covid-19 testing data hinders UK’s outbreak response (free) FT. Yikes:

Thousands of test and trace callers failed to find a SINGLE contact of a coronavirus patient, investigation reveals Daily Mail. “[Serco’s] 25,000 call handlers only traced 15,812 people to tell them to isolate, while 98,000 were traced by 870 Public Health England officials.”

New Cold War

Russians grant Putin right to extend his rule until 2036 in landslide vote Reuters

Putin’s referendum Gilbert Doctorow

Health Care

Access To ACA Coverage In The COVID-19 Crisis Health Affairs

COVID-19 to cost hospitals $323 billion, American Hospital Association says Beckers Hospital Review

Pharmaceutical industry group sues to stop Minnesota’s new insulin-aid program Star-Tribune


1 big thing: Senility becomes 2020 flashpoint Axios. The political class certainly used the four years since 2016 to good effect.

No, Trump Isn’t Going to Drop Out Politico

L’Affaire Joffrey Epstein

Mystery Jeffrey Epstein statue found in Downtown Albuquerque KOAT


FBI firearm background checks set another all-time record in June CNN


U.S. regulator, Boeing complete 737 MAX certification test flights Reuters. But the data needs to be evaluated.

Photographers Grapple With ‘Informed Consent’ in Uprising FAIR

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Europe in 1989, America in 2020, and the Death of the Lost Cause David Blight, The New Yorker. Blight has an “Open Yale Course” podcast on the Civil War and Reconstruction.

Guillotine Watch

Pitchfork-wielding protesters descend on wealthy Hamptons estates Page Six. Plastic pitchforks. This time.

Family Care for All The Baffler

Class Warfare

Almost half of the U.S. population does not have a job Axios

America’s Enduring Caste System New York Times. “Caste is the infrastructure of our divisions.” Anything, anything but class (which, having been thrown out the front door, sneaks in through the back window as soon as you take the author’s category error-hobbled “America is like a house” trope seriously).

Complementary currencies for municipal finance Interfluidity

Boss of the Beach New York Magazine

‘It’s really hard to find maintainers…’ Linus Torvalds ponders the future of Linux The Register

Do You Have What It Takes to Be a Master Auctioneer? Texas Monthly (Re Silc).

Antidote du jour (via):

Gorgeous, but yikes!

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. PlutoniumKun

    Lack of local Covid-19 testing data hinders UK’s outbreak response (free) FT. Yikes:

    If you look at the recent surge in the UK one pattern is very apparent – mid sized towns/cities with a very big South Asian population. This certainly strengthens the argument that either Vitamin D deficiency or genetic aspects are very important.

    A point about Leicester – it has a very large population from Pakistan and north India, specifically from poorer regions as a large number of people came in to prop up the cities rag trade. 20 years ago a friend of mine from Leicester fell very ill while on business in Spain. The Spanish doctors diagnosed her has having pneumonia – on return to Leicester she was told she had a very rare form of TB and she went through several months of very painful treatment. She’d been on holiday earlier in the year in India, so might have contracted it then, or from one of the many locals who travel back and forth. She was told that she was very lucky she had been treated in Leicester, as the doctors there were far more familiar with unusual infections from the Indian sub-continent, and were much more alert to them than elsewhere.

    But whichever way you look at it, the UK looks to be in trouble – as feared the lockdown release was too early, too fast.

    1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

      John Campbell stated the other day that about 60,000 flights have come in to England from Pakistan since the epidemic took hold, with some passengers being reported as leaving the plane in order to go straight to hospital with Covid symptoms. I suppose that it is possible that this could but hopefully not, also become a problem for cities like Bradford, Sheffield etc who have a similar demographic.

      1. chuck roast

        “…to go straight to the hospital with Covid symptoms.”

        I was immediately reminded of my beach-bum days in St. Croix. My misanthropic crew used to laugh it up and we generally agreed that if we got very ill or injured on the island the only rational thing to do was somehow drag yourself to the airport and make it a hospital in Miami.

    2. Clive

      You could also alternately describe the surge in positive cases as cases continuing to decline steadily nationwide and also at varying rates of decline across all regions.

      But as with most media reporting where the outlets in question have an agenda (such as Comcast’s Sky in the link above), by the time you’ve read the headline and been spooked by the adjective inflation but then realised it’s not really supported by the data, which they make you wade half way down the article to get to, you’ve already taken the bait and given them a click or two.

      1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

        It at least looks like good news from that in the sense that all the cities including old mill towns with a high BAME population, are decreasing in cases & unlikely to hit the heights of Leicester – at least for the time being anyhow.

        1. Clive

          Yes, how the reopening of bars and restaurants is handled will be key (beginning as from this weekend) and it will need to be monitored very closely and rowed back at the first sign of trouble.

          Whether or not that happens is going to tell us if the U.K. government has learned its lessons or is still intent on playing Russian roulette. Nobody has to get a haircut, get a cup of coffee to drink in, nor is beer only available in a pub. None of these things are essential, all are “nice to haves”.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > playing Russian roulette

            Russian roulette is when you point the gun at your own head.

            American roulette is when you point the gun at somebody else’s head.

            1. Clive

              I’d say Anglo-sphere roulette is where you despoil the commons of public discourse to such a degree that — even if you tell people there’s a gun and a shot in the barrel, because you and everyone else has made up so much rubbish in the past about whether there’s a gun at all, how much ammo there may be in it and even if it looked for all the world like it was ammo, you might not have checked very carefully what it said on the box and it could be a blank — either no-one believes any of it and refuses to play that game any more or makes wildly inaccurate assessments about the odds that are impossible to either verify or correct because ascertaining the truth is so difficult so they just wing it like they see others doing.

              1. skippy

                I also disagree with the gun metaphor albeit would exchange it for smiley poker.

                Its more variate and representative of the social dynamic.

  2. polar donkey

    In the last 24 hours here in Memphis I know 5 restaurants that have closed because staff had covid. I know of another 4 that had staff with covid and stayed open in the last week. It feels like you are playing Russian roulette every shift.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      i know what ya mean, re: roulette.
      we’re off to san antonio for chemo…and I dread it like it’s still march or april.
      at the very least, practically everyone i saw was wearing masks last time, 2 weeks ago(it’s the law in Bexar County, apparently)
      still…I’ll be sitting in the car for 5 hours, with nowhere to go, and nothing to do.
      but since the pandemic arrived, i haven’t been alone in the parking lot. Clinic severely limits who can come inside.

      1. Krystyn Podgajski

        Amfortas, so sorry about the s*^t you are going through. Be careful in that heat down there today, it is supposed to be 98 degrees.

        I would say, having to have to go to the hospital for a blood test yesterday, the waiting room might be the safest place to be if you need to cool off.

        1. o4amuse

          Of course, Texas may be different, but for several months now I have not been allowed into Oregon hospitals to accompany my wife to medical appointments and infusions as I had been doing for the previous 2 years of her her cancer treatment. Visitors are triaged at a tent outside the emergency entrance and only the patient allowed into the building.

          1. amfortas the hippie

            i’m allowed in after scans
            triage at the door, masks required etc
            and if patient is so frail they need a helper it’s ok w above precautions
            i go for scans because i speak doctor and am familiar with anatomy
            wife doesn’t and isn’t
            so i’m a translator, not just an emotional support peacock

            1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

              I wish you & your wife well Amfortas – similar situation in the UK in regards to hospitals, as I found myself spending about 4 hrs sitting in the old jamjar after taking a friend who due to prolonged lockdown booze was in a very sorry state.

              Luckily I had my i-pod & headphones & sat listening to a playlist I had put together of what I believe is called Neo-classical music, from the likes of Max Richter, Olafur Arnalds & Nils Prahn – much better than the economics theory anyhow.

              A blustery day with the sun occasionally getting a look in & after an hour or so I noticed that the large fully leaved trees a about a 100 hundred yards in front of me, appeared to be almost dancing in the wind – something I previously had never noticed.

              1. Amfortas the hippie

                there’s trees and a creek adjacent to the parking lot…but obviously, they clear cut/dozed all the trees that used to be on-site, and planted new ones after they were done…because parking lots MUST be square and grid-like!
                at least they planted native Live Oaks to replace the ones they cut down when building the place. These are 10 foot high, and give little shade.
                regardless, it’s hotter than hell there…car A/C can’t keep up…and I’ve taken(since it takes so long) to hanging in the now empty parking lot of a big communications company(bunch of Righty Radio stations), next to the whataburger we go to…they kept their old trees in making this lot…and it’s empty, save for people like me, eating lunch….due to working at home, i assume.
                at the clinic, it’s keep the car running for the A/C.
                at the leafy, parklike lot, it was windows down.
                I’m pretty fireproof, from decades in the kitchen…I like the heat, so long as there’s shade and water.
                –doused my head with cold bottled water bought for that purpose….all the other people hanging out there looking at me like i’m nuts…then, one by one, several got out and did the same thing,lol.

                the problem in San Antone, right now is lack of public bathrooms…where does one pee in my situation?
                so far it’s convenience stores…especially the one right close to the clinic…they all know me by now(i’ll talk to a post), and guilt drives me to buy stuff,lol…to justify myself:
                a banana(wife ate it) a bag of chips…some jerky…that hair drenching water….
                of note: mandatory/expected mask wearing has spread fro San Antonio to Fredericksburg…not just in HEB(early adopters, to their credit).
                My local paper is filled with missives from local pillars of the community, urging mask usage…mayor(who’s been on it from the get-go, and suffered covid, himself…giving him some place of authority with the “it’s a hoax!” people.
                given this choir like onslaught of columns and letters to the editor and even full page ads taken out by families and businesses, I expect a Mask Mandate, here, soon.
                there will be tantrums.

                and thanks for all the well wishing!…I ain’t trolling for it, just reporting the facts, ma’am, from central texas…and please…don’t feel sorry for me. I abide, man,lol.
                I’ve dealt with much worse than having to sit around in the heat for a while.

                1. Lambert Strether Post author

                  > doused my head with cold bottled water bought for that purpose….all the other people hanging out there looking at me like i’m nuts…then, one by one, several got out and did the same thing,lol.

                  There’s a lesson for us all here!

                  In honor of those Texans who are truly great:


                2. skippy

                  Amfortas …. which ever the way the wind blows we know how this plays out … ain’t wright* … so the best we can do is present ourselves appropriately.

                  If the words match the act I think right will present itself.

      2. richard

        I’ll be thinking of you and your wife today, Amfortas. Hang in and try to stay cool.

    2. Larry Y

      We need a better term – American Roulette. The barrel is pointed at other people, especially service workers. Another form of class warfare.

    1. Synoia

      pulls offline huge dataset that taught AI systems to use racist, misogynistic slurs

      How did MIT build it? Bug the PTB behind the scenes?

    2. flora

      The dataset holds more than 79,300,000 images, scraped from Google Images, arranged in 75,000-odd categories.
      So using what was in effect second-hand open-sourced or crowd-sourced AI inputs without using human editors moderating or curating the inputs resulted in….

      Who would’a guessed this would be the outcome? /s

      Antonio Torralba, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at CSAIL, said the lab wasn’t aware these offensive images and labels were present within the dataset at all. “It is clear that we should have manually screened them,” he told The Register.

      Yep. Always.

      an aside: There’s a distinction between a machine generated organization of data that converts data into useful information …for machines, and the human organization of data that converts data into useful information for humans, people.

      1. flora

        adding: may the market i isn’t really a giant computer that holds all the data in the world. Or worse thought, may it is. ;)

      2. lyman alpha blob

        You would think people at MIT would know better. Constantly battling to convince coworkers that they can’t just upload huge databases into our system without checking what’s in it first, but with techies who fetishize automation, or worse yet, managers who don’t really understand IT or big data and just think everything can be automated, it’s a hard sell getting them to consider doing anything manually. They don’t seem to realize that whatever labor they think they’re saving isn’t actually saved at all when someone in a different department has to clean up the mess caused by lack of foresight.

        1. flora

          You would thing people at MIT would know better.

          Yes. A real blindness in early IT and network development was the unchecked assumption that people would never use it for bad things because only good people would use it for good things. Really. The early internet was built to be open largely on that assumption. Which is fine if only good and trusted people use it. The academy is called the ‘ivory tower’ for a reason. (For all its manifold faults I love the academy and its belief in the general goodness of human nature and progress. That unspoken belief is also its Achilles’ heel in considering ‘the real world’, imo. )

          1. flora

            typos: ” Even for all its manifold faults, I still love the academy for its beliefs….”

          2. flora

            adding: context is important here. Early IT and network development was during the time when computers were mainframe, vastly expensive, and only uni’s and govt and large corporations could afford them. Inputs were done on direct wired terminals. The world of computer users was relatively small and trusted. But like all things that promise increased scope or power to a user (cars, telephones, etc) the computer became mainstream, common, and is now so inexpensive people carry one in their pockets. Now about those data sets. ;)

            Ok, I’ll stop now. :)

          3. Carla

            “For all its manifold faults I love the academy and its belief in the general goodness of human nature and progress. That unspoken belief is also its Achilles’ heel in considering ‘the real world’, imo.”

            True of all of us, isn’t it, flora? Our greatest strength is, or at least holds the seeds of, our greatest weakness(es).

    3. flora

      I have a comment stuck in mod land. Comment is about machine ‘learning’ in general. I’ll wait to see if it appears. Yes, the article you link is important for a couple of reasons, imo.

      A very short recap of comment, using a goofy analogy: just because a machine or computer can quickly organize and sort and catalog, say all the books in the library using the Dewey system (invented by a human), doesn’t mean the machine ‘knows’ anything about what’s in the books or what the books’ contents ‘mean’ in human terms.

      1. flora

        Now imagine someone anonymously dumps a truckload of random books and magazines at the library door and the computer alone is used to ‘read’ the titles and catalog and shelve the books and magazines, with no librarian vetting the incoming books for their content. Imagine what might end up on the library shelves. ;)

    4. diptherio

      Thanks for the link, Carla.

      We’ve been messing around with some automated transcription software and one of my colleagues noticed that when she put an interview with an African American guy through it, the algo had no problem recognizing the n-word, but failed with basically every other instance of common Black slang. We were both troubled and confused by that. This probably explains it :-/

      “The dataset contains 53,464 different nouns, directly copied over from WordNet,” Prof Torralba said referring to Princeton University’s database of English words grouped into related sets…

      WordNet was built in the mid-1980s at Princeton’s Cognitive Science Laboratory under George Armitage Miller, one of the founders of cognitive psychology…

      Unfortunately, some of the nouns in WordNet are racist slang and insults.

      I would guess these new AI driven transcription services are using this dataset.

  3. Ignacio

    The osprey pic is just amazing. Eyes are focused on the prey and the precise location of the talons.

    1. Big River Bandido

      Would that those eyes and talons were about to latch on to a few vulture capitalists!

    2. chuck roast

      They really are terrific fishermen (is that the word?). They would sit a-top masts in the harbor and in the process ruin everybody’s wind vane and anemometer. Down they would swoop. They seemed to have about a 50% success rate. Not bad by any standards. A friend told me that Hemingway wrote a short story called, My War With Osprey. I haven’t found it yet.

          1. amfortas the hippie

            to a god unknown is my favorite steinbeck
            when i could still canoe/fish the llano river by myself, used to see ospreys(and eagles,golden and bald) all the time
            impressive birds

            i really dug kingfishers, too
            those excursions were what got me into bird watching, and i only later incorporated it into the wholistic farming thing

            1. chuck roast

              As long as you’re hanging in the parking lot today allow me to amuse you with my Kingfisher story.

              I was lashed to float in Head Harbor on Campobello Island. There wasn’t soul around. The Canadians go fishing in the winter…a few fish boats around; floats crammed to sky with lobster pots; 12′ tides and acres of mud. I was amusing myself watching the razor clams burp, and got this weird feeling from 110 degrees that somebody was watching me. I swung around and spotted this Kingfisher up on a piling. I was on his turf. I knew he was checking me out. I turned and looked towards the stern, and then he shot by me to within inches of my face giving me bloody hell with his cranky chirping. And he didn’t stop. He sat in tree on the shore and continued to suggest that I get lost.

              1. Amfortas the hippie

                they never bothered me…but i was usually “wearing the canoe” or “wearing the river”.
                (i insist that nakedness is like a signal to wildlife–i’m often, without trying, walking within a foot or two of a squirrel, rabbit or lizard)
                might be an attitude/vibe thing, too…my high strung brother is forever being attacked by bees and hummingbirds and whatnot, as is my wife…who is somewhat afraid of nature.

          1. Wukchumni

            I’ve seen a couple of Fishers in Sequoia NP, the first time I glimpsed one, thought it was a Black Bear cub*, but bruins don’t have tails.

            Was at a party a few days later and the park biologist asked me to describe it, and I mentioned that it walked like a Dachshund-real low to the ground, and he said ‘perfect description!’.

            * saw my first Black Bear of the year an hour ago, a premium 10 minute encounter, and it was a 2 tone model, mostly dirty blonde, with a brown-ish face.

          2. John Anthony La Pietra

            Hmm. “Fish-catchers”, then? (I’d expect a species name to be unhyphenated.)

            Or else go to Biblical syntax with “catchers of fish”, maybe.

  4. PlutoniumKun

    Threat of Further Big Dams on the Mekong Diminishes Asia Sentinel

    This is certainly good news for the region if true:

    Though there’s a certain logic to focusing effort on things one is good at, and surely Vietnamese state companies and their Thai and Chinese counterparts have plenty of experience building and operating big dams, there’s come a point where, even if externalities aren’t considered, big dams no longer make economic sense. The price of solar and wind power generation has fallen so far and so fast in the last decade that big hydro no longer is bankable.

    Southeast Asia generally, and Vietnam in particular, are blessed with abundant solar and wind energy resources. Utility-scale solar projects can be brought to the market in a year or two; utility-scale wind projects take a bit longer.

    This is of course one of the huge advantages solar and wind have over hydro/nuclear/coal (and depending on circumstances, gas) – they can be developed very rapidly. I’ve seen large scale wind projects connected to the grid within a year of gaining final consent/financial approval. Solar can be even faster.

    One thing would be nice to see – better integration with existing hydro so that the hydro plants can be optimised to provide balancing with solar/wind. There are cases of existing plants being converted to storage by constructing smaller lakes below a major dam, with water pumped back up when there is a surplus of power in the system. It also requires better regional grid integration.

  5. allan

    Hollowed out public health system faces more cuts amid virus [AP]

    … Since 2010, spending for state public health departments has dropped by 16% per capita and spending for local health departments has fallen by 18%, according to a KHN and Associated Press analysis. At least 38,000 state and local public health jobs have disappeared since the 2008 recession, leaving a skeletal workforce in some places. …

    The federal government’s occasional promises to support local public health efforts were ephemeral.

    For example, the Affordable Care Act established the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which was supposed to reach $2 billion annually by 2015. But the Obama administration and Congress raided it
    for other priorities, and now the Trump administration is pushing to repeal the ACA,
    which would eliminate it.

    If it had remained untouched, an additional $12.4 billion would eventually have flowed to local
    and state health departments, strengthening them for today’s pandemic. …

    Rather than carping, shouldn’t the AP be celebrating the bipartisanship?

    1. John Anthony La Pietra

      Well, no . . . and not only because “bipartisan” IS partisan. (And misspelled, arguably.)

  6. PlutoniumKun

    Will COVID-19 be evidence-based medicine’s nemesis? Trisha Greenhalg, PLOS One

    A must read for those of us who have been banging on about the failure of the broader public health science community to really get its act together. As I’ve been arguing, the failure seems to be epistemological – or put in simple terms, the scientists can’t seem to agree on what constitutes ‘evidence’ or ‘proof’ when it comes to this disease. From the article:

    Whilst evidence-based medicine recognises that study designs must reflect the nature of question (randomized trials, for example, are preferred only for therapy questions [13]), even senior scientists sometimes over-apply its hierarchy of evidence. An interdisciplinary group of scholars from the UK’s prestigious Royal Society recently reviewed the use of face masks by the general public, drawing on evidence from laboratory science, mathematical modelling and policy studies [14]. The report was criticised by epidemiologists for being “non-systematic” and for recommending policy action in the absence of a quantitative estimate of effect size from robust randomized controlled trials [15].

    Such criticisms appear to make two questionable assumptions: first, that the precise quantification of impact from this kind of intervention is both possible and desirable, and second, that unless we have randomized trial evidence, we should do nothing.

    We’ve seen this type of error repeatedly when it comes to potential prophylactics for Covid, whether masks or dietary or the use of well known and low risk treatments. The author of course is being somewhat kind in not attributing this problem to anything but genuine scientific treatments. Her suggested course of action:

    In a complex system, the question driving scientific inquiry is not “what is the effect size and is it statistically significant once other variables have been controlled for?” but “does this intervention contribute, along with other factors, to a desirable outcome?”. Multiple interventions might each contribute to an overall beneficial effect through heterogeneous effects on disparate causal pathways, even though none would have a statistically significant impact on any predefined variable [11]. To illuminate such influences, we need to apply research designs that foreground dynamic interactions and emergence. These include in-depth, mixed-method case studies (primary research) and narrative reviews (secondary research) that tease out interconnections and highlight generative causality across the system [16, 17].

    1. The Rev Kev

      ‘An interdisciplinary group of scholars from the UK’s prestigious Royal Society recently reviewed the use of face masks by the general public, drawing on evidence from laboratory science, mathematical modelling and policy studies.’ Seriously? It’s not that hard. You say ‘Hey, masks work in those countries that adopt them and those countries that don’t end up in the toilet.’ That much was obvious months ago. In fact, those countries that adopted mandatory mask are going back to work now.

      But when that article said ‘Ogilvie et al’s model of two complementary modes of evidence generation: evidence-based practice and practice-based evidence’, I was reminded of a saying that seems to match this. It says ‘In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; but in practice, there is.’ Personally I am in favour of empirical approach to research and judgement and as far as this virus is concerned, we have had plenty of material to work with going back to February in how to deal with this virus.

      1. rtah100

        As the French say of empiricism, it’s all very well in practice but does it work in theory?

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            Thesis: Hegel jokes are funny.

            Antithesis: Hegel jokes are not funny.

            Synthesis: A Hegel joke is not funny-in-itself but shows itself as being funny-for-others.

      2. a different chris

        Honest to god if today’s “medical community” had been in charge of it we still wouldn’t have umbrellas.

        Funny how dangerous drugs always seem to get out but wear a mask? Oh noes…

    2. Susan the other

      When time passes you by. The thing that concerns me most about the rush to prevent Covid19 and whatever is next to come is the advanced technology put to use. Do we test those results for 6 months or 60 years? – how do we know what the latent dangers are in an RNA Vaccine much less a Synthetic RNA Vaccine…. and etc.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > A must read for those of us who have been banging on about the failure of the broader public health science community to really get its act together.

      The “Put The Professionals Back In Charge” narration is a little simplistic. Every aspect of our political economy is being tested, and most are failing.

  7. Ignacio

    RE:‘Superforecasters’ Are Making Eerily Accurate Predictions About COVID-19. Our Leaders Could Learn From Their Approach Time

    Isn’t this obsessive-compulsive? I mean the belief that anything can be forecasted, even such a complex thing like the pandemic? Forecasts can be useful but often greatly misleading IMO.

    1. ambrit

      Good catch.
      I compare the “Forecasting Cult” with the weather forecast on the online weather sites. The one I have been using, mainly for the weather radar, which has it’s own ‘issues,’ has been wrong with their week ahead forecasts every single time I have paid close attention for the past year or so.
      There has to be a ‘rule’ in statistics covering some relationship between complexity and accuracy.
      The old Greek term “Hubris” comes to mind.

      1. amfortas the hippie

        among other things,i’m a weather geek
        youngest even wants to be weather man due to going out and watching storms with crazy dad and then comparing what radar says
        they use several computer models simultaneously… each forecaster at our local nws has his a pet,lol
        they obsessively compare them to each other as well as to the national versions etc
        and plug in their own expertise
        last part is where wx forecast is different from that other thing
        those guys(we went and met them once) know their shit, and can make pretty good short term forecasts by stepping outside
        computers just extend the time horizon
        that said, the models have been getting it wrong more and more often
        another artifact of gw
        too much chaos in the inputs from such a large already chaotic and complex system
        sort of remarkable that they get right as often as they do

    2. Samuel Conner

      My interpretation of the article it is that it’s about the qualities that make people better able to foresee the range of possible outcomes. The firm in question appears to aggregate individual views to improve accuracy, in a sort of “wisdom of (already wise) crowds” way.

      Proof is in the pudding, and if they are able to make money by providing useful forecasts to paying customers, I would tend to concede that there is something to this.

      But the thing that struck me is how the qualities that characterize the “superforecasters” are quite unlike the qualities of the current chief executive of US, or of career politicians generally.

      1. Jesper

        I’ve found the qualities that characterizes the superforecaster to be very very rare.
        Humility in general is rare and I might be showing my age but I believe it to be getting rarer. The arrogant are in my experience impossible to teach and I do not quite understand how they ever learn anything.
        If there is a new situation or a new subject then I have more confidence in the humble than in the arrogant in finding the solution and true knowledge. Though it might be difficult to impossible to know when the situation is actually new and the arrogant might actually know…..

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > the qualities that characterize the “superforecasters” are quite unlike the qualities of the current chief executive of US, or of career politicians generally.

        “Forgotten nothing and learned nothing” does not seem to apply to your superforecasters.

    3. Synoia

      It is Human behavior to say “I knew it!,” after the fact. People who made accurate forecasts look for praise and acknowledgement. Those who forecast other outcomes remain silent.

      The proverb is “Even a stopped clock is correct twice a day.”

    4. deplorado

      Interesting about the forecasters. Im surprised they don’t use the term “crowdsourced” anymore.

      I was interested some years ago in crowd sourced “wisdom” and one of the commercial pioneers was Estimize – crowd sourced earnings estimates. They claimed they were more accurate than Wall St analysts. They had weighted ranking, where the more accurate your estimates, the more weight your input gets. You imagine they need a few self-built geniuses like Tankus and they can become good above average.

      Stopped following, but it appears they have grown and have a good API.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Interesting about the forecasters. Im surprised they don’t use the term “crowdsourced” anymore.

        From the article:

        Unlike history’s prophets, forecasters like Roth do not claim to possess supernatural abilities. Instead, they say their accuracy is a result of using specific techniques to structure their thinking and constantly trying to improve their skills. Superforecasters also tend to share certain personality traits, including humility, reflectiveness and comfort with numbers. These characteristics might mean that they’re better at putting their ego aside, and are willing to change their minds when challenged with new data or ideas.

        Not a crowd.

  8. timbers

    FWI for those interested in red light bulbs to improve/preserve eyesight (yesterday’s links).

    Did some quick research.

    There is an item that appears to perfectly match the 670 nm wavelength as reported in yesterday’s article, and there seems agreement this 670 nm is the most desired wave length. But be aware the wavelengths outside the desired red ranges still do offer benefit as well. Presently the item’s pricing seems to capitalize on the relative new awareness of eyesight benefits of red light. You can search Red Man Light for details.I suspect it is UK based, only because of the free shipping offered on it’s products.

    As an interim solution while waiting for a more competitive price, their are red light bulbs available at stores like Home Depot for about $5. The specs reported for a Feit red led light bulb are wavelength of 647 nm. These are LED bulbs with a mere 4.5W energy usage. The ideal wavelength is 620 or 670 nm, with dips in effectiveness inbetween. However there seems agreement that the dip ranges do in fact also provide the benefits, just not as much per minute spent viewing these lights.

    BTW you don’t what a red coated bulb that emits regular light. You want the light itself to generate the red. You want the outside bulb to be clear not colored.

    I have placed one of these bulbs in a short lamp post next to my computer monitor and keep on a few minutes each day. Apparently one needs only several minutes each day.

    This might be a good interim option while waiting for increased interest to lower prices for the “better” bulb. Good chance that will happen, as I noted very recent inquires online in comments sections of some of these red bulbs.

      1. timbers

        The sun emits large amounts of blue light not good for eye sight and it damages the skin. I’ve avoided it all my life every since I became aware of how damaging it is. It also makes me sneeze quite a bit. I find being in the sun to very unpleasant.

        Solar radiation is extremely damaging to health.

        I’m a vampire I guess. I’ll take densely overcast fine Irish weather over the likes of Arizona or Florida anytime.

        1. Krystyn Podgajski

          “Solar radiation is extremely damaging to health.”

          No, it is not. Not for everyone.

          And why do you assume blue light is bad for the eyes?

          1. timbers

            Because UV, blue does damage eyesight. Did you read yesterday’s article and many others? And yes solar radiation is very damaging to health. You’re mistaken. Getting sunlight is the opposite of getting the red light the study indicated to improve eyesight. IMO your suggestion is the opposite of what was suggested.

            1. John Anthony La Pietra

              Sunlight has some other beneficial aspects. IIRC, we’ve been discussing Vitamin D here recently.

      2. timbers

        Key point:

        Going outside on sunny midday isn’t going to get us the red light the study indicates may stimulate a return of better eyesight by stimulating eye mitochondria.

      3. integer

        If one closes one’s eyes in a bright environment (e.g. outside during a sunny day), one sees red, as the blood within the eyelids acts as a red filter. Would be interesting to see a spectral analysis of this filtered light.

    1. coderyder

      It’ll probably be more convenient to change your tablet/phone color scheme or wallpaper to something red.

    2. J.k

      Hello Timber,

      I have not been able to access the paper. However it seems the researchers gave the participants a small flashlight that emits the deep red spectrum, 660nm. Another article mentions the flashlight only cost about 15$. So it would seem the product you are looking at Red Man light around 150-175$ , 18 w, is way overkill for this purpose. If you are remotely handy , you build one yourself. But first we need to find out the amount of light the flashlight in the study mentioned in the cnn link actually emits.

      If you really want go down this rabbit hole, i will leave a couple links. One of the links is from 2011 paper. They look at Low Level Light Therapy for the eyes and the brain. Very, very interesting stuff. Experimenting to treat mood disorders and depression, improve cognition after traumatic brain injury, even looking at treating stroke patients.

  9. jr

    The osprey is stunning. Two January’s back I was in Miami on the beach. An osprey was floating, and I mean floating, along the surf line maybe 20 feet above us, occasionally ducking to swipe at a fish. I have no idea how it kept aloft, rarely moving it’s wings, literally surfing the light wind.

    Another raptor story: years ago I worked as a guide at the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philly, an enormous ruin of a building, literally a castle in the Art Museum district. A pair of peregrine falcons lived nearby and would hunt in the yards for squirrels, rats, pigeons etc. We would see them wheeling high above and occasionally dive bombing pigeons.

    One afternoon I was doing the afternoon inspection to make sure no one was lost or wandering where they shouldn’t. I came into a room with a collapsed roof and dead in the center of it was one of the falcons atop the eviscerated corpse of a white pigeon. Blood and gore everywhere. Sadly before the days of ubiquitous cameras. It screeched a challenge and I ran

    1. Jen

      Last summer I watched an osprey and an immature bald eagle chase each other for about 20 minutes. Their aerial maneuvers were truly stunning. The osprey made very effective use of a mooring field of small sailboats to evade the eagle.

    2. a different chris

      I look at so many animals, birds in particular, and say “man if I could do that I would have stopped evolving too”.

      Assuming our brains are actually a positive evolution…

    1. MLTPB

      What is the etymology of the term, ‘master auctioneer?’

      And of ‘master’s degree?’

      The former is a little more likely to be in need of a new name, maybe.

  10. anon71

    re Ensuring Uptake of Vaccines against SARS-CoV-2:

    If it’s not FREE (and that includes not waiting in a long line), I don’t plan on taking any inoculation.

    In other words, if we, as a nation, behave like Margaret Thatcher said, that there is no such thing as society then why should I inconvenience myself for what doesn’t exist?

    Or is it that the concept of “society” is something that can be turned on and off as the PTB desire for their own convenience and safety? Well, screw that. It’s time that we, as a nation, recognize that no man is an island in more ways than just infectious diseases. Until then, I won’t lessen the fear of the PTB that they too are vulnerable.

    Maybe I’ll change my mind, but my current feelings are resentment at those who have a lot to lose imposing on those who have little to lose.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      After the way the Corona pandemic has been handled in the US. I will be very reluctant to get inoculated with whatever vaccine might come out — even if they pay me to get inoculated and come to my door with the needle. I’ll just stay in isolation and wait and see how well it really works and just what side effects it might bring. I am not an anti-vaxer — every year since and including the year of the Swine flu I have gotten my flu shot. There is too much Big Money at play in coming up with a vaccine for Corona.

      1. sam

        Yes, I second that. Combine extreme political pressure for a solution to the pandemic (warp speed!), Big Pharma salivating for perhaps the biggest ever first to market payday, nationalist competition among China/US/India/European champions and a start to finish timeline that will blow away all previous records for vaccine development AND TESTING – what could go wrong? Even without the COVID rush and pressure, Sanofi recently got approval of a Dengue vaccine that proved to have been inadequately tested. In the 1970’s a similar quick vaccine for swine flu also had some unforeseen complications. This is the first piece I’ve seen laying the groundwork for mandating vaccination but count me in the wait and see club on this one.

        1. What?No!

          But isn’t this the anti-vaxer movement? Just a different tolerance for the believability of all the players (pharma, doctors, gov’t, etc.) — and not simply that vaccinations are bad ?

    2. Synoia

      Margaret Thatcher said, that there is no such thing as society…She was a a politician, and lying for effect.

      It is common complaint in politics and very infectious, the cure is either institutional death (loose the next election) or actual death. There is no known palliative treatment.

    3. Mo's Bike Shop

      If the distribution of vaccine doesn’t reach herd immunity levels, then the epidemic goes on, presumably evolving. I guess we have to vaccinate about 6 billion people before we’re back on an even keel? It still seems to be darned contagious.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > If the distribution of vaccine doesn’t reach herd immunity levels

        You’re assuming herd immunity for COVID is a thing. It might be, but is not necessarily. As I keep saying, there’s a reason we call the common cold “common.” There might not be a vaccine for COVID at all, if there is a vaccine, its effects may be partial or temporary, it might cost the earth, it might have side effects that are only discovered after the first round, and on and on and on. At best, “herd immunity” is whistling in the dark. At worst, it’s “think happy thoughts on the way down.”

  11. Tinky

    re: today’s “surprise”/”good” employment news (of course catalyzing markets higher):

    … you realize of course, that in order to be eligible for forgiveness of PPP loans, employers HAD to rehire employees by June 30, 2020. After that, if funds provided by CARES have been used for payroll and eligible expenses, the employers have no restriction on future layoffs.

    – John Hussman

    1. ewmayer

      Those ‘good’ numbers from the BLS are completely bogus:

      Never Before Have I Seen So Much Fake Unemployment & Jobs Data by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Labor Department Nails It | Wolf Street

      Given that a record 31.5 million people were actually receiving state and federal unemployment insurance benefits in the latest week and that this record number of people were actually unemployed, as per the Labor Department, the BLS is now under-reporting unemployment by at least 13.7 million people (31.5 million minus 17.8 million). What a sad joke.

    1. Clive

      Not only is he an absolute genius, he’s also a really nice guy who is always happy to share his knowledge with others. He writes challenging material — don’t attempt to read any of his output while having a stoopid day — but is never tempted to dumb down what can’t be simplified and must be grasped by a mind that is willing to work for a genuine understanding, not just have a superficial, glib fact-y-ness approximation of it.

      1. Susan the other

        Yes, and posted today in Links from Interfluidity (Waldman) is a good piece of info on “complementary currencies for municipal finance” – something I think is a no-brainer. The article lists Nathan and Rohan Grey at the bottom in the notes. Nice that this thinking is riding out of the fog full gallop. I hope.

      2. deplorado

        I knew he was young but didn’t know it was that young! What a great story, so glad he got a shout out in Bloomberg.

        People like him make the breakthroughs. I feel like he is one of those like Mendeleev, who emerge from obscurity to correct and predict in a fundamental way.

        Notice also he wants to study law next. Because finance and money rests on law. When he discovers that law rests on power, what will he study next?

    2. Larry Y

      Thanks for sharing this – without Naked Capitalism, I wouldn’t have known of his writing. It wouldn’t have gotten past the mainstream filters (age, lack of credentials, including a college degree), never mind the fact that he’s outside of the neoliberal orthodoxy.

  12. allan

    Gap in U.S. Black and White unemployment rates is widest in five years [Reuters]

    The gap between the U.S. unemployment rates for Blacks and Whites widened further in June, to its largest in five years.

    Jobless rates for both fell in June, but the rate for Whites came down at a much faster rate. The White unemployment rate fell by 2.3 percentage points to 10.1% from 12.4%, while the rate for Blacks dropped by 1.4 points to 15.4% from 16.8%.

    At 5.3 percentage points, the gap is now the widest since May 2015.

    Oops. From 4 months ago:

    Seeking Black Voters, Trump Campaign To Open Offices In 15 Black Communities

    The Trump campaign is opening field offices in swing states targeted directly at attracting black voters, a demographic the president has been aggressively courting in his re-election efforts. …

    Campaign officials say the goal is get their message directly to African Americans, getting around what they can the “filter” of the media. Offices will feature promotional videos and pamphlets touting President Trump’s record on issues such as African American employment and addressing disparities in the criminal justice system. …

    According to source familiar with Kushner’s thinking, Kushner had no involvement with the initiative.

  13. Wukchumni

    FBI firearm background checks set another all-time record in June CNN
    You can see where this is all headed, for now we’re a nation of rugged individuals armed to the teeth, but then there’s the sticky matter of keeping guard 24/7 and you gotta sleep @ some point, so that will require gunslingers to form ad hoc groups ,i.e. warlordism that will bear much resemblance to what went down in China a century ago.

    Once said groups get large enough they’ll tangle with other like minded gun oriented types, and that’s where we end up in an odd civil war where might is right and those quickest with the trigger finger win by attrition as the piles of bodies stack up.

    If i’m China or Russia, you’d want to keep this going by exporting huge quantities of ammo to our shores, the profit being not monetary so much, but in allowing a once great country to tear itself apart as they watch from afar.

    1. jr

      That’s a great point: black market ammo smuggling into regions of the US. I’m sure there’s some of that on a small scale already but if bigger interests got involved, cartels etc…

    2. The Rev Kev

      Yeah, not a fun time if that is how it works out. Russia experienced such a situation back in the 90s and Putin talked about how he always took a shotgun to bed each night for protection back then.

      1. Charger01

        There was a fantastic fictional film called “lord of war” about this time. Oddly, it did not mention that quite a bot od the armaments from that era flowed into the US as well. We now have an estimated firearm for every person in the US, but nothing has happened. Almost seems that we have a fear fixation with acquiring death machines, but then we sit on them.

        1. EGrise

          The opening sequence from that movie, tracing the journey of an AK-47 round, is wonderful.

  14. The Rev Kev

    “More than 90% of new cases in Leicester are now under pillar 2, yet these numbers are not public.”

    And it is stuff like this that has led to the disastrous results seen in so many countries fighting the pandemic. If the pillar2 chart had been publicized widely, then the people in Leicester would have know to stay home and social distance and to start wearing masks and all the rest of it. Instead, these figures were hidden and the people of Leicester using the pillar 1 figures thought that they were out of the woods. No wonder there is broken trust with the government.

    Was just reading an article which emphasized this two-faced approach by the elite. It seems that Boris’s father jetted off to conduct ‘essential business’ in his villa in Greece. The UK government advises against unnecessary travel while the Greek government bans direct flights from the UK. To solve the later problem Boris’s dad went to Bulgaria first and then went to Greece. Old fools like that will spread the virus near and far but he will never be penalized for what he did-

    1. Jen

      As a granite stater, I’m really curious as to where in our fine state she was arrested.

      Anyone want to start a pool on when her accidental demise will occur and by what method?

        1. petal

          Looks like there’s a heliport or two in Bedford, and there’s the airport in Manchvegas.

      1. Tom

        The over/under is 23 days until she falls down the stairs, slips in the shower, gets covid, etc. … I’ll take the under.

      2. MT_Bill

        Obvious suicide risk, let’s hope she gets better protection.

        I suspect she’ll succeed though and somehow off herself with three self-inflicted gunshots to the head.

        They like to make a statement.

    2. The Rev Kev

      I wish to offer sincere condolences for the suicide of Ghislaine Maxwell which is due to happen next Tuesday.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        No, she’ll die from one of the rarer Covid symptoms of a bullet to the back of the head.

      2. edmondo

        And welcome her to her new life with Jeffrey Epstein and “the girls” in Israel. (Oh, you thought he was dead, huh?)

    3. Kurt Sperry

      Too soon to start the “suicide” watch? I however suspect a deal has been made to protect those who *must* be protected so the risk of a prosecution could be managed. One thing I doubt you’ll ever see is a public trial, there will have to be or probably already has been some arrangement between Maxwell and the USG made to avoid that. That is the only way she would be allowed to survive and she no doubt knows this.

    4. Bugs Bunny

      Reports from late June said that she was in Paris staying near the Israeli embassy. I wonder if she turned herself in as part of a bigger package.

        1. ambrit

          Epstein traveled from Europe to America voluntarily. He had to have had a “deal” worked out, or so he thought. I would have thought that Maxwell would learn from Epstein’s ‘mistake.’ If Maxwell is allied with Mossad, did they make a deal with the Americans?
          I too see her survival chances in the near term as being nil.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            I think Epstein’s plan was to repeat his “i’m an intelligence asset” routine he tried back in the mid-00’s.

        2. periol

          Yup, because she was born in France she wasn’t going to face extradition as long as she was there. There has to be a deal.

          1. Pat

            Unless she has a nuclear bomb set to be released if she dies or is incapacitated regardless of the reason, she would be an idiot to participate in any “deal”.

            Considering her background she has to know the value of information, so maybe I am wrong and she she was able to negotiate a “truce” where it was of as much interest to various governments to keep her happy and healthy as it was to her. At least until they can track down her “evidence”. That said would you trust any failsafe you can come up with to last, not to be compromised by either money or treachery? So I still wouldn’t trust any deal.

            1. periol

              According to the DailyMail (whatever), the FBI said she had been hiding out in New England since Epstein’s arrest. So she was never in Paris, and she was arrested at the home she had recently purchased through an LLC. So, yeah, no deal.

        3. Maxwell Johnston

          Epstein himself returned to the USA from Paris on 6 July 2019. And was promptly arrested. I think I see a trend.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Let’s see, Obama-era Berman gets fired, then a week later they “find” Ghislaine. My guess is that those two events are highly correlated. Basic spycraft teaches us that important “coincidences” are usually nothing of the sort.

        And what did E. Howard Hunt say he was actually *doing* on the grassy knoll that day?

        1. Mr. House

          like the repo market going wacky last fall and the not “QE” they used to keep a lid on it, which then led to the largest bailouts in world history this past march?

        2. Big Tap

          Supposedly George H.W. Bush was in Dallas that day. Claimed he remembered nothing about it. Anyone over 5 years old knows where they were when JFK was killed but not Bush. He was even than a low level CIA connection. Just saying.

  15. Carolinian

    The New Yorker/The Lost Cause

    The Lost Cause ideology emerged first as a mood of traumatized defeat, but grew into an array of arguments, organizations, and rituals in search of a story that could regain power.

    But enough about Hillary 2016? The article’s description of the delusions of the defeated Southerners is accurate enough, but it seems to lack all sense of irony that the statue toppling defeat of an ideology that was long ago defeated has been brought about by “rituals in search of a story that could regain power.” The willful blindness of the Resistance to their own heroes’ feet of clay simply shows how entirely human the Southern reaction was–that humans can also be unjust, cruel and unwise and particularly when they see themselves as threatened. MLK got that his oppressors were also victims. However such subtleties of thought don’t fit very well into a “narrative.” What the country really needs now is truth and reconciliation, not division and anarchy which is what the Dems seem to favor. Trump does have a talent for bringing out the worst in people.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Certainly a revision is needed of actual past events. In the south in the flurry of statue and memorial building after the Civil War, some were erected to people that never should have been honoured. So I personally would honour a man like General James Longstreet but not General Robert Lee. But one person that I would never honour was the Commandant of Andersonville prison where 13,000 Union prisoners died-

      1. Carolinian

        As I’ve said before we have one of those generic soldier statues put up by the Daughters of the Confederacy. I believe awhile back when I was not living here it was moved off public property but it still exists, unmolested, and as artwork is not bad.

        They just painted Black Lives Matter on the street in front of the city hall and nobody is objecting as it too is art (not just letters). Perhaps the way to fight art is with more art and not by tearing down. As for history, schools should be teaching a lot more of it, not pretending certain things didn’t happen. A big problem is that Americans–not just Trump–are frightfully ignorant.

    2. Pelham

      Wasn’t acceptance of the South’s history — including its Civil War history — supposed to be part of bringing those states back into the union? What would have happened if, as a condition of surrender, the South had been informed that all its fighting men and leaders would forever be reviled?

      1. Carolinian

        The problem there is that the South’s history is also America’s history–not only because many of the leading figures of the latter were slave owners but also because even up until the start of the war the support system for slavery included Northern banks and, prior to that, Northern ships bringing the slaves. Everybody wanted this swept under the rug and forgotten. And in blame the victim fashion the blacks came to be looked upon as the cause of the whole mess. Movie fans know that whenever a Western required a sympathetic antihero they would make him an ex Confederate (more often than not played by John Wayne).

        So part of the truth that must be accepted to produce reconciliation is that our race problem was and is a national problem. Many in the North still prefer to blame it all on the rednecks.

        1. Alfred

          Thanks (again), Carolinian. I always value your comments. As I read each of your successive posts today, I have wanted to share with you what I think is an excellent book on this subject, wondering whether you have read it and if so what you think of it. At last I succumb to the urge. The book your recent posts have repeatedly brought to mind is The Public Art of Civil War Commemoration: A Brief History with Documents, by Thomas J. Brown (2004). It has the advantage of treating both Union and Confederate monuments, I’d say with equal sensitivity, and not as separate but rather as complementary phenomena. I discovered and read this book only a couple of weeks ago as I prepared to go up to Richmond to see at first hand what had started happening there, and was very glad that I had arrived. Previously I had read part of another, more narrowly focused yet equally insightful book by the same author, Civil War Canon: Sites of Confederate Memory in South Carolina (2018). Events now compel me to finish it sooner rather than later, but already I would recommend it to anyone — of whatever opinion — who is following our unfolding iconoclasm. And now the information superhighway speeds to my attention yet a third book by Brown on a related theme, Civil War Monuments and the Militarization of America (2019), which I would dearly like to read but doubt I will, what with libraries closed and my book-buying budget reduced to zero. Anyhow, while I’m still in enumeration mode, I want to mention several other books on my post-Richmond wish-to-read list. Topping it is Honoring the Civil War Dead: Commemoration and the Problem of Reconciliation by John R. Neff (2005), which sounds to be similar in scope to Brown’s book of 2004. Intriguing for its apparently unique contribution to the context of southern memorialization of the Lost Cause is Kathleen Ann Clark’s Defining Moments: African American Commemoration and Political Culture in the South 1863-1913 (2005). Last but not least there is another book that I suppose would be good for context, The Southern Past: A Clash of Race and Memory by W. Fitzhugh Brundage (2008). In closing I have a question for anyone still reading: in vain I have poked around the Library of Congress catalog looking for any work on Civil War monuments erected by Union partisans that attempts the comprehensive coverage of Ralph W. Widener’s compendium of Confederate Monuments (1982); have I missed some important book that hides in plain sight? Scientia vincere tenebras!

          1. Carolinian

            A half a million people died during the war with more dying from disease, I’ve read, than battle. Also many civilians and slaves died. I’d say it’s glib to claim all those monuments were only about a race supremacy agenda. For several generations this was the biggest thing that had ever happened.

            But at this point IMO the South is well and truly over it and even Pat Lang, who has written novels about the Civil War, says this. Displays of the Confederate flag should go but the monuments? I wonder how many people even know what they are.

          2. Alfred

            fwiw i finally managed to answer my own question. The book is Civil War Union Monuments, by Mildred C. Baruch and Ellen J. Beckman (1978).

  16. Pookah Harvey

    re Vaccines
    From Bloomberg:

    The Food and Drug Administration’s new standards on Covid-19 vaccine development may dampen Wall Street hopes that a shot to prevent the spread of the pandemic will be available before the U.S. election in November.

    With the FDA’s standards for an emergency use authorization not much lower than what’s needed for full approval, the first authorization seems more likely to happen in early 2021, said Geoffrey Porges, an analyst with SVB Leerink.

    The agency’s guidance, published on Tuesday, said any vaccine candidate would need to prove itself at least 50% more effective than a placebo to earn an approval, and that merely showing immune response data would not be enough.

    I was surprised at the 50% effectiveness figure. I had expected vaccines to be more effective, so went to the CDC site:

    recent studies show that flu vaccination reduces the risk of flu illness by between 40% and 60% among the overall population

    I saw a recent poll(can’t find the link now) that stated only 49% of Americans said that they would be willing to be be vaccinated against the Coronovirus. 50% of Americans being vaccinated with 50% effectiveness means, even with a vaccine, only 25% of the population would be protected. Am I the only one surprised by these numbers?

    1. a different chris

      I think, not sure, that you are misunderstanding the flu vaccines number.

      Every year they make a guess at what the vaccine should be and sometimes the guess is correct and sometimes it isn’t. Not that the vaccine given itself doesn’t work on what it’s expected to work on.

      1. Pookah Harvey

        Maybe I’m not understanding but the CDC site states:

        During seasons when the flu vaccine viruses are similar to circulating flu viruses, flu vaccine has been shown to reduce the risk of having to go to the doctor with flu by 40 percent to 60 percent.

        Sounds to me like they are lucky when a flu vaccination is 60% effective.

        1. juneau

          I think the difference between flu and Covid vaccines is that flu vaccine addresses 3 or 4 strains of flu (there are many floating around) and we only have one major strain of Sars Cov 2 at this time. In theory the Covid vaccines are supposed to effectively target an area that is present in this one strain even if it has minor mutations. They are focusing on the spike protein which reportedly is somewhat stable.

          So with the Covid vaccine there is only one strain to neutralize versus a few that may or may not show up during flu season. Flu mutates a lot and those mutations can affect the efficacy of the vaccine. As such one hopes the Covid vaccine should do better than 50 percent assuming no major mutation in the spike protein (which everyone seems to believe won’t happen.) So I have heard on sites like Medcram, Chris Martenson’s videos, Dr Been, Dr Campbell. Hoping they are right…..

          1. Pookah Harvey

            So far it appears that Coronovirus vaccines are difficult to develop. According to the Mayo Clinic:

            Past research on vaccines for coronaviruses has also identified some challenges to developing a COVID-19 vaccine…..Several vaccines for SARS have been tested in animals. Most of the vaccines improved the animals’ survival but didn’t prevent infection. Some vaccines also caused complications, such as lung damage. A COVID-19 vaccine will need to be thoroughly tested to make sure it’s safe for humans.

            I’m hoping too juneau, but my hopes that a vaccine will end the pandemic anytime in the near future has definitely been diminished.

    2. Mo's Bike Shop

      Presumably the first 50% figure is for patients in the study. The flu effectiveness is the result of vaccination for the ‘overall population’. I have no idea how many people get the flu vaccine each year. I assume it’s not huge.

      But covid appears to be very contagious, so I assume that would need a large percentage of vaccinations. But yeah, I’m in the ‘hold off a few months to see if anyone grows flippers’ waiting line.

  17. Toshiro_Mifune

    Photographers Grapple With ‘Informed Consent’

    Interesting article. Informed consent, even if not legally required, would have impact on more than just reportage.

    1. Kurt Sperry

      Attending a public protest is an overt form of public speech. I can’t see any reason why anyone should be legally prohibited from photographing and publishing photos taken at a public protest. Should police have the same right to veto publishing photos of them misbehaving publicly? I don’t think there is any workable way to make publishing photos of a public crowd contingent on getting the express permission of every potentially identifiable person in the crowd. It’s absurd to think this is in any way practically possible.

      1. Toshiro_Mifune

        I don’t think there is either. I understand the point; to make sure people being captured in photos understand and are ok with the potential that the photos be used against them by law enforcement, businesses, etc. It’s a nice sentiment but just completely un-practicable
        Of course, under current law, people in public spaces have no expectation of privacy with regards to photography. There are some caveats to that, but pretty much if your wandering around in Times Sq I can take a picture of you and I dont need to get your permission.
        There is an entire field within photography, namely Street Photography, that largely centers around this.

        1. Carolinian

          Since this is a question

          No release is required for publication, as news, of a photo taken of an identifiable person when the person is in a public place. In general, no release is required for publication of a photo taken of an identifiable person when the person is in a public space unless the use is for trade or direct commercial use, which is defined as promoting a product, service, or idea.[1] Publication of a photo of an identifiable person, even if taken when the person is in a public place, that implies endorsement, without a model release signed by that person, can result in civil liability for whoever publishes the photograph.[2]

          Note that no model release is needed for the act of taking the photograph. Rather, if needed, the model release applies to the publication of the photograph. Liability rests solely with the publisher, except under special conditions. The photographer is typically not the publisher of the photograph, but usually licenses the photograph to someone else to publish. It is typical for the photographer to obtain the model release not merely because they are present at the time and can get it, but also because it gives them more opportunity to license the photograph later to a party who wishes to publish it.

          Note that the issue of model release forms and liability waivers is a legal area related to privacy and is separate from copyright. Also, the need for model releases pertains to public use of the photos: i.e., publishing them, commercially or not. The act of taking a photo of someone in a public setting without a model release, or of viewing or non-commercially showing such a photo in private, generally does not create legal exposure, at least in the United States.

      2. a different chris


        However there is a weird line between “commercializing” a photo and simply claiming it is news. It’s the problem where, say a fetching acquaintance of yours went to a protest wearing a Dior something-or-other* and the WaPo showed a picture where she was clearly the center, versus Dior using the same picture to flog more something-or-others.

        Can Dior just use the picture once and call it news? I dunno. (Can the WaPo call anything it does now news either? Different subject I guess). What about Page 3 girls, they get paid but the pictures are one-day only.

        Head hurtz now.

        *I’m not good at identifying parts of womens attire, apologies. Does Dior make blouses? It and skirt are pretty much the only words I know.

      3. Billy

        Don’t want your picture taken, then wear a mask or dark glasses/goggles. The BLMs are now trying to infringe on the First Amendment, on free speech, and by extension, the right to take pictures on a public street paid for by everyone.

        And by extension, the same activists think it’s OK to spray paint messages on public streets and private property? To hell with them.

        1. periol

          My crazy conservative landlord was all about taking away my rights to photograph him coming on the property I rented.

          “Please be advised that we hold you responsible for all unauthorized and illegal photos that you have taken of individuals and facility. You will be held personally responsible for any damages whatsoever from now to the end of the world.”

          Go ahead and try to make the “BLM activists” sound crazier than that.

          The real answer is people will say anything to try to get their way. Political ideology has nothing to do with it. Although good on you to see everything in shades of red and blue!

  18. The Rev Kev

    “More than 40 Bay Area school principals in quarantine after in-person meeting”

    After a bit of investigating, it was found that they were not conducting an in-person meeting but a ‘pong fest’ party instead.

    1. MLTPB

      USA today has a current article up about students in Alabama holding parties to see who will get ‘it’ first…

      Hard foer me to understand.

      ( I assume these parties are not what you were referring to as ‘pong fest’s parties).

      1. Alfred

        A pong fest, I gather from the indispensable Urban Dictionary, is a kind of drinking party during which (apparently) many people end up drinking beer from (seemingly several) of the same cups, in more or less randomized combinations. The parties in Alabama sounded to me more akin to a ‘door-prize’ party.

        1. MT_Bill

          Six red solo cups half-filled with beer arranged in a triangular fashion at each end of a ping pong table. Teams of two attempt to either bounce (standard rules) or simply throw (beruit variation) the pong ball into the cups. If the opposing team succeeds, you drink the beer. When one team has had to drink all 6 of their cups, the other team wins and losing team has to finish their remaining beers.

          Next team up, play resumes. No rinse, just repeat.

          1. CanCyn

            We used to play sitting on the floor, legs out straight and spread, beer in cup on floor between legs, facing opponent in same position, 4-6ish feet apart. We threw beer caps. A beer cap dunk into opponent’s beer meant opponent chugged said beer.
            Describing this makes me very old, that was a few decades ago and counting ?

          2. lyman alpha blob

            More detail – if the ball merely hits the cup, each player drinks a pre-agreed upon amount of the beer. We used it drink 1/4 cup for a hit. If the other team sinks a ball in the opposing team’s cup, everybody on the opposing team chugs whatever beer is left in their cups. The idea is to get blookered very rapidly.

            Like Cancyn, describing this is making me feel old. And very thirsty ;)

      1. MT_Bill

        That’s clearly unsanctioned play. Akin to playing cricket with safety darts.

        And may depend on your version of civilized, sorta like dueling with squib loads in the pistols or tournament edges on the swords. Clearly un-civilized.

        But a lot more sanitary. One of the the bigger parties at my school hosted a “Meningitis Cup” tournament based on the outbreak occuring at the time.

        The invincibility of youth.

        1. periol

          When I was in college, if you weren’t drinking beer, you were chugging milk. There had to be consequences for playing sober.

        2. jr

          It was a point of pride to drink from the cups, I refused and caught heat. I think it’s akin to shirtless white guys walking around in early March, pure display…

      1. Kurt Sperry

        Forgive me but I used to live in Dallas. Texas = stupid, Texas + sports = stupid squared, Texas + sports + alcohol = stupid cubed. Any of the stupid components herein can be replaced with or be exponentially increased with evangelical religion. Will the resulting critical mass of stupidity be suicide, murder, or mass murder/suicide?

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          all i can do is to try to keep my bunch on the farm as much as possible.
          because that stupid is pretty contagious, too.
          changing the zeitgeist here is like turning an aircraft carrier…or a planet.
          but it can be done.
          I don’t have much experience with along and north of I-20. feels like a different class of righty nonsense up there.
          i do know that central texas is a lot different than east texas.
          nevertheless, i’ve been here all my life…and the mood or whatever has changed immensely in my 50 years.

  19. John Anthony La Pietra

    About that cost-benefit analysis: it starts with this number . . . spurious too, anyone?

    Design: We estimate the number and value of quality-adjusted life-years (QALY) gained from mortality averted, with a value of $125,000 per QALY, and compare these benefits to the associated costs in terms of plausible effects on US GDP under a policy of continued limited reopening with social distancing relative to a policy of full reopening toward herd immunity.

    1. diptherio

      Spurious is right. I wrote my undergrad thesis on the many issues with CBA, and this right here was a big one. Human life and US dollars are “incommensurable values,” to use the fancy word for it. Of course, that never stops economists from using $ as a measure for literally everything. If anyone tried to measure everything — weight, color, artistic merit — in inches, they would immediately be recognized as a loony, but economists do the same thing, only using $ instead of inches, and get taken seriously.

      The only good thing about this study is that they provide and interactive tool that allows you to jimmy the numbers in their model and see what it spits out.

      So you can put in whatever indefensible point estimates for mortality rates and QALYs you want and see how that changes their “analysis.”

      1. John Anthony La Pietra

        Agreed. In the legal world, one “expert” is Kenneth Feinberg, who did the figuring re: 9-11. See (If you want to, or feel the need to be informed about it) his book on the subject — titled What Is Life Worth? . .

  20. Billy

    Re K-Pop…Korea is young and upcoming on the world scene just like Japan is old.

    Watch the movie Parasite for a great look at Korean society.

    Don’t forget Google Street view to further visually inform yourself.

    1. kareninca

      Huh????? Korea is an “aged society.” Maybe because they have a fertility rate that is .98. Less than half what is needed to keep the population constant (

      The country (Korea) is one of the world’s fastest-aging societies. The proportion of elderly people relative to the population as a whole exceeded 14 percent in 2017, making Korea an “aged society.”Jan 15, 2020 (

      Fortunately people of all ages can create things; the young do not have a monopoly on that.

  21. hemeantwell

    Re the psychology of misinformation article, a caution should be that the author’s inventory is very heavily tilted to an individualistic rendering of psychology. Most of what we’re interested in here involves issues that are heavily imbued with social constraints, potential costs and benefits. For example, trying to discuss relations with Russia with a next door neighbor who has subscribed to every bit of Russophobia available over the last 20 years doesn’t involve a matter of walking into a minefield of his own cognitive dissonance, but involves asking him to imagine would it would be like trying to explain himself to his neighbor if he changes his mind.

    Partisanship is usually peddled as requiring loyalty to received ideas, which quickly comes to involve abandoning intellectual faculties to a leader, somewhere out there. This makes followers literally stupid. If you look at it developmentally, as psychoanalysis does, there are abundant models in most families for this way of “reacting” to situations instead of thinking about them. Thus the term “infantalizing” unfortunately often refers to a situation in which two are doing the tango.

  22. Mangeons les Riches

    Re: America’s Enduring Caste System

    I could forgive the tortured metaphor of the house, the sloppy prose, and the obviously purposeful avoidance of the dreaded c-word, but this was just egregious:

    “Everyone in the caste system is trained to covet proximity to the dominant caste: an Iranian immigrant feeling the need to mention that a relative had blond hair as a child; a second-generation child of Caribbean immigrants quick to clarify that they are Dominican and categorically not African-American; a Mexican immigrant boasting that one of his grandfathers back in Mexico “looked just like an American” — blond hair and blue eyes — at which point he was reminded by an African-American that Americans come in all colors of hair and eyes.”

    That last line…what cheesy, trite sentimentality.

  23. Copeland


    I look at that Osprey and think, if only Bernie had the same laser-like sense of focus and commitment to the task at hand.

    I know, he was the compromise socialist candidate.

  24. rd

    “Trump says the virus will go away”

    Trump is absolutely correct. History has shown that pandemics go away, typically after 1-3 years. They can turn into an endemic low-level disease in the population that is not immune yet or they can largely go away if they mutate or the population gets major herd immunity.

    However, usually they need to infect almost everybody who had not previously acquired immunity some way (common with flu, measles, smallpox etc). Very nasty uncommon diseases, like ebola or bubonic plague, used to wipe out entire towns.

    I think Trump misheard his advisors when they said years, and thought they said months or weeks.

  25. ewmayer

    Re. Hong Kong — Meanwhile, a certain blog-no-longer-welcome here whose owner is a notable ChiCom-o-phile touts the new law as wonderful development: “New Law Liberates Hong Kong From U.S. Interference”:

    After the U.S. instigated riots in Hong Kong last year the central government of China saw a necessity to intervene. In sight of other anti-China measures the U.S. has taken the reputational costs of doing so had become less important.

    Yesterday the Chinese parliament, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, added a national security law to the Basic Law that governs Hong Kong’s special status. The law is designed to end foreign interference in Hong Kong.

    The Basic Law already had an article which stated that Hong Kong’s independent parliament, the Legislative Council or Legco, must create such a national security law on its own. But 23 years after Hong Kong again became ruled by China, Hong Kong’s parliament had still not done so. The foreign instigated violent riots last year, which had paralyzed Hong Kong’s economy, demonstrated that such a law is necessary. The central government finally acted and did what the Legco was supposed to do.

    The new law, which was put into effect today, is banning secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with a foreign country or external elements to endanger national security. Its 66 articles also ban support in any form for such acts. The offenses are punishable in several degrees up to life in prison. The law includes guarantees for human rights and due legal process.

    And we know how deeply the CCP cares about “guarantees for human rights and due legal process”, right?

    A sampling of the echo-chamber comments:

    “Fitting end to a fake, artificial city. Those pro-West Hongkongers were never anything more than a bunch of Pinnochios: wooden dolls that wanted to be real boys (i.e. Westerners).”

    “As I have said before, the Opium Wars are over. China has emerged victorious. The Anglo Zionists have been defeated.
    Hopefully other nations will take note and follow suit.”

    “It should be made clear that the US, and US lackeys such as the Eye-5 and G7 and EU at large et. al, were not and are not supporting democracy aspirations of the protesters/rioters. They are supporting China’s incidental killings/hurting of some of these rioters so as to use the fact on the ground to demonize China in PR campaigns. Lives of these rioters are no more than lives of ants to the US (or Marco Rubio/Nancy Pelosi as you wish). On the other hand, the aspiration of the rioters are not democracy–they are not sophisticated enough to understand what democracy is. Their aspirations were, and still are, cash handouts from agitators funded by the US and cohorts, or better still, perhaps free passes to live or pursue higher education in Eye-5 countries.”

    1. PlutoniumKun

      You could argue that those on the left who supported Stalin in the 1930’s (or 1950’s) had some sort of excuse – not a lot was really known about the real nature of his regime and Western propaganda had muddied the waters.

      But there really should be no such excuse now for the ignorance displayed by many progressives about the nature of the Chinese government. By all means welcome the rise of a strong confident China and its role as a counterbalance to US imperialism (I do). But the sight of supposed anti-imperialists cheer the crushing of civilian protestors just because a handful of them were stupid enough to see the US as a guardian angel is just soul destroying. Not to mention, displaying a terrible ignorance of Chinese, HK (and Taiwanese) history and culture.

  26. crittermom

    RE: the pandemic

    I was horrified to read the local (free) paper this morning, retrieved from my PO box.
    It seems July 3rd celebrations will be taking place in neighboring towns almost like no virus existed but with some restrictions, including cancellation of the parade.

    So now there will be a ‘protest parade’, to protest the parade being cancelled! (No kidding)
    “Open to everyone in the valley. Join us, to celebrate the independence of our country, the U.S. of A! God Bless America!!”– with a state senator leading the color guard.
    I looked him up.
    As suspected, he’s a Republican, & I can only assume all of the idiots participating will be, as well.

    The front page story was about a Native American craft fair that was approved for the following weekend that is happening for the first time ever–to replace the annual Pow Wow, which was cancelled due to the virus!

    The Native Americans have been hit particularly hard since so many living on the res lack running water, but those who proposed it & won approval said that the vendors will be ‘staying at motels in town (doubtful), dining out, thus bringing income’.

    The fair ‘will be practicing health guidelines, so the vendors will have an empty space between them’.
    Oh, sure. That’ll help. /s

    This county (large, rural, scattered population) ranks third in the state for the virus. The two others with higher ranking are home to meat packing facilities.

    I attended a Pow Wow last year & would love to attend the craft fair, but I value my life too much to even consider taking such a risk.

    This is complete insanity.
    I think I now prefer to self-isolate until around this time next year, at the earliest…

  27. The Rev Kev

    “The secret economics of a VIP party”

    This article is about good-time girls so is interesting but not unexpected. If this article was about girls hanging around rock musicians then they would be talking about groupies instead. You always get young women hanging around rich or famous men for all the perks. I never read/saw “50 Shades of Grey” but wasn’t one of the perks of the girl there to get to have helicopter rides? You have girls that hang around elite pilots as well. When they were filming the original “Top Gun” those Hollywood stars were hanging around pilots in their off hours and were humiliated that the girls there would ignore them and go for the real pilots instead, Hollywood be damned. There are girls that hang around race car drivers and there are girls that hung around the first astronauts. In short, it is all about human nature. And as one novelist mentioned, if aliens landed on Earth from Proxima Centauri, then it would be guaranteed that there would be a supply of girls wanting to hang around them.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > if aliens landed on Earth from Proxima Centauri, then it would be guaranteed that there would be a supply of girls wanting to hang around them.

      That’s a great premise for a science fiction novel. I’m surprised it hasn’t been written! (Boys, too, I would think.)

  28. nothing but the truth

    ‘It’s really hard to find maintainers’

    maybe giving away quality labour for free is not in the labourer’s best interests, and eventually they figure this out.

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