Links 8/14/2020

Insect apocalypse? Not so fast, at least in North America LiveScience

Why the Mauritius oil spill is so serious BBC

COVID-19 gives Sri Lanka’s threatened elephants a reprieve Channel News Asia

Feds say Yale discriminates against Asian, white applicants AP

Syracuse University Warns Students That They May Be Punished For Not Acting To Confront “Bias Motivated” Speech or Conduct Jonathan Turley

A California appeals court just ruled that Amazon is legally liable for defective products sold on its site by third parties Business Insider


Comparison of Estimated Excess Deaths in New York City During the COVID-19 and 1918 Influenza Pandemics JAMA. From the discussion:

This cohort study found that the absolute increase in deaths over baseline (ie, excess mortality) observed during the peak of 1918 H1N1 influenza pandemic was higher than but comparable to that observed during the first 2 months of the COVID-19 outbreak in New York City.

However, because baseline mortality rates from 2017 to 2019 were less than half that observed from 1914 to 1917 (owing to improvements in hygiene and modern achievements in medicine, public health, and safety), the relative increase during early COVID-19 period was substantially greater than during the peak of the 1918 H1N1 influenza pandemic.

Not “just the flu”…

‘We’ve hit the iceberg’: NCAA medical adviser warns as fall season sinks Politico and CDC director warns of ‘worst fall’ in history if people don’t follow COVID-19 guidelines The Hill

Coronavirus: Nearly two-thirds of Auckland’s COVID-19 border, isolation staff had never been tested a week ago NewsHub. Holy moley!

The Coronavirus Is Never Going Away The Atlantic

Why the U.S. Is Losing the War On COVID-19 Time. Good, but omits health care-for-profit and federalism. Too much about “leadership,” too little about systems.

Biden, Harris call for all states to mandate masks after first joint Covid-19 briefing Politico. Not substantively different from what Trump is doing.

‘It’s Not Who Has the Most Deaths; It’s Who’s Doing What to Prevent the Spread’ FAIR

COVID-19 vaccine will be free for Americans: officials Agence France Presse

What looks like aerosol tranmission in three other choirs. Thread:

From May, still germane; we now have additional examples besides the Skagit Valley Chorale. (Two are from non-English language sources.)

Prince George’s County Is Limiting Free COVID-19 Tests DCist. Take that, worker bees.

The Disproportionate Effects of COVID-19 on Households with Children Liberty Street Economics

Escalating Plunder New Left Review

Covid-19 is causing a microcredit crunch The Economist


China’s days as world’s factory are over due to trade war, iPhone maker Foxconn says Straits Times

China’s debt collection firms flourishing as coronavirus batters economy South China Morning Post

After 500 Years Trying to Tame Fatal Floods, China Tries a New Way Bloomberg. Impermeable surfaces are bad!

Two countries, one oligarchy? A long and fascinating thread about Chinese real estate dealings:

Jakarta is returning: The ‘neoliberal cookbook’ that guides Indonesia’s Omnibus Bill Lausan

The Koreas

Bus stop newest front in South Korea’s coronavirus battle Medical Express


Israel and the UAE just struck a historic peace deal. It’s a big win for Trump. Vox. If this were Obama, there’d be already be a chorus of full-throated calls to give him a second Nobel.

UAE and Israel to establish full diplomatic ties AP

* * *

US official says FBI joining Beirut explosion investigation Al Jazeera

Who owned the chemicals that blew up Beirut? No one will say Reuters

Report: Welders Set Off Beirut Blast While Securing Explosives The Maritime Executive


Brexit: Johnson’s ‘dead body’ EU Referendum


The PPE debacle shows what Britain is built on: rentier capitalism Guardian

The Russian Interference Report, Without Laughing Craig Murray

Algorithms are no substitute for professional judgement: No. 10 needs to take note Tax Research UK


US attorney general may be using Assange case for political ends, court told Guardian. “Chaotic arrangements.”

Bolivia’s perfect storm: Pandemic, economic crisis, repressive coup regime Monthly Review Online

New Cold War

Operational Space as an Imperative of Russian Foreign Policy Valdai Discussion Club

West’s response to Russian vaccine owes as much to geopolitics as science FT

Vietnam Health Ministry to buy Russian Covid-19 vaccine Straits Times

Trump Transition

Senate breaks for August recess with no coronavirus deal in sight Roll Call

White House Says No Plan to End Payroll Tax Permanently Bloomberg. Good to see all sides accept that Federal taxes pay for Federal spending. That will come in handy when it comes time to impose austerity.

Payroll tax deferral looks like a whole lot of nothing AEI

* * *

Mail sorting equipment being “removed” from post offices, leaving mail to “pile up”: union leader Salon. Since the House Democrats have gone on vacation, and since they didn’t rescue the Post Office in the first stimulus bill, when they had leverage, they are fine with this.

Trump Opposes Postal Service Funding But Says He’d Sign Bill Including It NPR (but see here from 2013).

Postmaster general under fire over Amazon stock holdings The Verge (Re Silc).


AOC Only Gets 60 Seconds At Democratic Convention To Deliver Pre-Recorded Message Forbes. Commentary:

The Wikipedia War That Shows How Ugly This Election Will Be The Atlantic (Re Silc).

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

The Internet as a Cold War Weapon Yasha Levine, Immigrants as a Weapon

Class Warfare

Another huge unemployment wave is coming—and there’s an obvious way to stop it Sara Nelson, Fortune

Some people are still waiting for a stimulus check to arrive: What’s the holdup? USA Today

Collaborative Approach To Public Goods Investments (CAPGI): Lessons Learned From A Feasibility Study Health Affairs

The Fallacy of the Civic Champion Ross Barkan, Political Currents

Did they even hang bears? LRB. On the Vikings.

A Lot of What Is Known about Pirates Is Not True, and a Lot of What Is True Is Not Known. Humanities (AL).

Antidote du jour (CV):

Imaginary feeders with real hummingbirds…

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. zagonostra


    Paging through a text book written by a professor whose class I took back in University days (Stanford M. Lyman Postmodernism and a Sociology of the Absurd). He has a chapter entitled “The Race Question and Liberalism: Casuistries in American Constitutional Law,” which below is taken from . The book was written in the late 1990’s and is obviously Pre-Obama/Harris. On reading through the chapter it becomes clearer that identity politics is key to (neo)liberalism continued dominance and a women President of color would be its culmination.

    If liberalism is to be fully secure in its triumph, the personal security and chances for advancement for each individual -irrespective of race, color, or previous condition of servitude – ought to be ensured. Failure in this aspect of its praxis would invite counter ideological claims of conservatism or of socialism, liberalism’s chief competitors, or of some other anti-individualist ideology (e.g. nationalism). These dissident ideologies might attract the allegiance – or arouse the passions of the dissatisfied. ( pg 106)

    1. zagonostra

      >USA Today Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, Ruth Bader Ginsburg among Women of the Century for politics

      Also included were Madeleine Albright, and Condoleezza Rice. This encomium to women which USA Today just posted, ties right in with above comments by the good professor…USA Today should have also included or made reference to how large corporations that feed off the MIC is headed up by women (see second link below). All the praise (unearned in my opinion and with 2020 hindsight) heaped on Obama is now going to be directed to Kamala Harris. However, it will not skew/alter/mitigate my view on the nature of (neo)liberalism and its abject failure.

      Our hope is that this project inspires women, girls and their supporters to work toward a better America for the next century.

      1. timbers

        The woman you listed have possibly collectively killed more folks than Hitler. IMO a question that ought to be included in every highschool history lesson should night read something like like: Who is responsible for for human fatalities: Adolph Hitler or Joseph Stalin or George Bush & Barack Obama…. Discuss and provide reasons for you opinions.

      2. Pavel

        I am guessing there were 500,000 dead Iraqi kids who would’ve disagreed with Madeleine “It was worth it” Albright being on that list.

        Same for Libyans and HRC.

        1. Sheldon

          At least 250,000 of them little girls…Die Hags, Die!

          “Our hope is that this project inspires women, girls and their supporters to work toward a better America for the next century.”

      3. Bob Tetrault

        Class trumps everything. Class is more important than color, country, sex, self-identity, ad infinitum.

        History is full of this proof.

        1. Aumua

          I prefer to let my views on this topic be informed by Black and/or Indigenous leftists. Because there’s a lot of nuance that is missed by lumping every protest against racism, sexism or other kinds of bigotry into the “id-pol” or “woke b.s.” box. I try to understand Capitalism as a racist and patriarchal system. And it is still that, even if you fill the top levels of the ruling class with a rainbow of diversity. So there’s more going on here than just the ruling class using identity to divide the working class. They are doing that of course.

      1. Maritimer

        Thanks for that. Good to see some folk are aware of the deception. Any movement of any substance is always subject to hostile takeover. The co-opters and deceivers are working overtime.

    2. ProNewerDeal

      At this date, I feel as though any earnest US citizen adult of any demographic attribute (gender, race, age, religion or irreligion, sexual orientation, etc) set with a minimal adult standard of critical thinking skills & a HS degree should be able to conclude that a politician or political activist of ANY DEMOGRAHIC ATTRIBUTE SET can be
      1 a good/ethical person trying to help the citizens they serve (subdivided into actually effective or ineffective despite hard work/effort) – eg ML King Jr or Henry Wallace
      2 a sociopathic person who “does not care about you/citizens AT ALL. It is a BigClub, but you are not in it” (c) George Carlin – eg 0bama or Clintons
      3 a mediocre person in between 1 & 2

      However, I fear the majority of US voters do NOT have this minimal level of critical thinking skills & are blinded by IdPol & celebrity culture creeping into politics as opposed to scrutinizing the policies of a given poli-trick-ian

  2. farragut

    The Atlantic article on Kamala Harris’s Wikipedia page is an interesting read and a nicely done bit of spin from a sympathetic website. It presented some information about Harris of which I was unaware, but the larger issue is how the author framed the Wikipedia editing dispute using only one characteristic: her race.

    It’s no secret race has been an inflammatory issue in the US for the last 400 years. And by focusing only on race, readers can easily be shunted into an emotional place, arguing about an issue over which Harris has or had no control. But, the damage will already have been done. The race discussion (and that’s really too nice of a word for it) will consume so much space the more substantive discussion about her choices and her behaviors as a DA and a politician will be overlooked. How many people, after reading this article, will wrongly think the Wikipedia edits dispute is only about race rather than more meaningful issues.?

    A much better read and a more enlightening one at that, is The Intercept article mentioned near the bottom of the Atlantic article. The Intercept article focused largely on Harris’s past actions, values, and character when she was a politician in California, and are most likely predictive of her choices as VP and, God forbid, President.

    1. Carolinian

      I too think it’s an interesting story and goes to changing standards of what “liberalism” is all about. One could point out that there was a time when even a drop of Negro blood made one black by the laws of Southern racists and that was considered a bad thing. Now, in the 21st century, we are still arguing over what it takes to make you black and how refusal to consider someone black or “African American” is a bad thing or even racist.

      If language means anything then obviously Harris of Jamaican/Indian heritage is not “African American” and perhaps the terminology itself–awkward and often avoided in favor of “black”–is at fault. But if we were really aspiring to MLK’s goal of a colorblind society we wouldn’t even be talking about this. Is Harris trying to make herself blacker than she really is just as Warren tried to make herself a Cherokee? That it has sparked a war on Wikipedia shows that identitarian obsessions have indeed crowded out other issues–almost as though that is the intent.

      1. juno mas

        The predominate “African-American” experience in the US is one of generational denigration, segregation, exploitation, economic and educational suppression, and police intimidation such that living in a safe neighborhood, having educated parents, access to quality primary schooling, and the money to attend schools of higher education are mostly non-existent.

        While Kamala Harris may have dark skin and a Jamaican father she did not endure what I would consider to be the predominate African-American experience in the US. While she grew up in Oakland, her mother and father are both well-educated. From photos of her pre-teen years it appears dire poverty wasn’t nearby; her mother had a steady income. She was mentored in the scholastic achievement of Indian culture and recognized it would be an avenue to success. Many Black kids in US cities don’t come within sniffing distance of these opportunities.

        Kamala Harris is not Barbara Jordan. Harris is an educated, political ‘gold digger’ who has not championed Black lives until recently.

        1. Carolinian

          But judging people by class and background is clearly not on the Dem agenda for obvious reasons. Not being Californian I can’t claim to know much about Harris but is she a female Obama with perhaps a nastier personality?

          Of course the Repubs, and perhaps those Wikipedia disputants, are out to use Dem hypocrisy for their own purposes and likely have the same disinterest in doing much about poverty or class conflict.

          1. Oso

            Carolinian, i don’t have any deep knowledge of her, most folks in the circles i organize with consider her a cop. both as DA in San Francisco and California AG, she never prosecuted any of the host of killer cops preying upon black and brown communities here. She was behind the legislation that parents could be jailed for their children’s truancy and big supporter of gang injunctions. So the way we look at it she’s a cop. arguably all of this might play well with suburban liberal folks. just sharing some local thoughts.

          2. Sheldon

            Only one more identarian thing that Kamala could do, and that is convert to her private equity defending lawyer husband’s religion. That would cover pretty much every geographical, cultural and caste base, save Aleut and Hispanic.

        2. Bitney

          “While she grew up in Oakland…”
          But somehow managed to go to grade and high school in Montreal, which is not a neighborhood of Oakland, BTW.

          Not only not “AfricanAmerican”, but JamaiCanadian.

          Yet another identity of the shape, color, and caste shifting Kamaleon.

          Obama’s citizenship was not “first attacked by Donald Trump” in 2016, but rather by Hillary Clinton in 2008.

        3. Oh

          Kameleon is masquerading as an African-American just as Obomber played one, Both are so far away from the AA culture except for their convenient relationships (Kameleon to Brown and Obomber who jettisoned his Asian girlfriend for a black women).

          1. ShamanicFallout

            I ask this in all honesty, and this coming from someone with Irish history (a powerful sense of identity- remember the two pictures on the wall at grandma’s house: the Pope and JFK) so understand the power of ‘identity’, but what are the accepted norms for being considered ‘black’ or ‘African American’? Obama’s mother is white. That’s half ‘white’, but he gets the nod as ‘black’ or AA. What if it’s a smaller percentage? Is it a one drop rule? Is it like that saying, ‘I don’t know but I know it when I see it’? Some other aspect of one’s ‘lived experience’, as is said?

            1. GettingTheBannedBack

              Just goes to show the stupidity of race based categorisation.
              If the US had had black founding fathers and white slaves, maybe Obama would have been stigmatized as lower class white person.
              But as people are saying, the cultural experience of Obama (with a patrician black father and a bank executive white grandmother, and a white mother with a dubious job background) is not one of deprivation, poverty and bussing.
              And the cultural experience of Harris, with an academic Jamaican father and an Indian researcher mother, and high school in Canada, doesn’t exactly fit the impoverished and stigmatized childhood either.
              But being an African American at this particular junction in time is a real asset in the battle so let’s be one of those? Very Alice in Wonderland.
              As Marx said: Sincerity is the key to success. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.

        4. CarlH

          Great comment. I would add that her claim of street cred due to growing up in Oakland is also misleading. Oakland is extremely varied both geographically and economically. Growing up in West Oakland versus growing up in the Oakland Hills is like coming from two different galaxies.

      2. HotFlash

        If language means anything then obviously Harris of Jamaican/Indian heritage is not “African American”

        Well, language does mean something. India is India, but you know, the indigenous inhabitants of Jamaica weren’t black but what we would (lazily) call Indians. Because the first explorers/exploiters didn’t understand how big this planet is. Why do you think First Nations people are called Indians, and those islands are called the West Indies?

        Black people were brought from Africa as slaves to the Americas, including the Caribbean and even to — wait for it, JAMAICA!) to work in the sugar cane, indigo, tea, pineapple, and other plantations. Chinese and India-Indians were also imported as cheap/indentured/slave labour. And the lady was born in the US, so is an American. So, she qualifies as an African American. BTW, this kind of quibbling has led me to conclude that cash ‘reparations’ would dangerously divisive and any attempt to ‘repair’ the systemic damage done to blacks in the US by a cash settlement is only going to divide the nation further, which, I assume, is the point. But I digress…

        I do not like this lady, do not like her politics or her ethics/morals, but once again, the Right is barking up the totally wrong tree, dumber than calling her a commie radical. I only wish that were true.

        I am so glad I got out of the US 50 years ago.

        1. Carolinian

          Charlize Theron is as white as can be and comes from South Africa. She most likely now has a US passport. So is she African-American? I think the choice to use the term African-American–implying that blacks are just another ethnicity like Italian-American–was also the product of another era and probably ill chosen. Obviously blacks, to their peril, are not just another ethnicity for the melting pot. As others here have pointed out, if being black is more a matter of life experience rather than skin color then Harris may not qualify or at least deserves an asterisk.

          As for Trump and the Repubs, they are just doing oppo. The Dems do it too and their version (Russiagate) is arguably dumber.

      3. Harold

        Her mother was a Brahmin. But you are right, Carolinian. People’s background is not their identity. To say otherwise is racist (or reverse racist, as the case may be) and at least almost as essentialist as counting the “one drop” as overriding everything else. (Though the “one drop” is often more superficially interesting than all the rest. But you might as well say that you are one drop daylily, since you share a lot of genes with that and other plants.)

    1. TomDority

      Considering the post office is not funded by taxpayers –
      The actions that our congress critters took in the past to impose huge financial burdens upon a private entity and actions by this President with a wink and a nod from the same congress critters shows clearly one thing

      That these cowardly, non moving congress critters can impose any means of destructive measure upon any private entity without a thought to 14th amendment equal protection clause or regard to their constituents – unless their constituents are their “investors”
      Arrrg = there I go again

      1. flora

        The USPS is a quasi-governmental organization, not a private entity.

        The US postal service (despite quibbles by some) is a “quasi-governmental” organization. Before 1971, it was a department of government, supported by taxes. It was one of the original functions of Government, mentioned in the Constitution. In fact, it existed, in some form, even before the United States came into existence. However, in 1971, the Republican Congress (in it’s infinite “wisdom”), bowed to pressure from certain business pressure groups, and special interests, and decided to meddle into what had, heretofore, been one of the U.S. government’s most successful, popular, and well run ( for government) agencies. …

        Read John Ishee’s entire explanation here:

        1. flora

          If FedEx and UPS and other private entities complained they couldn’t compete against the post office in 1971 because the post office was supported by taxes, and complain now they can’t compete against the post office unless the the post office is sabotaged, just how much higher are private entities delivery rates now than the normal post office rates pre-2 years ago? If the post office is privatized how much higher will all delivery rates become?

          I’m surpised some billionaires haven’t tried to privatize the u.s. army. Sure it costs on the front end, but think of the political leverage on the back end. /heh

          1. Ook

            In fact, the Army has been privatized. Look at what’s being done by mercenaries, or to use the fashionable euphemism, contractors, these days.

              1. jsn

                More as auxiliaries to multinational corporations.

                Resources in regions that can’t be dominated by financial control through legal/regulatory institutions (because they don’t exist: Afghanistan, Iraq, Central Africa, Central America) are occupied on the pretext of GWOT/Drugs and resources stripped as useful to multinationals while Team USA goes after the “bad guys”.

                Say what you will about Trump, but I appreciate the blunt honesty of the resource grab ongoing in Venezuela and Bolivia. Some meaning is being restored to language that may make it easier to resist.

                1. Aumua

                  It’s a general fact about the Republicans that they are more honest in that respect. They don’t care about looking like the bad guys, if they are doing something they feel is necessary. Meanwhile, Democrats are falling all over themselves to always look like the good guys, even while pushing their own selfish and anti-people agendas anyhow.

          2. jsn

            If you read the Escalating Plunder link, it provides an interesting overlay for these issue.

            Functionally, the duopoly is in the process of creating a State Capitalism along the model of the Peoples Republic of China except it is run by the Fed at Congress/Presidents behest rather than The Party.

            Publicly traded corporations shares and publicly traded corporate debts are now functionally owned and controlled by the Fed. Like the issues between USPS and UPS/Amazon etc., structural relations between corporate entities can no longer be coordinated by the price mechanism and will have to be dealt with directly politically.

            This provides one possible end game for NeoLiberalism: the reverse engineering of a centralized authoritarian State Capitalist structure like China’s where economic realities are negotiated within the Party equivalent, Pelsoi/McConnell/Mnuchin/Trump in a crisis, the fully enfranchised and freed Oligarchs on a normal baisis, comfortably out of site of the common people.

            To make this prospect survivable for most people, as described in the Sara Nelson, Fortune link, some real and substantial fear of the common people has to be instilled in the Oligarchs and their executive agents in government.

            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              The CARES Act officially installed national socialism as our form of government…to a collective yawn. Maybe that’s because functionally we’ve had it for a long time, MIC, banks, pharma, tech. I think it will instantiate alot like the Ottoman court, with sultans and pashas and palace intrigue and skullduggery. We can all place our bets on which faction or titan is ascendant, will Bezos be a Khan, a Sultan, a Bey, or just an Effendi?

              The title sultan (سلطان), originally meaning “authority” or “dominion”, used in an ungendered manner to encompass the whole imperial family, men and women, reflected the Ottoman conception of sovereign power as a “family prerogative”.


              1. D. Fuller

                If it were Socialism, The Government would be running the companies. Instead, politicians were paid to write legislation that the President signed…

                They all literally threw trillions of dollars at the wealthiest & corporations for literally, nothing in return.

                That is FASCISM.

                National “Socialism” is a misnomer. Some of the first acts of Hitler and The Nazi Party were to:

                1. Lower wages
                2. Destroy unions
                3. Enlist support of industrialists & elite

                Now, if by “National Socialism” one means: FASCISM, OLIGARCHY?


        2. TomDority

          Since 1971 the post office has not been taxpayer supported except some –
          Maybe congress should make those competitors, anxious to privatize the profitable parts of the post office, abide by the same rules they have imposed upon the USPS.
          I guess that because all Americans have been taught to believe in the magical invisible hand and continuing “Orwellian Doublespeak” (Michael Hudson – J is for Junk Economics) and have been hoodwinked for so long by the Financial geniuses doing gods work – that we all have been conditioned to believe the unbelievable and are not stunned that a jackass like Rush Limbaugh gets a medal of Freedom award or that Trump wanted to give it to himself.
          Now we got Biden advertising how he and Obama saved the economy in 2008 – but fails to mention that he saved it for the same said financial elites that have been defrauding the 99.8% of Americans for the past decades and only really locked in a high cost of living and doing business while undermining our global competitiveness and hoodwinking people into believing the fantasy that we are unable to afford universal health care, a just tax system that hampers the feudalism, predatory finance, monopolies and free lunches at society’s expense.

          Such a great choice
          That idiot Trump is doing a service by his incompetency – IE these issues need to be addressed and, they are so outrageous that they make it to the top of News all the time- what with news being about reporting sensationalism instead of reporting facts.
          Now if congress would stop abdicating it responsibilities to the constitution by being publicly bribed by their “investors” to posit tall tales ‘like we can’t afford such-and-such 2 trillion dollar public good” while at the same time dumping trillions more into the financial sector and military spending.
          Sorry about the rant

          Congress does give the Postal Service $100 million a year to compensate the agency for revenue loss by providing, at congressional direction, free mailing privileges to blind people and overseas voters, a congressional report noted. The $100 million is less than 1 percent of the Postal Service’s annual budget.
          The Postal Service’s debt rose from nothing to $10.2 billion between federal fiscal years 2005 and 2009, according to a congressional report.
          In 2006, Congress passed legislation requiring the Postal Service to pre-fund its future retirees’ health benefits at a cost of approximately $5.6 billion per year.

        3. NotTimothyGeithner

          However, in 1971, the Democratic Congress (in it’s infinite “wisdom”),

          I needed to fix that. Its a bit on the nose, but one of Bill Clinton’s great achievement with heavy lifting from Rahm Emmanuel was to end the largely 60 years of Democratic control of Congress in 1994.

          1. foghorn longhorn

            Bears repeating, 60 years of democrat control, and it only took him and hils two freaking years to toss it asunder.

            1. HotFlash

              That’s why Biden scares me so much. More effective evil. Not him personally, but the machine that runs him. There used to be a video of a tiny manwho ‘operated’ President W., cannot find it on a search anymore, but I guess that the same small German guy is now operrating Joe, after a stint operating Hillary. Essential service, you know.

    2. Tomonthebeach

      It appears that much of this is just Trump gaslight. Things are not quite as bad as they seem. Nevertheless, a Postmaster with severe conflicts of interest in seeing his agency fail is concerning.

      1. timbers

        The are bad from my perspective. I’ve experienced massive delay on several deliveries and returned items some of which are still pending. Taking much longer than recent past.

        1. JWP

          Agreed. We ship orders to our customers from the shop and I’ve been fielding absurd amounts of emails about delayed packages. Not to mention the price hikes.

  3. flora

    re: removing post office mail sorting machines.

    Huh, the machines that speed up sorting mail… and mail-in ballots. What a coinkydink. (Lambert keeps referring to the US as now a third world country.) Waiting to see a headline like “DeJoy holds mail-in ballots hostage. Demands ransom states pay triple mail rates for ballot delivery.”

    Anybody left wondering how privatizing the USPS would work, it’s this.

    1. allan

      In Silicon Valley-speak, this is known as surge pricing.

      The new USPS: Like Uber, but for democracy.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Could be worse. I heard a story while I was in Italy decades ago – unverified – that some guy got put in charge of the mail there which was stacked up and could not be delivered fast enough. So he had all that excess mail carted out the back and set it on fire. Problem solved!

        1. Sheldon

          San Francisco says “No conservatives district supervisors elected here, unless you are a Leftist and are …….!”

          “The bright red box tops that keep washing up around the Bay Area are floating reminders of a problem in San Francisco, the remnants of ballot boxes that somehow got beyond the control of the city’s embattled Department of Election”s.”

          “The corrugated plastic ballot box lids, each marked with the city seal and the words “Provisional and Absentee Ballots,” first raised the concerns of election watchdogs shortly after the city’s November election, when eight of them were found near the Golden Gate Bridge by the crew of a U.S. Coast Guard vessel.”

      1. Harold

        Italy’s mail has always been very unreliable — at least in the past. Don’t know about now.

    3. marym

      Trashing the post office and the vote. It’s a twofer.

      08/13/2020 Some Mail Is Delayed Five to Six Days in NYC, Postal Workers’ Union Says
      “They are being told there will only be limited deliveries from this service, limited overtime, they are taking away machines that process the mail,” said [Rep.Carolyn Maloney. “They are cutting hours across the country. And this is slowing down the mail precisely when we’re more dependent on it.”

      08/02/2020 Mail delays are frustrating Philly residents, and a short-staffed Postal Service is struggling to keep up
      “Neighborhoods across the Philadelphia region are experiencing significant delays in receiving their mail, with some residents going upwards of three weeks without packages and letters, leaving them without medication, paychecks, and bills.”

      fwiw: There are tweets this morning with link/screen shot of a paywalled WaPo article from unnamed sources on RNC planning to challenge ballots without postmarks. This would be an issue with ballot drop boxes and metered mail.

  4. The Rev Kev

    “Syracuse University Warns Students That They May Be Punished For Not Acting To Confront “Bias Motivated” Speech or Conduct”

    Universities are already financially under the gun through the pandemic. Perhaps some students should vote with their feet and avoid this university. Being in that campus would be like being under a pressure cooker where you have to watch every action that you do or say unless it be misrepresented. They want to have expulsion for “individuals who witnessed the event or were present, but did not take part?” That would be what they used to call “innocent bystanders”. Apparently at Syracuse University you will literally be your brother or sister’s keeper – and then some.

    And throwing up cameras all over the place to scrutinize your actions will never, ever be misused, no siree! No way that that would ever affect your permanent record and follow you for the rest of your life. Maybe Professor Keith Alford got his inspiration from the final episode of “Seinfeld” – where the group ended up in prison because they saw a car-jacking and did not do anything about it i.e. the duty to rescue concept in tort law. But this one would be on steroids. Nope. You would want to give this form of insanity a wide berth.

    1. Olga

      Once self-censorship and paranoia are internalised, the options/opportunities for exerting control over a population become limitless.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      Since examples are always helpful, I’d like to hear “professor” alford work through the application of this policy to a real world situation–the George Floyd incident for instance.

      Would shouting “Stop” at the cops from the sidelines be considered adequate, or would bystanders be expected to physically intervene to restrain them, with all the implications of that sort of insanity, or something in between.

      If you’re going to start busting people for what they did not do, you’d better be prepared to tell them what you expect them to do well in advance. You’d also better be prepared to explain in detail what “bias-motivated” and “acts of hate” objectively mean. Up until now, that definition has pretty much been a politically motivated moving target.

      Probably the worst part of this whole sorry exercise is that students being indoctrinated into this lunacy are, presumably, the future PMCers of america who will be creating the “policies” that we’ll all be forced to either live under or fight over going forward.

      1. polecat

        What could possibly go .. wrongly virtuous, right?

        Modern Academia has become a lost cause, imho – as like the Salon of old! What reason (Ha!) should it exist .. if this is the result? Colleges, by and large, I think, will be become as toast! .. and rather soon. Might as well let the youngs saddle into homeschooling, disconnected in large part from the Status-quo compiant Matrix .. towards becoming better thinking beings – not cogs to be taken advantage of, for the sole benefit of the ungodly rich and their corporate henchmen, through our thoroughly corrupt governing apparati. The pandemic lays all this out in full view, bare-assed, chafed .. and raw!

        1. polecat

          And what higher institutions DO survive the impending turmoil, will become like the monasteries of old .. possessing, and holding onto real knowledge .. rather than the ersatz gobbledygook social-sciencized deck that’s being passed out like candy .. to plastic and malleable young minds .. solely for someone else’s cynical gain and power train!

    3. jr

      Wait till this hits the halls of real power, not merely the sheltered diorama of the Identi-versity. I’m sure it’s begun but it will take time to leach in. Wait till it’s a literal crime not to turn in your workmate for something he said 10 years ago. For a tasteless joke. For something he no longer believes or didn’t understand when he said it. Or just said in hatred, plain and simple.

      Laws predicated on notions that are intentionally and idiotically amorphous, conceived of by power and status hungry intellectual mediocrities like D’Angelo whose ideas require low info, uncritical, self referential minds to propagate. Who feast of off the intellectual wasteland that is our culture by sowing seeds of discord, of pseudo rationalism, of “just so” thinking more in line with the wisdom of Oprah than any attempted epistemic foundation. This is what happens when a society gets it’s thinking done for them by “The View” or “Fox and Friends.”

      You’re guilty by birth, if you deny it you are falling back on privilege. If you accept it, you must undergo a trial proving your sense of guilt. Undoubtably few ever make the cut. You’re still guilty.

      If you choose not to get involved, you’re guilty. If you’re scared or can’t risk it or don’t know whats going on or disagree with whatever is going on, you’re guilty. If you don’t help enough or in a way that the authorities don’t approve of, you’re guilty.

      Simultaneously, the poor and the powerless, including people of color, will be told that racism etc. has been solved, the good times are here, look there goes Senator Stacy Abrams or President Harris. Now shut up and go back to your three jobs. Your kids are off on the now multi color school bus to a crumbling ruin of a school. You’re finally free.

      This is all about control. Left identity politics, forged in the academy as a way of seizing power, has abandoned any pretense of revolutionary impetus and had gone big time. I think it’s extremely dangerous, I’ve called it blue fascism, I’m upgrading that to Rainbow fascism.

      1. rl

        Michel Henry, From Communism to Capitalism: Theory of a Catastrophe:

        “[T]he horror is [finally] that one happens to be condemned not on the basis of what one has done—for the violation of a rule or for some offense calling for reparations—but on the basis of what one is. It is oneself, as such, who is guilty. As a result, the proper punishment would not be a particular penalty which brings about a particular damage or harm to oneself; instead the only conceivable punishment is the suppression of one’s own being. Any attenuation of this penalty—which is absolute by right—is a sign of indulgence, an undeserved favor. The last step in this terrifying logic is ultimately as follows: to lead someone who is guilty of being what he or she is to recognize this essential guilt him or her self. That alone is the salvation.”

        Italics mine.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        I can think of few places nicer to learn about your white male privilege than La Posada in Santa Fe. Maybe dinner at the Compound followed by the opera? Those were the places where the oil and gas boys used to hang out 40 years ago.

    4. Laputan

      What’s never mentioned in the articles about these so-called movements at Syracuse, Yale, UT, etc. is that 90+% of the students could not give less of a damn, and the squeakiest wheels are often either groomed by or are faculty themselves.

      See Jess M. Jackson at Syracuse as an example:

      Note how the supposed interest in student safety eventually concentrates on herself. And nobody seems interested in conducting sit-ins for violent acts like rape or aggravated assault, both of which had multiple reports on the main Syracuse campus as of their last Annual Security Report. You know, incidents where public safety was actually violated.

      On the campus where I work, there were incidents of racist graffiti and literature passed around. It turned out to be some local trolls who weren’t students. No violence was ever committed. At one point they were caught on campus but released because they weren’t caught in the act of doing anything. About 15 students supported by our woke faculty actually protested that our police department didn’t gin up charges.

  5. Jack White

    Re: “Insect Apocalypse”: In the article cited, the authors deny competing interests, but I can’t find a statement of funding for the study. Here on the farm, decades of bug hunting are ramping down, notably in the past two seasons. This year there were only three junebugs. The battle of the potato beetles was just a brief skirmish. We can leave the screen door open. The porch light is abandoned. To quote Harpo, “Who are you going to believe, me, or your own lying eyes?”

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      I’ll send you some.
      aside from the now 4-year grasshopper apocalypse…which i think is an anomaly due to something the hay farmers did that harmed the bird population…we have a pretty robust insect…even arthropoda…population.
      (NW Texas Hill Country)
      comes and goes with the seasons…as well as the drought/rainy periods
      if there’s been a marked decline in overall creepy crawleys in my portion of the world, I’ve missed it.
      birds, on the other hand….they’re back this year, and are harvesting the hoppers with a will…along with 2 kinds of lizards, and more frogs than i’ve ever seen.(and it’s not just my place)
      that said, i note a marked difference between everywhere north and west of…say …Boerne, Texas, and the greater san antonio area.
      and i would imagine and expect that there’s similar issues in “farming” country(10,000 acre fields of corn that can’t exist without tons of pesticides)
      a way to get better data might be to expand “Bird Watching” to insect watching…or biodiversity watching.
      I’ve taught myself to do it without really trying to…like in my brother’s suburban back yard, or even the weeds beside the parking lot of wherever i am. the popularisation of such activity might have unlooked for ancillary effects, too…in the “bowling alone”/cartesian separation sense.

      1. foghorn longhorn

        Seems like there are more night insects this year than last.
        The bird population seems normal, meaning lots of them.
        NE Texas

      2. pasha

        this time of year in west michigan, the little valley outside my window is ablaze with fireflies, hundreds, sometimes thousands flashing on and off. they are still here, but perhaps only ten lit at a time. strange

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          yard lights are hard on fireflies…blinds them, so they can’t see their own light, which is a sine qua non of their reproductive dance.
          i prefer blue and green outside lights any way(doesn’t mess up my night vision), and i read somewhere a few years ago when trying to run this down that blue and green are better for the fireflies, too.
          I feel the need to confirm that better, though, because iirc, that info was from one of those herbal health sites.
          we never had that many, that often, out this way any way…too dry, i think.
          back home in east texas, though, there were lots of them.

    2. farragut

      Like real estate, insect populations may be about location, location, location? In our little slice of Appalachia (elev. 3000′), we’ve seen a decrease in ladybugs, fireflies, & butterflies (species you actually want). We’ve seen an increase in stinkbugs & these tiny little gnat-like bugs which mostly swarm about one’s head & seem to delight in sporadically darting into one’s eyes. About 1 in 10 of them seem to bite, like mosquitoes. For context, we had an incredibly wet & chilly Spring, with not much rain since.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        location in time, too…and dependent on myriad conditions.
        for my hopper problem…aside from a dearth of birds, the 3 years before this year were to be noted for the absence of blisterbeetles and various species of ground beetles…which spend from late summer well into winter running around digging up and eating grasshopper egg pods(which, to them, are the size of a football).
        I have a hypothesis for the bird absence…but not one for the (more local) beetle absence. where did they go?
        what’s different this year that the birds and beetles are back in such numbers?
        there’s also complex ecological succession to consider…one bug regime gives way to another, in the same way(and parallel to) poverty grass gives way to prairie grass gives way to woodland.
        after 20+ years of being me in my little valley,poking my nose, gollum-like, into nooks and crannies… I’m an expert in the natural goings on in the underbrush, etc in that valley.
        next valley over needs it’s own wild man of the woods, and so on.
        (an idea to be included in any WPA/CCC we manage to get stood up.)

    3. Carolinian

      Mosquitoes don’t seem to be suffering. Or cicadas. They used to say after the nuclear war the cockroaches will still survive. The linked article made sense to me and not sure my eyes have anything to do with it. Declines are probably due to local conditions as the article says.

  6. Seth Miller

    AOC’s minute

    Having beat the fundraising game, maybe she should just buy another solid ten minute block.

    1. Geo

      For all the talk about AOC only being allowed 60 seconds to speak it is the “pre-recorded” aspect that, to me, says the most. No chance for anything she says to be off-brand. Her 60 seconds will have all the authenticity of a hostage video.

      1. Sutter Cane

        I would like for her to repeat “Medicare for all” over and over for the full minute, with nothing else.

    2. hamstak

      The amount of time allocated to each speaker (or “pre-speaker”, in this case) is directly proportional to the collective net worth of the constituent blocs that they effectively represent in terms of policy and interests.

  7. bob

    Our Friends in the UAE

    Abduction, forced return, torture and a campaign of intimidation. On Thursday the damning allegations made against the billionaire ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, by his former wife, Princess Haya Bint Al-Hussain, became established fact, published in a series of judgements by the High Court in London.

    He’s the PM of the UAE, not just the ‘ruler of dubai’

    1. JTMcPhee

      “We do what we know how to do and what we do best and what we can get away with.” Even if we are not really very good at it, and it is part of what’s killing the planet…

  8. allan

    Polling USA @USA_Polling

    First Choice For 2024 Democratic Primary (All Respondents):

    Cuomo: 20%
    Buttigieg: 14%
    Yang: 14%
    Harris: 13%
    AOC: 9%
    Klobuchar: 8%
    Booker: 7%
    O’Rourke: 6%
    Abrams: 6%
    Gillibrand: 4%

    Leger / August 7, 2020 / n=1007 / Online

    Even taking into account that it’s an online poll, [family blog].

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      It’s kinda early for Josh Hawley 2024 campaign ads, but whatever. This one’s pretty effective.

    2. Pat

      Cuomo looked serious compared to Trump. And cringe inducing as I found them his spots with his brother humanized him.

      Meanwhile, the media have given far less coverage to his disasters and public health theater.

      So I find myself explaining to family in other states that he wasn’t “smart” and a whole lot of our numbers would be lower if he had been. Followed by a list of his despicable actions regarding Medicaid, corporate accountability etc

      Most people don’t have a me in their lives, so they have been sold almost as much snake oil by Cuomo as by Trump.

      I leave it to others to explain Buttigieg.

      1. jr

        I thought Andrew’s appearances with Chris looked like Andrew talking to a marionette of himself…

  9. hunkerdown

    The body language doesn’t say dumb to me. It says they don’t feel they necessarily have a secure grasp on the situation and that such risky tactics as overt, even proud message control are rational under the circumstances.

  10. Tomonthebeach

    DNC, as usual, is making another mammoth mistake. This time limiting AOC to 60 seconds. She has already demonstrated that she can make awesom click-bait points with a phrase (e.g., “No One Ever Makes a Billion Dollars. You Take a Billion Dollars”). It is also highly likely that the entire MSM will quote her in full. Thus DNC has given her a megaphone.

      1. Geo

        Exactly. That’s the most telling part. No chance for her to say anything that will ruffle feathers.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      This reminds me of people who, thinking they got shitty restaurant service, tip the server one penny.

      They don’t want the waiter to think they forgot the tip, they just want the server to know how worthless the customer thinks they are.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > They don’t want the waiter to think they forgot the tip, they just want the server to know how worthless the customer thinks they are.

        Right. The service wasn’t bad enough to call the manager, but it was bad enough to insult the server.

    2. km

      Those 60 seconds will be pre-approved and carefully vetted to make sure that they contain nothing that the DNC does not want said.

      The fact that AOC is limited to 60 seconds, pre-recorded sends a clear and powerful message by itself, and that mess age is this: “Content yourself with crumbs, peons, because that is all we will ever allow you to get.

      1. allan

        Compare and contrast with the 20 minute live keynote slot given
        to a relatively unknown Illinois state senator in 2004.

        I like the suggestion upstairs that AOC and friends buy a block of time:
        give a 20 minute speech live, and throw in a town hall on M4A and a billionaire’s tax for good measure.

        1. sj

          Jeebus, I remember that speech. I didn’t see it real time but I was, back then, a fairly frequent visitor to DKos. Where it was being spoken of with the awe and hushed tones worthy of a prophet.

          So, I poured myself a glass of wine, set up some munchies, found a video and put my feet up — fully expecting to be wowed. Instead I was treated to 20 minute scold — but it was a scold in silken tones. My first thought was: “that can’t be it… right?” How could they not see all he was saying is “be satisfied with what you’ve got. No reason to aspire for more, you already have opportunity”.

          Even now: look at that detail on the wikipedia page. It might actually have more content than the speech itself had. Anyway, nothing he has done since then has given me cause to think favorably of him. Not saying that I’m some sort of all seeing genius, because that clearly isn’t true. But back then I saw a smug opportunist. Still do, I guess. I never did like that man.,

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > I like the suggestion upstairs that AOC and friends buy a block of time:
          give a 20 minute speech live, and throw in a town hall on M4A and a billionaire’s tax for good measure.

          +100. Brilliant. She did recently put out a Help Wanted ad for an art director…

      2. John Anthony La Pietra

        Do you suppose she could get away with playing “Don’t Stop Believing” as background music — and swelling the music up a bit toward the end . . . then cutting it off a few seconds early?

  11. The Rev Kev

    “COVID-19 gives Sri Lanka’s threatened elephants a reprieve”

    Maybe not just elephants. We have had stories here about Great White Hunters – male and female – who have gone to places like Africa to get themselves a trophy kill, even if it is an animal as harmless as a Giraffe. Well all of those “hunters” are grounded now and all these privileged elite can no longer simply fly over from America or Europe or wherever to get that kill in places like Africa. It might give these animals a break and I for one am glad.

    1. MT_Bill

      Of course the downside of that is in countries where conservation programs are funded through the purchases of tags, licenses, trophy fees, etc., those programs are likely unfunded.

    2. JTMcPhee

      I seem to read that the CV problem poses pretty much no impediment to the Rich Class, which includes those fornicated “white Hunter” types, flying to wherever they damn well want to.

      And there’s no piffling problem with visas and such when one can simply buy ‘citizenship” in the destination nation:

      Only remedy for ordinary people would seem to be “Eat the rich!”

    3. mpalomar

      The big ‘O’ had a phrase for this activity: “The unspeakable in pursuit of the inedible.”

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Great White Hunters

      John MacDonald tells the story about hunting a Florida panther through the Everglades. Tracking the panther takes a long, long time, and the hunter gets a cold feeling on the back of his neck when he realizes that the panther is hunting him.

      I wish that experience would happen to these trophy seekers. Often.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      With the post office artificial crisis, Hillary is ready to propose renaming one or two post offices.

        1. John Anthony La Pietra

          Maybe so. (Or maybe chief of staff, HNSA director, or Director of National Intelligence — or a similar post — the better to be a power both in front of the cameras and behind the scenes.)

          1. JBird4049

            Maybe to just fade into the background like VP Mike Pence would be the better choice. Like Mitch McConnell with his ignored judicial confirmations, Pence is probably getting evil s$&@ done by not being noticed doing so.

            Hillary Clinton problem is that she likes being noticed more than getting stuff done.

    2. Pavel

      Put her on the front lines in Portland and she can arrest those who are burning US flags. Or maybe she should just ST*U?

  12. Plague Species

    If only Konrad had Trump’s luck. Trump has dodged one COVID-19 bullet after another and Konrad falls through an ice sheet. I’m convinced, like the Gnostics, an evil genie created and rules this realm for his entertainment.

    I guess on the bright side of things, this fella was smart to die now considering the suffering to come.

    Beloved U.S.-Swiss climate scientist and glaciologist Konrad “Koni” Steffen died Saturday while doing research in Greenland. He was 68.

    Steffen fell into a deep crevasse full of water, Swiss media reports say, after snow and ice gave way beneath him while he worked near a weather station. Rescue attempts were unsuccessful, and his body was not found.

    Jason Box, an ice climatologist at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland who was with Steffen before he died, said he believed his friend “remains 8 meters down in the water,” according to CBS News.

    “Personally, Koni was like a father,” Box told CBS. “Immense man. Immense loss. Tears falling around the world.”

    You just know Trump and his supporters are crying. Right? Truth be told, I had never heard of this fella before reading this article. I just found it ironic in a world awash in so much irony, we’re drowning in it.

  13. chuck roast

    Re: Escalating Plunder

    Great round-up and yarn-diagram by Robert Brenner. He promises a Round 2. Of particular interest was his observation that in 2007 the ruling elite created the TBTF financial institutions, and to this they recently added TBTF bond market. As he explains it, as long as the bond market is TBTF then the equity market is implicitly TBTF. And there you have it. If the US Central Bank was formerly de jure the private bank of the ruling class, now it has become the de facto private bank and insurance company of the 1%.

    The last time the dust settled Occupy resulted. Of course they were extremely annoying, but they were leaderless by design, and the only threat the presented was to educate and give direction to the evicted and already disaffected. When the dust settles this time we can only hope that the response is a bit more focused and all of the over-ripe swine are led off to the metaphorical abattoir.

  14. ptb

    re: US Covid testing expansion plans, data point 1

    Another Giroir interview – MSNBC Video. First of all, ignore the ’85 million capacity’ caption, whoever wrote the headline is misinterpreting as usual. That number is an estimate of what is expected to be the cumulative-as-of-march at some point in Sept. Not an estimate of capacity per unit time. The new information here is that there is about 1mm/week (150k/day) added capacity of a lab-test expected by sometime in September. Another press report has more detail on the same. Note again the misinterpreted 90 million, a estimated-future-cumulative, not capacity. Anyway, returning to the interview, I think he said the larger more significant boost in the manufacturing/rollout of point-of-care devices/consumables not expected until “september-october”. IMO that means too late for back-to-school.

    re: US Covid testing expansion plans, data point 2

    Here is some info on the HHS plan, as broken down into state plans, as the principle being applied is to delegate it to the states (although in some aspects there is tightly coordinated national activity too). The interesting figure here that I haven’t seen before, is the goal of being able to test 2% of each state’s population per day, by “fall 2020”. Nationally this would be like 6.6mm tests/day. (Currently 0.75 million/day [Johns Hopkins]). Is that enough to contain and eliminate the epidemic? What China has done was bursts of testing where they swabbed the full population of entire cities of 10 million in a week with pooled testing. Some other countries had nothing close to that but were pretty successful (so far), some not.

    1. ptb

      And, proving that I’m just as sloppy as the people I criticize, the HHS plan actually called for 2% of the population per month, not per day per above, which makes that target completely irrelevant.

      For contrast, China’s health ministry is claiming a capacity of 4.8 million per day as of late July

    2. anon in so cal

      >Covid Testing

      “Coronavirus is a poor person’s virus’: Silcon Valley’s elite are throwing lavish parties where guests take 15-minute rapid COVID tests and use private jets to hop from one ‘safe’ city to the next as they ride out the pandemic.

      Silicon Valley’s elite have been carrying on with their lives and socializing as if ‘everything was normal’ despite the COVID-19 pandemic….

      Sources told Vanity Fair that the luxurious lifestyles of the country’s billionaires is no different to before the pandemic broke out. Sources say Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick is among those throwing parties at his home Los Angeles…Another unnamed billionaire has also been throwing lavish parties where guests have to have a 15-minute rapid fire COVID-19 test before they are allowed inside, according to the sources.

      Some investors in LA and Silicon Valley are also renting mansions in Palm Springs that cost about $50,000 a month just so they can host parties amid the pandemic….”

      Granted this is from the DM. Too bad they couldn’t solve some of California’s various technical glitches

      1. ptb

        “Coronavirus is a poor person’s virus”
        As long as the bailout $$ keeps flowing, I guess.

        There’s a potential angry-peasants-with-pitchforks element to this if the unemployment bonus is taken away on the one hand, and not-sure-what if the stock/bond/everything market support were to stop, not that it will.

  15. JTMcPhee

    Under the heading of “Oh, who f**kin even cares?”, in connection with the link on piracy today, there’s this:

    “ MIAMI — The Trump administration has seized the cargo of four tankers it was targeting for transporting Iranian fuel to Venezuela, U.S. officials said Thursday, as it steps up its campaign of maximum pressure against the two heavily sanctioned allies.

    Last month, federal prosecutors in Washington filed a civil forfeiture complaint alleging that the sale was arranged by a businessman, Mahmoud Madanipour, with ties to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization. At the time, sanctions experts thought it would be impossible to enforce the U.S. court order in international waters….”

    See, it’s not “piracy,” because, as under the Journey into a Libertarian Future, it’s “All nice and legal, see?”

    And anyone think (other than John Yoo and his cadre) that this is not an act of piracy?

  16. juno mas

    RE: China floods and Sponge Cities

    Let me just say that reducing fatal flooding is best accomplished by staying out of the river flood zone. There is no affordable engineering solutions to major rainfall events.

    Sponge Cities with more permeable surfaces is NOT going to mitigate rainfall runoff to an effective degree. Rainfall that exceeds the infiltration capacity of natural soils occurs regularly. The improved infiltration capability of Sponge City techniques will not mitigate flooding during major rainfall events. The permeability techniques improves nearby soil moisture (making it available to trees) but only delays, not remove, flood peaks. Roof top gardens are useful for cooling urban areas, but do not significantly reduce urban flooding.

  17. Chris

    Reporting in from the travel front. I recently had to go to Texas, land of the weird and home of the strange in normal times. During our national coronavirus epidemic, it’s even weirder.

    But I wanted to share was the airport experience. I flew into and out of Love field in Dallas. Going through security, the TSA people were put front of everyone, asking us to remove hats, glasses, and even masks in some cases. I managed to skirt by and did not remove my mask, or my glasses, but I did remove my hat. Upon reaching the line for Clear, a service I pay for to expedite time through security, I was also asked to use my iris scan rather than my finger prints.

    Anyone else seeing this dystopia BS if they go to the airport? Id have expected it back east. I was really surprised to see it in Texas.

    1. Maritimer

      I remember going through the airport first time after 9/11 and was shocked. Of course, I followed all that closely and how the crisis was used to push forward a totalitarian agenda. Anyone remember Total Information Awareness? The movie Vice sums up a lot of it.

      So, fast forward to today and the Stupormarket has become the Airport! The whole Lockdown/Homeland Security atmosphere of the Airport has been exported everywhere. The grocery clerk is now a cop! (I recommend another movie, The Lives Of Others about the Stasi. It emotes the very fear, paranoia, hysteria of these times and how the population is defeated and compliant.)

      Folks who think this is only about “science” and disease, well they must know very little about 9/11 and the aftermath, Iraq WMD, Iran-Contra, Gulf of Tonkin, 2008 Wall Street Pillage….

      For me, the most surprising thing is how little resistance there is and how little the awareness of what is actually going on. With IRAQ, for example, some people finally woke up and that took years. This time, they may just stay asleep and totally compliant.

      1. Aumua

        and what is it you think is “going on” besides a lukewarm attempt to slow the spread of a deadly virus, where the State is hardly participating at all and the rules enforcement falls on the grocery clerk, as you say?

          1. Chris

            Yep. I’d have been all for measures to help contain the virus and screen people who might be sick from entering the airport. Rapid testing as proposed by Dr. Mina being a good option for places like airports. What I fail to understand is why we’re all of a sudden implementing serious upgrades in crowd surveillance and doing it in a way that at best will give us a backward view of spread rather than help contain the problem. Scanning irises like this, facial recognition like this…it won’t help anyone. And I don’t trust where it will go.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Wow that is quite a description, funerals are such deadly dull affairs these days…

  18. WobblyTelomeres

    Re: USPS

    Is anyone doing a precinct-level analysis of which sorting machines are being removed from service?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I have seen maps on the Twitter. I’ll try to post one tomorrow.

      That said, if indeed the USPS has a reduced flow of mail (due to Covid) that flow is going to show up in Blue Cities (because that’s where the mail is). So it makes sense to shut those machines down. Of course, the nefarious is easier to perform if it also conforms to the rational. What I don’t know is what is being done to the machines. If they are being scrapped, a big red “Nefarious” sign lights up.

  19. jr

    This morning as I’m getting a coffee a homeless man approaches me for money. As I dug into my wallet, he told me his tale. He had spent yesterday digging through a dumpster for cans to sell. He managed to get tomato sauce all over his arms and legs. He told me that there isn’t anywhere to bathe so he went to sleep in a local park.

    He woke up in a swarm of fire ants. His arms and legs are covered in bites. He is covered in food and grime. He needed money to do his laundry. I gave him a five and listened to his story. When he finished, he looked at me helplessly for a second and wandered off.

  20. JohnMc

    isn’t the JAMA article on excess deaths a bit of cherry picking? NYC covid deaths are among the worst in the world (if not the absolute worst). was the same true of NYC 1918 flu deaths?

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