Links 8/6/2020

Many animal stories from readers! Hope this is not a sign that you need relief from the regular news even more than usual.

‘I’ve realised my dream’: Italy’s oldest graduate top of the class at 96 Guardian. Definitely beats my uncle getting a PhD at 74.

Dog camera records cat and pooch’s heartwarming daily routine while home alone Daily Star (Jim D)

Fox in Berlin Stole 100 Shoes The Cut

Caesar the ‘no drama’ therapy llama has been keeping protesters and police calm in Portland UpWorthy (David L)

Satellites Reveal Hidden Colonies of Emperor Penguins We Never Knew Existed Science Alert (Chuck L)

Frog Eats Beetle. Beetle Crawls Through Guts to Escape Wired (DK). Eeew.

Why America shouldn’t have nuked Japan Asia Times (J-LS)

Here’s Exactly How Inefficient Wireless Charging Is OneZero (Dr. Kevin)

Harvard Scientist Says We Need More Cheap, ‘Crappy’ Tests For COVID-19. Here’s Why Science Alert

We Thought We Knew How Sperm Swam, But It Was Just an Optical Illusion Science Alert (Chuck L)

New study links marijuana to cardiovascular disease — but it’s not all bad news Salon

#COVID-19

Your Old Radiator Is a Pandemic-Fighting Weapon Bloomberg (David L)

Coronavirus: latest Hong Kong pets to test positive for Covid-19 are Scottish shorthair cat, Yorkshire terrier dog South China Morning Post. J-LS:

Scary, yes, especially if you have a pet. But what amazes me most is that HK has such testing capacity they can use it on house pets. Whereas many humans in the US cannot get tested, certainly not on a timely basis.

Does my cat have coronavirus? RTE (PlutoniumKun)

Science/Medicine

Cerebral Micro-Structural Changes in COVID-19 Patients An MRI-based 3-month Follow-up Study Lancet. n=60. Not pretty.

Scientists Uncover Biological Signatures of the Worst Covid-19 Cases New York Times (David L)

How the pandemic might play out in 2021 and beyond Nature (Kevin W)

Lack of public data hampers COVID-19 fight Associated Press

Viable SARS-CoV-2 in the air of a hospital room with COVID-19 patients medRxiv (David L). Preprint. And even though it shows viable virus in the air more than 6 feet from the source, we still don’t have a clue as to what concentration results in infection.

US

‘Numbers don’t lie’: Fauci says you can’t deny the US has the world’s worst COVID-19 outbreak Business Insider (J-LS)

‘The economy is a bigger mess than Covid’: Kentucky fears new shutdown Guardian (resilc)

Georgia class quarantined after first day of school as images of crowded school circulate online Independent (resilc)

UK/Europe

135,000 Britons now face the AXE amid fear of ‘economic Armageddon’ as day after day the Covid jobs bloodbath takes its devastating toll Daily Mail (J-LS)

Political Responses

US Reaches $1 Billion Deal For Doses of Potential Johnson & Johnson Vaccine The Hill

Finance/Economy

More Farmers Declare Bankruptcy Despite Record Levels of Federal Aid Wall Street Journal

Beruit. So devastating, I am at a loss as to what to say.

Angry Beirut residents demand answers after blast BBC

India

Modi’s speech in Ayodhya marks a decisive turn away from secularism for India The Scroll (J-LS)

India’s Hindu Nationalists Reverse the Tide of History Bloomberg

Demolition Men Do Not Build Nations, They Destroy Them The Wire (J-LS)

Old Blighty

England’s planning reforms will create ‘generation of slums’ Guardian (Kevin W)

BBC threatens pensioners with bailiffs if they don’t pay the licence fee – after spending £38m on 800 staff to enforce collection of the £157.50 levy Daily Mail (J-LS)

New Cold War

VIPS MEMO: To Nancy Pelosi — Did Russia Hack the DNC Emails? ConsortiumNews (Chuck L)

Meet the U.S. Navy’s First Black Female Fighter Pilot People

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

What Are Stingrays and Dirtboxes? Intercept (Dr. Kevin)

Beware of find-my-phone, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth, NSA tells mobile users ars technica

Imperial Collapse Watch

Defund the Bloated U.S. Military Juan Cole (resilc)

Trump Transition

How Popular Is Donald Trump? FiveThirtyEight (resilc)

Ted Cruz bashes Oprah for ‘lecture’ on race: ‘What utter, racist BS’ The Hill (UserFriendly)

2020

Joe Biden’s mental ability is a campaign issue that can’t be ignored: Devine New York Post (J-LS). Yes, the Post, but still a bad look.

Rashida Tlaib and Slate of Local Progressives Win in Michigan Intercept (resilc)

Police State Watch

What Happened In Portland Shows Just How Fragile Our Democracy Is FiveThirtyEight (David L)

The Senate Should Ask Chad Wolf About His Illegal Appointment Lawfare (David L)

Study reveals impact of powerful CEOs and money laundering on bank performance ScienceBlog

Cigna Bilked Medicare Advantage For $1.4B, FCA Suit Says Law360

How Native Tribes Started Winning at the Supreme Court Mother Jones

US Crude Oil Production Plunged Most Ever, Natural Gas Followed: The Great American Oil & Gas Bust, Phase 2 Wolf Richter

New York Unveils Landmark Antitrust Bill That Makes It Easier To Sue Tech Giants Guardian

Class Warfare

In Hollywood Caitlin Johnstone (Kevin W)

Antidote du jour. Tracie H:

One of my White-tailed Antilope Squirrel friends enjoying the seeds I set outside for anyone interested. The squirrels like it – birds probably don’t find it safe – or maybe they recognize the receptacle as a cooking pot.

And a bonus (guurst):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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255 comments

    1. rusti

      Hear hear, Carla. I suggest listening to the full interview with Dr. Michael Mina on This Week in Virology. He outlines the huge public health benefits of developing a saliva test even with reduced sensitivity, it makes perfect sense.

      Reply
      1. Carla

        I just heard him on a special Q&A session of MedCram yesterday. He explains that it’s not whether it’s a saliva or a nasal swab test that’s critical. It’s that it is CHEAP, does not require any equipment, gives results in 15-20 minutes, and can be self-administered so that everyone can test themselves once a day, before leaving the house — to see if we SHOULD leave the house:
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3seIAs-73G8

        Dr. Mina is the BOMB. However, he’s really up against it, trying to achieve a major public health objective in a country that is dead-set against public health. Right now, the greatest obstacle is the FDA.

        Reply
        1. Kurt Sperry

          Having such a test freely available would totally change the game in managing the pandemic. You could even routinely test people before entering school, work, flying, or going to a public event and get vastly improved safety even if treatments or vaccines went nowhere.

          Reply
  1. Olga

    Yesterday, Politico published this piece – could the fog be lifting? – at least just a just a bit?:
    https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/08/05/open-letter-russia-policy-391434
    “Meanwhile, the great challenges to peace and our well-being that demand U.S.-Russia cooperation, including the existential threats of nuclear war and climate change, go unattended. Because the stakes are so high, both in the dangers they entail and the costs they contain, we believe that a careful, dispassionate analysis and change of our current course are imperative.”
    And scroll to the end to see the long list of respectable signers, including (surprisingly) Fiona Hill.

    Reply
    1. tegnost

      re Fiona Hill…
      No not surprising, just another joe biden commercial.
      Astonishing how easily they flip flop, 3+ years of RRR and now
      “…careful, dispassionate analysis and change of our current course are imperative.”
      Ugh. Let’s put hunter on it…

      Reply
    2. timbers

      But have been informed on several occasions that talking to a Russian is treason. More seriously, these folks should be told that Russia will always talk but if they want her to talk seriously, they must know the US might need to first unilaterally terminate it’s illegal sanctions, give back the embassy the US illegally stole, etc. In other words a 180 degree policy turn. Could happen but hard to see how. Getting out of Syria and Ukraine would be a good first move to show intent.

      Reply
      1. JTMcPhee

        US is and will continue to be “not agreement capable.” Dumping Biden and whoever he and his teams of advisers pick to be next in line Into the White House will not even start to fix that.

        Reply
      1. km

        O look, someone’s auditioning for a job!

        We saw similar audition pieces (usually advocating a more hawkish line) in 2016, when a HRC victory was considered more or less assured.

        Reply
  2. PlutoniumKun

    Why America shouldn’t have nuked Japan Asia Times

    There are so many contradictory conclusions on this from historians it would make your head spin, but the best explanation I’ve read on why the decision was made to nuke Japan was that it was essentially an accidental result of inter-service rivalry (unfortunately, I can’t recall the name of the book that put forward this theory right now, its many years since I read it).

    The mass firebombing bombing of Japanese cities started quite late in the war – February 1945 – this was due to delays in getting the B-29 in the air (no other aircraft had the range). The cost of this program was extraordinary – these aircraft were incredibly expensive to build. But by June 1945 the first detailed assessments of the bombing of Germany were already available – and they’d concluded that strategic urban bombing was a waste of resources, and may even have been counterproductive. There was an active argument within senior military circles as to whether the Japan bombing should be stopped, with the resources pushed into other areas. Needless to say, LeMay and others didn’t agree. And the nuclear bomb was their baby – even though only a few knew the details of the bombs, they’d been doing theoretical assessments for many months and specified cities had been spared regular bombing specifically because they were considered ideal for a major airburst attack (i.e. compact, timber cities, surrounded by high hills). The scientists in the Manhattan Project, along with many other strategic thinkers, had always assumed the Bomb would be used in a sort of progressive manner, used initially just to wipe out specific tactical sites or demonstration targets. There were active studies to see if the bombs could be used to clear defenders from the mountains of Kyushu in the event of the invasion going ahead (it was timed for October 1945, but in reality probably would not have happened until the following Spring at least), and many seemed to assume that this would be their first use.

    According to this theory, the combination of secrecy, along with bureaucratic inertia, led to the Air Force simply brushing off existing plans and using the bomb, without giving strategic levels in Washington (including Truman) much time or opportunity to think through the real implications of its use, or to come up with more considered alternatives. The bombings, in other words, were accelerated to solve internal bureaucratic infighting issues. The justification for its use was cooked up later, once everyone belatedly realised what they had done.

    This isn’t just an abstract argument. I recently visited both the Nagasaki and Hiroshima Peace centres – both very moving places (and I’m someone generally pretty immune to the tearjerking that is usually part and parcel of this type of memorial). I later talked to an American historian who has a high level of fluency in Japanese, and he said that its been noticeable that the tone of the Japanese used in the memorials has changed over the years, most notably the most recent upgrade to Hiroshima. The language of the exhibits (in Japanese) has gone from a studied neutrality, to a much more accusatory tone, one not reflected in the English used.

    This is pretty important in the context of modern Japanese politics. Abe and his faction are far more nationalistic than previous governments and are openly trying to change the narrative of the period – most notably regarding the vicious occupation of Korea and Japan. It’s not in anyones interest for Japan to develop a victim narrative again, as it did in the 1930’s, when this was a major driver towards militarism. Perhaps a little humility and openness about the end of the war and the decisions made by the US would help us prevent another one.

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      The generation that fought that war knew what the Japanese were all about and not only in western countries but in Asian countries like China and South Korea. I worked with a guy once that was glad for the atomic bombings. He was from Cyprus and joined the British army near the end of the war. Too late for the European war, he and his unit were being trained for the invasion of Japan and they were expecting to be sent out east when the war came to an end.

      On one hand, I do not think that the Japanese military leaders would surrender and could care less about civilian casualties if in squandering them in case of an invasion, they it would put them in a stronger negotiating position with the allies. On the other hand, it might have been better to nuk a place that was not a city but nonetheless an important target as a demonstration lesson. But the military would have insisted on a city as they wanted to see the effects on one and know what it was capable of. I guess that we will never know what the real truth here is.

      Not often mentioned is that to an extent, the Americans were bluffing the Japanese with the atomic bombings. By 1945 they had developed only three using different methods. One was used up on the test in New Mexico. The second at Hiroshima and the third at Nagasaki. After that, there were none left and it would take a coupla years more to build more. So when the US told Japan after Nagasaki to surrender or there would be more, it was all a huge bluff on their part.

      Reply
      1. TMoney

        My Grandad* for one was also happy to see Japan nuked, having been in the the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe with the British Army. He was under going Jungle training some time after VE day and was pleased when the war with Japan ended (with the mushroom clouds). Arm chair quarterbacking about a conditional Japanese surrender is not how the events happened. Unconditional surrender had already been laid out as the only option. Japanese resistance was fanatical. Grandad was not looking forward to an Asian tour.

        * Grandad Army Advice: If you have to join an army, join the Americans – they have better food.

        Reply
        1. Amfortas the hippie

          both my grandads, both veterans of the Pacific Theater, were ashamed of it, and rarely spoke of it at all.
          One was an engine guy on a minesweep(USS Swallow), the other was a B-29 mechanic who had to be a pilot because the real pilot was a drunkard.
          the former spent all his time there onboard, was exposed to asbestos and other horrible things, and talked about the war in terms of being locked in a hot metal box with a bunch of seasick guys.
          latter spent time on airbases, leapfrogging throughout the pacific. He was enamored with the native aboriginals, from Canberra to the Solomans, and had little good to say about the war or his superiors, nor the politicians and strategists back home(“Pappy Boyington was an ass” and “McCarthur was an insufferable ass”)
          The former, given tomorrow and the Beirut thing, was in a ship off japan somewhere when hiroshima happened, and on the docks in Texas City when that blew up.
          When the former was dying of bone cancer(i was the baby sitter, at 11), he told me…pulling shocks of hair out and marvelling at them…that he supposed it served him right…in an oblique reference to hiroshima.
          The latter critiqued it, the 2 times he spoke of it to me, in terms of unnecessary suffering and death…a wanton display of irresponsible power.

          Reply
          1. Wukchumni

            We are engulfed with ‘nuclear weapons’ which will tear apart families when the shooting really starts.

            We could have veered away from this catastrophe looming with Sandy Hook when 20 of the most innocent little kids ever were gunned down in cold blood, instead we went even more gun crazy. We deserve what’s coming to us after fomenting war and wrecked lives all over the planet, don’t we?

            Reply
          2. JTMcPhee

            My father skippered a wooden “sub chaser” through the Pacific in WW II. He also did not talk much about use of the Bomb, but was ashamed of this country for opening that Pandora’s Box. He saw what the Japanese did, but he also saw what the US troops and policies did, and understood the imperial resource wars that led up to Pearl Harbor — US was hardly a callow innocent in that whole thing, any more than we are today with the decimation of MENA, Central and South America, Africa and of course “my” war, against Vietnam.

            Our rulers and their advisers and minions (Kissinger, Brzezinski, Albright, Rice, Bolton and that crowd) are indeed monsters.

            Reply
          3. Pelham

            Thank you for sharing this. I’m sorry your grandfathers felt such shame, since they weren’t responsible. They must have been very good men. And their perspective as veterans sheds a different light on these events from what others have shared — although those views are equally valid.

            Reply
            1. Amfortas the hippie

              they were good people.
              in my house, as opposed to the Library/Museum of Us, we have pictures of the boys and of us with the boys, graduation cards on the fridge of a bunch of Eldest’s buddies and buddettes…and 2 pictures of my granddads, sitting together in 1970 or so.
              not a single pic of my mom and dad or brother or anyone else. This wasn’t planned this way…but that it happened this way is, i think, instructive.
              They had a very large influence on me… in historical perspective, moral sense and work ethic….as well as in the Bruxist Tenacity that has been so important to my survival.

              I really need to make time to get all the family history and mythology and stories collated and printed and bound somehow. It’s pretty chaotic…and a bunch of it is in my handwriting, which is like linear b.
              Prior to beginning building this house, i had transcribed/edited on the fly maybe 1/3 of it into a word-like document…now saved on a thumb drive along with my own chaotic and stream of consciousness autobiographical romp from birth to coming out here.
              Maybe this winter, now that….for once…it looks like i’ll have enough firewood to get all the way to spring without kicking my own ass with a chainsaw when it’s cold.(so let’s hold this civilisation thing together for at least that long, alright?)

              Reply
          4. The Rev Kev

            @Amfortas

            “Pappy Boyington was an ass”

            Would it surprise you to learn that Boyington would have agreed with him near the end of his life? A major problem for him was alcoholism which led to several divorces but by the end of his life, he had mellowed out more and accepted who he was. Reading near the end of his book, I could easily see him sharing a joint with you under the shade of a tree and watching birds flying.

            Reply
            1. Wukchumni

              Rev Kev:

              Bought a great book for a few bucks last month printed in 1945, titled: 100 Best True Stories of World War II and I think you in particular would enjoy it, as the tales are fresh in the tellers memory and what stories!

              One of them is a reporter that was on aboard the Repulse, when it and the Prince of Wales went down.

              Reply
        2. Polar Socialist

          Japanese resistance was fanatical.

          There was this little know Manchurian Strategic Offensive Operation by Red Army in August 1945 that cut trough 700,000 strong Kwantung Army in 10 days, capturing some 600,000 POWs. The Japanese soldiers did not know about the bombs yet – Hiroshima was only days before the attack, and it was kept secret by the Japanese government. And yet they surrendered in troves after being bypassed by Soviet armor.

          According to David Glantz the quick and total annihilation of the best and biggest army Japan had was what convinced them to surrender unconditionally. Merely the attack by Red Army made clear that Soviet Union was not going to stand back in the Pacific and help in the negotiations.

          One Japanese historian has argumented, based on the Japanese foreign office documents, that Japanese leaders were actually waiting for Soviet Union to focus in the east before making the peace. They calculated, that USA would want to use Japan to stop Soviets in the area, and thus the actual peace would be much better for Japan as a nation.

          Reply
          1. The Rev Kev

            That last bit reminds me how some on the German regime in ’45 thought that the Allies would stop fighting them and they would come together to fight the Red Hordes/Bolsheviks advancing on Berlin. Yes, they seriously thought that this would happen.

            Reply
            1. rowlf

              If you read some of the German army soldiers accounts of the war, such as The Willing Flesh by Willi Heinrich, some Germans were amazed that the US capitalists would support the Soviet communists. You may also be forgetting (or not know) how popular the pre-war German government was with US industrialists, media and congresscritters.

              Reply
        3. occasional anonymous

          He was happy the nukes were dropped because he believed an invasion of the home islands was inevitable otherwise. But that isn’t at all clear, there were plenty of voices in DC who didn’t want to invade.

          As for unconditional surrender, the Japanese had been trying to negotiate a conditional surrender via Moscow for months, and the US knew it. And their main condition was that they get to keep the Emperor. In the end MacArthur gave them this anyway.

          Reply
      2. jcmcdonal

        https://foreignpolicy.com/2013/05/30/the-bomb-didnt-beat-japan-stalin-did/

        This article was in links here ages ago, but it goes through how the Japanese thought process seemed to ignore that their cities got obliterated before surrendering. There’s always a lot of discussion of American ideas and intentions, but just a few casual assumptions on how the Japanese interpreted events.

        The Japanese were already meeting to discuss surrender by the time Nagasaki happened, and had waited 3 days after Hiroshima before they bothered meeting to discuss surrender. But they had just heard the Soviets had declared war, so…

        Reply
      3. Dr. Roberts

        The last part about bomb production was wrong. They were producing one every couple of months after the initial bombings and rapidly increased production over the ensuing months/years as better enrichment technology was developed. By late 1948 the US had a stockpile of 50 bombs.

        I think it’s hard to argue that the bombings were necessary, and the argument is mostly driven by a desire to not acknowledge the atomic bombings and the strategic bombing campaigns against civilian targets as a whole as the gruesome war crimes that they were. This will change as the political significance of WWII for the legitimation of today’s states fades over the coming decades. The Japanese would clearly have surrendered following their expulsion from mainland Asia with a guarantee to preserve the Emperor. They might have surrendered unconditionally even without that guarantee.

        Reply
        1. td

          A minor clarification – for a period of time after the war ended, nuclear production was reduced and reorganized slowly as many people left the program and funding was cut back. For a period of time in 1946-7, there were bomb cores being produced but no initiators for them that actually worked. The force of modified B29’s was allowed to run down. In 1947, Truman was informed that there lots of pieces but no working bombs or delivery aircraft. The deterrent was a colossal bluff during that period.

          A war plan from the late 1940’s called Dropshot was released and published a couple of decades ago and a war against Russia would have involved a couple of dozen B36’s initially employing the whole working stockpile with a subsequent production of about one bomb per month. That supports Dr. Roberts’ comment.

          As the Cold War heated up in 1948 and beyond, the whole program went from disorganization and scattered resources to a crash buildup taking priority over all else and ultimately enormous overkill.

          Reply
          1. JTMcPhee

            Re 46-47 “deterrent,” what was the Empire “deterring” then? And later, up to the point that the Empire’s demonstrated willingness to use the Bomb drove the “need” for “strategic deterrence” on the part of the Soviets and Britain and France (and not long after, Israel) under the insanity of MAD, where RAND Corp. informed the nation’s policy Based on serial Big Lies (“bomber gap,” “missile gap,” “window of vulnerability”), and told its leaders that they in fact had to be certifiably insane (ready to use the nukes) for MAD to even work?

            And now the Cold Warriors, being the ones driven by their demons to ascend to the positions of power, are lining all the rest of us up again to “complete the righteous work” of decimating Russia and China…

            Reply
      4. Turing Test

        > After that, there were none left and it would take a coupla years more to build more

        Immediately after the war the Department of Defense undertook an inventory of the somewhat ramshackle atomic weapons establishment and recorded that there several completed bombs available and materials to assemble several more.

        The US had actually planned to use up to twelve atomic weapons against Japan.

        Reply
      5. PlutoniumKun

        I’m not sure if its true it was a bluff. I believe they were capable of making around 3 plutonium bombs a month for several months, although due to the degradation of the piles at Hanford there was a pause in plutonium production anticipated. The uranium bomb (the ‘little boy’) was always a one-off, it was built as a back up in case the plutonium bombs didn’t work.

        Reply
      6. Pelham

        Reading PlutoniumKun and The Rev Kev here it occurs to me that any credible account of the atomic bombings really needs to take into account the thinking and the strategies on both sides of the conflict.

        Reply
    2. Watt4Bob

      I’m not sure of my source, but believe it was a book by James Carroll, House of War.

      Carrolls father was an Air Force General, I believe the first Air Force Chief of Security.

      Carroll describes the fact that the way the plans to drop the first atomic bombs were finalized, the military, not the president had final say as to whether they would be used or not, which basically left LeMay in charge, and I believe that it was the military, maybe Groves, but probably LeMay who insisted on that detail.

      Carroll’s book describes the decision, but I’m sorry, I don’t recall if Truman had any real objections?

      Reply
      1. Lee

        That Truman left the decision to the military brass was how it was reported on PBS last night. Presidential sole authority to launch nuclear attacks was a subsequent development. Leaving such power to the discretion of one person deserves a serious rethink.

        Reply
          1. Jason Boxman

            The dispersion of command and control for a nuclear launch are covered in “The Doomsday Machine” by Ellsberg. At least in the war plans from the 1950s and 60s, simple loss of contact with regional or national military command was enough to possibly trigger a nuclear war, with a local commander ordering a strike in response to the communications blackout.

            Of course, the Soviets had a similar system to resist decapitation attacks.

            The only way to win is not to play.

            Reply
      2. rowlf

        In Ralph Nutter’s book “With the Possum and the Eagle” he wrote that the decision to use the nuclear bombs was made above LeMay. LeMay initially thought they were not needed due to the aerial mining and firebombing campaigns.

        My grandfather had a late in date in the US Army and landed in France in August 1944 as a wire layer in the Signal Corps. He was set to be shipped to the Pacific in the planning for the invasion of Japan. Instead he remained stationed in Southern France until late 1946.

        Reply
    3. David

      Yes, I think there’s a tendency to read back into the events of 1945 motives and even simple knowledge that the participants at the time didn’t have. In particular, if you grew up in the Cold War under the threat of nuclear destruction by 20MT hydrogen bombs, it was natural to see Hiroshima and Nagasaki as the beginning of a new era, which was not the way it appeared to the decision-makers at the time they made the decision. (Remember that nobody really knew what the effects of the bombs would be, or even if they would work properly). All the mountain of research since 1945 has really done is to confirm that the thought process at the time was as simple as “there’s a war on, here’s a new weapon, let’s use it.” War in any case has a radicalising and brutalising effect on all societies, and it’s doubtful if anyone stopped to think about wider ethical issues. And Truman was desperate to avoid a land invasion of Japan, which would have produced carnage beyond belief, so why not use a weapon that might, conceivably, advance the end of the war? If it didn’t, you were no worse off.

      I think the consensus among historians has been for a long time that the bombings had little if any impact on the Japanese decision to surrender. Indeed, some historians have claimed that the Japanese Cabinet never heard about the bombings: there seem to be no records in the Imperial archives, and communications in the country were pretty non-existent at the time. The remaining debate is between those who think the bombs might have tipped the balance, or provided the necessary pretext, and those who are more doubtful. I’m not sure we’ll ever know.

      It’s many years since I visited the Nagasaki museum, but even then I was struck by the context-free presentation of events, as though a monster had arisen from the deep and attacked the city for no reason . Of course from the port of view of the occupants, that’s pretty much how it was: the wars in Asia didn’t start out of any kind of popular pressure, after all. And I’ve always been concerned that endless harping on Japanese “guilt” would one day produce the kind of reaction you describe.

      Reply
      1. a different chris

        >the wars in Asia didn’t start out of any kind of popular pressure, after all.

        An interesting codicil to our overall theme here, that people in power *today* clearly and unambiguously are not addressing the issues the people want addressed, and are instigating military actions that the people do not want.

        The more things change…

        Reply
    4. Olga

      There was nothing accidental about dropping the bombs – such a conclusion is just not credible at all, given all we know today (sounds more like an after-the-fact apologist view).
      Peter Kuznick provides many more details – https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2020/08/04/trumans-human-sacrifice-to-subdue-moscow/
      He has studied this period in great detail, and makes annual trips to H. and N. with his students.
      It is amazing that Truman’s desire to spook Moscow is not mentioned:
      “James Byrnes, who became Truman’s Secretary of State in early July but had been his most trusted advisor since his first day in office, and Gen. Leslie Groves, the driving force behind the Manhattan Project, both asserted that the Soviet Union loomed as the real target behind the bomb project. Byrnes told three visiting scientists in late May that the bomb was needed to reverse Soviet gains in Eastern Europe.”

      Reply
      1. Winston Smith

        Certainly agree that there was nothing accidental about dropping the bombs. To those who are interested in the topic from a historical point of view but are reluctant to plow through massive volumes, the slim primer (160 pages) on the topic “Prompt and Utter Destruction: Truman and the Use of Atomic Bombs against Japan” is highly recommended.

        Reply
      2. Keith

        I think the shot across the USSR’s bow makes the most sense. We were ending one period of war, and before it was even close to being concluded, the next one was gearing up with positioning taking place. It seems reasonable from a great game perspective to use the A bomb to intimidate Moscow from further adventurism while also trying to hasten a Japanese surrender. Plus, boys with their toys get to see how it plays out.

        On another now, the labs in eastern WA state are still trying to clean up the mess from the bombs development, with the Rep regularly discussing efforts for funding for clean up. As it stands, unofficially, it does leak into the Columbia River. Perhaps that’s why Portland is so weird?

        Reply
      3. Oh

        No matter how you look at it, it was a travesty and a war crime. Millions of civilians died of radiation sickness alone. So sad.

        Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          The real travesty is that Einstein, Szilard et al didn’t think about the ramifications of their urging FDR to build the bomb.

          Every time throughout history, when one warring side has come up with new weaponry, it wasn’t too long before the other side got it, and it only took 60 years for a pissant the likes of NK to acquire them.

          Reply
          1. Carolinian

            They didn’t know that Germany would fail to create their own bomb. And Szilard did try to stop the use before it happened and came to SC and met with Jimmy Byrnes a half a mile from where I’m sitting. Byrnes, like Truman, wanted to show the Russians our big blast.

            For those who may not have read I saw Hersey’s classic account linked up today.

            https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1946/08/31/hiroshima

            Reply
        2. barefoot charley

          James Brooks in Flyboys points out that a single daylight firebombing of Tokyo, methodically carpeting the plain with mass murder, killed more people than either nuke. And Tokyo was only one of scores of cities already burnt to ash when the experimental bombs were dropped. Amusingly, even those nukes were to be dropped on ‘military targets,’ because that’s what we say. Brooks’ point is that war planners were just incinerating two more cities with those bombs, all in another day’s work. We had been incinerating cities from the day we won air superiority.

          I learned something unexpected from Lyon’s Resistance Museum in France: on Easter morning in 1942, as people left church at 11, hundreds of American bombers made a ‘surgical’ attack on a railroad switching yard–so surgical that 1700 people died that morning. Precision bombing was one of the lesser big lies of the war. Though destroying cities didn’t eliminate resistance, and didn’t break civilian spirit, we just did it anyway, we had that many bombs and bombers. Incidentally, more pilots died in training than in combat. We had lots of pilots too.

          Reply
          1. Wukchumni

            Flyboys was a great read, really opened my eyes…

            The Japanese treated Russian POW’s with great respect in the 1905 war, while we were just about as ruthless with the Filipinos in the aftermath of the Spanish-American War as the Japanese were with POW’s in WW2

            Reply
          2. a different chris

            >methodically carpeting

            Historians are always warning us about how easily it is misunderstand the mindset of people before us, even when they seem more like us than say the Romans or whatever.

            The bomb had X times the power of the normal munition used to “methodically carpet” those places. But to somebody of the time, including top people, it was still probably hard to really understand, in an emotional sense, the difference between dropping the atom bomb and dropping X conventional bombs.

            Yes you go to presentations on radioactivity and the side effects, but would you really “get it” until after you actually saw it?

            The past is another country.

            Reply
            1. pasha

              i wholeheartedly agree. my dad was a naval lieutenant on the crescent city and later the westmoreland, marine troopships. he saw the amphibious landings at new georgia, bougainville, pelelieu, and leyte gulf, each invason producing greater casualties than the previous, due to increasingly tenacious japanese resistance. in august of 1944 the entire ship was terrified of the upcoming invasion of japan. he would tear up when telling of the relief they felt when they realized the bomb meant they wouldn’t have to invade.

              his was the first ship to land at sasebo, nagasaki’s port, in september. they knew nothing of radiation — and he had even been given chemical warfare training. he and a few shipmates nearly hired a taxi to take them to nagasaki, but the captain forbid it, doubtless unwittingly saving him from an early death. from my reading, only the atomic scientists working on the manhattan project understood that radiation was the real killer. most just saw it as a stronger explosive.

              Reply
              1. flora

                Battle of Saipan. Massive suicides from a cliff. Death before surrender. The following is narration only a vet’s memories. No brutal images.

                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l06Ov-Bup-E

                From wiki:
                The precise number of suicides there is not known. One eyewitness said he saw “hundreds of bodies” below the cliff,[3] while elsewhere, numbers in the thousands have been cited.[4][5] A contemporary * correspondent, praising their actions as “the finest act of the Shōwa period”, described them as “the pride of Japanese women.”[6]

                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_Cliff

                *The suicides in Saipan drew considerable attention and praise in Japan. A correspondent from the Yomiuri praised the women who committed suicide with their children by jumping from the cliff, writing that they were, “the pride of Japanese women.” He even went so far as to call it, “The finest act of the Showa period.” Similarly, Tokyo University professor Hiraizumi Kiyoshi gushed in the Asahi Shimbun, “100 or 1,000 instants of bravery emit brilliant flashes of light, an act without equal in history.”

                https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/07/05/national/history/battle-saipan-brutal-invasion-claimed-55000-lives/

                Saipan was only one small island.

                Reply
            2. Procopius

              There seem to be people in positions of power, but of lesser visibility, who still think nuclear weapons are just “big bombs.” They utterly deny that any rational nation which owns nuclear weapons, will use theirs as soon as the first “tactical” nuke is used. Only a maniac would use one, so if one is used all other possessors of nukes must fire theirs off before said maniac decides to “neutralize” them. It was reported that there were (many?) people recommending we drop a “tactical” nuke on DPRK to give them a “bloody nose,” as a warning which would not lead to a wider war. Allies of James Bolton, as I recall, but their names were never reported. I have seen a couple of comments that there are many of them.

              Reply
          3. Keith

            Precision bombing, or anything in war zones is a big misnomer. That’s why classification of the damage is important, like military aged males are all considered a combatant until proven otherwise.

            Another factor is the human factor. People are not perfect and make mistakes. Compound natural fallacy with sleep deprivation, fear, adrenaline, operational tempo, emotions, and bad things end to happen.

            Another factor is dehumanization of the enemy. When they are subhuman, it becomes acceptable to inflict whatever damage you want on them.

            Such is the horror of war.

            Reply
          4. Wyoming

            It is way late but I want to correct something.

            Incidentally, more pilots died in training than in combat.

            This is incorrect. 15,000 airmen died in training. 56,000 died in combat. After training but not in combat another 26,000 died in accidents.

            My mother was an Army nurse at a bomber base. She told me once that almost all the airmen she knew died in the war. 5 nurses from her graduating class died in artillery strikes which hit field hospitals they were at. I asked her once why they let the aircrews rotate home after only 25 missions when in Vietnam pilots flew as many as 200 missions. She looked at me and said that almost no one lived until they finished 25 missions. One crew she was friends with named their plane after her…it was shot down over Germany. Around this time her first husband was landing on Omaha Beach.

            Reply
        3. Count Zero

          Well yes, but… have you looked at the extent of Japanese war crimes across Asia between 1937 and 1945. They even outdid the Nazis in their ferocity, especially against the Chinese. Victims, the majority unarmed civilians, number many millions.

          Whether Hiroshima and Nagasaki were justified in terms of military strategy is another matter. But it’s hard to feel much sympathy for contemporary Japanese who don’t acknowledge their own appalling war crimes. Pot, black — as they say.

          Reply
          1. barefoot charley

            Agreed. National styles differ: Rape of Nanking vs. scientific firebombing and nuking. As Sherman didn’t say, War is hell. He said, “War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it.”

            Reply
          2. Jason Boxman

            The militaries of all the large actors committed grievous atrocities during the war. Growing up in a victor nation, the United States, at no point do I recall learning what strategic bombing actually was. It’s sold as targeting of specific wartime facilities.

            History is written by the victor.

            Reply
          3. Olga

            Ok, so you think that responding to one crime with another is okie-dokie, peachy-rosy?
            Really? I cannot accept that (and yes, I’ve read a lot about the Japanese-inflicted horror all over Asia, incl. China; there are areas, where the damage is still visible).

            Reply
          4. Cuibono

            When you say Japanese, are you referring to the right wing nationalists or the average Japanese Citizen?

            And last I checked, two wrongs dont make a right.

            Reply
      4. PlutoniumKun

        The fact that the Soviets were a major goal of the project is not really a doubt, certainly from 1944 onwards. But the assertion that the decision to nuke Hiroshima and Nagasaki was made with the Soviets in mind is very questionable. I’ve read many claims of this, but all are very thin on verifiable facts. The reality is that both US and Japanese sources from the period are very thin, which leaves the whole interpretation of the period open to anyone’s priors.

        The reality is that we have very few clear primary sources to help us know exactly what the decision making process. Kuznicks views are just one end of a spectrum – plenty of reputable historians who are very familiar with the primary sources disagree. We are very much at the mercy of a wide range of ‘after the fact’ reminisces of the people involved.

        What we do know, however, is that there was a lot of misinformation and confusion, even at the very highest level, about what the possession of nuclear weapons meant. Even Truman was kept out of the loop for a long period, and there is little evidence that he received deep briefings. Which strongly implies that the primary driver for the bombings was hardliners within the USAF, and that it had as much to do with turf wars as any strategic considerations.

        Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          How were the Soviets going to invade Japan, it wasn’t as if they had much of a navy, and had never done an amphibious landing that i’m aware of?

          Reply
        2. David

          The original goal of the project was, of course, Nazi Germany, but the bomb wasn’t ready in time. One of the reasons for the persistence of the strategic bombing campaign was precisely to show to Stalin that the allies were “doing their bit” whilst not being able to contribute to the land war, and certainly rivalry with the Soviets in being seen to have finished of the Germans and the Japanese, and also in the postwar world, were themes in London and Washington. As you say, though, it’s a huge step from there to assume that the decision to use the bombs was made with the Soviets in mind, and indeed no-one has been able to find documents to support such an interpretation.
          That interpretation started to appear in the 60s with the rise of revisionist histories of the Cold War by people like Halberstam, and which in turn projected backwards onto early times the mentality of Vietnam and opposition to that war. And of course, with the passage of time, those who wrote their memoirs during the Cold War tended to remember things that hadn’t actually happened, and to re-interpret their own memories, which is something that always happens. But this remains an extreme interpretation, unsupported by much evidence, and largely ignoring the actual context of the times.

          Reply
        3. Olga

          This is a not-infrequent tactic of folks, who do not have the evidence: if it cannot be denied outright, then at least sow doubt.
          In fact, early on, various reasons were given – mainly, that it was to save lives by avoiding an invasion.
          But the one advantage of having a great time lapse is that historians have been slowly able to piece the story together in a more accurate way by accessing newly available sources. And today, the more honest ones seem to concur that spooking Soviets, in addition to being able to test bombs on live people, were among the main reasons. I don’t know who these “reputable historians” you mention are (at least among the current ones… now, Niall Ferguson may differ, but I do not consider him to be a fair and honest historian).
          I mean current scholarship – not historians in the 1950s.
          And let’s not forget that the US wanted to unleash nuclear weapons on the USSR…

          Reply
        4. mpalomar

          Posted this on the Kuznick thread but germane here also. Consortium News has a series of articles on this.

          Japan was working on peace negotiations through its Moscow ambassador as early as April of 1945 when the battle of Okinawa was just starting. Harry Hopkins, President Truman’s close adviser, was aware of Japan’s desire for an armistice. He cabled the president from Moscow, saying: “Japan is doomed and the Japanese know it. Peace feelers are being put out by certain elements in Japan…On July 13, 1945, Foreign Minister Togo said: “Unconditional surrender (giving up all sovereignty, thereby deposing Hirohito, the Emperor god) is the only obstacle to peace.”

          “Secretary of War Henry Stimson said:

          ‘The true question was not whether surrender could have been achieved without the use of the bomb but whether a different diplomatic and military course would have led to an earlier surrender. A large segment of the Japanese cabinet was ready in the spring of 1945 to accept substantially the same terms as those finally agreed on.’ ”

          “Admiral William Leahy, top military aide to President Truman, said in his war memoirs, I Was There:

          ‘It is my opinion that the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender because of the effective sea blockade and the successful bombing with conventional weapons. My own feeling is that in being the first to use it, we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages.’ ”

          “And General Dwight D. Eisenhower, in a personal visit to President Truman a couple of weeks before the bombings, urged him not to use the atomic bombs. Eisenhower said:

          ‘It wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing . . . to use the atomic bomb, to kill and terrorize civilians, without even attempting [negotiations], was a double crime.’ ”

          The other critical point was the effect of polarising former WWII ally Russia, the advent of the cold war and the ensuing, needless arms race that led to decades of regional hot wars with hundreds of thousands of deaths, the MIC and the resultant dystopian global civilisation we all now suffer.

          “By August 30, 1945, a scant twenty-two days after the Japanese city of Hiroshima was subjected to nuclear holocaust, and ten days after Stalin ordered the acceleration of the Soviet bomb project, General Leslie Groves was presented with a document that listed Soviet cities and industrial facilities, along with a calculation as to how many atomic bombs would be required to destroy each targeted area (Moscow and Leningrad were each assigned six atomic bombs).”

          Reply
      5. John k

        It may be that the world seeing that, and realizing we’re now talking about all life above cockroaches, is what has so far kept the end away. And in spite of that there seem to have been close calls.
        Plus, IMO the war wouldn’t have ended when it did otherwise, the generals were never giving up bc honor, it took the emperor to stop it.

        Reply
    5. Oso

      agree with PlutoniumKun’s post. Japan’s urge to surrender was akin to Germany – both wanted to surrender to the Americans rather than the Soviets, better a capitalist satellite than communist satellite status. all they wanted was to retain their constitution and the emperor, if memory serves that was the only condition and both were granted at the armistice. unconditional surrender was FDR’s concession to Stalin at Potsdam due to calls from elements of the Allies for a separate peace with Germany. Japan’s fear wasn’t the bomb – it was the Red Army who was tearing thru their Kwangtung Army in Manchuria. Truman wanted to justify the cost and show resolve to the Soviets.

      Reply
      1. km

        The Red Army didn’t just scare the bejeezus out of the Japanese.

        As late as the fall of 1944, U.S. Navy intelligence believed that the Kwantung Army was the single most powerful land army in the world.

        Of course, the Red Army, battle tested and mean as hell after having just brought Nazi Germany to its knees, went through the Japanese like a pit bull terrier on a cocker spaniel. They plowed through the Kwantung Army just about as fast as you could drive a tank, taking periodic breaks for beer, snacks, selfies and washing the tank.

        This is not go unnoticed down at American headquarters.

        Reply
        1. chuck roast

          What went unnoticed in 1944 was the fact that Stalingrad happened in the winter of ’42-’43 (even the German’s knew the war was over) and Naval Intelligence was, uh, stoopid. We are probably still in possession of a Naval Intelligence since these guys were early, demonstrable failures, and would certainly fit right into our modern apparatus.

          Reply
    6. km

      The XX and XXI Air Groups under General Hansell had been in a high altitude daylight bombing campaign from the Marianas against Japan since late 1944. That campaign had not been effective, in large part because high altitude weather conditions made it impossible to target bombs with any kind of accuracy, and also because of teething problems with the B-29s.

      Before that, they had tried bombing Japan using B-29s based in southern China. That was an even bigger disaster.

      What they won’t tell you and don’t tell you is that the most effective WWII Pacific Theater strategic bombing campaign, on a dollars and lives spent vs. impact, was using B-29s to mine Japanese harbors and shipping lanes.

      Reply
      1. Turing Test

        The argument has been made that even without the atomic bombings the mining of Japanese harbours would have starved the country into surrender in a matter of months even without an invasion.

        Which raises the interesting question of whether starving hundreds of thousands of people to death is more ethical than dropping atomic bombs on them.

        Reply
            1. Wukchumni

              Japanese soldiers weren’t too keen on surrendering, it must be remarked.

              Why would the country be any different?

              Reply
                1. Turing Test

                  When Germany surrendered they sent an obscure Colonel General (lowest rank general officer rank in the Wehrmacht) to do the deed.

                  Reply
              1. Turing Test

                A vague effort to put out peace feelers isn’t an offer to surrender.

                The Japanese leadership were counting on repelling the first invasion attempt to strengthen their hand before opening talks for a negotiated peace.

                The US was already committed to the principle that there would be no negotiated peace under any circumstances.

                Reply
                1. Oso

                  the US agreed to retention of the constitution and the emperor following the Soviet invasion of manchuria. there would have been no invasion. wrapping yourself in figurative US exceptionalism doesn’t negate history. learn to accept the shortcomings of your beliefs. dropping the bombs was both barbaric and in keeping with traditional US policy, both domestic and international.

                  Reply
                  1. Oso

                    Turing, there is declassified video on the effects of the bomb on the collective populace of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, i believe taken the following day. undoubtedly available online somewhere. i imagine you and many of the other devotees of US military mayhem would enjoy viewing it.

                    Reply
            2. Turing Test

              I think by 1945 all but the most diehard Japanese soldiers understood that that they were engaged in a hopeless struggle against a vastly superior opponent and that there could be no doubt about the ultimate outcome. By the same token most regarded the duty to defend the homeland as sacrosanct and for many relinquishing that duty was only acceptable once they had been publicly released from it by Emperor Hirohito on August 15. Diehards actually broke into the imperial library in Kyoto in an attempt to seize the record on which Hirohito had recorded the surrender speech but were unable to locate it among the thousands of volumes.

              In the context of using atomic weapons I think it is important to remember that the heavy casualties sustained in the invasion of Okinawa (the first and as it happened only part of Japan proper invaded by the US) convinced American strategists that Japanese morale remained unbroken in spite of the hopeless situation and that an invasion of the main islands would therefore entail many months of bloody fighting.

              It was only after the war that American leaders appreciated how close to the brink the country actually was, and I think that caused some of them to retroactively misremember their willingness to use atomic weapons.

              Reply
              1. km

                “I think by 1945 all but the most diehard Japanese soldiers understood that that they were engaged in a hopeless struggle against a vastly superior opponent and that there could be no doubt about the ultimate outcome. By the same token most regarded the duty to defend the homeland as sacrosanct and for many relinquishing that duty was only acceptable once they had been publicly released from it by Emperor Hirohito on August 15. Diehards actually broke into the imperial library in Kyoto in an attempt to seize the record on which Hirohito had recorded the surrender speech but were unable to locate it among the thousands of volumes.”

                If and to the extent that Hiroshima and Nagasaki forced the Japanese surrender, it was because it gave the Japanese leadership an excuse to finally admit in public what they already knew in private but could not say out loud.

                Reply
    7. Jason Boxman

      For more on that fateful day, I recommend reading “Shockwave”. Those that the nuclear blast didn’t kill outright, were later incinerated by a firestorm from the sheer intensity of burning structures. (Indeed, the firestorm effect is one which we attempted to cultivate with convention weapons as well during bombing runs in both theaters of war.)

      Reply
    8. Turing Test

      > The scientists in the Manhattan Project, along with many other strategic thinkers, had always assumed the Bomb would be used in a sort of progressive manner

      I think it’s fair to say the scientists didn’t know themselves how the bombs were going to be used and most of them were willing to defer that question to political and military leaders. I do know that immediately after the bombing of Hiroshima was announced at Los Alamos Robert Oppenheimer told an auditorium full of ecstatic colleagues that his only regret was that the war in Europe had ended before an atomic bomb could be dropped on Germany. Granted, he was probably caught up in the emotion of the moment.

      The “bureaucratic inertia” argument appeals to certain prejudices about large organizations but as a practical matter I think it is very hard to imagine circumstances under which the bomb would not be used in a way that had the most material and psychological impact. The people who fought the Second World War weren’t starry eyed flower children agonizing over the deaths of a few hundred thousand Japs. Curtis LeMay had repeatedly issued orders that resulted in the deaths of thousands of American service members and many times more Japanese, including many civilians. By the time of Hiroshima the US had been carrying out devastating firebombing raids on Japanese cities for months, the effect of which weren’t very different from atomic bombing. For people like LeMay the atomic bomb was just a much more efficient means to the same end -an attitude much in evidence in the nuclear strategizing of the following decade. While the potential of a demonstration use was occasionally mooted in the months before Hiroshima I’m not aware of any evidence that it was ever seriously considered by Roosevelt or his senior military advisors. The US was waging total war against an implacable opponent and forbearing to take full advantage of a weapon that had been procured at such great cost while Americans continued to fight and die would have looked like a gross dereliction of duty at the very least to a great many. In a conflict which had already claimed tens of millions no one was unduly troubled by another one or two hundred thousand deaths, especially since it could be rationalized against the lives that would be spared by avoiding an invasion of the home islands. A “demontration” shot would also deny the US the full shock and awe value of bombing an actual city -an opportunity that would be taken off the table as soon as the war ended- and thus lessen the prestige that the US would accrue from it. Finally I think you have to account for sheer bloody mindedness – in 1945 sparing the Japanese people additional suffering frankly wasn’t at the forefront of the minds of most Americans.

      Reply
    9. Pelham

      That observation about Abe and the Peace centers is fascinating. Worth keeping an eye on the developing victim narrative.

      OTOH, Japan is a wonderful country that seems to be in decline. Sorry to see that, and I’d hope that some revival of national pride could help turn things around. All the more shame that the Tokyo Olympics had to be put off.

      Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Japan will manage its decline far better than some others. If any cultural civilizations are able to remain alive on the earth after the Long Decline is all over, Japan will be one of them.

        Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        Workers can be ordered back to work by a court but passengers can’t be ordered to fly on a Boeing 737 MAX.

        Reply
    1. JWP

      Drove past Boeing Field the other day. At least a hundred or more 737 MAXs parked along with 10-15 787s. Never seen it that full, even in the month or so after the MAXs were banned. Some branch of that company is going to be sold off or nationalized. A perfect example of crapification being brought to light by crises.

      Reply
  3. PlutoniumKun

    England’s planning reforms will create ‘generation of slums’ Guardian

    They are essentially promoting a free-for-all for development in certain specified zones – this seems to be connected with certain Tory advisors (i.e. Cummings) dreams of creating free trade zones on open lands around northern cities. We’ve been here before on a smaller scale with the ‘Development Corporations’ of the 1980’s, which involved the horrific waste of valuable urban land at huge cost. Invariably, these became mega shopping malls (such as Merry Hill in the Midlands) or distribution hubs, rather than the new industrial/residential areas that were supposedly the aims. They were also, as it happens, valuable sources of Tory funding as grateful landowners wrote thank you cheques to Tory head office.

    The current proposals seem aimed at greenfield sites instead of the old urban regeneration sites. Which will mean even more investment will be needed from the government for infrastructure. You can be very sure this will not come from investors or landowners.

    There is nothing inherently wrong with the principle of permitting automatic development rights on zoned lands. In many countries, such as the Netherlands, this is the way planning functions – when an area is identified for residential development, you can pretty much build what you want, so long its in line with pre-specified criteria (which can be very detailed and complex, down to including what sort of shed you put in the rear garden). But this depends on a huge amount of pre-planning work, you can be sure the Tories aren’t interested in that.

    I doubt these proposals will go far. The Tories do this every time they get elected. The declare that planners are the enemy, and to free up the economy you have to let the free market do what it does best to the countryside – fill it with houses and retail. Then, they suddenly and belatedly realise that the people who live in the countryside are Telegraph and Express and Mail readers who actually…. kind of like that there are strict planning rules stopping their lovely villages and outer suburbs get covered with drive in McD’s, tacky hotels, and identikit housing. They could get away with the Development Corporations because no Tory voters lived near them. This won’t be the case for many of the development zones Cummings is now dreaming up. Wait until the first opinion writer in the Telegraph suddenly realises what might happen around his lovely county retreat.

    Reply
    1. a different chris

      >Wait until the first opinion writer in the Telegraph suddenly realises

      If there isn’t a full field of study opening up yet, there should be about how conservatives never seem to really understand anything until it happens very close to them.

      Lots of talk about “the conservative mind” but they never really really focus on this one weird thing. It’s sort of a lack of empathy, but more organic -not the right word, but you get what I mean – than that.

      Reply
    2. chuck roast

      Years ago I went on a planner exchange program to England. My planner exchange partner introduced me to “sequential planning” whereby if a developer wanted to do a particular project (commercial, residential, etc) he was required do so within the sequence of the plans. He couldn’t simply willy-nilly build on his favorite adequately zoned parcel, he had to develop on the land that was determined by the land-use plan to be the next-in-line/most needed/socially advantages. I was very impressed by “sequential planning.” It must have fallen by the wayside.

      Reply
  4. Mel

    So dogs can catch the Covid-19 virus. That makes it tough for the covid-sniffing dog plan. What will people think about a covid test that you can catch the virus from? What will the dogs do when they find out that one positive announcement and you’re out of a job?

    Reply
    1. Keith

      I think the issue with dogs is dogs can catch it from people, but not yet proven they can give it to people, so it may not be an issue.

      Reply
      1. John Anthony La Pietra

        In that case, it will become an issue when somebody suggests that the experimenters need to get the dogs to sign release forms consenting to take part in the destructive testing.

        Reply
  5. a different chris

    NYC Health Commissioner resigns — But we all have to bow down before Dr. Fauci, who is an old fart that won’t get out of the way, even when his resignation could (have, too late now) really made an impact.

    Reply
    1. JTMcPhee

      Which young person did you have in mind as a replacement for “old fart” Dr. Fauci, hmm? Who, down there in the Imperial Swamp, would have been able to perform mighty feats of Public Health Service? How old is Birx?

      It’s a spoils system, after all, immune from consequences, as rotten as the corrupt and uncaring bureaucracy that led to the demolition of Beirut, once called the Paris of the Mideast, https://theculturetrip.com/middle-east/lebanon/articles/why-beirut-was-once-called-the-paris-of-the-middle-east/

      Reply
      1. a different chris

        :)

        I edited it out, but I had a “you know, somebody barely 65” in the first draft… unbelievable how old farts run this country.

        I killed it because it wasn’t really funny – everybody here that has achieved at least that age can tell you the insane difference between turning 30 and turning 45. Yet that is the difference between Fauci and a freaking 64 year old version of himself. Lordy.

        Reply
    2. cripes

      There you go again, bashing on the basis of age.
      Makes as much sense as labeling people young farts, white farts, black farts etc, but that would risk pushback.
      Let me add here, stupid farts which has, at least, the benefit of describing a salient personal quality rather than a demographic irrelevance. Or boring farts, like you.

      Find your people, they need you.
      Mad magazine is that way >>

      Reply
  6. Icecube12

    COVID-19 antibodies do last, study suggests, RÚV

    Based on large-scale testing from Iceland

    “There is no evidence in Icelandic society that antibody levels reduce quickly after people recover, as people overseas have been wondering and worrying about. News of that has been based on testing very few individuals. We are testing a very large number and our results are definitive,” Kári says.

    Antibody testing at deCODE genetics has revealed that older people produce more COVID-19 antibodies than young people, and men produce more than women.

    Also gives possible reasons why some might not show evidence of antibodies even though they tested positive.

    Reply
    1. chuck roast

      Large scale testing in Iceland. Nice…if inefficient. These people are all cousins. Randomly pick a couple-dozen and you have an N.

      Reply
  7. JTMcPhee

    People maybe waking up to the toxicity of the “ruling class,” the destruction in Beirut coming from the same junk pile of self-dealing as Covid-fail, trillions to looters, wars, climate collapse. I wonder whether pretend-and-extend and control of the Narrative will once again have the bleeding continue.

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      The same old bleeding will continue in each country with a Ruling Class till that country’s Ruling Class runs out of runway. Then a different kind of bleeding will begin.

      Reply
    2. GettingTheBannedBack

      The explosion in Beirut has been horrifying, and the little news so far paints a terrible picture of the privations of the people.
      However, our local “liberal” radio station is doing a lockstep analysis of the corrupt politicians in Beirut, how the harbour is used to funnel supplies to Syria, failed state, people hate the government yada yada.
      When this happens these days, I wonder. Is the expert from the American University in Beirut really impartial? What is really causing the “failed state” of Lebanon? Why was the Lebanese PM detained in Saudi Arabia last year?
      In short, it would be really nice to get an unbiased and intelligent analysis of the real situation there. Sometimes I feel as if I’m at the business end of a propaganda firehose.

      Reply
  8. Arizona Slim

    Here in Tucson, the university students are starting to trickle back into town. Can the major rager parties be far behind? We neighbors think that the weekend of August 15-16 will be quite festive.

    OTOH, the faculty isn’t too happy about the reopening plans. Link:

    https://kvoa.com/news/national-news/2020/07/31/pushback-hundreds-of-ua-faculty-staff-sign-letter-opposing-re-entry-plan/

    And, let me say this: If you can get nearly 1,300 UA faculty members to agree on anything, it’s serious.

    Reply
    1. Polar Donkey

      3 days into school year, friend who is a teacher in Mississippi said 4 teachers have quit and a 5th may today at her school. The students don’t arrive till Monday.

      Reply
      1. Winston Smith

        Teachers are quitting and it’s a wonder that nurses and doctors don’t seem to be quitting as well.

        Reply
        1. WobblyTelomeres

          At least here in Alabama, a lot of nurses were laid off when elective surgery was banned. Now, the “non-profit” hospitals are complaining about the shortage of nurses.

          Note: quotes around non-profit as most in my experience are shell organizations that spin off as much as possible (labs, pharmacies, supplies, nurses, surgeries, physicians) to for-profit enterprises owned by board members.

          Reply
          1. a different chris

            Non-profit UPMC amasses a 1/2 trillion dollars every year that they have to find some way to pretend wasn’t “profit”.

            You would think they would pay nurses more with it, but that doesn’t seem to be a possibility somehow.

            Reply
          2. chuck roast

            So, the nurses were laid off and now they are “collecting.” They can go to the emergency room/intensive care and catch the plague or they can get their sunglasses and go to the beach. If they get beat out of the $600/week the decision may not be so obvious.

            Reply
        2. Amfortas the hippie

          depends on what virtual silo they swim in, i guess.
          we had a coach conceal his “allergies” and ride herd of the jv football practice for a week, while waiting on results. he’s positive as of yesterday.
          and a cousin who has stomach cancer, just found out she has pancreatic cancer, too…had a rally for support on her street…and numerous well wishers insisted on hugging her.
          I wonder if this behaviour is just a subspecies of the whole deaths of despair phenomenon….Generation F%&k It?
          (both are GenX)

          Reply
        3. Lee

          Doctors and nurses are as a rule strongly motivated and to at least some extent equipped to take on the reaper. Teachers and students in a classroom are just hapless hosts in a petri dish.

          Reply
        4. carolinus

          Working as a nurse in the medical ICU (the covid unit) in a VA Hospital in North Carolina, I can report that there have been a number of people trickle out. Three older employees that have been reporting in the preceding years that they would work 2-3 more before retirement have been moved to file their papers and are out of here. Also saw one younger/middle aged employee (~40) decide to sell his house, get a sprinter or the likes, and he and his wife both quit their nursing jobs.

          Reply
          1. Wukchumni

            Nearly 200 employees have tested positive for the virus @ Kaweah Delta Hospital in Visalia.

            The San Joaquin Valley has long been known to face a shortage of nurses and other healthcare providers, a problem exacerbated by the infectiousness of COVID-19. As of July 13, Kaweah Delta reported 70 employees under quarantine, out of nearly 200 who have tested positive for the disease to date.

            https://www.kvpr.org/post/military-provide-covid-19-assistance-inundated-valley-hospitals

            Reply
          2. Tom Bradford

            A TV news segment down here in NZ a couple of nights ago reported that one ‘benefit’ of the pandemic and NZ’s local eradication of it was that our public health service, which usually struggles to fill vacancies due to the competition from better-paying foreign systems, was now flush with applications from highly-qualified doctors, nurses and specialists from abroad wanting to move here. It even featured an interview with a newly-arrived US intensive-care nurse playing on a (winter) deserted NZ beach with hubby and toddler.

            Cue ‘ill-wind’ quote.

            Reply
      2. Arizona Slim

        Tucson Unified School District started this morning. I saw three buses passing by my house.

        One was one of those short buses. Stopped to pick up a nearby neighbor, and I don’t think he got on the bus.

        The other two had one student each per bus. And, believe you me, there are plenty of school-aged children in this area.

        Reply
        1. polar donkey

          There seems to be a dynamic at play in Memphis regional area. Demographically richer public schools seem to have higher in class attendance. There seems to be a mindset that they are good, clean people and of course are not going to get covid. The poorer schools have more parents doing online for their kids. Memphis schools have gone all online.

          Reply
    2. Grant

      Why are there not massive strikes everywhere by teachers? They would have a large chunk of parents on their side.

      Reply
        1. Grant

          Many teachers in states have recently done strikes, like in West Virginia, that have been very effective, even with right wing governments. And someone shouldn’t die that young anyway because of sociopaths in power. Seems that a strike is less scary than dying a horrible death from in a pandemic, especially when the public would be on the side of teachers.

          Reply
        1. Grant

          I thought that was the case in some states where teachers none the less recently struck, was the case in WV. I mean, if they all strike, who the hell is going to teach the kids in the classroom during the pandemic? I get it though, those on top of our society are militantly anti-union and anti-worker.

          Reply
    3. newcatty

      Slim, you are helping me to not miss the Ole Pueblo. Except for delicioso comida. Maybe the music venues, food coop, and some other stuff. We were part of the “UofA” community and your assessment is right on. Sure it’s more applicable now than ever. Add to Tucson “welcoming” college students back to school, just read that there are some 500 or so prisoners in a state prison in town who have tested positive for Covid-19. Think some deaths so far… Stay safe and sound it’s just late teen aged nonsense.

      Reply
  9. rusti

    Here’s Exactly How Inefficient Wireless Charging Is OneZero (Dr. Kevin)

    While the author of this article makes a few fundamental technical mistakes about things like power/energy units, it’s true that wireless charging based on the Qi standard is awfully inefficient. In my personal experience it’s about 45-75% efficient (depending on what you call the start and end points) primarily based on alignment of transmit and receive coils, so the rest is lost to heat.

    Actually, in some ways it’s worse than the author says, because the resulting waste heat results in a hotter battery in the phone, and charging a Lithium Ion battery at higher temperature reduces the cycle life. In Qi charging, phones throttle the charging power requested to keep their battery below a certain temperature as not to kill the cycle life too much, but it’s inherently worse than charging with a cable.

    It also adds a ton of complexity because transmitters require algorithms for “foreign object detection” so the charger doesn’t heat things like coins that land on the charging pad to dangerous temperatures, and the phone manufacturers have been discussing things like establishing authentication schemes so knockoff chargers that don’t get certified don’t fry the batteries in their phones. Chargers also emit large magnetic fields both while in pinging mode (searching for a phone) and in charging mode (particularly while coils are poorly aligned).

    Just to add one more point of how comically inefficient it is, charger vendors are developing fans to blow air over the phone to cool them by convection to keep the temperature down to improve charging times, so even more energy is wasted to power the fans.

    Reply
    1. Oh

      People who buy these devices are so lazy that they cannot plugin a conventional charger. Apple will probably eliminate conventional charging so that they can monopolize the sale of their devices (currently the ones manufactured by other companies work but that will change) and will be made so that the battery life will be decrease. They’ll put in new batteries. Ka Ching!

      Reply
    2. Massinissa

      I didn’t know wireless chargers were even a thing. I’m honestly surprised they even exist, so its little wonder they are needlessly inefficient.

      Reply
  10. doug

    I saw video of sorority rush event at UNC on the news this am. Not a good look. The county health department and the university may be at odds at this point. Not sure which entity is more powerful at the moment.
    Are any of the betting parlors taking over/under on how long certain university will be open or play sports?
    Someone should do that to take the place of sports betting…

    Reply
    1. bob

      The schools got their tuition. That was all they were worried about. If they have to go back to ‘online learning’ they’re fine with that.

      Reply
      1. Kurtismayfield

        Exactly.. they needed to bait as many people as they could to.psy tuition, then when they go online it’s “oops, sorry nonrefundable”.

        The same will happen with the off campus 1 year leases.. mission accomplished.

        Didn’t the governor order UNC to go remote?

        Reply
    2. CGKen

      Earlier this summer, my university told the students to come back in the fall.

      The latest email this week, a month ahead of dorms opening, told them to pack lightly in case we need to “de-densify” quickly.

      There’s been no communication on what could trigger “de-densification.”

      Reply
  11. allan

    Lack of study and oversight raises concerns about tear gas [AP]

    … during the nationwide Black Lives Matter protests, federal, state and local law enforcement agencies have sometimes been using it offensively, including against peaceful protesters, children, and pregnant women, without providing an escape route or piling on excessive amounts of gas, witnesses and human rights advocates say. …

    … interviews by The Associated Press with medical researchers, federal regulatory agencies, and a review of U.S. government-funded scientific studies raise questions about the safety of the gas, especially its use on individuals in confined spaces, in excessive quantities, and when it’s fired directly at protesters. Medical professionals interviewed by the AP said the use of tear gas is particularly concerning during the COVID-19 epidemic. The AP also found that there is no government oversight of the manufacture and use of tear gas. Instead, the industry is left to regulate itself. …

    Mix unregulated chemical weapons with qualified immunity for LEO and stir.

    Reply
  12. The Rev Kev

    “India’s Hindu Nationalists Reverse the Tide of History”

    I’m getting a bad feeling about the future of India. So we have an Indian Prime Minister – Narendra Modi – founding a new Hindu temple on a site where, for hundreds of years, a mosque had stood. A mosque that Hindi nationalists had torn down years before. Modi is riding and staying in power on a tide of Hindu nationalism but I do not think that Indian democracy will survive the onslaught. Perhaps like Erdogan in Turkey, Modi regards democracy as a train that gets you to where you want to go – before stepping off. It remains to be seen if India becomes eventually an expansionary power but it looks like that they are solidifying their borders and establishing the Hindus as the top dog in India over other peoples.

    Reply
    1. Jessica

      India is far more dangerous than Turkey. Turkey has been oppressing and murdering and committing at least cultural genocide against its Kurdish population for decades, but in India there is both caste oppression and violence and anti-Muslim attitudes and activities that have reached a pre-genocidal level. The Indian Muslim population alone is much larger than the entire population of Turkey. In fact, it is larger than the entire population of all but 6 or 7 nations.
      The tricky part is that centuries ago, non-Muslims* in what is now India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh were killed in the millions by Persian/Afghani/Central Asian invaders who were Muslim. On the other hand, much of the Muslim population of India is former lower caste or Dalit (outcaste) people who became Muslim in order to escape the brutal Hindu caste system. So anti-Muslim-ism in India combines both resentment against long-ago conquerors and caste supremacism.
      (*Indians in those days did not yet consider themselves Hindus. They identified with various religions that all came to be viewed as Hinduism during British rule.)

      Reply
      1. newcatty

        This echoes what the Spaniards and Catholic “missionaries” did to indigenous peoples in Mexico and Central America. Especially to the Maya. Numerous ancient temples and astronomical sites were destroyed. Much of the artifacts and history burned or ransacked. Many Catholic churches were purposefully built on top of places of spiritual and sacred practice. This happened in this country too. Also, in Ireland and all over Europe.

        Reply
        1. Kurt Sperry

          As a practical matter it’s a lot easier to build on existing foundation work. Many old churches in Italy were built on the foundations of pre-Christian temples for this reason. They often repurposed a lot of the stone still on site for the constructions as well.

          Reply
  13. LaRuse

    I, for one, appreciate and need the animal stories. We are on death watch for my father in law – COVID will end what Alzheimer’s started long ago – presumably in the next 24-48 hours. And yesterday I received a “voluntary” separation package offer from my job – voluntary until it isn’t, of course.
    So bring on the animals. This week has been garbage.

    Reply
    1. Amfortas the hippie

      I feel ya.
      My Dad died last week.
      and I’m 350 miles away during a pandemic…and no funeral, or wake or bonfire or anything, until “all this calms down”.
      (his was result of long term congestive heart failure, not covid. covid just made it all more difficult)
      hang in there.
      and try to avoid any intoxication psychosis as a result…that’s what i did, and it only made everything worse.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        I get the feeling the virus is going to take out my mom, and she’s 95 and has led an exemplary life, volunteered to do everything you can imagine, had no lack of friends and i’d fantasized pre-Covid what her funeral would be like, hundreds of mourners paying their respect to a great woman, but it’s not destined to happen, more than likely.

        Just another quiet passing, like all the rest.

        Reply
        1. Pat

          Might I suggest that in lieu of a funeral you ask her friends and other family to provide a letter or a recording of their fondest memory of your mother. You could combine them for the family in a permanent manner, and use them for a virtual memorial. She would still be honored as she should, and you would have a more tangible “history”.

          I always regret that when my grandparents died I wasn’t able to do the oral history of their lives as I wanted. Especially since they now have great grandchildren with little awareness of the rather amazing lives they led.

          Reply
          1. Amfortas the hippie

            i’ve written down all the family stories for years…from grandparents, great grandmother and both of my folks and their siblings.
            I’m also the default curator of the Museum of Us(in my Library/pos trailerhouse).
            No one else has the time , space or inclination for this kind of thing…Eternal Now/Year Zero,as the secular(and unthinking) baseline…family history is regarded as tertiary, at best.

            Reply
          2. Wukchumni

            My mom like me, has a photographic memory for things that interest her, and we’ve spent days getting all of her recollections down pat, and such interesting material. She was a bicycle telegram delivery girl in Calgary during WW2, to give you an idea.

            I like the concept of hitting up her peers for fondest memories of her, thanks~

            Reply
        2. Jessica

          Maybe after every thing settles down, we declare a memorial week and fill it with memorials for those whose wakes and funerals we cannot hold now.

          Reply
      2. Oso

        Amfortas,
        an altar to a lost loved one can be a comfort, with pictures and things which provide memories or connections. a good place to sit and quietly share thoughts or let your mind slip away to the past.

        Reply
      1. Pelham

        I’m in tears reading these. I’ll second what you’ve said. Plus I’d like to find the character who invented the concept of a voluntary separation that isn’t voluntary.

        Reply
    2. HotFlash

      My condolences to you, LaRuse, and to you, amfortas. Best to you, Wuk.

      Was talking to some neighbours today, I had known the former owner of the house pretty well. So I asked if they were relatives, which they were (I was pretty sure), and they remembered me from the funeral, that was three years ago. “Oh,” they told me, “last week was her birthday, we went to the cemetery to visit her grave. She’s doin’ fine.” I’m planning to make some ginger jam today/tomorrow (gathered a bunch of green windfall apples today), I will take them some.

      My BFF, who is very frail and stroked out, has already chosen her epitaph: To live in hearts we leave behind Is not to die. (Thomas Campbell, Hallowed Ground, 1825) I cherish every day with her.

      Reply
    3. kareninca

      I am very sorry about your father in law. And your job. That is terrible.

      I have a very close relative who has advanced cirrhosis of the liver due to obesity; he is only 57 years old. This is a bad time to be medically vulnerable. I know several people who have died recently who I think would not have died so soon if things were not such a mess.

      Reply
  14. Matthew G. Saroff

    For the Georgia class story, it should be noted that the student who posted the pics has reportedly been suspended.

    Reply
  15. Jeff W

    Fox in Berlin Stole 100 Shoes The Cut

    What’s with all these calceophilic foxes in Berlin? First, it was that fox in that link (“Fox found with impressive shoe collection in Berlin” BBC) this past weekend and now this one. These foxes could get together and round out each other’s odd shoes, I guess, but today’s fox was apparently pretty good about keeping his or her pairs together.

    Reply
      1. RMO

        A different chris: Well… I suppose it kind of had to go with what was easily available. Not much chance of finding for example a pair of the Peter Fox boots I got my wife for her birthday several years ago…

        Reply
    1. jr

      Years ago I was clambering around the Delaware Water Gap and came to the edge of a high cliff. When I looked over the edge, at the cliff’s base was a big male fox in the full glory of it’s winter coat. It heard me somehow and disappeared in a flash.

      Reply
  16. David

    It’s actually hard to get your head around just how bad the damage in Beirut is: nothing remotely that bad has happened to a major western capital in modern times, or perhaps ever. Take the capital of your own country and imagine that 50% of it is destroyed or badly damaged. The BBC video clip shows what I think is the main street in Gemmayze, an area for which the word “bustling” might have been coined. I’ve eaten there many times. It’s all gone now
    I’m actually starting to wonder whether the Lebanese political system is capable of surviving all this. Remember that there was a political crisis, extreme even by Lebanese standards, the worst economic crisis since the end of the Civil War, a million Syrian refugees, threats from Israel and then Covid. Oh, and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon will be announcing its verdict on the Hizbollah members accused of the assassination of Rafiq Hariri in 2005. That collection would have taxed the capacities of any political system, but the Lebanese one, which is based on bargaining between communitarian elites to divide the wealth of the country, seems to me to be completely incapable of dealing with it. The political gangsters who eventually settled the war, and have run Lebanon ever since, have a very restricted repertoire of moves, mostly including blaming each other, blaming foreign powers and looking to foreign powers for help. None of that is going to be of any use now. This is not the corruption, inefficiency and ineffectiveness that ordinary people have been complaining about fruitlessly for decades. This is half the city destroyed because of incompetence and, probably corruption. And this time it’s not just the ordinary people who have lost: from what I can see, the blast took out luxury hotels, luxury apartment blocks, designer shops, banks and car showrooms. The political system may simply collapse – not necessarily into violence, because there’s nothing really to fight about – but collapse all the same.

    Meanwhile, first out of the gate with a stupid intervention is Walid Jumblatt, the long-time (aren’t they all?) patriarch of the Druze community, who has publicly raised the possibility that the explosion was the result of a deliberate attack, and demanded an international commission of enquiry. Others will no doubt follow, looking for ways to profit from this ghastly episode.

    Reply
      1. HotFlash

        I remember reading about that. All the hospitals went on alert, prepared for the deluge of injured to come in. None came.

        Reply
          1. wilroncanada

            Halifax was, of course, not the capital of a country, canada, just the capital of the province of Nova Scotia. It was also (this was 1917) the main departure point for troops from Canada to Britain for First World War Service. One of the two ships which collided in the harbour was loaded with explosives and ammunition headed for. The blast decimated virtually the whole of the city, including all of the downtown. It was–I’m not sure it still is– the largest non-nuclear blast in recorded history.
            One telegrapher, according to an historical short played regularly on CBC television, stayed at his post sending telegrams to warn people throughout the province, and even to Boston, until he died as the blast levelled everything in its path. Help was sent from Boston with medical supplies being foremost.
            How much different things are now. Now the US would have sent troops to “clean up.” and take over.
            There was a later collision in Halifax. Two ships loaded with paint supplies, one red and one purple, collided. both crews were marooned.

            Reply
    1. marieann

      My hairdresser is from Syria and has family in Beirut. I went for a haircut this morning, she says it was deliberate

      Reply
      1. Olga

        Ok, my Lebanese friends are saying that it was most likely an accident, and that the army’s intelligence unit (which is not sectarian) is on the job to figure out what happened. The stuff was stored improperly, and over the years, there were attempts to deal with it. But a judge would always stop those – most likely reason: someone was trying to sell it, make a deal, or whatever…

        Reply
        1. JBird4049

          As an American, I really can’t lecture anyone on another country’s corruption. I can also understand trying to make some money.

          However, having 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate, stored in canvas sacks inside an apparently unlocked warehouse in a city of over a million people for seven years is just purely demented.

          Reply
    2. Maxwell Johnston

      My parents had the good fortune to visit Beirut in 1974, just before all hell broke loose. They loved it and still talked about it years later. What a shame. What a loss. I think Lebanon is a failed state in a bad neighborhood. Cannot imagine how this will play out. Here is some more detail on yesterday’s disaster, with a photo of the Russian businessman who abandoned the vessel (yeah, it’s dailymail, but hey…..):

      https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8595359/Lebanese-authorities-repeatedly-warned-danger-hazardous-chemicals.html

      Reply
      1. John k

        I was there several times in the early 60’s. Even as a teen I thought it was a beautiful city by the sea, living in dusty Amman at the time. Still remember the lovely Phoenician hotel. Sad at the disintegration over the years, present disaster really awful. I would guess incompetence, which is everywhere witness Covid, rather than intent, plus the result may be anarchy, who would guess they would profit from that?
        Can’t be bad if the corrupt elite get tossed, almost no matter who steps in. Course, that applies in many places, not least here.

        Reply
  17. William Hunter Duncan

    VIPS MEMO: To Nancy Pelosi — Did Russia Hack the DNC Emails?

    I heard Jeffrey Toobin on Terry Gross last night, peddling his new book about Trump’s crimes. He said matter of fact incontrovertible, the Russians hacked the DNC and gave the emails to Wikileaks. The more I listened to him, the more dubious I became, and then with a sneer of incredulity he called Bill Barr a political hack. I immediately thought, is there a bigger Clintonite neoliberal hack in corporate Media than Toobin? Pot calling what kettle black? The more he talked the more he sneered. Terry Gross ate it up. I could feel all those liberals in Dem land listening with righteous indignation, so very self assured, so very credulous about every word of this way too tight narrative of Toobin’s.

    Dem’s don’t seem to get, just because Trump is a liar doesn’t mean becoming a worse liar to tear him down is justified and good for the country. That Toobin is such an astoundingly transparent and hypocritical political hack masquerading as a purveyor of Truth and Justice, gives me great pause to vote for that Clintonite neoliberal Biden. Nefarious is no thing to vote for.

    Reply
    1. Dr. John Carpenter

      Dem’s don’t seem to get, just because Trump is a liar doesn’t mean becoming a worse liar to tear him down is justified and good for the country.

      This a million times.

      They also don’t seem to get they could have taken him out at any time, but it would have required them being better than him, not just virtue signaling and doing the same as him. Or rather, the substance of the Trump administration is never what they’ve been bothered about.

      Reply
      1. newcatty

        Click your slippers together and repeat…There is no place like our country! Then don’t look behind the curtain and you won’t see the savior of us is not that.

        Reply
    2. zagonostra

      This is what it has come down to, being told that voting is about voting against something bad because there is nothing good to vote for. What kills me is that even someone I respect(ed) like Chomsky is being used in commercials telling us we have to vote for Biden/Clintonite neoliberals.

      Well, I’m not biting. I think Chomsky’s condescending comments on 9/11 skeptics, and now making commercials for Biden, has rendered him no longer the wise sage that he was once viewed as.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HhAU-YCk3Y0

      Reply
      1. Aumua

        UGH I took Chomsky’s class at my University a while back “what is politics?” which was essentially a series of lectures and it was great, and I felt lucky to have had the chance to see him speak weekly for a semester. But I can’t even watch this video. I don’t want to know… MAKE IT GO AWAY! Please.

        Reply
    3. Olga

      I heard it, too, and could not believe it. He completely danced around the issues and re-directed what was the main point of Russiagate (though Toobin has long been a shill). Used to like Terry… but I think she’s now become an amplifier for the blob.

      Reply
    4. drumlin woodchuckles

      A new figure of speech occurs to me: the pot calling the mirror black. Feel free to use it if/where it is ever useful.

      Reply
  18. Wukchumni

    Rotisserie League News:

    Well, that 100 degree temp in the arctic circle really got my attention a month ago, does that mean we’ll be looking @ 137 in our cities full of concrete & asphalt?

    There’s 2 ways to beat the heat, go low or go high, or preferably do both…

    Took a walk yesterday to beautiful White Chief Canyon~

    If we have enough advance warning, you’ll find me just inside the mouth of the White Chief Mine*(i’ve decided to cancel out the 2 names in front of the hole in the ground on account of correctness, and will simply call it Mine) where the temp is a constant 60 degrees @ 9,500 feet.

    The Mine is typical of all the hard rock mines here in that it goes straight back for 175 feet and is 7 to 8 feet tall, and 6 feet wide.

    They were hoping to find silver which was daft, as the entire area is white marble, a plethora of which lies as tailings below the horizontal shaft, and if the sun hits them just right, it looks as if sparkly diamonds are embedded in the surface.

    There’s a number of natural caves in the vicinity, but the Mine is closer to water and comes with a view, which the caves most certainly don’t.

    A neat feature nearby is a 100 foot high cave-fed waterfall which goes down a creek for 3/4’s of a mile and then disappears into a sinkhole. This is ‘raw water’, the type wealthy Silicon Valley types pay big bickies for.

    Troglodyte this!

    * this is prime Marmot Cong turf, their calling card was scattered all over in front of the Mine

    Reply
  19. marym

    NYT 08/05/2020

    The New York Times @nytimes
    “Major U.S. health insurers are reporting billions of dollars in profits during the pandemic, spurring calls for consumer rebates and reduced premiums” 11:00 PM · Aug 5, 2020 https://twitter.com/nytimes/status/1291222502245638144

    Major U.S. Health Insurers Report Big Profits, Benefiting From the Pandemic
    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/05/health/covid-insurance-profits.html
    “Consumers are probably entitled to millions of dollars in rebates under Obamacare rules that cap companies’ profits.

    Even though the federal government is now encouraging insurers to turn over excess funds to consumers more quickly this year, the Obamacare law gives companies a three-year window to calculate how much to return as a way to offset any mistakes they made in setting rates or if they experienced unexpected expenses.”

    Three year window!

    Reply
  20. Sheldon

    “BBC threatens pensioners with bailiffs if they don’t pay the licence fee..” Wonder why they would refuse to pay? Maybe they don’t like being force to pay for the only product being offered to them?

    Have long admired the BBC. Wonderful radio programs and police dramas–until recently. What happened to the BBC? The stories told and the characters portrayed mandatorily reflect the following:

    “In 2016 the BBC pledged that half its workforce and leadership would be female by 2020 despite less than 40 percent of Britain’s full-time workers being women. It also set an 8 percent target for LGBT employees, although only around 2 percent of the population identify as LGBT. This target has been comfortably exceeded, as has been the target of having 15 percent of employees from a BAME background. In the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests last month, the corporation raised this target to 20 per cent.”

    https://www.zerohedge.com/political/lost-boys-white-working-class-being-left-behind

    For example, are at least half of the police inspectors in the UK black and women, as shown on the BBC? Not according to official statistics:

    “at the end of March 2019, 93.1% of police officers were from the White ethnic group, 2.9% of police officers were Asian, 2.1% had Mixed ethnicity, 1.2% were Black and 0.7% were from the Other ethnic group”
    https://www.ethnicity-facts-figures.service.gov.uk/workforce-and-business/workforce-diversity/police-workforce/latest

    Reply
    1. hunkerdown

      The idea that you should be able to opt out of the responsibility for public goods is sociopathic neoliberal cant whose results have been well documented, which has been well rejected on this blog, if you would care to read it rather than treating it as a marketing board for psychotic neoliberal “thought”.

      Reply
      1. Sheldon

        Then you don’t mind paying more taxes to give biblethumping churches their exemption? Nor, buy weapons for the Defense Department?

        “Well rejected on this blog?” Oh look, the Beachmaster!

        (That’s the big bull seal that hoards space for himself.)

        Reply
  21. Michael

    Gabriel Kolko’s excellent book from the 1970s shows that the bomb was dropped to end the war BEFORE Russian troops arrived to carve out territory.
    The enemy already was Russia.

    Reply
    1. elissa3

      A similar conclusion from Charles Mee, Jr’s excellent 70s book, Meeting at Potsdam, which is a fascinating read all on its own. Make Stalin aware of how far he could go in Europe. The beginning of the Cold War was already being mixed in the batter, if not yet put into the oven. Stalin understood.

      Reply
      1. Olga

        I read somewhere that Truman got the news about the bomb on the way to Potsdam. He apparently became giddy like a child, happy that now he’d have an opportunity to show Stalin who the boss is.

        Reply
  22. Wukchumni

    Casa Blanca, updated:

    Manhattan district attorney’s office: Heh, you know, watching you just now with the Deutsche Bank, one would think you’ve been doing this all your life.

    Donald: Oh, what makes you think I haven’t?

    Reply
    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      A nation of men, not of laws.

      So the model is of feuding barons (but the barons at least had The Magna Carta).

      Sow, reap, whirlwind. They’ve been doing everything possible they can for 30+ years for this outcome, it’s hilarious watching the neo-lib project surprised at receiving the fruits of their labors. Oh, look, you got all the money, but you no longer have a country

      Reply
  23. Mikerw0

    One topic I am surprised has not really been commented on is the aftermath of Hurricane Isaias. Here in the NYC/NJ area things are still quite bad with a couple of million homes without power. While we know the crews are out working, you can hear the chainsaws, they are advising that by Sunday night 90% of homes will be restored. Pretty dismal.

    What may be worse is the response of Optimum, née Cablevision, the largest internet and cable provider in the region. They are having a near total blackout of all services. They have so cut back their service department since AlticeUSA purchased them that there is no customer service. With everyone working from home you can’t do so without internet, which was never designed for such usage anyway. Finally, in response to a barrage against them on Twitter, this morning they blamed the power utilities, which observationally is nonsense.

    Politicians, are again calling for utilities to explain their poor response, yet won’t really do anything about it; such as requiring utilities to be that instead of goosing their stock price by cutting services and costs.

    As is frequently cited on NC, more crapification of everything.

    Reply
    1. jr

      Second that lack of customer service for Spectrum wifi here in Manhattan. We just moved into a new apartment and I set up the wifi weeks in advance to insure my GF’s Zoom meetings would go on without a hitch. After being told it was setup, I had to have a tech come out. He told me they hadn’t set it up. When he left, I tried to sign on to no avail. I called Spectrum where I spent almost 40 minutes on hold to be finally told the account hadn’t been properly………………..setup. I lost my composure for a few seconds then the kid walked me through it.

      It took three “final” setups, over an hour of my time, and four late days to get the wifi transferred.

      Reply
  24. jr

    Re: what happens when you tell the unemployment people in NYS that you are a culinary instructor of 10 years experience:

    When my UI ran out, I received no notice at all. I found out the party was over when I went through the entire weekly five minute phone process only to be perfunctorily told my funds were dry. I had emailed my veterans advocate a week earlier to ask about when I was on empty but heard nothing back. However, the UI people did manage to successfully inform me yesterday of a grand opportunity in the culinary arts, one upon which to found a golden future alight with promise:

    “Krispy Kreme Times Square Holding Virtual Interviews!

    Employment Location: 1601 Broadway at West 48th Street

    Shifts Available: Mornings, Afternoons, and Overnights available. Overnight positions are paid $1 more per hour.

    Additional Requirement: Must have a valid email for a virtual interview.

    Now hiring for the following positions:

    Doughnut Makers (Full & Part-Time)
    Sanitation Personnel (Full Time)
    How to Apply: Complete online application at: http://www.workforkrispykreme.com

    Please keep in mind that only those candidates selected for an interview will be contacted.”

    No mention of the doubtless princely wage but you do get an extra dollar per hour if you agree to turn yourself into a vampire, wreck your health, and alienate your family by working the graveyard shift.

    Welcome to the future.

    Reply
    1. Pelham

      I know what you mean. I’m now working for about one-quarter of what the “free market” told me I was worth over a 32-year career when my employer exercised gross age discrimination against me and dozens of others like me and pushed us out the door with a few minutes’ notice. Not that this detestable practice is uncommon.

      For a while I collected unemployment benefits but was shocked at the way I was treated. Again, after 32 years, the flinty bureaucrats made me feel like a bum. Of course, these low-level people are themselves probably subjected to any number of indignities in their work. So I tried to take that into account.

      Reply
      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        But but but with the needle pegged at the Capital side of the meter against Labor, let’s re-install the crew who completely rolled over and made it so. But at least they wear kente cloth and don’t do rude Tweets!

        C’mon, man!

        Reply
  25. L

    On Hong Kong, I would not read the fact that pets are being tested as proof of good capacity, or good testing. Hong Kong is incredibly unequal, a product of its high ranking on the Heritage Economic Freedom Index.

    If you look at local news such as the HKFP, they have challenges with testing or caring for domestic workers, and, like Singapore, problems with illness going unnoticed among the “underclass”.

    The pets getting tested belong to the rich. In HK they outrank most people.

    Reply
  26. Wukchumni

    Talked to a friend who cleans AirBnB’s in town and she’s been doing it for years, and she mentioned an interesting thing in that it was related that guests this year seem to not give a whit in regards to rules and acting decently, as opposed to years past.

    Here’s a foretaste of what’s in store for us, methinks:

    Massive Brawl Breaks Out at Anaheim Hotel, Up to 100 People Involved

    Officers were sent to the hotel at 101 E. Katella Ave., a couple blocks from Disneyland, at about 12:40 p.m. They found about 40 people fighting outside the hotel in the parking lot of the main entrance and up to 60 more fighting inside the lobby, Carringer said.

    https://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/fight-orange-county-hotel-100-people-cambria/2408665/

    Reply
  27. Wukchumni

    Thank you so much for inviting me on a hike! I’ve been meaning to explore the unbelievable landscapes surrounding my urban abode and move my body in a way that isn’t just thirty minutes of tweeting on the elliptical—presuming that you agree to these modest, reasonable conditions, of course.

    https://www.newyorker.com/humor/daily-shouts/a-non-hikers-terms-and-conditions-for-hiking?utm_source=nl&utm_brand=tny&utm_mailing=TNY_Humor_080520&utm_campaign=aud-dev&utm_medium=email&bxid=5be9eb992ddf9c72dc7e99f2&cndid=31377060&hasha=3f571abc4285a61958e8f8257688029a&hashb=1900d4a00011feaf820085ed402cf3d93004afd7&hashc=b1b950caeebea213b9cb1ddd915921045955af802fa7692882d2d3f91f5c016c&esrc=auto_captionentrants&utm_term=TNY_Humor
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    I think it’s amusing that good old walking (there were no new high tech inventions that came about-you have to do all the work yourself) has won the battle of physical fitness, now that sweaty gyms are going to all go out of business soon.

    It’s pretty simple too, just put one foot in front of the other and alternate often.

    Reply
    1. JWP

      In my summer hiking adventures around Oregon, the New Yorker piece holds up quite well. I think a useful addition would be “if a day hike requires driving of greater than 2 hours, it’s a no” Trails within 2 hours of Portland are packed. But once beyond about a 2 hour drive, they are desolate. And here, the best hikes are south and east beyond that marker.

      A hilarious moment occurred at Jedediah Redwoods. Normally, there’s a pedestrian bridge seasonally erected to cross the Smith River and get to Stout grove from the campsites. Due to COVID, the bridge was not put up. I saw 6 people at once spinning in circles with their heads in phones wondering where the bridge was, all standing at the shoreline. Myself and one other stranger swam across to a few calls of “you’re crazy/it’s not safe” (its a nearly still river at 5 feet deep).
      Mandatory wilderness training for all as a condition of US citizenship.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        It’s been fun to watch the SoCalist movement here, everything from never been in the mountains, to seasoned hikers.

        Seems like old times though, hardly anybody is masked up on the trail and everybody is way courteous, stepping off the trail a bit when in passing.

        Reply
  28. flora

    Re: GileadScience and the Remdesivir rip off.

    Don’t forget about Moderna.

    Since the government paid $483 million for the pre-clinical research and $472 million for the Phase 3 trials, it looks like Moderna is making a healthy profit on both. Yet, the government is still giving Moderna a patent monopoly, which means that it will arrest anyone who tries to produce the vaccine without Moderna’s permission.[1]

    The patent monopoly means that we are paying Moderna twice. We first picked up the tab for the research and the testing and now we are giving the company a patent monopoly so that it can charge people around the world as much as it wants for the vaccine.

    https://cepr.net/moderna-shows-all-those-lazy-unemployed-workers-how-to-really-rip-off-the-government/

    The US gov could have given major US University/Med Sciences centers or the NIH the same funding for vaccine research, with any discovered usable vaccine part of the public domain or unpatented result, like the polio vaccine. But no. The corruption here is so deep…

    Reply
    1. Carla

      flora — please see my comments of earlier this morning providing links to the work of Dr. Michael Mina. Between corruption and utter bureaucratic ineptitude, we are in incredible trouble, indeed.

      Reply
  29. Dr. John Carpenter

    Borderline criminal drug pricing? Straight up criminal and it’s pathetic that there’s even a doubt about it.

    Reply
  30. Grant

    “Wearing a mask is a personal choice and there is no practical way to enforce a mandate to wear them,” he wrote.”

    Really? So, schools now have zero say in what students wear? A student can go to school with profanity on their shirt? Can someone wear a bathing suit to class? Is that not clothing? Can some schools not say or do anything about gang colors? These people are criminally stupid.

    Reply
    1. Amfortas the hippie

      i had the same reaction,lol…after all the BS i endured about “long” hair,(nowhere near as long as it’s been since i quit/got run off) now they decide that the whole in loco parentis that they used to justify that enforced conformity was not really the kind of responsibility they wanted after all.
      sheesh.
      frelling cowards.

      Reply
  31. JWP

    https://aeon.co/essays/cities-are-a-borderland-where-the-wild-and-built-worlds-meet

    A good thinker for today. Cities built to keep the natural world at bay yet are wholly dependent on it. Author suggesting we seek to live and build cities within the confines of the geography at the site and not try and change it, allowing people to more naturally adapt.
    Somehow this resonates deeper because of COVID. With less ability to move and interact with people, I and i suspect many others have turned to spending time in nature. Our cities almost intentionally prohibit the inclusion of natural systems and life from existing. Perhaps this will change when Biophilia becomes more mainstream in design and economics.

    Reply
  32. fresno dan

    https://www.theautomaticearth.com/2020/08/debt-rattle-august-6-2020/

    When former ADA Sally Yates testifies in the Senate, you would expect coverage everywhere. But the MSM entirely ignores it. Compare that to Bill Barr in the House last week. So it’s not in the interest of the public to know that Yates blamed James Comey for many things that went wrong? In whose interest is it to ignore the story?

    That will be the story for the next three months, and the NYT, WaPo and CNN will not tell you, unless they perceive of an angle that looks bad for Trump. Your news is pre-cooked and bland.

    I’ve accepted that I need to go to the right-wing press to get some of the stories I find relevant, but I don’t want only the right wing view. Alas, there is no balanced news anymore.
    ====================================================
    Unfortunately, we are long past the point where people can say, “Oh, I was wrong about so and so.” Especially the people who wrote the narrative. The problem is, it is also happening with the judges involved int he Michael Flynn case.

    Reply
    1. apleb

      Well, they had a reform in 2004 where they simply cancelled 6 zeros. 1 million became 1.
      So it is a historical low any way you look at it.

      Reply
  33. Maritimer

    “US Reaches $1 Billion Deal For Doses of Potential Johnson & Johnson Vaccine The Hill”

    Johnson and johnson has a long corporate rap sheet, for example:

    “In 2019 an Oklahoma judge ordered J&J to pay $572 million to the state for contributing to the opioid crisis; the company vowed to appeal but it faced many more such suits around the country. The amount was later reduced to $465 million.”
    https://www.corp-research.org/jnj

    Imagine this headline in 1926:

    US GOVERNMENT TO FINANCE NATIONAL BREWERIES WITH PARTNER AL CAPONE

    Reply
  34. newcatty

    The antidote: Now, it will be a squirrel in every pot. Probably better then factory farmed chickens that are chlorinated in “processing “.I hope it doesn’t come down to this for people who will need sustenance. Could be a campaign slogan though. Maybe include a recipe for squirrel stew. Just be sure not to eat one acting a little weird or nutty.

    Reply
  35. flora

    Destroying the Post Office is not popular. (understatement)

    Daines and Gianforte signing on this is very noteworthy. Postal delays are just brutal in rural areas and states like Montana

    https://twitter.com/NickRiccardi/status/1291512841674031104

    From the longer AP article:

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Lawmakers from both parties are calling on the U.S. Postal Service to immediately reverse operational changes that are causing delays in deliveries across the country just as big volume increases are expected for mail-in election voting.

    https://apnews.com/a291ebc31c5638aa5a9adafc2ff2b430

    Good article.

    Reply
  36. skippy

    Interesting comments considering the social psychology post GFC E.g. what endemic corruption could not do has been superseded by a virus that can’t be administered by rhetorical flourish and some laws of physics applied to humanity just went poof.

    Reply

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