Links 9/29/2020

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Parrots removed from UK wildlife park after they started swearing at customers Mirror (J-LS).

China and world at risk of financial turmoil greater than 2008 crisis, ex-finance minister warns South China Morning Post

Optimism in the Time of COVID (PDF) Randal K. Quarles, Bank of International Settlements

Bank Behind World’s First Green Bond Is Set to Blaze a New Trail Bloomberg

COVID-19 and the Search for Digital Alternatives to Cash Federal Reserve Bank of New York

Why some banks still lean on mainframes The American Banker

U.S. lawmakers propose airplane certification reforms after fatal Boeing crashes Reuters

Pontifications: Winter is coming Leeham News and Analysis

The pandemic is speeding up the space internet race Recode


‘Horrifying’ Glass Fire burns homes, with 68,000 from Santa Rosa to Napa fleeing San Francisco Chronicle

“California Is Built To Burn” (interview) Der Spiegel

Catastrophic wildfires, corporate air pollution, and COVID-19: A collision of crises WSWS


COVID-19 vaccine tracker The Vaccine Centre at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

As Their Numbers Grow, COVID-19 “Long Haulers” Stump Experts JAMA. A review of the literature. From the text of the paper: “Adults with severe illness who spend weeks in intensive care, often intubated, can experience long-lasting symptoms, but that’s not unique to patients with COVID-19. What’s unusual about the long haulers is that many initially had mild to moderate symptoms that didn’t require lengthy hospitalization—if any—let alone intensive care.”

A case series of coinfection with SARS-CoV-2 and influenza virus in Louisiana Respiratory Medicine Case Reports. From the Conclusion: “There is a sparsity in the literature concerning coinfection of these two respiratory viruses and their impact on clinical outcomes. Here we reported 4 cases of patients with coinfection of Covid-19 and influenza.” n = 4, although to be fair this is indeed a journal of case reports.

Antigen-specific adaptive immunity to SARS-CoV-2 in acute COVID-19 and associations with age and disease severity Cell. From the Highlights: “Adaptive immune responses limit COVID-19 disease severity; multiple coordinated arms of adaptive immunity control better than partial responses; … aging and scarcity of naive T cells may be linked risk factors for severe COVID-19.”

Influenza A virus is transmissible via aerosolized fomites Nature. From August, still germane. “Our data suggest that aerosolized fomites may contribute to influenza virus transmission in animal models of human influenza, if not among humans themselves, with important but understudied implications for public health.” Intriguing. If aerosols can be said to have a life-cycle — unlike ballistic droplets — we don’t know what it is.


U.S. Real Estate Investor LaSalle Raises Another $380 Million for China Logistics Fund Caixin

Why are landslides so deadly in Nepal? Third Pole


India’s Hospitals Are Struggling for Oxygen Supply as Pandemic Surges Bloomberg

Amnesty India: Amnesty International halts India operations citing government “witch-hunt” Times of India


London bankers balk at EU relocation over virus travel worries FT


The Disappearing Party Tribune. The deck: “With the objective of a mass membership party now abandoned, Labour is returning to its recent past as a Westminster political machine – but members can still have influence, if they organise.” Sounds familiar.

Sunak and most Tory MPs do not understand the economics/health trade-off, and many people will die as a result Mainly Macro

Wirecard: the scandal spreads to German politics FT

Big U.S. tech firms fail to comply with curb on Europe data transfers: Schrems Reuters

Britain and EU finalise temporary derivatives clearing accord Reuters

Cheaper flammable cladding was ordered for Grenfell tower to save time WSWS (JZ).


AP Analysis: Dark days ahead for Lebanon as crisis bites AP

Puzzled scientists seek reasons behind Africa’s low fatality rates from pandemic Reuters

Stripped bare: Looting till there is nothing left of Gauteng’s rail network Daily Maverick

No Meat, No Milk, No Bread: Hunger Crisis Rocks Latin America Bloomberg (Re Silc). Re Silc comments: “When I was in Guatemala, parents would decide who gets fed. no work, no food. Youngest died.”

New Cold War

New Armenia-Azerbaijan fighting a long time in the making Eurasianet. Some damn thing in the Caucusus….

Russia and China in the Arctic: assumptions and realities The Strategist

The world has gone absolutely insane! The Vineyard of the Saker


Bartiromo: Durham Report Will Not Be Released Before Election RealClearPolitics

James Baker’s 7 Rules for Running Washington Politico (Re Silc). There were giants in those days….

Trump Transition

Democrats unveil scaled-down $2.2T coronavirus relief package The Hill. So who’d they screw? You got it:

Trump Can Take Credit for Vaccine Progress but Shouldn’t Rush It WSJ

Redfield voices alarm over influence of Trump’s new coronavirus task force adviser NBC

Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine investigator leaves FDA advisory committee over conflict of interest Fierce Biotech. Flexian morphing…


Cindy McCain joins board of Biden’s presidential transition team The Hill

Biden Removes ‘Defeating Trump’ From Platform To Avoid Alienating Swing Voters The Onion

Biden’s Delaware: Making Swiss Banking Look Hyper-Clean The Globalist

Dems’ Health Insurer Bailout Follows Bundled Checks from the Industry’s Lobbyists ReadSludge

Fears of a disputed US election fuel market volatility bets FT

Supreme Court Battle

Why Amy Coney Barrett Should Not Be On The Supreme Court Current Affairs

“Free To Be You and Me”: Barrett Fulfills Ginsburg’s Call For Real Equality And Independence For Women Jonathan Turley


Your Man in the Public Gallery: Assange Hearing Day 19 Craig Murray



Class Warfare

The Rump Professional Class and Its Fallen Counterpart Benjamin Studebaker

Growing Through Sabotage: Energizing Hierarchical Power (PDF) Review of Capital as Power. From the abstract: “[H]ierarchical power is sought for its own sake; that building and sustaining this power demands strategic sabotage; and that sabotage absorbs a significant proportion of the energy captured by society. From this standpoint, capitalism grows, at least in part, not despite but because of – and indeed through – sabotage.” Sounds like Veblen.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Union President Mike Fuoco Resigns Following Investigation Into Alleged Misconduct Editor and Publisher. Thanks to Payday Report.

What CEOs Really Think About Remote Work WSJ

The Rise of Remote Work Can Be Unexpectedly Liberating NYT

What is ‘friluftsliv’? How an idea of outdoor living could help us this winter National Geographic

Antidote du Jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. zagonostra

    >Dems’ Health Insurer Bailout Follows Bundled Checks from the Industry’s Lobbyists

    There was a recent Forbes article that listed 400 billionaires that made their fortune through healthcare related business. As we all know, there are millions who are uninsured or can’t afford to use the healthcare insurance they do have because the deductibles would bankrupt them and there are millions of parents who fear for their children and their own ability to receive healthcare. And yet we have politics as described below. For half the population in this country the suicide of the U.S. empire (Saker article) can’t come fast enough.

    Democrats’ campaign arm has deep financial ties to the for-profit health insurance lobby.

    Dick Gephardt, is also a DCCC bundler, collecting $106,000 for the organization this election cycle… Gephardt Group, has been paid $1.7 million in lobbying fees by UnitedHealth Group since 2013.

    APCO Worldwide, a PR firm that is notorious for setting up front groups for corporate interests… “We use political campaign tactics to create an environment in support of our client’s legislative and regulatory goals…We utilize the most effective, up-to-date technology and campaign tactics to help you achieve your legislative and regulatory goals,”

    The above article recalls this one from the Intercept that features Howard Dean and Newt Gingrich selling their souls as well and makes me think of Dylan’s line from Masters of War.

    Dean is not a lawyer, but neither is Newt Gingrich, who is among the growing list of former government officials and politicians that work in the Public Policy and Regulation practice of Dentons.

    The Dentons Public Policy and Regulation practice lobbies on behalf of a variety of corporate health care interests, including the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, a powerful trade group for drugmakers like Pfizer and Merck.

    Let me ask you one question
    Is your money that good
    Will it buy you forgiveness
    Do you think that it could

    I think you will find
    When your death takes its toll
    All the money you made
    Will never buy back your soul

    1. Procopius

      Dick Gephart was one of the founders of the Democratic Leadership Council. He was one of a group of Democrats who decided the New Deal was outmoded and the Party needed to break its ties to Labor. Later they persuaded Bill Clinton to become chairman of the DLC, because he sincerely believed as they did. We know how that turned out.

  2. noonespecial

    Re: Hunger Crisis Rocks Latin America Bloomberg

    In the northern province of Sucre in Colombia, a truck transporting corn broke down which motivated what is casually termed a “saqueo”, kinda like ransacking, by persons nearby (200). This is just one recent example of this type of truck-involved incident wherein desperation motivates people to take.

    Link is a Spanish language piece from one of Colombia’s daily –

    Quick translation of part of this piece: ” ‘As the driver of the truck I make a call so that these types of incidents do not occur and ask the citizenry to come out to collaborate, help, not to ransack.'”

    July 2020 – In a village (Tasajera, also on the Caribbean coast) two truck breakdowns were followed by persons liberating the goods. Note, this village’s traditional economy depended on small-scale fishing but due to commercial fishing operations the villagers’ industry is pretty much gone. In one accident, the truck carried fish. The other accident, which caused the death of 45 people, the truck was carrying gasoline.

    Hunger among these peoples is well known, yet this country’s president is proud to speak of membership in the OECD and is now prepping to sign off on a $multi-bn IMF loan. Good times!

    1. Watt4Bob

      I have a good friend who used to visit Oaxaca Mexico every year during his grad-school days, to visit a local indigenous artist.

      He told me that one night, while sleeping in the back room of a church, upon a pile of sacks containing the village’s corn harvest, he became aware that there was someone approaching him in the darkness. As he lay motionless and squinting into the dark, he figured out he was looking down the barrel of a pistol. The man holding the gun close to my friend’s nose, grasped one of the sacks of corn and slowly backed out of the room, leaving him impressed with the seriousness of the local hunger situation.

    2. Bazarov

      Reminds me of a similar sequence in Le Guin’s novel “The Dispossessed”–it occurs when the moon Anares experiences a terrible drought, and the anarchist society on that moon weathers years of famine. There’s a chapter wherein a train full of food is supposed to depart a town to deliver its cargo far away, but the people of that town–very hungry–menacingly gather around the train as they make the collective decision whether or not to ransack it.

      At least, however, the people of Anares had the solidarity of their anarchist system to protect them. Somehow I doubt the Columbians will be able to take refuge in their capitalist one.

      1. Wukchumni

        A German-American anchor baby friend of mine’s parents lived through WW2 and were young, around 10 & 12 near war’s end, and his dad told the poignant story of watching people converge on rolled over train carriages which had just been hit by allied planes, and one of the boxcars was full of eggs, and the one next to it had fuel, and they pooled together on the ground and people were so hungry they ate it and many died as a result.

        A 12 year old kid today would just hit the rest button on that last game he played where he couldn’t advance past his last effort, or the one before and so on. Maybe make a cup of noodles on the microwave if he gets hunger pangs.

        1. Bazarov

          Wow, what an incredible (and horrifying) story.

          I’ve never really been hungry in my whole life (even though my family was struggling in the 80s–American welfare back then was decent and kept us kids fully fed; believe it or not, our welfare food was delivered to our door!).

          I feel extremely lucky–stories like the one you shared remind me just how outrageous it is that millions and millions of people all over the world go without food, even though there’s more than enough to feed us all.

          That fact is truly dystopian.

        2. Basil Pesto

          I agree, it’s truly good that our twelve year-olds don’t have to scrounge for death eggs in their fire-bombed hometowns.

    3. JTMcPhee

      Worth a mention of the causes for “youngest just starve” in Guatemala? Nothing to do, of course, with this: “ The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has a rich history of intervention over many decades in Guatemala…” Or the activities of jackals and Banksters there, hand in glove with a ruling elite, like that bit about the latest starvation-inducing, austerity-imposing IMF “loan.” Capone gave better terms.

  3. Krystyn Podgajski

    RE: What is ‘friluftsliv’? How an idea of outdoor living could help us this winter

    Well I will be friluftsliv-ing in two days. Losing my housing again so back to the van life. I am looking forward to it this time actually. I will be driving back to Washington to, uhm, vote. I have to say, once I got use to it I felt much better being closer to nature and the elements. I think the colder weather suits my Baltic Sea heritage as well.

    1. Lee

      I was planning on doing a bit of car camping but all the places we wanted to go were either burnt out, smoked out, or the campgrounds were closed because of the pandemic. I now settle for gazing out my window at the gone-to-seed sunflowers withering in the hot and smoky air.

      On a journey, ill;
      my dream goes wandering
      over withered fields.


      1. Carolinian

        State parks are a good bet. Many federal campgrounds close in the winter.

        But most state parks now have a reservation system and you may need one as camping has allegedly become quite popular what with Covid and all. That said the campground of my local state park seemed to mostly clear out after Labor Day.

    2. Wukchumni

      I wish I was outdoor living but the prospect of smoked human on the menu is unappetizing, and truth be said it’s the pandemic dummy!, so here I am in the great indoors, maybe i’ll set up a tent, which was my first sleeping outdoors by myself gig in the early 70’s, about 14 feet away from the sliding glass door near the kitchen. You’d only ever really want to go in if was #2 calling, or maybe a snack raid, but it’d wreck the experience.

      We shopped rather exclusively @ K-Mart, where the tent was purchased from, wonder where it went? }rosebud}

    3. Janie

      It’s a late reply but hope you see it. Good luck on your adventure. Walmart parking lots were great when we were on the road. Met a lot of interesting people. Sate safe. Your input is invaluable.

  4. Krystyn Podgajski

    On COVID19 Long Haulers,

    An intriguing idea is taking shape. During the July webinar, Fauci noted that some long haulers’ symptoms like brain fog and fatigue are “highly suggestive” of myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS).

    I’ll just leave this here:

    Lower serum zinc in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS): relationships to immune dysfunctions and relevance for the oxidative stress status in CFS

    And you know they recently found COVID-19 may deplete testosterone, helping to explain male patients’ poorer prognosis. And the link between zinc and testosterone is already well established.

    1. Lee

      Okay. I give up. I’ll start taking Zinc supps to see if it helps with my ME/CFS. Please remind me of your recommended brand and dosage. I should note that one plus from having decreased libido is that it keeps me out of certain kinds of trouble to which in the past I have been prone.

      1. Krystyn Podgajski

        You should not take any zinc supplements without getting your serum zinc, copper, and ceuroplasmin tested.

        First, if you are low in zinc and high in copper it could explain a lot. But if you are low in copper, taking zinc could lower it more and you end up with neutropenia.

    2. Ignacio

      This is not to comment about any treatment but what I find annoying about the approach to the long haulers is that, even when many suspect that there could be some kind of immunological disorder associated, it seems nobody is paying the attention this merits. This could be indeed relevant, apart from the heath of those affected, in the development of the vaccines.

      1. Lee

        Fauci notes the similarities of long-haulers’ symptoms to those with ME/CFS. One of the principal theories regarding the latter is that symptoms are caused by a chronic overreaction of the immune system triggered by a viral infection. One source of evidence for this is based on experiments in which people with ME/CFS show abnormally heightened cytokine levels causing extreme exhaustion, excessively prolonged recovery, and other symptoms after moderate physical exertion.

    1. Yik Wong

      You’ve got to reverse it. “Power as Capital” Those handouts to the wealthy didn’t go to them because they are wealthy, it went to them because they are powerful. The money(funds?) were created out of thin air, so are they capital? I say no, they are simply the power to take a share of the capital from the existing holders, usually the weakest capital holders.

      1. cnchal

        You’ve got to reverse it. Money comes first then power.

        The handouts to the wealthy are the result of a concerted effort by the wealthy to buy the best and most venal politicians, eclownomists, lawyers, university professors, journalists etc . . . that money can buy, then the “laws” are modified to suit the wealthy..

        Concerted effort = Powell memorandum and a long term strategy to subvert the system to suit the elite.

        1. Yik Wong

          Without power you can’t keep the capital, which money is some how suppose to effectively measure. Just look at Yves coverage of the rape of CALPERS, which goes on with most retirement funds to a greater or lesser extent, even for unions aka Hoffa. Those who in theory are owners of the capital are stripped of it because they are kept from uniting to bring power to bear. The mafia is another example where no money but brute power eventually gave rise to an empire of significant capital.

        2. Yik Wong

          cnchal: Money is a creature of government, ie: the legal monopoly on violence. See David Graber or Michael Hudson’s works. That’s why I mentioned capital, since it’s a given that money sprouts from power.

      2. Jeremy Grimm

        Money begets Power and Power begets Money. They are complementary. Big Money bought Government — source of Power.

        1. David

          But historically, there was power before there was money. When money arrived, power was a way of getting hold of it, through possession of land, for example.

          1. newcatty

            Couldn’t it just be looked at as the evolvement of feudalism? A part of that economic and social system, might makes right? Money, became more concentrated through technology. Disaster Capatalism is enabled.

  5. Yik Wong

    The Rump Professional Class and Its Fallen Counterpart above is very American, but some of it applies to Canada, and probably in Britain to those who rode the property bubble on public to private housing transfers thanks to Thatcher, with the following amendment.

    The workers know the problems but they don’t know what to do. The professionals know how to manage complex systems, but they don’t (want to) know what’s wrong.

    To know the problem is the first step to owning it.

  6. tegnost

    “The question has to be asked why a country so obsessed with fighting a war on terror and organized crime can tolerate one of its federal states maintaining a legal framework that lends itself to the very practices it is otherwise on a mission to eradicate around the globe.”
    The mob hates competition?

  7. pjay

    ‘The Rump Professional Class and Its Fallen Counterpart’ – Benjamin Studebaker

    “Unable to earn more or enjoy a higher living standard than the workers, the would-be professionals retreat into the cultural realm. They use the language and ideas they learned at university to assert their moral superiority, gaining an imaginary victory over the workers. This condescension leads the workers to resent the professionals in turn, and makes it very difficult for these downwardly mobile professionals to form political alliances with the workers. All of this, of course, perpetuates the dominion of the rich.”

    Insightful observations by Studebaker. Max Weber famously distinguished ‘class’ and ‘status’ as systems of social power. The former referred to objective positions in an economic structure, the latter to hierarchical positions in culturally recognized systems of social prestige. He also discussed the ways in which (to use Marxian language) *status* differences are often used to undermine what should be common *class* consciousness among groups.

    Seems relevant somehow.

    1. David

      Yes, exactly. The problem in Anglo-Saxon countries has always been that “class” has become confused with “status.” For generations, those who worked in offices felt they were superior to those who worked in factories, even if they earned less money. Indeed, without that, the Tory party in the UK would never have been in government. What they never leaned was that if you have a salary, you are part of the working class. A junior executive is part of the working class, whereas a butcher or a baker isn’t.
      So we had whole generations of reasonably bright people who went to modest universities, got modest jobs, and identified with those who went to the best universities and got the best jobs. Now, with things like the casualisation of university jobs, they are finding that, objectively, their interests are more aligned with the working class. But after generations of considering themselves socially superior, they simply cannot understand the concept of collective economic interest. So, as the article suggests, they cling to the pathetic social and intellectual superiority they have always felt over ordinary people. Perhaps this is why, anecdotally anyway, the real vitriol and hatred comes not from the genuine elites (who see themselves above such things) but from the temporary assistant lecturers in Intersectional Gymnastics at obscure universities, who wake up at night sweating that their contracts won’t be renewed, and they’ll soon be working at Starbucks.

      1. flora


        The unspoken assumption among so many I know in the uni pmc group is they should be paid more than working class or skilled trades people by virtue of their assumed superiority, no thought give, to why and how higher wages were won – not given – by the working class in past times. A fancier title – we all remember the years of ‘job title inflation’ in lieu of actual raises – is not the same as a better salary.

      2. km

        To paraphrase David Sedaris “come The Revolution, they assume that they’ll be the ones holding the clipboard, getting ready to make a report at Party Headquarters….”

  8. upstater

    Astonishing photos and descriptions in “Stripped bare: Looting till there is nothing left of Gauteng’s rail network Daily Maverick”.

    South Africa had a government owned first world passenger and freight railroad network. Seeing such destruction in mind-boggling. The cost to get things operational again will come close to building from scratch. And how would it be paid for, given the epic corruption from the top down to the roots?

    Hundreds of thousands of workers depended upon the Metro Rail commuter services. Relying on minibuses and highways ain’t gonna cut it.

    Is such a dystopian outcome in the future of the US or Europe? Hate to be cynical, but I can see it..

    1. apleb

      How widespread is the theft of copper, lead, zinc, etc. since there have been tv plots, mystery books, etc. about it for years now?
      The only difference is, there apparently are no watchmen or police forces willing to investigate.
      If/when this happens here, it will be the same outcome. The scrap merchants need to make a buck too.

    2. John

      I thought the formerly world class US train system had already been thoroughly looted. You telling me there’s more to be had?

    3. The Rev Kev

      I’ve ridden the rail in South Africa and they took pride in their rail system. But this is just awful. You want to know what is more awful? If our society ever starts to collapse, this is how it will go. Anything of value will be stripped out and sold for scrap, especially if it is public infrastructure. People will not care as all they will care about is putting food on the table. Nothing personal – it’s just business. We had a glimpse of this a decade ago when the banks threw over five million families out of their homes after the last financial crash in the US. Before long, you had gangs go in to strip things like copper pipes out of these deserted houses for money. In England you had gangs starting to strip the lead off of church roofs as lead had value. So this story and is images is a glimpse of a post-industrial society.

      1. Wukchumni

        I’ve ridden the rail in South Africa and they took pride in their rail system. But this is just awful. You want to know what is more awful? If our society ever starts to collapse, this is how it will go.

        In my ongoing Bizarro World USA & USSR collapse saga, the most excellent subway cars in Prague were made in the USSR in 1986 and working fine a decade and longer later when I rode them.

        1. km

          Hell, I lurrved the Moscow and Kiev Metros. Especially if you have ever had the joy of Moscow or Kiev traffic. Makes rush hour in DC look like the Indy 500 or the Autobahn. And the Metro was fast, clean, safe and incredibly cheap.

          The only problem with the Metro was that it never broke down. In London, you always had an ready-made excuse for being late. “You know, ‘signal failure”” or something. Nobody bothered to verify, because the London Underground was always having one issue or another.

          But in all the years I lived in former Soviet lands, taking the Metro several times a day, I saw the Metro break down only once, and that lasted something like five minutes before someone hit the malfunctioning part with a boot or a big hammer or whatever until it started working again.

          1. Wukchumni

            I have an enduring memory of the delicious smells of a bakery wafting up to lure me down to the mid-level of a Budapest subway station.

      2. Foy

        I lived in South Africa and Mozambique for 8 years back from 1998. This is so sad to see. My ex lives in a little regional town called Parys near the spectacular Vaal river, 120kms south of Johannesburg. They all have generators now due to the regular rolling electricity blackouts, electricity supply is unreliable. Also there are now problems occurring with local water supply as well. Infrastructure has been deteriorating for a while but the recent lockdowns have accelerated it, people living hand to mouth and not being able to work for an extended period, with no income, no supports and nowhere to turn. She said it was getting very tense there.

    4. Alex

      In Russia “gathering” of copper and aluminium was quite widespread in the 90s, they even did it with copper electrical wires. I still sometimes see “we buy copper iron” signs

      1. Wukchumni

        The USA had a reputation as the Saudi Arabia of scrap, for it was the happy hunting ground for the Chinese who really struck it rich, and then prices collapsed along with interest, as well as ample new veins of old metal, like back in the heady days.

        There was quite a bit of metal theft here a decade ago, thieves wrecking Ag wells in the CVBB to the extent of $10k fixes needed, so they could make off with $100 for their effort.

        The Gipper almost called it quits in tony Newport Beach in a daring night time theft attempt, how gauche. Luckily we can now claim it was done on purpose to make the elder statesman appear to be hanging ten, like dude.

        1. Shonde

          Are any other states having problems with catalytic converters being stolen?

          The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported it is a problem here. One man, who had to park his car on the street, had two converters stolen. The body shop he went to finally put a plate on his car to prevent this in the future.

      2. wilroncanada

        In the 1950’s in an Ontario city, my grandfather was a sheeny. He pulled a cart with big wagon wheels, two handles out the front. He patrolled the side streets and alleys looking for stuff to sell as is, or take home into his backyard piled with junk, to take apart to sell the components. When he died, I had to help my father clean out his basement rooms along with the yard. He had spent a major portion of his “take-apart hours” in the pub, then called a beer parlour.

    5. lyman alpha blob

      Is such a dystopian outcome in the future of the US or Europe?

      Wouldn’t be the first time. Despite the notion we have that “progress” has been constant throughout history, it hasn’t. One of the amazing things about ancient Greek architecture for example is its durability. Many of those ruins you see today aren’t in that condition because the buildings fell down – it’s because they were looted after the societies that built them collapsed. You can go to Greece today and if you take a close look at some of the older Christian churches built after after the Hellenistic period had ended, you will find lots of stone originally from Classical and Hellenistic Greek temples incorporated into the walls. Much easier to “borrow” than restart a whole mining and stone cutting industry. Those “Middle Ages” aka “Dark Age” lasted for centuries in the West. They didn’t call the Renaissance the Renaissance for nothing,

      1. HotFlash

        The Pyramids of Giza were once covered with white limestone. that limestone fortunately, or unfortunately, made handy doorstones and lintels for still-living Egyptioans for many, many centuries after Khafre and his fellow pharoahs were dead and gone.

        I believe that re-purposing the artifacts of a (too-rich) lifestyle is a noble act. A friend of mine (‘Barefoot Frank’) makes sandals from SUV tire sidewalls and old bike innertubes. Another makes earrings from scraps of screen and telephone wire. Still another makes handy little things — card holders, cabinet door handles, coat racks, tool holders — from parts of dismantled bicycles.

        Yes, we will lose some art, some pyramids, some trains. But we, the living, have a mandate to live and to make life possible for future generations. The problem is not the looting by people who need food, it is the looting done by people who need *othing*.
        “If we are worth the snap of our fingers, we can build better than outr grandparents ever did.” Scott and Helen Nearing.

      2. Janie

        Same with English villages built alongside of monastaries disestablished and scavenged during the reign of Henry VIII.

  9. Henry Moon Pie

    Just a few data points from the city where the debate will take place:

    1) Businesses in the city are boarding up windows again in preparation for tonight;

    2) Groups are roaming the streets on foot on both the east and west side and close-in suburbs smashing the windows out of every parked car they encounter in preparation for taking whatever is inside. Hundreds of cars have been vandalized in such a way in the past few weeks.

    3) The National Guard is stationed around Cleveland Clinic’s main campus (CC owns about 1/2 the real estate around Cleveland it often seems) where the debate will take place.

    4) We hear gunfire just about every night along with the roar from groups of four wheelers and motorbikes going up and down major streets with no regard for stop lights, etc. Prior to Covid, these groups, which were as large as 100 vehicles, road through some close-in suburbs running through yards as they went. Since Covid, they’ve stayed mostly in Cleveland.

    4) There are many local meetings of citizens along with some politicians who are raising alarms about crime and demanding more protection.

    5) Food distributions are almost omnipresent. My spouse and a neighborhood friend without a car hit all the ones (as many as three per week) within the neighborhood. Items distributed include some fresh fruits and vegetables of decent quality, some canned staples, and dairy products. Some items are a little exotic: South Asian yogurt; Ricotta cheese (we love lasagna and manicotti); large bags of pecans. Some of these distributions are well organized, requiring prior registration, and the lines for these are long but not too time consuming. We worked in one of these until the end of February. Others are more ad hoc, serving whoever shows up. Limited publicity for these probably keeps the lines from being too long.

    To date, we have not spotted Auntie Entity or Master Blaster.

  10. Judith


    I thought you should know:

    When I tried to donate just now (ultimately successfully), I initially had some problems with the interface. When I used auto-fill for my name and address, the interface changed the Country from US to Morocco and even when I changed the country name back to US, it continued to revert back to Morocco. I had to shut down the browser and re-start, being careful not to trigger auto-fill.

    (It may just be me. Interfaces have not been very kind to me so far this week.)

    1. VietnamVet

      The 100 million tests use Abbott Labs technology without the machine readers like at the White House. But to be effective and widespread across America, antigen testing needs twice as many daily. Individuals must take and read them before leaving home. Plus, school and work bubbles must be established to keep track of the members. This requires a functional public health system that bypasses the for-profit professional laboratory diagnosis system.

      But, unfortunately, this way to end the pandemic requires a change of ruling neoliberal ideology to one where saving American lives is more important than increasing corporate profits.

  11. Wukchumni

    “California Is Built To Burn” (interview) Der Spiegel

    I just read that the Glass Fire is consuming an acre every 5 seconds…

    Chinook helos equipped with snorkels and large internal tanks within, have been ferrying water here from the lake to the SQF Fire back & forth for weeks now, and the whirlybird’s first flight happened a few months before my coming out party way back when, so the technology is pretty old hat by now, and proven.

    The enemy isn’t in some far off country-it’s here, so why not make a bunch more firefighting Chinooks and retrofit aging passenger jets into fire retardant dropping capacity instead?

    And then there’s the aspect of firefighters battling blazes for well over a month straight now with no letup in sight. A few years ago I was talking with one of the cabin owners in our community who is a fire chief in Ventura and he related that their season is kind of similar to an NFL player in that they get really beat up physically in short spurts, which have expanded as the fire stanzas have extended. He said that it’s tantamount to the NFL asking their players to now play in 28 games instead of 16.

    We need lots more help on the fire lines, but what do you do with them in the off-season?

    That’s when they should be utilized to create the conditions for hundreds if not thousands of prescribed burns throughout the state with the emphasis on lighting them up a few days before the arrival of the first substantial storms and let mother nature do all the heavy lifting of putting them out, and should the initial ones be weak tea, well, you just don’t ignite them and wait until the next year, expanding the perimeters to be torched.

    None of this is difficult to implement, we merely need the will to make it happen.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Yeah, prescribed burns is the way to go. I can’t see any other long term solution. But for those beat-up fire crews. Is it an option to bring in volunteer crews from other States that are not suffering such extreme fires? If each State could send 100 people on a temporary basis, that would be up to 5,000 trained people ready to go in. If bad fires start up in their home States then they could be rotated back home. I don’t know if this idea is discussed or even used in your neck of the woods.

      Good luck with the fires burning in your area though. Worrying times.

      1. Wukchumni

        If this was WW2, you’d want to have an elite group of volunteer commandos & paratroopers to lead the way, and you’d get the pick of the crop…

        No reason why this couldn’t be done either as you suggest, but nothing going now.

        Good luck with the fires burning in your area though. Worrying times.

        Our 150k SQF Fire is about quelled @ 50% contained, and they are cleverly doing a prescribed burn while the getting is good, and i’m not the type to root for wildfires, but this one is a different beast in that they’re herding it towards the lower stretches of the Garfield Grove trail, which is a tribute to poison oak, ye gads it is everywhere, but hopefully not soon.,-118.76863&z=14&b=mbt&a=modis_mp

    2. Carolinian

      they get really beat up physically

      I’ve mentioned this movie before but it’s an excellent look at the lives of wildland firefighters and a true (tragic) story to boot.

      1. Wukchumni

        I’ll check that out, thanks~

        We had a team of 6 ex-Hot Shots in their 30’s now a cutting concern for profit that cut down approx 1,000 trees that died 5-7 years ago around our cabin community-primarily trees of size-say anything 4 feet wide in diameter or bigger, as they were all Class-C fallers, the highest ranking of the i’m a gas powered lumberjack and i’m ok clan, there is.

        I’ve never seen professionals such as their talent-completely elite, and although I wasn’t so much privy with my eyes, the routine was always the same gig from our listening post, er deck: front cut, back cut-drive in a wedge, a bit more back cut, another wedge, and down went another 5 footer exactly where they wanted it to fall in fifteen minutes or less including limbing the leftovers so as to make the forest for the trees of those the living, look down on giant lincoln logs in the bier falls

    3. wilroncanada

      Converting planes to water bombers is being done now by Coulson Aviation at Sproat Lake, near Port Alberni, Vancouver Island, British Columbia. They began many years ago converting 2 Martin Mars into giant water bombers. They have now converted 6 Boeing 737 aircraft, apparently purchased from Southwest Airlines, and are working on the 7th.

  12. JohnH

    If the Durham stuff is as embarassing and damaging as it seems it could be, it might make sense for the GOP writ large to save it and deploy it more strategically than barf it out now to save Trump, of all people, especially in such a dynamic campaign season with so many distractive fireworks (COVID, BLM, SCOTUS, $). The media would love to find a way to ignore anything Durham might find that is critical of Obama admin figures or russiagate narrative.

    1. chris

      I wonder what kind of strategies all the deep state fools are cooking up now for a post election ‘hearts and minds’ type of push? Would the Durham report be saved to drop on 11/4 so any push back from Biden is immediately curtailed if the results are close?

  13. The Rev Kev

    “Why some banks still lean on mainframes”

    So, ‘many companies, including banks, are still buying and maintaining mainframes despite a global shift to the cloud.’ I have no idea why all those companies are not willing to trust in the cloud. What could possible go wrong? Well – ‘Global Microsoft outage brings down Teams, Office 365 and Outlook’, that is what-

    I have files on my computer backed up a coupla ways so I control those files. If they are on a cloud, then I am depending on ‘the kindness of strangers’ which I call the Blanche DuBois effect. But what do I know/ I found the following section incomprehensible though-

    ‘One downside of mainframes is that the programming languages used for older machines, such as COBOL, are unpopular. It’s difficult to get young developers interested in learning those languages and working on such software.’

    Good god, man. If I was young I would go about learning COBOL as there are no shortage of people who know the modern computer languages. Learn COBOL and you will be needed for a very long time, especially as the older dudes start pushing up the daisies.

    1. vlade

      The problem with COBOL is twofold.

      First, the number of COBOL jobs avertised is small. A quick google gets me about 3k of COBOL jobs in the US, vs >100k Java jobs. So you have things like location specific, etc. etc.

      Secondly, just knowing COBOL is not enough. Hey, I wrote COBOL programs and have an idea of how COBOL works – a bit (I did my COBOL program on puch card, yay). But I’d not call myself a COBOL programmer, as coding is really (for good ones) an artisanal thing. You basically need some aprenticeship/practice before you can be allowed to do real stuff. With things like JAva, C++ (which is 40 years old! C is almost 50 years old..) etc. you have plenty of things with open source and various at-home projecs you can hone your skills on – and that includes stuff like real time things which a decade ago you’d struggle to be able to do outside commercial setting.

      With COBOL/FORTRAN, you don’t.

      Moreover, with those, you need not only the apprenticeship in the language, but way more importantly, the apprenticeship in the system. A COBOL system written 40 years ago will have its own bespoke libraries, routines, file formats (COBOL is a lot about file formats) and ways of doing things that you need to learn and love (hate). So you basically need to apprentice yourself to an older dude for a couple of years, and as a result of that you’ll be hyper-specialised in that one system. So probably a good career move for 10-15 years, but systems at times do get replaced, if no for other reason that the HW fails.

      I could name an Aussie bank that was buying HW for IBM mainframes on eBay, because it was the only way to source spares.

      1. Mark Gisleson

        Writing resumes in the ’90s I had many clients proficient in COBOL and FORTRAN. Like mechanical engineers, experts in programming languages seem to have to go through extended periods of unemployment now and then.

        What staggered me then was the unwillingness of corporations to invest in obviously BRILLIANT workers, instead laying them off as ledger sheet liabilities. Now of course I realize that ALL workers are ledger sheet liabilities as CEOs continue to lay off everyone not in the C-suite bunkers.

      2. Brian (another one they call)

        I am still in awe of “the cloud”. It is a nebulous vision hoped for reality that leaves much to be desired. Ask yourself if you want your data private, protected and close at hand. This is what the cloud is not. It isn’t private because you have given it to a third party that doesn’t like privacy and needs to make money on everything to justify their existence. It isn’t protected because it is a freaking cloud, you know, Elvis, Jesus, the lady of the lake and all those long dead images are the only thing you can find there. It blows away and you have a new picture. It isn’t close at hand because it is in a cloud, not your office or home. If you had to get it back after a failure you would get the message; “you put it in the cloud and you can’t expect the same cloud to come back do you?” from the owner of said cloud. You would benefit from understanding that possession is 9/10ths of the law.
        For what you spend and lose from the shenanigans of your basic clouds, you could purchase a backup drive and a safe and keep it where it belongs; Where you work/live. But no, give every hacker in the world a shot at stealing your work, money, identity. You immediately give up your life for ransom by a third party.
        brilliant. Kinda like bitcoin. Put your fiat money into a fiat imaginary coin. When the cloud breaks, the cradle will fall. Ask yourself if you want your future in that cloud that will be the first thing to break when you need it.

        1. Tom Bradford

          Some fair points, but I back up to the Cloud because; 1. backup drives can and do fail; 2. the Cloud offers me more data-storage for free than most back-up drives, and if you need more data than the free offering it’s cheaper than spending on and running your own back-up servers; and 3. unless you can keep or run your backup in an outbuilding you lose it if the house burns down or is ransacked etc. – but then you have to either fetch the drive every time you want to make a manual backup or have a networked server off-site.

          I avoid your criticisms of the Cloud by; 1 automatically encrypting everything that goes into the Cloud folder on my local machines and: 2 mirroring that folder to two different Cloud providers – Dropbox and

      3. Howard Beale IV

        The current focus in Financial institutions is to stop expanding any core applications running on mainframes, and any ancillary subsystems that are mainframe-based but not part of the core are being targeted for re-hosting (“Hollow out the core”). And all access to bank systems will be 100% API-based for both internal and external customers. Capital One has all but targeted to no longer own any IT infrastructure, and I suspect others are moving in that direction as well.

        In what Vlade states about some Aussie bank buying used gear off of eBay – that’s crazypants – then again, that probably explains why they seem to always have some form of IT outage on a semi-regular basis.

        Now if yo want to talk about real scarce resources besides COBOL? Try assembler – thankfully, IBM’s current CPU’s have kept up with language-specific instructions for languages like C/C++ and Java – the Principles of Operations (POP) manual for the latest z15 is over 1,800 pages – compare that to the mid 1980s IBM 308X CPU’s where their POP manuals were around 350 pages.

        1. vlade

          I can’t speak about the US retail banks, but at least some US IBs have a fairly decent IT – they actively tried to poach some of the very good IT people and build good smallish teams, as opposed to outsource anything and everything, no matter the cost.

          JPM is too large, and suffers from the retail hangovers too, so it’s not one of those (ex some niches here and there). BofA also brought a lot of baggage to ML, but I talked to a number of Goldman’s and MS people, and what they can do is pretty good by most means.

          European banks, on the other hand, are total IT disasters. As are Asians.

          1. OpenthepodbaydoorsHAL

            I received an email from a Chinese money centre bank exec the other day. I recognised the font and the layout: Lotus Notes. Enough said.

            The official name for the IT strategy is “Wrap The Crap”. Its so difficult and costly to replace the core that you just glue it down with ever-new layers

    2. Synoia

      Because it is too expensive to re-code all the Mainframe Apps.

      If the Institution spent 2% of its expense budget on Cobol apps, for 30 years, they have 60% of theiir expense budget tied up in those apps.

      Who is to say that the current source code library is the actual running code?

      1. Offtrail

        Who is to say that the current source code library is the actual running code?

        That is a terrifying question!

        Actually, I now work with a tool (Microsoft Access) that was developed 30 years ago. I have no idea if Microsoft still knows what’s in that code. Based on how rarely it’s updated, I would guess not much.

  14. Ella

    Re: Outdoor living. Our school district (MA) returned the students in K-2 full time with appropriate safety protocols. They did an outstanding job with a stinky situation. That said, I opted for 100% remote learning because it still feels like an experiment to me, I don’t trust the CDC guidelines because of government influences and quite frankly, what “socialization” is really happening when the kids are all masked and socially distant? My child has playdates with 1 other child at a time a couple times a week with families that I know are being careful. This all seems to be working very well (except that my partner and I are ready to drop from 16 hour days, given we both work FT albeit from home).

    Anyway… regarding outdoor living. Another reason we did this for now is to give our daughter an opportunity to have more outdoor time each day. So just yesterday we received a note from the teacher that said that it will be raining this week and the kids will have indoor recess. Well, in the olden days, this would’ve meant inside the gym running around. But I guess the logistics don’t work, so they are limited to sitting at their desk with a toy or paint. These kids (first grade) are spending the ENTIRE day sitting at a desk. No moving around the classroom, no talking when eating snack, no talking at lunch when they are at another desk 6 feet apart. I would’ve hoped they would’ve taken the stance of – it’s going to rain this week; have your children bring in rain boots, rain gear so they can stay dry while they get a chance to run it out for a precious 25 minutes of the day.

    Makes the case for outdoor classrooms, for sure.

    This whole situation heartbreaking….

    1. marcyincny

      “…what ‘socialization’ is really happening when the kids are all masked and socially distant?”

      I’ve asked but still haven’t gotten a good answer and no one can tell me how whatever socialization there is compensates for the anxiety a lot of kids have about Covid.

      Here is central New York the schools are “hybrid” and students are only getting two days of classroom instruction to begin with and within the first two weeks they’ve already had to close some buildings.

      It is indeed heartbreaking. These kids don’t know which end is up or who to trust.

      1. Maritimer

        “It is indeed heartbreaking. These kids don’t know which end is up or who to trust.”

        The mental health aspect of Covid has yet to be addressed by any of the Epidemiologists I have read/heard. Their view is limited to Covid direct effects. One would think then that Public Health officials would address Mental Health but little or nothing there either. They also blithely ignore many of the other effects like delayed diagnostic testing, treatments, etc.

        I specifically keep an eye out for articles on the total effects of Covid19, not just death and infection rates. There are few such articles addressing the bigger picture and costs. But here is one from Canada:
        “The results of a recent national survey undertaken with DART & Maru/Blue Public Opinion were disturbing but not unexpected: nearly half (48 per cent) of Canadians are very concerned about their mental health (e.g., stress, anxiety, etc.) due to the impact of COVID-19 — that’s 14.4 million Canadian adults experiencing mental health distress.

        Research demonstrates that when individuals or groups are isolated for an extended period there is a profound, enduring impact on mental, emotional and social health. Social isolation, disruptions to routines, uncertainty and loss of meaning can all be traumatizing. Some of us will adjust and adapt. For many others, however, the mental health distress and substance use will continue long after the lockdown has ended.”

        As a child I experienced the Polio Scare, years of Nuke Scare and Red-under-the bed Scare. Very similar to what goes on now. Fear, panic, hysteria. I really do feel for the children in all this but they are just numbers to the Epidemiologists and so-called Public Health experts with their Covid19 tunnel vision.

        1. ShamanicFallout

          The remote “learning” is complete farce, at least for my 7 year old daughter. She absolutely hates it, where she once loved school. And I can read between the lines in communicating with her teachers- they hate it too. They all sit in front of the screen and listen to the teachers talk and talk while the kids space out and use the Chat in Teams or Zoom, It’s worse than a college lecture. And for 2nd graders! Kids need a three dimensional life. It would be better to not have school at all.
          I just applied to my very large Metro school district’s task force on ‘reopening’. We will see if I am accepted. I’ve worked every day since the pandemic began as I am in the wholesale food business. And thus my daughter has been at the boys and girls club remote “learning” every day. There, they are all in the same classroom. They sit at the same tables. They eat lunch together. They play on the playground together. They have snack time and recess together. What would you call that? It’s school.

  15. IMOR

    re: watered-down HEROES Act: so who’d they screw?
    $10,000 each? At that rate, the ORIGINAL version also screwed essential workers (which Dems would have found some way to make consist of 80% cops, but still).

  16. a different chris

    From “Why Amy Coney Barrett Should…

    >I believe she lacks sufficient empathy toward or curiosity about important classes of people whose interests are important”

    Like I said, the monkeysphere issue with conservatives.

    1. fresno dan

      lyman alpha blob
      September 29, 2020 at 10:14 am

      You know, that really did look like Professional (i.e., staged) rat wrestling. I did expect to see some very small folding chairs slammed across the back of a rat….
      BTW, just because something is staged doesn’t mean its not dangerous. Or that the participants aren’t highly trained or highly skilled. Stunt men (and stunt rats) perform fake stuff to give performances that never the less are still perilous.
      It is unfortunate that the same care, preparation, and professionalism that goes into Professional rat wrestling couldn’t be expended on the presidential debates.

      1. pjay

        Yes. It would at least be much more entertaining!

        I remember as a young kid watching Championship Wrestling on TV. It was a bunch of fat “bad guys” and some well-built (but not steroided) “good guys” (often former college wrestling champs) pulling stunts that looked obviously fake. Years later, pro wrestlers are built like comic-book super heroes and often perform stunts like skilled gymnasts.

        I’m afraid politicians have regressed. Maybe they don’t feel they even have to pretend anymore.

    2. Brian (another one they call)

      I am betting that the debate will start as planned but it will end very quickly. It is reasonably clear that Joe can’t fight to his weight and he will use something trumpholio says to pretend to be insulted and make a grand statement about treason or something and walk off the set. This will cause the media to spin so fast that they fall of their chairs and and reach 0G gravity and disappear into the solar system.

  17. Fresh Cream

    What is being done to Julian Assange is sickening! Evil leaders could never do what they do without the assistance of people like Amy Barrett (see Nathan Robinson in today’s Links) and the prosecutors in Julian’s case (see Craig Murray).

  18. Pension Guy

    That Current Affairs piece about Judge Barrett ought to concern every fair-minded American. That’s just horrendous judicial work.

    1. Carolinian

      Even if true does it matter? As long as McConnell has his ducks in a row she’s almost certain to be confirmed unless the Dems can dig up some scandal (and she’s already been vetted by a previous Congressional confirmation).

      Time for Nancy to fire up her threatened impeachment. I’m sure she wasn’t bluffing.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          I’m still unclear as to why the party masquerading as opposition to the full neo-lib program should be rewarded with power.

          One party is unabashedly the full neo-lib program writ large and proud. Always has been.

          The other party pretends to oppose the program, but then votes for everything the program requires. This gives the impression that the 99% have representation, and it blocks any actual opposition from forming.

          If your goal was representation and for an actual opposition to form, would you signal to the imposter opposition that their ongoing institutionalized deception is perfectly OK?

          “Where else are they going to go?”, indeed. So long as the answer is “nowhere” then the cycle will just continue. Full speed, in overlapping concentric circles, rightward.

          Pol: Vote for me.
          Plebe: Why?
          Pol: No reason.
          Plebe: Oh, OK then.

    2. shtove

      From that article she seems to be a formalist, rather than a realist; a judge guided by the letter of the writ, rather than the equity of the case. From that, I guess she’s an originalist on constitutional interpretation, and opposed to judicial activism, which as far as I understand would put her in the Scalia mould.

      And … that seems to be borne out by her wikipedia article. So, nothing unexpected – this is what the system is designed to deliver.

      Mind you, her exclusion of Roe v. Wade from the category of superprecedents goes against that grain, while her criticism of Roberts’s construction of Obamacare as imposing a tax goes with it. Complex!

  19. The Rev Kev

    “Why are landslides so deadly in Nepal?”

    I would have thought that for the same reason that landslides are so harmless in the Netherlands – topography. Yeah, there is haphazard, amateur road-building and climate change is playing a part but the topography of the place comes foremost. That first image in that article tells it all.

  20. Lex

    ‘James Baker’s 7 Rules For Running Washington’

    James Baker is still alive?! WTH has he been pickling in? Is Evil some kind of preservative? Salt, sugar, alcohol, vinegar, oil, smoke, Evil. That wasn’t scotch in his glass.

    *checks liquor cabinet for bottle of hypocrisy*

    1. carl

      Fun story: when I graduated from law school, Baker was the keynote speaker and handed out the diplomas. One of our more imaginative classmates, instead of shaking his hand, handed him a rubber chicken.

  21. chuck roast

    The Rump Professional Class…

    Yes, I’m sure that it is very difficult for all the professional baristas and roofers with the BA’s (cum laude) to shed their enculturated illusions. Being downwardly mobile is hardly an acceptable trajectory for the children of any class that has had at least a leg up.

    I’m reading Snowdon’s book Permanent Record. A standout for me was Snowdon’s complete lack of PMC enculturation. He never even got a HS diploma. He kind of fell upward by virtue of his computer skills…which he never stopped learning. All the wrinkles he grew up with…belief in American righteousness; long family history of patriots; family social and economic difficulties…were never ironed-out on the upwardly mobile credentialism track.

    Consequently, Snowdon developed serious angst-in-his-pants over widespread elite, institutional lawlessness. He and his fellow PMCers were the superstructure in support. Had he taken the credentialing road, these contradictions my well have been resolved, bought-off and simply melted into the cynicism of all his fellow Intelligence Community computer plodders. Studebaker is always worth a read.

  22. Billy

    COVID-19 and the Search for Digital Alternatives to Cash

    The Fed has the interests of the everday citizen at heart right? We trust the bankers who own the Fed to safely shepherd us through this crisis and inform us what’s best for us. Thank god they led off their official propaganda piece with a link to Mashable, a high quality investigative journalism outlet, about the woman in China who microwaved her money for several minutes and burned it, never addressing the sterilization of it.

    Sunlight and high temperatures destroy covid. 20 seconds on full power in a microwave will heat it too hot to touch. Let it cool before handling for as long as it takes to wash your hands.

    U.S. currency is paper infused with linen, from the flax plant. It does not contain plastic like foreign currencies which will melt in a microwave. Cash is freedom, anonymity, not subject to digital taxes, account shutdowns, works in a power failure and best of all, the use of it helps destroy Big Brother.

    F* the fed and the hearse they rode in on.

    1. pjay

      My opinion is that we are going to see a lot more of this. The entire liberal intelligensia will be pouring over these returns looking for suspicious stuff — though I’m sure they have been closely examined already.

      I am also of the opinion that this will not hurt him, and probably help him. I hate Trump, but after watching the ridiculously hysterical coverage on ABC News last night I almost decided to vote for him! For his supporters and fence-sitting possibles, yet another coordinated campaign by an “outraged” liberal elite will only increase their support.

  23. Wukchumni

    Puzzled scientists seek reasons behind Africa’s low fatality rates from pandemic Reuters
    Never was heard a vitamin D word in this article, and although Africa has never had the pleasure of my company, my enduring image of it is people living outdoors, taking in the rays, right?

  24. Wukchumni

    The world has gone absolutely insane! The Vineyard of the Saker

    As for our US American friends, having learned exactly *nothing* from the abject failure of their Guaido coup in Venezuela, they now want to repeat exactly the same with Tikhanovskaia in Belarus. As a result, Tikhanovskaia has been re-christened “Juanita Guaido”

    Say what you want about us in our late stage empire more closely resembling a silent Keystone Kops comedy starring Fatty Arbuckle, we’re still tenacious as all get up.

    1. Synoia

      If I’m one of the US regime change employees, it best to fail (especially if it is a Management Conceived and Approved failure). It means I still have a job, to execute the next management brainwave.

      Dissent is punished (Not a team player). Failure is generally a path to promotion (I executed really well, but the concept was flawed).

      It’s not as if the enterprise (Government Agency) will become bankrupt if its programs fail.

  25. Ignacio

    Antigen-specific adaptive immunity to SARS-CoV-2 in acute COVID-19 and associations with age and disease severity Cell. From the Highlights: “Adaptive immune responses limit COVID-19 disease severity; multiple coordinated arms of adaptive immunity control better than partial responses; … aging and scarcity of naive T cells may be linked risk factors for severe COVID-19.”

    This is very good stuff I store for when I have time. Thanks a lot. It has implications on vaccine development which I think are good for the candidates based on inactivated virus (SinoVac) or candidates that use viral vectors (AstraZeneca, CanSino etc.). Good T-Cell responses have potential to be protective. It’s not all about antibody titres.

    1. Dean

      Yes an important article. Certainly decline in thymic function is an important issue in cellular response as we age.

      Vaccines that induce strong cellular responses as well as antibody responses are critical to success. For this reason I am not a fan of Moderna’s mRNA-1273 vaccine as the cellular response will be fairly limited. But AstraZeneca vaccine and other vector-based vaccines are similarly limited. Yes, the adenovirus can induce strong cellular responses. But most of the CD4 and CD8 cells will be against peptides generated from vector proteins. The only functional CD4 and CD8 cellular responses will be against a limited number of peptides from the coronavirus spike protein only.

      Inactivated SAR CoV-2 viral vaccines could provide a much broader cellular response, especially CD4. In my opinion the best vaccine would be an attenuated whole viral vaccine. This would allow the virus entry directly into the cytoplasm of antigen presenting cells, especially dendritic cells, where it can be processed by the MHC class I pathway to induce CD8 cells.

  26. rd

    Re: California designed to burn

    It is generally inappropriate to compare places like California to the Northeast US or much of Europe.

    The forests in the northeast would have been old-growth forests with large diameter trees with canopies high in the air. Little light would reach the ground and so the forest floor is relatively unoccupied by brush and shrubs. If you walk in the few old-growth forest areas that remain in the northest US now, you see a continuous leaf canopy 60 feet above your head and only a few specialized shrubs and herbaceous plants in the understory. Saplings of the overstory trees actually rely a lot on the fungal and bacterial system in the mature tree rootmats for nutrients so they can slowly grow into replacements for the mature trees when the yeventually die.The First Nations people would set fires to keep clearings clear so they could farm, but there was generally not huge danger of massive fires on a frequent basis because large diameter tree trunks with thick bark simply don’t burn well or long. These old-growth areas are slowly regenerating in areas that were logged and farmed 200 years ago and then abandoned which is why many forests and state parks today have random fieldstone walls found in them. Europe has similar forests with large-diameter trees in old-growth areas or areas that were regularly logged.

    In the mid-west prairies, major trees include the bur oak which grows to have large diameter trunks with thick corky bark designed to survive grassland wildfires similar to sequioas. So a bur oak might have historically survived 10 or more wildfires during its lifetime.

    Florida is similar to California and the mid-west with large grassland or scrub-shrub areas designed to burn frequently, but not particularly intensely.

    Meanwhile the mountain ranges in the west have trees like lodgepole designs that are designed to grow quickly and their resin-covered pine cones pop open in fires to re-seed themselves.

    The mid-west largely solved the wildfire problem by replacing the grasslands with corn and soybeans (wheat in Canada). California and now parts of Oregon, Washington, and Colorado have an especially bad time because they have plopped lots of structures right in the areas designed to burn every 25-50 years so that prescribed burns are very difficult or impossible to execute. They are going to have to decide between three alternatives: the mid-west route of replacing the burnable vegetation and making it non-scenic; hardening the infrastructure with concrete houses etc.; or abandoning many areas.

  27. a different chris

    Haha don’t say I can’t find some good in Trump:


    But this sentence, I can’t, I mean… OMG can so many people be so stupid?

    In public, Trump is seen as the savior for a country that many conservative Christians feel is experiencing a moral decline.

    I mean if there really is an Antichrist this guy has gotta be a strong possibilty… nobody ever had the guts to write a fictional novel where, in reverse Monty Pythonism, he keeps declaring that he is the Anti Christ and nobody believes him.

  28. Maritimer

    Cheaper flammable cladding was ordered for Grenfell tower to save time WSWS (JZ).
    Works for vaccines too! Haste makes very profitable waste.

  29. Tomonthebeach

    De Ja Vu. So Congress wants to reform how FAA certifies aircraft, eh? Maybe they could just return to the way it was done in the 70’s before Congress rolled back regulations that granted manufacturers the right to sign off on safety inspections, cut back on the number of inspections, and of course, cut back on the number of inspectors.

    Back in 1996, my boss, Dave Hinson, the FAA Administrator at the time, was tossed into the volcano of public opinion as punishment for the Valuejet crash in Florida. During the preceding years, FAA had repeatedly begged Congress to amend laws to enable the agency to better surveille Valuejet’s unorthodox maintenance practices – the ones that caused the crash and eventually the end of the airline. At the time, Congress told FAA to back off becuase they were not keeping up with the times and more profitable business practices. At the same time, the Hosue Speaker’s wife Linda, was serving as Deputy FAA Administrator. Surely there were no politics involved.

  30. JohnB

    I’ve said it in comments before, but David Graeber’s passing is Odd. His autopsy results were released recently, from his partner:

    I can’t read the longer Italian version, but I don’t believe checks for more Unusual causes of death are undertaken, unless there’s a reason to suspect something – and (disclaimer: I am not any kind of expert on this kind of thing, and my tendency to paranoia/conspiracy on this type of thing may be higher than average – but not lacking in reason/logic), it doesn’t seem impossible that a check for As is out of order – especially given some of David’s tweets in months prior to passing.

    His partner, understandably, is probably not in a good place to follow up on anything like this.

    It’s not nice at all to speculate on this kind of thing, but it’d just be nice to have confirmed that full due diligence is performed in this case – this has been bugging me for a bit.
    I’d be very glad if it turned out I’d just been overly inappropriately paranoid about this – at the moment it just feel like there’s incomplete information, though.

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