Links 10/8/2020

In a changing Saudi Arabia, the first dog cafe delights pet lovers EuroNews (resilc)

An Earlier Universe Existed Before the Big Bang, and Can Still Be Observed today, Says Nobel Winner Telegraph

Scarlet fever is making a comeback after being infected with a toxic virus, researchers say (Kevin W)

New England’s Forests Are Sick. They Need More Tree Doctors. New York Times

Trump Infected

Trump Symptom-Free for 24 Hours, Says White House Doctor Wall Street Journal

Head of White House security office is ‘gravely ill with coronavirus and has been hospitalized since September’ – raising suspicions that it was him who brought the virus to the center of government Daily Mail. Lambert has wanted the WH spread traced….

Opinion: Trump’s tactics are working DW


From Mark T:

A South African musician released a very catchy track at the end of 2019, called “Jerusalema”. A bunch of creative young Angolans then produced a video clip to accompany the track early this year:

The clip went viral through the lockdowns in southern Africa. Dance challenges are now being issued from schools through to companies, and it’s spread to Europe too, especially among health care workers.

The Nairobi Women’s Hospital Jerusalema dance YouTube

Bredasdorp High School in the Western Cape You Tube. This brought a tear to my eye: a combination of seeing shorts and blazers again, along with mixed race pupils. Everything was segregated when I was at school in the 80s.
Airlink | Jerusalema Challenge. YouTube. Like the employees dancing on the wing.

The Song Behind the Jerusalema Dance Challenge YouTube


Trump calls coronavirus treatment he received a ‘cure’ Financial Times

A Global Data Effort Probes Whether Covid Causes Diabetes Wired

Glycaemic control improved in people with type 1 diabetes during lockdown Practical Diabetes

Covid: more than 80% of positive UK cases in study had no core symptoms Guardian

New Study Finds No Direct Link Between Subway & COVID-19 Spread Gothamist

VCO a potential antiviral agent against COVID-19 — Filipino research Philippine Council for Health Research and Development. As in “virgin cocoanut oil”. Zero details but worth watching.

Why herd immunity strategy is regarded as fringe viewpoint Guardian (resilc)


Top US immunologist quits health role over Trump Covid response Guardian. Resilc: “Now we’re left with only collaborators like Fauci and the missing woman doc who sleeps with fishes in the Potomac……..”

America’s internet wasn’t prepared for online school The Verge (resilc)

COVID-19 sparks national security concerns with top brass in quarantine The Hill

The rules for NFL’s injured reserve/COVID-19 list, explained USA Today

COVID surge at UA could have been prevented (Arizona Slim)


White House lurches in new direction on stimulus talks, pushing for airline aid Washington Post (UserFriendly)

The pandemic could end Texas’s oil boom—and start something better Popular Science

Scorched-Earth Heisenberg Report (resilc). Useful history of why the stimulus deal went south.


Negative views of China and Xi Jinping at record levels: international survey South China Morning Post

US Explores Curbs On Ant Group, Tencent Payment Systems Bloomberg

Booming demand for Chinese assets boosts renminbi’s global role Financial Times. The “assets” here are debt.

What Kind of Superpower Will China Be? Atlantic (resilc)

Australian housing market ‘eerily quiet’ as squabbling scares off Chinese South China Morning Post (J-LS)

New Cold War

Former Intel Officials Try To Downplay Ratcliffe’s Russiagate Releases (Kevin W). Pence tried referencing this in the debate, but you would have had to know most of the plot to get the drift of his gist.

DNI declassifies Brennan notes, CIA memo on Hillary Clinton ‘stirring up’ scandal between Trump, Russia Fox (resilc)

RAY McGOVERN: Trump Orders Russiagate Documents Declassified ConsortiumNews

Intel Sources: CIA Director Gina Haspel Banking On Trump Loss To Keep Russiagate Documents Hidden The Federalist (Chuck L). Yes, The Federalist, but a story not being covered and they have two sources, which is more than the New York Times sometimes has.

Golden Dawn leader and ex-MPs found guilty in landmark trial Guardian (resilc)


Will Russia Sell Its S-400 Air Defense Platform to Iran? The National Interest (resilc)

Sole survivor? Saudi Arabia doubles down on oil to outlast rivals Reuters

Trump Transition

Who Is QAnon Evangelist, QMap Creator, and Former Citigroup Exec Jason Gelinas? Bloomberg (furzy)

Getting an H-1B visa is about to get really really hard Quartz (resilc)

Veep Debate. Some of us watched it so you didn’t have to. IMHO, all it did was confirm that neither would make for a good President.

Kamala Harris & Mike Pence 2020 Vice Presidential Debate Transcript Rev

Pence, Harris dodge direct answers in policy-focused debate The Hill


Republican fears grow over rising Democratic tide The Hill. Wellie, maybe they shouldn’t have put all their eggs in the Jeb! basket in 2016.

‘They are afraid’: Trump loses edge with seniors in Florida Financial Times

Biden receives a nationally televised, hourlong infomercial Politico. Even my 92 year old mother, who generally tunes out politics, perked up when we wound up accidentally had it on for 5 mins and said it didn’t seem right.

Where Does Joe Biden Really Stand on Trade? American Prospect

Biden rips up photo of Bernie Sanders during SNL appearance Beet Press (UserFriendly)

Biden Affirms: “I Will Eliminate Your Student Debt” Forbes (Kevin W). Lambert featured (and picked apart) in Water Cooler yesterday.

In Florida, the Gutting of a Landmark Law Leaves Few Felons Likely to Vote ProPublica

US Politics Isn’t ‘Polarized’; It’s In Almost Universal Agreement Caitlin Johnstone (David L)

Our Famously Free Press

Facebook Widens Ban On Political Ads As Alarm Rises Over Election New York Times

After the QAnon Ban, Who’s Next? Matt Taibbi

“This Gravy Train Is Coming to an End”: News Media Begins to Contemplate a Post-Trump White House Vanity Fair

Facebook’s latest “groups” disaster will only make it more toxic ars technica

Netflix indicted by grand jury in Texas for distribution of ‘Cuties’ Just the News (Chuck L)

AT&T’s DSL Phaseout Is Leaving Poor, Rural Users Behind Wired (resilc). Recall I complained about this in NYC with Verizon…It’s not just about DSL v. wired, it’s that copper works when power fails. And getting off DSL is all about getting out of common carrier regulations.

‘Suddenly It Lifted Off’: Tesla Model Y Roof Flies Off as Driver Hits US Highway Sputnik (Kevin W)

The FAA is opening the door a crack for self-flying drones like Skydio to reach their potential The Verge. Resilc: “Self driving cars were such a success, why not move on…..”

CalPERS chooses new head of trust level portfolio management Pensions & Investments

Class Warfare

‘Great Polarization’ may be next for world’s richest, UBS says Bloomberg

Antidote du jour. From RP, and abject apologies for not having seen this sooner in my overloaded inbox:

In memory of Sunner…

who taught me about unconditional love and that we can communicate with our animals here and continue to when they transition

that spirit manifests in legions of forms and while soul retains its individuality we are all connected

and that any damn coffee cup was fair game for an attack if I wasn’t paying attention when I held it

And a bonus (guurst):

And an extra bonus (Jim D):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. John Beech

    Good morning everybody! Watched the debate. Waste of time. Conclusions? Biden wins? The court gets stacked, no question. Trump wins? The shit show continues. Lose-lose.

    1. Fireship

      I can actually think of a lot of winners. Internally, the elites will keep getting eliter. The top twenty percenters should do ok. The rest of the world is stacking up on popcorn and settling in to watch the evil empire’s inexorable Untergang. Nomm, nomm, nomm.

      1. cocomaan

        This right here. The top 20% whose bond jockey hordes continue to finance US debt are the ones who win. Taxpayers don’t win because taxes don’t cover our debt anymore.

        1. cocomaan

          And by “anymore” I mean since the revolution, arguably. Even before then there was the crown doing the financing.

        2. Grant

          I don’t think it is accurate to say anything “finances” US debt (to me, that phrasing makes it seem as if the US is reliant on private interests to pay for its spending) and I would argue that if people were really concerned with debt, some minor tinkering could be put in place to exchange the interest bearing debt for money that doesn’t accrue interest. As far as the list of things that are real issues (the environmental crisis being the first), I think public debt wouldn’t even be in the top ten. This system, on issue after issue, could make some changes that aren’t by themselves radical changes and it could do a lot of good. But, we are failed state, corrupt through and through, and so if any change threatens the wealth and power of those that own the politicians, it won’t even be considered. This is why, as far as I am concerned, we are the country least likely to deal with the environmental crisis in a way that avoids a rapid societal collapse.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Are you in any position to find other people in your analog meat-space walking or biking distance physical area who see what you see? If you are in such a position, have you considered quietly scouting around for such people in your immediate meat space analog physical area?

            Because if there are “enough” of you within a small distance of eachother, and you are in any physical position to do so, you-all might begin working to craft a tiny micro-society which might weather and even outlast the general Mainstream Societal collapse you see coming.

            And other groups of like-minded people might begin doing the same Survivalism preparations in their little areas. A sort of combination of Transition Towning, Survivalism, Greenish Preppering, etc.

            If you-all decide to do that, you might want to make yourselves invisible-in-plain-sight to the authorities. Continue voting so that you look like Good Citizens. Continue buying and consuming just enough consumer goods that you look like Good Consumers. Borrow and pay back jussssst enoughhhhh credit that you look like Good Sheep.

            That way, the Authorities will never suspect what you are really up to.

              1. drumlin woodchuckles

                Do you know of any churches whose memberships are stealth-growing a shared Survivalism capability with a Transition Town project?

      2. LawnDart

        USA proles have been on a losing-streak for some 30-years now, and I’d bet that this trajectory will steepen come January no matter which marionette occupies the playhouse on Penn Ave.

        12.5 million (at least) are unemployed right now. 1/3 of households are behind or not paying on their rent or mortgage. Food bank usage is up by at least 20%, disregarding increased SNAP usage.

        And, to date, over 70-times the number of Americans have died because of the virus than were killed on 9/11.

        1. Andrew Thomas

          Actually, much longer than that. Closer to 50 years. Stagflation and, far worse, the Fed’s ‘cure’, a 20% plus or minus interest rate, Reaganomics, massive offshoring of manufacturing, tax ‘reform’ that has enabled the capture of the state by a tiny number of oligarchs- the successful defenestration of the non-1% started in about 1973.

      3. km

        Much as I’d relish it if it happened, I am not sure that this will end anything like the last scenes from Untergang.

        Rather, the last hundred and fifty years or so were a slight deviation from political norms as set out in The Iron Law of Oligarchy. What we are seeing now is merely a reversion to the mean.

      4. anon in so cal

        The elites win. Especially with a President Harris.

        Here, she declines to prosecute Herbalife. It’s connected both to her husband and to the Podestas, who donated to her campaign.

        “But as the attorney general of the nation’s largest state — and therefore one of the most powerful law enforcement officials in the nation — Harris declined to investigate Herbalife, the nutritional supplement company that has been accused of fraudulent marketing practices. Documents exclusively obtained by Yahoo News show that in 2015, prosecutors in the San Diego office of the California attorney general sent Harris a lengthy memorandum that argued for an investigation into Herbalife and requested resources in order to undertake such an investigation. Similar investigations into Herbalife were already taking place elsewhere.

        About three weeks after the San Diego letter was sent, Harris received the first of three donations to her campaign for the U.S. Senate from Heather Podesta, the powerful Washington lobbyist whose ex-husband Tony’s firm, then called the Podesta Group, had worked for Herbalife since 2013. Heather Podesta’s own lobbying firm, Heather Podesta and Partners, would soon be hired by Herbalife, too.”

    2. The Rev Kev

      When the next Vice Presidential debates start, I have three suggestions-

      Joe Rogan
      Air horns

      1. epynonymous

        Was the moderators background in the pres debate censored out or just pixely?

        The next debate being done sitting down feels end of empire-y to me.

        1. epynonymous

          leading cnn story

          “Trump’s telling refusal to join the virtual debate” – “The President’s rejection of the new plan shows how it would likely limit his capacity to dominate the stage”

          note the hidden agency of the second sentence, from above the fold in news parlance. Whose new plan exacty?

          Also from our bizzaro-corporate media today, para-phrased. Trump’s new tactic in stimulus negotiations, airlines first. That actually was just his position last week.

          1. Andrew Thomas

            Trump’s agency. He tweeted it himself. In a virtual debate, “they can cut you off whenever they want.” This is the last place on the internet I would have ever expected to get gaslighted in the comments, but that is what feels like is happening.

        1. km

          Cats hate air horns and super soakers.

          I don’t think they like either candidate all that much, either.

      2. Pelham

        I’ve favored soundproof booths with mics that can be cut off if the candidates meander off topic, but I kind of prefer your suggestion.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Their mics should be kept in default cut-off mode exCEPT when it is their turn to speak. Then turn each one’s mic on when it is that one’s turn to speak, and leave it on-by-meter for exactly the 2 minutes or whatever time is allowed. When the last second ends, the mic switches off no matter how unfinished the speaker is.

    3. Wukchumni

      I can tell you having led the white house coronavirus task force that that decision alone by President Trump bought us invaluable time to stand up the greatest national mobilization since World War Two.

      Imagine FDR calling the Pearl Harbor attack a Japanese hoax in incessant fireside chats in the following 8 months, while having cordial relations with dictators in Germany & Italy?

      1. Carolinian

        Trying…not really getting there re Trump.

        And re Russiagate pushback–it’s a little late. If Trump really is the ruthless guy people think he is he would have brought all this out years ago. Instead we have the deer in the headlights administration. Perhaps he likes being investigated. Or perhaps he was too busy tweeting to bother.

        1. flora

          Maybe he’s still trying to ‘make a deal’ with the intel comm and the Chamber, and nuttin’s woikin’. The Artful Dealer meets the Artful Dodgers.

        2. Mark Gisleson

          Given how horrible news coverage has been, I think we’re underestimating how fiercely Deep State dug in its heels and refused to be held accountable for its 2016 [soft coup / ratcheting up of the arms race / both].

    4. Wukchumni


      Nobody really wants to be reincarnated as a fly, but i’m pretty sure it was Beau filling in for dad with all that hair smelling, not that there’s anything wrong with that when an insect does it.

      1. polecat

        Uttered by a tiny non-flyover, as it rubs it’s tarsi together before combing over it’s eyed compound interest :

        “Help me, Dad .. HELP MEEE!”

    5. Darthbobber

      If Biden wins, and even if team donkey takes the Senate, I’ll bet you lunch that it winds up being ix-nay on the acking-pay

    6. flora

      It wasn’t quite a total waste of time for me. I finally got a clear picture of who I thought would be more dangerous, the more ‘effective evil’, if they become president.

    7. Wukchumni

      I’m hoping the 2 proponents of the Presidency come to their senses and combine forces so there’s less to not like, and I did a coin flip to see who comes out on top, and Joe won, so:

      Bidump 2020!

      1. fresno dan

        October 8, 2020 at 12:32 pm

        bidump…bidump….hmmmm…OH bi dump
        sums up the 2020 presidential race perfectly

        1. ambrit

          Well, it fits. Biden, with his “open arms for ‘moderate’ Republicans” policy shows clearly that he’s a “Swinger.” He’ll go both ways if it gets him what he wants. There are several terms for that sort of person. My favourite is Terry Pratchett’s “Ladies of Negotiable Affection.”

    8. John k

      He won’t try to stack court, that would be fundamental change, and dems don’t do that. What they do do is to ratify the rightward move of the last rep guy, which had been approved by their shared donors… plus, of course, keeping progressives from any power.

    9. campbeln

      I think the worst case scenario is that the left goes back to sleep if Biden wins.

      With Trump we know what we’re getting; a bully who will put his interests first, second and third. BUT WITH EVERYONE WATCHING!

      With Biden, “nothing will fundamentally change” and “no one’s standard of living will change”… so either way we’re screwed come November.

    1. Wukchumni

      The rules for NFL’s injured reserve/COVID-19 list, explained USA Today
      Just when things were going swimmingly for this ex-Long Suffering Bills Fan (the moniker held up so well for so long once upon a time since the turn of the century, but shift happens and they got good) you get the idea that the rug is going to be pulled from underneath the league, with 3 more players testing positive.

      Its a bit schizophrenic the NFL, some teams have a token amount of fans in the stands-who tend to glom together, other venues look like an evang megachurch post rapture, while all the coaching staff is masked up along with refs and sideline officials, though nary a player.

      All the gridironists are touching one another during the game, and afterwords, lots of hugging and close contact. Looking at merely the players, it doesn’t seem any different than pre-Covid, there appears to be no precautions heeded as far as what we see on the field.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I’m all for canceling the season with the Bills 4-0 start. I just can’t deal with 2021 starting off with the Pats not winning the division. I just can’t do it.

        Though, I have to admit, the thought Bill infected Cam to get it out of the way made me giddy. Focus on the back half of the season.

    2. UserFriendly

      It’s like everything in politics, they do everything they can to steal the branding as soon as something gets popular while abandoning absolutely everything of substance behind it. It’s how Biden is against endless wars, you know except the part where the troops come home and we stop wasting money. Everything about this country is a sick sad joke.

      1. anon in so cal

        Biden told the Council on Foreign Relations he wants a bigger military budget, more weapons to Ukraine, Russia must pay a heavier price. His FP advisor is on record saying,

        “if Idlib [Queda ] is still under siege, that needs to end”

        “Syrian govt would love to have dominion over those [Syrian] resources. We should not give that up for free”

        imagine Michelle Fluornoy as Secy of Defense?

        “As Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy under President Clinton, Flournoy was the principal author of the May 1997 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), which laid the ideological foundation for the endless wars that followed. Under “Defense Strategy,” the QDR effectively announced that the United States would no longer be bound by the UN Charter’s prohibition against the threat or use of military force. It declared that, “when the interests at stake are vital, …we should do whatever it takes to defend them, including, when necessary, the unilateral use of military power.”

        Flournoy’s career has been marked by the unethical spinning of revolving doors between the Pentagon, consulting firms helping businesses procure Pentagon contracts, and military-industrial think tanks like the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), which she co-founded in 2007.

        In 2009, she joined the Obama administration as Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, where she helped engineer political and humanitarian disasters in Libya and Syria and a new escalation of the endless war in Afghanistan before resigning in 2012. From 2013-2016, she joined Boston Consulting, trading on her Pentagon connections to boost the firm’s military contracts from $1.6 million in 2013 to $32 million in 2016. By 2017, Flournoy herself was raking in $452,000 a year.”

    3. Dr. John Carpenter

      As someone mentioned in the debate thread, the only thing Harris/Biden show any enthusiasm about is that they are NOT banning fracking.

      1. Moe Knows

        Doesn’t matter what Biden says or wants. The Banks are banning fracking. All the loans are being called, as there’s no money and we (my bank) doesn’t want the oil, all that’s left is badly used Equipment.

        1. Dr. John Carpenter

          The banks aren’t Harris/Biden. What the banks are doing (link please?) doesn’t change the fact that the only time Biden seemed to have a pulse was when he was correcting Trump that he was actually for fracking. It also doesn’t change the fact that they have no environmental plan apart from the usual incrementalism, meaningless deadlines decade into the future and fairy tales that we’ll innovate our way out of this.

    1. Lee

      Researchers at UCL said 86.1% of infected people picked up by the Office for National Statistics Covid-19 survey between April and June had none of the main symptoms of the illness, namely a cough, or a fever, or a loss of taste or smell the day they had the test.

      Didn’t they do follow up to see whether or not these people became ill, and if so, how ill? That would seem to be useful information. Perhaps there are a significant number of people who have innate resistance or immunity. If so, we can round them up and put them to work in high risk, essential occupations. OTOH, if the great majority need not fear the infection, they may just say “screw you” to the vulnerable and resume normal activities. A whole new form of identity politics, transcending current categories, could arise. Won’t that be fun.

    2. garden breads

      A reason they may not have had symptoms was that they did not have COVID

      “… there were 36,061 individuals with a SARS-CoV-2 test between 26 April and 27 June 2020. Of these, 625 (1.7%) reported symptoms on the day of the test. There were 115 (0.32%) with a positive SARS-CoV-2 test result
      It is estimated that the sensitivity of the SARS-CoV-2 test used in this survey is between 85% and 95% and the specificity is above 95%.15 The sensitivity is a measures of how often the SARS-CoV- 2 test correctly identifies those who had the virus. Specificity measures how often the COVID-19 test correctly identifies those who did not have the virus.”

      With a specificity “above 95%” – i.e. up to 5% false positives – one shouldn’t be surprised if 0.32% or more of those tested to have a false positive.

      1. Val

        “sensitivity…measures of how often the SARS-CoV- 2 test correctly identifies those who had the virus”
        And how do we know who that is? We “test”! Silly me thought sensitivity was range of detection.

        As for specificity…that near 5% is the meddlesome bit, after having to make complementary DNAs from the zoo of transcriptomes that a frontliner is gonna dig out of your nasal epithelia.
        Lucky charms for us, those potentially positive high and low threshold PCR blobs can be sequenced and are sitting in fridges and freezers across the land just waiting to be scienced. That would be a great way to test the “tests” and potentially obtain some epidemiological data to boot. Given the variety of viral regions– the various targets –these many different rush-to-market products intend to amplify, there is interesting and robust data there to be had, whatever it may be. There is a huge difference between use in the trenches (martial metaphors mandatory) and empirically spiked samples on the development lab bench. Sequencing even a couple thousand would be affordable, interesting and worthwhile. I’d say I’m surprised this won’t happen but I would be lying. The persistence of near-science around these viruses is one of the most consistently interesting aspects.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          I know, let’s completely re-order the entire society around the avoidance of a single pathogen…where the tests for it are unreliable and the tests cannot detect whether the person is even capable of infecting another person.

          Best to cause a complete worldwide economic shut-down over it…just in case.

          Meantime, 6,000 doctors and scientists around the globe, including doctors from Oxford, Harvard, and Stanford, say that:

          “Those who are not vulnerable should immediately be allowed to resume life as normal. Simple hygiene measures, such as hand washing and staying home when sick should be practiced by everyone to reduce the herd immunity threshold. Schools and universities should be open for in-person teaching. Extracurricular activities, such as sports, should be resumed. Young low-risk adults should work normally, rather than from home. Restaurants and other businesses should open. Arts, music, sport and other cultural activities should resume. People who are more at risk may participate if they wish, while society as a whole enjoys the protection conferred upon the vulnerable by those who have built up herd immunity.”

          But no, we mustn’t listen to them because…wait for it…Orange Man Bad!

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL


            The WHO just said that 10% of people in the world have been infected with Covid.

            OK, a little math:

            7.8 billion people in the world.

            1,061,539 deaths.

            Now the mathy part: that means the death rate is 0.14%.

            Which means, ta-da:

            It’s a flu.

            So does this mean:

            Orange Man Right?

            (Of course not, that would break the laws of physics and invert the space-time continuum)

          2. cnchal

            > . . . and the tests cannot detect whether the person is even capable of infecting another person

            So what. Can an infected person infect another person? Can an infected person run around willy nilly in a crowd and no one else becomes infected? Yes and no, so what to do?

            Everybody is vulnerable, and one doesn’t know if it will kill you, or not, irregardless of age, and so far mum’s the word on what might happen after getting it two or three times in succession.

            6,000 doctors and scientists from the institutions of venality say go for herd immunity and not one of them is expecting to be killed by it because they are special. They can go first and infect each other multiple times as a grand experiment, instead of foisting it on the peasants.

            By the way, as far as I can see the “economy” is not shut down. Common sense people are avoiding high risk activity all on their own and the definition of high risk has been drastically broadened and one doesn’t need goverment edicts to tell you what not to do. Jawb one is don’t get it. Everything else flows from that.

            Common sense has nothing to do with Orange Man, in fact the venal doctors and scientists agree with him, that one should risk their life and health for the good of the eclownomy.

            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              The doctor and scientist count is now up to 16,118, fyi.

              I will take exception to a few of your points.

              1. Everyone is vulnerable. True! Just as everyone is vulnerable to tuberculosis, pneumonia, influenza, and thousands of other pathogens. Do we completely re-order the society around avoiding them? No, because that would be an overreaction.

              2. One doesn’t know if it will kill you, or not. True! Luckily The WHO’s top brass held a special session of the WHO’s 34-member executive board on Monday. At the session, Dr Michael Ryan, the WHO’s Head of Emergencies revealed that they believe roughly 10% of the world has been infected with Sars-Cov-2. This is their “best estimate”, and a huge increase over the number of officially recognised cases (around 35 million). Dr. Margaret Harris, a WHO spokeswoman, later confirmed the figure, stating it was based on the average results of all the broad seroprevalence studies done around the world.

              So we are getting a pretty good idea of whether it will kill you. I won’t reiterate all the information about how much more deadly it is if you are elderly or already sick. But based on this latest WHO information the overall chance of dying of it is approximately 0.14%. In other words, comparable to regular seasonal influenza.

              3. By the way, as far as I can see the “economy” is not shut down. Now this one, I will admit I am stumped. 30 million people who were not unemployed prior to the lockdowns now no longer have a job. The GDP decline was on the order of 42%. The cost of the lockdowns is estimated in the trillions of dollars. Entire industries are at risk of disappearing. 60% of small business forced to close say they will never re-open. So no, technically you are right, the economy is not “shut down”. But a financial cost of the lockdowns (also based on debatable scientific effectiveness) in the trillions of dollars is unarguable.

              4. One doesn’t need government edicts to tell you what not to do. True! But we have them, and lots of them. People being arrested for not wearing masks, Restaurants being fined for not imposing mask discipline. Families being told they may not attend the funerals of loved ones. Persons being told they may not be out after curfews. People being told they may not attend church or concerts or political rallies (or debates).

              5. that one should risk their life and health for the good of the eclownomy. I have a hint for you: we always make these kinds of tradeoffs. We could reduce automobile deaths to zero by outlawing driving. But we don’t. So no a complete Nanny State will not eliminate death, I’m sorry to say.

              6. Institutes of venality. I suppose that is the most telling line. I seem to recall people saying “we need to trust the scientists”. I do.

              1. cnchal

                OK. You go first, along with the doctors and scientist that “beleive” ten percent of the world has been infected. No politics in science, eh?

                There is a bale of straw in your arguments. Personal risk taking, such as riding a motorcycle, flying a small airplane or driving a car is controlled by the operator. Did you have to be threatened with fines to wear a seatbelt or use them from day one of driving?

                A mask is a tool, to slow the spread and reduce the risk of contracting the virus, but you know that, so what’s your point? That it should spread as far and wide and as fast as possible? That some people are idiots about it and turn it into politics is no surprise. Seatbelt refuseniks were claiming it’s about freedumb too.

                Years ago after a game of hockey, lots of personal risk there even though it was supposed to be non contact, I was sitting around having a beer with two other players, both university graduates, one a lawyer, the other an engineer and somehow the discussion came around to how much better they were than those without a university education and their proof was they made moar money than the dummies.

                Hmmm. When I pointed out that the richest person I knew makes their salaries look like chump change and he barely finished high school, they glumly admitted that beyond a narrow technical expertise, a university education is about navigating and using the “system” for their own benefit. In other words, knowing when to kiss the right ass and stab the right back in the correct order to climb the greasy pole of status and money. Venal is an accurate description of that..

    3. montanamaven

      Sounds like keeping the students in their dorms for Christmas break is better than having them come home and infect their neighborhoods.

  2. PlutoniumKun

    Scarlet fever is making a comeback after being infected with a toxic virus, researchers say

    A reminder that there are much worse diseases than Covid – along with polio, scarlet fever destroyed countless young lives until it was almost eliminated. When I was a teenager I did voluntary work with kids from the travelling community (non-Romany gypsies) and many were from families refused to vaccinate their kids, meaning they often suffered from diseases that had largely disappeared elsewhere. One boy I knew had one of the last known cases of scarlet fever in Ireland – it had destroyed his heart valves. He died in his ’20’s from heart failure.

    1. sj

      My Dad had scarlet fever as a child. He grew up on a farm/ranch and worked in construction (union laborer) as an adult. After retirement he (finally) had surgery to replace heart valves. I saw how poorly his heart was working on an ultra sound. It was actually shocking that he had survived that long and lived such a strenuous life with the flawed valves. We were lucky to have him.

  3. PlutoniumKun

    Sole survivor? Saudi Arabia doubles down on oil to outlast rivals Reuters

    A key point about Saudi oil which is often ignored is that their power comes not from having more oil than anyone else, but that their oil is cheaper to produce than anyone else, except maybe the Kuwaitis. Its actually pretty good news for the environment if the Saudi’s keep up their policy of being last man standing in the industry – the more they pump, the less viable non-conventional and off-shore oil production becomes.

    If that article is right it does look like the Saudi’s have learned at least a few lessons from their misadventures of the last few years. They should focus on ownership and control, not on dreams of turning Saudi into some sort of manufacturing powerhouse (its never gonna happen). The iron clad rule of rentier capitalism is that its better to own things than to produce things. The Gulf Arabs have learned this well.

  4. PlutoniumKun

    Will Russia Sell Its S-400 Air Defense Platform to Iran? The National Interest

    Much as I hate to see weapons manufacturers prosper, for the sake of peace I hope they do sell it to Iran. It’s only when Iran can unambiguously defend itself from any outside assault that the neocon dream of turning in into Iraq will eventually run out of steam. Not that reality has ever stopped them plotting in the past.

  5. PlutoniumKun

    Australian housing market ‘eerily quiet’ as squabbling scares off Chinese South China Morning Post

    Very quietly, the Chinese government has been lifting capital outflow restrictions – possibly because they see it as a way to release pressure on the yuan to appreciate. But also because at the moment capital flows seems to favour China. But I get the impression from a Chinese friend in the property business that middle income Chinese with money to invest abroad are deciding to sit on their cash for a while – there are lots of whispers of renewed interest in foreign property, but they don’t seem to know where its safe (and generally Chinese investors have a bit of a herd mentality, (like most other investors). It will be interesting to see what they decide. The situation with Covid will be the key, as the Chinese usually invest where they think they might want to live (or send a son or daughter), and this depends quite a lot on perceptions of safety.

    1. fwe'zy

      Thanks for this. Safety concerns include more than COVID. Many Chinese students have murdered by random strangers, sometimes “just for fun.” Of course there are serious social/ economic anxieties at the heart of these attacks, but again, it’s not on the young Chinese student to provide a livable situation for USA people.

  6. Toshiro_Mifune

    Netflix indicted by grand jury in Texas for distribution of ‘Cuties’

    I should note that I haven’t seen this and really don’t have any interest. However…. Haven’t we already been down this road several times before? Sally Mann’s Immediate Family is 30 years old, generated a similar amount of controversy, and didn’t end the world. Copy-paste Jock Sturges’ work in the early 90s, Larry Clark, etc.
    Is this a controversy anyone actually cares about? Or just some retro-80s/90s moral posturing from varying forms of conservatism?
    I know, as an adult, that the subject matter is essentially third rail material and has been for most of my life*. But do we really care enough about it to go through another bout of public cultural posturing from both sides on this?

    * – Except for the 70s, Because the 70s were…. different. I’m not saying completely messed up, I’m just implying it.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I haven’t seen the film, but I strongly suspect that this is less genuine outrage than strategic trolling. A lot of conservatives love highlighting the fundamental contradiction between a lot of feminist messaging, especially the conflict between sex-positive feminist positions and the more old style ‘anything that might turn on a man is bad’ feminist messaging. The film seems to fly a very fine line between celebrating the freedom and enjoyment the girls get from their dancing and the perceived risks of sexualising the young. From the reviews, it seems to do a very good job in this, but that won’t stop people from using it to hop on their own high horses.

    2. Anonymous

      Is this a controversy anyone actually cares about?

      Is there a red-line where God says “Enough!” and condemns a society? And are we trying to find it by (fatally) stepping across it?

      Protection of children from exploitation is the last red-line I can imagine. Heaven knows we’ve tested God wrt to economics and adult sexuality …

    3. The Rev Kev

      ‘Is this a controversy anyone actually cares about?’

      Ummm, I do. Consider this. Would Netflix commission a series called “Slaves” showing exactly what happened from the time they were kidnapped in Africa to how they were treated on those deep south plantations? And no, I am not talking about a re-boot of “Roots” but a full-in-your face treatment of their lives? Aw hell no! Netflix wouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot barge pole even if they said that the purpose of such a series would be to ‘educate’ the viewer.

      Very young teen girls of the sort that Jeffrey Epstein recruited however are fair game as far as Netflix are concerned apparently.

      1. Toshiro_Mifune

        What part is controversial for you? I am asking here to understand, not incite a flame war.
        Is it the acknowledgment that young teens are, in fact, young teens and are at a point where biological imperative starts driving some of their actions?
        Is it acknowledging that these young teens are subject to market and cultural forces looking to exploit that imperative?
        Is it that the treatment of the above 2 by the film maker? E.G. You feel this is voyeuristic rather than didactic?

        1. The Rev Kev

          What part is controversial for you? That is a fair question that. OK, I will try to answer this and I too, by the way, am loath to get into a flame war. My own belief is that this series seeks to monetize very young girls by adding in an element of sexuality. Sure, sex sells but I am drawing a line when it comes to age. I once heard the line that when it comes to how old a girl should be to start having sex that the principle was ‘old enough to bleed, old enough to breed’ but I ain’t buying it. Perhaps these clips from “Cuties” will demonstrate what has gotten my ire up about it-

          1. Toshiro_Mifune

            …Sure, sex sells but I am drawing a line when it comes to age
            Ok, I understand your position.

            1. The Rev Kev

              Yeah, that’s it. Over the legal age and it is open season but that young? Nope! I have a few hot button issues like this and slavery and won’t compromise on either of them (shrugs).

              1. rps

                Mike Cernovich podcast with Owens discusses Jeffrey Epstein’s elite trafficking ring that’s been covered up by the media and the powerful (perhaps Netflix believes the general public in the privacy of their homes will embrace the titillation of Epstein’s sexualization and trafficking of minor girls). He breaks down the details of the Epstein case and paedophilia. Interesting points about how the prosecutors covered up Epstein’s criminality with a slap of the hand and ignoring The Mann Act and the shenanigans behind his registration as a sex offender.

                  1. wilroncanada

                    Speaking of the Mann Act, try reading this out loud with a strong southern US accent. (I leave it to the reader to supply which type of southern accent):
                    Transporting gulls over a sedate lion for immoral porpoises.
                    It’s the punch line of a joke too long to spin out here. The joker, a friend, had to ask who knew what the Mann Act was before relating the story. Most of the listeners didn’t; but of course we are Canadians. It was no-Mann’s land

          2. voteforno6

            First of all, it’s a movie, not a series. I take it you haven’t seen the whole film, then. I haven’t either, but from reading an interview with the director, the intent of the film is to criticize these trends in society.

            Also, the movie 12 Years a Slave received praise for its stark depiction of slavery. I don’t think that anyone thought that the director approved of it.

            Depiction of a thing is not approval.

            1. edmondo

              All I know is that Netflix wasn’t selling kiddie porn until they got the Obamas onboard.

              Just another reason to never renew the Netflix subscription.

                1. furies

                  Commodifying young girls is wrong.

                  Someone here mentioned we are all cattle being ranched.

                  Or as my friend said yesterday; we are aphids being milked. That is our purpose on this planet, according to some people’s warped life philosophy.

                  Empowering women does not include commodifying yourself.

                  1. hunkerdown

                    More generally, market participation is not empowerment.

                    Yeah, that’s me who usually goes on about civilization as ranching.

                    1. hunkerdown

                      By all means feel free to circulate it widely. The more people have an intuitive understanding of the situation — and it is known in computer science that the only two hard problems are cache coherency and naming things — the sooner we can get this ranch shut down for good.

            2. Dandelion

              True, but the actors in 12 Years a Slave weren’t, in real life, slaves. The very young girls portrayed in Cuties ARE, in real life, very young girls. The making of the movie itself sexually exploited them. The issue isn’t the effects, positive or negative, on the viewer. The issue is the effects upon the child performers.

              1. Toshiro_Mifune

                So if Cuties were filmed with 18yr olds made up and pretending to be 12/13 yr olds, that would have been ok ?

                1. furies

                  O hell no.

                  You know better than that~

                  Why can’t we let little girls/boys just *be* children?? And why can’t women just *be* people? And not some product?

                  1. Toshiro_Mifune

                    Why can’t we let little girls/boys just *be* children?? And why can’t women just *be* people? And not some product?

                    Because we can’t, for varying and voluminous reasons.

                    1. hunkerdown

                      Cynical me says the whole point of having kids is to use them as feedstocks to reproduce and expand one’s lifeways and capture others into them. As “bioideology” rationalizes their domination desires,

                      “Family is not a hobby! It is a social procreation team. The objective purpose of a family team of living beings is to extend the family lines of their ancestors. Those, who help the family team to achieve its objective, are the team members. Those, who do not share the team objective, are NOT a part of the family team.”

                    2. ambrit

                      In “primitive” farming cultures, children were generally viewed and treated as free labour. Our ‘modern’ concept of “childhood” is a very recent development.
                      In England, and probably everywhere else in Europe back then, during the 1700’s children as young as six were hanged for “crimes” like picking pockets.
                      J G Ballard in his “Empire of the Sun,” an autobiographical novel set in a detention camp near Shanghai during WW-2 notes that he much preferred the Japanese over the Chinese because the Japanese liked children while the Chinese he encountered treated children like disposable objects. It may be an extreme, it being a war after all, but the observation is acute since China at that time was still mainly rural, with rural values.

              2. Kurt Sperry

                Thanks for the clarifying distillation. The interests and well-being of the child actors is what calls the film into question for me, not the surrounding issues it brings up.

            3. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              voteforno6: the intent of the film is to criticize these trends in society.

              Reminds me of what happened when Gutenberg first invented the printing press, some of the first pamphlets to get widespread distribution were graphic depictions of sex acts distributed by the clergy. “This is a sin…so is this…and if you see people doing it this way, that’s a sin too…”

        2. adrena

          Apparently, only “female” young teens exhibit this biological imperative.

          No “dancing” boys in our universe.

      2. rps

        Under the age of consent teen girls of the sort that Ghislaine Maxwell groomed for Jeffrey Epstein however are fair game as far as Netflix are concerned apparently. Fixed it for ya.

        It’s important to note Paedophilics don’t recruit they ‘groom’ children under the age of consent. Groom according to the Cambridge dictionary is to become friends with a child with the intention of trying to persuade the child to have a sexual relationship. Paedophilic Maxwell intentionally searched for underage troubled, broken homes and/or impoverished girls to befriend, act as a confidant and the wedge between these minors and their parents. She groomed, sexualized and trafficked them for the Epstein enterprise.

      3. fwe'zy

        Of /course/ I don’t recommend the Cuties lifestyle. But is slavery really the apt analogy, or pro sports? Yes, there is something /extra/ about sexuality, and it is indeed girls’ curse and blessing at this moment in history to have that extra currency.

        Are we sure that boys and men in sports aren’t trading on something sexual? When we bring in concussions and other occupational hazards, plus the despicable owners (see Dave Zirin, Bad Sports) and the total penetration of gambling into sports, it’s obvious that there’s a lot going on in pro sports to dislike.

        My point? I’m still fuming from ambrit’s “anyone who tolerates the Kardashians’ hypersexualizing is not an adult” (paraphrase and I still love you tho) … look at sports! I don’t appreciate you comparing women’s sexuality (even or especially co-opted under capitalism) to slavery /without/ going whole-hog on a real discussion of boys’ bodies in sports.

      1. wilroncanada

        Oh my goodness!! We must disinter Charles Dickens in order to cancel- culture him. He wrote Oliver Twist!

    4. martell

      I agree with others here that the use of child actors in the film is ethically questionable. I’m not sure that it’s unethical though, in view of roles that child actors regularly play in extremely violent films, such as horror films, science fiction films, and various crossovers between genres. Perhaps there’s some meaningful distinction to be drawn between these cases, or maybe children shouldn’t be asked to play children of the devil, zombies, zombie victims, alien abductees, etc. I don’t know.

      As for the film itself, when people criticize a film but have not seen it and I, having seen that film, think it’s pretty good, I usually just recommend that they sit down and watch it and then get back to me. In this case, though, I can easily imagine someone still finding the movie morally offensive. So I recommend reading a serious film review. At the vet least, this would make for better informed criticism and a more fruitful debate about what’s to be done with such films.

      I’m not a film theorist by any stretch, but my own take on the movie is rather different than the Netflix blurbs quoted in the linked article. I view the film as belonging to a sub-sub-genre of film that might be called the dance competition film. Usually, these films focus on a young person who is just beginning to find her (almost always) way in the world. This is a serious problem because the world to which she belongs is somehow stifling. Perhaps it’s the world of ballet or the world of vacationing upper class Jews. The important point is that the central character finds that world oppressive in some respect. And then she encounters the dancers, and she’s drawn to them, especially to their grace, their freedom, and probably to their power too. The power to move, certainly, but also their power to attract the gaze of others. Cuties begins as exactly this kind of film, setting up a bunch of expectations for viewers familiar with dance competition movies: the main character will experience conflict with family; she will be challenged by the dancers themselves to prove she belongs; and she will find hitherto unknown strength within herself with which to overcome all obstacles, win the competition, find herself, and maybe find true love too. Cuties, having set up all these expectations, goes on to defeat each and every one of them. For instance, she does find the dancers attractive, but mostly in the way that members of a gang might be attractive to a lonely, alienated child. The dancers for the most part can’t really dance, and much of what they do that passes for dancing is quite disturbing, perhaps even vile. But it’s also predictable, since hyper, stereotypical sexualization of appearance and comportment is a means by which young women can acquire status and power, albeit superficial and evanescent. And this would surely be most attractive to lower class girls, who don’t realistically have other good prospects where status is concerned. And so, fleeing one oppressive, extremely patriarchal society that offers her little hope of a happy future, she becomes hell bent on “winning” a game played by another oppressive and patriarchal society. So, no, she doesn’t win. Nor does she find true love. How about self-realization? The film ends with her having broken from the cuties and returned to her family, but she’s not at the center of family life. She chooses to be on the periphery, sort of between worlds. The final imagine in the film is a picture of her jumping rope, smiling, even beaming. And that’s why I think the film pretty good but not great. It suggests that she’s found a happy compromise, a middle ground of her own. But the logic of the whole rest of the film has been arguing otherwise. It’s argued that she’s homeless and with nowhere to go, no one to be. It should have been something more like a tragedy, but the filmmaker flinched. Or so it seems to me.

      1. newcatty

        Rationalizing children being users as actors in any movie or series is implicitly condoning the sexualization of children , girls or boys. Some actions in the world regarding children are not in any grey , fine line area. Exploitation of girls, or boys, is exactly that. It seems that the Epsteins and Maxwells are to be reviled and held out as dispicable users of young girls. They went over some red line…a bridge too far in socities’ acceptance of exploiting children for whatever goals. Pedophilia is not acceptable in any circumstances. Don’t think that covering it up in any “well done” and artistic expression is excusable. Children need to be protected. Child pornography and trafficking exist. If some documentary maker wants to do a serious film about it; it isn’t the same as couching girls’ exploitation in a movie. Sexual behavior from any feminist pov is not to be conflated with prudish or disapproval of any behavior that is attractive to men. Talking about children, here, not adults.

  7. timbers

    Regarding: Getting an H-1B visa is about to get really really hard Quartz (resilc)

    Talk like this from a Republican almost makes you want to vote Republican:

    “We have entered an era in which economic security is an integral part of homeland security,” US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) acting secretary Chad Wolf said. “Put simply, economic security is homeland security. In response, we must do everything we can within the bounds of the law to make sure the American worker is put first.”

    About the this guy Chad Wolf talking like it’s a matter of National Security to make sure Americans get good jobs at good wages:

    Chad Fredrick Wolf is an American government official serving as the acting United States Secretary of Homeland Security, and as Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Strategy, Policy, and Plans, since 2019. On August 25, 2020, President Donald Trump announced his intention to nominate Wolf to become the 7th Secretary of DHS, after the Trump administration disputed GAO claims that he has illegally served as Acting DHS Secretary since November 2019 as his succession to the role was improper.[2][3]

    A member of the Republican Party, Wolf previously served in several positions in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), including as Chief of Staff of the Transportation Security Administration and Chief of Staff to DHS secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. He was an architect of the Trump administration family separation policy in 2018, and was prominently involved in the deployment of federal law enforcement forces in Portland and elsewhere beginning in July 2020. In September 2020, Wolf was accused of having ordered staff to stop reporting on threats from Russia.

    1. a different chris

      >Talk like this from a Republican almost makes you want to vote Republican:

      And you are just about to pull the lever and…”he was an architect of the Trump administration family separation policy in 2018, and was prominently involved in the deployment of federal law enforcement forces in Portland and elsewhere beginning in July 2020.”… find it is slathered in s(family blog)t.

      And I left out the Kristjen Nielsen part and the “talking like” presented as that is even important:
      a) Everybody talks, nobody but Sanders seems to do
      b) He isn’t in charge of jobs, just does what he is told which is policing not jobs except maybe for the ridiculous expansion of policing jobs…

    2. CloverBee

      This was a talking point in 2016 as well, and appealed to many tech voters. So these comments seem pretty disingenuous.

      While the current administration has slowed down the H-1B process, they have not taken even simple steps to change the requirements for H-1B visas. Such as make the minimum take-home salary for an H-1B worker $150k, and then track this to inflation for each additional approval year. Once this is done, make it easier for H-1B workers to get citizenship, once they are no longer tied to a particular employer, they will be able to demand better wages as well.

      1. timbers

        Yah 4 yzs of talk and we’re still in Afghanistan, still importing cheap labor and exporting better paid labor, etc. All talk now show me the money. Been there done that.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          One of the first things BrownManGood did after taking office was send an additional 47,000 troops to Afghanistan.

          Meantime, OrangeManBad:

          “Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi announced the information on Saturday in an interview with the state’s al-Iraqiya television. He called the development a great success”

          Want more foreign war? Obama Biden’s definitely your man

          1. Phillip Cross

            Trump seems to prefer collective punishment of their general population via crushing sanctions, instead of targeted military action.

            In my opinion, sanctions seem more cowardly, and more likely to do harm to the innocent. How many children have starved to death in the last 4 years because of his thoughtless and cruel sanctions?

            I would prefer we just mind our own business, but fat chance of that ever happening!

      2. Leftcoastindie

        I agree wholeheartedly. I’m in life insurance IT and the H1-B visa along with outsourcing has pretty much destroyed most employment opportunities and a lot of jobs.
        Instead of paying “similar” wages to the H1-B workers as we made ,our rates were cut anywhere from 30% to 50% to make our wages “similar” to the H1-B workers rates.
        This has been going on for 20 years and the damage has been done to my industry maybe there are others that haven’t been ravaged yet.
        It is interesting as you noted that this is coming from a republican. I myself don’t understand it as they were among the cheerleaders back in the 90’s (and still are in my book). Maybe the damage has affected enough industries that curtailing the H1-B now has little or no affect and is a moot point. Sad if that is the case.

        1. hunkerdown

          The blue manor is merely the one currently deriving the most benefit from the new rule in the game. Threatening one another’s fortunes by disrupting their workforces is about as much of a hand as the highest servants dare raise to the other manor’s lordship.

        2. fwe'zy

          One of my $40/h gigs was sent to India and now has come back at $25/h. We have been sufficiently disciplined, I guess.

            1. edmondo

              It usually takes twice as long to do $25/h work than it takes to do $45/h work. It’s just economic sense!

              1. fwe'zy

                And there are many more times people who are at $25/hr too. (Deskilling. Outsourcing revealed cultural differences that hard work couldn’t make up, which don’t apply in the USA.) That’s fine: they are not my rivals. The boss is.

  8. Patrick K

    Hi, first time posting – I’m almost done with Econned and I have some questions for anyone that can answer them. This book is kinda my first intro to finance, although I’ve read some Michael Lewis too. Never took an econ class, although maybe I’m glad I didn’t. Please let me know if these questions have bad priors or don’t make sense, too.

    It seems to me that one of the main thrusts of the book is that, due to changes in the structure of finance, novel investment vehicles emerged in the early 2000s that created a huge demand for subprime mortgages. According to wikipedia, there was an explosion of subprime mortgages as a percentage of all mortgages starting in 02/03. So, my questions are:

    1. By what mechanism was that demand transduced into supply? Meaning – even if some finance worker thinks ‘wow, I wish I had more subprime mortgages to trade’, it doesn’t magically make it so. It feels like that demand has to filter through a whole bunch of mechanisms until it gets to the family in the local bank branch signing a mortgage they can’t afford. Did banks mostly see the increased demand for mortgages and start to lower mortgage rates or give more attractive terms? Or did they stop doing credit checks? Did they start boosting the terms of mortgages without telling families? Hire more intimidating local bank branch managers? A little of everything?

    2. Imagine another universe where the US hasn’t fetishized homeownership as the central tenet of A Happy Life. In this universe, people can still take out subprime loans. The wikipedia graph shows the subprime percentage as ~10% in 1996. So, in that universe, finance folks would realize that subprime mortgages could be tranched and packaged and started to do that. But, because the public wasn’t all dying to buy a house, the supply of subprime mortgages wouldn’t explode. And then…? Would that have just stayed as a niche market, capable of losing a lot of people a lot of money, but not capable of blowing up the financial system because it couldn’t provoke such a mania? Or were there scale-independent factors that would have still made this situation just as dangerous?

    Thanks everyone for contributing to such an amazing store of knowledge, and to Yves, Lambert, and Jerri-Lynn for all the time put into reporting!

    1. Mel

      I’m not one who knows a lot, but I’ve been reading NC since that time, and there were a ton of articles and comments explaining it all back then.
      1. The demand for mortgages to feed to the securitizing machine meant that mortgage lenders created incentives right down the line. ISTR that the business started with Real Estate Sales teaming up with mortgage brokers to offer a unified package to a home buyer. It wasn’t a question of a homebuyer standing trembling before a flinty-eyed bank manager — it was a couple of sales-buddies with a deal to fix the buyer right up. Sales got a commission, mortgage broker got a commission, risk vanished into the securitizing machine. Everybody got something. The buyer got more house than they’d dreamed of getting, with the assurance (they thought) that if anything went wrong, they could sell out at a profit and be fine. “More house than they dreamed of” evolved into mortgages where the monthly payment never payed down the principal, to mortgages where the payment didn’t even cover the interest, and finally liar’s loans where the buyer probably couldn’t afford the payment at all, but the paperwork would say that they could, and the risk vanished into the securitizing machine just the same.
      It’s amazing what can be produced, with the right incentives.

      2. I can’t answer. Follow Yves here, and the Wolf Street blog on the issue of securitized commercial loans, where a vaguely similar system is being set up. Apparently volumes and side bets aren’t at the level to melt the economy.

  9. noonespecial

    Re: America’s Internet/School The Verge

    The article notes one possible solution for students’ need to connect and keep up with their studies:
    “Students can come to the hotspots, download their assignments, work on those assignments at home, then go back to the hotspots to submit them. They can also participate in live lessons next to the hotspots, from their cars, if necessary.”

    A comparative study of how rural students in different countries are dealing with lack of access seems like a worthy subject to look into.

    Case in point
    In the city of Bucaramanga, Colombia, (June 2020 article) students whose families cannot afford a DSL line lean on WhatsApp to keep up with their studies. NC readers may already be aware that in South/Central American countries many persons rely on a pay-for-your-minutes (“pague por sus datos”) cell plan, not a monthly bill with unlimited access. And if poor, well, then “Heads of homes find themselves stretched (financially) and do not have sufficient money to pay for the minutes required by their children’s phones in order to study…A local charity is raising funds asking for a weekly donation of (approx.) $3.00 USA to re-load minutes on a kids phone.” (my translation)

    1. Katiebird

      Or paperwork (assignments and reading material) could be distributed at the schools each morning. Yesterday’s assignments returned at the same time. Meals for kids who need them. Other interactions with school if necessary.

      All supplemented by online classes but maybe not totally necessary.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Wouldn’t it be interesting if assignments could be tailored to the student. So if you had a motivated student, they might go digging for more advanced assignments and pull ahead of their classmates. Students do learn at different speeds after all. But of course you would have to individually test them when they eventually got back to make sure that they were the ones doing the assignments and not a parent or paid help.

          1. wilroncanada

            My wife individualized programs for each child in her class–grade 4/5 split class, in 1971-1973, her only two years teaching before we had children. She taught in a marginal lo-middle class school in a Vancouver suburb. Many children were latchkey. Others were out playing until after dark, often in the woods nearby drinking stolen beer and spirits from their homes. One child’s father committed suicide, taking her brother with him; mother installed her lover within two weeks, insisting she call him daddy.
            Incidentally, she also ran the school music program at the same time.

        1. lyman alpha blob

          That would be great. Instead we’re “virtually teaching” to the lowest common denominator, not engaging the kids for a full day, and just calling it good.

          What’s happening right now with virtual learning in the US public schools is a complete joke. At least as far as kids getting an education is concerned.

          But for the tech companies, selling scads of expensive tech so every kindergarten student can have an iPad (which won’t help them learn but will get them addicted to an iPad from a young age), well kaching! And all paid for through our local property tax dollars so the kids can have a subpar education but keep the profit margins up for the “people” that really matter – big corporations.

        2. GramSci

          No, no, no! Can’t have that. As Veblen noted in The Higher Learning in America, if the bean counters can’t attach a number or a grade to it, and if it can’t be meted (metered) out in “units” and “exercises” and “assignments”, then it’s not Education.

          1. hunkerdown

            Good thing there are other, less blinkered ways to learning than education.

            Some days I want to have a kid just so I can teach them New Math.

    2. apleb

      I think it was Mexico, but not totally sure, where all TV stations where made to broadcast school lessons, with a schedule for every age group.
      I remember in the 80s-90s (started in the 70s I think) all regional channels in Germany (they are public, similar like the BBC) broadcasted lessons in all kinds of subjects for people doing the equivalent of a highschool diploma or introductory college classes.
      No Internet necessary, we had the tech for decades now, and cheap too.

      1. Eduardo

        Yes, in Mexico public school is currently available via internet, television or workbooks. Here are a couple of English-language articles with some additional info:

        Borough provides internet, tablets, printers and tables and chairs for students to do their school work

        Spending a day at the park has new meaning for Mexico City family

        Teacher and director Horacio Octavio López Hernández tells us about the difficulties faced by the José María Morelos elementary school. Located in the community of Tierra Blanca de Arriba, the school is coping with the new forms of distance learning made necessary by the pandemic. The school typically averages 25 students per group across different grade levels, divided among four teachers who work in afternoon and morning shifts. When the Department of Public Education (SEP) ordered the closure of schools last spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic, López and his colleagues were forced to change their teaching methods. “The regional delegation with headquarters in Dolores provided the schools with enough materials so that they could work at home and finish the school year,” explained López.


      1. WobblyTelomeres

        He was just looking for an excuse, any excuse, to cancel whilst still maintaining a shred of face.

    1. Ignacio

      This is an example of prospective contact tracing that says nothing on what happened in the park and if there was a single contagion in that event since most cases confirmed later were house/workplace/daycare centre contagions as per the graphic. Apparently none in the 40 people in the BBQ was tested.

      Retrospective analysis would be necessary to see if there was such superspreading event outdoors.

  10. tegnost

    $10,000 bucks off the interest on a student loan is a gift to who again? I guess people must be skipping payments…

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      “There is only one candidate who will take the steps needed to eliminate tuition and student loan debt— Vice President Joe Biden,” said Max Lubin, Co-Founder and CEO of Rise and Natalia Abrams, Founder & Executive Director of Student Debt Crisis, two organizations advocating for broad student loan forgiveness. Both organizations have endorsed Biden.

      joseph robinette biden jr. is NOT the vice-president. He WAS the vice-president for eight years. Here is a snip of an assessment of the barack / uncle joe administration’s “actions” on student loans when they actually had the power to do something about them, written by someone who actually gives a shit:

      The various repayment programs that promise forgiveness are cruel jokes, administered in bad faith by a Department of Education that has zero desire or intentions of forgiving any loans. I estimate that fewer than 15% of those signing up for these programs will actually make it through. The rest will be expelled owing far more than when they entered.
      This all happened on Obama’s watch. He cannot avoid accountability for what is shaping up to be among the largest financial catastrophes this country has ever seen. His pleasant disposition does nothing to mitigate the cruel infliction of such massive harms upon the very citizens who put him into office.

      There are and always have been consequences to ignoring the old saw, “Actions speak louder than words.” biden has a record and, just like him, it’s not getting better with age.

      1. flora

        The various repayment programs that promise forgiveness are cruel jokes, administered in bad faith by a Department of Education that has zero desire or intentions of forgiving any loans. I estimate that fewer than 15% of those signing up for these programs will actually make it through. The rest will be expelled owing far more than when they entered.

        That sounds like the HAMP program to “help” homeowners with their mortgages. Banks win, mortgage holders lose.

      2. Clem

        Lest we forget; Biden is responsible for the student loan financial holocaust to begin with:

        “Until 2005, private student loans were eligible for bankruptcy protections just like other forms of private credit. But in that year Congress passed the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act, a law that made it vastly more difficult for struggling former students to rebuild their lives by discharging the debts and starting over.”

        He is the blue collar Judas goat and banking house servant for the financial institutions sheltering in his Delaware tax haven.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Wait, what? But Biden proudly declared he authored had nothing to do with the Crime Bill the Iraq War vote NAFTA student debt bankruptcy.

          Catch him on the right day and Joe has been on the right side of everything! It’s amazing.

          I know that’s what I’m wanting in a president, a man with the courage of his convictions, who believes in and stands up for absolutely (_____________________________ ).

      3. a different chris

        >is NOT the vice-president.

        Sorry, Katniss but one of the things in our supposedly “everybody is equal” society is that once you are president or VP or whatever you are still referred to by that name in perpetuity. At least in some places “emeritus” is added but not for our sainted Exec Branch.

        Otherwise your rant is dead on.

    2. montanamaven

      “Free college” sounds like “I will make the Coke in the Coke machines free!” as I recall the guy running for my high school student council ran on eons ago.
      The whole VP debate reminded me of high school.

      The best rebuttal is to say that college is a big scam now with most money going to administrators. College is a scam now. It makes sure people are herded into it and then given crappy degrees for work in “Bullsh*t Jobs” (David Graeber RIP). Right now, here in upstate NY, nobody can find skilled contractors, electricians and plumbers. “Shop” was taken away from high school because it might cause injuries. I had to correct a nice Republican lady who said “Not everybody should go to college”. I said, “What if we change the words and say instead, “Everybody needs to go to some kind of training school or learn a trade in a guild. If you are in medicine, go to a medical school. If you are gifted in common sense and detail oriented, you may want to train to be an electrician, a computer programer, or a map maker. “. Let’s just stop with the college scam.

      I read once that when the frontier closed around 1910, that’s when slowly they started hawking “education” as the new frontier to better yourself. Makes sense.

      You don’t need to take a Shakespeare course to read and think about Shakespeare. I did enjoy my liberal arts undergrad. It was designed to make me think for myself. It was designed to practice critical thinking. Grad school was basically hanging around with my peers throwing around ideas. I was constantly challenged by my professors. I was lucky that it was cheap and I could avoid graduating from school and to then being stuck in a box all day.

      1. newcatty

        The whole VP debate reminded me of high school.

        LOL! Your take on it reminded me of one of The best series on tee vee: “The Politician”. Most American politics are stuck in the mature and high ideals of teen agers lusting for power and to be leaders of their (packs) cliques.


      10,000 is the strangest, most arbitrary number. Why not eleven? Why not a baker’s dozen in relief?

        1. a different chris

          Maybe that was it! 10,000 is more populated with zeros than 11,000 (4/5 as compared to 3/5) and since 1 is so close to 0 anyway it’s a simple, single tick of whatever-you-call-that-thing that rotates numbers on your iPhone.

          Don’t know why he didn’t propose 100,000 that works even better!

  11. Dr. John Carpenter

    Sunner looks like my buddy’s pal Mango. They have a whole menagerie, but Mango stands out. Those colors are so pretty and vibrant.


  12. The Rev Kev

    “Chinese homebuyers shun Australian market as coronavirus, political tensions take toll”

    This is terrible this. If it keeps up real estate prices may actually start to go down in Australia. Last I heard, and based on international norms, it was three times what it should be. The government is worried that if this goes on long enough, that young people may actually have a chance at getting to own their own homes before they reach their retirement age.

    1. Anonymous

      In some “primitive” countries, including ancient Israel, land ownership is limited to citizens.

      “Selling out your country”, literally …

    2. Kfish

      Don’t worry, Rev. The Australian Federal Goverment is about to loosen lending restrictions so that more people who can’t afford loans can get them, so that bubble can just keep blowing! Apparently we were taking notes from the US right up until 2007.

      Actually, I’m wrong. We also have a new federal loan facility so the banks can offload those shaky loans onto the Federal Government at 0.5% before they blow. Look, we did learn something.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Yeah, I saw that story about a week or to ago and shook my head. Aussie households have some of the biggest debt overhang in the world so the government decides that the solution is – more debt. Here is a Juice Media ad on the government dealing with the recession- (language alert)

  13. Carolinian


    The real debate is those two factions together against those who understand that the entire American status quo needs to be flushed down the toilet.

    That’s not a big revelation to anyone who hangs around here. But what to do? Is it finally time for the left to get serious about a third party? The duopoly will never reform as long as there’s no alternative.

    1. YPG

      I’ve been thinking about this more and more. I’m not sure the legal mechanisms that would be required but if I recollect rightly this is something that can be done state by state. Perhaps in so-called ‘red states’ a left party could get aid from Republicans looking to further hollow the left-of-center vote. Seems like it would get litigated to death by the Dems, though.

      As any regular NC reader knows, the Dems aren’t going to move left. I think the IDpol framing has fractured the left for the next long while, unfortunately.

    2. .Tom

      Iiuc, 3rd party won’t work because of the difficulty of getting on the ballot everywhere. Hence the strategy of an insurgency in the Democratic Party. Sanders has shown that it’s possible but that he wasn’t serious about it. The insurgent faction needs to make the Democratic Party unelectable until its current right-wing leadership gives up and leaves to join the Republic Party (where they belong).

      1. hunkerdown

        It’s “possible” but the resistance also learns.

        Historically, the Democrat Party is the more conservative, more pro-oligarch of the two. Perhaps, with the neoliberal counter-revolution either exhausting itself or proceeding to the mop-up stage, the GOP is an especially juicy and effective target for populists right now, who must act quick before the machine jams too many baby 4chan neolibs in to dislodge.

      2. Grant

        I realize that we don’t really do tons regarding anti-trust, but why is something similar not in place in the political system? There should be a move to take away the elections from these two private entities. They shouldn’t be in charge of the debates, and getting on ballots should be guaranteed at the federal level, provided a party meets very easy to meet thresholds. There needs to be a non-partisan commission that wrestles control of the political system from both of these rotten parties. Growing up in the US, I always heard about the problems with one party states. I think the problems with two-party states are roughly the same, especially when they agree on so much. I am not against trying to make the Democrats less right wing, but even if that succeeds, it still doesn’t do anything about two private entities taking control of a political system when most of the country opposes such a thing. The fundamental issue in this country is how utterly undemocratic it is, from the workplace on up.

        1. polecat

          The Congreasessional lawyers have that all sewn up. They ain’t about to change their yellow stripes for some other color’s benefit … the cheddar’s all their’s, and by DOLLAR, they’re gonna keep it that way!

    3. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Pick me! Pick me!

      The duopoly will never reform as long as there’s no alternative

      I seem to recall an early Arkansas denizen of Dem neo-liberalism saying “where else are they going to go?”. As the window zooms rightward.


      We should A., reward them for this with our votes, despite the fact they are now so far right they have Republicans giving keynote speeches at their convention, or B. express our discontent at their absolute refusal to offer the left a single solitary thing.

      There are 92 million eligible non-voters in the country. Tossing them the teeniest possible bone in the form of *any* policy that would benefit them would put the Dems in power for a generation. Q: Why don’t they? A: Because they prefer policies that appeal to Republicans.

      (Quiz: Your dog deposits a hot steaming one on the carpet. Should you A: Scold him, or B: Give him a treat?)

  14. TroyIA

    Recall I complained about this in NYC with Verizon…It’s not just about DSL v. wired, it’s that copper works when power fails.

    After the Great Derecho of 2020 left me without power for 5 days can confirm this as true. Plus when the power goes out you have the added benefit of no cell phone service due to lack of generators for cell towers. Nothing beats having to drive around a disaster area trying to find a working cell tower to communicate with the outside world. For awhile there I thought I would have to resort to smoke signals.

  15. ambrit

    Joe Biden has “jumped the shark” with his SNL stunt of tearing up a photo of Bernie Sanders. He even used the words that Sinead O’Conner used when she did similar, also on SNL, to a photo of the Pope. Her ‘stunt’ earned her endless denunciations. Biden’s? Business as usual.
    At this point, I’d vote for the original German Dictator rather than “Creepy” Joe. At least, with the Dictator, you know what you’re getting. Biden? There’s no ‘there’ there.
    I just looked at the State ballot for November 3rd and find, to my delight, that write ins are allowed! Two guesses who I’m going to write in.

    1. flora

      Glad to know the Dem estab is working for party unity. /s

      “He [Biden] finished up his set, then pulled out that photo of Bernie, said ‘fight the real enemy‘ and tore it half. It was shocking,” commented CNN political commentator Chris Cillizza. “But it sends a clear message to voters that a vote for Biden is a vote very much against Bernie Sanders’ radical proposals like healthcare, education, or the Green New Deal.”

      1. flora

        Yes, Beet Press is satire like The Onion, but that was great and nailed Joe’s constant hysterical ‘I beat the socialist’ huffing.

        1. ambrit

          Blast! I fell for it again!
          s/ It’s a wonder I don’t have several sets of steak knives to use in my multiple time share vacation condos. /s
          It passes the test of good satire in that it came across as exactly something Biden would do.
          Apologies to all and I will go slink back under my Time Share Rock.

          1. flora

            The satire sites are much more real about the real world in so many ways than the so called legit sites. / ;) Now about those steak knives…

            1. flora

              At this point I’d vote for Bismark, too. Healthcare, pensions, what’s not to like? A real progressive compared to… whatever we currently have on offer from either party. ;)

              1. John Anthony La Pietra

                Um, there are other parties than just the two one parties of Julius Nyerere’s famous observation. . . .

    2. Janie

      Ambrit, 10:39 – busy morning here, so I skimmed, apparently badly, rather than reading and asssumed an actor satirizing Biden tore the photo. I am appalled at the disrespect shown to Sanders, who gave so much of his time and energy and then was sabotaged so openly. Thanks for the post.

      1. ambrit

        Janie, my apologies for inadvertently misleading you. I didn’t realize that the Beet Press was a satire site. I fell for it. Now that I go back and look closely, I see that the “Creepy” Joe head is photoshopped in. Forgive me.
        I have fallen for this sort of thing before, alas. I guess it’s about time to take that overdose of laudanum I have been yearning for for so long. (What is so damning here is that I cannot plead substance abuse as an excuse.)
        Stay safe!

        1. flora

          it’s about time to take that overdose of laudanum

          The Zeta Reticuli Council says, “Nay, ’tis not the time for personal considerations. Your reports to the Zeta Reticuli Council are expected to arrive on the previously agreed to schedule.”. / ;)

        2. Janie

          Ambrit, thanks for clarifying. Spending lots of time in yard cleaning up debris before rains begin Saturday. Appreciate you and hope Phyllis is doing well.

      2. tegnost

        the interesting thing to me is that covid disrupted the it’s all bernies fault narrative, and when he stepped off screen they all were caught flat footed.
        They offer nothing to anyone but themselves

  16. The Rev Kev

    ‘Jerusalema Dance Challenge’

    History records that many fine Jerusalema Dance Challenges were filmed and uploaded in the year 2020. Unfortunately history also records that none survived the wiping of the world’s hard drives in the Second Great Carrington Event of 2059. In the years after, much of our history was put back together again through people’s memories but with one exception outstanding – the year 2020. For some mysterious reason, none of those alive during this year claim to remember anything or having to do anything with that year.

  17. Intergalactic Joe

    Over at HackerNews, there is a pretty-beefy comment thread (link) about the Tesla that lost its roof. I spent a bit of time trawling through it, and learned a few things about Tesla ownership that I think the commentariat here would be interested in.

    1. Tesla doesn’t have a PR department any more; per Jalopnik (link), they’ve completely stopped responding to press inquiries. Apparently the person who’s parents’ Model Y lost the roof was advised by the Tesla Reddit to post on social media and hope the story goes public.

    2. There is this lovely gem on service centers (emphasis mine):

    As they have expanded more towards mass market they have gone the way of google – trying to automate humans out of the loop. It’s basically a miracle to talk to a human at a service center now, everything is “schedule it in-app where you get 200 characters to explain your issue, we send over an estimate, you can’t call to discuss it either approve or don’t, drop your car, use our SMS platform for 100% of communications because email might “violate your privacy” (read: leave a data trail), handle the fact that different agents get your SMS at different times and some have no idea what the history is, handle that agents now “have to reply to all messages before they leave” and you’re getting hurried “here’s my panicked update” messages at 11:30 at night.

    3. As a tech forum HackerNews tends to be fairly pro-Tesla but the comments, even from long-time Tesla owners are savage: “Was it the worst car I’ve ever owned? Honestly, it might have been. When I factor in that it cost over $90K, it’s definitely the worst car purchase I’ve ever made.”

    4. This story was also picked up by Business Insider, which is the most mainstream outlet I’ve seen one of these stories in. I don’t want to be premature, but it does seem like Tesla is losing some of its public luster.

    1. fresno dan

      Intergalactic Joe
      October 8, 2020 at 11:00 am

      That was interesting. Tesla is one of those things that I think proves that capitalism, whatever else it is, is certainly not rational (from either the producer or consumer side)

      “… When I factor in that it cost over $90K, it’s definitely the worst car purchase I’ve ever made.”

  18. Quentin

    Rumor had it that Joe Biden was Bernie Sanders’ friend. But Joe Biden feels the need to demonise and obliterate the man who, they say, called him a friend. Why, anyone might wonder? He feels threatened by something, you might conclude. Has Kamala Harris weighed in on the fuss.

    1. km

      Biden is telling his owners not to worry, he will be a good and faithful lackey.

      Meanwhile, Sanders gives, and it’s never enough, the DNC takes, and always demands more.

  19. Chris Matera

    Sorry to see NC post that NY Times propaganda about forests.

    The Times article about New England Forests seems to be intentionally conflating arborism for individual trees with overall “forest health”, a completely different issue. All forests have dying trees, that is part of a healthy ecological process.

    The headline, “New England’s Forests Are Sick. They Need More Tree Doctors” is wrong, but shows clearly the intention to soften up the public for the coming hurricane of logging planned for our slowly recovering Northeast forests.

    Claims about “managing for diversity” and “cutting dense species nearly the same age” are standard propaganda used to confuse the public. In fact, logging often degrades biodiversity and commonly spreads invasive species. Cutting native White Pine plantations may be lucrative, but they are a miniscule part of the landscape that provides important wintering habitat and would eventually self-thin and diversify.

    Assertions that logging will stop sprawl are another specious excuse used to scare the public into acquiescence. More logging does not prevent development, it just adds to forest impacts.

    Commercial interests and State and Federal agencies are pushing much more logging of Northeast forests. To convince the public, they must manufacture a problem with deceptive PR such as this, and then push their standard self-serving false solution, cut more forests down.

    The truly “sick” issue is the argument that more logging and clearcutting of New England forests will “help” nature.

    1. Another Scott

      New England does have fewer trees than it had 30 or 40 years. I read an article that said that the peak of the reforestation occurred in the early 1980s, since them development (mainly residential) has taken a lot of the forests. I’ve noticed this in the suburbs where little forests have been divided into small lots for two or three houses, and further out in suburbs and vacation areas, new developments do a lot more damage. I’ve also noticed a lot of trees in front lawns and along streets get torn down and not replaced.

      1. Swamp Yankee

        Yes, as a child of the early 1980s, despite New England being more forested than it was a hundred years ago, the early ’80s really do seem to have been the peak — I have seen enormous and ecologically unsound destruction of forests in my native southeastern Massachusetts in my lifetime — almost all of it due to residential and commercial development. SE Mass. has seen more development in the last 70 years than the previous 350, as one source puts it. Traditionally the “Old” Plymouth Colony, Plymouth and Barnstable and Bristol Counties, was far less developed than the Bay Colony (Greater Boston as its anchor). They were distinct politically until 1691, and remain so even today in patterns of settlement and culture. But the metropole is encroaching, and its colonial reach into Vacationland is particularly insidious.

        This process is not just in suburbia, like you say, Another Scott, resort areas like greater Cape Cod or Maine or the Berkshires also see huge and godawful sprawl-de-sac-towns growing up — in Plymouth, MA, they have permanently changed the town’s politics by catering to wealthy retirees from elsewhere with no respect for the land or its people and traditions. It’s too heartbreaking for me to talk about much more than that. Destruction of globally rare ecosystems to build luxury spas and golf courses is criminal.

        Like Justice William O. Douglas said, ecosystems should have standing to sue for their own protection under the law.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      Sometimes articles get posted here in the hope that someone knowledgeable will chime in and set the record straight and promote a discussion, as critical thinking is encouraged. So thanks!

      New England is probably one of the few places on Earth that is more forested now than it was 100 years ago as farms have gone out of business. My family’s property is on 80 acres of forested land that 60 years ago or so was a cleared cow pasture. The land is currently part of a ‘current use’ program which gives substantially lower property taxes if the owner can prove it’s being used for agricultural purposes. Unfortunately in my view, this requires the land to be logged periodically since it isn’t actively farmed anymore, but this practice isn’t too bad – I think it was over a decade ago than any logging was done, and then it was larger trees cut selectively, rather than any clearcutting. Basically you can do a bare minimum and still get the tax break. I wish the incentive reduced taxes simply for keeping a forest as a forest, but it is what it is for now. Perhaps when I’m the caretaker of it someday, I’ll just turn some goats loose and see if that also satisfies the ‘current use’ requirement.

      Anyway, I realize this isn’t what the NYT was talking about, so thank you for summarizing for those who can’t or are too lazy (me today) to get through the paywall.

    3. Paul

      I have to totally disagree.

      I study botany for fun because I love trees (being from an arid region I guess), and if I could do life over I’d of gotten that degree (discovered the interest too late). Because of that, I’ve been around tree Drs and I buy the $100 text books for recreational readings.

      So I’m an educated know nothing.

      Having seen a few virgin forest of different biomes (granted maybe not much true NA hardwood but where is that old? Maybe white mountains, Acadia?) When I moved to New Hampshire it wasn’t even 1 year before I was driving along and told my wife “there’s a problem with the forestry here.” And i mused, “Its probably because they think thinning is bad…”

      I can hypothesize a few reasons for it. The trees here are missing a few species that formed the higher crown. American Chestnuts and Elms are gone, and there’s some succession species that can’t live in a full canopy (They get shaded out)… Which I’ve never even seen out here because the Norway maples and such run up so fast they take the forest edges. When the trees where allowed back the land, no one went and got seeds from trees no longer in the area… Its only fast sprouting wars here.

      The real “tell” is you almost never see a tree in New England that displays its full habit (shape). They are all long and thin with puffs up top like lorax trees, and those trees are not well positioned for pest (plants have no immune system too, so its not like the buck infections). But maybe as secondary evidence look at the difference here

      Note the pre-colonial versus 1930.

      I believe the issue is all that clear cutting long ago messed up the forest succession. Localized exterpation of whats needed to regrow the natural biome is an issue in many places. And since it regrew by just letting it go, the species that came in and established initially probably were not the ones the forest normally would have sent out first. Trees do form stands; the achres and achres of monoculture I see here are not what I’d say are normal.

      The real thing I feel is the “let it go” and continued “let it go” attitude allows there to be trees; it doesnt establish more than woods. To get a healthy forest work needs to be done to integrate / maintain succession species. Most the management the government or land owners do is “just” siliviculture not integrated forestry.

      I think its mostly an emotional issue. People dont want to cut down trees and they see it as bad/ all or nothing. And I dont think they want to face how bad it was to take down the entire forest basically. In those little clumps left in fields there just wasnt a seed bank to bring back the original.

      But what the tree types like me advocate is not clear cutting and wouldnt produce much useful timber anyways. It’s more just going in with a chainsaw and cutting down much of the scraggly stuff so theres 6ft or so between trunks, or making artificial plantings of different tree species in strategic places. Its dorect action to undo the direct action of clear cutting.

      I think action is needed soon too because while it would “sort out” with the comming stress of climate change the window for it sorting out and getting to the best state to weather such a challenge is shortening. Trees take years and for these trees most years comming will have been worse than last year.

      Being from CA I have seen almost entire native and never logged hillside dye out. Like the draught and water tables here this year, NE simply doesnt build water reserves, etc. They dont manage the forest they just assume it.

      My fear is one day the forest wont assume itself.

      1. fresno dan

        October 8, 2020 at 1:04 pm

        Interesting point about the succession issue – I had not thought about how if you clear cut, the forest that grows back may not be the forest you started with.

        1. Wukchumni

          I’ve noticed in the Sierra that after fires, areas formerly with trees often have ground cover in lieu of them in the aftermath, and it grows fast.

          Nobody ever waxes poetic about whitethorn or chamise, but that’s the new normal.

      2. jax

        I watched David Attenborough’s ‘A Life on our Planet’ last night and he made the point about diversity of trees in any old growth forest. He (and I) agree that areas cut down must be reseeded with a wide assortment of native trees if we’re to have any hope of sustaining the chain of forest wildlife that nurture the forest.

        For myself, I think that ship has sailed, which makes watching Attenborough even more heartbreaking.

      3. Janie

        Virginia City’s vast silver mines with miles of timber stoping (reinforcement), are called the graveyard of the Tahoe forest. The east side of the Sierras south of Reno was stripped and the logs sent down flumes (where Incline Village got its name), then taken by wagon across Washoe Valley and up to VC.

    4. fwe'zy

      Oh God, ugh and thank you. Super important to get nuance like you’re providing. NCposts stuff just so people like you can come in and clear the air. I’m seriously so very sick of PR and lobbyists.

    5. H

      Michael Moore’s “Planet of the Humans” shows how low the Greens will stoop w regard to biofuels vs fossil fuels. Cutting off the nose to spite the face.

      Now they’re wanting to clearcut hardwoods to burn. More BTUs.

        1. H

          Cutting down every tree in sight accomplishes at least 1 thing for sure:
          The coal will still be there.

          A warning from 1964:

          A “rebranding” to “clean coal” is all that’s required. Hey, it works for biofuels.

          Green Party with zero seats anywhere seems to suggest zero political support for the platform.

          Takes big $ to win,
          as the dems have found to their own chagrin.
          Big $ have strings,
          Which make folks do all kinds of bad things.

  20. Swamp Yankee

    Wow! Congratulations to Louise Gluck for receiving the Nobel Prize in poetry! I was lucky enough to take a course on poetry from Prof. Gluck my freshman year at college. I really had no idea who she was, and she never played upon her prominent reputation whatsoever. She was so kind to my goofy 18 year-old self, and really incredibly thoughtful and generous in terms of helping me improve my essays from high school to college level. We also had her class the morning of September 11th; I’ll always be grateful to her for providing a caring and warm place to discuss things of beauty that terrible Fall. A wonderful bit of news to start this morning!

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I am sorry but you seem to be the only person having this difficulty, as in no one else has complained. I hate to tell you but that usually means it is a local issue. It could be something that your ISP did.

      If you can find an old NC daily e-mail, I would suggest formally unsubscribing (link at the bottom) and resubscribing.

      Again, appreciate your readership and sorry for the hassle but we are the hostage of the third party software/providers we use.

  21. antidlc

    Feds say they thwarted militia plot to kidnap Whitmer

    The FBI says it thwarted what it described as a plot to violently overthrow the government and kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, and federal prosecutors are expected to discuss the alleged conspiracy later Thursday.

    The alleged plot involved reaching out to members of a Michigan militia, according to a federal affidavit filed Thursday.

    “Several members talked about murdering ‘tyrants’ or ‘taking’ a sitting governor,” an FBI agent wrote in the affidavit. “The group decided they needed to increase their numbers and encouraged each other to talk to their neighbors and spread their message.”

    1. hunkerdown

      I’m having trouble finding biographical info for the accused. It seems like a “peer recovery coach” (Franks) and a machinist (Caserta, who shares the name of a memorialized seaman who suicided) are among them. Two other of the accused seem to be heavily involved in animal sports, one competitive angler and another racehorse trainer from Delaware.

      Good job, gentlemen, crossing state lines and guaranteeing attention for your cause!

  22. BobW

    Antidote – From the Far Side site: “Birds: a look at the animals that stir our sense of beauty, wonder, and freedom. And gave us pillows.”

  23. Ancient1

    I wish to thank you for posting,”Jerslema Dance Challenge”. It made me very emotional to watch the videos and the joy of those participating. There is hope still for us. Seeing how this was created and the young people who did it. It lifted the gloom of Trumpian USA with the hate, racism, a virus out of control and economic hardships of ordinary people,
    May we, Americans again find joy in living our lives once again.
    Thank you.

    1. Janie

      Yes, it lifted my spirits also. I have a new favorite song to hum, move with, and learn new words.

  24. JCC

    Regarding the “Scorched Earth” article at the Heisenberg Report, the link to the quote at the bottom of the article to Notes From Disgraceland was very interesting, I thought.

    The May 31st article ( ) goes to Jimmy Dore’s ongoing point that Trump is a symptom, and result, of a sociopathic socioeconomic system that we in the US have been living with for years. And as the Caitlin Johnstone article points out, neither the Dems nor the Repubs have any intention of changing any of it.

  25. Susan the other

    One question for Sir Roger is, if we are witnessing the remnants of black holes that have lived through previous aeons and we can see them within our own aeon, within our own range of light, are those black spaces considered to be “information?”

  26. fresno dan

    Fresno’s Christmas Tree Lane will be back in 2020, but the 98-year holiday tradition will not include any walk nights.

    The lights are scheduled to switch on Dec. 1, but the annual event will only be open to cars due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
    A minor casualty in the havoc caused by covid, but emblematic of the separation that the virus has wrought.

    1. furies

      That was the only way we ever saw it, back when I was a kid in Fresno. Fig Garden, the tony neighborhood…

      Is the Tower District still filled with ‘bohemians’?

      1. fresno dan

        October 8, 2020 at 1:40 pm
        If your talking about people who inject ink into their skin – yup.

  27. Glenn May

    What will we DO with our top military leaders out of commission!?!
    Probably enjoy a period of relative peace.
    Will someone please define “national security” for me?
    The ability to instantly bomb, spy upon, vaporize, isolate, humiliate or remove from power anyone who deviates two degrees from US imperial diktat?
    Is that it?
    Or did I miss a whole new raft of enemies hiding all around me – under my bed, in my fridge, in my frail psyche?

    1. newcatty

      Glenn, military leaders, quarantined in their “quarters” do not make those decisions to be the gansters and enforcers for the Corporations and banksters. Don’t know hardly anything about the military hierarchy, but would bet the farm (don’t have one) that no matter how many succumb to the virus that there are always the next lower one to take orders. Yeah, enemies’ list is too long to count.

      Biden doing that pandering and dissing of Bernie on SNL is just disgusting. And the irony…a “practicing Catholic ” plagerizing Sinead’s bit? Doesn’t make old uncle Joe cool, just pathetically dated. Besides the smart fridge , under our beds, enemes of the peeps hide in plain sight in almost Every home. The content of most television no matter the Tee vee’s age.

  28. kareninca

    From the Wired article:

    “what’s clear, says Rubino, is that this is not just an anecdotal problem. “From what we’ve seen so far, Covid-19-related diabetes will not be a prevalent issue that affects the majority of people,” he says. “But now we know it’s a possibility, even if not a common one.”

    That’s important for people to know, because diabetes can be easily managed, as long as it’s recognized. Be aware, not alarmed, says Rubino.”

    What planet does this guy live on? It’s not easily managed if you can’t afford insulin.

    Oh, I see. Not the U.S..

  29. Rhondda

    Re the sneering article on ‘herd immunity’ being ‘fringe’ in the Graun…I found it much better to read what the infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists had to say in their declaration. I also follow @ethicalskeptic on twitter.

    1. hunkerdown

      Not that the Ivy League should be trusted on anything but acquiring power for themselves, but how does long COVID factor into your advocacy of this “herd immunity” meme, and why should you or other “herd immunity” supporters not be treated in public like anyone else who threatens me with deadly force? Serious question.

      1. Rhondda

        I’m not sure what you mean by “long Covid” and I reject the idea that herd immunity is a “meme”. You frame it, dripping with sarcasm, as if it was cooked up by hair-on-fire right wingers.. Prior to the current mess, herd immunity was just basic epidemiological stuff, not “a crazy idea cooked up to kill people like me.”

        I have little desire to even attempt to persuade anyone who has their teeth set. And you seem to have yours clenched. Lotta animus in your comment.

        So the only additional thing I’ll say is this: never before have public health administrators measured persons with no symptoms as cases. NEVER.

        Take care and stay well. I mean that sincerely. You sound very upset and that makes me sad for you. I think COVID is serious and to-be-avoided but for most people, practically all people, is not “the plague” as I hear many here say, all too often.

        If you think my different opinion makes me deserving of — I dunno — being shot on sight or something, as you seem to imply….well, I don’t know what to say to that. A lot of that ‘disease’ going around, too.

        I have about given up on NC because of the COVID doom porn. Your animus and veiled threat here may be the last straw.

        1. hunkerdown

          Long COVID is the colloquial name for COVID sequelae that extend well beyond the typical course of the disease, some of which can be permanently debilitating. The downplaying of anything not death as their own damn problem is very common among “conservative” outlets, that I might suppose it’s centrally coordinated.

          That declaration’s core demand remains a rejection of the precautionary principle for most people, calling to expend some people to save business as usual, at their own expense. They’ve simply abstracted future dead, crippled, and vexed into a statistic based on that straw-man of bi-modal outcomes and a relative factor unmoored from a solid number.

          Now do you see how playing statistics games with other people’s lives might be treated by them as a brandishment of deadly force? Why do they want everyone infected, anyway? Which bioweapons lab have they been contracting with? At the very least a hermeneutic of “Familyblog you, pay me” is appropriate when discussing COVID policy for the USA.

          P.S. “Typhoid Mary” is a term being used right now to describe one well-known carrier of COVID.

          1. furies

            Thank you for refuting this person’s nonsense, hunkerdown.

            So measuring viral particles found in test samples doesn’t determine infection according to this person? Huh. And the *confidence* displayed! Scares the crap outta me…

  30. ewmayer

    “In a changing Saudi Arabia, the first dog cafe delights pet lovers EuroNews (resilc)” — SA’s cats respond by engaging in furious online campaign of downvoting said cafe on Yelp.

  31. newcatty

    Cats go a step farther then and ask for boycotting Yelp. Dogs yelp, as well as yip, bark and howl. Dogs are annoying, especially the yelpers and yippers. Dogs need to have some kind of “obedience training” to be allowed in cafes or the public. Dogs, most of them, have no dignity and adore their owners. Cats have humans who adore them. Meow!

  32. Fritzi

    So, according to UBS and Bloomberg the only top Players actually still growing properly are the ones specializing in “creative” destruction.

    The new normal will be “more digital, more indepted and less global” but at the same time the gods of destruction will revitalize and revolutionize things for all of us, hurrah.

    i guess this is the phase we have been warned about, where capitalism has finally run out out ways for the big bubble of fictional digital wealth to even play pretend about constructive investment, and increasingly pure destruction is the only way left, capitalism going all out with cannibalizing it’s own substance.

    It has been going on for a long time, of course, but it seems the elite loudspeaker is openly declaring it the only game left in town.

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