2:00PM Water Cooler 3/7/2023: Eric Adams Edition

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

American Robin, Audrey Carroll Audubon Sanctuary, Frederick, Maryland, United States. “Dawn song.” This song made me think rain was coming, or had come and gone.

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Patient readers, I will soon have the Adams — should really be Addams, but never mind that — material for you very shortly; I got wrapped round the axle trying finding human rights statutes for the city and State of New York. In the meantime, talk amongst yourselves. –lambert

New York Mayor Eric Adams has a million-watt smile.Which is easy to spot, because he doesn’t mask. However, even the most chipper grin won’t prevent its bearer from doing something really, really stupid. Which is what Adams did March 6, not once but twice, on two different media. On the radio, 1010 WINS, during morning drive time:

[1010]: Let’s start with the latest crime stats from the NYPD. New data released on Friday shows a decrease in almost all major crimes in the month of February compared with 2022, including a 15 percent drop in shootings, which is great news, but it seems the big issue now is shoplifting, including some very brazen, high-end stores getting robbed. What’s the plan to deal with that?

[ADAMS:] A number of things. Number one, we are putting out a clear call to all of our shops, do not allow people to enter the store without taking off their face mask. And then once they’re inside, they can continue to wear it if they so desire to do so. But we need to use the technology we have available to identify those shoplifters and those who are committing serious crimes. When you see these mask-wearing people, oftentimes it’s not about being fearful of the pandemic, it’s fearful of the police catching them for their deeds, and we’re really putting the call out.

And then on televsion, PIX11, on the morning news:

[PIX11]Now you’re telling people to take their masks off when entering a store. How are you going to ensure that that actually happens to capture somebody on a camera? Who is going to be monitoring that? And what if they don’t?

Well, believe it or not, many of our stores, they have camera systems, and we have an extremely elaborate camera system connected to the New York City Police Department with their own camera system. Let’s be clear, some of these characters going into stores that are wearing their mask, they’re not doing it because they’re afraid of the pandemic, they’re doing it because they’re afraid of the police. We need to stop allowing them to exploit the safety of the pandemic by wearing masks, committing crimes. You saw what happened over the weekend when an innocent store owner was shot and killed. The person had a hazmat suit on and a mask. He wasn’t trying to protect himself from the pandemic.

Wait. Our use case is really a mask and a hazmat suit?! More:

Here’s what happens, if you tell someone that you can’t wear your mask coming in the store and they do it anyway, you know what that does? That allows you to say, let me look at what’s about to happen here. Because if someone is violating the basic rules, they may be there to violate a substantial rule as to commit a crime.

Er, actually, the “basic rule” is human rights law in a public accommodation, which we’ll get to in a moment. First, though, let’s see why Adam’s staff should never have allowed him to make these foolish statements, if indeed they had any influence in the matter.

First, masks do not prevent facial recognition (and presumably your smarter criminal will understand this. If you know any criminals, please pass this information on to them). This is true both for human eyes, i.e. the shop-owner’s (“our brain looks at eyes first to identify a face“), and for algorithmic eyes, i.e. the cameras (“Face masks only hinder facial recognition slightly more than sunglasses“).

Second, raising and lowering a mask even briefly is a “fleeting contact,” and even a fleeting contact can cause infection:

The dangers of fleeting contact for persons entering the store are that much greater when they encounter a person who has shared air with a lot of other people, and might therefore be infected, perhaps asympomatically: the shop-owner themselves, or the shop’s greeters and security personnel. And then, of course, there are all the other shoppers passing by, whose air Adams would also force you to share.

Adams, then, had some sort of Crimestoppers brainwave, but forcing the masked to unmask, even briefly, is a dumb idea from a policing standpoint, and a potentially lethal one from a medical standpoint. (Then again, one might wonder who Adams — recently elevated to Biden’s “national advisoy board,” pre-2024 — to0 is carrying water for. The store-owners? The cops? Liberals who hate masking? The DNC, picking up suburban Republicans who also hate masking? Who knows….)

What to do? More pragmatically, where to file a complaint, and with whom?

My first thought, since public health policy, including pandemic policy, is, thanks to Federalism, a matter for localities and states, was the New York City Board of Health. My first thought was wrong, since Ashwin Vasan, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, just had a horrid run-in with anti-maskers, and may not be anxious to repeat the experience. In addition, Vasan[1] said this on March 1:

(“Sunlit uplands.”) However, given what Adams went on to say on March 6, I’m not sure how much clout Vasan has in this matter. However, there is a better way:

Human rights law. First, I’ll look at the statues for the city and State of New York. Then I will go through the complaints process for each.

New York State. From Chapter 18, Article 15 Human Rights Law, Section 296. A shop is a place of public accommodation:

2. (a) It shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice for any person, being the owner, lessee, proprietor, manager, superintendent, agent or employee of any place of public accommodation, resort or amusement, because of the race, creed, color, national origin, citizenship or immigration status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, military status, sex, disability, marital status, or status as a victim of domestic violence, of any person, directly or indirectly, to refuse, withhold from or deny to such person any of the accommodations, advantages, facilities or privileges thereof, including the extension of credit, or, directly or indirectly, to publish, circulate, issue, display, post or mail any written or printed communication, notice or advertisement, to the effect that any of the accommodations, advantages, facilities and privileges of any such place shall be refused, withheld from or denied to any person on account of race, creed, color, national origin, citizenship or immigration status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, military status, sex, disability or marital status, or that the patronage or custom thereat of any person of or purporting to be of any particular race, creed, color, national origin, citizenship or immigration status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, military status, sex or marital status, or having a disability is unwelcome, objectionable or not acceptable, desired or solicited.

So, in New York State, shops can’t discriminate against the disabled. And certainly Adams is suggesting that mask-wearers are “objectionable” (“these characters”); must be, in fact, since there’s no rational basis for his claims. What does “disabled” mean?

From Section 293:

21. The term “disability” means (a) a physical, mental or medical impairment resulting from anatomical, physiological, genetic or neurological conditions which prevents the exercise of a normal bodily function or is demonstrable by medically accepted clinical or laboratory diagnostic techniques or (b) a record of such an impairment or (c) a condition regarded by others as such an impairment, provided [material related to employment omitted].

I need not review for readers the many documented neurological and vascular complications not only of long Covid, but for Covid proper, including “mild” or even unhospitalized cases. Nor need I review the dangers of Covid reinfection, even for the vaccinated. Nor need I review that even vaccination comes with complications of its own. Given that “91.5% of adults had SARS-CoV-2 anti-spike antibodies (indicating previous infection or vaccination), and 41.6% had anti-nucleocapsid antibodies (indicating previous infection only),” it’s clear that the vast majority of the population should be considered disabled (“medically impaired”) within the meaning of the act, as one would expect in the aftermath of a pandemic (especially given the qualification “a condition regarded by others as such an impairment”).

New York City. The same logic applies. From § 8-107 Unlawful discriminatory practices:

4. Public accommodations.

a. It shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice for any person who is the owner, franchisor, franchisee, lessor, lessee, proprietor, manager, superintendent, agent or employee of any place or provider of public accommodation:

1. Because of any person’s actual or perceived race, creed, color, national origin, age, gender, disability, marital status, partnership status, sexual orientation, uniformed service or immigration or citizenship status, directly or indirectly:

(a) To refuse, withhold from or deny to such person the full and equal enjoyment, on equal terms and conditions, of any of the accommodations, advantages, services, facilities or privileges of the place or provider of public accommodation

(a) Full and equal enjoyment, on equal terms and conditions, of any of the accommodations, advantages, facilities and privileges of any such place or provider of public accommodation shall be refused, withheld from or denied to any person on account of race, creed, color, national origin, age, gender, disability, marital status, partnership status, sexual orientation, uniformed service or immigration or citizenship status; or

(b) The patronage or custom of any person is unwelcome, objectionable, not acceptable, undesired or unsolicited because of such person’s actual or perceived race, creed, color, national origin, age, gender, disability, marital status, partnership status, sexual orientation, uniformed service or immigration or citizenship status.

And the definition of disabled, from § 8-102 Definitions:

Disability. The term “disability” means any physical, medical, mental or psychological impairment, or a history or record of such impairment. As used in this definition:

1. Physical, medical, mental, or psychological impairment. The term “physical, medical, mental, or psychological impairment” means:

(a) An impairment of any system of the body; including, but not limited to, the neurological system; the musculoskeletal system; the special sense organs and respiratory organs, including, but not limited to, speech organs; the cardiovascular system; the reproductive system; the digestive and genito-urinary systems; the hemic and lymphatic systems; the immunological systems; the skin; and the endocrine system; or

(b) A mental or psychological impairment

The logic again is the same as for the State.

Here (via Yves) is where to start of file a complaint with the State:

Here is how to file a complaint with the City:

(Note that the City of New York wants you to file your complaint only in their jurisdication.)

Now, these processes may seem a little cumbersome. However, I don’t think it will take very many complaints to make an impact on the Adams Administration, whether at City of State level. I am also sure that we at NC would be very interested to see your filings and track your progress! Then, of course, there is the press. You can write letters to the editor, which the public reads. Interestingly, Taylor Lorenz — who may be a bit of a showboat but is sound on both Long Covid and masking — is aware of the story:

So you might consider forwarding your complaints to her, as well as NC, and any local venues you have.

Let’s go save some lives!


[1] Nor does Vasan mask reliably:

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Contact information for plants: Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, to (a) find out how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal and (b) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi and coral are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. From Carla:

Carla writes: “Winter aconite blooming in NE Ohio at the end of 1st week in Feb 2023, two to three weeks earlier than usual.”

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About Lambert Strether

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


    1. hunkerdown

      The error is in believing that self-alienation of one’s time, presernce, and labor power (i.e. the separation of labor from its conditions) is a phenomenon that should not only be allowed to exist, but trained into the children of the working class (the existence of which classification is also a violent error). That a self-styled Berniecrat believes that capitalism is a sentient god with which one can negotiate and obtain commitments from shows the pervasiveness and bankruptcy of the radical liberal, DSA/Jacobin line.

      1. Diogenes

        I followed you right up until your use of the word “error” (the first one).

        After that it gets a bit fuzzy.

      1. Diogenes

        Let’s count the caveats and qualifiers in the conclusion:

        “The study suggests (1) that community mask use by well people could be (2) beneficial, particularly for COVID-19, where transmission may be (3) pre-symptomatic. The studies of masks as source control also suggest (3) a benefit, and may be (4) important during the COVID-19 pandemic in universal (good luck with that) community face mask use as well as in health care settings. Trials in healthcare workers support the use of respirators continuously during a shift. This may (5) prevent health worker infections and deaths from COVID-19, as aerosolisation in the hospital setting has been documented.”

        And all the world has to do to reap those (potential) benefits, is change human nature so that the totality of the population can universally be more disciplined than highly trained and compensated health care professionals, who fail to do it.

        1. hunkerdown

          “Human nature” is 99% determined by whatever an orator needs you to believe you are in order to manipulate you. Let’s reject the casual usage of such childish myths, as your namesake would, and understand that masks are a social relation and subject to social pressures, which, like all social relations, are subject to manipulation by a particular culture’s priests and lay ministers in that culture’s style.

          PMCs are pathological liars, not people to look up to. What kind of child actually believes in meritocracy as anything but a satire recuperated by the neoliberal thought collective?

          As for Reason and their tacit belief that “time in class” = “instruction”, the only thing necessarily being instructed is how to spend hours a day being exploited. Lame.

    1. pjay

      If I am understanding him correctly, Saagar seems to be taking this ridiculous story seriously. His criticisms seem to be directed toward (1) the Ukrainian government, and (2) those in the US who were naive enough to trust them. This also seems to be what the unnamed “officials” feeding the stenographers at the Times want us to believe:

      “Despite Ukraine’s deep dependence on the United States for military, intelligence and diplomatic support, Ukrainian officials are not always transparent with their American counterparts about their military operations, especially those against Russian targets behind enemy lines. Those operations have frustrated U.S. officials, who believe that they have not measurably improved Ukraine’s position on the battlefield, but have risked alienating European allies and widening the war.”

      “The operations that have unnerved the United States included a strike in early August on Russia’s Saki Air Base on the western coast of Crimea, a truck bombing in October that destroyed part of the Kerch Strait Bridge, which links Russia to Crimea, and drone strikes in December aimed at Russian military bases in Ryazan and Engels, about 300 miles beyond the Ukrainian border.”

      Anyone who believes such operations would “unnerve” the US war machine, or that Ukraine could conceivably pull off the Nord Stream sabotage without the US or its NATO poodles knowing about it, is the fool.

      Someone in the Establishment is apparently trying to set up a scapegoat, but this is so ludicrous that surely no one could possibly believe it…. oh, wait.

      The Times link was posted earlier in the Links comments. Here it is again for those who want a laugh:


      1. mrsyk

        Fishwrap alert! Here’s a good quote from that Times article.
        “They have said that there are no firm conclusions about it (the intelligence the whole rumor is based on), leaving open the possibility that the operation might have been conducted off the books by a proxy force with connections to the Ukrainian government or its security services.” In who’s opinion? Much of the article seems to be editorial conjecture to build narrative.
        The real question is why the change in tune and why now?

        1. notabanker

          “proxy force”? So like a joint US and Norway operation authorized by Biden because of course, Z asked him to?

          1. jsn

            It’s our spyn masters telling us that clever Z played them.

            “Trust us, we’re stupid.”

            Z is using NATO to fight his proxy war on Germany. Makes perfect sense in a White Helmet, Bellingcat kind of way.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      The report is Hersch has a story coming next week, and my gut is Zelensky may not be long for the world. If he isn’t long for this world, then its probably best to lay the blame at Zelensky. The US msm may not care, but its a message to everyone else. The Moscow/Beijing axis isn’t loosely connected to popular fronts’ around the world interested in beheading the petit or haute bourgeois anymore.

      1. ChrisFromGA

        I do wonder, timing-wise, with the fall of Bakhmut imminent (it’s a process, like Mariupol) whether now might be a good time for the west to throw Zee under the bus. And maybe replace him with a more pragmatic military general.

        You know, that kooky Zee, we love him, but he just went too far this time, bombing the NS2 pipeline without our permission (clutching pearls!)

        And now he won’t do a tactical withdrawal from a lost cause, ruining the glorious spring offensive!. We had no choice but to remove him!

        Sholtz’s visit seems awfully suspect in terms of timing. A lot like letting the suspects get together in the same room to coordinate their stories before the cops show up.

      1. some guy

        If the US abandons it, will the EUroNATO countries abandon it too? And at the same rate? What will be revealed if they do?

        What will be revealed if they don’t?

        1. Polar Socialist

          If it happens like in Afghanistan, then EUroNATO will wake up one morning to find out USA has left. Then everyone scrambles in panic to follow and tries not to start the blame game or even ask any question in public.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Ukrainians blew up the NordStream gas pipeline

      From the present to the past:

      Ukraine denies any involvement in Nordstream pipeline explosions FT

      U.S. intelligence review suggests pro-Ukrainian group sabotaged Nord Stream pipelines, NYT reports Reuters. If “reports” is the word we want.

      Intelligence Suggests Pro-Ukrainian Group Sabotaged Pipelines, U.S. Officials Say NYT. Strong stuff:

      U.S. officials said there was much they did not know about the perpetrators and their affiliations. The review of newly collected intelligence suggests they were opponents of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, but does not specify the members of the group, or who directed or paid for the operation. U.S. officials declined to disclose the nature of the intelligence, how it was obtained or any details of the strength of the evidence it contains. They have said that there are no firm conclusions about it, leaving open the possibility that the operation might have been conducted off the books by a proxy force with connections to the Ukrainian government or its security services.

      Get back to me when… when it makes sense. (There was that odd security shake-up in Ukraine the other day, and the week earlier the unexplained defenestration of a general; but they’re all as twisty as corkscrews.)

      Helmer fingered the Poles; totally blue-skying here, but it occurred to me that our organs of state security might throw Ukraine under the bus to save the Poles.

      1. Col 'Sandy' Volestrangler (ret)

        Poland has claims on Ukraine territory and apparantly has not so obliquely dropped hints that Galizia might be re-united with Poland if the sinking hulk of Ukraine slips beneath the waves.

      2. thoughtful person

        “US Navy Seals workin on the weekend (of Sept 24th and 25th) *on their own time*, we know nuthin about what those boys may have been up to. Who cudda knowd??? Sure some friends of the Ukes we suspect!”

        Uh huh.

      3. ChrisPacific

        leaving open the possibility that the operation might have been conducted off the books by a proxy force with connections to the Ukrainian government

        “A big boy did it and ran away”

      4. JB

        lol – here are the Guardian and NYT mentions of Seymour Hersh since his article:

        The only mention except todays Ukraine story, is deep down in page 2 of a live blog – and an article on UFO’s, lol…



    4. NN Cassandra

      What is interesting is that while the unnamed officials are absolutely sure the perpetrators are NOT American of British nationals, they seem unable to decide whenever they are Russian, Ukrainians or anyone else.

      It’s remarkable how they can rule out the possibility some random person is American or Brit, and yet they don’t know anything else about him. I wonder what trait it is that all Americans and Brits have, but no any other nationality has.

    5. Mo's Bike Shop

      I’ve gotten used to the fact that the neocons never have a Plan B, but it’s enlightening to realize that they don’t even think of having a cover story. There should have been a load of BS ready for the blast. Instead we got ‘Thanks USA’.

      Is this even from the neocons, or is it journamalists ‘working towards the Biden’?

    6. lyman alpha blob

      Done by a pro-Ukrainian group who are opposed to Putin. Sounds like the CIA.

    7. The Rev Kev

      RT is reporting that-

      ‘German authorities probing explosions at the Nord Stream gas pipelines have identified a vessel that appears to have been involved in what is widely regarded as an act of sabotage, a host of German media outlets revealed on Tuesday. The yacht, which was reportedly used in the attack on the pipelines, belongs to a Polish-based company owned by two Ukrainians, according to the reports.’

      So let me guess. The Ukrainian saboteurs sailed that yacht over those pipelines using a GPS tracker on their mobiles and what, started to drop hand grenades over the side? Maybe dropped a few depth charges as well? So the Ukrainians did it? Pull the other one. It plays jingle bells.


      1. hk

        Well, they did try to pin Abu Ghraib on just a couple of privates, no? (and they did eventually stick the blame on a hapless national guard general who was probably close to the bottom of the totem pole). Granted, this is infinitely bigger crisis and I doubt this will stick, as far as most of the publics in various countries are concerned….

  1. magpie

    He shouldn’t, because it’s rubbish.

    I should think that the unravelling of the NS2 “mystery” was the main topic of the odd Biden-Scholz meeting the other day. The story was collapsing in Germany, Scholz was drifting into nasty waters… And then presto! A new culprit!

    CIeverly done, blaming the Ukrainians. Not believable, alas, but they may even have somebody ready to claim credit.

    What a time we’re in!

      1. Carolinian

        Sounds like the NYT story is strictly “sources say” and in that sense deniable when the real truth comes out. It’s all just a game to our Newspaper of Record these days. Or maybe in all days given that Sulzberger/NYT connection.

        1. notabanker

          Pulitzer Prize entry cutoff was January 26th 2023, so we have to wait until at least October of 2024 for the truth to be leaked by a mainstream news org.

        1. mrsyk

          C’mon man! I like that the team is introduced as five men and a woman. She gets to be the doctor. Netflix ready.

        2. pjay

          Interesting. Sounds like ChrisFromGA could be right; perhaps Scholtz’s visit *was* to help the US and Germany get their stories straight.

    1. mrsyk

      Good eye on that. One of the more controllable invasives. They weed easy. Just get them before they seed.

          1. some guy

            I personally would eat some steamed young pre-flower-bud stage leaves and tips with zero flavoring of any kind . . . to see what exactly they tasted like. After some thought and imagination and rememberance of meals past, I would start imagining some things to do with them, what to flavor them with, etc.

    2. Carla

      Oh, yeah, that’s the garden bed by my driveway. I’ll get to the weeds.

      Winter aconite update: this is it’s best season ever (out of the 35 I’ve been here.) The blooms are just beginning to fade, so they’ve been going for a full month. When we moved in, the aconite were only in the driveway bed. Now, after 3 decades of moving plants and soil around like mad, they are all around the property and starting to look really quite lovely. (Of course the afore-mentioned garlic mustard is probably everywhere too, but as they say, flourishing weeds are a sign of healthy soil.)

      We’ve had a strange winter in NE Ohio: very little snow, much more sun than usual, happily — but on the negative side for those of us who enjoy walking the neighborhoods — the winds have been much more blustery than usual this year, making the wind chill, well, chill.

  2. Hepativore

    Listen to this! It is bizarre synthesizer music from 1958!


    Analog synthesizers have been around since the 1930’s, and the electronic music scene during the 1950’s was actually pretty interesting, however, it was hampered by the fact that synthesizers at the time were far from user-friendly, and were very expensive, like the equivalent of a half-million dollars or more in 2023 money.

    1. Carolinian


      even a fleeting contact can cause infection

      Could one suggest that if you are that much at risk you shouldn’t be going into a store at all?

        1. Carolinian

          I don’t mean in a legalistic sense but in a taking care of yourself sense. I still mostly wear a mask in stores but more out of habit and lack of vanity rather than the assumption that this will give me some absolute protection. And also I don’t consider myself particularly vulnerable to viruses in general, never get a flu shot etc. Perhaps I myself might be considered a shoplifting threat if not for the fact that I’ve been shopping at all these places so long they all know who I am.

          And one can also point out that if the shoplifting gets so bad that the store has to close then nobody will be allowed to shop there. Walmart just announced they will close all their Portland, Oregon stores at the end of March and shoplifting is the reason.

          How about if Adams asked you to take off your mask for a camera outside the store. Would you still object?

          1. marku52

            No they are closing 2 and they say the reason is poor sales. they have other stores in the Portland metro area.

            1. Carolinian

              Not to be argumentative but when I lived in Atlanta the “metro area” encompassed much of North Georgia. And while Walmart has said they have suffered lower sales generally due to the rampaging inflation, I’d suggest that when it comes to Walmart “poor sales” is euphemism for shrinkage. We have two of them in my town and one has far more of its products locked behind plexiglass than the other. Going by the parking lots both are still plenty popular and that’s what you’d expect as poor people increasingly struggle to pay for groceries. Take away the Walmarts and these small towns will be stuck with Dollar Generals instead and that’s a lot worse. There were TV reports of people in Portland bemoaning the loss.

              So I don’t think shoplifting is a benign phenomenon even if Adams’ suggestion seems kind of goofy.

              1. Yves Smith

                Adams suggestion was not driven by shoplifting. His excuse was a guy in a full hazmat suit shooting someone in an Upper East Side bodega. This after the Chicago not tough enough on crime mayor Lightfoot losing the election. And not being able to stop people getting shoved in front of subway trains. So he goes after medical masking when determined crooks wear ski and other masks. Help me.

                And shrinkage, particularly in Walmart, has been shown to be overwhelmingly employee theft. Indirectly confirmed by Costco, with better paid and treated employees, having way lower shrinkage than its competitors.

                1. Carolinian

                  I’m sure you are right about the employees although Bentonville has raised pay somewhat in recent years However I’ve heard anecdotally that people steal like crazy from Walmart (and witnessed it) and Wuk has talked about how in L.A. they have to lock the tents behind plexiglass to keep the homeless from stealing them. Given this you’d think the company wouldn’t go all in for self checkout and its element of trust, but presumably they have it all calculated.

                  I will say that their checkout lanes now have cameras everywhere so dubious that’s going to stop it. But for those of us who shop there a visible indicator of the theft problem is the increase of merchandise in locked cabinets.

                  1. Yves Smith

                    Admittedly this was not recent, but I saw a study that attributed 3/4 of the Walmart shrinkage to employee pilfering. And employees likely go lax on shoplifting 1. because not paid enough to take risks; 2. more shopper theft covers employee theft; 3. they might even know or be in cahoots with the thief.

                    1. JBird4049

                      Yes, sometimes it is the customers who destroy an individual store through theft, but almost always it the employees who do the most stealing.

                      Having a well staffed store is probably the best way to prevent theft even though most businesses do not encourage or want employees to go after the thieves especially, if they get pass the door. It funny to hear management, or more often corporate, complain about increases in shoplifting after repeated cuts in employee hours.

                      If nothing else, the workers are too overwhelmed with work to notice, often stuck at a register or helping a customer. Shoplifters usually make an effort not to be seen after all and if you are not absolutely sure, you are likely not going to question a possible thief. And again, being overwhelmed means that it is less likely that an employee or security is going to have that surety.

          2. Objective Ace

            I dont necessarily disagree with you, but in “not making a bigger deal out of this [masking] then it is “you are making a bigger deal out of this [cameras] then it is”. Businesses somehow managed to function just fine for well over a century before video cameras became commonplace. Its absurd to think that NYC is being brought to its knees because we can’t capture the comings and going of every member of the public at all times. There’s arguably a bigger story here then public safety angle. Its the reach for additional powers by the surveillance state

            1. .human

              I already refuse to “show my papers” in order to buy a beer at public events. So now we are going to have to identify ourselves in order to shop?

              I suppose that the future is here. I will continue to live my twilight years with less and less spontaneous physical interaction. A sad commentary of humanity.

      1. some guy

        I vote “no” as well.

        If you become one of the “healthy” or “asymptomatic” infected, you can still spread covid to people who are more ” at risk” than you are.

        Sometimes contrarianism is just a sterile Christopher Hitchens display.

    2. petal

      So all of those people living in the city or who have traveled to the city for cancer treatment, and the people accompanying them or in their household, would have to take their masks off to enter a shop or other establishment. Sounds like a great idea. Guess the cull wasn’t quite finished. If it’s shops and establishments now, will it be extended to public transport like the subway and buses next?
      Is the NYPD wanting others to do their work for them? Job getting too hard? If someone is set on robbing a joint, they are going to find a way to obscure their identity, pandemic or not. Eric Adams, tell me you’re dim without telling me you’re dim. He is totally not up to the task of running that city.

  3. Jason Boxman

    Looks like this post is recursive, it doubled itself. Copying and paste accident?

  4. Lex

    While a mask won’t prevent identification, preventing identification as a criminal is like public health, a layered set of measures. Eye contact really only works if you make eye contact with either a person or the camera. And it becomes difficult to create a description of someone when you can’t see all of their face.

    AI facial recognition has some ways to deal with that, but if masking your face didn’t help criminals they would have stopped doing it a long time ago. A mask with a baseball hat pulled down low or a hood on or or sunglasses or even just looking down removes a lot of data that cameras even with AI interpretation can use.

    1. upstater

      When using Global Entry kiosks at airports, it uses facial recognition. There is no need to swipe your passport. If you are masked, the kiosk will not process your entry (I believe you can then swipe the passport page).

      We don’t like having to hand over biometric data, but spending hours in line is not fun. I prefer to get out of packed arrival halls as quickly as possible, pre- and during the pandemic.

  5. some guy

    American robin . . . I remember one time in late winter many years ago, watching some robins in some kind of dried-up-berry tree, I thought I heard a robin singing way in the distance, way too soon in the year.

    Then I realized that what I was hearing was one of those nearby robins, quietly humming to itself. Humming the complete robin song.

  6. some guy

    About ” remove your mask before entering the store” , I don’t know how a civic group could beat down Adams’s advice in any citywide way.

    So since every covid realist in NYC is on his/her own, the best they can do is to keep their mask on, stand in the doorway, and tell the store-owner they refuse to come in until the owner gives them permission to keep their mask on the whole time. And if the owner won’t give that permission, then the would-be shopper just doesn’t go into the store.

    Perhaps covid-realist shoppers in NYC should stock up now on several months worth of survival food and items over the next few days so that they will then be able to adopt this refusal to down-masks without jeopardizing their own survival.

    1. some guy

      And maybe covid-realist NYC people who want to keep their masks up at all times can quietly share the word on which stores are friendly towards ” keep your mask up”. Perhaps they could even quietly name those stores right here in these threads over time as the ” covid-realist” stores can be found and identified by name.

    2. Yves Smith


      Get an MD note. If you have a GP this should not be hard.

      Present it to store owner,

      Go through the civil rights stuff and add, this note says who I am so identifying me is no longer an issue. Tell them they can take a photo of the letter.

      If you are female, cry. I can’t work myself up to fake crying, but that would really embarrass them, a woman crying at the entry to their store.

      Plus Adams is not a dictator. He does not get to make law via radio interviews.

  7. mrsyk

    Dr Vasan (Commissioner NYC Dept of Health) appears to be speaking in that photo. I’ve firsthand accounts from a very reliable source that he consistently masked during their shared space interactions, and that he was clearly uncomfortable with the unmasked indoors. I’m sorry I can’t be more specific but I think he’s one of the good guys. Oh, remember who his boss is.

    1. lambert strether

      > One of the good guys

      Possibly. Pragmatically, however, he dan’t have much clout with Adams.

      1. mrsyk

        No. He clearly takes orders. Take a look back at mask policies at city and state funded institutions. Terrible policies that came directly from Hochul and Adams with funding cut threats as enforcement. Dr. Vasan probably pines for the not long ago days when the NYC Dept of Public Health was the greatest public health department on the globe.

  8. Jason Boxman

    And campaign season has begun. I got a f**king text from a challenger to Sinena, asking for money. Someone sold my stuff. If it wasn’t Sanders it must be some vault at the DNC from when I mistakenly supported Obama back in 2008 or whatever. Or the idiots as the Florida Democrat Party from that same period. This stuff never ends.

    1. Pat

      I can’t speak for everywhere, but quite clearly the voter registration rolls in NYC can be attained. I know because the solicitation mail I receive is addressed to a name I have never used in my life and that I cannot get the board of elections to change despite numerous attempts.

      It has been very clarifying how many groups can access it though (not just candidates.)

      1. Jason Boxman

        Good point; I hadn’t considered that, but in this case I most definitely do not live in that state, so why would a senate candidate be harvesting voter rolls for those that are out of state? Also, I registered independent here because I can pick my primary, which is nice.

        So it seems more likely this is a result of my unfortunate, misguided history of supporting Democrat candidates in the past.

        They’re so cheap, I’m tempted to register a domain and upload a photo of a contribution to the RNC or whatever every time one of these groups bothers me. I doubt it will stop the annoyances, but it will be pretty hilarious.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Where and when you vote, primaries you voted in, residences, etc are all part of the public record. Depending on state requirements, political donations have to be disclosed. Its why the vaunted Obama list was a nothing burger in the long run.

      Hypothetically anyone who sits out primaries between centrist Dems and votes in Sanders v Clinton primaries is going to be a likely anti-Sinema voter with mailers extolling their progressive bonafides. People who vote in all of them will probably get mailers that mention issues with a focus on Sinema’s usual Team Blue failings.

      This ain’t rocket science. Team Blue just has problems because they have safe seats, donors’ kids, and morons like Carville.

  9. upstater

    US safety board opens probe into Norfolk Southern after derailments

    WASHINGTON, March 7 (Reuters) – The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) on Tuesday announced a wide-ranging investigation into Norfolk Southern’s (NSC.N) safety practices and culture after recent derailments and urged the railroad to take steps to improve safety.

    Trains magazine, crocodile tear quotes from the CEO:

    NTSB launches special investigation of Norfolk Southern safety practices (updated)

    This seems to be getting more serious attention. Will there ever be criminal consequences for the sociopathic executives, or is it always golden parachutes?

    1. mrsyk

      Isn’t it pretty to think so. I’m thinking more along the lines of a sternly worded letter.

    2. notabanker

      Uh oh, they are in big trouble now. An investigation! Next they might have to appear before a Congressional Committee, and then we’ll know they really family blogged up. The pain of getting lectured by the very people you put in office must be unbearable.

  10. Pat

    As per usual Adams is full of it. But I will also say that coupled with LAPD making such proclamations as well, it is clear the Dem PTB are clearly bothered by people ignoring their declaration that COVID is over and continuing to mask. It is not a silent rejection. Crime being the issue it has become allows mask shaming to be a public good rather than based on diddly.

    Oh and the mask was clearly the only thing that should worry shop owners and make identification difficult…
    Even the url inflates the masks importance but decide for yourself.

    1. some guy

      If LAPD is making such proclamations too, then it seems to be the early stages of a co-ordinated rollout. In which case, the case becomes much stronger that this is all part of a co-ordinated effort to prevent effective mask-usage in order to keep covid spreading.

      If so, this is much bigger than packs of cops demanding that we respect their authoritah.

  11. upstater

    >masks do not prevent facial recognition

    When using Global Entry kiosks at airport, it uses facial recognition. There is no need to swipe your passport. If you are masked, the kiosk will not process your entry (I believe you can then swipe the passport page).

    We don’t like having to hand over biometric data, but spending hours in line is not fun. I prefer to get out of packed arrival halls as quickly as possible, pre- and during the pandemic.

    1. GC54

      If imaging fails GE needs/uses the scan of your fingerprints. If that fails, the agent in that very short queue handles you manually that one time.

  12. Jason Boxman

    I do wonder three years in if exciting society and always protecting myself is merely a reflection of the strength of my convictions or just lunacy? I’d failed at a social life anyway before the Pandemic, so the cost isn’t particularly high, nonetheless. Between long-COVID and voluminous evidence that SARS-COV-2 can and does cause organ and brain damage, I think this is the only approach to take. On the other hand, I never see anyone wearing so much as a cloth mask anymore, and every establishment I see is packed with people. For much of the United States, the Pandemic is either over or never happened. Remaining steadfast in the face of that kind of willful ignorance presents its own challenge. It’s hard to square that this is probably more or less what I face for what remains of my life. It certainly isn’t an outcome that one plans for, is it? As Lambert might say, but here we are.

    Too bad I didn’t make it up to Maine for that last NC Meetup back in like Feb? or whatever 2020. Didn’t realize it would be the last.

    1. kareninca

      It is possible that this is your opportunity to now have a social life. There is now something that you have in common with a subset of Americans, and it is something that matters a lot to you and to the others in that subset. So maybe look into getting together with some of them?

      Exiting society and always protecting yourself is a sign of rationality. But most people aren’t rational. However, now we have an easy way to distinguish the rational from the irrational.

      Here in Silicon Valley there are still a reasonable number of people masking in grocery stores. Maybe one in five, and they wear N95s.

      1. Jason Boxman

        I’m camping out in a sparsely populated area. Seemed like a good idea at the time.

        Maybe I should have stayed in Boston. Oh well.

        1. kareninca

          The advantage of urban areas is that there will be some people you agree with, just due to the numbers. The disadvantage is that you have to share the air all the time with hordes. The advantage of the rural areas is the clean air. The disadvantage, at least where I’m from in small town New England, is that truly no-one masks. It is all wretched, and I don’t see an end to it, other than mass brain damage, which I think I am already seeing coming down the pike.

    1. ChrisRUEcon


      Worth the read for this line alone … LOL

      “A wealthy Republican of a certain sort yearns desperately for a ‘woman of color’ to drone Yemeni wedding parties and flood Europe with U.S. arms.”

      #ThxObama LOL

  13. The Rev Kev

    New York Mayor Eric Adams really bears watching carefully. I have the feeling that the Democrats are grooming him for higher things as he is “their” guy. He has quite a lot of political accomplishments in the number and type of offices that he as been elected to. He also has ideas that would appeal to Republican voters like being heavy on supporting police and being against the separation of Church and State which I thought was an American core principle. Maybe his next step is as Senator for New York. And it occurs to me that if ever Chelsea Clinton made a run at the Presidency, then Adams would be a perfect running mate as Vice President-


    1. Pat

      The history of NYC mayors’ success on the national scene might give some of us some relief where Adams is concerned. It means this will be the extent of his damage. God help NYC That said the Democratic embrace of him so quickly after he took office shows they consider him both right kind of corrupt and charismatic enough to become one of the new young guns. Kamala, Pete, Eric …the future is so bright the Dems are going to need massive work lights to dig themselves out of the hole they have been digging.

      (And IMO Adams wouldn’t even be mayor without the shenanigans in the primary to eliminate Stringer. MeToo charges that have faded away… Not that I wanted him either.)

  14. some guy

    Mayor Adams and Alfred E. Neuman, separated at birth?



    What if a skilled digital artist were to morph the images of Mayor Adams and Alfred E Neuman together into one “neumanised” image of Mayor Adams? There is an image of a neumanised Obama among one of the images findable under ” Alfred E Neuman image” at the Yahoo image aggregator function. I tried posting an url to the image itself, but the url-site was listed as ” blog removed”.

    Such a picture of a neumanised Adams could be captioned with the word “covid” at the top and the phrase ” what , me care?” at the bottom.

    It could be part of a rejection and reversal campaign designed to legally force parts of the business community to disobey Mayor Adams’s orders and perhaps force Mayor Adams to rescind those orders. It could also be part of a long humiliation and ridicule campaign designed to destroy Adams’s image so thoroughly as to destroy his career in politics, as an example to every other political wannabe who decides to support the newest ” masks off, get infected” policy.

    Another part of the campaign might involve some very respectful-seeming uncivil obedience. Imagine thousands of covid-realist mask wearers showing up at the doors of any business which demands they un-mask for a photograph. Imagine them very respectfully giving all the proofs of why they get to keep their masks on. Imagine each single one of them individually taking up precious minutes of the stores’ time before finally obeying the “final order” to de-mask or go away. And they obey it by going away.

    Now imagine tens of thousands and then hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers each doing that one by one by one at various doorways-of-business. They could drain so many minutes of precious time away from those businesses as to force them to either stop asking for mask-removal at the door or force them to go out of business. And in the meantime, each of those very politely and respectfully passive-obstructive New Yorkers could share information about which stores have stopped requiring ” masks off to enter” and which still demand ” masks off to enter”. People could switch their business to the ” masks on is okay” stores and drive a slow silent boycott of the “masks off to enter” stores. They could picket the “masks off to enter” stores with signs like . . . ” This is a Typhoid Mary Covid store. Shop here and get infected or boycott this store and stay safe.”

    1. some guy

      I have even thought of some ways to try and get the Right Wing involved in opposing Mayor Alfred E. Adams’s ” take off your mask” orders. Make it a matter of Personal Freedom to Keep It On. Call it Mask Rights. ” Are you going to let some Mayor tell you what to do?”

      Marchers could hold signs saying ” I will give up my mask when you peel it from off of my cold dead face.”
      Marchers could chant . . . ” You! will Not! In-Fect US! “

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