2:00PM Water Cooler 5/21/2024

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Eastern Meadowlark (Eastern), Kissimmee Prairie Preserve, Okeechobee, Florida, United States. “Song.” I think I hear a propeller airplane in the background? Plus many insects and other birds….

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In Case You Might Miss…

(1) New Trump’s New York trial starts to wrap up.

(2) Biden’s path to victory interviewed.

(3) A method for decrapifying Google search.

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“So many of the social reactions that strike us as psychological are in fact a rational management of symbolic capital.” –Pierre Bourdieu, Classification Struggles

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Biden Administration

“Top US drug agency a notable holdout in Biden’s push to loosen federal marijuana restrictions” [Associated Press]. “‘DEA has not yet made a determination as to its views of the appropriate schedule for marijuana,’ reads a sentence tucked 13 pages into Garland’s 92-page order last Thursday outlining the Biden administration proposal to shift pot from its current Schedule I alongside heroin and LSD to the less tightly regulated Schedule III with such drugs as ketamine and some anabolic steroids. Internal records accompanying the order indicate the DEA sent a memo to the Justice Department in late January seeking additional scientific input to determine whether marijuana has an accepted medical use, a key requirement for reclassification. But those concerns were overruled by Justice Department attorneys, who deemed the DEA’s criteria ‘impermissibly narrow.’ Several current and former DEA officials told the AP they believe politics may be at play, contending the Justice Department is moving forward with the marijuana reclassification because President Joe Biden wants to use the issue to woo voters in his re-election campaign and wasn’t willing to give the DEA time for more studies that likely would have dragged beyond Election Day. Those officials also noted that while the Controlled Substances Act grants the attorney general responsibility for regulating the sale of dangerous drugs, federal law still delegates the authority to classify drugs to the DEA administrator. ‘It’s crystal clear to me that the Justice Department hijacked the rescheduling process, placing politics above public safety,’ said Derek Maltz, a retired agent who once headed the DEA’s Special Operations Division. ‘If there’s scientific evidence to support this decision, then so be it. But you’ve got to let the scientists evaluate it.’ Former DEA Administrator Tim Shea said the striking absence of Milgram’s sign-off suggests she was backing ‘the DEA professionals.'”


Less than a half a year to go!

RCP Poll Averages, May 10:

National results static, but most of the Swing States (more here) are incrementally, but steadily, moving Trump’s way. Pennsylvania leans more Trump this week than last. Of course, it goes without saying that these are all state polls, therefore bad, and most of the results are within the margin of error. Now, if either candidate starts breaking away in points, instead of tenths of a point…. NOTE I changed the notation: Up and down arrows for increases or decreases over last week, circles for no change. Red = Trump. Blue would be Biden if he were leading anywhere, but he isn’t.

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Trump (R) (Bragg/Merchan) “Prosecutors rest their case in Trump’s hush money trial” [Politico]. “It’s not clear how long the presentation of Trump’s defense will last, but the judge presiding over the case, Justice Juan Merchan, said he expects closing arguments to take place next Tuesday, after Memorial Day weekend. Then the jury will begin deliberating.”

Trump (R) (Bragg/Merchan) “Live updates: Defense rests without Trump testifying in hush money case” [Associated Press]. “Court will resume at 2:15 p.m. ET [today], when prosecutors and the defense will discuss the instructions that will be given to jurors before they start deliberating. Deliberations are expected as early as next Wednesday…. The charging conference is an opportunity for prosecutors and the defense to weigh in on how they want the jury to be instructed in the law and what the verdict sheet will look like. At the conference, the parties may discuss how the charges are organized and the elements of a crime — spelled out in the law — that the prosecution needs to prove beyond a reasonable doubt to achieve a conviction. They’ll provide the judge with their versions of instructions and the verdict sheet — a form the jury fills out listing each charge and the possible verdicts — but it’ll ultimately be up to Judge Merchan to decide how to instruct the jury. Jury instructions are a roadmap to the sometimes complex legalities involved in the case. They aren’t designed to sway the jury one way or another, but rather to ensure jurors have a good understanding of the charges they’re weighing and the laws involved.”

Trump (R) (Bragg/Merchan): “Brad Smith: What I would have told the Trump jury” [Washington Examiner]. “The goal of his hoped-for testimony, Smith said, was ‘to lay out the ways the law [FECA] has been interpreted in ways that might not be obvious.’ As an example, Smith cited the phrase ‘for the purpose of influencing an election,’ which has been heard during much analysis of the trial. ‘You read the law and it says that anything intended for the purpose of influencing an election is a contribution or an expenditure,’ Smith explained. ‘But that’s not in fact the entirety of the law. There is the obscure, and separate from the definitional part, idea of personal use, which is a separate part of the law that says you can’t divert campaign funds to personal use. That has a number of specific prohibitions, like you can’t buy a country club membership, you can’t normally pay yourself a salary or living expenses, you can’t go on vacation — all these kinds of things. And then it includes a broader, general prohibition that says you can’t divert [campaign funds] to any obligation that would exist even if you were not running for office.’ … ‘[W]e would have talked about ‘for the purpose of influencing an election’ is not a subjective test, like ‘What was my intention?’ — it’s an objective test. So hiring campaign staff is for the purpose of influencing an election…. ‘Go back to 1999. Hillary Clinton buys a house in New York. She bought it clearly to influence the election — I mean absolutely, right? — because she had to have a residence in New York. It is totally indisputable — that is a reason why she bought it. But it’s not a campaign expenditure.” • A thread from Smith:

Trump (R) (Bragg/Merchan) “People v. Trump” [Politico]. “Blanche asked if Cohen has a financial interest in the outcome of the trial. Cohen conceded that he did, but disputed Blanche’s suggestion that Cohen would benefit more from Trump being convicted. ‘It’s better if he’s not, for me, because it gives me more to talk about in the future,’ Cohen said.” • I hardly think so. If Trump is convicted, we have the spectacle of Maddow fawning over Cohen to look forward to. A whole new market!

Trump (R) (Bragg/Merchan) “Highlights from day 19 of Donald Trump’s hush money trial: Prosecution rests” [Associated Press]. After Blanche asks for a dismissal: “‘Trump attorney Blanche beseeched the judge to ‘not let this case go to the jury relying on Mr. Cohen’s testimony,’ arguing Cohen had not only lied repeatedly under oath in the past, but again while testifying in this trial. But Judge Merchan appeared unmoved by the argument, asking the defense attorney whether he believed that ‘as a matter of law, this person’s so not worthy of belief that it shouldn’t even be considered by the jury?’ Blanche said that he did. ‘You said his lies are irrefutable,’ the judge replied. ‘But you think he’s going to fool 12 New Yorkers into believing this lie?‘” • Depends on whether the Trump defense team kept the “Blue No Matter Who” types off the jury, I would say.

Trump (R) (Bragg/Merchan): “5 big takeaways from Day 19 of Trump’s hush money trial” [ABC]. “Robert Costello, a former attorney for Cohen, had spent less than 15 minutes on the witness stand when Judge Juan Merchan sustained a string of the state’s objections. After one such interjection, Costello was heard muttering under his breath, ‘Jeez.’ That extracurricular musing prompted Merchan to dismiss jurors and issue Costello a stern rebuke, ordering him to uphold “proper decorum in my courtroom.’… The matter appeared settled. But seconds later, Merchan barked: ‘Are you staring me down?’ With that, Merchan took the extraordinary step of clearing reporters from the courtroom. After a few minutes, reporters and jurors returned and Merchan resumed proceedings without addressing the matter.”

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Trump (R) “Georgia focus group voter on Trump trials: ‘We need an answer'” [Axios]. “Most Georgia swing voters say they are skeptical that former President Trump would face serious punishment over his criminal indictments, even if he’s convicted, according to our latest Engagious/Sago focus groups. These voters, who voted for President Biden in 2020 after voting for Trump in 2016, said they think the ex-president is getting special treatment over his four criminal indictments. It’s a sign of the broad distrust among voters of the criminal justice system, particularly when dealing with one of the most famous politicians in the world…. ‘Any other regular person would still be in jail or house arrest or something,’ said Marquetta F….. 11 participants out of 14 said they think that Trump is not being treated like other criminal defendants. Five are registered Democrats, three are Republicans, and six are independents…. While most Georgia swing voters say the ongoing New York criminal case is not changing their views of Trump, they still would like his trials to be resolved before the election, although that is looking increasingly unlikely. ‘If we’re going to hold him accountable, it needs to be before he has the opportunity to possibly get the highest office in the land back, we need an answer, yes or no,’ said Joel M.” • If the voters think Trump is getting special treatment, that cuts against Trump’s narrative. Hmm.

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Trump (R): “Donald Trump deletes video post on Truth Social referencing ‘unified Reich'” [New York Post]. “The video appeared to use an online template, titled ‘Newspaper Vintage History Headlines Promo,’ to highlight the potential effects of a Trump victory…. Another reference in the Trump video appeared to be taken directly from a Wikipedia entry on World War I stating that ‘German industrial strength and production had significantly increased after 1871, driven by the creation of a unified Reich.'” • First Reich: Holy Roman Empire. Second Reich: Imperial Germany. Third Reich: The Nazis. 1871 refers to the Second. Still, who gave this nimrod staffer access to Trump’s account? I don’t think Susie Wiles is happy right now, given the Democrat pearl-clutching.

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Biden (D): “‘Never Trump?’ ‘Never Biden’ voters might loom larger” [WaPo]. “While much has been made of “Never Trump” Republicans, “Never Biden” voters appear to loom even larger — at least for now…. [In 2020], at least 50 percent of voters said not only that they weren’t voting for Trump, but that there was no chance they would. At most, just 4 in 10 said the same of Biden. That’s now flipped. The most recent poll to show this is Monday’s New York Times-Siena College poll of six key swing states: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Across those states, 46 percent of registered voters said there was no chance they’d vote for Trump, while 52 percent said the same of Biden. That’s the biggest gap to date, including an earlier Times poll and CNN polling as recently as last month. But even with smaller gaps, every such poll in recent months has shown more ‘Never Biden’ voters than ‘Never Trump’ ones. And in 3 of 4 such polls since November, it’s been a majority of voters who say they’ll never vote for Biden — just as it was with Trump in 2020.” • Hmm.

Biden (D): “Alarmed Democrats flee Biden’s ailing brand in battleground states” [The Hill]. “‘If you go out there and do a focus group, the focus groups all say, ‘He’s 200 years old. You got to be kidding me.’ And the worst part about it is for unaffiliated voters or people that haven’t made up their mind, they look at this and say: ‘You have to be kidding us. These are our choices?’ And they indict us for not taking it seriously,’ said a Democratic senator who requested anonymity to discuss the alarm sparked by Biden’s weak poll numbers in battleground states. Polls have shown that 40 percent of registered voters in battleground states were not too satisfied or not at all satisfied with the candidates in the presidential election. The senator said Democratic colleagues ‘know this is a problem’ but also realize it’s too late to do anything about it and that ‘this is the ticket we have to get behind and we have to win with this ticket.’ ‘We’ll see how much gravity we can defy,’ the lawmaker said of senators in tough races who are polling better than Biden.” Lots of good detail for each state. And then this: “‘People keep saying, ‘Why didn’t he take a pass, he’s just so tired?” the senator said of constituents who are baffled over Biden’s decision to run for a second term. ‘That is such a prevalent feeling.'” • On “tired,” I wonder if voters are projecting, and if they, too, would like to “take a pass.”

Biden (D): “How can Biden save America from Trump’s return to the White House? Drop out of the race” [USA Today]. “If Democrats were to nominate Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro, he’d beat Trump like LeBron James posting up Kevin Hart. There are many others, including Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey. Trump would look old and unhinged next to their youthful competence and sober characters. And while Vice President Kamala Harris, who polls worse against Trump than Biden does, would have been a serious threat to take the nomination in open primaries, there is no chance a convention of Biden delegates would select her. They want to beat Trump too badly to take that risk.” • First trial balloon for Josh Shapiro….

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Kennedy (I): “RFK Jr. lists voting address at Westchester home — that’s in foreclosure and where neighbors have never seen him” [New York Post]. “Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. lists his residence to vote as a tony Westchester County address — which is in foreclosure proceedings for non-payment, court records show. The independent candidate claims his voting address is 84 Croton Lake Road In Katonah, though he is not the owner of the million-dollar, in-arrears property, does not show up in resident searches for it, and some longtime neighbors — and even local authorities — were shocked at the notion it’s his home. ‘No … he doesn’t live here,’ a local cop insisted Sunday…. The Kennedy campaign insisted in a Sunday night statement that the home is RFK Jr.’s ‘official address.’ ‘He receives mail there. His driver’s license is registered there. His automobile is registered there. His voting registration is from there. His hunting, fishing, falconry, and wildlife rehabilitation licenses are from there. He pays rent to the owner,’ the campaign said.

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“Trump vs. Biden Polls: Joe May Need a Rust Belt Sweep” [Ed Kilgore, New York Magazine]. Best of breed on the Swing State genre, so far; detail, polling. Well worth a read. “It’s the battleground-state polling that should be most alarming to Team Biden for the simple reason that he is consistently trailing in three Sun Belt states (Arizona, Georgia, Nevada) that were crucial to his 2020 win. If they (along with another competitive southern state, North Carolina) appear out of reach for the incumbent later in the campaign season, his path to victory may depend on a sweep in three highly competitive Rust Belt states: Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin…. For now, a Biden sweep of Rust Belt battleground states seems a likelier bet. In Michigan, Trump leads in the RCP head-to-head averages by 0.3 percent, while Biden leads by 0.3 percent in a five-way race. In Pennsylvania, it’s Trump by two points in both a two-way and five-way contest. And in Wisconsin, Trump leads by 0.6 percent in a head-to-head race and by 1.2 percent with minor candidates added in. A Biden Rust Belt sweep (assuming Biden picks off an electoral vote in Nebraska and Trump counteracts that with an electoral vote in Maine) would give the president the smallest possible majority of 270 electoral votes. That would come, of course, with a guaranteed challenge of the outcome by Team Trump, but that’s a virtual certainty in any case short of a Biden landslide. At this point, the president’s team would take any sort of win with joy and relief, even if they have to fight Trump and his mobs for a couple more months to make it stick. All in all, the path to a second Biden term is dangerously narrow.” • Yep. And Kennedy is a wild card.

“Biden and Trump Hunt for Breakthrough Moment in Stagnant Election” [Wall Street Journal]. “For many Americans, the race between two universally known but widely disliked candidates has had the low drone of background noise. Many have rushed to their political camps, pretty much sure of how they will vote this fall despite their displeasure with the choice before them. But the campaigns are eager to make sure their core supporters are fully engaged and committed to voting—and they want to move sooner rather than later to reach the approximately one-third of voters who remain persuadable and up for grabs…. Biden’s aides and allies have long argued that many Americans aren’t fully dialed into the race and that when they recognize that it is a choice between Biden and Trump, the incumbent’s approval ratings will rise. … Trump sees an upside and has been openly calling on Biden to debate him for months. His team thinks that putting the two on stage together will remind voters of Biden’s age—a significant vulnerability, according to Trump’s advisers—and that Trump will benefit from that contrast.”

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“Why election polls were so wrong in 2016 and 2020 — and what’s changing to fix that” [CNBC]. “Heading into the 2024 rematch between Trump and President Joe Biden, pollsters are trying a variety of strategies to avoid repeating history and to accurately capture the elusive Trump vote. For one, pollsters have adjusted their approach to “weighting,” a method that assigns a multiplier to each respondent to change how much their answer sways the overall poll outcome. Pollsters have always used weighting to construct survey samples that accurately reflect the electorate in terms of gender, age, race or income. But after 2016, they are taking particular care to weight education.” A proxy for class. More: “‘Some people will start a poll, they’ll tell you who they’re going to vote for and then they say, ‘I’m done. I don’t want to talk to you anymore. Goodbye,'” Don Levy, director of the Siena College Research Institute, which helps conduct polls for the New York Times, told CNBC. ‘In 2020 and 2022, we didn’t count those people.’ But this time around, Levy says they are counting the ‘drop-offs.’ They found that if they had counted those impatient respondents in 2020 and 2022, their poll results would have moved ‘about a point and a quarter in the Trump direction,’ Levy said, eliminating roughly 40% of their error. Levy added that SCRI is also taking an extra step to target Trump voters by modeling their sample to include a higher survey quota for people who are considered ‘high-probability Trump voters in rural areas.'”

“Senate Democrats don’t believe Biden’s bad polls, either” [Axios]. • But there’s literally no analysis explaining why they don’t.

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“I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD.” –William Lloyd Garrison

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Covid Resources, United States (National): Transmission (CDC); Wastewater (CDC, Biobot; includes many counties; Wastewater Scan, includes drilldown by zip); Variants (CDC; Walgreens); “Iowa COVID-19 Tracker” (in IA, but national data). “Infection Control, Emergency Management, Safety, and General Thoughts” (especially on hospitalization by city).

Lambert here: Readers, thanks for the collective effort. To update any entry, do feel free to contact me at the address given with the plants. Please put “COVID” in the subject line. Thank you!

Resources, United States (Local): AK (dashboard); AL (dashboard); AR (dashboard); AZ (dashboard); CA (dashboard; Marin, dashboard; Stanford, wastewater; Oakland, wastewater); CO (dashboard; wastewater); CT (dashboard); DE (dashboard); FL (wastewater); GA (wastewater); HI (dashboard); IA (wastewater reports); ID (dashboard, Boise; dashboard, wastewater, Central Idaho; wastewater, Coeur d’Alene; dashboard, Spokane County); IL (wastewater); IN (dashboard); KS (dashboard; wastewater, Lawrence); KY (dashboard, Louisville); LA (dashboard); MA (wastewater); MD (dashboard); ME (dashboard); MI (wastewater; wastewater); MN (dashboard); MO (wastewater); MS (dashboard); MT (dashboard); NC (dashboard); ND (dashboard; wastewater); NE (dashboard); NH (wastewater); NJ (dashboard); NM (dashboard); NV (dashboard; wastewater, Southern NV); NY (dashboard); OH (dashboard); OK (dashboard); OR (dashboard); PA (dashboard); RI (dashboard); SC (dashboard); SD (dashboard); TN (dashboard); TX (dashboard); UT (wastewater); VA (dashboard); VT (dashboard); WA (dashboard; dashboard); WI (wastewater); WV (wastewater); WY (wastewater).

Resources, Canada (National): Wastewater (Government of Canada).

Resources, Canada (Provincial): ON (wastewater); QC (les eaux usées); BC (wastewater); BC, Vancouver (wastewater).

Hat tips to helpful readers: Alexis, anon (2), Art_DogCT, B24S, CanCyn, ChiGal, Chuck L, Festoonic, FM, FreeMarketApologist (4), Gumbo, hop2it, JB, JEHR, JF, JL Joe, John, JM (10), JustAnotherVolunteer, JW, KatieBird, LL, Michael King, KF, LaRuse, mrsyk, MT, MT_Wild, otisyves, Petal (6), RK (2), RL, RM, Rod, square coats (11), tennesseewaltzer, Tom B., Utah, Bob White (3).

Stay safe out there!

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Airborne Transmission

Another good review for NuKit:

Transmission: H5N1

“Let them eat Viruses” [Anthony J. Leonardi, The Easy Chair]. “I can’t tell if it’s a race to the bottom with standards, or that we like feasting on viruses and swimming in sewage to prove our own vigour. It seems we cut corners on safety in order to make nutrition more affordable. If it ends up sparking another pandemic, however, we will all bear the cost. I guess that’s what is meant by privatizing gains and nationalizing losses. In my opinion, bird flu is now endemic in cattle. Meaning, there are even more opportunities for it to cross into humans. Furthermore, the virus is poorly adapted to human receptors, and can refine. It may refine to facilitate human to human spread and see its lethality rise as a consequence of better adaptation. Unfortunately, because of what we are willing to accept as far as the risk of viruses goes, it is quite possible that there will be a human H5N1 pandemic. I recommend, as I have always done, preparation. This entails a stock of N95, a plan with family and friends, and a safe harbour.” • The “safe harbour” part is not so easy. One has a “go bag,” but where to go?


“Some NC House Republicans oppose anti-mask bill” [WRAL]. “Rep. Erin Pare, the only Republican from Wake County in the state legislature, said that now that the bill is in the House, she’ll fight for the public health exception to be added back in — while also still supporting another provision in the bill, to increase criminal penalties for people who commit crimes while wearing masks…. She’s not alone in voicing concerns from the right. Rep. John Torbett, R-Gaston, also wrote that he’d support adding back in the language allowing people to wear masks for public health reasons. Torbett is technically listed as the bill’s lead sponsor, but that’s only because the Senate took a bill he had sponsored, with the goal of increasing criminal penalties for people who wear masks to commit crimes, and rewrote it to also get rid of the public health exception for mask-wearing. ‘I will try to put back redundant language to clarify the medical use being OK,’ Torbett said.” • A hopeful sign. The bill has not yet passed, and seems to be stalled, for now (“engrossed“).

“Doctors rail against proposed ban against public masking” [North Carolina Health News]. “Banning masks, even for medical purposes, is likely to generate lawsuits, some say. Tara Muller, a policy attorney with Disability Rights North Carolina, sent a letter to state senators last week contending that the bill [HB237], if passed, would lead to violations of the NC Persons with Disabilities Protection Act, the Americans With Disabilities Act, and the Individuals With Disabilities in Education Act, or IDEA. ‘These disability rights laws guarantee people with disabilities equal access to public spaces and the right to be reasonably accommodated as needed for equal access,’ Muller said in her letter. ‘When people with disabilities are denied access to their communities, institutionalization and segregation from the community is a real possibility and one which violates their rights pursuant to the Olmstead decision to live in the most integrated settings.'”

Caption: “A face mask sported by DHHS Sec. Mandy Cohen and NC Emergency Manager Mike Sprayberry at the Emergency Operations Center on May 19, 2020 during the COVID pandemic. Photo credit: NC Dept of Public Safety”

Life’s little ironies…. (Of course, the mask is cloth, presumably so the logo could be embroidered onto it, so even then Mandy was prioritizing public relations over health, let alone modeling good behavior. Nevertheless.)

Testing and Tracking: H5N1

“Move over, wastewater. Store-bought milk could be another way to track the bird flu outbreak in cows” [STAT]. “Scientists from the University of Washington and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center have managed to generate a full genetic sequence of H5N1 virus from milk, a development they suggest means commercially purchased milk products could be used to monitor the progress of the bird flu outbreak in dairy cattle and to check for important changes in the virus over time. With dairy farmers still reluctant to allow testing of their cattle, scientists trying to assess whether the outbreak is increasing or waning are in the dark. Likewise, their surveillance for important changes in the viruses — changes that would signal the virus is evolving to be better able to infect mammals — has been hampered by the limited data being shared by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.” • If and when H5N1 mutates, and the (human) pansyndemic hits, hat tip to the dairy farmers, a hearty “well done” to CDC, and big ups to the (captured) USDA.

Transmission: H5N1

“HPAI dairy herd infection case report” [Dairy Extension, Michigan State University]. “This report is what was known and reported on day 15 of the HPAI infection in a herd of approximately 500 lactating cows. … It began in a barn with two pens of cattle that had three water fountains, the center one being shared. They wanted to try to confine the disease to a single group or at least a single barn. They changed their wash cycle in milking so that it washed after this group of cows. Regardless of their efforts*, HPAI spread to all groups of lactating cattle on the farm. …. Based on the number of cows with elevated temperatures and subtracting out the normal rate, they believe 40% of the lactating herd was infected… Clearly, by day 15, the full impact of the disease has not yet been felt. However, the farmer did some cost estimations. He has spent $5,000 – $7,500 in extra medical supplies. Even though the costs of these common medications are low, the volume needed has been quite high. There has been the loss of milk, loss of quality premium, increased labor and loss of a few pregnancies resulting in culling animals. He estimates the cost for this herd of approximately 500 cows at $30,000 – $40,000. The owner of the farm in this case report understands that this does not include the potential longer-term costs. Another farmer said that some herds are seeing symptoms for four to six weeks. Additional negative impacts include increased culls of animals that do not recover significantly and increased weight gain of late lactation cows that recover feed intake but not milk output. ‘It has been a lot of work, stressful on the cows and frankly overwhelming,’ the farmer said. As required by law, this farmer reported the disease to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD). He believes it is important for the industry to understand the disease.” NOTE * Perhaps because H5N1 is airborne?

“Michigan reports 3 more H5N1 outbreaks in dairy herds” [Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy]. “The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDRAD) today reported three more H5N1 avian flu outbreaks in dairy herds… In a statement, the MDARD said the three newly affected dairy herds are in Clinton, Gratiot, and Ionia counties, all of which were affected in recent outbreaks. … According to the MDARD’s line list, Michigan has now reported 18 outbreaks in dairy cows in nine counties, the most of any state.” • Hmm. Michigan is a swing state….

“The Bird-Flu Host We Should Worry About” [Katherine Wu, The Atlantic]. “[T]]he virus does not seem to have acquired what Webby considers the most crucial modification, one that would help it more efficiently enter human-airway cells in the first place. To do that, H5N1 would need to adjust its ability to latch on to particular sugars on cell surfaces, which effectively serve as locks to the cell’s interior. For decades, though, the virus has preferred the version of those sugars that’s most commonly found in the gastrointestinal tract of birds, and still seems to. Experts would really start to worry, [WHO’s Richard] Webby said, if it started glomming very tightly instead onto the ones most commonly found in human airways. That said, the difference between those sugars is architecturally quite small. And although scientists might colloquially call some bird receptors and others human receptors, mammals can produce bird receptors, and vice versa. (Humans, for instance, have bird receptors in their eyes, which likely explains why the farm worker who appears to have caught H5N1 from a dairy cow developed only conjunctivitis.) The right animal host could encourage the virus to switch its preference from birds to humans—and pigs fit that bill. They just so happen to harbor both bird receptors and human receptors in their respiratory tract, giving the flu viruses that infect them plenty of opportunity to transform.” • Something to watch…

Sequelae: Covid

“When Cells Turn Against Us: The Ferroptosis Link in COVID-19 Lung Destruction” [SciTech Daily]. “In severe COVID-19 cases, the lungs can suffer extensive damage, leading to life-threatening conditions such as pneumonia, inflammation, and acute respiratory distress syndrome. Until recently, the underlying cause of these wide-ranging lung reactions had not been clearly understood. Researchers at Columbia and the Columbia University Irving Medical Center have shed light on this mystery in new research published in Nature Communications. The study found that ferroptosis, a form of cell death first named and identified at Columbia in 2012, is the major cell death mechanism that underlies COVID-19 lung disease. The finding indicates that deliberately halting ferroptosis with therapeutic drug candidates could improve COVID-19 outcomes.” And: “Ferroptosis was first reported by Professor Stockwell in 2012. Ferroptosis is an unusual form of cell death in which certain cells die because their outer fat layers collapse. It differs from the most common kind of cell death, which occurs both in disease contexts and in normal processes like aging and involves cells chopping up the molecules in their interior.”

Elite Maleficence

“Too Many Deaths, Too Many Left Behind: A People’s External Review of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 Pandemic Response” [AJPM Focus] (AJPM Focus is the official open access journal of the Association for Prevention Teaching and Research and the American College of Preventive Medicine; Elsevier). From the Abstract: “The authors used a modified Delphi process to identify core pandemic management areas, which formed the basis for a survey and literature review. Their analysis yields 3 overarching shortcomings of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s pandemic management: (1) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention leadership downplays the serious impacts and aerosol transmission risks of COVID-19, (2) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention leadership has aligned public guidance with commercial and political interests over scientific evidence, and (3) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance focuses on individual choice rather than emphasizing prevention and equity. Instead, the agency must [oh?] partner with communities most impacted by the pandemic and encourage people to protect one another using layered protections to decrease COVID-19 transmission. Because emerging variants can already evade existing vaccines and treatments and Long COVID can be disabling and lacks definitive treatment, multifaceted, sustainable approaches to the COVID-19 pandemic are essential to protect people, the economy, and future generations.” • As we have been saying for quite some time. However, since CDC will do none of those things, it should be burned to the ground, the rubble plowed under, and the ground salted. (The authors include both Harvard Medical personnel and People’s CDC members. Interesting!)

“Long-COVID codes in health record may dramatically underestimate its prevalence” [Center for Disease Research and Policy]. “Long COVID is likely much more prevalent than indicated in electronic health record (EHR) diagnostic or referral codes, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine researchers report in eClinicalMedicine…. A total of 55,465 patients were flagged for long COVID, with 20,025 diagnostic codes and 35,440 referral codes. The incidence of new long COVID rose steadily in the records during 2021, peaking in January 2022 and then declining…. The authors said that validation of outcome measures is needed to better capture long-COVID cases. “National survey data suggests that many people in the UK suffer with long COVID, but relatively few cases are recorded in primary care,” they concluded. “We have shown that using EHR diagnostic or referral codes unfortunately has major limitations in identifying and ascertaining true cases and timing that severely limit its utility in shedding light on causal pathways to prevent or treat Long COVID.”

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Lambert here: Patient readers, I’m going to have to rethink this beautifully formatted table. Biobot data is gone, CDC variant data functions, ER visits are dead, CDC stopped mandatory hospital data collection, New York Times death data has stopped. (Note that the two metrics the hospital-centric CDC cared about, hospitalization and deaths, have both gone dark). Ideally I would replace hospitalization and death data, but I’m not sure how. I might also expand the wastewater section to include (yech) Verily data, H5N1 if I can get it. Suggestions and sources welcome. UPDATE I replaced the Times death data with CDC data. Amusingly, the URL doesn’t include parameters to construct the tables; one must reconstruct then manually each time. Caltrops abound.

TABLE 1: Daily Covid Charts


❌ National[1] Biobot May 13: ❌ Regional[2] Biobot May 13:
Variants[3] CDC May 11 Emergency Room Visits[4] ❌ CDC March 23
New York[5] New York State, data May 20: ❌ National [6] CDC May 11:
National[7] Walgreens May 20: Ohio[8] Cleveland Clinic May 16:
Travelers Data
Positivity[9] CDC April 29: Variants[10] CDC April 29:
Weekly Deaths vs. % Positivity CDC May 11: Weekly Deaths vs. ED Visits CDC May 11:


1) for charts new today; all others are not updated.

2) For a full-size/full-resolution image, Command-click (MacOS) or right-click (Windows) on the chart thumbnail and “open image in new tab.”


[1] (Biobot) Dead.

[2] (Biobot) Dead.

[3] (CDC Variants) FWIW, given that the model completely missed KP.2.

[4] (ER) CDC seems to have killed this off, since the link is broken, I think in favor of this thing. I will try to confirm. UPDATE Yes, leave it to CDC to kill a page, and then announce it was archived a day later. And heaven forfend CDC should explain where to go to get equivalent data, if any. I liked the ER data, because it seemed really hard to game.

[5] (Hospitalization: NY) Tiny uptick, we’ll see if it’s a blip. I suppose to a tame epidemiologist it looks like “endemicity,” but to me it looks like another tranche of lethality.

[6] (Hospitalization: CDC) Still down. “Maps, charts, and data provided by CDC, updates weekly for the previous MMWR week (Sunday-Saturday) on Thursdays (Deaths, Emergency Department Visits, Test Positivity) and weekly the following Mondays (Hospitalizations) by 8 pm ET†”.

[7] (Walgreens) Slight uptick.

[8] (Cleveland) Leveling out.

[9] (Travelers: Posivitity) Up and down.

[10] (Travelers: Variants) KP.2 enters the chat, as does B.1.1.529 (with backward revision).

[11] CDC’s data and visualization, still being updated.

Stats Watch

There are no official statistics of interest today.

* * *

Tech: “With JPMorgan, Mastercard on board in biometric ‘breakthrough’ year, you may soon start paying with your face” [CNBC]. “‘Our focus on biometrics as a secure way to verify identity, replacing the password with the person, is at the heart of our efforts in this area,’ said Dennis Gamiello, executive vice president of identity products and innovation at Mastercard. He added that based on positive feedback from the pilot and its research, the checkout technology will come to more new markets later this year… The consumer case is tied to the growing importance of loyalty programs. Most quick-service restaurants require consumers to provide their loyalty information to earn rewards — which means pulling out a phone, opening an app, finding the link to the loyalty QR code, and then presenting the QR code to the cashier or reader. For payment, consumers are typically choosing between pulling out their wallet, selecting a credit card, and then dipping or tapping the card or pulling out their phone, opening it with Face ID, and then presenting it to the reader. Miller says PopID simplifies this process by requiring just tapping an on-screen button, and then looking briefly at a camera for both loyalty check-in and payment.” • One more reason to eliminate cash, eh?

Tech: These fellas never stop coming up with great ideas:

Who will they sell the data to?

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 62 Greed (previous close: 64 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 56 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated May 21 at 1:41:03 PM ET.

The Gallery

A less famous sunset:

News of the Wired

“Does One Line Fix Google?” [Tedium]. “Google quietly added something else to its results—a “Web” filter that presents what Google used to look like a decade ago, no extra junk….. It’s essentially Google, minus the crap. No parsing of the information in the results. No surfacing metadata like address or link info. No knowledge panels, but also, no ads. It looks like the Google we learned to love in the early 2000s, buried under the ‘More’ menu like lots of other old things Google once did more to emphasize, like Google Books…. It’s worth understanding the tradeoffs, though. My headline aside, a simplified view does not replace the declining quality of Google’s results, largely caused by decades of SEO optimization by website creators. The same overly optimized results are going to be there, like it or not. It is not Google circa 2001—it is a Google-circa-2001 presentation of Google circa 2024, a very different site…. [B]y adding a URL parameter to your search—in this case, ‘udm=14.’ • Intuitive! This article includes instructions for Vivaldi; here is a site with more browsers (but not Safari). It worked for me; I just added ‘udm=14’ to an existing Google search, and all the stuff I already know went away. Commentary:

* * *

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, lichen, 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 Amfortas:

Amfortas writes: “That’s the Bee Tree, a lil right of center.” The only reference to the bee tree I can find is from 2020:

northern texas hill country: i have pears and peaches starting to bud, more than a month earlier than last year(which was too early, it turned out: had to have burn barrels for a “late” freeze.)

bees in the bee tree are awake and wandering and hungry….and shampoo residue makes you smell like a flower, it seems… so i’ve been feeding them at the entrance to the new hive….again, a month earlier than i intended.

Perahps if there is a more current reference, Amfortas will qualify

* * *

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Here is the screen that will appear, which I have helpfully annotated:

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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. ChrisFromGA

    2 Illegit 2 Quit

    (Rap lyrics originally by MC Hammer, sung to the tune of “2 Legit 2 Quit” )

    (It’s sometime around 2130 local time in Kyiv, so he’s got 2 hours or so to rehearse.)


    2 illegit, too illegit to quit!
    2 illegit, too illegit to quit!
    2 illegit, too illegit to quit!
    2 illegit, too illegit to quit!

    Sweat running all over my crest (crest),
    I don’t quit, no
    I just press, harder (Yea!) than I ever did before,
    Going for the lucre that I have in store in my mind (mind)
    And I know that I’m makin it
    I gotta get mine and nobody’s takin’ it, away (No!)
    Cause Z-man don’t play that you try to get mine
    Boy you better step back – freeze (aid freeze!), ’cause
    You don’t want none
    I hustle for my muscle and though I lack consent, to roll with me you gotta pay rent
    I’m goin’ for all that I can get
    Kickin’ at the top cause I’m too illegit to quit… sing!

    Too illegit, too illegit to quit! (Hey hey)
    Too illegit, too illegit to quit! (Hey Hey)
    Too illegit, too illegit to quit! (Illegit-sky)
    Too illegit, too illegit to quit!

    When I get high post don’t you play me, close an arms deal smack!
    Joe’s got my back and I’ll hit with a dose of DC power
    (And charge Congress by the hour)
    I shake down like a quake and budgets get devoured
    I choose to schmooze, misuse and confuse
    Competitors who think they’re makin up all the rules, fools!
    In the game, lame and insane it’s a shame I gotta do this
    Might be illegitsky, but check out my jet skis
    In my camoflauge sweater,
    Kickin’ it at the top cause I got myself together
    So roll with a guy who’s physical and fit.
    In overtime …
    And too illegit to quit… sang!

    Too illegit, too illegit to quit (hey, hey) 2x
    Too illegit, too illegit to quit (hey, hey) 2x

    Too illegit, too illegit to quit
    Too illegit, too illegit to quit

    Step to the rhythm of a unelected grinner (grinner)
    I been here before (yo!)
    I eat handouts for dinner (word) but I been new
    Tried and true, survival of the fittest yo! It brought me through
    My crew (talk) we’re ready to strike, trained for the mission
    So believe the hype and sweat it (sweat it)
    Cause you’re gonna regret it,
    The day that you dissed us you’ll wish you never met us
    You remind me of a real short story
    One-hit satrap
    And you won’t entrap me get ready cause this is it
    Your crew is through and we too illegit to quit… sang!

    Too illegit, too illegit to quit (hey, hey)
    Too illegit, too illegit to quit (hey, hey)
    Too illegit, Z’s too illegit to quit (hey, hey)
    Too illegit!

    Too illegit, DC’s tool ain’t gonna quit

    Get bucks, get bucks, get bucks, get bucks, get bucks, get bucks! (repeat)

    My people we don’t know retreat
    We don’t hear no gong and though we’re up Schitzkys’ Creek
    Daily (every day) we make our moves to
    Improve our financial groove because we love to roll in our payday where we lay yo!
    (Yo!) work and play we started at the bottom and
    Now we’re leading the way and yea! (yea!)
    Vlads havin’ a fit
    Kickin’ himself because I’m too illegit to quit… sang!

    2 illegit, too illegit to quit (hey, hey)
    2 illegit, too illegit to quit (hey, hey)
    2 illegit, too illegit to quit (hey, hey)
    2 illegit!

  2. Fred

    How many of those polls are done by Trump sycophants that when he loses will say this election is corrupt just look at the polls.

    1. griffen

      Thanks for the good hearty chuckle, I could use the belly laugh. Like the polls that had Hillary winning in big style in 2016, ya know those brand of pollsters? \sarc

      Mass media has been in the bag, so much and so bigly for Joe Biden thus far. But please, thank you for sharing these projections. Margins are so incredibly thin, since the choices we have before us are just not appealing or viable options.

      1. John k

        Based on attempts at better accuracy, seems polls previously over represented the dem support vs trump by about 4%, a massive number. So even a 40% correction leaves him about 2.5 p% under reported, still pretty big. If true, this election is not closer, and imo only a major trump health issue could get Biden elected.

  3. Mark Gisleson

    As for Josh Shapiro, Wikipedia told me all I needed to know:

    Shapiro was born on June 20, 1973, in Kansas City, Missouri, to a father serving in the Navy as a medical officer, and was raised in Dresher, a part of Upper Dublin Township in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. His father, Steven, is a pediatrician, and his mother, Judi, is a teacher. At a young age, Shapiro started a worldwide letter-writing program, known as Children for Avi, on behalf of Russian Jewish refuseniks. He attended high school at Akiba Hebrew Academy, now known as Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy, and then located in Merion Station, Pennsylvania. Shapiro played basketball in high school and was one of the team’s captains during his senior year.

    He attended the University of Rochester, where he majored in political science and became the first freshman to win election as the student body president of the University of Rochester in 1992. He graduated magna cum laude in 1995. While working on Capitol Hill, he enrolled at the Georgetown University Law Center as an evening student and earned a Juris Doctor in 2002.

    After graduating from Rochester, Shapiro moved to Washington, D.C. He started as legislative assistant to Senator Carl Levin, then served as a senior adviser to Representative Peter Deutsch, and then a senior advisor to Senator Robert Torricelli. While working for Torricelli, Shapiro planned foreign affairs tours in the Middle East and Asia, including a trip to North Korea.

    No, definitely not interested.

  4. Michael Hudson

    Two days ago Google interfered with my computer and blocked my getting Outlook.
    I kept getting messages that I had to replace Safari as my browser with Goggle Chrome.
    I called my IT person and he had difficultly getting out of it, but after about 45 minutes he got me back to Safari. It cost me S75.
    Obviously Google is trying to elbow out the competition. A number of my zoom contacts also will only accept Google Chrome, not Safari.

    1. The Rev Kev

      ‘Existence, as you know it, is over. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile.’

    2. ambrit

      If the Technarchs will try and strongarm someone as public and august as Professor Hudson; imagine what they will try and force on we deplorables.
      Could the actions by Google be legally construed as monopolistic practices?

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Two days ago Google interfered with my computer and blocked my getting Outlook.

      Interfered with how? Do you have any screen shots? Maybe this is happening to others; I mean, Google should not be able to do this. Thanks!

      1. Pat

        Obviously this is not as extreme as Dr Hudson experienced but I had an odd moment with Safari and an insistent Google/chrome demand the other day. Usually when I am home I check my email accounts on my phone or iPad. But I was using the laptop for some word processing jobs for work, opened up Safari to access the work email account. What I consider the obligatory pop up saying Chrome is better open in Chrome and to do so popped up. What didn’t happen was it closing when you tap “no”. I had to close Safari. It happened twice, so it wasn’t just a glitch. I was apparently cranky and stubborn because I didn’t just go along. But opening Safari the third time I did make sure to have multiple tabs open before opening gmail. When the annoying pop up opened I tried and was able to switch tabs. It had closed when I went back to gmail and I was able to send out the email I needed to send for work.

        I haven’t used the laptop for email since this happened to see if this was one time thing, but it was odd and demanding enough that I didn’t just blame user error. I did feel it was on purpose.

  5. Ranger Rick

    I’ve fielded a handful of polling attempts so far in the past few months, all of them without exception were filtered by my cell phone as “spam” — working as intended. Much like voter registration drives are handled by third parties with shockingly low regulation on what they can do with your info, who is to say your responses are kept confidential by pollsters?

  6. Lambert Strether Post author

    I have added orts and scraps. Lots of activty on the virus and public heatlth fronts, even if you wouldn’t know it from the nightly news….

    1. Jason Boxman

      That’s my concern with H5N1, because we have a because markets response, it’s only a matter of time before the virus accommodates itself to humans. It will have every possible opportunity. The only wild card is when; maybe it takes decades, maybe not. I guess we’ll see, because there isn’t going to be any public health response, and we get to see how this movie ends as it unfolds.

  7. lyman alpha blob

    Did the prosecution also rest without yet specifying the object offense Trump is alleged to have committed? Or do jurors just get to make up their own during deliberation since prosecution is using novel legal theories?

      1. ChrisFromGA

        Based on Politico’s surprisingly decent reporting, the Judge ruled that the jury does not even have to agree on what object offense Trump is alleged to have committed. They could split with half saying tax law violations and the other half FECA stuff:


        This seems like a bad jury instruction creating fertile grounds for appeal, but IANAL. It encourages prosecutors to throw “mud up on the wall” by alleging as many object offenses as they can think up in the hopes that the jury will buy at least one of them like picking off a Chinese menu. Off the top of my head that seems to violate the defendant’s right to a fair trial as it is loading the dice. Any defense attorneys please chime in.

        1. Wukchumni

          Fortune Cookie saying:

          Do not be afraid of competition in bed, or accounting.

          Lucky numbers: 4, 13, 35, 41, 48, 52

            1. Wukchumni

              The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers livelihoods. (with apologies to Billy the bard)

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Based on Politico’s surprisingly decent reporting, the Judge ruled that the jury does not even have to agree on what object offense Trump is alleged to have committed. They could split with half saying tax law violations and the other half FECA stuff:

          Thanks for this; I was remiss in not mentioning it. I did link to a similar piece (in Lawfare?), but it’s so insane I couldn’t take it seriously. And yes, the jury instructions should be interesting. (It also looks to me like this was the design of the case from the beginning, and Merchan was an active participant.) I would say this moves conviction way over into the “likely” column.

          Surely this boils down to the defendant never being told what he’s been charged with?

            1. Pat

              Merchan and Engoron both have played different versions of the hanging judge in their Trump trials. Engoron was clearly the flamboyant version, the one who in westerns wouldn’t have been happy unless most of those who came before him swung. While Merchan has been the quiet but deadly version, the one with the big thumb on the scales with each small ruling kneecapping and undermining the defense’s ability to do their job and allowing the prosecution to not really do theirs.
              I cannot tell you how clarifying this has been regarding the state of the judiciary in New York. And how terrifying it has been to me as a NYer.

        3. Lambert Strether Post author


          > I will really be surprised if all 12 vote to convict.

          Merchan is making it very easy, however.

          I’m still reeling from the idea that the “object offense” doesn’t have to be singular, and that some jurors can say Trump falsified business records with motive A (enabled Cohen’s FECA violation), others with motive B (enabled Cohen’s tax violation), and still others with motive C (election interference by Trump).* In other words, although intent is necessary, the each member of the jury could pick from a smorgasbord of intents. But this is bizarre. From the Legal Information Insitute:

          The specific intent [singular, not plural] required to sustain a conviction varies from crime to crime and from state to state. In states that follow the Model Penal Code (MPC) or use MPC terminology, criminal intent is split into four categories:

          Acting purposely – The goal of the defendant was to cause the criminal conduct.
          Acting knowingly – The defendant was practically certain that the conduct would cause a particular result
          Acting recklessly – The defendant consciously disregarded a substantial and unjustified risk that the criminal conduct would occur.
          Acting negligently – The defendant was not aware of the risk criminal conduct would occur but should have been aware of the risk.

          But if 3 jurors say that the object offense was (negligence with) FECA, and another 3 say it was (knowingly with) tax, don’t the intents conflict or cancel each other out? Are the intents additive (checkboxes) or mutually exclusive (radio buttons)? Are there precedents for jury instructions like this? Or is this another “novel” aspect of Braggs case? So the prosecutor throws out three possibilities to the jury and says “you choose”? Make it make sense….

          Of course, in one way it does make sense: You could view the “Heisenbergian Object Offense” as being a very sophisticated implementation of the idea that “Trump must be guilty of something….

          I think the business records offenses are garbage (a lawyer’s fee is what you pay a lawyer to do, and that includes reimbursements, retainer or no), and I think the object offenses are all garbage too. But that doens’t mean that Merchan, Bragg, Colangelo, and the flex net of lawfare warriors in which they are all enmeshed haven’t smoothed the path to conviction as much as they possibly can (and more than they should have done).


          FECA: No, states don’t get to enforce Federal laws. And if the NY law allows that, strike it down.

          Tax: Cohen ended up paying more tax. Typically the IRS does not regard this as a violation

          Election Interference: Normal campaigning (as in the Biden administration suppressing the news of dear Hunter’s laptop. Or RussiaGate).

          1. griffen

            This is a perfectly acceptable summation of the varied angles. Is “spaghetti on the wall” an acceptable metaphor for this new, perhaps strangely unique attempt from the NY state legal system?

            Not a lawyer but nothing here seems actually risible to the level of a perilous indictment of Trump the candidate. Not playing a tiny violin for Donald but even the little people can suss out, likely something is stinky here.

            *An update to the classic line from Nancy Pelosi? We must pass the bill and then find out what’s in it. Always an ideal approach, like a science fiction movie. ” hey it’s dark, I’ll go first to look around “…

  8. digi_owl

    Card companies, willfully confusing identification with authentication to make us impulse shop more with money we do not have for products and services we do not need.

  9. chris

    Thanks for the link to the incredible windows spyware upgrade they’re planning. They’ve likely already rolled it out and are collecting data with it now but just haven’t told us yet.

    I’ll make sure to tell our IT department that we need to stop purchasing windows products.

    1. The Rev Kev

      It’s insane. They plan to clutter up our hard drive with constant screen captures that they will be taking. Will they be jpegs? Then they want an AI on our computer as the guy said that it will be all local. Of course you have to take into account all the additional background processes that will be slowing down your computer. It’s a dog’s breakfast so no thank you.

  10. flora

    From Charles Hugh Smith:

    Maybe We’re Closer to “You’ll Own Nothing” Than We Realize

    Given our dependence on software / digital rights and the phantom wealth of credit-asset bubbles,”how much do we actually own?” is a fair question. Consider the recent New York Times article Why Tech Companies Are Not Your Friends: Lessons From Roku, which was reprinted in other publications with the more accurate title Our Gadgets Are Not Ours.

    “The gist of the article is that since we don’t own control of the software, our “ownership” of the device is illusory.”


  11. t

    Technically, the RFK nonsense is like when Mitt Romney listed his son’s unfinished basement as his residence for voting. But is seems so Clintonish to me – especially the laundry list of registrations using that address as if that matters at all and not a word about residency requirements for voting.

    Also likely fraud for his non-profit affiliations. If he has a role, a mail drop and vehicle registrations, at least, could be in kind donations.

    Romney, either Clinton… on point for his overall scummy scamminess.

    Guess we’ve moved on from that time he claimed brain worms and mercury poisoning meant he had no future income and didn’t need to pay any support to a woman who he was also accusing of abusing the children.

    1. Lena

      Well, RFK Jr didn’t have to pay any support to his second wife and mother of 4 of his children because she committed suicide by hanging before their divorce was final. His lovely first wife, mother of 2 of his children, has remarried and lives a very quiet private life in flyover land. You won’t be hearing anything from her about her ex-husband – no New York Post articles about “Bobby, the Heroin Years” or “Bobby, the Serial Adulterer”. It’s like she doesn’t even exist. How convenient.

    2. ambrit

      The main reason I can think of for mercury poisoning for him is the old pre-antibiotics “mercury treatment” for syphilis. Unless the old ‘mercury fillings’ CT is true.

      1. nippersdad

        He attributed it to eating too much fish. Strange, one would have thought that someone who had done so much in the environmental field would have avoided the tuna at the sushi bar.

  12. Randall Flagg

    >Scientists from the University of Washington and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center have managed to generate a full genetic sequence of H5N1 virus from milk, a development they suggest means commercially purchased milk products could be used to monitor the progress of the bird flu outbreak in dairy cattle and to check for important changes in the virus over time.

    Just curious and likely a silly thought but, why don’t they compare the areas the H5N1 is found in milk with known migratory bird paths?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Just curious and likely a silly thought but, why don’t they compare the areas the H5N1 is found in milk with known migratory bird paths?

      I have seen maps that do this, but remember it’s not dispositive, because both cattle and human move from farm to farm, and there is also cattle-to-cattle transmission (i.e., birds are no longer the only drivers).

  13. Zar

    Haven’t seen a mention of this on NC yet: The Charleston PD concluded their investigation into the death of Boeing whistleblower John Barnett on Friday. Confirmed as a suicide, as oft-predicted.

    The Daily Mail has some of the more sordid details:

    • The video camera footage and autopsy suggest that John Barnett was in the parking lot all night before firing the shot; he’d backed his truck into a new parking spot further from the building. His vehicle is barely in frame; you can see the left side of the truck, but not the interior.

    • The gun found in the cab was long registered to Barnett, and the ballistic report says the bullet matched the gun.

    • Photos of a suicide note found with Barnett’s body. (I seem to recall from previous reports that a “folded note” was found with the body, but this seems to have been a page from a complete notebook.) The handwriting is purported to match Barnett’s.

    None of which prevents my imagination from running wild, of course. I find the suicide note to be oddly colorful, but I don’t think I’m the best judge.

    1. flora

      This doesn’t make sense. Did someone threaten to hurt his family members unless he fell on his sword? Elaborate video deep fakes? Who knows. It doesn’t make sense.

      1. steppenwolf fetchit

        Perhaps a very expert and elaborate set-up by a very expert professional “suicide engineer”.

  14. kareninca

    Something I’ve long expected has come to pass. I grew up in a small town in New England in the 1970s. At that time religion in the schools in any form was an absolute taboo. This wasn’t, after all, a “back woods” small town; it was a mixture of old farm families and old regular families and new people in the new development. So the national social norm was followed. But even then, when I was a kid, it did occur to me that it was religious people who reproduced. The one enormous family in town was an evangelical Christian family.

    Last night my elderly mom went to an elementary school music recital. She told me that the auditorium was packed to the rafters with eager parents and friends, as usual, and that the music was especially wonderful, and that about half of the pieces were “spiritual”!!!!! And that the audience was thrilled, and so was she. She, who was always an atheist who did her best to politely pretend to be agnostic!! So yes, the religious people had kids (my brother and I were accidents), the nonreligious people not so much, the norm in the town is now “spiritual” music for kids. No mention of Christ by name in the songs, but God did come up by name.

  15. John

    Why would I be getting all het up about an election that takes place in November? I dislike the candidates of each branch of the uniparty, the uniparty being not the deplorables who cast votes but the permanent political class and their PMC disciples that infest DC like guinea worms.

    Why would I be excited about an election in November for a Congress that is on the brink of inviting Netanyahu to come address them? I cannot imagine anything more shameful that they might do. The man is perpetrating genocide in Gaza and steadfastly ignoring the dispossession of the Palestinians in the West Bank by “settlers.”

    Why would I be excited about an election in November for a government whose foreign policy gives every appearance of being under the thumb of another government and its agents?

    We were once a sovereign nation but we have p—ed it away?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Life’s rich pageant! And like it or not, elections are an important tool for our governing class to carry out the wishes of our ruling class. So, know your enemy (and in the grimmest possible detail, too).

  16. Willow

    Trump’s VP pick needs to be a ‘poison pill’ which the DS establishment hates.. so who would the DS establishment hate the most?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Trump’s VP pick needs to be a ‘poison pill’


      I dunno, though. Pence was no poison pill. Nor would (say) Tim Scott, though of course there are other factors with Scott.

  17. Tom Stone

    RFK Jr has a Falconry License, one heck of a class signifier in many parts of the World.

    1. ambrit

      I wonder if he has a glowing orb in his basement so that he can communicate securely with his master at the House of Sauron.

    2. ChrisPacific

      What about all those poor kids that grew up on the mean streets of the ghetto, practicing their falconry and hoping to make it to the big time?

      In any case, it’s none of your falconing business. (Let this serve as a placeholder for all of the many possible ‘falcon’ puns).

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Is he protecting against whatever flank RFK Jr. is?

      I think that is what he’s doing, and I suggested he’s got this idea in his head because he’s spending too much time in court and not enough time on the road doing A/B testing with live crowds. Of course, he could be hoping to suck some money away from Kennedy, too. But for the great mass of voters, I don’t see that being involved with crypto is a plus, and the last thing Trump needs is to reinforce associations with (more) fraudulent financial activities.

      1. Lou Anton

        Good point about the lack of ability to try stuff out with crowds, thanks Lambert. A/B testing is his showman superpower, after all.

  18. Wukchumni

    Unless you are Robert or Frank*, nothing good ever comes of identifying with a Reich, and the idea that Benedict Donald took down the offending missive toot suite means he knows somebody goofed!

    * Hellova comeback, back in the day!

    1. griffen

      Frank Reich is in some pretty elite “comeback kid” territory! He’s also not on the mailing list for the Christmas season, not for David Tepper ( illustrious owner of the dumpster fire in Charlotte, the Carolina Panthers). Tepper changes his coaching staff more often than some car owners change their oil.

      Tepper must grumble under his breath,…too many zeroes on these checks!

      1. Wukchumni

        I was dating my future wife and watched the game at home and by halftime called her to go out and drown our sorrows over what looked to be a pitiful loss, and by the time I got to her place the comeback had broke out and the rest as they say, is history.

        Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Kelly

  19. Jason Boxman

    The hunt for understanding continues:

    Mr. Olah, the Anthropic research leader, cautioned that while the new findings represent important progress, A.I. interpretability is still far from a solved problem.
    For starters, he said, the largest A.I. models likely contain billions of features representing distinct concepts — many more than the 10 million or so features that Anthropic’s team claims to have discovered. Finding them all would require massive amounts of computing power and would be too costly for all but the richest A.I. companies to attempt.
    Even if researchers were to identify every feature in a large A.I. model, they would still need more information to understand the full inner workings of the model. There is also no guarantee that A.I. companies would act to make their systems safer.

    A.I.’s Black Boxes Just Got a Little Less Mysterious

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      In other words, AI and the very concept of “debugging” and AI are orthogonal.

      Relatedly, when you hear the phrase “prompt engineering,” there’s no engineering going on at all; just tinkering with the AI’s inputs until the desired output emerges, cargo cult-style.

      1. Jason Boxman

        Hilariously, prompt engineering is the ultimate BS job. You literally type things into the prompt to try to get some magic output, and then you tell people you’re a prompt whisperer (NY Times story title a year ago) and make 500k a year! Great con, if you can get it!

  20. The Rev Kev

    “Let them eat Viruses’

    There is an image of a guy and his young daughter eating a burger but does not give the context. Back in the 80s and 90s the UK had an outbreak of Mad Cow disease so-

    ‘The Minister of Agriculture, John Gummer, even invited newspapers and camera crews to photograph him trying to feed a beefburger to his four-year-old daughter, Cordelia, at an event in his Suffolk constituency. Although his daughter refused the burger, he took a large bite himself, saying it was “absolutely delicious”.’

    Did I mention that since then they have made him a Lord?


    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Did I mention that since then they have made him a Lord?

      They could make Obama a Lord too, for drinking water in Flint, MI. Maybe these two should get together.;

  21. Wukchumni

    I tend to obsess over stuff that will never come to pass, and this article has put me at rest regarding Yellowstone blowing up real good!

    Few would argue against Yellowstone National Park being “super”—both a splendid natural wonder worthy of careful stewardship, and a super-sized volcanic system capable of correspondingly large eruptions with potentially far-reaching impacts. As the latter, it has inspired any number of disaster shows and movies, not unlike menacing asteroids, planet-rending earthquakes, and rampaging superstorms. We often hear from such movies and documentaries that Yellowstone is a “ticking time bomb” that is “overdue” for an eruption that will cause “the end of civilization.”

    Good with popcorn? Maybe. But let’s parse the supposed story and touch base with the facts.

    Yellowstone is not a ticking time bomb, and its next eruption is not overdue. That’s because most volcanoes do not follow predictable schedules. They are exceedingly complex natural systems and their activity, including eruptions, tends to be more sporadic than regular. The “overdue” label that gets applied to Yellowstone stems from a misunderstanding of data and statistics. Yellowstone’s three large caldera-forming eruptions occurred 2.08, 1.3, and 0.631 million years ago. That’s an average of 0.725 million years (725,000 years) between eruptions, and the most recent one occurred 0.631 million years (631,000 years) ago. So the next one isn’t “due” for another 94,000 years, right?

    Furthermore, Yellowstone’s next eruption won’t “trigger the end of civilization as we know it.” There are two reasons for that. First, smaller and less explosive eruptions are much more common than catastrophic ones at Yellowstone. Since the eruption that formed Yellowstone caldera, there have been dozens of smaller eruptions that produced rhyolite lava flows. Granted, those eruptions were not trifling. Some of the lava flows reach as far as 30 km (19 mi) from their source vents and are more than 400 m (1,300 ft) thick. Similar events in the future would cause major disruptions to everyday life in the area, but research shows there would be adequate warning to help mitigate the effects. And second, no explosive eruptions have ever caused planet-wide extinctions. Flood basalt eruptions, which emit copious amounts of lava and gas and last for tens to hundreds of thousands of years (like the Deccan Traps in India), do have that potential, but explosive eruptions don’t last long enough to have such an impact.


    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The Deccan Traps in India

      I’ve always wondered “Why traps?” so I went and looked. Wikipedia:

      The term trap has been used in geology since 1785–1795 for such rock formations. It is derived from the Swedish word for stairs (trapp) and refers to the step-like hills forming the landscape of the region. The name Deccan has Sanskrit origins meaning “southern”.

      Then I wondered if the record label Decca originally focused on the Blues. Then you could say, for example, “Sam Lay on the Deccan traps!”:

      The name “Decca” was coined by Wilfred S. Samuel by merging the word “Mecca” with the initial D of their logo “Dulcet” or their trademark “Dulcephone”.[2] Samuel, a linguist, chose “Decca” as a brand name as it was easy to pronounce in most languages.

      Oh well….

    1. Lena

      Oh, dear lord. The pictures of the aftermath look horrific. Multiple deaths are being reported. The local hospital has been hit. One official says there is “basically nothing left” of the town.

      Are you in the area? Are you okay?

      1. Lunker Walleye

        Thank you, Lena. My cousins are in that area and they are all okay, but one lost her home. You are correct about some people dying and several were injured. The tornado passed through on a diagonal and there is town still standing. The hospital (where I was born) had been evacuated and patients moved to other hospitals. It is the seat of Adair County and there has been no mention of damage to the courthouse. There’s still a lot to learn.

  22. steppenwolf fetchit

    It has been said that masks and respirators could be styled or decorated to be a fashion item, or at least an identity/mood statement.

    With that in mind, here is a whole bunch of variations of the basic Yosemite Sam “Back Off” image to choose from for putting over the whole front of a mask or respirator.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Here is the image:

      * * *

      The dialog I have contemplated goes like this:

      ANTI-MASKER (officiously): “Hey, what’s that?”

      LAMBERT (enthusiastically): “It’s an a**h*** detector. It’s working perfectly!”

      Only if I’m carrying, of course….

  23. OliverN

    “11 participants out of 14 said they think that Trump is not being treated like other criminal defendants” is a badly worded statement I think. I would agree with this statement as well, but from the perspective of him getting charged and trialed for something that would be ignored if it was anyone but Trump.

  24. Jason Boxman

    More than a quarter of people with Covid infection develop Long Covid, new research reveals

    A new study carried out by researchers at the University of York suggests 28% of people who catch COVID-19 will go on to suffer from Long Covid.

    Seems like a meta study

    The study reviewed 17 studies from around the world involving more than 40,000 Long COVID patients. It was carried out in collaboration with the STIMULATE-ICP project, which is a £6.8 million NIHR-funded national research project led by University College London.

  25. John k

    Bragg case…
    Even in a deep blue state like ny I would guess something like 40% dem, 30% indies and 30 rep,, and many indies think trump is being rail-roaded. Maybe half the jury might think trump is being treated somewhat unfairly. Sure, maybe they also think he will never go to jail even if convicted, but who else would have this much mud thrown against the wall? Clearly the $ and time costs are enormous, exactly as intended. ‘Our’ democracy is taking a big hit.
    I will really be surprised if all 12 vote to convict.

    1. Yves Smith

      There are two lawyers on the jury. They could have TDS despite having said they could be fair. I would think any lawyer who is not a Trump hater would have a problem with how the case has been made.

      1. Michael Fiorillo

        The TDS/#McResistance types I know have an impenetrable blind spot: they easily countenance, if not cheer on, the grubbiest attempts to bring down Trump – Russiagate, the Trump Organization records case, the Bragg case – while posing as defenders of democracy and insisting on their continuing moral superiority. Everyone outside their circle jerk of self-regard sees through it, but it’s not changing anytime soon.

        This case is @McResistance folly on a grand scale and on multiple levels, and is further evidence of what rapidly declining empires look like.

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