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June 03, 2020

The U.S. Economy Is Down By 50% - Where Are the Job Programs It Needs?

The U.S. has a service economy. Some 70% of its gross domestic product is generated by personal consumption. The emergency measures taken to slow down the covid-19 pandemic decreased consumption by a huge margin. The GDPNow model by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta shows the slump:

The growth rate of real gross domestic product (GDP) is a key indicator of economic activity, but the official estimate is released with a delay. Our GDPNow forecasting model provides a "nowcast" of the official estimate prior to its release by estimating GDP growth using a methodology similar to the one used by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.
...
Latest estimate: -52.8 percent — June 1, 2020

The GDPNow model estimate for real GDP growth (seasonally adjusted annual rate) in the second quarter of 2020 is -52.8 percent on June 1, down from -51.2 percent on May 29.


Source: GDPnow via The Big Picture - bigger

The GDPnow model gives a snapshot of GDP on any given day. It is not the GDP for the year, which will be down much less, but just a moment in time.

With the lockdowns loosening the GDP will certainly increase again. But a haircut missed due to the lockdown will not result in a desire to get two haircuts. The meals not eaten in a restaurant during the last two month will not be made up by additional meals eaten after the reopening. The losses are for real.

With the end of the lockdown half of the 40 million currently unemployed will likely soon be back to work. The jobs of the other 20 million will not come back for a long time. The travel and hospitality sectors will be most effected. People who do not make money can not spend any.

The unemployed and the economy will not be impressed by Trump's current fake 'law and order' show or by his pandering to Evangelicals.

If Trump is as smart as he claims to be he will ask Congress for a huge amount of money to be spend on infrastructure programs over the next three years. That money should be shared for projects on the national, state and local level. There are plenty of bridges, roads and rails that need repairs or replacements.

But Trump isn't as smart as he claims and the people around him, as well as Trump himself, are from the FIRE economy - the Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate sectors. Such people do not value the real economy where real stuff is made and used.

The stock market, on which Trump is fixated, has long ceased to be a reflection of the real economy. Propping it up again and again, as the Fed and the Treasury do, may well enrich Trump's friends, but it does nothing for the voters he needs to get reelected.

Does he not understand that?

And why, by the way, ain't the Democrats out in front demanding that more be done to create new jobs? They seem to have totally vanished from the scene.

Posted by b at 17:35 UTC | Comments (95)

June 02, 2020

Trump Calls Up Military For 'Law And Order' Campaign Stunt

Yesterday's protests over the murder of George Floyd seemed smaller to me. A few hundred people in this or that city. There seem to have been more people on the march in New Zealand than in New York City. From what I can tell the store break ins and looting were likewise reduced. Some people, mostly not protesters, are just using the opportunity. For the real looting is happening elsewhere. Just look at Blackrock.

U.S. President Donald Trump is using the relatively few incidents to divert the attention from his abysmal handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

It is now all about Trump as "commander in chief" who brings "law and order" for "god and country". If that requires to violently clear a park of peaceful protesters or to teargas a priest in front of his church - all so Trump can stage a photo op where he upholds a bible - so be it. While Trump is in full campaign mode the Democrats seem numbed.

The militarized response the nutters around Trump call for is way out of proportion.

Washington DC has seen a bizarre "show of force" with helicopters hovering much lower than allowed over crowds of peaceful people. The Secretary of Defense has called on governors to "dominate the battlespace". The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army General Matt Milley was seen patrolling around the White House in camouflage uniform. The cheerboys of the military are not happy with this.

Last night a large number of military transport planes carrying troops of the 82nd Airborne Division, 10th Mountain Division and 1st Infantry Division arrived at Andrews Airbase near Washington DC. These units lost the wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia. They probably think it is easier to win a war in the midwest than in the Middle East. We'll see ...

But who will they actually be fighting against? The violence enticing Antifa account on Twitter that turned out to be run by fascists in Europe? The "Interim Government of the United Socialist States of America" (@USSInterimGOV)? The "Free American Army" (@FAARMYOfficial)? The Jaish al-Chicago and the KFC Brigades? All of them? Well, that's gonna be a hell of a war on parody accounts.

And a war on the press. In the past four days there were more than 125 incidents in which police attacked journalists. But the media still repeat police reports as if they were the one and only truth:

Despite what our colleagues of color have been saying for years, the clear history of police abusing protesters and the press, too many outlets continue to cover the police credulously.

Policing in the U.S. has been going wrong for a long time:

Cont. reading: Trump Calls Up Military For 'Law And Order' Campaign Stunt

Posted by b at 17:22 UTC | Comments (205)

June 01, 2020

It's true ...

by lizard
hauled from a comment

I think this relevant to how fractured the discourse is. it's a repost from my litter watering hole.

I know it’s going to be difficult to accept what I’m about to say because people get very invested in their chosen narratives, but it’s important that you at least be exposed to the notion that it’s all true.

It’s true that people engaged in peaceful protests.
It’s true that people engaged in lawless looting.
It’s true that provocateurs have committed acts of vandalism and sometimes carry umbrellas.
It’s true that Antifa exists and that they don’t advocate gently placing flowers in the gaping hole of a long gun.
It’s true that some very messed up militia minded people call themselves Boogaloo Bois, wear Hawaiian shirts, and are showing up to add their brand of crazy to the mix.
It’s true looters come in all shades and sizes.
It’s true some desperate people are taking things they need.
It’s true some opportunistic people are taking things they want.
It’s true opportunistic government thugs suddenly shifted the Covid-19 rationale for using contract tracing to a catch-them-rioters rationale for using contract tracing.
It’s true the policy infrastructure for enacting martial law has been a long-term, bi-partisan project.
It’s true that now is the time to realize what’s at stake, but instead of acting collectively for our mutual benefit, the cognitive challenge of accepting that all these things can be true at the same time will keep us tied to one of these things to the exclusion of all the others.

It’s hard work, I know. But I have faith in you.

Posted by b at 16:08 UTC | Comments (272)

May 31, 2020

The MoA Week In Review - Open Thread 2020-43

Last week's posts at Moon of Alabama:

American Spring:

Cont. reading: The MoA Week In Review - Open Thread 2020-43

Posted by b at 14:06 UTC | Comments (227)

May 30, 2020

Young White Men Abuse George Floyd Protests For Violence And Looting

Last night at times violent protests took place in some 30 U.S. cities.

The escalation of the protests is not being driven by people of color whose grievance about systemic police brutality and institutionalized racism is driving the original, and in most cases peaceful protests.

There are clear signs that other groups have joined and abuse the original protests for their own purpose:

Mayor Jacob Frey said the people who are coming to Minneapolis to protest are not residents and are "coming in largely from outside the city."

"Our Minneapolis residents are scared and rightfully so. We've seen longterm institutional businesses overridden. We've seen community institutions set on fire. And I want to be very, very clear. The people that are doing this are not Minneapolis residents," he said at a news briefing on Saturday.

He said the protests earlier this week that were mostly peaceful and were largely attended by those who lived in the city, but "the dynamic has changed."

"Gradually that shift was made and we saw more and more people coming from outside of the city. We saw more and more people looking to cause violence in our communities, and I have to say, it is not acceptable," Frey said.

"This is no longer about verbal expression. This is about violence and we need to make sure that it stops," he added.

St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter said everyone who was arrested in his city last night was from outside the state.

"What we are seeing right now is a group of people who are not from here," he said.

UPDATE: The mayor has since walked back that claim. END-UPDATE

Detroit has seen the same phenomenon:

Cont. reading: Young White Men Abuse George Floyd Protests For Violence And Looting

Posted by b at 18:01 UTC | Comments (301)

May 29, 2020

Begun The Civil Wars Of 2020 Have

Two days ago a policeman in Minnesota, who was well known for his brutality, murdered a black man, George Floyd, by suffocating him during an arrest for allegedly paying with a fake $20 bill. (video, longer version) It was one of many such murders.

Spontaneous peaceful protests against the regime ensued.

Yesterday afternoon the regime sent in its provocateurs. One of allegedly six was a white man in black clothes, masked with a professional gas mask and carrying a black umbrella. He was filmed as he started to smash shop windows even while protesters told him not do do that. (video). When people got suspicious of him the man walked away, his umbrella still up. (video). He was later identified as a member of the St. Paul police department.

Into the night the protests grew and took on a socialist tone when people started to communalize the goods offered at a local Target market  known for its extensive surveillance. Later the local McDonald's restaurant was also liberated by fire.

The regime gave up. Police fled from the 3rd Precinct in a large convoy (video, video). Soon after that the precinct was set on fire. (video)

These are not race riots. Many of the protesters are young people of white color. (video, video)

Throughout the night more buildings were set on fire.


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The local regime governor order his national guard to intervene.

The president threatened to kill the unarmed protesters:

...These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!

Trump's wordplay had an historically racist undertone:

When the looting starts, the shooting starts,” is a threat coined by Miami Police Chief Walter Headley, who promised violent reprisals on black protesters in 1967. He also said: “We don’t mind being accused of police brutality. They haven’t seen anything yet.”

Twitter marked the president's tweet as 'glorifying violence' but did not remove it.


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Early this morning Minnesota State Police had come back to the scene. It arrested a dark skinned CNN reporter in front of the running camera (vid). The reporter had asked the police where they wanted his crew to setup. He did not get a response. No reason for his arrest was given. Another CNN reporter, this one of white color, was also approached by police but was permitted to stay:

CNN's Josh Campell, who also was in the area but not standing with the on-air crew, said he, too, was approached by police, but was allowed to remain.

"I identified myself ... they said, 'OK, you're permitted to be in the area,'" recounted Campbell, who is white. "I was treated much differently than (Jimenez) was."

Jimenez is black and Latino.

After CNN called on the governor the reporter and his crew were released. Here he explained what happened. The police did not apologize to him.


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The British government protested against the arrest of the journalists.

There are now public calls for further protests in many more cities. Those are likely to escalate.

Calls for President Xi of China to provide the American rebels with the means to defend themselves against the regime have not yet been answered.

Posted by b at 12:14 UTC | Comments (295)

May 28, 2020

How Cluster Cases Drive The Covid Pandemic

One of the many mysteries of the Covid-19 pandemic is how the disease actually spreads. We were told to wash hands and about the dangers of droplets in one to one contacts. But newer evidence continues to point in another direction.

There are more and more reports about cases where the infections seems to have spread by aerosol, droplets smaller than 5μm in diameter, instead of by bigger droplets or fomites like surfaces and objects. Lambert Strether has collected reports of cluster cases in restaurants, buses, ships and a callcenter where aerosol transmission was the most likely cause:

There’s mounting evidence that airborne transmission indoors is a key — perhaps the main — pathway to SARS-COV-2 transmission. In this post I want to look at why that’s so, give examples, and suggest a simple heuristic to stay safe.

But a recent report about a South African study of a hospital cluster where 119 patients and staff caught the disease claims that most infections must have come through fomites transmission:

[O]n the whole, patients infected few other patients directly. Instead staff members spread the disease from patient to patient and from department to department—perhaps sometimes without becoming infected themselves. “We think in the main it’s likely to have been from [staff] hands and shared patient care items like thermometers, blood pressure cuffs, and stethoscopes,” says Richard Lessells, an infectious disease specialist at the KwaZulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform and one of the study leaders. He and the other authors found no evidence that aerosol transmission contributed to the outbreak.

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A look into the very detailed and otherwise excellent original study shows why the researchers found no evidence for aerosol transmission. They never looked for any. The words 'air conditioning', 'HVAC' or similar do not appear in the 37 pages. That is because right at the start of the study the researchers excluded the possibility that aerosols may play a role:

Cont. reading: How Cluster Cases Drive The Covid Pandemic

Posted by b at 18:16 UTC | Comments (117)

May 27, 2020

Open Thread 2020-42

News & views ...

Posted by b at 17:10 UTC | Comments (176)

May 26, 2020

NYT Writeup Of U.S. War On Afghanistan Ignores U.S. Atrocities

The New York Times has a 4,000 words long piece about the war on Afghanistan. It tries to explain why the Taliban won the war.

How the Taliban Outlasted a Superpower: Tenacity and Carnage

It is also a remarkable attempt to ignore the factual history:

[The Taliban] have outlasted a superpower through nearly 19 years of grinding war. And dozens of interviews with Taliban officials and fighters in three countries, as well as with Afghan and Western officials, illuminated the melding of old and new approaches and generations that helped them do it.

After 2001, the Taliban reorganized as a decentralized network of fighters and low-level commanders empowered to recruit and find resources locally while the senior leadership remained sheltered in neighboring Pakistan.

That is simply wrong. Between the end of 2001 and 2007 there were no Taliban. The movement had dissolved.

The author later acknowledges that there were no Taliban activity throughout those years. But the narrative is again skewed:

Many Taliban commanders interviewed for this article said that in the initial months after the invasion, they could scarcely even dream of a day they might be able to fight off the U.S. military. But that changed once their leadership regrouped in safe havens provided by Pakistan’s military — even as the Pakistanis were receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in American aid.

From that safety, the Taliban planned a longer war of attrition against U.S. and NATO troops. Starting with more serious territorial assaults in 2007, the insurgents revived and refined an old blueprint the United States had funded against the Soviets in the same mountains and terrain — but now it was deployed against the American military.

Even before the U.S. invaded Afghanistan the Taliban had recognized that they lacked the capability to run a country. They had managed to make Afghanistan somewhat secure. The warlords who had fought each other after the Soviet draw down were suppressed and the streets were again safe. But there was no development, no real education or health system and no money to create them.

When the U.S. invaded the Taliban dispersed. On December 5 2001 Taliban leader Mullah Omar resigned and went into hiding within Afghanistan. For one day the Taliban defense minister Mullah Obaidullah became the new leader. From the The Secret Life of Mullah Omar by Bette Dam:

Cont. reading: NYT Writeup Of U.S. War On Afghanistan Ignores U.S. Atrocities

Posted by b at 17:16 UTC | Comments (64)

May 25, 2020

Britain: Johnson's Pandemic Management Is Trashing His Authority

Britain seems to have a meltdown of trust in the government over its handling of the novel coronavirus epidemic.

While other European countries have reopened Britain is still under lockdown and has still some 2,400 new Covid-19 cases per day. The numbers must go down much further to safely reopen the country. But after several missteps it is now unlikely that the people will continue to follow the government's advice.

First Prime Minister Boris Johnson did not take the issue seriously and even boasted of shaking hands with coronavirus patients. He then caught the disease himself and nearly died from it. He has since been a bit more cautious.


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Britain has had the second highest number of deaths from Covid-19 so far, 36.875 according to the current count. But its government still seem to be unserious about fighting the pandemic. Marketing seems to have priority over getting things done.

For months the government has been fudging its testing numbers. First it added tests it had sent out to the number of tests processed at any day. The mailed out tests may have never been taken or processed. This falsely increased the real number of tests processed per day by up to 25%.

Now the government has admitted that taking saliva and nasal samples from one person had been counted as two tests.

Cont. reading: Britain: Johnson's Pandemic Management Is Trashing His Authority

Posted by b at 18:33 UTC | Comments (91)