Have at it.
Filled out my mail-in ballot this morning. Felt good. Felt REALLY good. I'll probably save my pen as a keepsake.
Can the Dems win the Senate on November 3?NY magazine - October 10... Assuming Senator Kamala Harris becomes vice-president and provides a tie-breaking vote, Democrats need a net gain of three Senate seats to reach 50. Few observers give Doug Jones — the Democratic senator from Alabama — much of a chance of reelection against Republican Tommy Tuberville in the deep-red state. If Jones loses, then Democrats need a net gain of four seats for control (or five if Trump wins).Fortunately for the Donkey Party, there are quite a few paths to victory still available. They have an opportunity to win seats in several states, including states where Democrats are currently running as solid favorites (Arizona and Colorado) and those where they have a narrow but real advantage (Iowa, Maine, and North Carolina). And there are a surprising number of races where, polls indicate, a boost from Joe Biden at the top of the ticket could produce victory (Georgia, Montana, South Carolina, Kansas, Alaska, and even Texas). In waging a battle over this broad landscape, it’s significant that Democratic candidates and party fundraising committees have a rare and sometimes sizable financial advantage in all but a few competitive races. ...
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/12/business/nobel-economics-paul-milgrom-robert-wilson.htmlOctober 12, 20202020 Nobel in Economics Is Awarded to Paul Milgrom and Robert WilsonThe two U.S. academics were honored for their work in auction theory.By Jeanna SmialekTwo American economists, Paul R. Milgrom and Robert B. Wilson, were awarded the Nobel in economic science on Monday for improvements to auction theory and inventions of new auction formats — innovations that have had huge practical applications when it comes to allocating scarce resources.The pair, close collaborators who are both affiliated with Stanford University, have pioneered new auction formats that governments have since used to auction off radio frequency.The economists “started out with fundamental theory and later used their results in practical applications, which have spread globally,” Peter Fredriksson, chairman of the prize committee, said in a release accompanying the announcement. “Their discoveries are of great benefit to society.”Auctions help to sell a variety of products, including art, minerals and online advertising. They can also take on various characteristics: Objects can have a shared, common value for all bidders (such as commodities like oil) or private values that vary across bidders (like art). Bidders may know exactly what the object’s value is, or they may have imperfect information. Bids can be open, meaning everyone can see them, or closed.Mr. Wilson “was the first to create a framework” for auctions of items with a common value, according to the prize committee. In his work, he explained that bidders will offer less than they think the object or service is worth because they are afraid of overpaying — the winner’s curse — even more acutely when they are at an information disadvantage.But in most auctions, bidders have both common and private values — when buying a house, for instance, shoppers think about both what they personally like about the amenities and what the market value of the home might be.Mr. Milgrom came up with a theory to deal with that mix of common and private value, and he examined how the “winner’s curse” plays out in such instances. He found that people underbid by less in so-called English auctions, in which prices start low and are raised, than in Dutch auctions, where they start high and are reduced.Yet the pair’s “best-known contribution,” according to the committee, is their work in designing new auction formats for complex situations, including the format that governments now use to allocate radio frequencies to telecom operators.Radio bandwidth was once allocated by “beauty contests” in which operators made a case for why they should get it — leading to intense lobbying. In the 1990s, the Federal Communications Commission pushed, and Congress permitted, a switch to lottery-based allocation of bandwidth. Initially, though, the new approach also worked poorly: The lotteries were held locally, leading to fractured networks for national operators, among other problems.Milgrom and Wilson came up with a new format that allowed the simultaneous auctioning of the many geographic areas of the radio spectrum across various bidders, starting with low prices and allowing repeated bids. The F.C.C. adopted the approach in 1994, and found that it allowed them to dole out the radio space while also raising far more money.The Milgrom and Wilson approach met with such success that many other countries, including Britain, Canada, and Spain, went on to adopt it.
Two Stanford economists win Nobel prize for auction theoryAP via @BostonGlobe - October 12STOCKHOLM — Two American economists won the Nobel Prize on Monday for improving the theory of how auctions work and inventing new and better auction formats that are now woven into many parts of the economy.The discoveries of Paul R. Milgrom and Robert B. Wilson, who is a Harvard University alumni, “have benefitted sellers, buyers and taxpayers around the world,” the Nobel Committee said, noting that the auction formats developed by the winners have been used to sell radio frequencies, fishing quotas and airport landing slots.Both economists are based at Stanford University in California, and Milgrom said he received news of their win “in a strange way.”“I got a knock at my door from Bob Wilson,” he told The Associated Press. “He was my Ph.D. advisor, and he lives right across the street from me.”Milgrom said students, friends and colleagues had long suggested he and Wilson might be due for the prize.“It’s really sweet actually,” he said. “It’s nice to have their respect but their affection as well.”The winners were announced in Stockholm by Goran Hansson, secretary-general of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, rounding off a week of Nobel Prizes.Technically known as the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, the award was established in 1969 and is now widely considered one of the Nobel prizes.The committee said Wilson’s work showed “why rational bidders tend to place bids below their own best estimate of the common value,” that is, “the value which is uncertain beforehand but, in the end, is the same for everyone.”“(Bidders) are worried about the winner’s curse — that is, about paying too much and losing out,” the committee said.Wilson, 83, described his former student as “sort of the genius behind all of this auction work,” noting that they first worked together on auctions in the 1970s.“We’re really motivated to use theory in a very practical way to improve various economic processes,” Wilson said.Milgrom, 72, developed a more general theory of auctions that takes into account what is known as the “private value” of what’s being sold that can vary greatly from bidder to bidder.Speaking to reporters in Stockholm by phone after learning of his win, Wilson struggled to think of an auction he himself had participated in. But then added: “My wife points out to me that we bought ski boots on eBay. I guess that was an auction.”Americans have figured prominently among this year’s Nobel winners. Leaving aside the peace prize, which went to the U.N.'s World Food Program, seven of the 11 laureates have been Americans.“After the Second World War there’s been an enormous investment in research and higher education in the United States, and that has paid off in all the sciences,” said Hansson. “And we’ll see how that trend may change in in the future.”Last year’s award went to two researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a third from Harvard University, for their groundbreaking research into efforts to reduce global poverty. ...
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/11/us/politics/trump-nuclear-weapons-coronavirus.htmlOctober 11, 2020Trump’s Virus Treatment Revives Questions About Unchecked Nuclear AuthorityEven before the president was given mood-altering drugs, there was a movement to end the commander in chief’s sole authority to launch nuclear weapons.By David E. Sanger and William J. BroadPresident Trump’s long rants and seemingly erratic behavior last week — which some doctors believe might have been fueled by his use of dexamethasone, a steroid, to treat Covid-19 — renewed a long-simmering debate among national security experts about whether it is time to retire one of the early inventions of the Cold War: the unchecked authority of the president to launch nuclear weapons.Mr. Trump has publicly threatened the use of those weapons only once in his presidency, during his first collision with North Korea in 2017. But it was his decision not to invoke the 25th Amendment and turn control over to Vice President Mike Pence last week that has prompted concern inside and outside the government.Among those who have long argued for the need to rethink presidents’ “sole authority” powers are former Defense Secretary William J. Perry, considered the dean of American nuclear strategists, who has cited the fragility of a nuclear-weapons control chain and the fear that it can be subject to errors of judgment or failure to ask the right questions under the pressure of a warning of an incoming attack.Mr. Trump’s critics have long questioned whether his unpredictable statements and contradictions pose a nuclear danger. But the concerns raised last week were somewhat different: whether a president taking mood-altering drugs could determine whether a nuclear alert was a false alarm.That question is a new one....
https://www.nber.org/papers/w27942October, 2020Has the Stock Market Become Less Representative of the Economy?By Frederik P. Schlingemann and René M. StulzThe firms listed on the stock market in aggregate as well as the top market capitalization firm contribute less to total non-farm employment and GDP now than in the 1970s. A major reason for this development is the decline of manufacturing and the growth of the service economy as firms providing services are less likely to be listed on exchanges. We develop quantitative measures of representativeness showing how firms’ market capitalizations differ from their contribution to employment and GDP. Representativeness is worst when the market is most highly valued and worsens over time for employment, but not for value added.
https://cepr.net/the-washington-post-has-never-heard-of-the-international-monetary-fund/October 12, 2020The Washington Post Has Never Heard of the International Monetary FundBy Dean BakerThat would seem to be the case from reading the paper’s editorial * on the need to take steps to reduce extreme poverty in developing countries. The editorial never once mentions the proposal before the International Monetary Fund to substantially increase the special drawing rights available to developing countries.This measure, which has the support of the I.M.F. leadership, and most of its member states (but not the Trump administration), would give the developing countries resources to help their economies recover from the pandemic. It is surprising that the Post would not mention it in an editorial on reducing world poverty.It is also worth noting that the Trump method of pursuing a vaccine, with grants of patent monopolies, ** rather than an open collaborative effort, is likely to make it more difficult for developing countries to get access to a vaccine. While this route does contribute to the upward distribution of income, it is not an efficient way to develop a vaccine. It does appear as though China is at least partially filling the gap *** created by the Trump administration going this route.* https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/more-of-the-world-has-plunged-back-into-poverty--and-trumps-leadership-wont-turn-it-around/2020/10/11/7ea7bd4e-0a54-11eb-859b-f9c27abe638d_story.html** https://cepr.net/its-not-vaccine-nationalism-its-vaccine-idiocy/*** https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1346719/indonesia-aims-to-start-administering-coronavirus-vaccines-in-early-november
https://cepr.net/waiting-for-a-vaccine-killing-for-inequality/October 11, 2020Waiting for a Vaccine: Killing for InequalityBy Dean BakerI have been harping on the fact that it is very likely China will be mass producing and distributing a vaccine at least a month, and quite possibly several months, before the United States. This should make people very angry.Even a month’s delay is likely to mean tens of thousands of avoidable deaths and hundreds of thousands of avoidable infections. And, it adds a month to the time period before we can get back to living normal lives. Of course, the delay could end up being many months, since we still have no idea how the clinical trials will turn out for the leading U.S. contenders.We are in the situation where we can be waiting several months for a vaccine, after one has already been demonstrated to be safe and effective, because the Trump administration opted to pursue a route of patent monopoly research, as opposed to open-source collaborative research. If Trump had gone the latter route, as soon as China, or anyone, had a vaccine, everyone would have a vaccine, or at least everyone able to manufacture it.Patent Monopoly Financing Versus Open Source ....
October 12, 2020CoronavirusIsraelCases ( 292,230)Deaths ( 1,993)Deaths per million ( 217)July 4, 2020CoronavirusIsraelCases ( 29,170)Deaths ( 330)Deaths per million ( 36)
Having apparently approached a containment of the coronavirus in June, the Israeli government incautiously opened schools and businesses, and the result has been a persistent community infection spread contributing to what are now 292,230 cases in the small country as compared to 85,578 in all through all of mainland China.Israel has unfortunately more than three-times the number of coronavirus cases in mainland China. Paul Krugman noticed the Israeli “disaster” on September 14 when there were 160,000 coronavirus cases. The per capita case rate is startlingly high. The persisting difficulty in limiting a new spread of infections in so developed a country has become startling to me. What would make for Israel having the highest rate of coronavirus infections of any developed country?Cases per million ( 31,772)
Looking for the sake of comparison to the United Kingdom, in which policy makers have been thinking on and off of allowing for "herd" immunity to develop, there is a coronavirus infection rate of 8,880 while the rate in Israel is 31,772.
https://mainlymacro.blogspot.com/2020/10/the-anti-lockdown-crusade-gains-oxygen.htmlOctober 12, 2020The anti-lockdown crusade gains oxygen from this government's ineptitudeIf anyone still doubts that Brexit was our Trump moment, look at some of the same characters (Tory MPs, newspapers, even voters) who supported Brexit getting behind what has become an anti-lockdown crusade. I use the word crusade deliberately. Rather than religion it is ideology that drives most anti-lockdown proponents. That ideology is libertarian, although to borrow a phrase from Chris Dillow * on mask phobia, this libertarianism is just solipsistic narcissism. What the crusade isn't, for most of the anti-lockdown brigade, is evidence led....-- Simon Wren-Lewis
* Relative libertarian policy:October 12, 2020CoronavirusUKCases ( 617,688)Deaths ( 42,875)Deaths per million ( 631)GermanyCases ( 327,924)Deaths ( 9,704)Deaths per million ( 116)
October 12, 2020CoronavirusUSCases ( 8,000,852)Deaths ( 219,797)
October 12, 2020CoronavirusUSCases ( 8,035,218)Deaths ( 220,005)
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/11/opinion/nyc-commercial-rent-reform.htmlOctober 11, 2020New York’s Commercial Rents Are ‘Too Damn High’They’re making it harder for the city to recover. Here’s how to lower them.By Tim WuWhat’s getting in the way of a recovery for New York City’s small businesses? Continued weak demand is surely the main factor. But the fact that commercial rents remain artificially inflated compounds the problem. More businesses could survive, more commercial spaces repurposed for other uses and more new businesses started if commercial rents actually reflected market conditions.The city and state need to act, imposing a broad set of remedies to lower commercial rents. If they don’t, the city faces the prospect of a lingeringly weak economy hamstrung by rents that are, as the saying goes, too damn high.Commercial rents are a key variable in any city economy. If rents are too high, small businesses can’t make enough profit to survive, and repurposing (turning retail space into office space, say, or office space into storage space) is too risky for the landlord. This leads to so-called high-rent blight. But if rents are too low, landlords don’t have the incentive to rent or develop properties.Ideally, rents should go up and down in tandem with supply and demand. But that isn’t happening in New York City. Commercial rents are “sticky”: They stay high even when demand is low.There appear to be several reasons for this phenomenon. First, because commercial leases are typically long, some landlords, especially those with other income streams, wager that it’s better to wait for demand to return than to commit to a cheap long-term lease. If a landlord has an offer today for $10,000 per month but thinks a $20,000-per-month tenant may appear in a year or three, he may decide to wait.Sometimes landlords, who are also getting squeezed by the pandemic, would be willing to rent for less money but are blocked by their mortgages and lenders from doing so. This is another reason commercial rents are so sticky. Mortgages for commercial properties in New York City typically set a minimum rent, which makes price cutting a form of default. The problem is compounded when mortgages have been securitized and the terms can be modified only by investor consensus.A related reason for artificially high rents has to do with how property values are determined....Tim Wu is a law professor at Columbia University.
https://twitter.com/DeanBaker13/status/1315414061903826944Dean Baker @DeanBaker13Good to see the idea of a vacant property tax catching on https://nytimes.com/2020/10/11/opinion/nyc-commercial-rent-reform.html… As the old saying goes, you tax the items you want less ofNew York’s Commercial Rents Are ‘Too Damn High’They’re making it harder for the city to recover. Here’s how to lower them.6:08 PM · Oct 11, 2020
https://twitter.com/DeanBaker13/status/1315834024313659395Dean Baker @DeanBaker13Looks like Indonesia will be administering a Chinese vaccine next month, well ahead of the U.S. https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1346719/indonesia-aims-to-start-administering-coronavirus-vaccines-in-early-november… Trump would probably be really upset if he ever heardIndonesia aims to start administering coronavirus vaccines in early November | Inquirer NewsIndonesia is aiming to start administering coronavirus vaccines in early November by relying on supply from Chinese drugmakers...9:57 PM · Oct 12, 2020
http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2020-10/13/c_139435351.htmOctober 13, 2020Herd immunity against COVID-19 "scientifically and ethically problematic": WHO chief"Herd immunity is achieved by protecting people from a virus, not by exposing them to it."GENEVA -- The chief of the World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday termed herd immunity against COVID-19 "scientifically and ethically problematic."Speaking at a press briefing, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that herd immunity is a concept used for vaccination, in which a population can be protected from a certain virus if a threshold of vaccination is reached."For example, herd immunity against measles requires about 95 percent of a population to be vaccinated. The remaining five percent will be protected by the fact that measles will not spread among those who are vaccinated. For polio, the threshold is about 80 percent," he said."Herd immunity is achieved by protecting people from a virus, not by exposing them to it," he said, adding that "it has never been used as a strategy for responding to an outbreak."As for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, he noted that the world still doesn't know enough about immunity to COVID-19, including how strong or lasting that immune response is, or how it differs for different people, let alone some examples of people being infected for a second time. "We have some clues, but we don't have the complete picture," he said.Additionally, the vast majority of people in most countries remain susceptible to this virus, meaning that letting the virus circulate unchecked could lead to unnecessary infections, suffering and death.Meanwhile, the world is only beginning to understand the long-term health impacts among people with COVID-19. And it's simply "unethical" to allow a dangerous virus that is not fully understood to run free, he said.Instead of herd immunity, the WHO chief urged countries to stick to measures already implemented and proven effective to control transmission and save lives, such as preventing amplifying events, protect the vulnerable, as well as empowering, educating and engaging communities, in addition to finding, isolating, testing and caring for cases, and tracing and quarantining their contacts."There are no shortcuts and no silver bullets. The answer is a comprehensive approach, using every tool in the toolbox," he reiterated....
We’re a bipartisan group of former leaders who have joined forces to protect our democracyBoston Globe - Dick Gephardt and Tom Ridge - October 13More than 40 former congressional leaders, former Cabinet secretaries, retired military officials, and leaders of civic organizations have formed the bipartisan National Council on Election Integrity to ensure a democratic outcome to the 2020 election.A growing number of Americans understand that our magnificent experiment in democracy is under threat. Participating in the November presidential election was always going to be a challenge because the crippling coronavirus pandemic has the potential to drive many voters away from voting in person.But that’s a logistical challenge, and one that states are proving capable of managing. Many states have voted by mail for decades, and military members deployed all over the world regularly vote by mail. The question now is what people of integrity will do to ensure that citizens register to vote — and cast their ballot early, by mail, or in person — and that the media, the public, and leaders across the political spectrum affirm patience after Election Day so that every vote can be fairly counted and reported.The stakes are real. Our democracy depends on free and fair elections and the peaceful transfer of power to ensure its survival. Citizens don’t have to rely on this president or any other elected official. They have the power to insist that every vote is counted, which is why the two of us joined together with more than 40 other former congressional leaders, former Cabinet secretaries, retired military officials, and leaders of civic organizations — spanning party, ideology, and geography — to establish the National Council on Election Integrity. ...
Here are four things the council will do to help ensure a fair, democratic outcome to the election.▪ Those who have a voice and a platform don’t have the luxury of staying on the sidelines. The conventional approach of giving private counsel but staying publicly circumspect doesn’t work. Former high officeholders — Republicans and Democrats; veterans of Congress, the executive branch, and the military — need to come together in a robust nonpartisan voice to make clear our expectations for the election.▪ We are organizing a national advertising campaign to drive the messages home. There is a choice between candidates on the ballot this year, and billions of dollars are being spent on those campaigns. But just as real is a choice between democracy — free, fair, and legitimate elections — and a concerted effort to discredit the results before they’re even determined. That’s a choice between order and chaos, and this must be campaigned against just as vociferously as any choice between candidates. ...▪ We’re consulting with election experts to inform and guide us as we navigate complex rules and legal challenges in 50-plus states and territories. This work is starting now and will continue as results come in after the election. We will leverage data through an independent and comprehensive effort to track expected turnout across all methods of voting and answer questions of how many votes might still need to be counted.▪ We are building a grassroots movement — a “citizen firewall.” We will organize a pledge that brings the American people — especially in swing states — together to say, “Count me in, count every vote.” We will recruit people with large social-media followings to sign the pledge and encourage their followers to do so. And we will encourage organizations from across the ideological spectrum to endorse this pledge, so that all Americans — no matter who they vote for — can trust that their votes are counted this year.Even during the Civil War, the 1918 flu pandemic, and World Wars I and II, the country was able to have valid, successful presidential elections. A failure of logistics or a brutal act of politics is no excuse for America to have its first broken election in our 240-year history. Americans must do whatever we can to preserve American democracy. We both have been to Normandy. We visited the cemetery that honors young Americans who hit the beach knowing their chances of survival were slim. History is asking comparably little of us today to preserve freedom. Surely we will respond to the call.
Mitch McConnell’s Mission of MiseryNY Times - Paul Krugman - October 12I keep seeing news reports saying that the Trump administration is “pivoting” on economic stimulus. But Donald Trump has been reversing positions so frequently that it looks less like a series of pivots than like a tailspin.Over the course of just a week he went from demanding big stimulus, to calling off negotiations, to demanding big stimulus again, to calling for a small-scale deal using already allocated funds.It would be funny if the human consequences weren’t so terrible. At this point the best guess is that for the next three-plus months — that is, until President Joe Biden takes office (highly likely, though not certain) with a Democratic Senate (more likely than not, but definitely not a sure thing) — there will be little or no aid for the millions of families, thousands of businesses and many state and local governments on the brink of disaster.But why isn’t America getting the pandemic relief it so obviously needs?It’s easy to blame Trump, who has managed to spend four years in office without learning anything about policy and has surrounded himself with officials chosen for slavish personal loyalty rather than expertise. As a recent article in Politico put it: “Never mind the A Team. At this point, even the B Team would represent a significant upgrade.”But even if Trump had any idea what he was doing, he would be paralyzed by the opposition of many, probably most Senate Republicans to any serious deal. They’re willing to cover for Trump’s unprecedented corruption; they’re apparently unbothered by his fondness for foreign dictators. But spending money to help Americans in distress? That’s where they draw the line.This was obvious even before the coronavirus struck. Remember how Trump promised to spend trillions on infrastructure, then defaulted on that promise? “Infrastructure week” eventually became a running joke. But while Trump’s infrastructure proposals never made any sense, in early 2019 it seemed as if he might actually have a deal with Democrats for a serious spending plan.But the deal went nowhere thanks to opposition from Senate Republicans, including Mitch McConnell, the majority leader.McConnell and company are also the main reason we don’t have a deal to help Americans survive the economic effects of the pandemic.We should have had a deal in the summer, when it was already obvious that the rescue package approved in March was going to expire much too soon. But Senate Republicans were adamantly opposed to providing the necessary aid. Lindsey Graham declared that emergency unemployment benefits would be extended “over our dead bodies” (actually 215,000 other people’s dead bodies, but who’s counting?). ...
And McConnell — whose state benefits from far more federal spending than it pays in taxes — derided proposed aid to states as a “blue state bailout.”The thing is, Trump’s chances of re-election and McConnell’s chances of holding on to the Senate would almost surely be better if there actually had been an infrastructure bill last year and a relief bill this past summer. Why weren’t Republicans willing to make those deals?Whatever they may say, they weren’t concerned about the cost. Republicans didn’t worry about budget deficits when they rammed through a $2 trillion tax cut for corporations and the wealthy. They only pose as deficit hawks when trying to block spending that might help ordinary Americans.No, what this is really about is the modern G.O.P.’s plutocratic agenda. McConnell and, as far as I can tell, every member of his caucus are completely committed to cutting taxes on the rich and aid to the poor and middle class. Other than March’s CARES Act, which Republicans passed only because they were panicking over a plunging stock market, it’s hard to think of any major G.O.P.-approved fiscal legislation in the past two decades that didn’t redistribute income upward.You might think that Republicans would set the plutocratic imperative aside when the case for more government spending is compelling, whether it’s to repair our crumbling infrastructure or to provide relief during a pandemic. But all indications are that they believe — probably rightly — that successful government programs make the public more receptive to proposals for additional programs.That’s why the G.O.P. has tried so frantically to overturn the Affordable Care Act; at this point it’s clear that Obamacare’s success in cutting the number of uninsured Americans has created an appetite for further health care reform.And that’s why Republicans are unwilling to provide desperately needed aid to economic victims of the pandemic. They aren’t worried that a relief package would fail; they’re worried that it might succeed, showing that sometimes more government spending is a good thing. Indeed, a successful relief package might pave the way for Democratic proposals that would, among other things, drastically reduce child poverty.So while Trump bears much of the responsibility for the misery facing millions of Americans, McConnell probably bears an equal share. Will they pay the political price? We’ll find out in three weeks.
https://news.cgtn.com/news/2020-10-13/World-GDP-to-drop-4-4-in-2020-IMF--UyNuoUIFlC/index.htmlOctober 13, 2020China to be the only economy with positive growth in 2020, says IMF reportChina continues to be the only economy in the world to show positive growth in 2020 as its GDP is predicted to expand 1.9 percent this year, according to the latest economic outlook released by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Tuesday.Thanks to a faster-than-expected recovery, China's growth will accelerate to 8.2 percent next year, the IMF said in the World Economic Outlook.IMF Chief Economist Gita Gopinath said China was pulling up the global numbers, and without China "cumulative growth for 2020 and 2021 is negative."The Word Bank in late September estimated that China's economy is expected to grow by 2.0 percent in 2020, up from the 1 percent projection released in June.The IMF forecast a 2020 global contraction of 4.4 percent, an improvement over a 5.2 percent contraction predicted in June, when business closures reached their peak. But it is still the worst economic crisis since the 1930s Great Depression.Many economies have started to recover faster than anticipated after reopening from their lockdowns but with the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to spread, the global economy's ascent back to pre-pandemic levels remains prone to setbacks, the outlook said.The IMF has upgraded its estimate for advanced economies for 2020 to a contraction of 5.8 percent, followed by a rebound in growth to 3.9 percent in 2021.The U.S. economy is expected to contract 4.3 percent this year, and Britain's economy will contract 9.8 percent. Japan's economy is forecast to decline 5.3 percent.For emerging market and developing countries (excluding China), the IMF has a downgrade with growth projected to be a contraction of 5.7 percent in 2020 and then a recovery to 5 percent in 2021.Brazil and Russia are predicted to contract 5.8 and 4.1 percent respectively, while India's economy could shrink 10.3 percent.'Less dire'"These are difficult times, yet there are some reasons to be hopeful," Gita Gopinath, IMF's economic counsellor and director of research, was quoted as saying in the outlook report, referring to progress made in treatments and vaccine trials.Compared with the previous outlook IMF made in June, the second quarter GDP growth in large advanced economies were slightly better and China's return to growth was stronger than expected, the report said, noting there are signs of a more rapid recovery in the third quarter."The story is less dire than we thought three months ago, but dire nonetheless," IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said during a panel discussion that was held virtually.Georgieva said governments needed to stay focused on their healthcare responses to the coronavirus and must not withdraw stimulus measures prematurely."If we cut these lifelines that have been extended to families and businesses before we are out of the health crisis, this could be catastrophic in terms of bankruptcies, unemployment and undoing all that has been done so far," she added.Actions including sizeable and timely fiscal, monetary and regulatory responses have so far prevented a recurrence of the financial catastrophe of 2008-09, the report said, but pointed out the negative impacts of the pandemic will last....
https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/October 13, 2020CoronavirusUSCases ( 8,090,250)Deaths ( 220,873)IndiaCases ( 7,237,082)Deaths ( 110,617)MexicoCases ( 821,045)Deaths ( 83,945)FranceCases ( 756,472)Deaths ( 32,942)UKCases ( 634,920)Deaths ( 43,018)GermanyCases ( 335,679)Deaths ( 9,740)CanadaCases ( 186,881)Deaths ( 9,654)ChinaCases ( 85,591)Deaths ( 4,634)
October 13, 2020Coronavirus (Deaths per million)US ( 666)Mexico ( 649)UK ( 633)France ( 504)Canada ( 255)Germany ( 116)India ( 80)China ( 3)Notice the ratios of deaths to coronavirus cases are 10.2%, 6.8% and 4.4% for Mexico, the United Kingdom and France respectively. These ratios are high, but have been significantly higher, while falling recently.
It is his court, I guess.Trump Again Asks Supreme Court to Block Subpoena for His Tax RecordsNY Times - October 13WASHINGTON — Personal lawyers for President Trump, seeking to appeal their case to the Supreme Court for the second time in less than a year, asked the justices on Tuesday to delay a ruling that would allow the Manhattan district attorney to obtain Mr. Trump’s financial records.In a 38-page “emergency” application, Mr. Trump’s legal team told the court that a Federal District Court judge was wrong to rule that the prosecutor, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., had a legal right to subpoena the materials — and that an appeals court panel in New York was wrong to uphold that ruling this month. ...
https://news.cgtn.com/news/2020-10-13/From-mass-education-to-universal-education-China-s-way-forward–UyydZ6D9hS/index.htmlOctober 13, 2020Over 70% college goers in China are first-generation university studentsThis summer, the name Sun Chuan topped the search charts on China’s microblogging website Weibo. The 17-year-old was reportedly toiling at a construction site when he was informed about being accepted as a student at Tsinghua University, China’s top university.Born in one of China’s extremely poor areas, southwest China’s Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture, Sun became the first member of his family to go to college. His father is a migrant worker and his mother teaches at a local primary school. As the eldest child, he had to babysit his younger siblings and help his parents on the farm.After sitting for his college entrance examination in July, he landed a job at a construction site to mitigate the family’s financial woes and save some money for his upcoming college life.Like Sun, many in China are first-generation college students. According to a research conducted by Tsinghua University, over 70 percent of China’s university students are first-generation college goers, among them 69.74 percent have rural roots.Despite their family background, the first-generation college students from rural households perform just as well as their urban peers, according to a research done by East China Normal University.Researchers evaluated students’ performance based on three indexes: times of exam failures, score ranking and scholarships. Their research discovered no significant difference between the two groups….
October 14, 2020CoronavirusUSCases ( 8,105,362)Deaths ( 221,142)
October 14, 2020CoronavirusIsraelCases ( 298,500)Deaths ( 2,098)Deaths per million ( 228)---------------------------July 4, 2020CoronavirusIsraelCases ( 29,170)Deaths ( 330)Deaths per million ( 36)
Having apparently approached a containment of the coronavirus in June, the Israeli government incautiously opened schools and businesses, and the result has been a persistent community infection spread contributing to what are now 298,500 cases in the small country as compared to 85,611 in all through all of mainland China.Israel has unfortunately more than three-times the number of coronavirus cases in mainland China. Paul Krugman noticed the Israeli “disaster” on September 14 when there were 160,000 coronavirus cases. The per capita case rate is startlingly high. The persisting difficulty in limiting a new spread of infections in so developed a country has been startling to me. Obviously there is a profound public health infrastructure failing, that shows a development failing and will have to be addressed.What would make for Israel having the highest rate of coronavirus infections of any developed country? Looking for the sake of comparison to the United Kingdom, in which policy makers have been thinking on and off of allowing for "herd immunity" to develop, there is a coronavirus infection rate of 9,629 while the rate in Israel is 32,454.
October 14, 2020CoronavirusUSCases ( 8,150,043)Deaths ( 221,843)IndiaCases ( 7,305,070)Deaths ( 111,311)MexicoCases ( 825,340)Deaths ( 84,420)FranceCases ( 779,063)Deaths ( 33,037)UKCases ( 654,644)Deaths ( 43,155)GermanyCases ( 341,742)Deaths ( 9,771)CanadaCases ( 189,387)Deaths ( 9,664)ChinaCases ( 85,611)Deaths ( 4,634)
October 14, 2020Coronavirus (Deaths per million)US ( 669)Mexico ( 653)UK ( 635)France ( 506)Canada ( 255)Germany ( 117)India ( 80)China ( 3)Notice the ratios of deaths to coronavirus cases are 10.2%, 6.6% and 4.2% for Mexico, the United Kingdom and France respectively. These ratios are high, but have been significantly higher, while falling gradually.
https://news.cgtn.com/news/2020-10-15/Chinese-mainland-reports-11-new-COVID-19-cases-UBhCtX0i2I/index.htmlOctober 15, 2020Chinese mainland reports 11 new COVID-19 casesChina's health authorities said on Thursday that it had received reports of 11 new COVID-19 cases on the Chinese mainland Wednesday – 10 from overseas and 1 locally transmitted.The locally transmitted case was reported in east China's Shandong Province, the National Health Commission said in its daily report, adding that the case was an asymptomatic patient first tested on September 24.No deaths related to the disease were reported Wednesday. Twelve COVID-19 patients were newly discharged from hospitals after recovering, the commission said.The COVID-19 tally on the Chinese mainland stands at 85,622 with 4,634 fatalities, while 385 asymptomatic patients remain under medical observation.Chinese mainland new imported caseshttps://news.cgtn.com/news/2020-10-15/Chinese-mainland-reports-11-new-COVID-19-cases-UBhCtX0i2I/img/f0d6ce85fd9a4178910aec67f8cfcace/f0d6ce85fd9a4178910aec67f8cfcace.jpegChinese mainland new asymptomatic caseshttps://news.cgtn.com/news/2020-10-15/Chinese-mainland-reports-11-new-COVID-19-cases-UBhCtX0i2I/img/cb6e4f27431143afac228a7ca51409f4/cb6e4f27431143afac228a7ca51409f4.jpeg[ There has been no coronavirus death on the Chinese mainland since May 17. Since June began there have been 3 limited community clusters of infections, in Beijing, Urumqi and Dalian, each of which was contained with mass testing, contact tracing and quarantine, with each outbreak ended in a few weeks.Currently there is a community cluster in Shandong, with mass testing, contact tracing and quarantine again being used to try to contain and end the outbreak. Imported coronavirus cases are caught at entry points with required testing and immediate quarantine.Asymptomatic cases are all quarantined. The flow of imported cases to China is low, but has been persistent.There are now in all 240 active coronavirus cases on the Chinese mainland, 4 of which cases are classed as serious or critical. ]
Eight Million Have Slipped Into Poverty Since May as Federal Aid Has Dried UpNY Times - October 15WASHINGTON — After an ambitious expansion of the safety net in the spring saved millions of people from poverty, the aid is now largely exhausted and poverty has returned to levels higher than before the coronavirus crisis, two new studies have found.The number of poor people has grown by eight million since May, according to researchers at Columbia University, after falling by four million at the pandemic’s start as a result of an $2 trillion emergency package known as the Cares Act.Using a different definition of poverty, researchers from the University of Chicago and Notre Dame found that poverty has grown by six million people in the past three months, with circumstances worsening most for Black people and children.Significantly, the studies differ on the most recent month: While the Columbia model shows an improvement in September, the Chicago and Notre Dame analysts found poverty continued to grow.“These numbers are very concerning,” said Bruce D. Meyer, an economist at the University of Chicago and an author of the study. “They tell us people are having a lot more trouble paying their bills, paying their rent, putting food on the table.”The recent rise in poverty has occurred despite an improving job market, an indiction that the economy has been rebounding too slowly to offset the lost benefits. The Democratic House has twice passed multitrillion-dollar packages to provide more help and to stimulate the economy, but members of a divided Republican Senate, questioning the cost and necessity, have proposed smaller plans. President Trump has alternately demanded that Congress “go big” before the elections and canceled negotiations.The Cares Act included one-time payments for most households — $1,200 per adult and $500 per child — and a huge expansion of unemployment insurance. ...
Another 898,000 Americans file for unemployment benefitsvia @BostonGlobe - October 15WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits rose last week to 898,000, a historically high number and evidence that layoffs remain a hindrance to the economy’s recovery from the pandemic recession that erupted seven months ago.Thursday’s report from the Labor Department shows that the job market remans fragile, and it coincides with other recent data that have signaled a slowdown in hiring. The economy is still roughly 10.7 million jobs short of recovering all the 22 million jobs that were lost when the pandemic struck in early spring. ...The job search website Indeed said its job postings were unchanged last week, remaining about 17 percent below last year’s levels. Many employers still aren’t confident enough in their businesses or in their view of the economy to ramp up hiring. Job postings had rebounded steadily over the summer, but the gains have slowed in the past two months. ...
... The recession has disproportionately hurt in-person service industries, especially restaurants, hotels, travel companies and entertainment venues. The damage to those industries has left millions of people unemployed, likely for an extended period until they are either finally recalled to their previous jobs or switch to new careers.The government’s report Thursday said the number of people who are continuing to receive unemployment benefits dropped 1.2 million to 10 million. The decline signals that many of the unemployed are being recalled to their old jobs.But it also reflects the fact that potentially even more people have used up their regular state benefits — which usually expire after six months — and have transitioned to extended benefit programs that last an additional three months. The extended aid programs were established by the financial aid package that Congress enacted in the spring. ...
October is often a brutal monthon Wall Street. It got off to agood start, but lately...Wall Street buckles on stimulus, jobless claims and coronavirusWall Street was poised for a rough session Thursday, as investors considered fast-dimming prospects for fiscal stimulus before the U.S. election and a host of new virus-related restrictions in Europe.Traders continue to fixate on whether a stimulus deal of any size will transpire within the next three weeks, even as recent comments from lawmakers have overwhelmingly dampened hopes. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, speaking at the Milken Institute Global Conference on Wednesday, said that “getting something done before the election and executing on that would be difficult, just given where we are in the level of details,” referring to talks with Democratic lawmakers. He and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are set to speak again on Thursday to discuss stimulus measures, after having spoken Wednesday morning. ...
https://cepr.net/prices-2020-10/October 13, 2020Overall and Core CPI Rise 0.2 Percent in September, as Pandemic Price Patterns ReappearBy DEAN BAKERPrice declines in several hard-hit sectors are likely in response to a resurgence of the pandemic.The overall and core Consumer Price Index (CPI) both rose 0.2 percent in September, driven in large part by an extraordinary 6.7 percent jump in the price of used cars. The overall index is now up 1.4 percent from its year-ago level, while the core index is up 1.7 percent.The most striking feature in the September price data is the return of pandemic price patterns in several hard-hit sectors. For example, hotel prices fell 0.5 percent in September, after sharp price rises in the prior three months. Hotel prices fell 16.7 percent between February and May. They are now 15.0 percent below year-ago levels.[Graph]Airfares fell 2.0 percent, also after three months of sharp price increases. Airline prices had dropped 29.5 percent from February to May. Airfares are 25.0 percent below their level from last September.Car insurance prices fell 3.5 percent in September, again following three months of sharp rises. Auto insurance prices had fallen 15.0 percent from February to May. The index for auto insurance tracks gross premiums (not deducting payouts), so it is directly related to the amount of driving people do. This is the reason for the rebates many insurers gave following the shutdown. Insurance prices now stand 5.0 percent lower than year-ago levels.Apparel prices also reversed patterns, dropping by 0.5 percent in September after rising rapidly the prior three months. Apparel prices fell by 8.8 percent from February to May. They are now down 6.0 percent from year-ago levels. Not all patterns were reversed in September....
https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02852-xOctober 14, 2020Why Nature supports Joe Biden for US presidentWe cannot stand by and let science be undermined. Joe Biden’s trust in truth, evidence, science and democracy make him the only choice in the US election.On 9 November 2016, the world awoke to an unexpected result: Donald Trump had been elected president of the United States.This journal did not hide its disappointment. But, Nature observed, US democracy was designed with safeguards intended to protect against excesses. It is founded on a system of checks and balances that makes it difficult for a president to exercise absolute power. We were hopeful that this would help to curb the damage that might result from Trump’s disregard for evidence and the truth, disrespect for those he disagrees with and toxic attitude towards women.How wrong we turned out to be.No US president in recent history has so relentlessly attacked and undermined so many valuable institutions, from science agencies to the media, the courts, the Department of Justice — and even the electoral system. Trump claims to put ‘America First’. But in his response to the pandemic, Trump has put himself first, not America….
Why Nature supports Joe Biden for US president('Nature' is a British publication, though widelyread & respected among scientific journals in the US.Is this an unwelcome intrusion by the UK into US politics?)Nature Research (formerly known as Nature Publishing Group) is a division of the international scientific publishing company Springer Nature. ... (Wikipedia)(Regardless, I'm a staunch Biden supporter.)
And, as for 'Springer Nature'...Springer-Verlag GmbH, dba Springer Nature, provides publishing services. The Company offers publications about biomedical, computer science, economics, physics, statistics, and life sciences. Springer-Verlag serves markets worldwide. ... (Bloomberg)(Headquartered in Berlin.)
October 14, 2020CoronavirusUSCases ( 8,150,043)Deaths ( 221,843)Serious, Critical Cases ( 15,219)
October 15, 2020CoronavirusUSCases ( 8,194,347)Deaths ( 222,418)
https://news.cgtn.com/news/2020-10-15/Saline-soil-rice-breed-breaks-yield-record-in-E-China-UC9FzSpQdi/index.htmlOctober 15, 2020Saline soil rice breed breaks yield record in E ChinaA team of Chinese agronomists led by Yuan Longping, dubbed the "father of hybrid rice," has set a record in rice output grown on saline-alkali soil in east China's Jiangsu Province.The rice breed, developed by Yuan's team, achieved a yield of 802.9 kg per mu on average, or 12.04 tonnes per hectare, * in three plots of saline soil in Rudong County in east China's Jiangsu province.It is a record output for rice grown on saline soil in China, said Fang Fuping, a researcher with the China National Rice Research Institute.Yuan's team had successfully developed varieties of saline-alkali tolerant rice in 2017 with the previous highest yield reaching 620.95 kg per mu.China has about 100 million hectares of saline-alkali soil, of which about one-fifth could be ameliorated to arable soil.* About 3 times a reasonable ordinary-soil yield.
Still sadly threatening:October 15, 2020CoronavirusMassachusettsCases ( 141,579)Deaths ( 9,672)Deaths per million ( 1,403)October 15, 2020CoronavirusNew YorkCases ( 515,024)Deaths ( 33,442)Deaths per million ( 1,719)
Cases classed as "serious, critical" are increasing:October 15, 2020CoronavirusUSCases ( 8,216,315)Deaths ( 222,717)Serious, Critical Cases ( 15,270)
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/16/opinion/americas-money-men-could-save-us-but-theyre-stuck-in-the-seventies.htmlOctober 16, 2020America’s Money Men Could Save Us. But They’re Stuck in the Seventies.(And, unfortunately, yes, they mostly are men).By Claudia SahmLet’s face reality: It is likely that no further economic relief is coming from Congress before the election. For months, negotiations between Democrats and Republicans over a follow-up package have alternated between stopping, starting and stalling.Congress and the White House became mired in partisan politics as soon as a tenuous recovery from the worst of the pandemic began. Congress started strong this March, passing the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The measures taken, though imperfect, worked. But we are now the victims of that success, as Congress has lost the will to do more. The outcome is as predictable as it is tragic: as soon as the crisis stabilized enough for partisan inaction to not be political suicide, legislative paralysis returned.In the meantime, coronavirus deaths continue to mount and normalcy remains elusive. It was far too soon to end relief but Congress did it anyway. Temporary job losses have become permanent. Through no fault of their own, businesses have closed their doors forever. Communities have laid off even more teachers.That leaves the Federal Reserve — gatekeeper of the world’s reserve currency, America’s central bank and lender of last resort — as the only game left in town. And its game is not good enough.As with Congress, the Fed acted boldly in March. Financial markets were seizing up and stock prices plunged. The Fed stepped in and pumped trillions of dollars into credit markets to put them back in sync. They offered to lend vast sums to financial institutions and corporations temporarily short on cash. However, shortly after, the Fed fell prey to politics and, perhaps most crucially, to its own longstanding technocratic obsessions and misconceptions.The first signs of the Fed walking away from this crisis began with its two failed lending facilities: one meant for middle-sized businesses and the other meant for municipalities with gaping budget shortfalls. As I wrote * in April, these new programs were a watershed; the Fed was poised to support Main Street, for once, not only Wall Street. Even so, these two innovative facilities, authorized in the CARES Act, were rolled out too slowly and months later have made only a handful of loans, largely because the terms of the loans are needlessly onerous.Why is politics to blame? Both Democrats and Republicans took aim at the facilities. Democrats chastised the Fed for making midsize oil companies eligible, and Republicans scoffed at the idea of a “blue state bailout.” In turn, the Fed decided to essentially do nothing.* https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/23/opinion/coronavirus-federal-reserve-cities.html
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/23/opinion/coronavirus-federal-reserve-cities.htmlApril 23, 2020The Money Machine That Can Save CitiesAs Congress fumbles, the Fed’s unlimited ability to create money may be the only lifeline that communities have left.By Claudia SahmState and local budgets across the United States are beginning to buckle under the economic strain caused by Covid-19. Because the economy is essentially in a medically induced coma, sales tax revenue and revenue from other business taxes have dried up. That means the funds to take care of communities — to pay teachers, to support Medicaid, to hire emergency medical workers, to maintain roads, to build low-income housing — are also drying up.Because 40 out of 50 states have laws mandating that both the state’s overall budget and the budgets of nearly all cities be balanced, state governments are already laying off employees and cutting services. More than 14,000 workers in state governments lost their jobs in March. Terrifyingly, those losses, counted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only stretch through mid-March, before the shutdowns were nationwide.Local officials were blindsided by this crisis and the costs it required to rapidly ramp up medical care and the social safety net. But so far Congress has allocated only $150 billion for state and local governments from the trillions of dollars it approved for pandemic relief. It’s too little and often it’s arriving too late.The Federal Reserve knows this....
October 15, 2020CoronavirusUSCases ( 8,216,315)Deaths ( 222,717)IndiaCases ( 7,365,435)Deaths ( 112,144)MexicoCases ( 829,396)Deaths ( 84,898)FranceCases ( 809,684)Deaths ( 33,125)UKCases ( 673,622)Deaths ( 43,293)GermanyCases ( 348,816)Deaths ( 9,810)CanadaCases ( 191,732)Deaths ( 9,699)ChinaCases ( 85,622)Deaths ( 4,634)
October 15, 2020Coronavirus (Deaths per million)US ( 672)Mexico ( 659)UK ( 637)France ( 507)Canada ( 256)Germany ( 117)India ( 81)China ( 3)Notice the ratios of deaths to coronavirus cases are 10.2%, 6.4% and 4.1% for Mexico, the United Kingdom and France respectively.
https://news.cgtn.com/news/2020-10-16/Chinese-mainland-reports-24-new-COVID-19-cases-all-from-overseas-UCVUf3W74I/index.htmlOctober 16, 2020Chinese mainland reports 24 new COVID-19 casesThe Chinese mainland on Thursday registered 24 new COVID-19 cases, all from overseas, the National Health Commission announced on Friday.No deaths related to the disease were reported Thursday, and 11 COVID-19 patients were discharged from hospitals, the commission said. A total of 376 asymptomatic patients remain under medical observation.The COVID-19 tally on the Chinese mainland stands at 85,646, with 4,634 fatalities.Chinese mainland new imported caseshttps://news.cgtn.com/news/2020-10-16/Chinese-mainland-reports-24-new-COVID-19-cases-all-from-overseas-UCVUf3W74I/img/485824c9529047a898589c8846fb656f/485824c9529047a898589c8846fb656f.jpegChinese mainland new asymptomatic caseshttps://news.cgtn.com/news/2020-10-16/Chinese-mainland-reports-24-new-COVID-19-cases-all-from-overseas-UCVUf3W74I/img/00507c1120b64a998a26b3983a3b5450/00507c1120b64a998a26b3983a3b5450.jpeg[ There has been no coronavirus death on the Chinese mainland since May 17. Since June began there have been 3 limited community clusters of infections, in Beijing, Urumqi and Dalian, each of which was contained with mass testing, contact tracing and quarantine, with each outbreak ending in a few weeks.Currently there is a community cluster in Qingdao, with mass testing, contact tracing and quarantine again being used to identify the origin, contain and end the outbreak.Imported coronavirus cases are caught at entry points with required testing and immediate quarantine. Asymptomatic cases are all quarantined. The flow of imported cases to China is low, but has been persistent.There are now 253 active coronavirus cases in all on the Chinese mainland, 4 of which cases are classed as serious or critical. ]
https://voxeu.org/article/pandemics-and-inequality-historical-overviewOctober 15, 2020Pandemics and inequality: A historical overviewBy Guido Alfani The relationship between pandemics and inequality is of significant interest at the moment. The Black Death in the 14th century is one salient example of a pandemic which dramatically decreased wealth inequality, but this column argues that the Black Death is exceptional in this respect. Pandemics in subsequent centuries have failed to significantly reduce inequality, due to different institutional environments and labour market effects. This evidence suggests that inequality and poverty are likely to increase in the aftermath of the Covid-19 crisis.
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/16/us/trump-california-wildfire-relief.htmlOctober 16, 2020In Rare Move, Trump Administration Rejects California’s Request for Wildfire ReliefThe state had asked last month for federal aid to help recover from six of this year’s fires, including the Creek Fire, which is among the largest in state history.By Thomas Fuller and Derrick Bryson TaylorMORAGA, Calif. — The Trump administration has rejected California’s request for disaster relief aid for six major wildfires that scorched more than 1.8 million acres in land, destroyed thousands of structures and caused at least three deaths last month.The rejection of aid late Thursday, a rare move in cases of disasters on the scale of California’s fires, escalated a long-running feud between the Trump administration and California on the issues of climate change and forest management.California has suffered a series of record-breaking fires since August, when freak lightning storms ignited hundreds of fires. Subsequent fires in September tore through parts of the Sierra Nevada and wine country north of San Francisco.Judd Deere, a White House spokesman, said President Trump had already come to the state’s assistance when his administration authorized increased funding for debris removal from the fires as well as relief for the August fires.“The more recent and separate California submission was not supported by the relevant data that States must provide for approval and the President concurred with the FEMA Administrator’s recommendation,” Mr. Deere said.California officials immediately pushed back on that assessment. Brian Ferguson, a spokesman for the state’s office of emergency services, said the state had a “strong case” that it meets the federal requirements for approval and planned to appeal the decision....
As of two weeks ago, there were maybe five percent ofvoters still undecided for the Nov 3 presidential election.One month out from the election, Trump and Biden are still battling for 5 percent of undecided votersNewsweek - October 3For the vast majority of American voters, the presidential campaign is over because they've decided their candidate and have no plans of wavering from their choice. But that could leave about 5 percent up for grabs.Undecided voters helped propel Donald Trump to the White House in 2016 and they're partially credited with why his victory was such a surprise. Now the president once again has a chance to sway those who are undecided, but it may not be enough to overcome Democratic candidate Joe Biden's lead."Undecideds know Trump and they're undecided because they don't like him. They may end up voting for him but it's unlikely the vote goes heavily his way," John Geer, a professor of political science at Vanderbilt University, told Newsweek.A poll from Quinnipiac University put the number of undecided voters at only 5 percent—about a 5 percent decrease from the same time in 2016. In a different poll conducted by The Washington Post and ABC News found 92 percent of the 1,008 people polled planned on choosing either Trump or Biden for president. Of those who didn't pick Trump, 9 percent said they would consider casting their ballot for him—the same percentage of people who didn't pick Biden but would consider voting for him.Similar results regarding people who would be open to casting their ballot for a major party candidate they weren't already supporting were found in a NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. Of the 1,000 registered voters who were surveyed, 3 percent were unsure who they were supporting, and 3 percent said they weren't supporting either candidate. ...
October 16, 2020CoronavirusUSCases ( 8,248,062)Deaths ( 223,171)
https://news.cgtn.com/news/2020-10-16/Qingdao-health-authorities-identify-source-of-latest-COVID-19-cluster-UDaGzVJsu4/index.htmlOctober 16, 2020Qingdao health authorities identify source of latest COVID-19 clusterThe COVID-19 cluster in east China's port city of Qingdao originated in two port workers who stayed at the same hospital, the local health commission declared on Friday.The pair contracted the virus and were put on hospital quarantine in September.According to authorities, they used a scan room for examination, but the room was not properly disinfected, before receiving other patients on the following day.Authorities said sequences of the virus' genome of recent cases and the two patients have shown a high level of similarity.Qingdao firstly reported three asymptotic cases on October 11, and since then 13 confirmed infections were found, all related to a local hospital.A five-day virus testing program that was launched on Monday (October 12) has been completed, covering all 11 million residents.As of 8 a.m. Friday, over 10.16 million of the collected samples had been tested, and results showed no new positive cases, results of the rest samples will be released by 6 p.m.The pair, surnamed Chen and Dong, were stevedores of Qingdao Port Dagang Company. They were moved into the hospital for medical observation after testing positive for the novel coronavirus on September 24. They were asymptomatic by then.One of the workers, 40-year-old Dong, developed symptoms after 20 days on October 14 and became a confirmed COVID-19 case.They had unloaded imported frozen products on September 19.
How the GOP Can Still Wreck AmericaNY Times - Paul Krugman - October 15After 2016, nobody will or should take anything for granted, but at this point Joe Biden is strongly favored to beat Donald Trump, quite possibly by a landslide. However, Trump’s party may still be in a position to inflict enormous damage on America and the world over the next few years.For one thing, while Democrats are also favored to take control of the Senate, the odds aren’t nearly as high as they are in the presidential race. Why? Because the Senate, which gives the average voter in Wyoming 70 times as much weight as the average voter in California, is a deeply unrepresentative body.And it looks as if a president who is probably about to become a lame duck — and who lost the popular vote even in 2016 — together with a Senate that represents a minority of the American people are about to install a right-wing supermajority on the Supreme Court.If you want a preview of how badly this can go, look at what’s happening in Wisconsin.In 2018, Wisconsin voters elected a Democratic governor. A strong majority — 53 percent — also voted for Democratic legislators. But given the way the state’s districts are drawn, Democrats ended up with only 36 out of 99 seats in the State Assembly. And Wisconsin’s elected judiciary is also dominated by Republicans.You probably won’t be surprised to hear that the Wisconsin G.O.P. has tried to use its remaining power to undermine Gov. Tony Evers. What you may not know is that this power grab is now turning lethal.You see, Wisconsin is experiencing a frightening coronavirus surge, which looks on track to match the wave that hit Arizona in the summer. Arizona eventually contained that surge with mask mandates, bar closures and limits on indoor gatherings. But Wisconsin’s Republican legislature has obstructed Evers’s attempts to get control of the pandemic. And on Wednesday a Republican judge blocked an order limiting the number of people who can gather in bars and other public places.In Wisconsin, then, a party rejected by the voters is nonetheless managing to inflict immense damage, probably including hundreds of unnecessary deaths. And something similar but far worse could all too easily play out on a national level.First of all, while Trump has very little chance of winning the popular vote, he might still eke out an Electoral College victory. If he does, it could be the end of American democracy.A more likely outcome is that Trump loses but Republicans hold the Senate. In that case, we know exactly what will happen: fiscal sabotage on a grand scale. That is, the G.O.P., which has been completely indifferent to budget deficits under Trump, will suddenly rediscover the evils of government debt and block every effort by a Biden administration to sustain the economy and living standards in the face of a pandemic.And even if Democrats take both the Senate and the White House, they’re now almost certain to face a 6-3 Supreme Court — that is, a court dominated by appointees of an increasingly extremist party that has only won the popular vote for president once in the past three decades. ...
In the hearings for Amy Coney Barrett, Democrats have, rightly and understandably, hammered on the possibility that such a court would use transparently spurious arguments to overturn the Affordable Care Act, causing tens of millions of Americans to lose health insurance coverage. Roe v. Wade is also in obvious danger.But I’d argue that the biggest threat this court will pose is to environmental policy.Put it this way: Charles Koch is reportedly investing millions trying to get Barrett confirmed. That’s not because he’s passionately opposed to abortion rights, or, probably, even because he wants the A.C.A. overturned. What he’s looking for, surely, is a court that will block government regulation of business — and above all a court that will hamstring a Biden administration’s efforts to take action against climate change.Sure enough, during her hearing, Barrett, asked about climate change, uttered the dreaded words, “I’m certainly not a scientist.” At this point everyone knows what that means. It’s not an expression of humility; it’s a signal that the speaker intends to ignore the science and to oppose any attempt to avert the biggest threat facing humanity.It’s hard to overstate just how dangerous it will be if the power of the Supreme Court ends up being used to undermine environmental protection. Biden has made it clear that climate action will be at the core of his economic agenda. And this action would come not a moment too soon. We’re already starting to see the effects of global warming in the form of fires and floods, and if we waste the next few years it will probably be too late to avoid catastrophe.In other words, if a G.O.P.-stacked Supreme Court blocks effective climate policy, it won’t just be an outrage, it will be a disaster, for America and the world. So that can’t be allowed to happen. Never mind all the talk about norms (which only seem to apply to Democrats, anyway.) What’s at stake here could be the future of civilization.
October 16, 2020CoronavirusUSCases ( 8,288,278)Deaths ( 223,644)IndiaCases ( 7,430,635)Deaths ( 113,032)MexicoCases ( 834,910)Deaths ( 85,285)FranceCases ( 834,770)Deaths ( 33,303)UKCases ( 689,257)Deaths ( 43,429)GermanyCases ( 356,792)Deaths ( 9,836)CanadaCases ( 194,106)Deaths ( 9,722)ChinaCases ( 85,646)Deaths ( 4,634)
October 16, 2020Coronavirus (Deaths per million)US ( 674)Mexico ( 659)UK ( 639)France ( 510)Canada ( 257)Germany ( 117)India ( 82)China ( 3)Notice the ratios of deaths to coronavirus cases are 10.2%, 6.3% and 4.0% for Mexico, the United Kingdom and France respectively. These ratios are high, but have been significantly higher, while falling recently.
https://news.cgtn.com/news/2020-10-17/Chinese-mainland-reports-13-new-COVID-19-cases-all-from-overseas-UEAqn0nhte/index.htmlOctober 17, 2020Chinese mainland reports 13 new COVID-19 casesThe Chinese mainland on Friday registered 13 new COVID-19 cases, all from overseas, the National Health Commission announced on Saturday.No deaths related to the disease were reported on Friday, and 7 COVID-19 patients were discharged from hospitals, the commission said. A total of 374 asymptomatic patients remain under medical observation.The COVID-19 tally on the Chinese mainland stands at 85,659, with 4,634 fatalities.Chinese mainland new imported caseshttps://news.cgtn.com/news/2020-10-17/Chinese-mainland-reports-13-new-COVID-19-cases-all-from-overseas-UEAqn0nhte/img/e06cfe13455c4b81a9e17b6ca75a92a9/e06cfe13455c4b81a9e17b6ca75a92a9.jpegChinese mainland new asymptomatic caseshttps://news.cgtn.com/news/2020-10-17/Chinese-mainland-reports-13-new-COVID-19-cases-all-from-overseas-UEAqn0nhte/img/631dc1fdf7aa46f882a2b4911121adf2/631dc1fdf7aa46f882a2b4911121adf2.jpeg
There has been no coronavirus death on the Chinese mainland since May 17. Since June began there have been 3 limited community clusters of infections, in Beijing, Dalian and Urumqi, each of which was contained with mass testing, contact tracing and quarantine, with each outbreak ending in a few weeks.Currently there is a limited community cluster in Qingdao, with mass testing, contact tracing and quarantine again being used to identify the origin, contain and end the outbreak.Imported coronavirus cases are caught at entry points with required testing and immediate quarantine. Asymptomatic cases are all quarantined. The flow of imported cases to China is low, but has been persistent.There are now 259 active coronavirus cases in all on the Chinese mainland, 5 of which cases are classed as serious or critical.
October 16, 2020CoronavirusMassachusettsCases ( 142,346)Deaths ( 9,702)Deaths per million ( 1,408)October 16, 2020CoronavirusNew YorkCases ( 516,752)Deaths ( 33,451)Deaths per million ( 1,720)
October 17, 2020CoronavirusUSCases ( 8,320,718)Deaths ( 224,001)
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/17/science/astronomy-black-hole-at1910qix.htmlOctober 17, 2020A Black Hole’s Lunch: Stellar SpaghettiAstronomers observed a star become a “feast” for a cosmic monster.By Dennis OverbyeAstronomers call it “spaghettification,” and it’s not a pretty idea: It’s what happens when you venture too close to a black hole and fall in. Tidal forces stretch you and break you like a noodle, then your shreds circle the black hole until they collide and knock each other in.On the upside, the energy released by your long fall and the crashing together of what used to be your atoms might produce a flash — a cosmic funeral pyre, if you will — that can be seen across the universe.In a case reported last week, it was merely an anonymous star in a faraway galaxy that met its doom. Thanks to luck and ever-increasing vigilance of the heavens, the whole world was watching as the star went down.“Indeed, it was quite a feast,” said Matt Nicholl, an astrophysicist at the University of Birmingham in England in an email. He led a team of astronomers that described this stellar apocalypse in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society on Monday.“This black hole was a messy eater,” added Kate Alexander of Northwestern University and a member of Dr. Nicholl’s team, in an email. In the end, she said, only about half the star was consumed by the black hole. The rest of its disintegrated material was blown outward into space at a breakneck speed a few percent that of light.The excitement began on Sept. 19, 2019, when the Zwicky Transient Facility, a telescope on Palomar Mountain in California, and other celestial surveillance networks detected a flare in the center of a galaxy 215 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Eridanus.The flare had the hallmarks of a tidal disruption event, the technical name for when a black hole rips a star to shreds and eats it.Astronomers rushed to their ground- and space-based telescopes to monitor AT2019qiz, as the flare was named. (“AT” stands for “astronomical transient.”)Over the next few weeks the flare rapidly brightened. At its peak, it was blasting out about a billion times as much energy as our sun. In the subsequent five months the flare slowly faded.The result was a unique and multidimensional look — based on radio emissions, X-rays and gamma rays as well as old-fashioned visible light observations — at the complexities of death by black hole....
Trump leans into fear tactics in bid to win Midwest statesvia @BostonGlobe - October 17JANESVILLE, Wisconsin (AP) — President Donald Trump leaned into fear tactics Saturday as he accused the left of trying to “destroy the American way of life” in a late reelection pitch to voters in Michigan and Wisconsin — two Midwestern states that were instrumental to his 2016 victory but may now be slipping from his grasp.In back-to-back rallies, Trump accused the left of wanting to “erase American history" and “purge American values.” He claimed, with no basis, that Democratic rival Joe Biden would put communities at risk.Trump offered the dark message as he faces headwinds not only in national polling, which shows Biden leading, but also in key battleground surveys. His comments come after his campaign, with far less cash than Biden's, largely retreated from TV advertising in the Midwest, shifting much of its money to Sun Belt states such as Florida, North Carolina, Arizona and Georgia, as well as Pennsylvania. ...
Trump suggests he'll leave the US out of embarrassment if he loses to BidenAxios - October 17At a rally in Friday night in Macon, Georgia, President Trump mocked Joe Biden, saying, "The mask is always so large!" — and suggested that he would leave the U.S. out of embarrassment if he lost to the former vice president.What he's saying: "I shouldn’t joke because you know what? Running against the worst candidate in the history of presidential politics puts pressure on me," Trump said. "Could you imagine if I lose? My whole life, what am I gonna do? I'm gonna say: 'I lost to the worst candidate in the history of politics.' I'm not gonna feel so good. Maybe I'll have to leave the country — I don't know." ...
'the worst candidate in the history of presidential politics'FWIW, this is yet another example of whatpsychologists call 'projection', assertingsomething about another that you know about yourself.
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