ECONOMY

2:00PM Water Cooler 3/29/2024 | naked capitalism

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By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Red-winged Blackbird (Red-winged), Sapsucker Woods, Tompkins, New York, United States. “Song of a male and a song of a female responding immediately.” Reminds me of summer in the fields in the Midwest (correctly?).

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In Case You Might Miss…

(1) Trump’s cash.

(2) Kennedy and Shanahan.

(3) More Tcakik on Boeing.

(4) The Black Epstein?

Politics

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

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2024

Less than a year to go!

RCP Poll Averages, March 29

I think I’ll leave this up for the whole week, so we can at least mumble something about trends. Nationally, Trump is up 2.4% in the Five-Way, same as last week, give or take. Trump is still up in all the Swing States (more here). I’ve highlighted PA, (1) because Trump is actually down there, and (2) it’s an outlier, has been for weeks. Why isn’t Trump doing well there?

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Trump (R): “Here’s How Much Cash Donald Trump Has” [Forbes]. As of March 8, $413 million: “Here’s how we arrived at that figure. We begin with an exact number: $293,834,128.42, which was Trump and his companies’ cash balance as of June 30, 2021, per documents filed in the New York attorney general’s case in October 2022…. Regardless, from there, we can count up the major sources of cash coming in and going out by combing through documents revealed in the fraud case, Trump’s public financial disclosures and other public records…. The big takeaway: Trump is likely sitting on a huge pile of cash—but not enough to pay off his legal creditors with a simple wire transfer…. Cash as of June 2021: $293,834,128.42. Smaller property sales: +$6 million. Income from books, speeches and NFTs: +$21 million. D.C. hotel sale and related expenses: +$112 million. Trump Links contract sale: +$60 million. Loan payoffs: -$67 million. Aircraft expenses: -$13 million. FINAL TOTAL Roughly $413 million.” • This is before the $91.6 million bond Trump posted for the Carroll case, and the $175 million for Engoron, but also before the Truth Social public offering.

Trump (R): “Trump attends NYPD officer’s wake as he highlights crime on the campaign trail” [ABC]. “Former President Donald Trump on Thursday attended the wake of slain New York Police Department Officer Jonathan Diller, whom officials say was shot and killed while conducting a traffic stop earlier this week. ‘What happened is such a sad, sad event, such a horrible thing,’ Trump told reporters afterward. In brief remarks, he reiterated his condolences for Diller’s death and used the wake to focus on a frequent campaign season message about crime and public safety. ‘We have to stop it. We have to stop it,’ Trump said. ‘We have to get back to law and order. We have to do a lot of things differently, because this is not working.’” • Kennedy seems to have sucked all the air out of the room, a new experience, for Trump, albeit no doubt temporary.

Trump (R): “Trump’s RNC struggles in swing states as Biden’s team grows” [Axios]. “Less than eight months before the Nov. 5 election, significant parts of the RNC’s get-out-the-vote operation in states likely to decide the election are playing catch-up after Trump’s team ousted 60 staffers in its recent takeover. About a third of those ousted staffers were state directors and regional political directors, jobs that are key to recruiting, training and mobilizing volunteers far ahead of Election Day. They’ve been in limbo for two weeks, after receiving an email telling them they were being laid off but could reapply for their jobs.” Meanwhile: “President Biden’s team has been bringing on experienced staffers to lead efforts in swing states — which also include Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.” And this nugget: “Many Republicans fear the RNC upheaval — and unrelated chaos in state parties, particularly in swing states Michigan and Arizona — is a setback for a party that for years has tried to get more volunteers to recruit support in their neighborhoods. That model was the GOP’s version of the local organizing methods that Democrat Barack Obama used to get elected president in 2008 and 2012.” • That model, or something akin to it, is also how Fetterman won PA, which is a pivotal swing state for Trump, yet the state where he is weakest. OTOH, best to be doing a staff shake-up now!

Trump (R): “Trump Has a Big Problem With GOP Voters” [Daily Beast]. “In a series of state primary elections held after Nikki Haley became the last Trump challenger to drop out, stubborn and sizable minorities of Republicans have continued to cast ballots against the former president. In Kansas’ primary on March 19, for instance, Trump secured 75 percent of the vote—impressive if he were facing active competition, but troubling given the competition had all withdrawn. Haley got 16 percent of the vote in Kansas, while 5 percent voted for ‘none of the names shown.’ In Arizona’s primary on the same day, Trump won 79 percent of the vote, while Haley won 18 percent. The former president also failed to crack 80 percent of the vote in Ohio.” • Making swing states even swingier, and if the “sizable minority” of Republicans say, doubles in size, possibly presenting problems for a Republican governing coalition, if Trump wins.

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Biden (D): “Say It Ain’t So, Joe: The House Formally Invites President Biden to Testify in Impeachment Inquiry” [Jonathan Turley]. “House Oversight Committee chairman James Comer has sent a seven-page letter (below) to invite President Joe Biden to testify in the Republican impeachment inquiry. The letter is the latest, and best, reduction of the glaring contradictions in the President’s past statements on his family’s well-documented influence peddling operation. President Biden is not expected to testify. However, the media should be interested in his answering the questions presented by the Committee. It is now clear that the President lied during his campaign and during his presidency on his lack of knowledge of his son’s business activities as well as his denial of any money gained from China. Yet, the White House responded, again, with mockery — a sense of impunity that only exists due to an enabling media.” • Quoting from the letter:

The Committee’s investigation has proceeded in phases. The investigation began with a review of Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) in the custody of the Department of the Treasury. The SARs provided the Committee sufficient information to determine which bank accounts to narrowly target in issuing subpoenas. The second phase of the investigation—the subpoenaing of certain third-party bank accounts—confirmed information from the SARs and revealed . Next, . The Committee then proceeded to an interview phase. This phase consisted of transcribed interviews and depositions with witnesses who provided inconsistent testimony regarding your role in your family’s business. This phase included a transcribed interview of your brother, James Biden, and a deposition of your son, Robert Hunter Biden.

Confronted with contradictory testimony from many of the witnesses interviewed regarding your participation in your family’s influence peddling, the Committee invited several witnesses—including a witness of the Democrats’ choosing—to testify at a public hearing in an attempt to reconcile the discrepancies. : Mr. Tony Bobulinski and Mr. Jason Galanis. Mr. Bobulinski and Mr. Galanis agreed to provide testimony to the Committee in a public setting to reiterate these claims and have them evaluated by both Republican and Democratic Members of the Committee. Despite the Committee’s invitation, your son Hunter Biden—who has claimed you did not participate in these schemes and who previously demanded a public hearing—did not appear. The public is left with two irreconcilable narratives. The first—asserted by you—is that you did not engage in influence peddling in exchange for payments to your family. The second—asserted by witnesses and a body of evidence I will briefly review below—is that you were indeed involved in these pay-for-influence schemes and that you have been repeatedly untruthful regarding a matter relevant to national security and your own fitness to serve as President of the United States.

Certainly a better narrative than Benghazi. The thing that gets me is that the sums involved are so trivial. “[T]ens of thousands of dollars from China”? Not hundreds? Not millions? What is Biden, some kinda piker?

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Biden (D): “Three Presidents With a Complex Past Team Up in Effort to Defeat Trump” [Wall Street Journal]. “The relationships carry a degree of complexity: Some members of Biden’s inner circle felt Obama’s team was dismissive of the then-vice president. Current White House officials have privately chafed at comments by a high-profile Obama alumnus questioning the president’s re-election prospects. And Obama’s encouragement of Hillary Clinton to pursue the White House in the 2016 election—long before Biden had made his own decision—was an irritant linking all three camps. Now, though, ‘they’re all united by the threat of Trump,’ said James Carville, a former Clinton campaign strategist. ‘Every politician has a history with another one. That’s just part of life. But I do think they are pretty unified by the threat.’” And: “One longtime Clinton adviser said the fundraiser will likely mark the start of the deployment of major Democratic assets, from Obama and Clinton, and key surrogates in the party, now that Trump has become the presumptive Republican nominee. Obama is expected to hold fundraisers for the campaign arms of House and Senate Democrats, as he has done in the past, while Clinton expects to play a more active role than in recent years—and will help whenever he is asked.” • Clinton “expects,” eh?

Biden (D): “President Biden’s celeb-packed $25M fundraiser is the height of Dem elitism” [New York Post]. “Thursday night offered the chance to have a glam photographer snap you slapping hands with President Biden, or predecessors Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, for a donation of a mere $100,000 to Biden’s re-election campaign: Pretty posh for the supposed party of the working class. The Radio City Music Hall event featured a three-prez chat moderated by “The Late Show” host Stephen Colbert, plus performances from Queen Latifah, Lizzo, Lea Michele and more. With tickets ranging up to $500,000 a pop, the campaign reportedly pulled in $25 million before the doors even opened, a nice addition to the $155 million the Biden-Harris effort has in hand, en route to likely raising a billion or two total (not counting soft, dark and other off-the-record money).” • Moderated by Stephen Colbert…. I’m so old I remember when political comedians were deemed to be players.

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Kennedy (I): “Meddlers for RFK Jr.” [Kimberly Strassel, Wall Street Journal]. “But dread is now building among Democrats that these third-party campaigns are dangling in front of Republicans a ripe and tempting new tactic—one Democrats know all about, having perfected it. For more than a decade, left-wing groups have interfered in GOP primaries, boosting the candidates they consider most beatable in a general election. Only this month, a group associated with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer dumped millions into highlighting the ‘too conservative’ Ohio businessman Bernie Moreno, who won the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate. Modify this strategy for a general election and a third-party campaign. How long before GOP super PACs are running ads in swing states highlighting, say, Mr. Kennedy’s proposal to ban fracking (something Mr. Biden hasn’t done), labeling him an ‘extreme environmentalist’? How many young climate activists might like the sounds of that label? Imagine an ad reminding young voters—frustrated by Mr. Biden’s collapsed promises on college debt—that Ms. Stein was for student-loan forgiveness before it was cool. And those are the subtle scenarios. Why not a GOP-funded ad on urban radio stations that directly slams Mr. Biden for his failure to help minorities and touts Mr. West? A recent article in Mother Jones posited such a ‘sneaky’ and ‘weaponized’ move by the GOP, under the headline: ‘Will RFK Jr. and Other Third-Party Candidates Help Doom Democracy?’ The piece somehow failed to note that it was the Democrats who mainstreamed such tactics.” • Two can play the “Pied Piper” game….

Kennedy (I): “Will RFK Jr.’s Support for Israel Limit His Appeal on the Left?” [Ed Kilgore, New York Magazine]. “The RFK Jr. crusade is primarily focused on his relentless belief in the ‘corporate capture’ of government on every front, from defense to health care to scientific research to agriculture to his original policy field, the environment. Pharma and Big Ag and the medical profession and the military-industrial complex and chemical companies are the preeminent villains of his lurid tale of American Carnage (similar in ferocity but not in actual content to Donald Trump’s). Any voters with even a vague commitment to free markets and corporate virtue could not put up with much exposure to RFK Jr.’s message. The more you listen to the candidate and his supporters’ intense anger over processed food and obesity and overdevelopment, the less you can imagine any common ground with the fast-food-chomping real-estate developer of Mar-a-Lago. This was evident at Kennedy’s March 26 rally in Oakland, California, where he announced fellow ex-Democrat Nicole Shanahan as his running mate. The Bay Area setting reinforced the feeling of a left-wing insurgency. When Kennedy spoke fondly of his father’s cozy relationship with the Oakland-based Black Panther Party, you knew you were far away not only from the Republican Party but from the kind of centrist independent movement represented by No Labels.” More: “However, there’s a huge obstacle between Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and any hope that he could become 2024’s pied piper of progressive youth, much as his dad became 56 years ago. It’s his intensely pro-Israel position in its war with Hamas…. In Oakland, Shanahan called RFK Jr. the ‘only anti-war candidate today, [the] only peace candidate.’ However, Kennedy opposes a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas conflict.” • Yep. It may also be, however, that Kennedy’s positions are not that coherent or carefully thought through.

Kennedy (I): “RFK Jr. threatens to play 2024 spoiler as No Labels struggles to build ticket” [Washington Examiner]. “‘[Kennedy’s] numbers are so small in the end that statistically, it’s actually really hard to tell for sure who they’re going to be taking more votes for,’ [Bernard Tamas, an associate professor of political science at Valdosta State University] said of third-party candidates. ‘So, even though it looks right now like it hurts Biden more, nobody actually knows that, which I think explains why Trump is also attacking RFK Jr.’ Trump attacked Kennedy in a Truth Social post early Wednesday morning, calling him the ‘most Radical Left Candidate in the race’ and claiming that ‘he is Crooked Joe Biden’s Political Opponent, not mine. I love that he is running!’ [political consultant Nachama Soloveichik] cautioned that ‘some people could stay home. Some people could go out and vote for down-ballot races like Senate and things like that and just leave the presidential ballot blank. It could be a range of things.’ ‘[Kennedy’s] a chaos factor,’ [Lee Drutman, senior fellow in the political reform program at New America] said. ‘In part because it seems pretty clear that he’s going to get some support from a sort of unpredictable slice of the electorate, and I think he has the potential to cause some real uncertainty.’” • Volatility!

Kennedy (I): “Forget Kennedy Democrats. Here Comes the 2024 Kennedy Voter” [Politico]. “The new Kennedy voters scattering through the cavernous venue have traveled a long way from Camelot. Talking to them, it’s clear their misgivings about powerful institutions — what they see as a panoply of venal politicians, an untrustworthy media, Big Ag, Big Pharma, Big Tech — has led many of them to embrace fringe theories. A shared aversion to vaccines hardened during the Covid-19 pandemic. They worry about chemicals and monoculture crops eroding public health. They’re weary of grinding foreign wars. They admire Kennedy’s history of challenging powerful corporations. But above all else, they believe the American political system is fundamentally broken and that both President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump will perpetuate its disrepair. They’re ex-Democrats, former Republicans and newly active independents — and they all talk about feeling both a profound disillusionment in the state of the nation and a deep optimism that Kennedy would lead them to something better. ‘The other two candidates promote the division that is plaguing our country,’ says Sarah Morris, a former ‘party-voting Democrat’ who felt ‘ostracized by the left’ for not wanting to get the Covid-19 vaccine [which is absurd, because ‘the left’ has been nowhere through the entire pandemic]. Some people ‘weaponize the idea of being a conspiracy theorist,’ she says, so she decided to ‘wear it as a badge of honor.’ Literally: She showed up sporting a gray baseball cap with the words ‘Tin Foil’ written on it.” • The treachery of images, eh? In reverse?

Kennedy (I): “The Memo: RFK Jr. set to hurt Biden more than Trump — but it’s complicated” [The Hill]. “There is an apparent contradiction at the heart of polling on Kennedy. Despite his seeming capacity to increase Trump’s edge, he is seen much more favorably by Republicans than Democrats. In a new Economist/YouGov poll released Wednesday, for example, Kennedy was viewed favorably by 52 percent of Republicans but by only 25 percent of Democrats. Several possible reasons could explain this. Firstly, Kennedy’s vaccine skepticism resonates more powerfully with conservatives than with liberals. The same is true, at least to some degree, about his views on the war in Ukraine. More generally, his critiques of Biden and willingness to run against him, as well as his rhetorical attacks on the shady forces of the political, media and medical establishments clearly have at least some overlap with the MAGA worldview. Democrats and Biden allies have stepped up their efforts to neutralize the threat from Kennedy in recent weeks. Trump, meanwhile, blasted him in a social media post Wednesday morning as ‘the most Radical Left candidate in the race, by far.’ But the former president went on to make one of his forays into election punditry, musing, ‘I guess this would mean he is going to be taking votes from [Biden], which would be a great service to America.’”

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Kennedy (I): “Nicole Shanahan is a Mama Bear Outsider with Empathy. That’s a Good Thing” [The Kennedy Beacon]. “Shanahan has set a high bar for us, organizing walkouts in high school to protest the Iraq War, helping victims of civil war in El Salvador, figuring out what may have caused her daughter’s health to tank, producing documentaries about what would help our society get healthy again, and calling boldly (while many in “science” shout, “Nothing to see here!”) for research into every possible thing that could be making Americans chronically ill. Like Kennedy, her life speaks inspiration into existence. The lesson I’ve taken from a cursory peek into her backstory: do whatever you can.” • So they’re going with “Mama Bear”?

Kennedy (I): “RFK Jr. Is Gold-Digging With His VP Pick” [The Nation]. “Choosing Shanahan helps Kennedy in at least two ways. Twenty-three states require an independent candidate to choose a running mate before seeking ballot access. Plus, Shanahan can use her wealth to fund the complicated legal maneuvering and signature-gathering that process requires. Kennedy is currently on the ballot only in the state of Utah, though his campaign claims to have the signatures to get there in several swing states. ‘,’ Third Way’s Matt Bennett told The New Republic’s Greg Sargent—meaning she can contribute unlimited dollars, which could be used for virtually any legal campaign activity.” • As I speculated, now Kennedy doesn’t have to kowtow to the Libertarian Party for access to their ballot line (though I do have to do a little research on how much money Shanahan has, herself, personally, as opposed to money she might raise).

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“Democratic committees are out fundraising GOP committees this election cycle” [Open Secrets]. “President Joe Biden and the Democratic Party now have about $155 million cash on hand in their joint accounts after raising a combined $53 million in February, maintaining an edge over the GOP. The Republican Party raised $32 million last month and entered March with an $81.3 million warchest across the RNC, National Republican Senatorial Committee and National Republican Congressional Committee…. Republicans’ financial woes follow infighting at the RNC, which culminated in a triumvirate of former President Donald Trump loyalists taking over the organization…. The RNC entered 2024 with $8 million in cash-on-hand — the worst start to an election year in almost a decade — while the DNC started the year with more than $21 million.”

“The fight to flip the House just got harder for Dems. And they have New York to blame” [Politico]. “While there’s an outside chance of another last-minute redistricting before November, after two significant court rulings this week the House landscape is largely locked in place — and the GOP is breathing a sigh of relief that this mid-decade round of redistricting went its way…. The GOP came out ahead thanks to the redistricting aggression of North Carolina Republicans — and the timidity of New York Democrats…. But the most consequential post-midterm redistricting took place in New York — where lines drawn by the Democratic legislature only made fairly small tweaks to the state’s map. It was a shocking turn of events after years of legal wrangling. The state has an independent redistricting commission split evenly between the two parties — but ultimately, the Democratic-dominated state legislature gets the final say. And in 2022, when Democrats in Albany passed a gerrymander so aggressive that Republicans called it the ‘Hochulmander’ — a portmanteau with Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul’s name — the GOP sued. The bombshell legal victory Republicans won before the midterms resulted in a hypercompetitive, court-drawn map being used in 2022. The GOP nearly swept all of the contested seats, key to Republicans’ narrow House majority. But Democrats wanted another shot. After the midterms, they ultimately won a procedural court ruling allowing them to start the whole process over — the commission with the first crack, and final approval to the Democratic legislature. Pursuing another chance at a redraw led to rampant speculation that Democrats wanted another shot at a gerrymander — though perhaps not quite as ruthless as last time. But it was not to be. The state’s independent commission came to a bipartisan agreement on a map that only made modest changes. The Democratic-dominated state legislature signaled it was unhappy with that map and would make changes of its own — but then only made minor tweaks on lines that ultimately got bipartisan approval.” • I dunno. New York Democrats seem to be great at lawfare, not too good at anything else. Readers?

#COVID19

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

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

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

ake effect by summer. The move by the Democratic administration angered board members, who called it a ‘last-minute stunt’ that undermines their regulatory process. It also sparked a protest by warehouse workers, who temporarily shut down the meeting as they waved signs declaring that ‘Heat Kills!’ and loudly chanted, ‘What do we want? Heat protection! When do we want it? Now!’” • Gavin Newsom, the worker’s friend.

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

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

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

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

Stay safe out there!

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Covid is Airborne

“Three years ago on this day ASHRAE stated that Airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is significant” [David Elfstrom, ThreadReader]. “Today, WHO finally released a model () of #CovidIsAirborne risk by experts in the field.” • The link is: https://iris.who.int/handle/10665/376346 and I get a 403 forbidden when I try to read is. Even if the usual suspects don’t seem to have blessed it:

That droplet dogmatist John Conly seems to have signed off on it:

Note that “airborne” is used in its normal sense!

There is also an assessment tool:

Policy

Brunch:

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TABLE 1: Daily Covid Charts

LEGEND

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

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

NOTES

[1] (Biobot) Our curve has now flattened out at the level of previous Trump peaks. Not a great victory. Note also the area “under the curve,” besides looking at peaks. That area is larger under Biden than under Trump, and it seems to be rising steadily if unevenly.

[2] (Biobot) Backward revisions, I hate them.

[3] (CDC Variants) As of May 11, genomic surveillance data will be reported biweekly, based on the availability of positive test specimens.” “Biweeekly: 1. occurring every two weeks. 2. occurring twice a week; semiweekly.” Looks like CDC has chosen sense #1. In essence, they’re telling us variants are nothing to worry about. Time will tell.

[4] (ER) “Charts and data provided by CDC, updates Wednesday by 8am. For the past year, using a rolling 52-week period.”

[5] (Hospitalization: NY) Looks like a very gradual leveling off to a non-zero baseline, to me.

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

[7] (Walgreens) Leveling out.

[8] (Cleveland) Flattening.

[9] (Travelers: Posivitity) Now up, albeit in the rear view mirror.

[10] (Travelers: Variants) JN.1 dominates utterly.

Stats Watch

Personal Income: “United States Personal Income” [Trading Economics]. “US personal income rose by 0.3% from the previous month in February of 2024, decelerating from the one-year high increase of 1% in the previous month and slightly below market expectations of a 0.4% growth.”

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Manufacturing: “Would Boeing murder a whistleblower? [Moe Tkacik, ThreadReaderApp]. “Before this month I’d have said it depends. I didn’t think Boeing would kill a middle manager who never worked on the 737 Max & left in 2017. What surprised me was how many more informed observers felt Boeing…might…. ‘I don’t think one can be cynical enough when it comes to these guys,’ said a longtime exec.” • Long thread, like a sketchbook of where Tkacik is on the story, well worth a read. Or perhaps not executives? Commentary:

There’s a happy thought!

Tech: “Amazon fined in Poland for dark pattern design tricks” [Tech Crunch]. “[The country’s consumer and competition watchdog, the UOKiK] found consumers who ordered products on Amazon could have their purchases subsequently cancelled by the tech giant as it does not treat the moment of purchase as the conclusion of a sales contract, despite sending consumers confirmation of their order — even after consumers have paid for the product. For Amazon, the conclusion of a sales contract only occurs once it has sent information about the actual shipment. In a press release detailing the enforcement, it said Amazon failed to clearly communicate this salient detail to shoppers, finding it only provided the information at ‘the last stage of purchase’. It also found the information was sometimes ‘difficult’ for consumers to access, noting for example Amazon could use a grey font on a white background in text displayed at the very bottom of a page — a classic example of so-called ‘dark pattern design‘. The UOKiK contrasts that deceptive design choice with suggestive messaging Amazon shows to shoppers on sales buttons — which read ‘Buy now’ or ‘Proceed to finalize the purchase’ — which it said imply that by ordering the product the shopper is concluding a contract with Amazon. Which is not, in fact, the case.”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 71 Greed (previous close: 70 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 67 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Mar 28 at 8:59:51 PM ET.

The Gallery

Nature morte:

It’s funny how the still life is only a minor genre in photography. I wonder why that is?

Zeitgeist Watch

“Diddy’s Homes Reportedly Fitted With Hidden Cameras In Every Room” [Blast]. “According to court documents filed by Diddy’s former employee, Rodney’ Lil Rod’ Jones, the rapper purportedly installed multiple hidden cameras in his properties located in Los Angeles and on Star Island. Those cameras supposedly captured alleged disturbing footage of his guests including ‘celebrities, athletes, politicians, international dignitaries, and music label executives.’ Jones claimed in the suit that these parties were sponsored by major players in the recording industry, giving them access to ‘s-x, drugs and underage girls.’ …. The producer further alleges that Diddy has salacious tapes of Hollywood’s biggest names, record CEOs, and politicians doing drugs and cavorting with prostitutes and minors. As far as he knew, the parties were a “business model” that gave upcoming artists a chance to climb up the career ladder by giving them access to music executives. Jones also shared that beyond sponsoring these parties, music executives had the habit of handing the Bad Boy Records founder ‘large wads of cash.’” • The Black Epstein? Or are all rich folks like this? All those multi-million dollar houses on Zillow. Are they all wired?

News of the Wired

“Memories are made by breaking DNA — and fixing it” [Nature]. The deck: “Nerve cells form long-term memories with the help of an inflammatory response, study in mice finds” (!!). “, a study in mice shows. The findings, published on 27 March in Nature, are ‘extremely exciting’, says Li-Huei Tsai, a neurobiologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge who was not involved in the work. They contribute to the picture that forming memories is a ‘risky business’, she says. Normally, breaks in both strands of the double helix DNA molecule are associated with diseases including cancer. But in this case, the DNA damage-and-repair cycle offers one explanation for how memories might form and last…. Tomás Ryan, an engram neuroscientist at Trinity College Dublin, says the study provides ‘the best evidence so far that DNA repair is important for memory.’ But he questions whether the neurons encode something distinct from the engram — instead, he says, the DNA damage and repair could be a consequence of engram creation. ‘Forming an engram is a high-impact event; you have to do a lot of housekeeping after,’ he says.” • If indeed “engrams” are more than theoretical!

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

tennesseewaltzer writes: “This happens with snow and rain and freezing temperatures, which moderate to produce the icicles. Typically along a state thoroughfare cut through the local stone which undergirds so much of Middle Tennessee land.” A pretty scene… I think there are lichens on those rocks. Somewhere….

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Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the annual NC fundraiser. So if you see a link you especially like, or an item you wouldn’t see anywhere else, please do not hesitate to express your appreciation in tangible form. Remember, a tip jar is for tipping! Regular positive feedback both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for five or ten days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of donations helps me with expenses, and I factor in that trickle when setting fundraising goals

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

If you hate PayPal, you can email me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, and I will give you directions on how to send a check. Thank you!

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