Comments

  1. blf says

    A snippet from the Grauniad’s current live States pandemic blog, on impeached quack hair furor’s campaign rally at Wacko House (my added emboldening): “About half an hour into the White House briefing, [hair furor] has yet to provide any updates on the crisis in the US. So far, the president [sic] has taken a combattive [sic†] stance, defending his record.”

      † Typos thanks the Guardian for a feast today!

  2. blf says

    me@499, Referring to the Grauniad as “the Guardian” is an extra treat for Typos… ;-(

    Please consider supporting the Grauniad if you can. Or even the Guardian, if you also want to keep Typos well fed.

  3. blf says

    Impeached quack hair furor’s delusions are now so absurd they “can see the curvature of the Universe” (thanks Douglas Adams) — from the Grauniad’s current live States pandemic blog (quoted in full):

    Making sure sick Americans have hospital beds and ventilators is not even really our responsibility, Trump said. The federal government has helped out regardless, he added — even though we’re plateauing and the US won’t end up needing all the ventilators, beds and other resources the US has stockpiled.

    These claims are — not true. Stay tuned for more fact checks.

    There has already been a series of Grauniad fact-chec[ks (the Grauniad is living up its reputation as a Typos feast today)] in the preceding blog entries.

    Anyone who thinks the Grauniad’s journalists should get hazard / haphazardness duty pay for putting up with this rubbish should support the Grauniad. You will also be making Typos very, very happy — they might even do interesting things to the keys on yer keyboard in appreciation!

  4. blf says

    Random-ish question: Watching France24 (mostly), I’ve noticed French, Spanish, Italian, and German briefings always have a sign-language interpreter for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Not sure about the UK, but I don’t recall the (fortunately relatively few) impeached quack hair furor Wacko Housecampaign ralliesbriefings excerpts shown having concurrent sign language interpretation. Is my memory faulty, or what…?

  5. says

    Some bits and pieces from Trump’s propaganda extravaganza/coronoavirus briefing today:

    Pence is asked if he agrees with Trump’s understanding of federalism, specifically that his power is “total” here. Pence says, “I support the president’s leadership under the national emergency declaration that he signed.”
    —————–
    Trump says the country has been ripped off by everybody over the years, whether it’s “World Health” or whether it’s “World Trade.” He adds: “I call ’em the Bobbsey Twins.”
    ——————-
    @kaitlancollins
    tells Trump it’s not true that he has “total” authority here. Trump, again not responding directly, says, “We’re going to write up papers on this…the governors need us one way or another…”

    She asks who told him he has total authority. “Enough,” he responds.
    ———————-
    “We inherited broken testing,” Trump says. “Now we have great testing.”

    There were no inherited coronavirus tests. This virus was identified this year.

    https://twitter.com/ddale8

  6. says

    From TPM, an update on Fr. Anthony Fauci’s status:

    Apparently White House coronavirus task force member Dr. Anthony Fauci isn’t on the chopping block, despite President Donald Trump retweeting a post declaring it was “time to #FireFauci” on Sunday night.

    “This media chatter is ridiculous – President Trump is not firing Dr. Fauci,” White House spokesperson Hogan Gidley said on Monday afternoon.

    The doctor “has been and remains a trusted advisor” to Trump, according to Gidley.

    But the White House’s rosy messaging about government officials who seem to have fallen from Trump’s good graces is rarely a good sign for the official: Former Cabinet members Rex Tillerson, Jeff Sessions, Scott Pruitt, and David Shulkin were all fired after either the White House or Trump claimed they still had his confidence.

    Fauci likely drew Trump’s ire after the doctor told CNN “State of the Union” host Jake Tapper on Sunday morning that a faster response to COVID-19 from the government would’ve prevented a number of deaths from the outbreak.

    “I mean, obviously, you could logically say that if you had a process that was ongoing and you started mitigation earlier, you could have saved lives,” Fauci said.

    Trump did not issue any social distancing guidelines until several months after the virus began spreading throughout the country, and he has been reluctant to uphold the guidelines for fear that the resulting damaged economy would cost him the election in November.

    Fauci spent several minutes at today’s briefing trying to explain his previous comments, and how he doesn’t blame or disagree with Trump. It was weird.

  7. says

    More bits and pieces from today’s coronavirus press briefing, this time the content is from the TPM live blog:

    If states refuse his call to reopen, Trump sarcastically says that he’d “like to see that person run for election.”

    Pressed about what authority he has to reopen the economy, Trump claims that there are “numerous provisions” that would allow him to compel states to reopen and that as President he “calls the shots.”

    After Mnuchin said that the administration wants to be “very safe” about reopening, Trump chimed in about the “pent-up” demand to return to work.

    Mnuchin added that the economy will be reopened “as soon as it’s ready to open and based on the medical professionals.”

    Mnuchin said that $230 billion in small business loans were processed, which included 4,600 participating lenders.

    Mnuchin takes the podium, saying that he expects more than 80 million Americans will receive their direct payments by Wednesday.

    Trump appears exasperated after being pressed by reporters about his administration’s response to the outbreak in February. He’s now speed-reading his prepared remarks regarding delaying the Census deadline, the Paycheck Protection Program and the “historic” OPEC deal.

    Trump baselessly claims that his administration “inherited a stockpile where the cupboards are bare.”

    Trump says that hospital beds are “not even really our responsibility” but that his administration has done a good job by building thousands of them.

    Trump just ripped into CBS reporter Paula Reid, calling both her and CBS “fake.”

    Trump isn’t backing down on his argument that his administration “did the right thing and our timing was very good.”

    Trump insists he’s not firing Fauci because he likes him and thinks he’s “terrific.”

    Trump said that “someday” he’ll reveal which governors “don’t know what they’re doing.”

    The White House briefing room has the feel of a court room with Trump insisting that “everything I did was right.”

    Trump said White House staff “pieced that together in a couple hours,” referring to the campaign-style mashup, before saying that it keeps the media “honest.”

    Trump said the video mashup was produced by White House staff, denying that it came from his re-election campaign team.

    Trump says “nobody’s asking for ventilators” or beds and that Pence’s call with governors today was “perfect.”

    This was incredible. Trump just aired a campaign-style mashup created by the White House defending his response to the outbreak after saying that he will take questions about the “success we are having.” The video criticized the media and boasted of his own response to the virus.

    CNN and MSNBC cut away from the briefing shortly after the political-style ad aired.

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/live-blog/trump-white-house-coronavirus-briefing-fauci-reopening-economy

  8. says

    More bits and pieces from the press briefing today:

    Trump rants about being “brutalized” for his China travel restrictions.

    “On Jan. 31, not one person had died because of the Wuhan virus,” Trump said.

    That was quite a clean-up job. At Trump’s request, Fauci took to the podium to clarify his comments from Sunday, when he said on CNN that it’s obvious that if mitigation had begun earlier, more lives would’ve been saved.

    Fauci added that “there were interpretations of that response to a hypothetical question” and that Trump listened after he and Birx advised him to extend health guidelines for another 30 days.

    Fauci then said that his comments were voluntary.

    From Trump’s Twitter feed:

    First the Fake News Media said that it’s not fair for the President of the United States to be giving news conferences, but it is the only way I can reach the American People

  9. blf says

    The Grauniad’s current live US pandemic blog links to a series of CNN banners (my transcription):

    ● “Angry Trump turns briefing into propaganda session“.
    ● “Trump uses Task Force briefing to try and rewrite history on coronavirus response“.
    ● “Angry Trump uses propoganda video, produced by government employees at taxpayers expense“.
    ● “Trump refuses to acknowledge any mistakes” (as noted in the previous page (@481) of this thread, in distinct contrast to Macron (link omitted due to poppyhead / FtB limits).

  10. says

    Several commentators have made the point that Trump airing a propaganda/campaign video during the press briefing was not just an ethical breach, it was against the law. Politicians in the USA are not supposed to use their office, or the resources of their office, for campaign purposes.

  11. Pierce R. Butler says

    From Lynna… @ # 6: Trump says … Pence’s call with governors today was “perfect.”

    That means Congress has grounds for impeachment, right?

  12. says

    More bits and pieces from the press briefing, as supplied by Daniel Dale:

    One of the unusual things here is that Trump and co. are asserting total emergency power to stop states from continuing their emergency measures.

    Pence then adds when pressed: “Make no mistake about it,” in this country’s long history, the president’s powers in an emergency are “unquestionably plenary.”

    Trump: When somebody is the president, “the authority is total.”

    A bit later, Trump says that “the authority is total” for the president with regard to this particular subject. (Still extremely false.)

    Trump on state (or local?) officials: “They can’t do anything without the approval of the president of the United States.”

    Extreeemely false.

    “You know you’re a fake, you know that,” Trump says to @PaulaReidCBS, who is repeatedly pressing him on what his administration did during the whole month of February. He doesn’t answer that part of it.

    Trump is wrong that Biden has “apologized” for calling Trump xenophobic. His campaign says his “xenophobia” comments were about Trump’s general record and about his Muslim-focused travel ban, not about the China restrictions. Believe that or not, it’s not an apology.

    There is no “ban on Europe” and there is no “China ban.” There are restrictions with many exemptions. The Europe claim is particularly false given that entire European countries are exempted.

    Trump says he’ll let us know “someday” which governors “don’t know what they’re doing.”

    Trump complains that he was “brutalized” for his China travel restrictions, like he’s been “brutalized” for other things, though he used to get good press, but anyway, things have worked out well because, “To the best of my knowledge, I’m the president of the United States.”

    Chera was the friend in a coma Trump had been talking about. [Trump claimed that Chera said that taking hydroxychloroquine helped him.] NYC real estate developer and Trump friend Stanley Chera has died of complications related to Covid-19

    From Trump’s Twitter feed:

    For the purpose of creating conflict and confusion, some in the Fake News Media are saying that it is the Governors decision to open up the states, not that of the President of the United States & the Federal Government. Let it be fully understood that this is incorrect.

  13. Saad says

    Lynna, #8

    Several commentators have made the point that Trump airing a propaganda/campaign video during the press briefing was not just an ethical breach, it was against the law. Politicians in the USA are not supposed to use their office, or the resources of their office, for campaign purposes.

    Did they say if it’s against the law if Donald Trump does it?

  14. says

    Saad, Ha! Good point.

    In other news: Governors team up to decide when to lift coronavirus restrictions

    Governors across six states in the Northeast, from Rhode Island to Delaware, convened in a public conference call Monday afternoon to discuss a cooperative effort to reopen the region’s economy once the threat from the coronavirus has sufficiently subsided. The governors of California, Oregon and Washington announced a similar initiative Monday afternoon.

    Pressed on the question of when to reopen the U.S. economy, Trump claimed Monday that he has the final word on the issue — even though the decision is actually up to the states. “When somebody is the president of the United States, the authority is total,” Trump said, incorrectly, when asked what power he believes he has as president to restart the economy.

    Washington Post link

  15. says

    Bits and pieces of other news:

    The Trump administration informed Congress on Monday that it wants to delay all U.S. census field operations by about three months because of the coronavirus pandemic and is pursuing further delays that could upend redistricting.

    China on Monday reported its highest number of new coronavirus cases since early March, most of them involving people returning from other countries. The uptick heightened fears of a second wave and led to new constraints on travel.

    New York has surpassed 10,000 deaths from covid-19, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said. The state is responsible for almost half of the more than 22,000 in the United States so far, and far more than the next hardest-hit state, New Jersey, which has lost 2,350 residents. […]

    A Monmouth University poll found that 50 percent of Americans said they were “very concerned” about someone in their family becoming seriously ill, up 12 percentage points since last month. Forty-one percent said they had lost income because of a decrease in work, and 1 in 5 said they have struggled to pay bills.

    France’s national coronavirus lockdown will continue until May 11, President Emmanuel Macron announced Monday. After that point, restrictions will only be partially released.

    Canadian officials are calling for curbs on travel for 1,600 Ontario nurses who work in U.S. hospitals, which could devastate the health care system in Detroit, where the pandemic has hit hard.

    Washington Post link

  16. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Rachel Maddow just reported the results from last weeks election in WI. Biden beat Sanders, who had suspended his campaign, by a 2:1 margin. The hair Furor backed state incumbent Supreme Court Justice was defeated by the democratic challenger. Power to the People (clenched tentacle salute).

  17. says

    THREAD: Democracy won in Wisconsin tonight. The GOP thought they had this election fully stolen. Trump leaned in personally. But voters, who don’t like being suppressed, rose up. Organizers worked magic. Here’s the story….”

    Fantastic work by Ben Wikler and the Wisconsin Dems.

  18. says

    Cuomo:

    Thank you to [Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker] for joining our multi-state regional effort – along with NJ, CT, PA, DE, RI – to plan a safe & coordinated reopening.

    When we work together, we’re stronger.

  19. says

    [Jim Acosta]: ‘That is the biggest meltdown I have ever seen from a President of the United States in my career’.”

    Video at the link. He goes on – Trump is “out of control,” “ranting and raving,” “doesn’t seem like he’s in control on multiple levels,”… I have no doubt this is accurate. I turned off these dangerous spectacles last week.

  20. johnson catman says

    re SC @21: I would love to see Governor Cuomo’s briefings garnering better “ratings” than those of The Orange Toddler-Tyrant. The Idiot-in-Chief has been all about “ratings”, and I think it would make him even more insane if Cuomo’s briefings got more viewers than his. (Even more insane is the best approximation I could come up with.)

  21. says

    Erik Larson is on MSNBC talking about the differences between Churchill’s leadership in WWII vs. Trump’s nonexistent leadership during the pandemic. He just said that in his speeches Churchill would “tell the public exactly what was going on, very sober phrasing, not sugarcoating anything…” Churchill had wanted to use the BBC as a pure propaganda instrument during the war. He had to be talked out of it with arguments that the BBC should be a source the public could trust to tell them the truth about what was happening.

  22. says

    Phenomenal piece by Jane Mayer in the New Yorker – “How Mitch McConnell Became Trump’s Enabler-in-Chief”:

    …Many have regarded McConnell’s support for Trump as a stroke of cynical political genius. McConnell has seemed to be both protecting his caucus and covering his flank in Kentucky—a deep-red state where, perhaps not coincidentally, Trump is far more popular than he is. When the pandemic took hold, the President’s standing initially rose in national polls, and McConnell and Trump will surely both take credit for the aid package in the coming months. Yet, as COVID-19 decimates the economy and kills Americans across the nation, McConnell’s alliance with Trump is looking riskier. Indeed, some critics argue that McConnell bears a singular responsibility for the country’s predicament. They say that he knew from the start that Trump was unequipped to lead in a crisis, but, because the President was beloved by the Republican base, McConnell protected him. He even went so far as to prohibit witnesses at the impeachment trial, thus guaranteeing that the President would remain in office. David Hawpe, the former editor of the Louisville Courier-Journal, said of McConnell, “There are a lot of people disappointed in him. He could have mobilized the Senate. But the Republican Party changed underneath him, and he wanted to remain in power.”

    In a forthcoming book, “Let Them Eat Tweets,” the political scientists Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson challenge the notion that the Republican Party is riven between global corporate élites and downscale white social conservatives. Rather, they argue, an “expedient pact” lies at the heart of today’s Party—and McConnell and Trump embody it. Polls show that there is little voter support for wealthy donors’ agenda of tax cuts for themselves at the expense of social-safety-net cuts for others. The Republicans’ 2017 tax bill was a case in point: it rewarded the Party’s biggest donors by bestowing more than eighty per cent of its largesse on the wealthiest one per cent, by cutting corporate tax rates, and by preserving the carried-interest loophole, which is exploited by private-equity firms and hedge funds. The legislation was unpopular with Democratic and Republican voters alike. In order to win elections, Hacker and Pierson explain, the Republican Party has had to form a coalition between corporatists and white cultural conservatives who are galvanized by Trump’s anti-élitist and racist rhetoric. The authors call this hybrid strategy Plutocratic Populism. [AKA fascism – SC] Hacker told me that the relationship between McConnell and Trump offers “a clear illustration of how the Party has evolved,” adding, “They may detest each other, but they need each other.”

    Although the two men almost always support each other in public, several members of McConnell’s innermost circle told me that in private things are quite different. They say that behind Trump’s back McConnell has called the President “nuts,” and made clear that he considers himself smarter than Trump, and that he “can’t stand him.” (A spokesman for McConnell, who declined to be interviewed, denies this.) According to one such acquaintance, McConnell said that Trump resembles a politician he loathes: Roy Moore, the demagogic former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, whose 2017 campaign for an open U.S. Senate seat was upended by allegations that he’d preyed on teen-age girls. (Moore denies them.) “They’re so much alike,” McConnell told the acquaintance.

    McConnell’s political fealty to Trump has cost him the respect of some of the people who have known him the longest. David Jones, the late co-founder of the health-care giant Humana, backed all McConnell’s Senate campaigns, starting in 1984; Jones and his company’s foundation collectively gave $4.6 million to the McConnell Center. When Jones died, last September, McConnell described him as, “without exaggeration, the single most influential friend and mentor I’ve had in my entire career.” But, three days before Jones’s death, Jones and his two sons, David, Jr., and Matthew, sent the second of two scorching letters to McConnell, both of which were shared with me. They called on him not to be “a bystander” and to use his “constitutional authority to protect the nation from President Trump’s incoherent and incomprehensible international actions.” They argued that “the powers of the Senate to constrain an errant President are prodigious, and it is your job to put them to use.” McConnell had assured them, in response to their first letter, that Trump had “one of the finest national-security teams with whom I have had the honor of working.” But in the second letter the Joneses replied that half of that team had since gone, leaving the Department of Defense “leaderless for months,” and the office of the director of National Intelligence with only an “ ‘acting’ caretaker.” The Joneses noted that they had all served the country: the father in the Navy, Matthew in the Marine Corps, and David, Jr., in the State Department, as a lawyer. Imploring McConnell “to lead,” they questioned the value of “having chosen the judges for a republic while allowing its constitutional structures to fail and its strength and security to crumble.”

    John David Dyche, a lawyer in Louisville and until recently a conservative columnist, enjoyed unmatched access to McConnell and his papers, and published an admiring biography of him in 2009. In March, though, Dyche posted a Twitter thread that caused a lot of talk in the state’s political circles. He wrote that McConnell “of course realizes that Trump is a hideous human being & utterly unfit to be president,” and that, in standing by Trump anyway, he has shown that he has “no ideology except his own political power.” Dyche declined to comment for this article, but, after the coronavirus shut down most of America, he announced that he was contributing to McConnell’s opponent, Amy McGrath, and tweeted, “Those who stick with the hideous, incompetent demagogue endanger the country & will be remembered in history as shameful cowards.”

    McConnell also appears to have lost the political support of his three daughters. The youngest, Porter, is a progressive activist who is the campaign director for Take On Wall Street, a coalition of labor unions and nonprofit groups which advocates against the “predatory economic power” of “banks and billionaires.” One of its targets has been Stephen Schwarzman, the chairman and C.E.O. of the Blackstone Group, who, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, has, since 2016, donated nearly thirty million dollars to campaigns and super PACs aligned with McConnell. Last year, Take On Wall Street condemned Blackstone’s “detrimental behavior” and argued that the company’s campaign donations “cast a pall on candidates’ ethics.”

    Porter McConnell has also publicly criticized the Senate’s confirmation of Justice Kavanaugh, which her father considers one of his greatest achievements….

    All three daughters declined to comment, as did their mother, Sherrill Redmon, whom McConnell divorced in 1980. After the marriage ended, Redmon, who holds a Ph.D. in philosophy, left Kentucky and took over a women’s-history archive at Smith College, in Massachusetts, where she collaborated with Gloria Steinem on the Voices of Feminism Oral History Project….

    Steinem’s comment echoed a common belief about McConnell: that he began his career as an idealistic, liberal Republican in the mold of Nelson Rockefeller. Certainly, McConnell’s current positions on several key issues, including campaign spending and organized labor, are far more conservative than they once were. But when I asked John Yarmuth, the Democratic congressman from Louisville, who has known McConnell for fifty years, if McConnell had once been idealistic, he said, “Nah. I never saw any evidence of that. He was just driven to be powerful.”

    Yarmuth, who began as a Republican and worked in a statewide campaign alongside McConnell in 1968, said that McConnell had readily adapted to the Republican Party’s rightward march: “He never had any core principles. He just wants to be something. He doesn’t want to do anything.”

    For months, I searched for the larger principles or sense of purpose that animates McConnell. I travelled twice to Kentucky, observed him at a Trump rally in Lexington, and watched him preside over the impeachment trial in Washington. I interviewed dozens of people, some of whom love him and some of whom despise him. I read his autobiography, his speeches, and what others have written about him. Finally, someone who knows him very well told me, “Give up. You can look and look for something more in him, but it isn’t there. I wish I could tell you that there is some secret thing that he really believes in, but he doesn’t.”…

    Much, much, much more at the link.

  23. blf says

    US for-profit healthcare sector cuts thousands of jobs as pandemic rages (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}:

    Health workers are facing layoffs, furloughs and cuts to salaries and schedules in response to declines in revenue

    […]

    Dozens of states across the US have issued orders to halt elective medical procedures as part of emergency shutdowns to curb the spread of Covid-19. As a result, hospitals and medical treatment clinics across the US are implementing layoffs, furloughs, and cuts to salaries and work schedules in response to declines in revenue.

    […]

    “If you run healthcare as a business, if someone isn’t profitable for you, you lay {people} off, and that’s what we’re seeing,” said Dr David Himmelstein, distinguished professor of public health at City University of New York’s Hunter College and a lecturer in medicine at Harvard medical school. “The hospitals — exactly during a time of greatest need — are saying they don’t need these people.

    “We have a healthcare system where you excel in normal times by stressing what’s needed the least, and then when we have an emergency and the need is greatest, you’re in financial trouble because you’re geared to do what’s profitable.”

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 43,000 healthcare jobs were lost in March 2020 across the US, and the job losses in healthcare have increased as shutdowns persist through the pandemic. The HealthLandscape and American Academy of Family Physicians issued a report estimating by June 2020, 60,000 family medical practices will close or scale back, affecting 800,000 workers.

    […]

    Corey Mertz, a registered nurse for nearly 21 years at a for-profit hospital in McMinnville, Oregon, [was laid off and] filed for unemployment benefits last week, but had not received benefits or been able to get in contact with the state unemployment agency. Mertz’s hospital initially started training nurses to help departments with anticipated surges in coronavirus patients, but the training was stopped because the hospital hadn’t seen a significant influx of cases severe enough to be admitted.

    […]

    The cuts and layoffs facing healthcare workers began as many areas of the US experienced surges in coronavirus patients, while hospitals struggle with shortages in supplies and protective equipment for workers.

    […]

    Fairmont regional medical center, the only hospital in Marion county, West Virginia, closed down at the end of March. A few days after the closure, West Virginia’s first coronavirus-related death occurred in the county.

    “I think not having a hospital in this community, it means death for a lot of people,” said Patty Snyder, president of Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union Local 550 which represented 120 employees at the hospital. Alecto Healthcare Services, which operated Fairmont, did not respond to a request for comment.

    […]

    Alex Hlumyk, a certified medical assistant in Hubbard, Ohio, began his job at a physicians’ practice in a healthcare system owned by a private equity firm eight months ago, but was recently laid off after his practice told him there wasn’t enough money to keep him on the payroll.

    Before his layoff, Hlumyk was screening patients for coronavirus and was frustrated he wasn’t offered any guidance on how to continue helping on the frontlines of the pandemic.

    “I have the skills to help people during this pandemic and right now I can’t,” said Hlumyk. He filed for unemployment the day he was laid off, but was still awaiting benefit payments to begin, while worrying about being able to pay rent and payments on his car.

    “These furloughs make the case that now more than ever our healthcare system should not be for-profit. We are among the most vital workers in the country right now, and there should be no reason that some people on Wall Street should determine the worth of our jobs when thousands upon thousands of lives are at risk.”

    Fecking hell, this response is as criminally irresponsible as impeached quack hair furor and his dalekocrazy’s response.

  24. blf says

    The Grauniad’s snark machine in full flow on impeached quack hair furor’s press briefing yesterday, Wounded by media scrutiny, Trump turned a briefing into a presidential [sic] tantrum. This is not, b.t.w., an opinion column, this is a news article. It’s quoted almost in full (the redacted bit is about Dr Anthony Fauci’s comments):

    President [sic] lashed out at reporters, swiped at Biden and refused to accept that he had put a foot wrong in coronavirus response

    A toddler threw a self-pitying tantrum on live television on Monday night. Unfortunately he was 73 years old, wearing a long red tie and running the world’s most powerful country.

    Donald Trump, starved of campaign rallies, Mar-a-Lago weekends and golf, and goaded by a bombshell newspaper report, couldn’t take it any more. Years of accreted grievance and resentment towards the media came gushing out in a torrent. He ranted, he raved, he melted down and he blew up the internet with one of the most jaw-dropping performances of his presidency [sic].

    This was, as he likes to put it, “a 10” [11 –blf].

    Trump’s Easter had evidently been ruined by a damning 5,500-word New York Times investigation showing that Trump squandered precious time in January and February as numerous government figures were sounding the alarm about the coronavirus.

    With more than 23,000 American lives lost in such circumstances, some presidents might now be considering resignation. Not Trump. He arrived in the west wing briefing room determined to tell the world, or at least his base, that he was not to blame. Instead it was a new and bloody phase of his war against the enemy of the people: the media. Families grieving loved ones lost to the virus were in for cold comfort here.

    A CNN chyron is a worth a thousand words: “Trump refuses to acknowledge any mistakes”; “Trump uses task force briefing to try and rewrite history on coronavirus response”; “Trump melts down in angry response to reports he ignored virus warnings”; “Angry Trump turns briefing into propaganda session”.

    The thin-skinned president [sic] lashed out at reporters, swiped at Democrat Joe Biden and refused to accept that he had put a foot wrong. So the story in the New York Times is a total fake, it’s a fake newspaper and they write fake stories. And someday, hopefully in five years when I’m not here, those papers are all going out of business because nobody’s going to read them, Trump said.

    With a dramatic flourish, the president [sic] ordered the briefing room lights dimmed. In a James Bond film, it would be the moment that poisoned gas is piped into the room. What happened wasn’t far off: a campaign-style montage of video clips, shown on screens set up behind the podium. There was footage of doctors saying in January that the coronavirus did not pose an imminent threat, Trump declaring a national emergency, and Democratic governors praising him for providing federal assistance.

    Veteran White House reporters said they could never remember such a film being played in that room. It had been put together in a couple of hours by Dan Scavino, the director of social media at the White House, and a team in less than two hours, Trump explained. We could give you hundreds of clips like that.

    Jon Karl of ABC News asked in consternation: “Why did you feel the need to do that?”

    Trump replied: Because we’re getting fake news and I like to have it corrected … Everything we did was right.

    Over and over, Trump highlighted his decision to ban some flights from China in late January before there were any virus-related deaths confirmed in the US — even though nearly 400,000 people travelled to the US from China before the restrictions were in place and 40,000 people have arrived there since.

    The CBS News correspondent Paula Reid was having none of it and cut to the chase. “The argument is that you bought yourself some time,” she said “You didn’t use it to prepare hospitals. You didn’t use it to ramp up testing. Right now, nearly 20m people are unemployed. Tens of thousands of Americans are dead.”

    Trump talked over her: You’re so disgraceful. It’s so disgraceful the way you say that.

    Reid demanded: “How is this newsreel or this rant supposed to make people feel confident in an unprecedented crisis?”

    Trump reverted to his China travel restrictions but Reid continued to push him on his inaction in February. Trump was unable to muster a reasonable response. It was a case study in how, when he loses an argument, his instinct is to attack the accuser. He trotted out his frayed, timeworn insult: You know you’re a fake, your whole network the way you cover it is fake … That’s why you have a lower approval rating than probably you’ve ever had before times three.

    Democrats can only hope Biden was watching Reid for tips on how to debate the president.

    […]

    The briefing went on for well over two hours. Even Fox News gave up before the end. Adam Schiff, the chair of the House intelligence committee, spoke for many when he tweeted: “Why do reputable news organizations carry these daily Trump press conferences live?

    “They are filled with misinformation and propaganda. From the president [sic] himself, no less. The country would be far better served and informed if they used highlights later. Enough is enough.”

  25. blf says

    It will disappear: the disinformation Trump spread about the coronavirus — timeline (minor edits for formatting reasons (unmarked)):

    The president [sic] was personally warned about the growing crisis beginning in mid-January — but continued to give false assurances to the American public

    […]

    ● 8 January, CDC issues alert: […]
    ● 18 January, Trump receives briefing: […] “Trump spent much of the conversation wanting to talk about vaping”, the AP reported.
    ● 21 January, First confirmed US case: […]
    ● 22 January […] Trump makes his first public comment about coronavirus. We have it totally under control, he tells the US cable channel CNBC. It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.
    ● 27 January […] Joe Grogan, the head of the White House Domestic Policy Council, tells acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and others in a meeting that the fight against coronavirus would dominate public life for months and “the administration needed to take the virus seriously or it could cost the president [sic] his re-election”, according to a Washington Post report.
    ● 29 January, [dalek Peter Navarro] warns of ‘full-blown Covid-19 pandemic’: […]
    ● 30 January, Azar warns Trump again: […] Trump dismisses him as alarmist, the New York Times reported. [Hair furor twitters Working closely with China and others on Coronavirus outbreak. Only 5 people in US, all in good recovery.]
    ● 31 January, US declares ‘public health emergency’: […] Trump announces a ban on entry to the US for foreign nationals who had recently visited China.
    [… intelligence warnings (no specific dates)…]
    ● 5 February […]: After a coronavirus briefing with White House officials, senators express concern that the administration is downplaying the threat. “No request for ANY emergency funding,” notes Democrat Chris Murphy of Connecticut.
    ● 19 February […]: Addressing a group of governors, Trump predicts the virus will disappear. I think it’s going to work out fine. I think when we get into April, in the warmer weather, that has a very negative effect on that and that type of a virus.
    ● 21 February, Task force concludes social distancing needed: […]
    ● 23 February, [dalek Navarro] warns of ‘full-blown pandemic’: […]
    ● 24 February, [impeached hair furor twitters] The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. We are in contact with everyone and all relevant countries. CDC & World Health have been working hard and very smart. Stock Market starting to look very good to me! [note here hair furor is praising WHO –blf]
    ● 25 February […] At a news conference in New Delhi, Trump says: You may ask about the coronavirus, which is very well under control in our country. We have very few people with it, and the people that have it are — in all cases, I have not heard anything other. [as quoted, hair doesn’t say what the people are –blf]
    On the way back from India, Trump reportedly called Azar and complained that Messonnier was scaring the stock market. [and some more stooopid twittering, plus idiotic comments by some of the dalekocrazy]
    ● 26 February […] The infection seems to have gone down over the last two days, Trump says at a White House news conference. We’re going to be pretty soon at only five people. And we could be at just one or two people over the next short period of time. […]
    ● 27 February […] It’s going to disappear, Trump says in a White House briefing. One day it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.
    ● 29 February, First confirmed US death [and FDA allows independent Covid-19 tests]
    ● 5 March [… Impeached hair furor twitters] Gallup just gave us the highest rating ever for the way we are handling the CoronaVirus situation. The April 2009-10 Swine Flu, where nearly 13,000 people died in the US, was poorly handled. […] [as I type this, John Hopkins puts the States death toll at 23,649 –blf]
    ● 6 March: Trump visits the CDC laboratories and calls the pandemic an unforeseen problem. […]
    ● 9 March [Impeached hair furor twitters] So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!
    ● 9 March […] White House officials say the United States will have tested 1 million people that week and thereafter perform 4m tests per week [… Ye Pffft! of All Knowledge says on 2 April the States had only done about 3m tests in total –blf] The number was false by multiple orders of magnitude. Through 12 March, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had completed 4,000 tests — not 4m.
    ● 10 March […]When people need a test, they can get a test, Trump says at a White House briefing. When the professionals need a test, when they need tests for people, they can get the test. It’s gone really well.
    ● 12 March […] Trump says at a White House briefing there are a million tests out now and if you go to the right agency, if you go to the right area, you get the test.
    ● 13 March I don’t take responsibility at all: […]

  26. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s current live main pandemic blog:

    Deportation flights from the United States to Guatemala began again on Monday after a one-week pause prompted by three deportees testing positive for coronavirus.

    The Guatemalan government had asked the United States not to send more than 25 deportees per flight, to give them health exams before departure and to certify that they were not infected.

    Despite these guidelines, there were 76 migrants aboard the first flight and 106 on the second, PA reports.

    At least three of the migrants who arrived Monday were taken directly to a hospital for COVID-19 testing. One of the flights also included 16 unaccompanied minors […]. Citing the epidemic, the US has started swiftly deporting unaccompanied minors rather than holding them in protective settings as specified by law. […]

  27. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s current live States pandemic blog, on impeached quack hair furor’s “self-pitying tantrum”@27:

    On the subject of Donald Trump’s extraordinary — and extraordinarily worrying — White House briefing on Monday night, some interesting words from Howell Raines, formerly executive editor of the New York Times:

    […]

    “I think this is one of the astonishing acts of disinformation we’ve seen from a White House since the Vietnam era and the five o’clock follies* of the Lyndon Johnson administration.

    “What we are seeing here, I think, is a kind of imploding presidency. And with an implosion, you have to have a black hole at the center. And I think what we have here is a black hole that consists of two elements: President [sic] Trump’s extremely fragile ego, and his distrust of government experts.”

    Raines also said that the still-not-fired-for-undercutting-the-president[-sic]-and-becoming-more-famous-and-trusted Dr Anthony Fauci and the other White House public health experts “remind me of nervous parents trying to cope with a three-year-old on a sugar high”.

    […]

      * Five o’clock follies: notorious military briefings during the Vietnam war which bore very little resemblance to disastrous reality. […]

  28. says

    Trump tweeted: “Tell the Democrat Governors that ‘Mutiny On The Bounty’ was one of my all time favorite movies. A good old fashioned mutiny every now and then is an exciting and invigorating thing to watch, especially when the mutineers need so much from the Captain. Too easy!”

    25th Amendment now, please. He’s a fucking lunatic.

  29. blf says

    Whilst I was editing @28 above, I got a call from MSF† (I make a donation every month). They were not touting for money or volunteers (albeit I’m sure they could use more of both), but just checking on my health — Was I Ok? Did I need anything?

      † Médecins Sans Frontières, also known as Doctors Without Borders.

      ─────────────────────────

    Locally, a nearby street apparently organised a breakfast for the sanitation crews. And at least two of the local nursing homes are reporting no Covid-19 among the people in their care.

    There’s an article in the Grauniad from a few days ago about a nursing home in Spain which, as-of then, had managed to avoid any Covid-19 cases, Safe, protected but cut off from their families: life in Madrid care home: “In Las Praderas there have been no Covid-19 deaths and staff work tirelessly to keep the disease at bay”.

  30. blf says

    In the Gruaniad’s live current States pandemic blog, a comment on impeached quack hair furor’s Mutiny on the Bounty twittering (see SC@31): “Trump’s movie reference seems odd, considering the film focuses on a cruel captain who is eventually ousted from command after torturing his crew and causing several deaths.”

  31. blf says

    Mystery donor sends gift cards to entire town to ease lockdown woes:

    […]
    An anonymous donor has given each household in the small midwestern town of Earlham, Iowa, gift cards worth $150 each to ease the burden of social distancing due to the coronavirus pandemic. The total amounts to more than $82,000 in donations.

    Jeff Lillie, the town’s mayor, told the Washington Post that he received a phone call from a friend informing him of a donor interested in financially supporting the town. Earlham has a population of about 1,450 people.

    […]

    Within days of the call, each family began receiving three $50 gift cards each to a local restaurant, grocery store and coffee shop.

    Some residents of Earlham will pay forward the good deed. Anyone who isn’t in need has the option of returning the cards at city hall, where they will be redistributed to families in the school district but who live outside the city limits.

    […]

    Earlham’s gift is among several charitable donations to gain national attention. Last week, the actor and director Tyler Perry footed the grocery bill of every elderly shopper during senior shopping hour at 73 supermarkets across New Orleans, Atlanta and Georgia.

  32. blf says

    More idiocy from Florida, WWE [World Wrestling Entertainment] deemed essential service in Florida — alongside hospitals and fire departments:

    ● Professional wrestling had been shut down during pandemic
    ● WWE began broadcasting live shows from Florida on Monday

    Florida has ruled that WWE is an essential service, putting professional wrestling on an equal footing with hospitals, law enforcement and grocery stores.

    [… T]he Florida Division of Emergency Management ruled that essential services now include employees at a professional sports and media production with a national audience — including any athletes, entertainers, production team, executive team, media team and any others necessary to facilitate including services supporting such production — only if the location is closed to the general public.

    A spokesperson for DeSantis’s office told ESPN such services are essential to Florida’s economy. WWE started to run live shows, without an audience, on Monday.

    DeSantis and WWE chairman Vince McMahon are close allies of Donald Trump. McMahon’s wife, Linda, was a part of Trump’s cabinet [(Administrator of the Small Business Administration)] from 2017 to 2019, leaving to chair America First Action, a pro-Trump Super Pac, or political fundraising committee.

    […]

    As Ye Pfffft! of All Knowledge notes:

    As in other professional wrestling promotions, WWE shows are not legitimate contests, but purely entertainment-based performance theater, featuring storyline-driven, scripted, and choreographed matches, though matches often include moves that can put performers at risk of injury, even death, if not performed correctly. This was first publicly acknowledged by WWE’s owner Vince McMahon in 1989 to avoid taxes from athletic commissions. Since the 1980s, WWE publicly has branded its product as sports entertainment, acknowledging the product’s roots in competitive sport and dramatic theater.

    WWE, Inc., is part of the S&P 400 with an annual revenue of almost $1bn, and profits in excess of $100m. (I’ve been unable to locate more precise numbers, despite being a listed corporation, their public statements — and the reporting on such — seems to be unusually opaque.)

  33. says

    Trump: “Cuomo’s been calling daily, even hourly, begging for everything, most of which should have been the state’s responsibility, such as new hospitals, beds, ventilators, etc. I got it all done for him, and everyone else, and now he seems to want Independence! That won’t happen!”

    Just an utter wreck and a profound failure.

  34. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s current live main pandemic blog:

    Commercial creditors owed money by poor countries should only be eligible for government Covid-19 bailout cash if they agree to sign up to a comprehensive global debt deal, the head of one of the world’s leading charities has said […].

    Despite signs that the G20 group of developed and developing nations are edging towards an agreement on help for the most vulnerable nations, Inger Ashing, chief executive of Save the Children International said the plan would only be fully effective if it included the private sector.

    Ashing said in an open letter to the G20 that commercial creditors, such as banks, commodity traders and asset management firms, accounted for almost half the $62bn (£42.2bn) debt payments due to be made by the world’s 75 lowest-income countries in 2020. The letter said:

    Commercial creditors account for almost half of scheduled 2020 payments. Allowing them an exemption would weaken any debt-relief initiative. Providing aid through the World Bank and other donors while allowing commercial debt payments to absorb a large share of the transfer would be the financial equivalent of pouring water into a bucket with large holes. To put the figures in context, commercial debt repayments would be equivalent to over half of the emergency Covid-19 financing being prepared by the World Bank for delivery through IDA.

    … Official creditors should make it clear that they expect commercial creditors to apply comparable treatment. There are precedents which, if not directly applicable, could serve as a guide. These include the ‘Vienna Initiative’ through which European governments coordinated the response to the 2009 financial crisis. If necessary, governments should encourage participation by making access to special Covid-19 financing programmes conditional on commercial creditors participating in the debt standstill. Faced with a global public health emergency that demands a global financial response, governments must deploy their regulatory powers and financial resources in the interest. The G20 should work with the IMF and World Bank to convene a commercial creditors summit to agree terms for creditor participation in debt repayment suspension.

    Also see Pressure grows for developing world debt relief over coronavirus: “More than 60 poorer countries are spending more paying creditors than on health — study”.

  35. blf says

    In the UK, War veteran, 99, raises £2m for NHS by walking lengths of back garden:

    Capt Tom Moore has set goal of completing 100 laps before his 100th birthday

    A 99-year-old war veteran has raised more than £2m for the NHS by aiming to walk 100 lengths of his back garden before his 100th birthday.

    Capt Tom Moore, from Keighley in Yorkshire, initially planned to raise £1,000 through the challenge.

    However, after launching his campaign on 8 April and raising £70,000 in just 24 hours, he extended his fundraiser and hit the £1m target on Tuesday morning, with a further £1m raised throughout the day.

    “It’s almost unbelievable isn’t it?,” Moore told the BBC. “But when you think who it’s for, and they’re all so brave … I think they deserve every penny of it.”

    He is walking 10 laps of the garden a day with the help of his walking aid, and had hoped to hit 100 laps in time for his birthday on 30 April — but according to his daughter, Hannah, he is likely to reach his goal on Thursday.

    […]

    Ellie Orton, the chief executive of NHS Charities Together, said: “I think I join the rest of the country in being truly inspired and profoundly humbled by Capt Tom and what he’s achieved.

    In a direct message to Moore, she said: “Thank you from the bottom of our hearts, and thank you for being such a good role model … let’s also get other people doing the same and following your example.”

    […]

    There’s pictures (and video) of the Captain at the link.

  36. says

    G liveblog:

    Doctors, virologists and epidemiologists in Sweden have denounced their government’s approach to tackling the coronavirus outbreak, as its death toll from Covid-19 passed 1,000.

    Unlike other parts of Europe, including its close neighbours Finland and Norway, Sweden has not imposed extraordinary lockdown orders to stem the spread of the virus, instead calling for citizens to take responsibility to follow social distancing guidelines. The strictest measures implemented so far have been gatherings of more than 50 people and a ban on visits to nursing homes.

    But its soft approach has now drawn criticism. On Tuesday Sweden’s public health agency said it had recorded a total of 11,445 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 1,033 deaths. Neighbouring Finland, which has about half the population of Sweden, had as of Tuesday reported 64 deaths, and has closed down restaurants and schools.

    In an open letter, a group of 22 doctors, virologists and researchers from Sweden’s top hospitals, universities and research institutes pointed write:

    … If there was a well-thought-out, well-functioning strategy for Swedish infection prevention work with Covid-19, Sweden would hardly have the same [proportional] death toll as Italy today, and ten times higher than Finland’s. If there had been a well-developed, well-functioning strategy, half of Stockholm’s elderly residents would not have been affected by the epidemic – and in some cases over twenty percent of the healthcare staff would be antibody positive.

    … The approach must be changed radically and quickly. As the disease-free virus spreads, it is necessary to increase social distance. Close schools and restaurants in the same way you do in Finland. Everyone who works with the elderly must wear adequate protective equipment. Prior to mass testing of infectiousness on all caring staff and testing for antibodies to sars-covid-2 so that established immune personnel can return to work. Require quarantine by the whole family if a member is ill or tests positive for viruses. Impress in society that anyone can be contagious.

    I read a report on the Swedish approach last week and it was like watching a slow-motion train wreck. They had pictures of seniors hanging out together in crowded public places and interviews with people talking about how they were just going about their lives and taking a “moderate” approach.

  37. blf says

    SC@43, That reminds me of @462(previous page), and especially its conclusion: “We do not need patriotism and weapons; we need globally connected medical research, social safety nets and healthcare. We need leaders who allow public health experts, rather than their political self-interest, to guide policy. We find ourselves in a time that calls for traditionally ‘feminine’ traits, such as empathy, solidarity and compassion. The men in charge have chosen to prioritise their precarious sense of manhood, rejecting scientific evidence, deploying rhetoric of violence, war and division, and placing us all in harm’s way.”

  38. blf says

    Follow-up to @469(previous page), In the UK, Eamonn Holmes responds to complaints over handling of Covid-19 5G claims:

    […]
    This Morning’s Eamonn Holmes has said he does not believe in conspiracy theories linking the roll-out of 5G mobile phone networks to coronavirus, while still insisting that many people are rightly concerned and are looking for answers.

    Media regulator Ofcom is investigating the ITV daytime show as a priority following hundreds of complaints that Holmes appeared to suggest people should not rush to dismiss a potential link between the pandemic and new technology. NHS officials have repeatedly made clear there is no connection, in line with global scientific consensus.

    […]

    After Ofcom said it was assessing 419 viewer complaints, Holmes used his appearance on Tuesday morning’s edition of the programme to claim he had been misinterpreted.

    […]

    Very much neither a non-apology nor a full retraction, or, as Marina Hyde observes in her opinion column, Eamonn Holmes under the hammer as daytime TV’s fiercest sleuth goes rogue, he’s blaming the viewers.

  39. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s current main live pandemic blog:

    António Guterres, the UN secretary general, has announced an initiative to “flood the internet with facts and science”, in an effort to counter the growing spread of misinformation about the coronavirus outbreak.

    I’m announcing a new @UN Communications Response initiative to spread facts & science, countering the scourge of misinformation — a poison putting more lives at risk.

  40. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s current live States pandemic blog:

    Dr Anthony Fauci acknowledged that the daily White House briefings on the response to coronavirus have become “really draining.”

    […]

    Yesterday’s briefing [the toddler’s “self-pitying tantrum” (see @27) –blf], ran for nearly two and a half hours. “It isn’t the idea of being there and answering questions, which I really think is important for the American public,” Fauci said. “It’s the amount of time.”

    Some news networks have started cutting away from the briefing before it’s over to feature analysis and fact-checking of the president’s comments, which has angered the White House.

    The Grauniad itself, in its then-current live States pandemic blog, put in lots of fact checks whilst teh impeached quack hair furor was ranting (see @1). Also, Dr Fauci is 79 years old, so I presume standing there — and trying not to strangle hair furor — for over 2 hours must be rather uncomfortable (at the least).

  41. says

    SC @19, Ha! I agree.

    From Walter Shaub:

    1-didn’t finish bachelors degree [Mark Meadows]
    2-nepotist [Ivanka Trump]
    3-nepotist-in-law [Jared Kushner]
    4-foreclosure king, eclipse chaser [Steve Mnuchin]
    5-TV’s Larry Kudlow
    6-man whose healthcare-related job is (checks notes) negotiating foreign trade deals [Robert Lighthizer]
    7-man who sleeps in meetings [Wilbur ross]

    Yeah, that’s a typical Trump team all right. All white. And Trump put them in charge of coming up with a plan to “open the country.” Coronavirus or not, economics über alles.

  42. blf says

    And magic sky faerie-addled authoritarians are at it again, Iraq suspends Reuters for three months over report on Covid-19 cases:

    Iraq has suspended the licence of the Reuters news agency after it published a story saying the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country was higher than officially reported.

    Iraq’s media regulator said it was revoking Reuters’ licence for three months and fining it 25 million dinars ($21,000) for what it said was the agency’s violation of the rules of media broadcasting.

    In a letter to Reuters, the Communications and Media Commission (CMC) said it had taken the action because this matter is taking place during current circumstances which have serious repercussions on societal health and safety.

    […]

    The Reuters report, published on April 2, cited three doctors involved in the testing process, a health ministry official and a senior political official as saying Iraq had thousands of confirmed COVID-19 cases, many times more than the 772 it had publicly reported at that time.

    […]

    Somewhat similar, the Grauniad’s Egypt correspondent was thrown out for a similar story about Egypt’s Covid-19 coverup (Egypt forces Guardian journalist to leave after coronavirus story (26-March-2020): “Ruth Michaelson had reported on study that questioned country’s official tally of cases”). Egyptian authoritrians had a meltdown over that study and Ms Michaelson’s story, Alaa Mubarak: The Guardian is more dangerous than COVID-19 (31-March-2020):

    Alaa Mubarak, son of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, attacked the British newspaper The Guardian on Twitter, stating: The Guardian is no less dangerous than the coronavirus regarding its rapid spread. It might even be more fatal. Days ago, the newspaper showed its ugly face by reporting rumours about the $70 billion fortune and many other lies, while publishing incorrect and misleading data and figures about the degree of the coronavirus’ spread in Egypt and intentionally defaming Egypt, as has happened repeatedly before.

    I’m not sure, but I believe the rumours about the $70 billion fortune refers to the Mubarak family’s estimated fortune, most or all which is presumably illegally obtained, including during Mubarak;s time as Egyptian dictator.

    […]
    Another follower addressed Mubarak, claiming: We all know very well who the owners of The Guardian are and we are aware of their deceptive ways. […]

    That eejit rather certainly does not know who the Grauniad’s owners are, due to its unique(?) ownership structure. From Ye Pfffft! of All Knowledge:

    The Guardian is […] owned by the Scott Trust. The trust was created in 1936 to “secure the financial and editorial independence of The Guardian in perpetuity and to safeguard the journalistic freedom and liberal values of The Guardian free from commercial or political interference”. The trust was converted into a limited company in 2008, with a constitution written so as to maintain for The Guardian the same protections as were built into the structure of the Scott Trust by its creators. Profits are reinvested in journalism rather than distributed to owners or shareholders.

    Back to the Middle East Monitor’s report (whose reliablity I’m unsure of):

    […]
    Another asked Mubarak: “I do believe you, isn’t it $70 billion? Can you disclose the real amount which you inherited from your father, and which he saved from his monthly salary?”

    Other activists recalled a video of John Kerry stating that Mubarak’s wealth in the US is only estimated at $30 billion. […]

  43. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s current live States pandemic blog (my added emboldening):

    Chris Cuomo — Trump is ‘full of shit’

    […] I’m going to single out what Cuomo, [the Governor’s brother, a journalist], said about the state of US politics today: he is growing weary of “talking to Democrats about things that I don’t really believe they mean” and “talking to Republicans about them parroting things they feel they have to say”.

    The [Murdoch-owned New York] Post also reports that Cuomo “also wants to stop analyzing the president, ‘who we all know is full of shit by design’.”

    As it happens, the Post wrote “s–t”. The Guardian knows of no such Puritan strictures.

    Donald Trump has attacked Chris Cuomo before — of course he has. So we might expect further tweets or maybe remarks at today’s White House briefing […]

  44. blf says

    Here in France, Covid-19: French court orders Amazon to limit deliveries to essential goods (quoted in full):

    A French court ruled Tuesday that Amazon must limit its operations to delivering only essential goods while it evaluates workers’ risks of coronavirus exposure, according to a ruling seen by AFP.

    The court in Nanterre, outside Paris, said Amazon France had “failed to recognise its obligations regarding the security and health of its workers”.

    While carrying out the health evaluation, Amazon can prepare and deliver only “food, hygiene and medical products,” the court said.

    Amazon in the States (at least) is under considerable incoming fire for its poor actions and reactions to the pandemic, including firing workers (plural) who complained about unsafe working practices. From a few days ago, ‘Jeff Bezos values profits above safety’: Amazon workers voice pandemic concern (7-April-2020): “Workers at facilities where there had been at least one coronavirus case said they were not being closed for deep cleaning”.

  45. blf says

    And back to France (from the Gruniad’s current live main pandemic blog, quoted in full):

    France summons Chinese envoy

    France’s foreign minister has summoned the Chinese envoy after the embassy published a second article on its website criticising western handling of the coronavirus crisis. Jean-Yves Le Drian said: “Certain publicly voiced opinions by representatives of the Chinese embassy in France are not in line with the quality of the bilateral relation between our two countries.”

    The latest comments on the embassy’s website, which in part suggested western countries have left their pensioners to die in nursing homes, come after France ordered millions of masks from China to curb a shortage in the country.

  46. blf says

    A trumpian-style fraud, Police foil €15m plan to sell Germany fake face masks:

    Money recovered in British and Irish banks after cloned company swindles German health authority

    […]

    Europol said on Tuesday that two companies were contracted by the German government in mid-March to buy face masks valued at €15m (£13m), as global stocks ran low.

    After a sale failed to materialise off a website, supposedly based in Spain, the two companies were referred to a trusted dealer in Ireland, who promised to put them in touch with a supplier in the Netherlands, Europol said.

    An initial deal was made in which the companies paid €1.5m for the delivery of 1.5m masks.

    “The buyers initiated a bank transfer to Ireland and prepared for delivery, which involved 52 lorries and a police escort to transport the masks from a warehouse in the Netherlands to the final destination in Germany,” Europol said.

    However, just before the delivery was due, the criminals said they needed another €800,000 in order to secure the merchandise. The buyers sent the wire transfer but the masks never arrived.

    “It turns out the Dutch company existed, but their website had been cloned. There was no official record of the order,” Europol said.

    […]

    The Irish police’s Economic Crimes Bureau, on a tip-off from Interpol, froze €1.5m in an account in an Irish bank, and identified an Irish company involved.

    Meanwhile, the Dutch Fiscal Information and Investigation Service tracked down the €800,000, of which €500,000 had already been paid into a British bank account destined for an account in Nigeria. The British bank was able to recall the full amount and return it to the Netherlands, where the funds have now been frozen.

    Dutch police have arrested two suspects, Europol said.

  47. blf says

    Yet more on teh impeached quack hair furor toddler “self-pitying tantrum” (see @27), Has Trump finally met his match? The female reporters setting him straight (my added emboldening):

    During Monday’s coronavirus briefing, the president talked over reporter Paula Reid — a pattern he seems to follow when talking to female journalists

    Donald Trump seems to have misplaced an entire six weeks recently: he is yet to account for what he did in the first six weeks after the first coronavirus case was confirmed in the US.

    Yesterday, the CBS reporter Paula Reid was determined to ask him about it at a White House press conference. […]

    In the ensuing debacle, Trump talks over her, raising his voice and calling Reid disgraceful — a pattern he seems to follow when taking to female journalists, and female journalists of color particularly. Earlier this month, the PBS journalist Yamiche Alcindor had a similar interaction with Trump, during which he told her to be nice. Alcindor stood her ground and held her line of questioning.

    […]

    Reid does what all journalists who are facing Donald Trump should do: she demands an answer, she holds him to account, and she remains steadfast and unfazed while he ignores her questions and insults her instead.

    Look, look, you know you’re a fake. You know that, your whole network, the way that you cover it is fake, responds Trump. He goes on to ask about Joe Biden apologizing for closing the borders.

    “There are thousands of Americans dead right now, we don’t care about why Joe Biden didn’t apologize to you,” responds Reid.

    Trump continues to give himself credit for closing borders in January [except, of course, that isn’t quite what happened (see @27: “400,000 people travelled to the US from China before the restrictions were in place and 40,000 people have arrived there since”) –blf]. But still, nobody knows what happened in February.

  48. blf says

    From RWW, Desperate Times For Jim Bakker:

    End Times pastor Jim Bakker [… begged] viewers to financially support his ministry using checks, as his network has reportedly been unable to process credit card transactions ever since it came under fire for promoting the silver solution it sold as a cure for the COVID-19 coronavirus.

    After Right Wing Watch reported that Bakker used a show in February to suggest that the silver solution could kill the coronavirus and heal those who have been infected, he was warned by the New York Attorney General’s office to stop “making misleading claims” about the product and also was ordered by the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission to “immediately cease making all such claims” about the effectiveness of the silver solution. On top of that, Bakker was also sued by the office of Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt “for misrepresentations about the effectiveness of ‘Silver Solution’ as a treatment for 2019 novel coronavirus.”

    Bakker said on his show today that all of these legal problems have caused credit card processing companies to cut off his ministry, and so donations can now only be accepted via check.

    Some of the biggest companies have come against us, Bakker said. Right now, you cannot use a credit card … You can give by check. That’s the only way you can give right now.

    Bakker then claimed that reports that his network had ever promoted the silver solution as a cure for the coronavirus were lies.

    […]

    I tempted to suggest sending him rubber checks — faux checks made of rubber, that is, embossed with a orchestra of very very very tiny violins… except that would put USPS workers at needless risk.

  49. blf says

    More from RWW (and not obviously Covid-19 pandemic related), Mike Pompeo Says Unalienable Rights Commission Will Return Human Rights Policy to Judeo-Christian Tradition on Which this Country Was Founded:

    U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo joined a conference call with conservative pastors hosted by the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins last Thursday. Pompeo told the pastors that he has two big projects: the high-level international conferences he has hosted to promote religious liberty around the world, and the Commission on Unalienable Rights.

    The Commission on Unalienable Rights has generated alarm among human rights advocates and excitement among anti-LGBTQ religious-right groups that opposed the Obama administration’s promotion of LGBTQ human rights globally. In the past, the commission’s chair, conservative Harvard University law professor Mary Ann Glendon, has dismissed those concerns without allaying them.

    Pompeo’s remarks on the FRC pastors call strongly suggest that he hopes the commission will do exactly what human rights advocates fear, which is to seek to limit what some conservatives call human rights inflation, especially the recognition of the rights of LGBTQ people.

    […] Pompeo has helped open doors in other countries to allow Ralph Drollinger, who runs Bible studies for members of Trump’s cabinet and conservative members of Congress, to take his fundamentalist ideology into the upper echelons of other governments, where he teaches public officials that the Bible requires them to support a range of right-wing public policies.

    Pompeo told FRC’s pastors that he has used his official travels as an opportunity to evangelize:

    I’ve been unabashed in my role as Secretary of State to talk about the fact that I swore an oath to the Constitution [which I have ever since ignored –blf], but that my first calling is to my Savior. And I’ve made that something that I tell world leaders, whether I’m with President Sisi in Egypt or whomever, whatever faith they may be of or of no faith. And we’ve watched some of us be called out for that, to think that, to say that we don’t care about science, that we don’t care about the rule of law, all the things that I know we all care so deeply about [except in actual understanding or execution –blf].

    […]

  50. blf says

    More snarking on teh impeached quack hair furor toddler “self-pitying tantrum” (see @27), Trump is devoting precious resources to the most urgent task of all: rebutting the media:

    Three months after the coronavirus arrived in the US, and more than 23,000 deaths later, the president [sic] thinks he has figured out what ails us

    […]

    Yes, you know who you are, you viral agents of destruction. Because of you, our valiant commander-in-chief was forced to spend the bulk of his so-called media briefing on Easter Monday taking the fight against the pandemic to where it really needs to be waged: with reporters.

    Hospitals may be at breaking point, and the economy may be in a depression. But our brave American hero devoted precious White House resources to the most urgent task of all: rebutting a New York Times investigation into how he frittered away all those months since China lost control of the virus in Hubei.

    Donning his own N95 mask of truth, our nation’s very stable genius commanded the lights be dimmed inside the White House briefing room and for the video to roll.

    How he eviscerated the media by showing them downplaying the virus in January!

    How he demonstrated his courage by banning travel from China at the end of January, even though 40,000 still managed to enter the country!

    How he skipped over the entire month of February to jump to all the many big numbers and other things he said in March!

    Abandon hope, all ye who enter the briefing room!

    […]

    Allow us, Mr President [sic], to save you the time of coming up with your list of all the many bold and — dare we say it — quite brilliant things you said and did in February, as the virus was spreading across America.

    For the first half of the month, you said the warm weather would cause the virus to go away. For the second half, you said it was very much under control. By the end of the month, you said the numbers of cases within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero. Oh yes, and you predicted that one day it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.

    And so, like a miracle, our historic leader — he won’t call himself historic, but many people tell him he is — has made the month of February vanish from our collective memory. Because, quite frankly, what has February ever done for America? It doesn’t even have 30 days.

    [… Dr] Fauci may be the only man standing between us and a catastrophically large death toll. But his main job right now is to protect one man’s ego — or else his words won’t penetrate that man’s exceptionally thick cranium.

    What on earth did Fauci say to hurt our president’s [sic] feelings so much? Just the blindingly obvious: that an earlier shutdown would have saved lives. […]

    While Fauci was visibly steamed, Trump was visibly swaggering.

    His shoulders shimmied at the mere mention of his travel ban. His spirits soared at his staff-made video showing Democratic governors thanking him for his support.

    […] The resurrection of Trump’s ego was an Easter miracle only matched by some guy in the Bible whose ratings were a lot worse.

    [… N]ot everybody spends all their free time searching for something nice to retweet about himself. Even if it comes from random callers on C-Span.

    It may possibly be the case — and we must be careful in our diagnosis without full testing capabilities [ouch! –blf] — that this president [sic] is a microscopically small virus inhabiting the body of a very large nation.

    What other kind of organism would claim to have total authority over his own country? Only a mutant life form relying on that non-existent line in the constitution that says, as he put it, when someone is president of the United States, the authority is total.

    We could wait for the massed ranks of the Republican party, and all the many judges it has recently confirmed to lifetime appointments, to condemn such brazenly un-American sentiments. After all, these are the same people who claimed that Obamacare was unconstitutional.

    Or we could just sit back and admire the brilliance of this virus who has outsmarted the world’s constitutional conservatives, its medical scientists and the deviant media.

    Is it bold? Absolutely. Is it leadership? We’ll get back to you in November.

  51. says

    blf @51

    Dr Fauci is 79 years old, so I presume standing there — and trying not to strangle hair furor — for over 2 hours must be rather uncomfortable (at the least).

    Right. The briefing is mostly a waste of his time. He is 79 years old and he has a lot of work to do. Unlike Hair Furor, Fauci works hard, and he works long hours. He doesn’t lie around in his bed sending out anti-factual tweets.

    Yes, standing for that long would be tiring for most elders. But even being there for that long would be wearying for anyone.

  52. says

    Follow-up to comment 62.

    There’s a lot of work to be done: “Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, said Tuesday the U.S. does not yet have the critical testing and tracing procedures needed to begin reopening the nation’s economy, adding a dose of caution to increasingly optimistic projections from the White House. ‘We have to have something in place that is efficient and that we can rely on, and we’re not there yet,’ Fauci said in an interview with The Associated Press.”

  53. says

    Hmmm. Bishop Gerald O. Glenn: “A Virginia pastor who told his congregants, ‘God is larger than this dreaded virus’ died of COVID-19 the day before Easter, his church said. The New Deliverance Evangelistic Church, in North Chesterfield, Virginia, right outside Richmond, announced the death of Bishop Gerald O. Glenn in an Easter Sunday address by Bryan Nevers, a church elder.”

    Justice. Huckabee loses in court: “A federal judge in Florida on Monday denied an emergency motion that would have allowed former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and other beach-front owners near Pensacola to be exempted from an order that closed all public and private beaches in their county amid the coronavirus outbreak.”

    Text above is excerpted from Steve Benen’s “Mini-Report” for today.

  54. says

    Follow-up to comments 22, 27 and 58.

    CBS News’ Paula Reid noticed the gap in the propaganda video Trump aired during his press briefing yesterday, (a gap in the “timeline of action” — which jumped from February 6 to March 2). In reply, Trump claimed that he and his administration had done “A lot.” He provided no specifics, but said he would give her a list later.

    Trump’s re-election campaign did produce a list of things Team Trump did in February to combat the crisis. It is not really helpful. It is underwhelming. Here is a sampling:

    February 4: President Trump vowed in his State of the Union Address to “take all necessary steps” to protect Americans from the coronavirus.

    February 7: President Trump told reporters that the CDC is working with China on the coronavirus.

    February 9: The White House Coronavirus Task Force briefed governors from across the nation at the National Governors’ Association Meeting in Washington.

    February 22: A WHO team of international experts arrives in Wuhan, China.

    February 26: President Trump discussed coronavirus containment efforts with Indian PM Modi and updated the press on his Administration’s containment efforts in the U.S. during his state visit to India.

    There are really no meaningful achievements on that list. Trump’s reelection campaign just proved that Paula Reid was right.

    Here is the list: Link to Trump 45 website.

    There are a few more substantive actions on the list, such as “February 6: The CDC began shipping CDC-Developed test kits for the 2019 Novel Coronavirus to U.S. and international labs,” but little good came from some of those actions, as we know. The CDC’s test kits were defective.

    This action also didn’t work out: “February 14: The CDC began working with five labs to conduct ‘community-based influenza surveillance’ to study and detect the spread of coronavirus.”

  55. says

    A report on the financial side of what Republicans have done so far, whom they have helped, and those they have short-changed:

    Enjoy your $1,200 one-time consolation prize for losing your livelihood, your way of life, and your economic security in this pandemic. And don’t think about the 43,000 millionaires and billionaires who got a $90 billion tax break for 2020 courtesy of the Republican Senate. That’s right: 43,000 people making more than $1 million annually are getting 82% of the benefit from the tax change Republicans wedged into the CARES stimulus package. And thanks to Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse for uncovering it for us.

    “It’s a scandal for Republicans to loot American taxpayers in the midst of an economic and human tragedy,” said Whitehouse, who requested the Joint Committee on Taxation analysis that enumerated the tax change. “Congress should repeal this rotten, un-American giveaway and use the revenue to help workers battling through this crisis.” It is a scandal, it is un-American, and it is absolutely what Republicans are.

    The 2017 tax scam law from Republicans mistakenly (according to them) included a limit on how much owners of businesses that were formed as “pass-through” entities—where the income is taxed as the owner’s personal income at the individual rate rather than as business income for federal income taxes—can deduct against nonbusiness income like capital gains. This mostly helps out hedge fund investors and real estate business owners, experts at the Tax Policy Center say. (Because the hedge fund investors and real estate tycoons are the people who really need relief right now.) Republicans argue that the increased “liquidity” will help somehow. You know, trickle down.

    Republicans from Trump on down are using this crisis to steal absolutely everything that’s not nailed down. And throwing crumbs to the rest of us. So yeah, Whitehouse is right. This giveaway needs to be repealed and the revenue regained from it targeted to where it needs to go—the people.

    Link

  56. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 60

    Ugh! Ed covered this story on Disatches, leading to a protracted flame war with a fundie troll citing David Barton and claiming that the states (not the feds) have every right to establish official religions.

  57. says

    Trump and Mnuchin are letting the banks steal your COVID-19 $1,200.

    Sigh.

    […] A bipartisan Congress intended to help the now masses of newly unemployed buy food, or pay rent or utilities. But Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s department is telling banks something else.

    […] Treasury is allowing banks to seize the money to pay off debts account holders owe them, like delinquent loans, overdrafts, or past-due fees. While lawmakers made sure the cash payment couldn’t be seized for public debts—anything owed to federal or state agencies, other than child support—it didn’t include that exemption for private debt collection, instead but instructed the Treasury to write rules exempting them.

    Nope. Those exemption rules for $1,200 checks were not written.

    […] audio Dayen obtained from a webinar Ronda Kent, chief disbursing officer with Treasury’s Bureau of the Fiscal Service, had with banking officials the official message was that “there’s nothing in the law that precludes” banks from collecting the money. She didn’t say straight out “the money is yours” but that was the message received,[…] What the banks heard from her was […] “a green light for banks to take advantage of the coronavirus crisis to collect prior debt.”

    The official Dayen spoke with said the payments should be considered federal benefits, like Social Security, disability, and veterans payments and exempted from private collection. “This makes complete sense because we don’t want people to die because they have a late loan payment,” they said. That’s exactly what Congress intended, and in fact have asked Treasury to do. Even Hawley teamed up with Democrat Sherrod Brown in asking Mnuchin to exempt the payments. So have 23 Democratic and 2 Republicans attorneys general.

    […] “There are hundreds of thousands of people out there who use overdraft services all the time,” […] “We allow it up to $1,000. Because of the fees involved, the people can’t keep up and inevitably they abandon it, taking the loss and the hit to their credit. I can’t tell you how many accounts we have charged off with $1,000 in them. With those accounts, if that was where you had direct deposit, the stimulus payment will still post to them.” And the bank will keep it. “It’s outrageous, especially since people are forced by the way the program is set up to have the payments go through a financial institution not of their own choosing.”

    The immediate fix is simple. This is entirely in Mnuchin and Treasury’s hands—it is absolutely clear that it can and should write rules to make sure the $1,200 goes where Congress intended, into people’s pockets. The longer-term fix is slightly more complicated; finding a way for direct cash payments to go directly to everyone without the complicated route through the banks demands a public banking system. […] give everyone an account with the nation’s central bank, the Federal Reserve. Postal banking, where the Postal Service offers basic financial services like checking and savings accounts and short-term loans, is another [solution]. There’s existing legislation for that that could be folded into the next big stimulus bill, and it would help save the post office.

    But right now, this minute, the Trump administration could fix this. That they’re not, that they’re willing to rob people of the measly $1,200 that could feed their families this month, tells you everything you need to know about the monsters in charge.

  58. says

    Well, he’s doing it. Trump is halting funding for WHO.

    […] Trump said he would halt funding to the World Health Organization while his administration reviews the group’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. He’s been increasingly critical of the organization’s early response to the health crisis as he’s sought to deflect criticism over his administration’s slow response to the outbreak.

    Trump attacked the organization for opposing early travel restrictions to China and accused WHO of being overly deferential to the Chinese early in the outbreak, even though Trump himself often hailed the Chinese government’s response until a few weeks ago.

    Link

  59. Saad says

    False dichotomizing Indiana Congressman from the Pro-Life and Obamacare-will-lead-to-death-panels party says we need to let Americans die so the economy doesn’t tank

    Rep. Trey Hollingsworth (R-Ind.) said Tuesday, as the U.S. grapples with the coronavirus pandemic, that the country will always have to choose a “loss of American lives” over a “loss of our way of life as Americans.”

    [. . .]

    “Both of these decisions will lead to harm for individuals, whether that’s dramatic economic harm or whether that’s the loss of life,” he said. “But it is always the American government’s position to say, in the choice between the loss of our way of life as Americans and the loss of life of American lives, we have to always choose the latter.”

    Hollingsworth said that the decision that would do the most good for the most people would be to “get Americans back to work.” The Indiana lawmaker added that no “amount of legislation out of D.C.” is going to fix the crisis.

    “It is policymakers’ decision to put on our big-boy and big-girl pants and say, ‘This is the lesser of these two evils,’” he said.

  60. Saad says

    Lynna, #70

    He wants various patients around the world to die because some governors and world leaders aren’t bowing to him.

    Everything he does needs to be assessed in light of his fragile ego, narcissism, greed and his only two life principles: always get revenge, and never apologize.

  61. says

    Saad @72, sadly, that is all too true.

    In other news, even more governors of states are giving up on Trump and on the Trump administration. They know they are not going to get the help they need.

    […] “We’ve gotten very little help from the federal government,” Pritzker [Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker] said on CNN. “It’s fine. I’ve given up on any promises that had been made. I hope something will get delivered from the federal government, but I don’t expect it anymore.” […]

    “There is a governor, I hear him complaining all the time, Pritzker. He is always complaining,” Trump fired back at a press conference before listing off a number of projects the federal government was assisting with in the state. “Like in Illinois, the governor couldn’t do his job, so we had to help him.” […]

    “The most important thing that we’ll do is focus on the safety and health of the people of our states. In my case, you know, I’ve made it clear, we need testing, tracing, contact tracing, and we need a treatment. Put that together with readily available PPE, and then you can start to talk about how you will reopen an economy,” Pritzker said. […]

    Link

  62. says

    Follow-up to comment 73, (about Governors and their interactions with Trump).

    […] Trump, who initially did not take the threat of a pandemic as seriously as other world leaders, has been happy to delegate responsibility to the states and eager to avoid blame for his administration’s early missteps that left the nation blind to the health crisis it faced.

    “They’re being very, very successful in what they’re doing. And as you know, I want the governors to be running things,” Trump said at a White House briefing April 4.

    Governors who saw the virus coming took the steps that Trump was unwilling to advise, at considerable political risk […]

    Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) became the face of the growing response as the virus hit his state first. California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) was the first in the nation to order a statewide lockdown, knowing full well the economic damage it would cause.

    By now, almost every state has some manner of stay-at-home order or advisory in effect, orders that were unthinkable just a month ago. For the first time in American history, every state is under a declared state of emergency.

    “I like to allow governors to make decisions without overruling them, because from a constitutional standpoint, that’s the way it should be done,” Trump said on April 10.

    […] Though more than a thousand Americans have died from the disease every day in April, Trump is increasingly interested in reopening the economy, desperate to avoid plunging into a new depression that international economic forecasters already see as a certainty.

    Trump said Monday he expected governors to follow his administration’s recommendations — and that if they didn’t, he had the authority to force them to do so.

    Yeah, that last bit above? Trump really did say that.

    “We will soon finalize new and very important guidelines to give governors the information they need to start safely opening their states. My administration’s plan and corresponding guidelines will give the American people the confidence they need to begin returning to normal life. That’s what we want. We want to have our country open. We want to return to normal life,” Trump said. “Our country is going to be open, and it’s going to be successfully opened.”

    After all the stuff he said earlier about “I want the governors to be running things,” Trump is now switched too threatening them if they don’t do what he says. Arrogant, stupid asshat.

    […] “The federal-state relationship is central to our democracy. This has been a topic discussed since our Founding Fathers first decided to embark on this entire venture, right? This is basic federalism, the role of the states and the role of the federal government,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said Tuesday. “We don’t have a king in this country. We didn’t want a king, so we have a Constitution and we elect a president. The states, the colonies, formed the federal government. The federal government did not form the states.”

    Indeed, just hours after Trump’s comments, groups of governors on the West Coast and in the Northeast said they would form coalitions to consider when to reopen their states, a stunning rebuke of the president.
    […] Trump is picking a fight he almost certainly cannot win. Virtually no constitutional experts believe the president has the power to supersede the orders any governor puts in place in his or her home state. Instead, many pointed to the 10th Amendment, which reserves for the states the powers that are not explicitly delegated to the federal government.

    […] But Trump’s efforts to force states to reopen may be less about actually achieving the goal than it is about shifting blame to governors for an economic catastrophe that hits just months before voters decide whether Trump deserves a second term. […]

    Link

  63. says

    Pushing back against Trump’s decision to withhold funds from WHO:

    United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday pushed back on Trump’s announcement that the U.S. will pull funding to the World Health Organization (WHO), saying the coronavirus pandemic is “not the time” for such a move.

    In a statement, Guterres said it was “not the time to reduce the resources for the operations of the World Health Organization or any other humanitarian organization in the fight against the virus.” The WHO is part of the U.N.

    “Now is the time for unity and for the international community to work together in solidarity to stop this virus and its shattering consequences,” the U.N. secretary-general added, according to Reuters. […]

    Link

  64. says

    In unprecedented move, Treasury orders Trump’s name printed on stimulus checks.

    Washington Post link

    The Treasury Department has ordered President Trump’s name be printed on stimulus checks the Internal Revenue Service is rushing to send to tens of millions of Americans, a process that could slow their delivery by a few days, senior IRS officials said.

    The unprecedented decision, finalized late Monday, means that when recipients open the $1,200 paper checks the IRS is scheduled to begin sending to 70 million Americans in coming days, “President Donald J. Trump” will appear on the left side of the payment.

    It will be the first time a president’s name appears on an IRS disbursement, whether a routine refund or one of the handful of checks the government has issued to taxpayers in recent decades either to stimulate a down economy or share the dividends of a strong one.

    Treasury officials disputed that the checks would be delayed. […] [Lie!]

    […] the president is not an authorized signer for legal disbursements by the U.S. Treasury. It is standard practice for a civil servant to sign checks issued by the Treasury Department to ensure that government payments are nonpartisan.

    The checks will instead bear Trump’s name in the memo line, below a line that reads, “Economic Impact Payment,” the administration officials said. […]

    The decision to have the paper checks bear Trump’s name, in the works for weeks, according to a Treasury official, was announced early Tuesday to the IRS’s information technology team. The team, working from home, is now racing to implement a programming change that two senior IRS officials said will probably lead to a delay in issuing the first batch of paper checks. They are scheduled to be sent Thursday to the Bureau of the Fiscal Service for printing and issuing.

    Computer code must be changed to include the president’s name, and the system must be tested, these officials said. “Any last minute request like this will create a downstream snarl that will result in a delay,” said Chad Hooper, a quality-control manager who serves as national president of the IRS’s Professional Managers Association. […]

  65. says

    Chris Hayes:

    In my absolutely darkest moments right after the 2016 election I could not imagine this moment: thousands of Americans dying a day, an economic contraction to rival the Great Depression and Trump just listing off the names of CEOs while congratulating himself for a job well done

    just incredibly bleak

  66. consciousness razor says

    But Trump’s efforts to force states to reopen may be less about actually achieving the goal than it is about shifting blame to governors for an economic catastrophe that hits just months before voters decide whether Trump deserves a second term.

    Yes, except for the “may be” part. That is what he’s doing.

    Like I said before, the actual “reopening” isn’t something he can legitimately do. But making this move to try to deflect criticism/blame toward Democratic governors (or anyone else for that matter) is definitely possible and on the agenda.

    And if he can make it harder for certain states to get funding/resources, that could be used as leverage. Or to put it more bluntly, he can extort them. I’m not saying it’s legal or that it wouldn’t be grounds for another impeachment (like tons of other non-Ukraine issues that were also discarded), but that ship has sailed.

  67. says

    CNN – “Coronavirus takes a serious turn in Russia, and Putin no longer radiates confidence”:

    World leaders have been working from home during the coronavirus pandemic, and Vladimir Putin is no exception: On Monday, the Russian President held a videoconference from his official residence outside Moscow with some of the officials leading the government’s efforts to tackle the disease.

    It was an unusually somber meeting. Less than a month ago, Putin had radiated confidence about his government’s response to a growing global crisis, reassuring his citizens that the situation was “under control” thanks to early intervention measures. A few weeks later, Putin played the role of international rescuer, dispatching a planeload of medical supplies to New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport.

    How quickly things can change in the time of coronavirus. In his Monday videoconference, Putin took stock of a worsening situation.

    “We have a lot of problems,” Putin said. “There is nothing to boast about, and we must not let our guard down, because in general, as you and your specialists say, we have not passed the peak of the epidemic yet.”

    The trendline speaks for itself. While Russia has comparatively few cases compared with the United States or the hardest-hit European countries, the number of confirmed cases has surged in recent days. On Monday, Russia reported a record one-day rise in cases, with 2,558 confirmed over the previous 24 hours.

    On Tuesday, Russia hit a fresh record: 2,774 confirmed cases. And Putin is coming in for serious criticism over his handling of the crisis.

    In a recent essay, Tatiana Stanovaya of the Carnegie Moscow Center said the coronavirus pandemic had underscored Putin’s isolation from ordinary Russians.

    “One of the main topics today is why Putin is almost imperceptible in the coronavirus situation,” she wrote. “He only addressed the nation briefly twice and went to the [coronavirus] hospital in Kommunarka, but he neither gave his own assessments of the crisis nor proposed a plan of action, but limited himself to scattered measures and general words. No drama, empathy or attempts to mobilize.”

    Putin, Stanovaya argued, does not wish to be associated with harsh or unpopular measures, leaving such chores to local subordinates. In the case of the coronavirus, the task of rolling out some of the most heavy-handed restrictions has fallen to Sergey Sobyanin, the mayor of Moscow.

    The Russian capital has been the hardest hit by the virus. Officially, Russia has 21,102 cases, according to the government’s official tracking website, and the death toll has reached 170. Around half of the country’s recorded cases — 11,513 — are in Moscow, and 82 Muscovites have died.

    Sobyanin has taken the lead in enforcing lockdown measures, including the introduction of a controversial digital tracking system designed to keep residents indoors.

    A recent outbreak in China has also underscored the severity of the situation in Russia. Health authorities in Shanghai recently reported a surge in imported cases, tracing dozens of cases to a single flight that arrived in Shanghai from Moscow on April 10. Chinese authorities are also fighting an outbreak in city of Suifenhe, on the border with Russia’s Far East, a wave of cases attributed in large part to Chinese nationals returning from Russia.

    Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov on Tuesday deflected questions about the planeload of coronavirus cases that arrived in China, referring reporters to other agencies. But the spike in cases imported to China from Russia has raised a larger question: The reliability of Russian official statistics.

    The Russian government says it has carried out over 1.4 million tests for Covid-19. But Moscow doctors have recently begun diagnosing patients as positive based on lung scans because of questions over the accuracy of the tests….

    Julia Davis and Garry Kasparov were predicting this last month.

  68. says

    Guardian – “‘Crime against humanity’: Trump condemned for WHO funding freeze”:

    Leading health experts have labelled Donald Trump’s decision to cut funding to the World Health Organization (WHO) as a “crime against humanity” and a “damnable” act that will cost lives.

    The move also drew a rebuke from the head of the United Nations, who said the WHO was “absolutely critical to the world’s efforts to win the war against Covid-19”.

    Late on Tuesday Trump declared US funding would be put on hold for 60-90 days pending a review “to assess the World Health Organization’s role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus”. The US is the single largest contributor to the WHO.

    Richard Horton, the editor-in-chief of the Lancet medical journal, wrote that Trump’s decision was “a crime against humanity … Every scientist, every health worker, every citizen must resist and rebel against this appalling betrayal of global solidarity.”

    Antonio Guterres, the UN secretary general, said it was “not the time” to cut funding or to question errors. “Once we have finally turned the page on this epidemic, there must be a time to look back fully to understand how such a disease emerged and spread its devastation so quickly across the globe, and how all those involved reacted to the crisis,” said Guterres.

    “The lessons learned will be essential to effectively address similar challenges, as they may arise in the future. But now is not that time … It is also not the time to reduce the resources for the operations of the World Health Organization or any other humanitarian organization in the fight against the virus.”

    Echoing Guterres’s plea, Dr Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security, said the WHO did make mistakes and may need reform but that work needed to take place after the crisis had passed. “It’s not the middle of a pandemic that you do this type of thing,” he said.

    Dr Nahid Bhadelia, an infectious disease doctor and associate professor at Boston University’s school of medicine, said the cut was “an absolute disaster. WHO is a global technical partner, the platform through which sovereign countries share data/technology, our eyes on the global scope of this pandemic.”

    Laurie Garrett, a former senior fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations, said the decision was a “damnable” act by a “spiteful” Trump and would cost lives. “Meanwhile, WHO is the only lifeline most African, Latin American and Asia Pacific nations have.”

    Lawrence Gostin, the director of the WHO centre on public health and human rights, predicted the US would ultimately lose out because other countries would step into the vacuum with increased funding. “In global health and amidst a pandemic, America will lose its voice,” said Gostin….

  69. says

    Democracy Now!:

    “Essential or Expendable? Farmworkers Condemn Lack of Protection and Economic Help During Pandemic”:

    As the coronavirus sweeps through the United States, the country’s 2.5 million farmworkers are continuing to go to work every day, often facing crowded and unsanitary conditions without personal protective equipment, for poverty wages. We speak with Gerardo Reyes Chávez, a farmworker leader with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, who describes the conditions farmworkers in Florida are facing and how they are calling on Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to protect farmworkers during the COVID-19 crisis, and with Mónica Ramírez, president and founder of Justice for Migrant Women and co-founder of the National Farmworkers Women’s Alliance.

    “‘Terrified to Go to Work’: Hundreds of Workers in Meat & Poultry Plants Test Positive for COVID-19”:

    We look at the spike in coronavirus infections at meatpacking plants. In just one case, Smithfield Foods shut down a plant responsible for 5% of U.S. pork production after more than 350 workers at the facility tested positive for COVID-19. Meanwhile, deaths of slaughterhouse workers have been reported in Pennsylvania, Georgia and Colorado. Many meat processing facilities employ large numbers of immigrants, including undocumented workers. We speak with Wenonah Hauter, executive director and founder of Food & Water Watch, and with Magaly Licolli, executive director of Venceremos, an advocacy group for poultry plant workers, based in Springdale, Arkansas, home to Tyson Foods headquarters.

    “Who Delivers Food in the Pandemic? Gig Workers from Instacart to Uber Demand Safety & Hazard Pay”:

    As many grocery store workers and gig economy shoppers work without protection as demand for groceries soars from millions of Americans staying home, we speak with a personal shopper who worked for the delivery app Instacart. Instacart workers went on strike in late March to demand the company implement appropriate safety measures and give them hazard pay. Matthew Telles is a member of the Gig Workers Collective, which organized the strike.

    Videos and transcripts at the links.

  70. says

    Elizabeth Warren: “In this moment of crisis, it’s more important than ever that the next president restores Americans’ faith in good, effective government—and I’ve seen Joe Biden help our nation rebuild. Today, I’m proud to endorse @JoeBiden as President of the United States.”

    Video atl.

  71. says

    Civil Eats – “Critical Food and Farm Rules Have Been Rolled Back Amid Pandemic”:

    While the coronavirus pandemic claims more lives and precious resources throughout the U.S., the federal government has been suspending regulations, canceling inspections, and rolling back regulations that experts warn could significantly impact the country’s food system.

    Much of the action has centered around the three agencies that oversee the nation’s food safety net and regulate pollution from industrial farms: the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Department of Agriculture (USDA). As the agencies have put on hold rules meant to prevent foodborne illnesses and industrial pollution, experts worry that some companies may take advantage of the lull and do less to protect public health and the environment.

    “The administration has stepped away from its responsibility and empowered regulated industries to take charge and do as they please,” said Hannah Connor, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity….

    More atl.

  72. says

    Vox – “This is how America drinks now”:

    …Finnish people have name for this. It’s called kalsarikännit, which translates roughly to “pantsdrunk.” Kalsarikännit, like many Nordic words, went slightly viral a few years ago because it packages pleasure as something virtuous and guilt-free. Americans so often feel as though they need permission to be unproductive, that in order to drink wine on the couch in their underwear it needs to be part of a foreign lifestyle-wellness fad….

  73. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    I’ve been looking at the daily new case counts of Corona for various countries. Austria and S. Korea are good examples of countries that have not just flattened the curve but turned it over. They are essentially ready to re-open, albeit wit h travel restrictions in place (Austria borders Italy, ferchrissake). Spain is also getting there, they seem to have a severe outbreak contained.

    Iran looks like what happens when you re-open the economy too soon. The virus comes back with a vengeance and you have to clamp back down.

    Russia is a disaster unfolding.

  74. says

    Sometimes, Trump can’t even put his bad ideas into action.

    What happened to Trump’s ‘opening our country’ task force?

    The White House was supposed to launch its “Opening Our Country Task Force” yesterday. Instead it was apparently replaced with something… odd.

    […] Trump announced plans for a new entity, which he called the “Opening Our Country Task Force,” the members of which would be announced Tuesday. We even had a pretty good idea as to who’d serve on the new panel […]

    As recently as Monday, an administration official told NBC News that the group would be chaired by new White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who’d oversee a panel featuring much of the president’s cabinet and a variety of prominent White House advisors, including Larry Kudlow, Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, and Peter Navarro.

    The big unveiling was scheduled for yesterday. So, what’d we learn about the “opening our country” task force? Among other things, that the White House’s plan for the panel changed quite a bit over the last couple of days. The New York Times reported:

    […] Trump stood in the Rose Garden on Tuesday evening and recited a list of dozens of prominent business and labor leaders who he said would be advising him in deciding when and how to reopen the country’s economy, even as governors made it clear they will make those decisions themselves. The president’s announcement came after days of confusion about the makeup of what Mr. Trump has described as his “Opening the Country” council. Some business leaders were reluctant to have to defend Mr. Trump’s actions and risk damaging their brands, people with knowledge of the process said.

    After yesterday afternoon’s press briefing, the White House distributed a list of 220 people, from a variety of private industries and governmental departments, who would collectively form assorted “Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups.”

    It was all a bit … odd. The “Opening Our Country Task Force” that was supposed to be unveiled yesterday was not mentioned. The list of task force members Team Trump talked to the media about on Monday was gone on Tuesday.

    In its place, the White House released a list of 220 people who’ll presumably have some kind of semi-formal, ill-defined advisory role on different parts of the economy.

    The Times’ report added, “Mr. Trump was vague about whether those on his list had all agreed to serve on the task force […]”

    The article went on to note one of the names on the lengthy list “said that no request had been made to join the list and that there had been no advance notice of an announcement.”

    It’s quite the fine-tuned machine, isn’t it?

  75. says

    Oh my!

    In an interview with Elle, former state Sen. Stacey Abrams (D-Ga.) was asked if she’d accept an invitation to join Joe Biden’s 2020 ticket. “Yes. I would be honored,” she replied. “I would be an excellent running mate.”

  76. says

    Counting the dead in NY, with emphasis on those in long-term care facilities or nursing homes:

    […] a staggering 673 New Yorkers with unconfirmed but “probable” COVID-19 cases died in nursing homes, long-term care and hospice settings — a full 17.8% of deaths from these “probable” cases.

    Put another way: 70% of New Yorkers who died of COVID-19 in nursing homes and other long-term care settings never actually tested positive for the disease. [Most of them were never tested at all.]

    […] The data represent the disease’s uncounted toll on elder care facilities in the city, a trend represented in other COVID-19 hotspots around the world where the disease’s impact on the elderly, especially those living in communal settings, has been dramatic.

    Before Tuesday, New York City — like most state and local governments nationwide, as well as the CDC — did not publish numbers on unconfirmed but probable COVID-19 deaths in its total count of fatalities from the disease.

    But after reporting on data from the fire department and city medical examiner’s office showed that lab-confirmed cases represented just a fraction of COVID-19 deaths, the city released data on “probable” deaths from the disease.

    Nearly 3,800 New Yorkers who had not been confirmed carriers of the virus nonetheless likely died of COVID-19 since March, according to the newly released data.</b?

    […] Testing, though limited, has been concentrated in hospitals: More than twice the number of New Yorkers who died in hospitals had tested positive for COVID-19 than those who died in hospitals without having tested positive for the disease, according to the city’s data.

    In nursing homes and among at-home decedents, another poorly tested group, the opposite was clear: The vast majority of COVID-19 deaths occurred among people who had not actually tested positive for the disease. […]

    “The ones who died here were not tested,” the nurse said. “We know it’s because of the virus because it’s people who’ve been here for years who suddenly cannot breathe. They die very quickly.” […]

    TPM link

  77. says

    Kellyanne Conway mistook the number ‘19’ In COVID-19 for a strain of virus (instead of for the year in which the virus was identified), all the while accusing WHO of not knowing the facts.

    White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway erroneously asserted on Wednesday that the number 19 in COVID-19, which stands for the year in which the virus was discovered, stood for a strain of the disease.

    The adviser made the slip-up while explaining to the co-hosts of “Fox and Friends” why […] Trump decided to halt the U.S.’s payments to the World Health Organization (WHO).

    According to Conway, one reason for doing so was because the organization supposedly can’t be trusted to know how to handle the pandemic.

    “Some of the scientists and doctors say that there could be other strains later on,” she said. “This could come back in the fall in a limited way.”

    “This is COVID-19, not COVID-1 folks, and so you would think the people charged with the World Health Organization facts and figures would be on top of that,” [Kellyanne] continued.

    But the WHO was the one to craft the name in the first place, and the reason it attached “19” to COVID (which stands for “corona,” “virus,” and “disease”) to denote the year in which the virus was first identified, a fact mentioned on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) website.

    Trump announced on Tuesday night that he was putting a hold on funds to the WHO to investigate what the President claimed to be the organization’s “role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of coronavirus.”

    Amid criticism of his fumbling response to the coronavirus outbreak, Trump and his administration have been attempting to shift the blame on the WHO in an effort to shield himself. […]

    Link

    All the best people.

  78. says

    Follow-up to comment 97.

    From the readers comments:

    My Dad always said, “don’t show your ass in public, son”. She [Kellyanne] could use some of his wisdom.
    ——————
    This is her version of the truth.

    An alternative fact, if you will.
    ———————
    so goddamn fucking dumb all the time
    ———————
    When the WH reanimates her before an appearance, they need to make sure the brain gets a little spark before she hits the mics.

    Rush Limbaugh also thought there were 18 coronaviruses before COVID-19.

  79. says

    G liveblog:

    While some people have lost their incomes entirely as a result of the coronavirus lockdowns around the world, others are doing just fine.

    The Amazon CEO and entrepreneur, Jeff Bezos, has grown his vast fortune by a further $24bn so far during the coronavirus pandemic, a roughly 20% increase over the last four months to $138b, reports Kenya Evelyn in Washington.

    Bezos owns an 11% stake in the company and has been the world’s richest person since 2017.

  80. says

    About mail-in voting in New Mexico:

    […] Twenty-seven local clerks — with the backing of New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver (D) — had sought the court’s permission to essentially transform New Mexico’s June 2 election into an entirely mail-in election (though in-person voting would be available to those who needed it).

    Their lawyers told the court on Monday, according to Las Cruces Sun News, that the overhaul could not be done legislatively because calling a special session would require under law that legislators physically gather. They said they were merely asking the court to interpret existing election code rather than change the law, which already allows for special elections to be conducted via mail.

    Their request was initially filed unopposed, but the New Mexico Republican party, with the support of a voter fraud alarmist group, filed a lawsuit to block the request. The GOP claims that mail-in voting system the Democratic officials were seeking to implement — in which every registered voter receives a ballot in the mail — was susceptible to fraud.

    The Republicans instead backed a system in line with New Mexico’s current absentee voting practices, where voters must apply for mail-in ballots before the ballots are sent to them. The court backed the approach, according to Las Cruces Sun News, while adding that it would order clerks to mail the ballot applications to all voters.

    The court fight was one of several playing out across the country as voter advocates and election officials grapple with how to protect voters in the pandemic. Only a handful of states already have the infrastructure in place to smoothly administer elections largely done by mail.

    Link

  81. says

    Thread by Dr. Craig Spencer:

    When you wake up you wonder:

    Would they still call us heroes?

    If they knew we felt so helpless?

    We thought we’d get use to it.

    It’s been a month, but feels like forever.

    Back in the ER today. Jump on an empty subway at 7:30am. Streets are quiet.

    Walk into the hospital….

  82. says

    AP, yesterday – “AP Interview: Sanders says opposing Biden is ‘irresponsible’”:

    Bernie Sanders said Tuesday that it would be “irresponsible” for his loyalists not to support Joe Biden, warning that progressives who “sit on their hands” in the months ahead would simply enable President Donald Trump’s reelection.

    And lest there be any question, the 78-year-old Vermont senator confirmed that “it’s probably a very fair assumption” that he would not run for president again. He added, with a laugh: “One can’t predict the future.”

    Sanders, who suspended his presidential bid last week, spoke at length about his decision to endorse Biden, his political future and the urgent need to unify the Democratic Party during an interview with The Associated Press. He railed against the Republican president but also offered pointed criticism at his own supporters who have so far resisted his vow to do whatever it takes to help Biden win the presidency.

    He seemed to distance himself from his campaign’s former national press secretary, Briahna Joy Gray, when asked about her recent statement on social media refusing to endorse Biden.

    “She is my former press secretary — not on the payroll,” Sanders noted. A spokesman later clarified that all campaign staffers were no longer on the payroll as of Tuesday, though they will get a severance check in May.

    Sanders said his supporters have a simple choice now that Biden has emerged as the presumptive nominee: “Do we be as active as we can in electing Joe Biden and doing everything we can to move Joe and his campaign in a more progressive direction? Or do we choose to sit it out and allow the most dangerous president in modern American history to get reelected?”

    He continued: “I believe that it’s irresponsible for anybody to say, ‘Well, I disagree with Joe Biden — I disagree with Joe Biden! — and therefore I’m not going to be involved.’” …

  83. says

    Chuck Todd a little while ago talked to a reporter who was covering a protest against social-distancing measures enacted by Whitmer in Michigan. The protesters were supposed to stay in their cars, but several were out. As the reporter described the motives of the protesters in a serious tone (“They feel their liberty is being infringed upon” “One told me you can smoke grass in Michigan but you can’t mow it”), you could see in the background a confederate flag, a Gadsden flags, someone with a gun, and just a bunch of middle-aged white dudes angry about livesaving public health policy. Todd concluded the segment by noting the similarities between the paraphernalia there and at the Tea Party rallies.

  84. says

    Susan Collins should just go hide under a rock. Shame.

    There’s some brow-furrowing going on in Maine right now, where Sen. Susan Collins might just be having some regrets about her decision to fully embrace Donald Trump, the impeached president who she has been so certain must have learned some lesson from the experience. She’s concerned about his performance on the COVID-19 crisis and, get this, “hasn’t decided whether to endorse or oppose President Donald Trump’s reelection bid.” She also still hasn’t said if she voted for him in Maine’s primary last month. She says she voted, and his was the only Republican name on the ballot for the office, but she’s playing coy there. Like there’s any real question of that.

    But today’s concern is his public performance on coronavirus. “It’s been very uneven. There are times when I think his message has been spot-on and he has really deferred to the public health officials who have been with him at these press conferences,” Collins said. “And then there are times when I think he’s been off-message and has brought up extraneous issues. So I think it’s been mixed.” That’s got to be a really uncomfortable fence to be straddling right about now, and “uneven” is doing an awful lot of work for Collins. She added, again, “It’s been uneven. I don’t think that that is helpful. I think when he stays on message it’s helpful. But when he gets off-message or brings up issues that have nothing to do with the coronavirus, it is not reassuring to the American people.” Nevertheless, Politico reports, she’s “sticking with Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)” on the response. […]

    Link

  85. says

    Trump’s cult followers are organizing to defy quarantines.

    Yeah, this wouldn’t be the first time a bunch of angry dipshits totally fucked up our country. But this time their stupidity and obstinance seem particularly egregious.

    As Trumpites increasingly complain about crucial social-distancing measures, appearing approximately as forward-thinking and aware as a moth preparing to alight on a bug zapper, I have to continually remind myself that face-palms are verboten in the age of COVID-19.

    Current restrictions prevent them from going to all their fave places […]

    Well, some of them are mad as hell and they’re not going to take it anymore. According to The Daily Beast, many Trumpites are now “urging people to leave their homes to own the libs.” […]

    A protest movement is taking hold targeting states that have extended social-distancing rules, closed schools and restricted access to large religious gatherings. And it’s being fed by loyalists and political allies of President Donald Trump.

    At issue are seemingly contradictory directives between Trump—who said on Tuesday that his team was in the process of drafting new guidelines that would allow some states to bring critical industries to go back to work, possibly this month—and public health officials and many governors, who have urged people to stay home as the number of coronavirus-related deaths continue to rise.

    The tension has prompted Republican lawmakers and supporters of the president to publicly call for Americans to defy their local orders, claiming they infringe on constitutional rights. On Monday, Richard Grenell, acting director of the Office of National Intelligence and the U.S. ambassador to Germany, posted a photo of the Bill of Rights on Instagram with a title “Signed Permission Slip to Leave Your House.” […]

    Link

  86. says

    Trials for some associates of Rudy Giuliani have been delayed:

    A criminal trial for several associates of President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani has been postponed until well after the November election.

    A federal judge in New York on Wednesday ordered that the trial of Lev Parnas, Igor Fruman and two other men on campaign-finance-related charges be postponed from this October to February of next year.

    Prosecutors and defense lawyers agreed on the postponement, in part because of logistical complications related to the coronavirus pandemic, which has disrupted court proceedings across the country. […]

    An indictment returned against the businessmen last year charged them with violating U.S. campaign finance laws by funneling funds from abroad and hiding their source. In the indictment, [U.S. ambassador] Yovanovitch’s ouster is discussed as one of the goals the conspirators were allegedly seeking to achieve. […]

    Link

  87. says

    About Trump’s decision to withhold funds from WHO:

    […] “This decision is dangerous, illegal and will be swiftly challenged,” Pelosi said in a statement. […]

    Pelosi, in her statement, described Trump’s decision as “senseless” and implied he was simply seeking to blame others as he faces criticism for not responding to the pandemic fast enough.

    “We can only be successful in defeating this global pandemic through a coordinated international response with respect for science and data,” she continued.

    “But sadly, as he has since Day One, the President is ignoring global health experts, disregarding science and undermining the heroes fighting on the frontline, at great risk to the lives and livelihoods of Americans and people around the world,” the statement said. […]

    Link

  88. says

    Hmmm. Maybe good news. We’ll have to wait to see how the appeals turn out.

    A federal court has struck down a 2018 Agriculture Department rule that reversed nutrition standards for sodium and whole grains in school meal programs once championed by the former first lady Michelle Obama.

    NY Times link

    We have to fight so many Trumpish actions in the courts!

  89. says

    From former U.S. President Jimmy Carter:

    I am distressed by the decision to withhold critically needed U.S. funding for the World Health Organization, especially during an international pandemic. WHO is the only international organization capable of leading the effort to control this virus.

  90. says

    Kentucky just made it harder to vote during a pandemic.

    Kentucky’s heavily Republican legislature voted Tuesday to require voters to show a government-issued photo ID, overriding Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s veto in the process.

    Meanwhile, if a Kentucky voter heads to the state’s webpage hoping to learn how to obtain such an ID, they will encounter a message telling them ID-issuing offices are closed.

    Strict voter ID laws are increasingly common in Republican-controlled states, and left-leaning groups like students, low-income voters, and voters of color are especially less likely to have the ID that these laws require. Although voter ID’s policy proponents often argue that the measure is necessary to combat voter fraud at the polls, such fraud is so rare that it is virtually nonexistent.

    While voter ID laws, at best, are a solution in search of a problem, Kentucky’s new law could prove to be a particularly potent attack on the right to vote during a pandemic.

    Voter ID laws serve no legitimate purpose

    The ostensible function of a voter ID law is to prevent someone from impersonating another voter in order to cast a ballot in their name. But numerous studies and investigations show that the primary form of voter fraud addressed by these laws, impersonation fraud at the polls, is only slightly more common than unicorns.

    A study by Loyola Law School professor Justin Levitt, who led much of the Justice Department’s voting rights work during the Obama administration, found only 35 credible allegations of in-person voter fraud among the 834 million ballots cast in the 2000-2014 elections. A Wisconsin study found just seven cases of any kind of fraud among the 3 million cast in the 2004 election — and none of these seven were the kind that could be prevented by voter ID. In 2014, Iowa’s Republican Secretary of State Matt Schultz announced the results of a two-year investigation into election misconduct within his state. He found zero cases of voter impersonation at the polls. […]

  91. says

    SC @114, funny! Yes, there’s you, me, Lev Parnas, Igor Fruman, blf, Saad, and others … all under house arrest.

    I saw Nancy Pelosi in her home, in her own version of elegant house arrest, being interviewed by Chris Hayes. Here’s Wonkette’s coverage of some of Pelosi’s actions and statements, (past and present):

    You know House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is feeling something extra fierce when she decides to pick up her quill pen and write a Dear Colleague letter. She did it at several points during the impeachment process, as she announced the opening of the inquiry, and later when she told the House that it pains her to say this, but Mitch McConnell just can’t be trusted with the articles of impeachment the House voted through, […] (She was correct!)

    And now, with more than 600,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in America, many more unconfirmed, and zero federal plan to address it besides YELL AT CHINA AND WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION and SEND AMERICANS SMALL MONEY CHECKS WITH DONALD TRUMP’S YOOGE NAME ON THEM, Pelosi has done it again.

    It is a brutal letter, and the speaker is not shy about whose little childlike orange hands are currently covered in blood. And she is demanding that the truth be spoken far and wide about what Donald Trump has done to America.

    We hold these truths to be self-evident:

    The truth is that Donald Trump dismantled the infrastructure handed to him which was meant to plan for and overcome a pandemic, resulting in unnecessary deaths and economic disaster.

    The truth is that in January Donald Trump was warned about this pandemic, ignored those warnings, took insufficient action and caused unnecessary death and disaster.

    The truth is that Donald Trump told his most loyal followers that the pandemic was a hoax and that it would magically disappear, thus endangering lives and paving the way for economic disaster.

    The truth is that we did not have proper testing available in March despite Trump repeatedly claiming that we did; and even now, we do not have adequate tests, masks, PPE, and necessary equipment, which creates unnecessary death and suffering.

    The truth is because of an incompetent reaction to this health crisis, the strong economy handed to Donald Trump is now a disaster, causing the suffering of countless Americans and endangering lives.

    The truth is a weak person, a poor leader, takes no responsibility. A weak person blames others.

    There’s more truth in the letter, like how despite Trump’s lies about America being number one in coronavirus testing, only one percent of Americans have been tested, and how hospitals still don’t have the equipment they need to fight this pandemic. She talked about Congress’s response so far, and what Congress must do going forward, armed with the truth.

    “Respectfully and sadly,” Pelosi concluded the letter, and then put a bunch of those bullet points on Twitter so everybody, including Trump, could read the truth about how Trump is an “incompetent” and “weak” shitshow who has “caused unnecessary death and disaster.”

    Pelosi told Hayes she hasn’t spoken to Trump personally since the State of the Union. “You remember that,” she told Hayes, and OH YES WE DO.

    She bemoaned the stupid Trump-inflicted crises we are in right now, because of Trump’s stupid reactions to every aspect of the pandemic. For instance, the US Postal Service is in crisis, and from what Pelosi can tell, Congress’s failure to protect the Post Office is “personal” for Trump. Chris Hayes was like PLEASE EXPLAIN:

    HAYES: Wait a second, wait a second. Can I ask you to spell out the implication there? What are you saying there, that he bears a grudge against the post office because of his fixation with Jeff Bezos and them delivering for Amazon and the Washington Post, which some people have speculated? What are you saying?

    PELOSI: Don’t ever ask me to find out the – this President of the United States. That’s for others to do. I have to cope with the consequences, but I cannot analyze thinking, so to speak.

    She cannot psychoanalyze Trump’s seemingly diseased brain, she is merely sentenced to react when it leaks all over America, and try to protect folks as much as she can.

    And of course, she prays about it. Bless his heart.

    Wonkette link

    Nancy Pelosi has a far better refrigerator than I have. She also has better kitchen counter tops. And better clothes. It was fun to see her in her home. Video is available at the link.

  92. says

    Donald Trump Threatens to Adjourn Congress Unilaterally in What Would Be Unprecedented Power Grab, by Dahlia Lithwick.

    At his coronavirus press conference on Wednesday, […] Trump issued a stunning threat-slash-promise-slash-constitutional fantasy. Complaining that Democrats were blocking his judicial appointees, the president said that the Senate should either end its current pro forma session and come back to Washington amidst a pandemic to approve his appointees or officially adjourn so that he can make recess appointments.

    “The Senate has left Washington until at least May 4,” Trump said. “The Constitution provides a mechanism for the president to fill positions in such circumstances, the recess appointment it’s called. The Senate’s practice of gaveling into so-called pro forma sessions where no one is even there has prevented me from using the constitutional authority that we’re given under the recess provisions. The Senate should either fulfill its duty and vote on my nominees or it should formally adjourn so that I can make recess appointments.”

    “If the House will not agree to that adjournment,” he continued, “I will exercise my constitutional authority to adjourn both chambers of Congress. The current practice of leaving of town while conducting phony pro forma sessions is a dereliction of duty that the American people cannot afford during this crisis. It is a scam what they do.”

    Trump is likely referencing Article 2, Section 3 of the Constitution, which provides that the president can “on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper.” Does he have the power to actually do this, though? […] “The answer is yes—but only under, certain unusual circumstances. These conditions are so limited that a President has never exercised the power to adjourn Congress.”

    The clause as written seems to require that the president can only force the Senate to adjourn “in Case of Disagreement between them,” which suggests that it operates in cases where the House and Senate disagree about a date for adjournment. But the House and Senate have already agreed on a date: Jan 3, 2021.

    Trump, it seems, needs Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and a majority of Senators to come back to Washington to adjourn the Senate, which would then trigger a disagreement with the House of Representatives, as Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi would presumably then refuse to adjourn. On Wednesday, McConnell’s office said that he had spoken with Trump about the recess appointment question, but also indicated that he would not be altering Senate rules to get Trump his appointments. If McConnell were to adjourn along a party-line vote—possibly blowing up the filibuster in the process—theoretically, Trump would then adjourn the two disagreeing bodies. Recess appointments under this scheme would last only until January of 2021, but it would still be an unprecedented power grab. As historian Michael Beschloss tweeted, “Wilson, Taft and FDR were all urged to adjourn Congress and all refused.”

    “They know they’ve been warned and they’ve been warned right now,” Trump said. “If they don’t approve it, then we’re going to go this route and we’ll probably be challenged in court and we’ll see who wins.”

    Indeed, if Trump did manage to get Senate Republicans to go along with this plan, one wonders what the conservative-controlled Supreme Court might do. In 2014, the Supreme Court validated the legitimacy of holding pro forma sessions for the purpose of preventing recess appointments in NLRB v. Noel Canning, but that case did not involve the use of this unprecedented mechanism by a president. It would be challenged on a number of fronts.

    “[…] no president has ever found the existence of an extraordinary occasion that warranted exercise of this power, even [though] the [United States] had the Civil War and two declared World Wars, while the House and Senate have always been able to agree on a time to adjourn.”

    It’s possible that the move is also just intended as a feint to distract from Trump’s disastrous response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the spiraling economy. […]

    Ultimately, the real concern is that someone has advised […] Trump that he has the power to adjourn Congress and he’s building an argument for it; his White House Counsel and Justice Department are doubtless crafting the fanciful legal scaffolding right now. As is often the case when the president makes broad claims about untested constitutional authority, the worry is less that he will adjourn Congress tomorrow, and more that he is recreationally floating insane notions, bolstering them with in-house analysis, and laying the groundwork for emergency powers he may someday seek in earnest. It’s happened before and there is no reason it can’t happen again.

  93. says

    Lynna @ #116:

    I saw Nancy Pelosi in her home, in her own version of elegant house arrest, being interviewed by Chris Hayes.

    Yes, very elegant. I love seeing people in their houses and apartments – their artwork, their knickknacks, their general taste. And especially when dogs, cats, and children appear on the scene. Here’s Ilhan Omar with Joy Reid this weekend.

  94. says

    Excerpts from a longer Washington Post article:

    […] “We got a note about a conference call, like you’d get an invite to a Zoom thing, a few lines in an email, and that was it. Then our CEO heard his name in the Rose Garden? What the [expletive]?” said one prominent Washington lobbyist for a leading global corporation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive matter. “My company is furious. How do you go from ‘Join us on a call’ to, ‘Well, you’re on our team?’” […]

    participants in the calls — which took place in four rounds and included representatives from more than a dozen industries, including banking, sports, agriculture and health care — painted a picture of a chaotic approach by the White House.

    “Trump made it very clear he was ready to go on May 1,” a person who was on one of the afternoon calls said. The person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the private call, added that Trump seemed to bask in the praise from CEOs, who repeatedly opened their comments with compliments for the president. […]

    In another example of the apparent disorganization, the White House misspelled the name of Lockheed Martin chief executive Marillyn Hewson in its news release announcing the members of the advisory council. […]

    Link

    So now you know why Trump used up several minutes of his press briefing today to read a long, long list of company names and CEO’s. Farce. Trump was basically claiming that all of those companies, and all of those CEO’s, backed his play to “open the country” on May 1, (or, in some states, even before May 1).

  95. says

    NEWS:

    Jaime Harrison outraised Lindsey Graham in the first quarter.

    Harrison: $7.3 million
    Graham: $5.6 million

    This is the first time in 20 years @LindseyGrahamSC’s been outraised.”

  96. says

    G liveblog:

    Here’s our report on the results of the first general election of the coronavirus outbreak, where South Korea’s ruling party has won a landslide victory in national assembly elections, in what is being seen as an endorsement of President Moon Jae-in’s response to the pandemic.

    Moon’s left-leaning Democratic party and its smaller affiliate won 180 seats in the 300-seat assembly – the biggest majority in the national assembly by any party since South Korea’s transition to democracy in 1987 – according to the Yonhap news agency. The conservative opposition United Future party and its smaller sister party won 103 seats.

    Turnout was 66.2%, higher than any parliamentary elections held in South Korea since 1992.

  97. Saad says

    And that is over being told to stay home for a few months.

    Imagine how these people will act if they had to endure the conditions that many brown and black refugees have had to live in for their entire lives.

  98. militantagnostic says

    A comment from the Twitter link @127

    <

    blockquote></Is America just a 3rd world country with makeup on?blockquote>

  99. johnson catman says

    re SC @132: Mnuchin says that $1200 should last for 10 weeks. That comes out to . . . WOW! $120 per week to live on! I think my dad was making about $120 per week back in 1969, and my mom had to juggle things around to try to keep all the bills paid plus buying groceries for a family of four. So, fifty years later, this clueless asshole thinks people can live on $120 per week? How about we cut his pay to $120 per week and see if he survives. (And take away all of his savings/stocks/etc.)

  100. blf says

    johnson catman@135, From (very vague) memory, 120$/week was roughly my budget as a University student last millennium in California: Not only food, but textbooks, and whatevers… Whilst not really comparable — I can now afford it — today alone I spend a multiple of that amount (in Euros) on “essentials”; admittedly, the foods and whatnot weren’t all that much and it was the vin (mostly) which added up… (Sorry! — this is France…). Yes, the arsehole is clewless.

    Lynna@116, “there’s [SC], me, Lev Parnas, Igor Fruman, blf, Saad, and others … all under house arrest”: (Sips some nice rum from Trinidad & Tobago), um, yes

      ─────────────────────────

    Again, locally, during today’s (first time in a week-ish) shopping trip, I didn’t see any police. The local village council’s site says there was a mass crackdown on some eejits close to were I used to live in the village area, apparently playing soccer(?), which is not allowed under France’s lockdown regulations.

    There were some social distancing problems I noticed: An elderly couple clearly didn’t get it, and a queue outside one of the less-expensive “supermarkets” was ill-structured (queuing in such a manner it was difficult to pass), albeit polite. I didn’t manage to get to my preferred shop for (mostly) any milk or butter, so might have to go out again tomorrow… ;-(

    And I seem to have misplaced my credit card! (So some frantic calling earlier.) Adequate cash on-hand, so it’s not an immediate problem, but still… Grrrrrr! (The mildly deranged penguin cautiously backs away.)

    Currently awaiting a call-back on an non-critical issue with my Internet… promised would be in c.10 mins, it’s now been around 2 hours! This is normal service by the ISP’s standards, nonetheless… Grrrrrrrrrrrr!! (The mildly deranged penguin flees.)

  101. quotetheunquote says

    @SC #132
    Ye gods, that Mnuchin guy is … special.
    But, pardon my cultural ignorance, I don’t get AOC’s reference … and what’s all this stuff (in the replies) about bananas?!

  102. blf says

    quotetheunquote@138, Going bananas: “Going bananas means going crazy, becoming insane. It may also mean to go wild with anger […]”.

    So “this is bananas” is an idiom meaning, essentially, “this is fecking insane!” or similar.

  103. KG says

    Rachel Maddow asked Elizabeth Warren if she would accept an offer from Joe Biden to join the ticket.

    “Yes.” – SC@122

    What!!!??!? How dare she give a straight answer to a simple question?

  104. KG says

    A collection of examples of <A href=”https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/16/as-coronavirus-spreads-around-the-world-so-too-do-the-quack-cures2>corononsense from the Grauniad. Most, but by no means all, are religiously inspired. Hindu politicians from the ruling BJP are really taking the piss, while the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard proves that he is not to be out-numptied by the Great Satan!

  105. Saad says

    KG, #141

    What!!!??!? How dare [Warren] give a straight answer to a simple question?

    She’ll be just as bad as Pence! I’m not gonna vote.

  106. says

    PRRI – “Vast Majority of Americans Stayed Home for Easter, Oppose Religious Exemptions to Stay-at-Home Orders”:

    Despite the reports of a few clergy defiantly promising to hold in-person services on Easter weekend amid the growing coronavirus pandemic, the vast majority of Americans say their churches were closed on the most widely attended Sunday of the year, and very few indicated they planned to attend religious services in person. In a survey conducted April 6-11 just before Easter, only 8% of Americans who typically attend religious services at least a few times a year report that the place they primarily attend services was holding in-person gatherings for Easter or other religious occasions.

    Among typical religious service attendees, even fewer (3%) report that they planned to attend in-person services for Easter or other religious occasions. Among this group, more than six in ten (61%) say they planned to attend online services or watch television services for Easter or another religious occasion, compared to about one-third (32%) who did not plan to attend services in any form.

    Only about one in five (21%) Americans favor allowing churches and religious organizations to hold in-person services even when the government has issued a stay-at-home order. More than three in four (77%) oppose such a religious exemption, including 40% who strongly oppose such a policy.

    Americans who live in states with no restrictions on religious gatherings (22%) are more likely than those who live in states banning all gatherings with no exemptions (14%) to say they favor allowing in-person religious gatherings.

    Americans who trust Fox News most to provide accurate information about politics and current events are around twice as likely as Americans who most trust any other news sources to say they favor allowing in-person religious gatherings (33% vs. 17%).

    There is a notable Fox News effect among Republicans, white Christians, and whites without a college degree. Nearly four in ten (39%) Republicans who trust Fox News most favor allowing in-person gatherings, compared to 19% of Republicans who trust another news source most. Among all white Christians, 35% of those who trust Fox News most favor allowing in-person gatherings, compared to 18% who most trust any other news source. Similarly, among whites without a college degree, 38% of those who trust Fox News most favor allowing in-person gatherings, compared to 18% who most trust any other news source….

    More atl.

  107. says

    Follow the money: ‘The Michigan Conservative Coalition and Michigan Freedom Fund — founded by Greg McNeilly, political adviser to the family of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos — planned the protest following Whitmer’s executive order’.”

    WaPo link atl. Aside from everything else, why the fuck does a family have a political adviser?

  108. blf says

    Here in France, the situation on the world’s only non-USAian nuclear-powered aircraft carrier (and joke), the Charles de Gaulle (see @449(previous page)), has deteriorated significantly, albeit to the French Navy’s credit, they haven’t relieved the Captain from duty for reporting there is a problem, Inquiry after 668 of French aircraft carrier’s crew catch coronavirus:

    Military orders investigation into how a third of sailors on Charles de Gaulle were infected

    […]

    The nuclear-powered vessel had reportedly had no contact with the outside world since it went to sea on 15 March.

    From memory, the first detected cases were in Marines, and I (very vaguely!) recall some Marines were dispatched to ship after it set sail — I may be wrong here, and in any case, have no recollection of dates.

    Last Friday, the French defence ministry confirmed 50 sailors had Covid-19 and the ship, which was in the Atlantic at the time, was ordered back to base in Toulon on France’s Mediterranean coast. It arrived on Sunday, two weeks earlier than planned.

    Since then 668 sailors — one third of the 1,767-strong crew — have tested positive, the French defence ministry confirmed. “Today, 31 of them are in hospital, one in intensive care. We do not have the results for 30% of the tests,” it said in a statement.

    […]

    The Charles de Gaulle was docked at Brest on France’s western coast between 13–15 March, where the sailors were given shore leave. This was two days before the country’s strict confinement, as the lockdown is known in France [it is? maybe, but (most?) admittedly English-language reports say “lockdown”… –blf].

    France24’s report broadly aligns with the Grauniad’s, but there are some differences in detail, Twenty French sailors in hospital after aircraft carrier’s Covid-19 outbreak:

    Around 20 French sailors remain in hospital following a large outbreak of the coronavirus in the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle’s naval group, a spokesman for the French navy said on Thursday [today].

    […]

    On Wednesday, the French armed forces ministry said 1,767 marines — nearly all from the Charles de Gaulle carrier itself — had been evaluated and at least 668 had tested positive for the virus.

    The Charles de Gaulle set sail for the eastern Mediterranean on Jan 21 to support French military operations against Islamist militants in Iraq and Syria, before deploying to the Atlantic and then the Baltic.

    […]

    The France24 article also notes some of the cases are from one of the two accompanying frigates, but “[t]here had been no virus outbreak on the other frigate.” Other sources indicate the Charles de Gaulle sailed in January (some explicitly state 21st Jan), and state or imply it has been at sea ever since, so I’m at a loss why the Gruaniad says “15 March”.

  109. blf says

    SC@146, I love this reply, “If oil prices drop any lower, Chevron is going to start laying off Republican senators.” (Has a respectable number of “Likes”.)

  110. says

    SC @149, “why the fuck does a family have a political adviser?” Because they can’t think of enough ways to commit unethical, dangerous, self-promoting scams on their own?

  111. says

    Paycheck Protection Program officially runs out of money

    The small-business-aid program is out of funds, which should spur policymakers to work out a solution. It should be easy, but it’s not.

    One of the most important elements of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act is an initiative called the Paycheck Protection Program. The PPP, as it’s now known, makes loans available to small businesses, which become grants if business owners keep their employees on the payroll. In effect, it’s a lifeline in which the federal government will indirectly pay these workers’ salaries for a while.

    […] the question wasn’t whether the program would run out of money, but when. […]

    Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin formally requested last week that Congress infuse the PPP with an additional $250 billion, and in theory, that shouldn’t be much of a problem: the program is very popular and enjoys support from both parties.

    But in practice, it’s proving to be a surprisingly heavily lift. Democratic leaders are eager to approve the funding request, but they want to include in the bill additional funding for struggling states and municipalities, financially strapped hospitals, and families relying on food stamps. Republicans leaders, meanwhile, want a bill that focuses exclusively on the PPP, pushing off other priorities for a future package.

    Democrats have expressed a willingness to negotiate, but for the last two weeks, GOP leaders have said they will not sit down for talks. It’s why there’s been no progress — and why the Paycheck Protection Program has run through its $349 billion budget. […]

    There are multiple reports that Mnuchin and his team spoke with Democratic leaders last night, and those discussions are scheduled to continue again today. And while that may raise hopes of a deal, Politico reports that Senate Republicans may not cooperate, even if the Trump administration is satisfied with the solution.

    Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) said yesterday that even if Mnuchin and Democrats work something out, “it’s still got to pass the Senate…. Just because they agreed to it, it’s not a done deal.”

    Why?

  112. says

    Bits and pieces of campaign news:

    In Michigan, Republican officials are still trying to reject a voter-approved independent redistricting commission, but a federal appeals court yesterday upheld the panel’s creation.

    George Conway, Reed Galen, Steve Schmidt, John Weaver, and Rick Wilson — each of whom have been prominent voices in Republican politics in recent years — have an op-ed in the Washington Post today urging voters to support Joe Biden over Donald Trump. They explained that they’ve never backed a Democratic presidential nominee before. [I’ll post excerpts in a separate comment.]

    […] in Michigan, Rep. Justin Amash (I) said his congressional re-election campaign is now “paused” as he considers running a third-party presidential campaign.

  113. says

    We’ve never backed a Democrat for president. But Trump must be defeated.

    Washington Post link

    This November, Americans will cast their most consequential votes since Abraham Lincoln’s reelection in 1864. We confront a constellation of crises: a public health emergency not seen in a century, an economic collapse set to rival the Great Depression, and a world where American leadership is absent and dangers rise in the vacuum.

    Today, the United States is beset with a president who was unprepared for the burden of the presidency and who has made plain his deficits in leadership, management, intelligence and morality.

    […] Publicly supporting a Democratic nominee for president is a first for all of us. We are in extraordinary times, and we have chosen to put country over party […]

    Biden is now the presumptive Democratic nominee and he has our support. Biden has the experience, the attributes and the character to defeat Trump this fall. Unlike Trump, for whom the presidency is just one more opportunity to perfect his narcissism and self-aggrandizement, Biden sees public service as an opportunity to do right by the American people and a privilege to do so.

    […] Biden’s life has been marked by triumphs that didn’t change the goodness in him, and he is a man for whom public service never went to his head. His long record of bipartisan friendship and cross-partisan legislative efforts commends him to this moment. He is an imperfect man, but a man who loves his country and its people with a broad smile and an open heart.

    In this way, Trump is a photonegative of Joe Biden. While Trump has innumerable flaws and a lifetime of blaming others for them, Biden has long admitted his imperfections and in doing so has further illustrated his inherent goodness and his willingness to do the work necessary to help put the United States back on a path of health and prosperity.

    Unlike Trump, Biden is not an international embarrassment, nor does he demonstrate malignant narcissism. […] We have faith that Biden will surround himself by advisers of competence, expertise and wisdom, not an endless parade of disposable lackeys.

    For Trump, the presidency has been the biggest stage, under the hottest klieg lights in a reality show of his making. Every episode leaves the audience more shocked and divided. Trump’s only barometer is his own ego. The country, our values and its people do not factor into Trump’s equation.

    Biden understands a tenet of leadership that far too few leaders today grasp: The presidency is a life-and-death business, that the consequences of elections have real-world effects on individual Americans, and that all of this — all of the struggle, toil and work — is not a zero-sum game.

    The coronavirus crisis is a terrifying example of why real leadership looks outward. This crisis, the deaths and economic destruction are immeasurably worse because Trump and his administration were unwilling to do what was necessary to mitigate its worst effects and bring the country back as quickly as possible.

    We asked ourselves: How would a Biden presidency handle this crisis? Would he spend weeks lying about the risk? Would he look to cable news, the stock market and his ratings before taking the steps to make us safer? The answer is obvious: Biden will be the superior leader during the crisis of our generation.

    We’ve seen the damage three years of corruption and cultish amateurism can do. This country cannot afford to be torn apart for sport and profit for another term, as Trump will surely do. If Biden takes office next January, he won’t need on-the-job training. […]

    The nation cannot afford another four years of chaos, duplicity and Trump’s reality distortion. This country is crying out for a president with a spine stiffened by tragedy, a worldview shaped by experience and a heart whose compass points to decency.

    It is our hope that when the next president takes the oath of office in January, Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. will be the president for a truly united America. The stakes are too high to do anything less.

    The authors are on the advisory board of the Lincoln Project, George T. Conway III, Reed Galen, Steve Schmidt, John Weaver and Rick Wilson.

  114. says

    Trump added another TV personality, (what is to him a TV star), to his communications team:

    According to a new Politico report, former Trump campaign adviser, TV surrogate and author Michael Caputo has been hired as the chief Health and Human Services’ communications officer.

    Officials told Politico that the staunch Trump defender was brought to the White House to keep HHS Secretary Alex Azar in check. Trump reportedly suspects that Azar has been leaking to the media, and may have been behind a recent New York Times report that was critical of Trump’s response to the pandemic.

    The recent report portrays Azar in a shining light — as an administration official who tried to warn Trump and other officials about the pending pandemic back in January. Trump refuted the allegations via Twitter this week.

    The @nytimes story is a Fake, just like the “paper” itself. I was criticized for moving too fast when I issued the China Ban, long before most others wanted to do so. @SecAzar told me nothing until later, and Peter Navarro memo was same as Ban (see his statements). Fake News!

    Even if Azar isn’t the source of the critical press coverage, placing one of his top TV surrogates as the mouthpiece to Azar’s department is a predictable move. Trump’s been unhappy with Azar since he first started sounding the alarm about the coronavirus in the U.S.

    TPM link

  115. blf says

    Follow-up to @150, “Other sources indicate the Charles de Gaulle sailed in January (some explicitly state 21st Jan), and state or imply it has been at sea ever since, so I’m at a loss why the Gruaniad says ’15 March’.” I contacted the Grauniad’s Reader’s Editor about this — who immediately looked into the matter — and they replied:

    Radio France International, Figaro and AFP all report the Charles de Gaulle having last put into port at Brest on 15 March. So it didn’t set sail then but it was the last time it (reportedly) docked:

    http://www.rfi.fr/en/france/20200412-1-900-crew-of-french-aircraft-carrier-go-into-quarantine-after-covid-19-outbreak

    https://www.lefigaro.fr/sciences/les-militaires-cherchent-a-comprendre-comment-le-coronavirus-s-est-invite-sur-le-charles-de-gaulle-20200410

    https://gulfnews.com/world/europe/french-aircraft-carrier-heads-home-over-covid-19-fears-1.70871786

    So confusion on my part.

  116. says

    Follow-up to comment 116.

    Trump Calls Pelosi ‘Weak And Pathetic Puppet’ After Her Scathing Letter On COVID Response

    Boy, Trump is really stuck on that image of himself as a “puppet.” You can tell by the way he continues to project his “puppet” insult onto others.

    […] On Tuesday night, Pelosi wrote in the letter that Trump “took insufficient action and caused unnecessary death and disaster” after dismissing warnings of the approaching pandemic earlier in the year. [See comment 116 for more info.]

    Pelosi also argued that Trump “dismantled the infrastructure handed to him which was meant to plan for and overcome a pandemic ” and that the economy is now a disaster thanks to his “incompetent reaction” to the COVID-19 outbreak.

    Trump’s response to the letter came in a Thursday morning tweet that cites a quote from Fox News’ Sean Hannity calling Pelosi a “weak person.”

    Crazy “Nancy Pelosi, you are a weak person. You are a poor leader. You are the reason America hates career politicians, like yourself.” @seanhannity She is totally incompetent & controlled by the Radical Left, a weak and pathetic puppet. Come back to Washington and do your job!

    Way to avoid the actual substance of Pelosi’s criticism.

    From the readers comments:

    It would be nice if once, just once, he would do something useful, rather than slander people. I know, it’s all in his nature, but it’s gettin’ monotonous.
    ———————
    Projection rears its ugly head again.
    ——————
    Gee Don, deflect much, you weak and pathetic Russian puppet.
    ———————-
    The Speaker of the House is a leader. He is not.
    ——————-
    When you see governors banding together in consortia to do what’s direly necessary because the federal government is AWOL, it’s hard to imagine this ignorant jackass continuing to have much influence.
    ———————
    The fact is he was unable to refute anything Pelosi wrote in that letter, instead engaging in the only thing he knows -an ad hominem attack.
    ———————–
    What will torment me into eternity is those who blindly, blissfully follow such a sociopath, the Earth’s greatest record-setting pathological liar of all time. I grew up in a small town, but I reckon Trump told more lies in the last month alone than my entire town told in my first 18 years of life
    —————————-
    I remember someone else calling him a puppet to which he responded, “No puppet. You’re the puppet.”

    Guy needs some new material.

  117. says

    Dr. Oz says reopening schools is an ‘appetizing opportunity’ because only 2%-3% will die

    Dr. Mehmet Oz is a television quack. He’s been busted for pushing dietary supplements he was making profits off of as medical “miracles.” They weren’t. He was using his perceived medical expertise to generate profits for himself at the expense of everyone else. Dr. Oz has taken this show on the road to Fox News and the right-wing sulfursphere.

    Donald Trump has used him to televise a dubious medical health review of the president’s fast-food laden body. Dr. Oz has added whatever passes for credence by pretending he could perform some kind of Twitter-collected scientific study of anecdotal evidence that hydroxychloroquine has any benefits if taken by people who come into contact with COVID-19.

    In general, calling Dr. Oz a doctor is like calling me an air force pilot. I mean, I’ve been in a plane before, amiright? […] Sean Hannity brought on the scary doctor to discuss how we might get back to business as usual across this great land of ours.

    […] Sounding like a true sociopath, Dr. Oz explained how getting our kids back into school so that parents can get back to work might be exactly what this quack doctor thinks needs to be ordered. Hannity gave a nice overwrought throw to Oz, asking the discredited TV doctor to “help us.”

    DR. MEHMET OZ: “Well, first, we need our mojo back.”

    Oh man.

    DR. OZ: “Let’s start with things that are really critical to the nation where we think we might be able to open without getting into a lot of trouble. I tell you, schools are a very appetizing opportunity. I just saw a nice piece in The Lancet arguing the opening of schools may only cost us 2 to 3% in terms of total mortality. You know, any life is a life lost, but to get every child back into school where they’re being safely educated, and fed, and making the most out of their lives—with the theoretical risk on the backside—that might be a tradeoff some folks would consider.”

    It’s hard to know what Dr. Oz is even talking about. He might be referring to this study that reports that, without any other interventions, just closing schools alone would prevent “2-4% of deaths, much less than other social distancing interventions.” The conclusion of that study is that we need even more social distancing practices, not less.

    But, Dr. Oz said his bright idea would only result in 2% to 3% mortality. Let’s take him at his misinformed word and the logic of his own statement. As CNN anchor Jack Tapper pointed out, Dr. Oz’s grasp of numbers is seemingly as bad as his grasp of medicine. “A mortality rate of 2-3% of 328,200,000 Americans is 6,564,000 to 9,846,000 dead Americans.” Yup. And when only 5 million Americans die, Trump and his pals can say they did a great job?

    But maybe the comic book Halloween mad scientist doctor means just schoolchildren? According to the National Center for Education Statistics, “about 56.6 million students will attend elementary, middle, and high schools across the United States.” Doing some quick math—carry the one—that would mean Dr. Oz, Trump, and fiends feel that between 1,132,000 and 1,698,000 dead school age kids is “a very appetizing opportunity.”

    From Aaron Rupar:

    DR OZ: “Schools are a very appetizing opportunity. I just saw a nice piece in The Lancet arguing the opening of schools may only cost us 2 to 3%, in terms of total mortality. Any, you know, any life is a life lost, but … that might be a tradeoff some folks would consider.” 😳

  118. johnson catman says

    re Lynna @162: Hey, “Dr.” Oz, that 2-3% is TOTALLY okay as long as it isn’t you or your family, right?

  119. says

    johnson catman @163: I think that 2-3% is okay with “Dr.” Oz only if it does not include Oz himself. I doubt that he is even thinking about his own extended family.

    Business as usual from the Trump administration: Trump’s FEMA awards big N95 mask contract to shady company without medical supply experience

    Hmmm. Reminds me of how Trump’s FEMA awarded contracts to restore electrical power in Puerto Rico … to a Republican-backed company in Montana with only 2 employees. Everyone must be incompetent, it’s a trumpian rule.

    The Trump administration is turning to some shady third-party vendors to get N95 masks, it should surprise no one to learn. After the administration waited until mid-March to order supplies in bulk despite being warned in January that a pandemic was coming, now the need is desperate—and the opportunities to steer business to questionable companies are plentiful.

    While the biggest orders for masks have gone to reputable manufacturers like Honeywell and 3M, The Washington Post reports that, without competitive bidding, one $55 million contract for 10 million masks has gone to a tactical training company with no experience supplying medical equipment, among other big question marks.

    “We’ve done DoD medical training over the years and through those contacts with that community were brought sources of supply in order to assist in the COVID-19 response,” a Panthera Worldwide LLC executive told The Post. So they went to FEMA and were promptly awarded a $55 million contract to supply N95 masks at several times the price the government is paying to actual mask manufacturers with experience providing masks.

    That’s not the only questionable part of this contract, though. Panthera Worldwide LLC’s parent company, Panthera Enterprises, filed for bankruptcy last fall, said in bankruptcy filings that it hasn’t had any employees in nearly two years, has up to 99 creditors, and has liabilities up to $50 million. Panthera Worldwide LLC has allowed its LLC registration to lapse in Virginia, the state where it has its main office, defending itself by saying it has an LLC registration in Delaware and doesn’t do business in Virginia. Okay, then.

    Also, Panthera leased out its main asset, a West Virginia training facility, to another company … which is now suing Panthera for misrepresenting the facility’s revenue and contracts.

    So that sounds like the kind of outfit you’d bypass in the competitive bidding process to award a $55 million contract to provide some of the most sought-after product in the world at an inflated price, eh? Well, it actually does sound like business as usual for the Trump administration, and it will be interesting to see what ties surface between Panthera executives and members of Trump’s inner circle.

  120. blf says

    Coronavirus has killed 30,000 Americans, and all Trump can do is blame the WHO:

    The US president [sic] is scapegoating the health organisation to mask his own deadly inaction on this pandemic

    “A crime against humanity.” Richard Horton, the editor of The Lancet, spoke for many when he condemned the decision by President [sic] Trump to cut US funding to the World Health Organization, in the midst of a pandemic that has infected an estimated 2 million people, more than 137,000 of whom have died. Trump’s disdain for international agreements is well known. In 2017 he pulled the United States out of UNESCO and the Paris climate accord. The following year he withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal. These departures take the United States even further outside the international system. It is already missing from the list of countries that have ratified some of the most important international agreements, including conventions on torture, discrimination against women, rights of the child, and landmines.

    Until now, world leaders have adhered to diplomatic protocol, avoiding anything but the mildest public criticism of this notoriously sensitive president [sic]. Their true feelings are only revealed when their private conversations are accidentally overheard. This time it’s different. Simon Coveney, the foreign minister of Ireland, a country with exceptionally close ties with the United States, described Trump’s decision to cut funds to WHO as an “indefensible decision, in midst of global pandemic. So many vulnerable populations rely on WHO — deliberately undermining funding and trust now is shocking.” Heiko Maas, the German foreign minister was slightly more restrained, tweeting that: “Blaming does not help. The virus knows no borders”. […]

    […]

    It hardly needs to be said that Trump has justified his decision with claims that fail to withstand the most basic scrutiny. […]

    [… T]he decision will likely have a disproportionate effect on areas where the United States has made substantial earmarked contributions, such as polio eradication. More importantly, this is a massive distraction for an organisation working flat out to tackle one of the most serious threats to the health of everyone, including Americans, in decades.

    The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the weaknesses of individual leaders and international cooperation. In a world where Jair Bolsanaro can threaten the world by allowing the Amazon to burn, or Donald Trump can undermine those leading the response to a pandemic, the need for a new international order has never been more urgent.

  121. says

    Trump’s Next Propaganda War: Who Gets Counted in the Coronavirus Death Toll

    […] Every time Donald Trump steps to the podium, […] the timeline gets muddled, responsibility less clear. This, of course, is intentional. The coronavirus was once no more than the flu; then it was the invisible scourge, a war that the president sniffed out from the very beginning; now it’s creeping back to flu-like territory again—something that can’t possibly keep us from our highest calling here on earth: to go to work. There was a critical shortage of ventilators, but then there never was. Everything was “perfect” all along. The country was ramping up testing because there weren’t enough tests. Now, every American could always get tested, even though they can’t at the moment. Watching […] Trump say the exact opposite thing—and then dress down a reporter for pointing it out—is, on the best of days, exhausting. During a pandemic, it can feel crushing. And that is the point.

    But it’s not going to stop. And the outline of the coming, perhaps biggest information battle of all, is starting to emerge: the death toll. There are already wild discrepancies in the number of “confirmed” cases and “confirmed” deaths that likely don’t reflect the actual reach and impact of the virus. This week, in New York alone, thousands of additional deaths were attributed to the virus from people who died at home but never got tested or passed away before receiving their results. People die every day, of course, for a million reasons, but the some 3,000 deaths were on top of those daily averages during normal times, and caused the state’s death toll to spike by more than 50 percent to over 10,000. This is surely not the last instance of a death toll correction upward.

    […] China’s definition of a coronavirus-related death has swung back and forth. In the U.K., only deaths in hospitals of people who have already tested positive for the virus count in the national tally. That excludes a potentially huge segment of the population affected by the virus, not least of all nursing homes, […]. In Italy, where the mortality rate is suspected to be far higher than reported, grief has given way to anger. In Spain, who gets counted has already morphed into a divisive political issue. […]

    Trump already hinted at his displeasure that New York had incorporated the new fatalities into its count. This is the same president who in the very early days of the virus didn’t want to allow a cruise ship (of Americans) to come ashore because it would inflate the number of confirmed cases in the country. Trump likes easy metrics as stand-ins for success: the stock market stand-ins for the economy, approval ratings for governance, and TV ratings for value and importance. Trump will need a similarly digestible number that can fit on a chyron in order to recast his performance during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic as an unqualified success. […]

    With an election coming in just six months’ time, Trump will need, first, to reopen the economy. To do that, he needs improved numbers to show progress and assuage Americans’ fears. By all accounts, there has been progress due to Americans staying home. But once the economy starts to reopen, Trump’s responsibility for the death toll is more directly linked, which will provide all the incentive he needs to begin to undermine the data on—the reality of—how many Americans have died.

    So expect Trump to simultaneously pick the recent and terrifying worst-case projections that suggested hundreds of thousands, if not millions of deaths, and do everything he can to keep the official death count down. Keep that number down is the goal—the fewer Americans who die from the coronavirus, the better—but only if it reflects lives saved, not lost loved ones redefined out of the tally. It seems unlikely Trump will care about the distinction. […]

    During his press briefing, Trump grossly over-simplified the recount of deaths in NY, claiming that NY was counting “heart attacks” as COVID-19 deaths. Trump’s manner and tone indicated that he considered the recount of COVID-19 deaths to be a personal insult.

  122. blf says

    Follow-up to SC@153, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s explanation is very good! Angela Merkel draws on science background in Covid-19 explainer (video):

    German chancellor excels in describing epidemiological basis of lockdown exit strategy

    In her 14 years as Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel’s straight delivery and aversion to rhetorical grandeur has been a frequent bugbear for journalists and party colleagues longing for a more passionate line of communication between the head of government and the public.

    Yet in the middle of the coronavirus crisis, even her critics have come to appreciate a politician who is on safer ground explaining the importance of decimal places than projecting great visions of the future.

    Merkel’s explanation of the scientific basis behind her government’s lockdown exit strategy […] had all the calm confidence expected of a former research scientist with a doctorate in quantum chemistry who once co-authored a paper on the “influence of spatial correlations on the rate of chemical reactions”.

    [… synopsis of her explaination…]

    Merkel’s calculation, which came at the end of Wednesday night’s press conference, has received more attention abroad than in Germany, where the public is accustomed to the strengths and weaknesses that come with her scientific training.

    Lothar de Maiziére, the last East German premier who recommended Merkel for her first role in politics, has said her scientific background made her an outsider in a political arena dominated by men with law degrees, but also enabled her rise.

    “She knows that for every effect there has to be a cause and maybe also ideal conditions,” he told the Merkel biographer Evelyn Roll. “She knows the laws of formal logic and is therefore capable of building logical chains with speed and determination.”

    […]

    Was there anything politicians could learn from scientists, one German journalist once asked her. “Gravity,” Merkel responded. “Without mass, no depth.”

    Impeached quack hair furor’s lighter-than-aira-total-vacuum “brain” has no measurable mass, rather demonstrating Ms Merkel’s point.

  123. says

    Trump seems to be making sure that the administration’s coronavirus pandemic response is as chaotic as possible.

    Just how many virus task forces does the White House have?

    One White House task force focused on the coronavirus made sense. Four – or by some counts, five – White House task forces doesn’t.

    It started a couple of months ago with the creation of the official White House Coronavirus Task Force. Its launch made perfect sense: the Trump administration was confronting a deadly pandemic, so it stood to reason that the president would create a panel dedicated to focusing on the federal response.

    […] The official White House panel’s work was soon accompanied by a “shadow” coronavirus task force led by Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s young son-in-law, which is reportedly generating “confusion among many officials involved in the response” to the pandemic.

    Team Trump also reportedly has a “doctors’ group,” which the Washington Post described as “a previously unreported offshoot of the original task force,” which “huddles daily to discuss medical and public health issues.”

    Though its rollout has been a strange mess, the White House also created something called the “Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups” initiative, featuring several dozen private-sector leaders, some of whom had no idea they’d been added to an official presidential advisory panel.

    Late this morning, wouldn’t you know it, another task force popped up. Roll Call reported:

    A bipartisan group of lawmakers has joined a task force to provide counsel to President Donald Trump and the White House on when to loosen public health restrictions and how to get the economy moving after the COVID-19 pandemic…. The lawmakers will make up just one of an array of advisory panels on the economic future and how to reopen businesses, schools and more.

    At least for now, the group apparently doesn’t have a name, though Axios reported that this new panel is separate from the group of business leaders announced a couple of days ago.

    Stepping back, there are a few questions worth kicking around.

    Are all of these task forces entirely necessary? As we recently discussed, there’s still no underlying plan for the task forces’ members to implement. That should be the president’s focus right now.

    The proliferation of coronavirus task forces looks to me like Trump is creating the appearance of work, without actually doing the work.

    Trump will be attending a lot of meetings, (by teleconference, presumably), in which various task force members preface all their comments with effusive praise for Hair Furor.

  124. blf says

    Perhaps unusually for Banksy, not political (albeit very much Covid-19 pandemic related), Bog-standard genius: Banksy’s rats show great artists shine in solitude:

    The street artist has kept busy by painting his toilet. But as everyone from Giorgione to Van Gogh can attest, separation from society can do wonders for the creative mind

    What’s a street artist to do when the streets are locked down? Banksy’s got nothing to keep him busy except create mayhem in his own bathroom. He has released photographs of what he says is his loo decorated with stencilled rats in a trompe l’oeil rodent rampage — swinging from the towel holder, balancing on a mirror frame, perching on a toilet splashed with orangey-brown matter.

    For these filthy beasts long associated with plague, coronavirus means party time. They are celebrating our decline and fall. […]

    […]

    Artists were quarantined for illness as early as the Renaissance, when Italian cities pioneered social distancing measures as they struggled with plague. The Venetian painter Giorgione died on the lagoon city’s quarantine island Lazaretto Nuovo in 1510. According to his biographer Vasari, he chose to isolate alongside his infected lover and caught the fatal illness. On this island of socially excluded dying people, he may have created his most famous masterpiece, the Sleeping Venus. As Giorgione and his lover lay sick and isolated, he made this one last painting of her. She’s not just sleeping — she’s dying or dead. And as she lies there he records his love.

    [… discussion of various painter’s works during various quarantines through the centuries…]

    This time, I suspect the Grauniad really has screwed up. The embedded link, Whatever happened to the Sleeping Venus?, shows and discusses a similar but clearly different painting than the one in the article (or at Ye Pfffft! of All Knowledge), which is at Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden. The Grauniad’s embedded link is talking about another Sleeping Venus at the Dulwich Picture Gallery:

    Apparently derived from a lost painting by Titian. The prototype was based on Giorgione’s Venus in the Gemaldegalerie, Dresden (probably finished by Titian), with the addition of roses. DPG484 [Dulwich’s “Sleeping Venus” –blf] adds the Cupid and loggia.

    Banksy’s rats — images at the Grauniad’s link — are amusing. Unless you don’t like rats. In which case, what are you doing at a spider-mad bog? ;-)

  125. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s current live main pandemic bog… er, blog:

    […]
    Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro has sacked his popular health minister Luiz Mandetta after a weeks-long stand-off between the two men over radically different views of the coronavirus pandemic.

    On Twitter, Mandetta defended social isolation while the far-right president insists the impact of the pandemic on Brazil’s struggling economy is more important than loss of life.

  126. says

    Reuters – “Coronavirus clue? Most cases aboard U.S. aircraft carrier are symptom-free”:

    Sweeping testing of the entire crew of the coronavirus-stricken U.S. aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt may have revealed a clue about the pandemic: The majority of the positive cases so far are among sailors who are asymptomatic, officials say.

    The possibility that the coronavirus spreads in a mostly stealthy mode among a population of largely young, healthy people showing no symptoms could have major implications for U.S. policy-makers, who are considering how and when to reopen the economy.

    It also renews questions about the extent to which U.S. testing of just the people suspected of being infected is actually capturing the spread of the virus in the United States and around the world.

    The Navy’s testing of the entire 4,800-member crew of the aircraft carrier – which is about 94% complete – was an extraordinary move in a headline-grabbing case that has already led to the firing of the carrier’s captain and the resignation of the Navy’s top civilian official.

    Roughly 60 percent of the over 600 sailors who tested positive so far have not shown symptoms of COVID-19, the potentially lethal respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, the Navy says. The service did not speculate about how many might later develop symptoms or remain asymptomatic.

    “With regard to COVID-19, we’re learning that stealth in the form of asymptomatic transmission is this adversary’s secret power,” said Rear Admiral Bruce Gillingham, surgeon general of the Navy.

    The figure is higher than the 25% to 50% range offered on April 5 by Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force….

    I imagine it might be higher because, as they point out in the article, this is a younger, healthier set of people than the general population.

  127. blf says

    Not exactly political (and obviously not Covid-19 pandemic related), in the “U”K, Chart flop: VisitBritain sorry for literary map ignoring Wales and Scotland: “The nation’s official tourism agency published a map of inspiring bookish sights that left Wales ‘depicted as trees’ and Scotland guillotined”. It also doesn’t show N.Ireland at all (see image at link), despite (e.g.), Ye Pfffft! of All Knowledge have an entire article on N.Irish literature. It does, however, confidently place “The Lord of the Rings”, complete with a dragon’s tail (eh? well, Ok, The Hobbit…), abutting Wales, so that’s all right then, innit?

  128. says

    “‘Donald Trump found himself isolated among western leaders at a virtual G7 summit, as they expressed strong support for the World Health Organization after the US’s suspension of its funding’.”

    Guardian link atl. Also atl (scroll up), “US readout of G7 call says much of talk ‘centered on the lack of transparency and chronic mismanagement of the pandemic by the WHO. The leaders called for a thorough review and reform process’.”

    The other countries’ readouts don’t say anything like this. It appears to be a lie.

  129. says

    NEW: Midwest governors Gretchen Whitmer, Mike DeWine, Tony Evers, Tim Walz, JB Pritzker, Eric Holcomb and Andy Beshear just announced they will coordinate to reopen the economy in the Midwest region.”

    Announcement atl.

  130. blf says

    Follow-up to @44, Capt Tom Moore raises £15m for NHS as he completes garden walk:

    […]
    A 99-year-old war veteran has raised a staggering £15m for NHS staff after reaching his goal of walking 100 laps of his garden.

    Capt Tom Moore had hoped to achieve the target in time for his 100th birthday on 30 April, and walked the last 25 lengths on live TV on Thursday morning, with a guard of honour from the 1st Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment by his side.

    “I’m surrounded by the right sort of people so I’m feeling fine,” Moore said as he completed his laps to a round of applause.

    “It was just so emotional,” said his daughter, Hannah Ingram-Moore. “I mean, how special for his own regiment to be there as a guard of honour. We were just thrilled and incredibly proud.”

    […]

    JustGiving said Moore had broken the platform’s record for the largest total ever raised through a single campaign, while announcing that its parent company, Blackbaud, was donating £100,000 to the cause.

    […]

    There’s a video at the link.

  131. blf says

    Sort-of related to @174, RSC [Royal ShakespeareCompany] asks public to #ShareYourShakespeare for Bard’s birthday:

    Call for creative celebrations — such as with a painting, cake or dog trick — for virtual project:

    When Shakespeare was in plague lockdown in 1592 he wrote his great erotic poem Venus and Adonis. The Royal Shakespeare Company is not expecting that from the public but instead, how about teaching your dog to bark the word Macbeth?

    Or recreate the Romeo and Juliet balcony scene with vegetables. Shout some Hamlet over the garden fence to your neighbour. If you’ve got flour, bake a Shakespeare-themed cake.

    The RSC has announced that because it cannot celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday on 23 April with physical events in Stratford-upon-Avon, it will do it virtually.

    In partnership with the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC, it has launched a worldwide initiative, #ShareYourShakespeare, encouraging people to think laterally to celebrate the Bard.

    The project is supported by David Tennant, who recruited fellow actors including Jane Lapotaire, Paapa Essiedu and David Threlfall for a film of them delivering the monologue [All The World’s a Stage — in lockdown (video)] “All the world’s a stage”, from As You Like It.

    […]

    The idea is that people everywhere film or photograph something Shakespeare-related and upload it to Twitter, Instagram or YouTube tagging @theRSC and using the hashtag #ShareYourShakespeare. Or they can email or post.

    […]

    Sadly, I can easily imagine trolls and eejits ruining the effort.

  132. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    blf#178 I must heartily salute Captain Moore for both his feat and selfless service. The world needs more people like him. *salute*

  133. blf says

    More on one of teh impeached quack’s so-called “task forces” (or, as I originally Tpyos-offered, “tsk farces”), from the Grauniad’s current live States pandemic blog:

    It appears that Mitt Romney was the only Republican senator not asked to join Trump’s congressional task force on reopening the economy.

    [Kaitlan Collins:]

    Based on list the White House just sent, Romney appears to be the only GOP senator not on the congressional task force.

    A staggering 65 senators, including 52 of the 53 Republican in the Senate, were asked to join the task force, which had a call with the president [sic] earlier today.

    Trump has repeatedly taken swipes at Romney since the Utah lawmaker voted to convict the president on one of the two articles of impeachment earlier this year, making him the only Republican senator to do so.

    Sixty-five bloviating eejits — well, Ok, at least 52 of them are bloviating lying eejits (including Moscow Mitch) — that’s gonna be a very effective tsk farce. OTOH, that’s perhaps a good tsk farce to be so “effective”, provided they stay out of the expert’s way and keep teh impeached-they-failed-to-convict quack tied up (literally tied-up & gagged, sadly not).

  134. blf says

    Facebook to notify users who interact with COVID-19 hoaxes:

    If you liked a post that contains bad information about COVID-19, a Facebook fact-check service will notify you.

    Facebook will soon be letting users know if they liked, reacted to, or commented on posts with harmful misinformation about the novel coronavirus virus that was removed by moderators.

    […]

    Facebook users, for example, viewed a false claim that the virus is destroyed by chlorine dioxide nearly 200,000 times, estimated a new study out today from Avaaz, a left-leaning advocacy group that tracks and researches online misinformation.

    The group found more than 100 pieces of misinformation about the coronavirus on Facebook, viewed millions of times even after the claims had been marked as false or misleading by fact-checkers.

    Other false claims were not labelled as misinformation, despite being declared by fact-checkers as false. […]

    “Coronavirus misinformation content mutates and spreads faster than Facebook’s current system can track it,” Avaaz said in its report.

    Fake information on social media has been deadly. Last month, Iranian media reported more than 300 people had died and 1,000 were sickened in the country after ingesting methanol, a toxic alcohol rumoured to be a remedy on social media.

    […]

    My fake Covid-19 information: Not listening to impeached quack hair furor is a 100% effective cure. (It’s not a cure, and is not 100% effective, but nonetheless is a very very good idea.)

  135. says

    blf @178, ha! I love watching that old guy walk, “surrounded by the right sorts of people.” That’s just awesome. Simple. Unpretentious in its way. Also, social distancing was properly observed.

    SC @175, I don’t know why Team Trump does this. When the readouts from other countries appear in the media, Team Trump’s obvious lie(s) will be revealed. They can’t get away with the lie for even a day, so why bother?

  136. says

    The Black Plague, an ariticle by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, writing for The New Yorker:

    The old African-American aphorism “When white America catches a cold, black America gets pneumonia” has a new, morbid twist: when white America catches the novel coronavirus, black Americans die.

    Thousands of white Americans have also died from the virus, but the pace at which African-Americans are dying has transformed this public-health crisis into an object lesson in racial and class inequality. […] African-Americans are more likely to die of covid-19 than any other group in the U.S. It is still early in the course of the pandemic, and the demographic data is incomplete, but the partial view is enough to prompt a sober reflection on this bitter harvest of American racism.

    […] thirty-three per cent of Louisiana’s population comprise seventy per cent of the dead.

    The small city of Albany, Georgia, two hundred miles south of Atlanta, was the site of a heroic civil-rights standoff between the city’s black residents and its white police chief in the early nineteen-sixties. Today, more than twelve hundred people in the county have confirmed covid-19 cases, and at least seventy-eight people have died. According to earlier reports, eighty-one per cent of the dead are African-American.

    In Michigan, African-Americans make up fourteen per cent of the state’s population, but, currently, they account for thirty-three per cent of its reported infections and forty per cent of its deaths. Twenty-six per cent of the state’s infections and twenty-five per cent of deaths are in Detroit, a city that is seventy-nine per cent African-American. covid-19 is also ravaging the city’s suburbs that have large black populations.

    The virus has shaken African-Americans in Chicago, who account for fifty-two per cent of the city’s confirmed cases and a startling seventy-two per cent of deaths—far outpacing their proportion of the city’s population.

    As many have already noted, this macabre roll call reflects the fact that African-Americans are more likely to have preëxisting health conditions that make the coronavirus particularly deadly. […] These conditions—diabetes, asthma, heart disease, and obesity—are critical factors, and they point to the persistence of racial discrimination, which has long heightened black vulnerability to premature death, […] Racism in the shadow of American slavery has diminished almost all of the life chances of African-Americans. Black people are poorer, more likely to be underemployed, condemned to substandard housing, and given inferior health care because of their race. These factors explain why African-Americans are sixty per cent more likely to have been diagnosed with diabetes than white Americans, and why black women are sixty per cent more likely to have high blood pressure than white women. Such health disparities are as much markers of racial inequality as mass incarceration or housing discrimination.

    […] it is also important to acknowledge that black vulnerability is especially heightened by the continued ineptitude of the federal government in response to the coronavirus. […] covid-19 testing remains maddeningly inconsistent and unavailable, with access breaking down along the predictable lines. In Philadelphia […] in Zip Codes with a “lower proportion of minorities and higher incomes,” a higher number of tests were administered. In Zip Codes with a higher number of unemployed and uninsured residents, there were fewer tests. […] testing in higher-income neighborhoods is six times greater than it is in poorer neighborhoods.

    […] In the Detroit area, where the disease is surging, about fifteen hundred hospital workers, including five hundred nurses at Beaumont Health, Michigan’s largest hospital system, are off of the job with symptoms of covid-19. […] health-care providers are being asked to ration face masks and shields, dramatically raising the potential of their own infection, and thereby increasing the strain on the already overextended hospitals.

    […] In mid-March, Toni Preckwinkle, the president of the Cook County Board in Illinois, which encompasses Chicago, lamented the covid-19 crisis and proclaimed that “we are all in this together,” but, weeks later, she closed the emergency room of the public Provident Hospital in the predominantly black South Side. Preckwinkle claimed that the closure would last for a month and was a response to a single health-care worker becoming infected with the virus. […] doctors, and other health-care workers have been testing positive for covid-19 across the country, and their facilities have not been shuttered. It is a decision that simply could not have been made […] in any of the city’s wealthy, white neighborhoods on the North Side.

    Meanwhile, in Cook County Jail, three hundred and twenty-three inmates and a hundred and ninety-six correctional officers have tested positive for covid-19. Not only have officials not closed the county jail as a result but they also have yet to release a significant number of jailed people […]

    The most futile conversation in the U.S. is the argument about whether race or class is the main impediment to African-American social mobility. In reality, they cannot be separated from each other. African-Americans are suffering through this crisis not only because of racism but also because of how racial discrimination has tied them to the bottom of the U.S. class hierarchy. […]

    The intersecting threats of hunger, eviction, and unemployment drive poor and working-class African-Americans toward the possibility of infection. Fewer than twenty per cent of African-Americans have jobs that allow them to work at home. Black workers are concentrated in public-facing jobs, working in mass transit, home health care, retail, and service, where social distancing is virtually impossible. And then there is the concentration of African-Americans in institutions where social distancing is impossible, including prisons, jails, and homeless shelters. […]

    Poverty, in turn, reinforces ideological assumptions about race. When working-class black neighborhoods have high rates of substandard housing and poor maintenance, and black communities suffer from poor diets and widespread obesity, these characteristics are conflated with race. Racializing poverty helps to distract from the systemic factors at the foundation of both racial and economic inequality. […]

    comorbidities of food deserts, the diminishing returns of food stamps, and the depression and alienation that blanket poor and working-class black neighborhoods. It is not the absence of willpower that is fuelling the pandemic’s deadly effects in black communities. […]

    Not only are black women three times more likely to die in childbirth than white women are but college-educated black women’s mortality rates in childbirth are higher than those of white women with just a high-school degree. The stereotypes of African-Americans as fat and lazy, carefree and reckless, impetuous, irresponsible, and ultimately undeserving, are absorbed into the consciousness of the general public, health-care providers among them. […] a more recent study that showed that black patients were forty per cent less likely to receive medication to ease acute pain. […]

    The over-all unemployment rate for young black men and women in Chicago is thirty-seven per cent, compared with six per cent for their white peers. […]

    There is an additional consequence of letting the coronavirus crisis lapse into a narrow focus on the personal choices of African-Americans. The assumption that if African-Americans just change their personal behavior then they can join the ranks of the fit and healthy ignores the systemic issues that have created a general crisis of health and wellness and access to medical care in the United States. […]

    The U.S. has the highest youth and infant mortality rates among wealthy countries. U.S. citizens live “shorter and sicker” lives than those of other prosperous democratic nations.

    When public officials lament the way that covid-19 is engulfing black communities, the larger question is, what are they prepared to do about it? The immediate answer should be the rapid expansion of Medicaid and Medicare.[…] Good health-care practice must also include relief from the threat and stress of evictions. Black women constitute about forty-four per cent of those who are evicted from their homes in urban areas; […] Good health care means higher-paying jobs that allow black women and their families to worry less about monthly bills and the costs of child care and education. Black women in Louisiana, the state where African-Americans face the highest mortality rates from covid-19, make forty-seven cents to every dollar made by white men.

    […] Trump says that the higher rates of black death are “a tremendous challenge. . . . We want to find the reason to it.” […]

    In the midst of this surging pandemic, the mayor of Philadelphia, Jim Kenney, a Democrat, recently announced a round of budget cuts and reduced services, saying, “It’s not going to be easy, and it’s not going to be pleasant . . . but, at the end of it, we need a balanced budget.” Philadelphia is the poorest of the large American cities where African-Americans are suffering the most from the covid-19 outbreak.[…]

    In the past month, we have seen that it is possible for local and national governments to act in ways that protect people. The federal government has suspended interest and collection of federal student-loan payments until September, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development has declared a moratorium on foreclosures and evictions of government-insured mortgages. Some cities and states have halted evictions from rental properties, and municipalities across the country have released thousands of people from jails and prisons. Local law enforcement has pledged not to make arrests for misdemeanor offenses. In Detroit, officials pledged to stop turning people’s water off when they can’t pay their bills. If all of these actions are possible in a national emergency, because we believe that they will mitigate people’s vulnerability to disease and death, then why can’t this always be the standard? After all, when is it ever a good time to turn off someone’s access to potable water? One cannot continue to decry the rising rates of black death while preparing to change not a single thing about our failing political and economic systems. […]

    the United States must change in systemic and not superficial ways.

    https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/the-black-plague

    Excerpts are from a much longer article.

  137. John Morales says

    Nerd:

    I must heartily salute Captain Moore for both his feat and selfless service. The world needs more people like him. *salute*

    He walked in his back yard.

    Very admirable, that people paid money to watch an old man walk the back yard.
    For some, anyway.

  138. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s current live States blog (quoted in full):

    Minutes after the CDC director emphasized the importance of “early diagnosis, isolation and contact tracing,” the president [sic] contradicted the public health officials. There are states with wide open plains, wide-open spaces, Trump said. Aggressive testing and tracing aren’t necessary in those areas, according to the president [sic].

    Without checking, I suspect the States he’s babbling about — presumanbly, mostly the great plains & sparsely-populated (western?) — are important to him due to their influence / control of the Electoral College, i.e., to his reëlection. They may also contain “many” of his supporters, but they are unlikely to concern him, provided they win the State for him.

  139. consciousness razor says

    I used to live in the midwestern plains. For those who don’t know, life did not consist of just a few people scattered around in a giant corn field. We had these things called towns and cities, you see — an unusual concept, I know. However, it is true that there were no Trump hotels/resorts.

  140. blf says

    Orac lays into quack, and, apparently, crank, Didier Raoult, Dr Didier Raoult: Bad science on COVID-19 and bullying critics. Orac’s conclusion:

    The evidence is definitely trending in the direction of the conclusion that these drugs [hydroxychloroquine & azithromycin –blf] don’t work and have more toxicity than benefit. Indeed, I’m now 95% sure that these drugs don’t work against COVID-19. Could I be wrong? Sure? Do I think I’m wrong? No, but I actually would like to be wrong about this. In any event, thanks to “brave mavericks” like Didier Raoult, Dr Mehmet Oz, Dr Drew Pinsky, Dr Vladimir Zelenko, and sadly numerous others, bolstered by President [sic] Trump and his sycophants, toadies, and lackeys, hydroxychloroquine became the de facto standard of care without evidence. When they bypass rigorous science and rely on anecdotes and poor quality science, “brave maverick doctors” like Dr Raoult do real harm not just to science, but to patient. It’s not Dr [Damien] Barraud who should be subject to lawsuits and criminal proceedings.[] It’s Dr Raoult. Unfortunately, France being France, there’s no guarantee that it won’t be the other way around. The powerful bullshit artist might just win.

      † Dr Damien Barraud gave an interview (video, in French, at the link) sharply criticising quack Raoult’s “studies” (he claims to have done three now, all seriously flawed (see Orac’s post)). In response, quack & crank Raoult when full hair furorian on Dr Barraud: “Raoult clearly meant to sic his 345K followers on Dr Barraud on Twitter in retribution. [And, u]nfortunately, his threat to complain to l’Ordre des Médicins is not an idle one.”

  141. blf says

    SC@189, “Where are the goddamned tests?”
    Well… There’s this really big, huge, you wouldn’t believe how huge, like BIG, warehouse. They also have the Ark of the Covenant in there. They’ll be found, they’ll be found. And the WHO hide them, stamped Top Secret.

  142. blf says

    This is great (and vaguely related to some of @171), ‘That’s not art it’s Victorian porn!’ — how one small Barbie doll took on the art world (the Grauniad’s edits in {curly braces}):

    She pops up in galleries, denouncing prestigious works of art as ‘pre-Raphaelite wet T-shirt competitions’. Now ArtActivistBarbie is taking her feminist message to social media

    Museums and art galleries are not usually the sites of feminist political protest. Yet over the past couple of years, before the lockdown, gallery visitors all over the UK had noticed a small, determined activist whose modus operandi is “Small signs, big questions, fabulous wardrobe”.

    Posing in her most glamorous handmade outfits, ArtActivistBarbie has been calling into question the representation of women on gallery walls, and the lack of female artists in the country’s most prestigious collections. From pointing out that the National Gallery in London has 2,300 works by men and only 21 by women to calling out what she called a “pre-Raphaelite wet T-shirt competition”, the doll has important points to make about the cultural norms we take for granted.

    […]

    The woman behind the project is Sarah Williamson, a senior lecturer in education and professional development at the University of Huddersfield. A few years ago, she was trying to find a way to engage her students with social-justice issues and feminist ideas, especially the problematic way women are portrayed in art. She wondered if Barbie, that plastic idealised woman, could become a vehicle for playful commentary on the “patriarchal palaces of painting”. Soon Williamson was gathering a doll army, clothing it in pieces handmade by her feminist mother in the 1970s, with new additions created by her sister. She handed each of her students a Barbie doll and a blank placard on a lollipop stick, then set them loose in Huddersfield Art Gallery.

    The resulting mini-protest signs stopped visitors in their tracks, and the photographs of Barbie’s protests drew plenty of notice back in Williamson’s office: “I realised I had something which attracted everyone’s attention and catalysed conversations about how women are portrayed and represented not only in art, but society in general.”

    So she set up a Twitter account, @BarbieReports, not really expecting many people to care about this decidedly academic project. “I didn’t even know how to use Twitter,” she confesses. “I was on the train to London and I posted it. And then my phone never stopped pinging the whole week. It just seemed to take off.”

    […]

    Williamson remembers one visitor remarking that the Barbies made her “realise just how much women are judged by what’s on the outside and not on the inside”, and this awareness is at the heart of ArtActivistBarbie’s mission. Art museums and galleries exude authority, and the public usually accepts the version of history and culture they portray without question.

    “{ArtActivistBarbie} tries to reveal what you don’t always see. She points out what is there, but what’s not there as well. {She tries} to reveal inequality and structures of male power and privilege,” Williamson says. […]

    The whole article is worth reading. And the signs are very much to-the-point, if whimsical. For example (my transcription), “Yet another painting where the male gaze is legitimised by fine painting, brushwork & a scholarly reference to classical history.”

  143. says

    “Sorry, Immunity to Covid-19 Won’t Be Like a Superpower”

    WIRED link

    It’s nice to think that recovery will give you absolute protection, but that’s not really how this works.

    […] Adaptive immunity is not an on/off switch. Instead of treating it as such, we should learn to think in terms of an immunity continuum. At one end is what’s called sterilizing immunity, in which exposure to a pathogen tends to induce a lifelong, fail-safe protection from it. (That’s the case with measles.) At the other end is no immunity at all, where a history of prior illness doesn’t seem to matter—or, indeed, where it could even make things worse. Having an immune response to one strain of the virus causing dengue fever, for example, can worsen your reaction to the other types.

    Experts say that SARS-CoV-2 likely falls somewhere in the middle, such that people who get exposed are neither sterilized against further illness nor left utterly defenseless. Instead, they enter into a state you might think of as “immunishness,” an intermediate level of protection that dwindles over time. The robustness of this immunish state—whether it prevents all reinfection or merely makes a second round of sickness less intense—and the period of time for which it lasts will depend on multiple factors, such as a patient’s genetics and sex (women tend to have stronger immune reactions than men), the strength of their initial immune response […]

    We don’t even know which types of antibodies are most crucial for preventing SARS-CoV-2 from infecting cells. Without that information, it will be very hard to design blood tests that deliver reasonable estimates of the strength of someone’s immunity, in the sense of how likely they are to become infected or how severe their symptoms might be.

    If we want to know the duration of this immunity, whatever its strength, we’ll need to learn more about how the most relevant antibody levels change in the months or years post-infection. Previous studies of older, less dangerous coronaviruses seem to suggest that protection is short-lived: Antibody levels fall off significantly within a few months and continue to decline. A small study from 1990 re-exposed nine patients who had developed a mild cold to the same coronavirus a year later. Two-thirds of them developed a new bout of the infection, though they were contagious for a shorter period the second time around. The pattern may well be very different for SARS-CoV-2. Other research finds that decay rates for immunity can vary quite a bit from person to person, even in response to the same pathogen (or vaccine) exposure. […]

    The truth is, our immune responses to this virus aren’t likely to be permanent or perfect. It’s nice to imagine that once someone’s been infected they become a knight in antibody armor, but that’s not really how it works.

  144. John Morales says

    blf:

    “Yet another painting where the male gaze is legitimised by fine painting, brushwork & a scholarly reference to classical history.”

    Political madness!

    (Or so I presume, given this thread’s purpose)

  145. says

    Rachel Maddow:

    **Tackling the nursing home situation is the single most important thing we can do to save American lives.**

    Important new data: PA now posting county-by-county deaths, breaking out nursing homes.

    A majority of PA deaths — 52% — are in nursing homes.

    As more states provide this data, it’s becoming abundantly clear this is where a huge proportion of people are dying.

  146. blf says

    Eejits, Backing Trump, US Republicans call for WHO chief to resign:

    […]
    Seventeen of Trump’s fellow Republicans on the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee wrote a letter to Trump supporting his announcement this week that he was withholding funding for the WHO, and saying he should condition the resumption of contributions on the resignation of Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

    […]

    In their letter, the House Republicans said they had lost faith in Tedros and blamed the WHO and China’s Communist Party for the extent of the current global health crisis […]

    [… T]he letter said, it is imperative that we act swiftly to ensure the impartiality, transparency, and legitimacy of this valuable institution.

    Transparency and legitimacy would be very useful for Moscow Mitch’s private boys club.

  147. blf says

    Trump’s attacks on media ‘dangerously’ undermine the truth: CPJ [Committee to Protect Journalists]:

    CPJ says Trump’s attacks have been amplified during the coronavirus crisis, a time when unimpeded journalism is crucial.

    […]

    A new report by the leading rights organisation says Trump’s rhetoric, which has become all too familiar since he took office, has been amplified during the coronavirus crisis in the US […]

    The report, titled The Trump Administration and the Media, outlines a lengthy list of actions by Trump and his administration in which he repeatedly denigrated media outlets and journalists, discredited accurate reports, called for the boycott of news organisations and made changes in libel laws to punish critical reporting.

    […]

    Initially, the conferences were led by Vice President Mike Pence, who Trump appointed as the leader of the coronavirus task force. They are viewed by millions of Americans who are under stay-at-home orders and who are desperate for news.

    The briefings are now led by Trump in a move that Bhaskar Chakravorti, dean of Global Business at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, says came after it became clear that record numbers of Americans were tuning in, providing an opportunity for the president to be in the spotlight and get into “a sparring routine” with reporters.

    […]

    According to the press freedom tracker, a research engine that monitors attacks on the press, Trump has tweeted at least 2,000 negative comments about the media since he officially declared his candidacy in 2015. Those attacks have ramped up on Twitter and during the daily briefings since the coronavirus crisis first hit the US in January.

    […]

    Courtney Radsch, advocacy director at CPJ, says Trump’s disparaging of the media has an impact beyond just the US, encouraging authoritarian leaders around the world to emulate his attacks on the media.

    The CPJ report found that between January 2017 and May 2019, 26 countries introduced laws restricting media access in the name of preventing fake news. Leaders in Poland, Hungary, Turkey, China, the Philippines and Cambodia have cited fake news as a reason to criticise or restrict the press in their countries.

    […]

    “Trump has engaged in unprecedented anti-press rhetoric, which has been dangerous domestically as well as globally by signalling to authoritarian leaders that they can crack down on the press in their own countries without consequences,” Radsch said.

    Al Jazeera doesn’t seem to include a link to the CPJ report, The Trump Administration and the Media: “The Trump administration has stepped up prosecutions of news sources, interfered in the business of media owners, harassed journalists crossing US borders, and empowered foreign leaders to restrict their own media. But Trump’s most effective ploy has been to destroy the credibility of the press, dangerously undermining truth and consensus even as the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to kill tens of thousands of Americans.”

  148. blf says

    For the reading-challenged, I note the very first sentence of the @192 excerpt calls ArtActivistBarbie “feminist political protest”.

  149. John Morales says

    SC:

    John Morales @ #196,

    Art is political. Art history is political. Gender is political.

    Yes, yes, everything is political. But, is it politically mad?

    Also, and I mean this in the kindest of spirits in this trying moment, STFU.

    What, I’m not sufficiently political?

    (Should I opine on those nekkid blokes in those old Greek vases, and whether that is made for the male gaze, so that I could be as politically relevant?)

  150. says

    John Morales:

    Yes, yes, everything is political. But, is it politically mad?

    Yes.

    (Should I opine on those nekkid blokes in those old Greek vases, and whether that is made for the male gaze, so that I could be as politically relevant?)

    Good god, you’re an ignoramus.

  151. John Morales says

    SC, I’m not the one claiming everything is politically mad, so that nothing is out of topic on this thread.

  152. blf says

    Liverpool port detains P&O ship on Dublin–Liverpool route:

    Dispute over fees threatens ‘flow’ of vital goods between Ireland, Britain and Europe

    A key supply line between the Republic [of Ireland] and Britain has been disrupted by the impounding of the P&O vessel Norbay by port authorities in Liverpool on Thursday.

    It is understood the dispute centres around the payment of €689,000 (£600,000) in fees to Peel Ports, owners of Mersey Docks and Harbour Company Limited, the formal name for Liverpool Port.

    […]

    In a statement P&O said it had been “in discussions since this crisis began” with the owners of all of the ports it used “to ensure that we can manage payments while everyone deals with this unprecedented situation”.

    The ferry company siad [sic] it had “asked for flexibility” in terms of time to pay, but “the Liverpool Port refused to respond even though we were committing to full payment”.

    […]

    P&O Ferries is owned by DP World, a global organisation which had earnings before interest, tax and depreciation of €3.04 billion in 2019.

    In its response Peel Ports said Liverpool played a vital supply role in many key logistics chains, including medical, healthcare and food. It said “customers who refuse to pay their bills put these and other supply chains at risk. Any decision to detain a vessel is always taken as a last resort, and only when there is a significant debt to repay.”

    […]

    As the article notes, for assorted reasons this isn’t a major problem (there are other ferry companies and overall traffic is down).

  153. says

    John, I’m not telling you to STFU because you’re off topic. I’m telling you to STFU because (again, in the spirit of loving kindness) you’re an insufferable asshole.

  154. says

    Just fine, thanks for asking.

    Grieving over a cat I loved with all my heart, but OK. Best to you (and I mean that seriously – it’s a terrible time, and I’ve “known” you here for a while and come to like you in many ways and hope you’re doing well).

  155. blf says

    Follow-up to @29, from the Grauniad’s current live main pandemic blog:

    Flights deporting Guatemalan migrants from the United States will again be temporarily suspended, Guatemala’s foreign ministry said on Thursday, after a mass infection of the new coronavirus was reported on a recent flight.

    The Associated Press reported 44 of 76 Guatemalan migrants who arrived in the country on a US deportation flight on Monday subsequently tested positive for the highly contagious coronavirus that causes a respiratory illness.

    […]

  156. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    SC, sorry to hear of the loss of your cat. We lost our dog in February. (Cancer sucks!) We got two puppies in March just before the caca hit the fan, so our isolation has been much more active and entertaining than it would have been.

  157. johnson catman says

    a_ray_in_dilbert_space @215: The problem with those new puppies (if you are working from home) will be the separation anxiety that they will go through when you go back to not working from home again. They will be used to having you around all the time, and then you won’t be. I hope you have been able to train them for that eventuality.

  158. Paul K says

    SC: I’ve lost cats that I loved more than almost any humans I’ve known. I’m so grateful for this thread, and all that you, Lynna, blf, and others do. I catch up on it several times every day. This is my main source of political news and insight, and I’m sure I’m one of many. So, thanks, and deep condolences for the loss of your cat.

  159. johnson catman says

    SC, I feel your pain, and I hope that you are able to get through it with the help of friends and other furry children. I have grieved over every cat that I have lost, but I remember the joy and love that they gave me when they were in my life.

  160. says

    a_ray, Paul K, and chigau, thank you so much for the kind thoughts and words. a_ray, I’m so sorry about your loss, but happy to hear about your lucky puppies (plural!).

  161. says

    Thanks, johnson catman. Yes, I have wonderful friends, human and nonhuman, but some days are rough. I still can’t believe he’s gone. I used to look around to check that the other cats were out of earshot and whisper to him “I love you more than anyone.” He was such a special boy.

  162. says

    Here’s a link to the April 17 Guardian coronavirus liveblog.

    From there:

    Brazil’s former health minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta has said his country needs divine protection after his sacking by the president, Jair Bolsonaro, paved the way for a radical shift in coronavirus policy.

    Brazil’s far-right president opposes social isolation and the partial lockdowns imposed by virtually all of Brazil’s governors and, after dismissing Mandetta, Bolsonaro vowed to begin gradually reopening the country in order to protect the economy.

    Medical experts and Mandetta fear such steps will cause a jump in the number of coronavirus cases and place unbearable strain on Brazil’s public health service. Intensive care units in several major Brazilian cities are already reported to be full or nearly full because of Covid-19.

    “God help us all,” Mandetta told Eliane Cantanhêde, one of Brazil’s top political commentators, on Thursday after being fired, according to her account of a phone call with him.

    Ominously for those who fear Bolsonaro’s plans will prove deadly for Brazil’s 211 million citizens, Mandetta reportedly added: “A completely different social dynamic is coming, which changes everything.”

  163. says

    G liveblog:

    US president Donald Trump has sent a series of incendiary tweets calling on states currently under stay-at-home orders to be liberated.

    The tweets follow yesterday’s federal guidelines on reopening the economy, which acknowledged governors would make the ultimate decision on how and when to reopen their states.

    The tweets read:
    “LIBERATE MINNESOTA!”
    “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!”
    “LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!”

  164. says

    One of the responses to the tweet @ #226 links to this Salon piece – “Trump’s Tea Party: Are right-wing ‘open the country’ protests an AstroTurf operation?”:

    …So while Trump’s campaign rallies have indefinitely relocated to a socially-distanced White House, it comes as little surprise that his supporters have taken to openly flouting CDC guidelines in order to protest the call for personal sacrifice to help ensure the safety of the community. One unanswered question is whether this is an organic movement or a more organized effort, akin to the AstroTurf Tea Party protests that were prominent on the right during the Obama years.

    The protests come just as President Trump’s short-lived “rally around the flag” polling bump begins to subside, and as Democratic governors across the nation see their job approval ratings rise. Beginning in Ohio on Monday, then North Carolina on Tuesday and Michigan and Kentucky on Wednesday, with more planned for Arizona in the coming days, these modest gatherings certainly suggest a degree of national coordination. Call it Trump’s Tea Party or the right-wing Resistance — no matter how the pushback has been organized, it’s clear that the political objective of these protests goes beyond any specific policy outcome.

    Protesters against Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s shutdown orders had promised a car-bound event dubbed “Operation Gridlock,” but at least 200 people physically gathered at the steps of the State Capitol in Lansing on Wednesday, armed with Confederate flags, pro-Trump banners and anti-Whitmer signs, some comparing the governor to Hitler. Most protesters did not wear masks. Republican House Speaker Lee Chatfield greeted the protesters by waving an American flag from a window at his Capitol office.

    Similar protests took place in Kentucky on Wednesday, directed at Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s stay-at-home order and organized by a onetime political appointee of former Republican Gov. Matt Bevin. The GOP operative recently made headlines for claiming, without evidence, that Beshear defeated Bevin last November due to vote “hacking.”

    On Tuesday, more than 100 protesters in Raleigh, North Carolina, came together to oppose Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s stay-at-home order. The protest was organized through a private Facebook group named #ReOpenNC started by a stay-at-home mother who told the Raleigh News & Observer that she is “against mandatory vaccination.” The group said it plans to hold weekly rallies, a promise also made by the 100-plus protesters who interrupted Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, on Monday.

    So who is behind the sudden sprouting of right-wing resistance? Unlike with the Tea Party movement of the recent past, the mega-donors behind today’s right-wing rallies are making no effort to hide their involvement.

    FreedomWorks, the instrumental force behind the Tea Party, “is holding weekly virtual town halls with members of Congress, igniting an activist base of thousands of supporters across the nation to back up the effort” led by right-wing commentator Stephen Moore. the Associated Press reported. Other right-wing groups vocally opposing shutdowns include Americans for Prosperity, an organization funded by the Koch brothers, and the conservative Heritage Foundation.

    There is even a connection to the family of Trump’s Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. As Michigan’s governor noted, the DeVos family foundation helped fund Facebook ads for this week’s protest….

    Trump’s acting director of national intelligence, Richard Grenell, posted an image to social media on Wednesday suggesting that stay-at-home orders were unconstitutional. That same day, Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, “We’ve gotta reopen, and when we do the coronavirus is gonna spread faster.” Rep. Trey Hollingsworth told an Indianapolis radio station on Wednesday that it was time for lawmakers to put on their “big-boy and big-girl pants” and prioritize “the American way of life” over the lives of actual Americans. “It is not zero evil, but it is the lesser of these two evils,” Hollingsworth said, “and we intend to move forward that direction.”

    It’s clear these small groups of protesters share more than a sense of irritability with being inconvenienced. After all, protesters have been beaten, strikers have been shot, and freedom of assembly has been infringed plenty of times in the past — and those crackdowns have been loudly applauded by the same right-wing, pro-capital protesters now complaining about social distancing guidelines. Recall that after Trump’s election, Republican state legislatures rushed to pass laws restricting the right to protest. In Arizona, where right-wing protests against shelter-in-place orders are scheduled for this weekend, Republicans tried to pass a bill allowing police to arrest anyone involved in a nonviolent demonstration. Now the same people who rally around a “back the blue” campaign whenever police shoot an unarmed black person or when anti-fascists take to the streets are righteously exercised about civil liberties.

    “Are you goons of [Gov.] Cooper or servants of the people?” one North Carolina protester reportedly yelled at law enforcement officers this week.

    This redirected right-wing rage comes as Trump continues to change direction, hoping to find a pandemic response that makes him look like a leader. Whether this so-called protest movement is orchestrated by his campaign or not — and that seems highly plausible — ultimately it’s a PR stunt conducted on his behalf, meant to avoid a grim new reality as the bodies pile up.

  165. says

    INGRAHAM: We don’t have a vaccine for SARS or HIV. Life went on, right?

    FAUCI: HIV/AIDS is very different. We have effective treatments. And SARS went away. So your comparison is misleading.

    I: But coronavirus could disappear too.

    F: These kind of viruses don’t just disappear.”

    Video atl. (Also, 32 million people died from AIDS.)

  166. says

    Kevin Mitchell Mercer:

    I asked my students (for extra credit) to select one COVID-19 artifact that they would suggest to a historian 100 years from now for an exhibit. The results are moving and heartbreaking. The only rule was they couldn’t say anything medical since that would be easy (masks etc)

    A lot of students suggested “unfinished” things. Half-empty course notebooks, unused Spring Break items, & unused Scantrons. The tearjerkers were “a glass door” through which they visit loved ones and the notes my nurse mom leaves me when she leaves for work.

    Collectively they show young lives in disruption. I can tell them this will be generationally defining for them, and they can nod in agreement over Zoom, but that realization is still years off. If you have students, just be kind to them right now….

  167. says

    SC @227, one of the signs carried by a protester read in part, “it’s a cold virus!” So, we still need to fight disinformation. For more than 30,000 people who died, the coronavirus was not just a cold. For people who survived but who now have to live with damaged lungs, it is not just a cold. Sheesh. Disinformation is infecting the right wing. And Trump encourages that. Frustrating.

  168. says

    Josh Marshall:

    We make a mistake not consistently demanding Donald Trump’s resignation. His refusal of accountability shouldn’t shape our perception or discussion of the necessity of it. But it’s even more important wrt to his supporters. No supporter of the President shld be allowed into any legitimate discussion of any aspect of the COVID19 Crisis without admitting to President Trump’s responsibility for reckless, selfish gambles and incompetence that has very literally led to or is in the process of leading to tens of thousands of American deaths and grave damage to the economy.

  169. says

    Most recent episode of Chris Hayes’ podcast Why Is This Happening? – “Going Viral with Carl Bergstrom”:

    There are still more questions than answers about COVID-19. While the impacts of the virus are felt in every corner of human life, there’s a desire to find a neat and clean explanation for how things got to this point. This search for causality creates an environment ripe for the spread of misinformation – conspiracy theories, premature conclusions, incomplete data- and it’s crucial to learn how to think critically about the stories being told. We invited biology professor Carl Bergstrom, author of the forthcoming book “Calling Bullshit: The Art of Skepticism in a Data-Driven World”, to talk about what we do and don’t know, what the experts are debating over, and what it means to have the first ever quarantine in the age of the internet. Come for the lesson on thinking critically about data, stay to hear about the shrimp who love to punch.

  170. says

    Incomplete information, an example: I was working on a flower bed in my large back yard when the teenage girl next door shouted, “Old people are supposed to stay in their houses!”

    Okay, I look old to teenagers. Fair enough.

    However, no other human being was in my back yard with me. I was at least 40 feet away from the teenage girl.

  171. says

    Follow-up to comment 164.

    Yep. Incompetence in the Trump administration runs rampant.

    Seeking masks, FEMA agrees to contract with insolvent company

    FEMA appears to have awarded a masks contract “to an insolvent organization with no apparent expertise in the given field.”

    […] While in some cases, FEMA is paying less than a dollar per mask to large domestic manufacturers, it also recently agreed to a contract in which FEMA will pay about $5.50 per mask to a company called Panthera. […]

    Business Insider ran a headline that read, “The Trump administration paid a bankrupt company with zero employees $55 million for N95 masks, which it’s never manufactured.” […]

    Oversight is needed.

  172. blf says

    Related to @421(previous page), ‘Huge environmental waste’ as US airlines fly near-empty planes:

    A 96% drop in passenger numbers because of coronavirus restrictions has not been matched by cuts in flights

    […]

    Widespread travel restrictions around the world have slashed demand for air travel, with more than eight in 10 flights canceled. But there is a disparity in the US — while the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has reported a 96% slump in passenger volume, to a level not seen since 1954, this hasn’t been matched by the number of flights being scrapped.

    Slightly more than half the flights within the US have been canceled, leading to a slew of near-empty flights. Less than one in 10 seats on domestic flights were filled by passengers last week, according to an estimate by Dan Rutherford, aviation director at the International Council on Clean Transportation.

    “The evidence suggests that the number of people flying is dropping faster than the flights so there are a lot of empty planes,” he said. “The airlines are left to figure this out for themselves and they are playing catch-up.”

    This situation is leading to a “huge environmental waste”, Rutherford said, as planes burn huge amounts of fuel to transport just a handful of people around America.

    In March, Sheryl Pardo shared a video of her being upgraded to first class and given a personalized safety briefing after being the only passenger to check in to an American Airlines flight from Washington to Boston. Meanwhile, a Virgin Atlantic flight from London to New York subsequently carried just seven people.

    […]

    The US airline industry got $25bn in assistance in the recent stimulus package to deal with the sharp downturn in business. In return, the airlines are required to maintain a certain level of service, which may be leading to the near-empty flights.

    The economics of running an airline can also be counterintuitive in that it can sometimes be cheaper to fly a commercial airliner to a planned destination than pay for a spot to simply park it.

    According to Airlines for America, an industry group, more than a third of the US fleet, about 2,400 aircraft, have been parked, with airlines burning through cash at more than $10bn a month as cancellations “far outpace” new bookings. Planes have gone from “load factors” of 80% in January to just 11% in April.

    […]

    A spokesman for United said it was “still somewhat rare” for a single passenger to be on a flight and said that the company had made investments in more sustainable fuel to lower its carbon footprint.

    The commitment of airlines in general to addressing the climate crisis has been questioned during the coronavirus shutdown, however. Airlines are lobbying to rewrite the rules of a global agreement designed to tackle aviation emissions, with the coronavirus outbreak expected to make its targets tougher to meet.

    Campaigners accused airlines of attempting to “dodge their obligations”, but the industry said it was a matter of survival.

    Flying empty planes is indeed about survival — but not of the airline industry / companies.

  173. says

    Follow-up to comments 94 and 122.

    Senator Kamala Harris has also said that she would be honored to serve as Joe Biden’s vice president.

    In other campaign news:

    The Trump campaign this week sued an NBC affiliate in Wisconsin for airing a commercial that quotes the president in a way the campaign didn’t like. Priorities USA Action, the Democratic super PAC responsible for the ad, vowed yesterday to fight back in support of its message.

    AP News link

    A leading Democratic super PAC has promised it will tangle in court with President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign to keep airing television ads the Republican president is trying to keep off the airwaves.

    Priorities USA Action chief Guy Cecil said Thursday that his group will intervene as a defendant in a lawsuit that Trump’s campaign filed in Wisconsin state court to block a local NBC affiliate from airing one of the super PAC’s ads that blasts the president’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

    “The Trump campaign is trying to railroad a TV station into censorship of ads critical of the president, and we will not let that stand,” Cecil said. “We stand by the facts in the ad and will defend it in court if necessary.” […]

    Trump is going to be spending a lot of his campaign money on lawsuits.

  174. says

    Wisconsin voter suppression update:

    Wisconsin state Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly, who badly lost his election last week, is signaling his intention to participate in a voter-purge case ahead of his departure. Kelly, a conservative, had previously recused himself hearing the case.

    Bleh.

  175. says

    TPM – “A Record 4,591 People In US Die From COVID-19 Within 24 Hours”:

    The U.S. saw a grim milestone this week: A record 4,591 patients in the U.S. with COVID-19 died in a 24-hour stretch ending at 8 p.m. ET Thursday.

    According to the Wall Street Journal, the figure beats the previous record of 2,569 deaths.

    As of Friday morning, John Hopkins University reports that the death toll in the U.S. has reached 33,286, the highest mortality rate in the world. Up until Saturday, the U.S. had come second to Italy….

  176. says

    Oh, FFS.

    New WH press secretary points to non-existent ‘testing system’

    The new White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, believes Trump helped create “the most expansive and accurate testing system in the world.” Bullshit.

    […] NBC News reported this morning, “Testing for the coronavirus would have to be at least doubled or tripled from its current levels to allow for even a partial reopening of America’s economy, public health experts say, but it is unclear how soon such an ambitious goal could be reached amid persistent shortages of testing supplies and a lack of coordination from the Trump administration.”

    As of this week, there’s ample evidence that testing levels in the U.S. are not just failing to rapidly increase, they’re actually stalling.

    It was against this backdrop that White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, in just her second week on the job, declared on Twitter yesterday, “Under President [Donald Trump’s] leadership we have quickly developed the most expansive and accurate testing system in the world.”

    […] there is no such U.S. testing system. The Washington Post reported overnight, “There is no national testing strategy, but rather a patchwork of programs administered by states with limited federal guidance.”

    Governors have said one of the most important factors in making those determinations is testing data, but Trump’s plan does not contain a national testing strategy. Senior administration officials said that although the federal government will try to facilitate access to tests, states and localities will be responsible for developing and administering their own testing programs.

    As strategies go, this one is quite woeful. Indeed, the New York Times had a striking report this week highlighting state-based difficulties with limited access to faulty tests — a problem compounded by supply shortages. […]

    To be sure, the new White House guidelines acknowledge the importance of testing as part of a comprehensive solution. While directing governors to act at their own discretion, the administration’s “plan” — I’m using the word loosely — suggests to states that they can begin to re-open if they see a persistent decline in infections, coupled with effective tracing and the implementation of a reliable testing system.

    But the same message to governors is that they should, in effect, figure something out on their own, because the White House doesn’t intend to play a direct role.

    So when the new White House press secretary points to Trump’s “leadership” while declaring that “we” have “quickly developed the most expansive and accurate testing system in the world,” it leads to some awkward follow-up questions, such as, “Where is this elusive ‘testing system’?” and, “Who exactly is ‘we’?

    Link

  177. says

    From the Washington Post:

    “Trump’s the-buck-stops-with-the-states posture is largely designed to shield himself from blame should there be new outbreaks after states reopen, or for other problems.”

    Commentary from Steve Benen:

    […] Quite right. For Trump, this is the ideal dynamic because he doesn’t really have to do much, and he can point fingers as a way of redirecting responsibility. Unsatisfied with stay-at-home orders? Blame your governor. Alarmed by rising death tolls? Blame your governor. Skyrocketing unemployment? Blame your governor.

    The White House’s “plan,” such as it is, doesn’t require the administration to do much, other than offer choices and broad-strokes guidelines to states.

    Of course, the flip-side to such a strategy is that the president may struggle to take credit in the event that things go well, though if recent history is any guide, Trump will try to find a way.

    Link

  178. says

    Extra special prisoners demand, (and some get), special treatment:

    […] When the President’s former lawyer and fixer [Michael Cohen] was sentenced to three years in prison for campaign finance violations and tax evasion, he was placed in one of the cushiest prisons in the country — Otisville, located just outside New York City in the Catskills. It’s known for housing big white collar criminals, like Martha Stewart, former Connecticut Gov. John Rowland and Billy McFarland, the notorious mastermind behind the deliciously fraudulent Fyre Festival.

    But now that the coronavirus has struck the U.S. in massive numbers and is spreading like lightning through prisons across the country, white collar criminals like Cohen have been begging for additional special treatment. And just today, Cohen got his wish. According to new reports, Cohen, who has served less than a year of his sentence, will be released and allowed to serve the rest of his sentence from home. Aside from trips to the grocery store and the occasional runs we free folks enjoy, this doesn’t sound too different than what the rest of Cohen’s fellow New Yorkers are enduring at the moment.

    Other big name criminals like Paul Manafort have been requesting similar accommodations to avoid the virus. Last month, attorneys for disgraced Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) requested that the former lawmaker be allowed to serve his 11 months in home confinement rather than a federal prison.

    While some states have freed certain classes of offenders to curb the spread of the virus behind bars, it is not being done quickly enough to save lives, according to experts. That is, unless, you’re one of the high profile, powerful few, like Cohen.

    Link

  179. blf says

    In the States… er, well, actually, in Belarus, Belarus crowdfunds to fight coronavirus as leader [sic] denies it exists (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    NGOs scramble to source equipment after president [sic] calls pandemic a psychosis

    The healthcare system in Belarus is being propped up by volunteers and crowdfunding campaigns as the country grapples with a coronavirus pandemic its president [sic] has been hesitant to admit exists.

    Belarus has attracted international headlines for its delayed response, continuing to host Europe’s only active football league, as the president [sic], Alexander Lukashenko, dismissed the pandemic as a psychosis.

    No one in the country will die from coronavirus, Lukashenko declared publicly earlier this week.

    John Hopkins is currently reporting 42 deaths and 4779 confirmed cases.

    Meanwhile, a human rights activist and volunteer worker, Andrej Stryzhak, has cofounded the #bycovid19 group to crowdfund, acquire and deliver equipment and protective clothing to medics and other frontline personnel, one of many local initiatives by NGOs and businesses.

    “Our goal is to make sure this system doesn’t collapse,” he said. “In many places, for instance in Vitebsk {a city in north-east Belarus}, we see that there’s a very difficult situation, a critical situation. There are a lot of sick people, and a lot of medics are sick.”

    […]

    “The toughest situation is with respirators,” he said. “If you look at the official government numbers, our supplies make up a considerable part {of the total}.”

    One doctor in Vitebsk, the site of one of the worst outbreaks, said some hospitals had not been not resupplied to deal with the outbreak, and dozens of medical personnel had consequently fallen ill.

    […]

    Volunteers are keen to emphasise that their work is apolitical, adding that the health ministry was increasingly ready to welcome their help. One said there was a growing understanding that “society won’t welcome silence {about the outbreak} any more”.

    As the crisis grows, dozens of local campaigns have sprung up to buy and produce medical protective equipment, crowdfund financial support from local and diaspora communities, provide discounted taxi journeys, or maintain nursing support for older people and other at-risk populations. One Minsk organisation, Hackerspace, has used 3D printers to produce medical visors for hospital staff.

    […] Stryzhak said he hoped the crisis would prove a breakthrough for building trust in the country’s NGOs.

    “We’re going to keep working until we see the government has taken the situation under real control and that medical personnel have the equipment they need to do their job without fear,” he said.

  180. says

    Big surprise: The Trump/McConnell ‘urgent’ COVID-19 small business loans were dumped into red states

    There is absolutely every reason for Democrats to refuse to hand Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump another $250 billion in “small business” emergency loans in the new Paycheck Protection Program included in the CARES stimulus package. The fund was exhausted Thursday […] Look at where the money went: [From Jackie Speier]

    I’m hard pressed not to think that this is political. Blue states like California got a pathetic number of loans issued. Nebraska got nearly 75% of loans requested. I smell a rat with orange hair.

    [Map graphic can be viewed at the link.]

    Three-quarters of Nebraska’s eligible payroll got the funding; 71% of North Dakota’s did. That powerhouse of the nation’s business, North Dakota. While California’s and New York’s got less than a quarter of their share. D.C. only got 19%. Yeah, that definitely smells like a rat.

    It also helps confirm suspicions raised earlier this week. Rep. Speier of California tweeted on Tuesday about the initial reports from the Small Business Administration: “Can someone explain to me how Texas has been approved for $1 billion more in SBA loans—& more than 30,000 loans!- than California despite our economy being $1 trillion larger & California being much harder hit by COVID-19?”

    Democrats want to make sure that there isn’t a repeat of this, that the next $250 billion goes where the need is the greatest, not where Trump wants to reward his base and, incidentally, help some vulnerable Republican senators.

  181. blf says

    In Belarus… er, now really in the States, Ilhan Omar unveils bill to cancel rent and mortgage payments amid pandemic:

    […]
    The Minnesota congresswoman Ilhan Omar has unveiled a bill that would cancel rent and mortgage payments for millions of Americans struggling amid the coronavirus pandemic.

    Under the legislation announced on Friday, landlords and mortgage holders would be able to have losses covered by the federal government. The program would extend for a month beyond the end of the national emergency, which was declared on 13 March, and would be made retroactive to cover April payments.

    [… evictions are happening now, during the pandemic…]

    Omar’s bill seeks to tie federal funding to clear renter protections. In order to receive funds, landlords and lenders would be required to follow a set of fair renting and lending practices for five years. These terms would prohibit rent increases, evictions without just cause, discrimination against voucher holders and more. Any owner or mortgagee who breaks the terms would be subject to a fine.

    Perhaps most ambitiously, the legislation seeks to establish a fund to finance the purchase of private rental properties by not-for-profits, public housing authorities, community land trusts and state and local governments.

    The legislation was developed with grassroots organizations including People’s Action, the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD) and PolicyLink. Such groups hope to introduce the kind of solutions they wanted in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

    […]

    Omar’s bill proposes “an amazing way to use the federal stimulus package to not just provide direct relief but the long-term transformation of a real-estate market that’s based on speculation and private profit to a housing situation that prioritizes homes”, said Cea Weaver, campaign coordinator at Housing Justice for All.

    “It provides a pathway to a different ownership structure that doesn’t rely on eviction and rent hikes to make money.”

  182. says

    Follow-up to comment 159.

    Russia Scandal Figure Who Decried “Ukraine Hoax” Will Aid Trump’s Coronavirus Messaging

    […] the Trump administration has placed Michael Caputo, a Roger Stone ally who played a part in the Trump-Russia scandal, in charge of the agency’s messaging. A longtime Republican operative who was ousted from a job on Trump’s 2016 campaign, Caputo recently worked to boost discredited claims alleging that Ukraine, not Russia, meddled in the 2016 election.

    All the best people. Just what we need, another batshit whacko conspiracy theorist on Team Trump.

    Caputo’s hiring reportedly represents an effort by Donald Trump to rein in Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, who Trump loyalists believe has worked to protect his own reputation by casting blame for the administration’s bungled response to the pandemic on the president. […]

    In June 2018, the Washington Post reported that he [Caputo] and Stone had met in 2016 with Henry Oknyansky, a Russian expat living in Florida, who wanted to sell damaging information about Hillary Clinton. Caputo, in text messages with Stone the Post obtained, referred to Oknyansky as “the Russian.” Though no deal was reached, news of the meeting seemed to contradict claims both Stone and Caputo had made in testimony to the House Intelligence Committee in which they each denied any contact with Russians during the 2016 campaign. […]

    Last year, Caputo, along with other figures in Trump’s orbit, turned his focus to Ukraine. He says he travelled there last August to try to bolster the theory that Ukrainians interfered in 2016 election to help Clinton. He subsequently wrote a book, titled The Ukraine Hoax: How Decades of Corruption in the Former Soviet Republic Led to Trump’s Phony Impeachment, which pushes discredited allegations, including claims that former Vice President Joe Biden intervened in Ukrainian affairs to help his son, Hunter. Caputo produced a documentary offering similar allegations that aired in January on the rabidly pro-Trump One America News. Giuliani starred in a separate OAN series which pushed similar claims based his own trip to Ukraine.

    […] Through his public relations firm, Zeppelin Communications, he [Caputo] registered in January under the Foreign Agents Registration Act to work for a Ukrainian think tank, the Institute for Democracy and Development. Caputo said he helped arrange meetings for a delegation of 10 to 15 Ukrainian “campaign professionals” with members of Congress in early March. According to the documents Caputo filed, the Ukrainian group was expected to include Iryna Venediktova, an ally of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who at the time headed Ukraine’s State Bureau of Investigation. […]

    Caputo brings more anti-Biden bullshit to Team Trump.

  183. says

    blf @249, oh dear, Jared Kushner is not going to like that, let alone Trump. Kushner is known for aggressively evicting tenants.

  184. says

    Intercept – “Mehdi Hasan and Noam Chomsky on Biden vs. Trump”:

    The Intercept’s Mehdi Hasan speaks with world-renowned political dissident and linguist Noam Chomsky on the 2020 presidential election between Joe Biden and Donald Trump. Now that Bernie Sanders has dropped out and endorsed Biden, does the progressive left have a moral obligation to hold their noses and vote for the former vice president, despite his many sins?

    The interview is still happening live. It started at 3 ET. I assume it’ll be a recording when it’s finished.

  185. blf says

    The Scottish Muslim couple winning hearts amid coronavirus crisis:

    Grocery shop owners in Falkirk donate PPE to health workers, food to the elderly and even Easter eggs to local children.

    It is not even 9am, and a queue has formed outside Asiyah Javed’s grocery shop in Falkirk, Scotland.

    Key front-line workers and NHS staff are waiting for her to hand out free care packages full of masks, gloves and hand-sanitiser, items they desperately need during the coronavirus outbreak.

    Dozens of NHS workers have died of COVID-19 and although the UK government downplays any correlation between the shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) and the deaths, healthcare workers across the country are struggling to cope.

    For them, it is a matter of life and death, and that is why Asiyah and her husband Jawad stepped in to help.

    “Instead of selling masks, I thought it’s better to donate them to the NHS because they need it more — they’re saving lives,” 34-year-old Asiyah says.

    “The staff said they’re happy to pay because they’re running short, but I tell them they don’t need to pay because they’re doing a great job. We can’t take money from them.”

    As the coronavirus lockdown tightened in March, Asiyah witnessed an elderly woman crying outside a supermarket because she was unable to afford necessities.

    That was when the couple decided to use 5,000 pounds ($6,210) from their savings to buy masks, antibacterial handwash and other products to organise care packages for anyone that needs them.

    They have donated 3,000 masks and delivered more than 1,000 food parcels to vulnerable people in the past four weeks.

    […]

    Many of Asiyah’s customers struggle to buy food to feed their families.

    “Some people are struggling to get paid now due to coronavirus, so we thought, ‘Why should they sleep with an empty stomach while we’re eating?’ We put out an announcement on Facebook that we’ll deliver free food. We got over 200 to 300 calls so far,” Jawad said.

    During the recent Easter weekend, while children were being kept indoors, the shop gave out hundreds of free Easter eggs while continuing to supply care packages, to hospitals, care homes and the elderly.

    William Welsh, 73, has lived in the area for 54 years.

    He greets Jawad with “As-Salam Alaikum,” (peace be upon you) as he is handed hand-sanitiser and antibacterial wipes in his garden.

    […]

    “We’re helping people from all backgrounds and if anybody is looking for help or support, we’re fulfilling that,” [the ecretary-general of Glasgow Central Mosque, Irfan Razzaq] says.

    “We’re not going to turn anybody away. We’re getting a lot of calls from non-Muslims as well, especially the elderly. We need to come together and look out for each other and support each other.”

    […]

    “That man deserves a knighthood,” a customer says to Jawad as he walks past.

  186. blf says

    me@254, I’m not sure what an “ecretary-general” is… so I asked the mildly deranged penguin. After banging the wall on he head a few times (putting yet another dent into the ceiling and an inquisitive phone call from a New Zealand volcano monitoring station), she said it’s another WHO plot to deny hair furor’s genius. The CoV-SAR-2 viru i now attacking the letter “”, er, the letter which look like a nake, o that hair furor’ pre briefing are no longer enationalist rubbih. (You can’t now hear the Hing.) Obviouly, a datardly WHO plot.

  187. says

    Just now: Asked by @mehdirhasan whether he’ll be voting for Biden [in Arizona where he now lives], Noam Chomsky says ‘of course, I wouldn’t hesitate for a second… I’m not going to vote for the destruction of organized human society’.”

  188. says

    NEW —One day before Trump announced a plan to open up the nation’s gyms in Phase One, he held a call with the owner of Equinox and Soulcycle—the same person who threw him a major fundraiser in his Hampton’s [sic!] home…”

    Daily Beast link atl.

  189. says

    Beto O’Rourke on the tweets @ #225 above:

    Republicans will turn a blind eye & too many in the press will focus on “tone.” But history books will say: In April of 2020, when the pandemic had already claimed 35,000 lives, the President of the United States incited people to storm their statehouses with AR-15s and AK-47s.

    History books will connect the dots, pointing out that this happened less than 9 months after a man inspired by Trump to repel an “invasion” and “infestation” of immigrants killed 22 people in a Walmart in El Paso with an AK-47

    They’ll point to the growing trend of armed white men “protesting” with military weapons and battle gear at town hall meetings, state legislatures, state capitals, in an effort to intimidate lawmakers and subvert our democratic institutions and the will of the electorate.

    We either give in to the intimidation of Trump & those who dress up for battle, or we support those who are actually fighting the real war: frontline workers, health professionals, people actually risking their lives to save the very country this president would destroy.

  190. says

    What Trump tweeted earlier this week:

    Tell the Democrat Governors that ‘Mutiny On The Bounty’ was one of my all time favorite movies. A good old fashioned mutiny every now and then is an exciting and invigorating thing to watch, especially when the mutineers need so much from the Captain. Too easy!

    Commentary:

    […] The movie, which was inspired by real events and which has been told on film many times, tells the story of Captain William Bligh of the HMS Bounty. Every version of the narrative paints a roughly similar picture: Bligh was a brutal and despised captain. He stole the ship’s food; he viciously abused his crew; and he made costly mistakes. Bligh is shown to be a captain who was both paranoid and arrogant. As the story goes, he eventually clashed with his first mate and was forced from the Bounty in a mutiny. […]

    When the American Film Institute put together a list of cinema’s 100 greatest villains, there’s a reason Captain Bligh ranked #19.

    All of which brings us back to Trump, who apparently sees governors as crewmates who answer to him (they don’t) and sees himself as Bligh.

    Perhaps he didn’t fully understand the story. The captain was the bad guy. He’s shown to be cruel and untrustworthy. When he tried to lead, Bligh failed so spectacularly that he sparked a rebellion from members of his own team.

    Given the larger global circumstances, there are vastly more important things to ask the president about than his film preferences. But I am curious why, exactly, Trump feels like he can relate to Bligh.

    Link

  191. says

    Mail-In Elections Can’t Be Built Overnight. Here’s What Will Happen If Every State Tries.

    Time is running out for making a COVID-19 mail-in election in November work.

    On Thursday, a niche trade organization called the National Association of Presort Mailers held the first of what is expected to be a regularly scheduled organization-wide teleconference. The call was to discuss a daunting task with which its members will be deeply involved: printing, packaging and mailing ballots for a general election in the midst of a pandemic.

    On the call, the companies with the most experience working in the election space issued a dire warning to their colleagues, […] they were already at capacity for printing and mailing operations for November’s election.

    If more states and localities sought to expand their mail-in voting operations, those vendors […] would need to purchase more equipment. But obtaining that equipment takes several months, National Association of Presort Mailers president Richard Gebbie told TPM after the call, and vendors wouldn’t make that seven-figure investment without the contracts to justify it.

    The conundrum, Gebbie fretted to TPM, is that if election officials wait even more than a few weeks to put in those orders, it would be too late for those vendors to scale up their own capacity.

    […] Most voters have probably never heard of the National Association of Presort Mailers. They might not even know such an industry exists. But if you live in a place where the most common way to cast a ballot is by mail, there’s a good chance these vendors play a crucial role in the success of your elections.

    They’re often one part of an extremely complicated supply chain that allows large-scale vote-by-mail elections to run smoothly. In the handful of states where a majority of voters cast ballots by mail, that infrastructure took years to build. States with large-scale absentee operations rely on an intricate web of vendors and sophisticated equipment to make the system work. […]

    Policymakers who think they can wait until the summer to decide how much absentee voting their election officials need to prepare won’t be giving vendors enough time to build that infrastructure […]

    “All these procurement decisions, if they’re made in the next month, jurisdictions will be fine. But if they wait until August, it will be a disaster,” said Nate Persily, a Stanford Law professor who served as research director for President’s Obama’s Commission on Election Administration. […]

    The “biggest problem,” she said, is the lack of urgency among those at the state level who, due to the “partisan political fight,” have been slow to OK the preparations.

    Many Republicans are against mail-in voting, as is Trump. He said so on national TV.

    […] For the process of printing and mailing out ballots — known as the “outbound” phase — election officials in places where absentee voting is less common may be used to physically selecting the appropriate ballot for the person requesting it and putting it in an envelope that they address by hand, according to Tammy Patrick, a senior advisor at the Democracy Fund.

    “So, when you have a million of those [requests] coming in, that’s where everyone gets really overwhelmed,” Patrick, a former elections administrator in the high-absentee voting state of Arizona, said. […]

    “You probably have a print vendor that can do your ballots,” said Judd Choate, director of elections of Colorado, a vote-by-mail state. “But you need to find one that could do your ballots plus, do your envelopes — and it’s the exterior envelope and the interior envelope — and then can do the inserts, and can assemble them, and then has a relationship with a postal vendor that can get those out.” […]

    The staff in smaller, more rural counties might opt to handle the bulk of outbound operations themselves. But they should consider tools that can help on the “inbound” side, i.e. the handling of ballots once they come in, veterans of mail-by-vote elections say. Even something like an automated envelope opener, which can run around $1,000, can vastly speed up the inbound process.

    Larger jurisdictions might want to invest in specialized sorting machines that organize incoming ballots before they are counted. Those cost $500,000 or more, according to Hovland.

    Then there’s the actual counting of absentee ballots. Election officials need to think about buying special high-speed tabulators that can count several ballots at time. Such tabulators usually aren’t used during in-person voting, when ballots can be counted more slowly.

    Just before the COVID-19 outbreak started scrambling elections, local officials in Lansing, Michigan — where absentee voting was already being scaled up due to 2018 changes to voting law — were unable to get a high-speed tabulator they ordered for their March 10 primary because their vendor was on backorder. […]

    Does anyone else see a train coming down the track … and we are all stuck in front of it?

  192. says

    Follow-up to comment 262.

    From the readers comments:

    The potential concept of mail-in voting expanding will just guarantee that Donnie and the Dotards will try very hard to starve the USPS to death as quickly as possible.
    ——————-
    Maybe this is an area where congress needs to get involved to pass legislation that builds in contingencies for the unknown.

    Companies also do not want to invest in equipment that they don’t need after the election unless they have some kind of incentive.
    ——————–
    Bloomberg and Streyer should consider donating some of their billions to ensuring that vote-by-mail can be deployed in time for November. It’s unlikely that the necessary Congressional funding will get past McConnell’s Senate blockade and Trump’s presidential veto.
    ——————
    It’s all about destruction. Like Bannon said, cause the destruction of the administrative state. Bring it all crashing down. Replace it with an authoritarian police state after the unrest starts.
    ———————
    There have been a few mail-in elections recently in New Mexico, and when the absentee ballot arrived, the instructions appeared to be in 1 point font, confusingly written, dense and without clarifying white space, and lots of hoops to jump through which, as you’ve noted, can be used to disqualify your ballot.

    “Voter fraud” is for chumps. The pros do “election fraud” – as you noted, finding innumerable ways to disqualify ballots (and might there be a partisan bias as to whose ballots are DQ’d?) Typically, you can’t find out whether your ballot was discarded until after the votes have been counted … and that’s way too late to do anything about it.

  193. says

    Definitely NOT perfect calls:

    Vice President Mike Pence and Trump administration officials finally acknowledged the existence of Senate Democrats as a part of the nation’s governing coalition Friday. Sort of. They held a conference call with the senators, and the reviews are not good.

    “Livid,” is how one Democrat on the call described the group, which did not get any good answers out of the call. Sen. Angus King, Maine’s independent who caucuses with Democrats, reportedly called the administration’s response to the crisis, particularly the failure to get testing ramped up, a “dereliction of duty.” According to sources on the call, he told Pence, “I have never been so mad about a phone call in my life.” After the call, he “was still very angry” when interviewed by Washington Post reporter Seung Min Kim, telling her “I can’t discern a national strategy (for testing) … I can’t even discern what the goal is.”

    “The fundamental problem is a lack of capacity which at this point they can’t fix,” a Democrat on the call told Politico. “So they are explaining it away. […] Everyone was livid.” They still are. “The Trump administration doesn’t even have a target for the number of tests we need to be able to manage this health care crisis. It’s beyond unbelievable,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren told Boston Globe reporter Jess Bidgood. Sen. Maggie Hassan tweeted that “it is deeply concerning that the administration still doesn’t have a plan to track daily testing capacity in every lab in the country, publicly release that data, and put forward a plan and timeline for identifying gaps.”

    Sen. Tim Kaine, Democrat of Virginia, wanted some accountability for Trump’s earlier tweet, an aide on the call told CNN’s Betsy Klein, and “asked Pence why the President was trying to incite division in the midst of a global pandemic.” Pence, the aide said, “tried to deflect by talking about how they are working respectfully with Governors, and Kaine jumped back in to say that those tweets are not at all respectful.”

    So, yeah, that didn’t go so well. […]

    Link

  194. John Morales says

    re #241:

    As of Friday morning, John Hopkins University reports that the death toll in the U.S. has reached 33,286, the highest mortality rate in the world. Up until Saturday, the U.S. had come second to Italy….

    Mortality, not mortality rate. Different things.

    USA currently has 112 deaths per million population, Italy has 376.

  195. says

    Trump spent the entire press briefing today finding someone else to blame. The focus was on blaming someone else for drastically and repeatedly dropping the ball on testing. Trump blamed governors. Trump is lying, and he’s wrong.

    While Trump tried to do that, most of the time that he was talking he did not make sense.

    He also focused on supposedly terrible restrictions on the Second Amendment in Virginia. Trump seems to be intent on linking guns, and the right to carry guns, with his intention to “reopen the country.” He is coming so close to inviting his followers to commit various acts of violence.

  196. says

    From Daniel Dale:

    The president keeps talking as if all the governors are now perfectly content with their supplies situations. They aren’t.

    From Aaron Rupar’s Twitter feed, (some comments are from Aaron, and some are from his readers):

    Jesus. Trump just said from the White House that he thinks Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia “should be under siege.” He said this as he warned ominously about gun confiscations (which is a lie.) This rhetoric leads to a very dark place.
    ———————-
    “They wanna take their guns away … when you talk about ‘liberate’ or liberation, you can certainly look at Virginia as one” — Trump is unrepentant about his tweets basically calling for civil unrest in states with democratic governors
    ————————–
    Trump concludes the briefing with this: “This has been a situation where a lot of great people have been involved and a lot of great decisions have been made.” [blah, blah, blah]

    And then there’s this, which backs up my statement in comment 268 that most of time that Trump was talking, he did not make sense:
    https://twitter.com/atrupar/status/1251300816797007882

    WTF? Worse than usual. watch the video.

  197. says

    Follow-up to SC @222.

    Brazil’s Bolsonaro has the answer to keeping coronavirus numbers low—don’t test

    Around the world, would-be Donald Trumps have discovered the simplest way to keep their numbers down on COVID-19 isn’t to practice social distancing, or engage in extensive programs of case tracing, or construct quarantine facilities. The easiest answer is much, much simpler: don’t bother to test.

    And nowhere seems to be putting that strategy to better use than Brazil, where Trump protege Jair Bolsonaro has been singularly disdainful of the whole pandemic. Long after even Trump had been forced to pretend to care, Bolsonaro was scoffing at the whole idea of there being any danger, deliberately courting crowds, shaking hands, and disparaging opposition politicians who tried to raise even a modest level of concern. […]

    Brazil has one of the lowest testing rates in the world. With 63,000 tests, it has actually tested fewer people than the state of Tennessee which is … not great. As a result, while Brazil is now closing in on an official 2,000 deaths, there are reasons to believe the real number is much larger. Much larger. Like … acres of mass graves larger.

    […] Bolsonaro made his daily address to the nation to declare that things “need to get back to normal” and that there needed to be “flexibility” in social distancing rules. And he continued to disparage the threat from coronavirus, to call it the little flu, and to suggest that the rest of the world was filled with wimps who don’t want to get back to work.

    Of course, Brazil is reporting an order of magnitude fewer cases of COVID-19 and an order of magnitude fewer deaths than the United States. Which may make it seem like things are not so bad in a nation with a population greater than Italy and Spain combined. Yeah … about that. Not only is the number of cases continuing to soar in Brazil, that number seems to be completely disconnected with the actual incidence of disease. […] Because Bolsonaro is very deliberately not looking to see how bad things really are.

    With only a seventh of the official cases in New York State alone, Brazilian hospitals are nonetheless overrun by COVID-19 cases and even the official case fatality rate has been growing by a percent a week. But it’s not the official numbers that are the real concern.

    As BBC News reports, there has been an absolute “explosion” of unofficial cases—cases that aren’t included in the 30,000 official tally. As gravediggers work 24/7 to prepare space for the bodies rolling into the nation’s largest cemetery, researchers estimate that the real number of cases in Brazil isn’t 30,000 or 100,000, but over 300,000. And the number of deaths may already be ten or twenty times that reported.

    But then, the little flu won’t ever be more than a little flu even if it devastates the country. Bolsonaro controls the testing and controls the official numbers. Brazil is a nation of 200 million … for now. And it still has a lot of room for more graves.

  198. consciousness razor says

    USA currently has 112 deaths per million population, Italy has 376.

    San Marino, Andorra, Belgium, and Spain are even higher than that.

    States (and DC) with a higher rate than the US as a whole (from worldometer):
    NY: 873
    NJ: 432
    CT: 289
    LA: 260
    MI: 224
    MA: 206
    DC: 126

    When you combine nine east coast states (plus DC) from Virginia up to Massachusetts, they look like they currently have close to the same rate as Italy. The population is also roughly the same (about 68-69 million, compared to 60 million in Italy). Yesterday, they reported 1,774 new deaths, while Spain reported 687 and Italy reported 575.

  199. says

    CNN – “Heartland hotspots: A sudden rise in coronavirus cases is hitting rural states without stay-at-home orders”:

    …Just as cases are starting to plateau in some big cities and along the coasts, the coronavirus is catching fire in rural states across the American heartland, where there has been a small but significant spike this week in cases. Playing out amid these outbreaks is a clash between a frontier culture that values individual freedom and personal responsibility, and the onerous but necessary restrictions to contain a novel biological threat.

    The bump in coronavirus cases is most pronounced in states without stay at home orders. Oklahoma saw a 53% increase in cases over the past week, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

    Over same time, cases jumped 60% in Arkansas, 74% in Nebraska, and 82% in Iowa. South Dakota saw a whopping 205% spike.

    The remaining states, North Dakota, Utah and Wyoming each saw an increase in cases, but more in line with other places that have stay-at-home orders. And all of those numbers may very well undercount the total cases, given a persistent lack of testing across the US.

    This trend undermines the notion perpetuated by President Donald Trump and some of his Republican allies that the restrictive social-distancing measures aren’t necessary in rural America — and that these states even offer a model for reopening the country.

    “If you look at Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota — that’s a lot different than New York, it’s a lot different than New Jersey,” Trump said at Thursday’s coronavirus task force briefing, adding that 29 states are “in that ballgame” of being ready to be reopened first.

    “We have large sections of the country right now that can start thinking about opening,” Trump added.

    Laura Bellis, a progressive activist in Tulsa who has been a leading voice urging Oklahoma to adopt and enforce a stay-at-home policy, said she believes the resistance to such orders is grounded in a false view of an urban-rural divide.

    “There’s a mythic story that they have really different needs, when we’re much more inextricably linked than that,” Bellis told CNN.

    The governors of the holdout states frequently invoke middle-American, conservative values when defending their decisions not to issue stay-at-home orders. South Dakota’s Republican governor Kristi Noem has said her office has “trusted South Dakotans to exercise personal responsibility.” And Gov. Pete Ricketts of Nebraska defended his call for voluntary social distancing as opposed to a stay-at-home order.

    “This is a program that depends on people exercising personal responsibility and their civic duty,” Ricketts told Politico Wednesday. “This is about making that decision, not the heavy hand of government taking away your freedoms.”

    In a Wednesday press conference, Stitt said he is making decisions about public-health guidelines “based on what’s happening in Oklahoma, not what’s going on in a different state or different city.” And in early April, Noem suggested her state did not need such tough restrictions because South Dakota is “not New York City.”

    But while the American heartland is far less dense than New York and other cities and states on the coasts, it is home to much of the country’s agricultural and manufacturing base. The threat coronavirus poses to those sectors of the economy has begun to arrive….

    (The “frontier culture” vs. “obedient coastal rule followers” narrative is challenged by resistance to, for example, the Patriot Act. See also sanctuary cities, etc.)

    Maddow was just reporting on this. Medical associations in some of these states are imploring the governors to put social-distancing measures in place, and being ignored.

  200. johnson catman says

    Here are the results of an informal survey at my house of the approval rating of The Orange Toddler-Tyrant:
    Men: 0% approve, 100% disapprove
    Women: 0% approve, 100% disapprove
    I know it is an unscientific, anecdotal survey, but I find the results very accurate.

  201. KG says

    Condolences on the loss of your feline friend, SC.

    The UK government is doing its best to rival Trump in incompetence, with a side order of failing to keep promises. In terms of testing, the UK is doing considerably worse than the USA. When challenged on the continued failure to make PPE reliably available even to frontline medical staff, let alone care workers, the standard response is to trot out statements about the millions of items delivered – numbers that sound impressive, but are far from meeting demand. Yesterday, Public Health England told medical staff to re-use disposable items; in response, unions for NHS staff have said their members might refuse to attend Covid-19 patients if adequate protection is not available. (I’d be surprised if they actually did this, but the level of anger with the government and PHE is clearly high.)

  202. says

    Chris Hayes: “At this point in the global pandemic, it should not be necessary for me to do what I’m about to do: To state the clear facts about how uniquely devastating and deadly this disease is.”

    The charts/graphs that Chris Hayes presented are perfect for rebutting the “loud propaganda arm of the president’s supporters who are insistent on pumping people full of disinformation.” Hayes’ presentation was particularly effective in rebutting the comparisons to the flu, or to automobile accidents, etc.. I’ve been following the news and the facts quite closely, but even I was startled by the clear information that Hayes highlighted with good graphics.

    Link

    All of those protestors should be shown this segment from “All In.”

  203. says

    When Trump was asked about protestors potentially spreading the coronavirus, he replied:

    No, these are people expressing their view. I see where they are and I see the way they’re working. They seem to be very responsible people to me, but they’ve been treated a little bit rough.

    This is what Trump had tweeted earlier in reference to Virginia:

    LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!

    From Laurence Tribe:

    In context, this was close to direct incitement to armed overthrow of the Government of Virginia. That’s a serious crime in that state. The OLC opinion barring federal indictment of a sitting president isn’t binding on Virginia prosecutors. Just food for thought.

  204. says

    A federal judge in Florida ordered a “church” hawking bleach as a holy sacrament to stop selling it as a COVID-19 cure.

    “Genesis II Church of Health and Healing” has in recent weeks marketed an industrial bleach concoction long a mainstay in anti-vaccine circles — “Miracle Mineral Solution,” or MMS — as a coronavirus prevention and treatment elixir, prosecutors alleged in a complaint Thursday.

    On Friday, Judge Kathleen Williams approved a temporary restraining order to prevent the four men behind the church from hawking the elixir.

    […] the church’s websites advertise “sacramental Dosing for Coronavirus” and feature a full page of testimonials about the bleach mixture’s effectiveness against the virus.

    “I was really skeptical of MMS but my little autistic brother has been taking it since he was like 3 and he’s 11 now and every time he got sick he’d get over it within like a day no matter the severity,” read one unsigned testimonial on a church website. “He never got sick from it or anything so I decided to give it a try and boy oh boy I was surprised it really does work.” […]

    The Florida men — Mark, Joseph, Jordan and Jonathan Grenon — are part of a larger group that was one of the early popularizers of bleach as a “cure” for dozens of conditions. […]

    The oddly structured organization — “a free church under common law” that is “not under commercial law,” its website proclaims — is devoted to the bleach concoction, which has dangerously grown in popularity in recent years as a home remedy for autism.

    A reggae jingle at the top of a recent online broadcast from the church sang the praises of the bleach mixture.

    “It’s a thorn in the side of corrupt institutions,” the song goes. “A drop of chlorine dioxide starts a health revolution.” […] Despite a letter from the FDA and FTC last week ordering them to stop advertising the bleach as a COVID-19 cure, Genesis II Church kept going.

    “We take donations, we don’t sell anything,” Mark Grenon said of the FDA letter on a recent “G2Voice” broadcast. “How dare you call our sacraments fraudulent!” he added.

    In a letter back to the FDA and FTC, Grenon essentially claimed his organization was exempt from laws regulating medical claims, arguing its distribution of “sacraments” was a matter of religious freedom. […] “When warned by authorities that their conduct was unlawful, Defendants responded with open defiance, explicitly avowing that they need not — and will ‘never’ — obey the law,” they wrote.

    As of Friday, the advertisements for MMS as a COVID-19 treatment were still live on Genesis II Church’s websites.

    Link

  205. tomh says

    Florida recorded 1,413 new COVID-19 cases – its highest one-day increase since the pandemic crisis began — so the genius governor celebrated by opening some beaches. Crowds were seen cheering and rushing the beach in Jacksonville as police removed the barriers around 5 p.m. Friday. Aerial photos show hundreds of people packing the sand to swim, stroll, surf and fish.

    This should go well.

  206. says

    From Newsweek contributor Olga Lautman:

    So @RudyGiuliani, russian agent Telizhenko in an interview posted yesterday said Trump offered 1 billion in cash the end of last year for a Biden investigation to be opened up. How many laws were broken? Who exactly was going to pay for this?

    This is the work of Putin’s thugs Telizhenko, Derkach, Dubinsky, Kolomoisky, Kislin and every one who was involved in this corrupt mess. Giuliani’s business partners and longtime criminal allies. Trump as well.

    Also Trump’s help with Normandy talks was offered.

    Mind you how difficult the Normandy Talks were between Ukraine and Russia especially after America betrayed Ukraine w the extortion scheme and threat of cutting funds. So this was part of it. Despicable.

    https://twitter.com/olgaNYC1211/status/1251197861729128450

    The telizhenko interview is only available in Russian right now, but I’m sure we will see translations soon.

    The interview, in Russian: YouTube link

  207. says

    Follow-up to comment 287.

    Readers comments:

    $1 billion in US taxpayer cash, you can bet. Trump never uses his own money.
    ——————–
    People STILL don’t understand, that @realDonaldTrump is no more than a 100% amoral #Criminal. Never was, and never will be anything else.
    ——————–
    Cockwomble
    ————————
    Our treasury was going to pay for it we are trumps piggy bank.
    ——————-
    I would speculate that it is part of a grand quid pro quo in which Dmtryo Firtash coughs up the cash to pay for a Biden investigation in exchange for having the RICO charges and extradition case against him dropped.

    🕵🏼 who else has means and motive?

  208. says

    Oh, FFS.

    Republicans are comparing the protestors (see comment 284) to Rosa Parks.

    Economist Stephen Moore, who is on President Trump’s council tasked with reopening the country, said he is helping plan a protest of Wisconsin’s state-at-home order and compared those protesting such directives to Rosa Parks.

    Moore said in a YouTube video posted by a libertarian think tank this week that he was working on a “drive-in” in Wisconsin to protest the state’s stay-at-home order issued by Gov. Tony Evers (D). Evers extended the order this week until May 26.

    “They’re going to shut down the capital — shh, don’t tell anybody,” Moore said of those protesting the order.

    “This is a great time for civil disobedience. We need to be the Rosa Parks here and protest against these government injustices,” he added later.

    Moore made similar comments in an interview with The Washington Post published Friday.

    “I think there’s a boiling point that has been reached and exceeded,” he told the newspaper.

    “I call these people the modern-day Rosa Parks — they are protesting against injustice and a loss of liberties,” he added.

    Moore’s comments drew pushback from some on social media.

    “Could you have imagined the outcome if Rosa brought a gun to the bus?” panned Scott Huffman, a Democratic congressional candidate from North Carolina. […]

    Link

  209. says

    Excerpts from an article that describes how coronavirus control measures are being used in South Korea:

    On the morning of March 23rd, I arrived at the Mapo District Office, a staid government building in northwestern Seoul, where I was greeted by Song In-su, the fifty-three-year-old deputy of the public-relations department. […] Over the weekend, I had received my seventh local-government emergency alert—a text message with a red loudspeaker icon labelled “Mapo District Office”—informing me of new covid-19 cases in the area where I live. Song had sent them all.

    “Our biggest fear right now is a super-spreader,” Song told me. This had been apparent in the anti-covid-19 fortifications I had noticed on my way up to his office, which is on the ninth floor. Bottles of hand sanitizer, now present in every imaginable public space in Mapo, from bus stops to bike racks, had been installed throughout the building. A heat sensor had scrutinized me as I’d walked through the lobby. The elevator buttons were covered with antiviral tape. […]

    In Seoul, local governments like the Mapo District Office have been at the front line of containment efforts: testing, monitoring, and tracking patients and disclosing critical information to the public. […] The disclosure of anonymized patient routes, a central feature in South Korea’s containment strategy, has set it apart from the United States, which has so far erred on the side of individual privacy, and from neighboring Japan, where testing has been deliberately limited.

    […] In addition to sharing the routes of confirmed patients, the agency has been distributing infection and testing data to journalists with remarkable frequency. Emergency text alerts about significant developments are sent to every smartphone in the nation. Such openness has been rewarded by an abiding trust in the government’s containment protocols. Panic has been minimal; toilet paper is in abundant supply.

    […] The National Human Rights Commission of Korea issued a statement calling for stronger measures to protect individuals from being outed. […]

    “What most people ultimately want to know is whether their activities overlapped with patient routes,” he explained. In Mapo, this has also boosted testing. “A lot of people come in after seeing the published patient routes, concerned that they might have been in the same place,” one of the doctors at the local testing center, just outside Song’s building, said. […]

    On the morning of March 28th, Mapo’s Patient 15, a woman in her twenties, had briefly stopped by [a local coffee shop] to order a drink. Song’s writeup for her, posted two days later, was unusually long. The woman had arrived at the airport—where she initially tested negative at a screening checkpoint—after visiting the United States. In Seoul, she had visited a cosmetics store, a fried-chicken joint, a hair salon, a post office, and multiple convenience stores and restaurants, before testing positive on March 29th. According to the report, she was believed to have caught the virus in America.

    […] On Monday, March 30th, after district officials fumigated Stance Coffee, and a major broadcaster mentioned the shop by name in a report about “re-imported” covid-19 cases, Seong opened up his café. “Because I personally don’t keep up with patient routes, I assumed that other people wouldn’t either,” he said. “But, after the post went up yesterday, I felt it in my bones. From 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. that day, not a single customer showed up. I thought, ‘Ah, this really does have a big impact after all.’ ” […]

    “With the understanding that the next two weeks are a decisive time that offers us the chance to win the war against covid-19, I ask that the South Korean public coöperate with several strong measures being taken,” Chung [Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun] said. “For the next two weeks, we will calmly prepare for new everyday lives. We must change how we work, how our children learn, and we must practice everyday containment measures in every moment of our lives.”

    […] in early March, after more than fifty patients emerged at an insurance call center in Guro, just two districts over, the emergency text alerts became more localized and frequent. One patient from this cluster, as I had learned with a stab of alarm two weeks earlier, had passed through Mangwon Market—a long promenade, lined with street-food venders and open-air produce stalls, where I did much of my grocery shopping. District officials had shut down the shops for two days in order to sanitize the market, but I had avoided going back for a week. Song, upon hearing this, waved a hand dismissively. “Places where patients recently passed through are much safer, because we send out a sanitization team with our contact tracers,” he said.

    […] Businesses put up no-mask-no-entry posters. […]

    Businesses and religious institutions that violate the outbreak-prevention guidelines—which mandate proprietors to enforce mask-wearing and the maintenance of a two-metre safety buffer between people on the premises, among other measures—are subject to a fine of up to twenty-five hundred dollars. On a recent Sunday, three hundred or so district officials visited several of the more stubborn local churches, in a final attempt to dissuade them from holding services. A few remain undeterred, but the vast majority have switched to online worship. […]

    “All of the control and containment procedures essentially rely on the same thing,” Eom told me. “And that is the coöperation and responsible conduct of the citizenry.”

    New Yorker link

    Much more at the link.

  210. says

    Follow-up to comment 289.

    From Jamil Smith:

    Yes, Stephen Moore invoked Rosa Parks to praise those who violate stay-at-home guidelines, advocating for their revocation. Ironic, since the way this virus spreads makes such “protests” violent. (And he is on the White House council to “re-open” the U.S.)

    Moore later predicted that there will be “a lot more” of the stay-at-home order protests, before arguing that “this is a great time, gentleman and ladies, for civil disobedience.”

  211. says

    The New England Journal of Medicine published a letter written by Dr. Andrew W. Artenstein, M.D., of Baystate Health in Springfield, Massachusetts. His letter was about acquiring N95 masks, and about prevent Trump’s Department of Homeland Security from seizing those masks. Here’s an excerpt from the letter:

    As a chief physician executive, I rarely get involved in my health system’s supply-chain activities. The Covid-19 pandemic has changed that. […] we continue to be stymied by a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE), and the cavalry does not appear to be coming.

    Our supply-chain group has worked around the clock to secure gowns, gloves, face masks, goggles, face shields, and N95 respirators. These employees have adapted to a new normal, exploring every lead, no matter how unusual. Deals, some bizarre and convoluted, and many involving large sums of money, have dissolved at the last minute when we were outbid or outmuscled, sometimes by the federal government. Then we got lucky, but getting the supplies was not easy. […]

    Hours before our planned departure, we were told to expect only a quarter of our original order. We went anyway, since we desperately needed any supplies we could get. Upon arrival, we were jubilant to see pallets of KN95 respirators and face masks being unloaded. We opened several boxes, examined their contents, and hoped that this random sample would be representative of the entire shipment.

    Before we could send the funds by wire transfer, two Federal Bureau of Investigation agents arrived, showed their badges, and started questioning me. No, this shipment was not headed for resale or the black market. The agents checked my credentials, and I tried to convince them that the shipment of PPE was bound for hospitals. After receiving my assurances and hearing about our health system’s urgent needs, the agents let the boxes of equipment be released and loaded into the trucks.

    But I was soon shocked to learn that the Department of Homeland Security was still considering redirecting our PPE. Only some quick calls leading to intervention by our congressional representative prevented its seizure. I remained nervous and worried on the long drive back, feelings that did not abate until midnight, when I received the call that the PPE shipment was secured at our warehouse.

    Sheesh!

  212. blf says

    Operation reopen America: are we about to witness a second historic failure of leadership from Trump? (my added emboldening):

    Without mass testing, contact tracing, and protective equipment for health workers — all in critically short supply — the president’s [sic] plan could be disastrous

    […] Beyond the cloistered confines of the White House an alternative interpretation of events was gathering force. On a day in which the US suffered its highest death toll from Covid-19, with a total of more than 680,000 confirmed cases and 34,000 deaths, public health experts were scrutinising the president’s new guidelines and coming to rather different conclusions.

    “This isn’t a plan, it’s barely a PowerPoint,” spluttered Ron Klain on Twitter. Klain, the US government’s Ebola tsar during the last health crisis to test the White House, in 2014, said the proposals contained “no provision to ramp up testing, no standard on levels of disease before opening, no protections for workers or customers”.

    […]

    Now that the US is contemplating a shift into the second phase of the crisis — a tentative reopening of the economy — scientists and public health officials are agreed that three pillars need to be put into place to manage the transition safely. They are: mass testing to identify those who are infected, contact tracing to isolate other people who may have caught Covid-19 from them, and personal protective equipment (PPE) to shield frontline healthcare workers from any flare-up.

    […]

    Unless testing capability is dramatically ramped up and a giant army of health workers assembled to trace the contacts of those infected — right now — the consequences could be devastating.

    “I’m fearful,” said Dr Tom Frieden, the former director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “Testing remains scarce in many parts of the country and it’s slow to scale up — we are weeks if not months away from having enough test capacity.”

    Now, as the US contemplates reopening, Frieden said he was afraid a repeat performance was imminent.

    “I fear there’s an analogous mistaken belief that sheltering in place will make this virus go away, that we can then choose a date and all come out. It’s not about the date, it’s about data and building a national response at scale.

    […]

    Trump, launching the new reopening guidelines on Thursday, insisted that the US was in excellent shape on testing. We have great tests. We have done more testing now than any country, in the world, by far.

    No. Iceland intends to test everyone. That’s not too practical in larger countries, but is is hugely useful (scientifically, as well as for the people who weren’t aware they were infected).

    The US has so far tested about 3.3 million people, about 1% of its population. Per capita, that is small compared with several countries including Germany and South Korea. Iceland has tested people at 10 times the US rate.

    “Testing has been an unnecessary disaster,” said Michael Greenberger, director of the University of Maryland Center for Health and Homeland Security. “Trump says we have the best testing, but the US is in the last percentage of tests administered to its population.”

    Not one of the 50 states is currently in a position to carry out tracking of Covid-19 infections on the scale needed, whatever Trump said about their readiness to reopen. Many states, including the hardest hit, New York, are still experiencing testing shortages, 12 weeks after the first US case was recorded.

    […]

    Daily testing has flattened out and is now hovering around 150,000 tests a day — vastly below the level that would be needed to detect localized pockets of disease as the economy reopens. Most alarmingly, the number of tests carried out by commercial labs has actually plummeted in recent days due to shortages in test samples, leaving the labs sitting idle.

    At the White House briefing, Trump insisted that the phenomenon of the idle labs was a great thing, a sign that states were finding local solutions and an affirmation that testing is growing at a historic rate. [for feck’s sake — it is a historic rate because there were NO Covid-19 tests until this year! –blf]

    […]

    “We have had cases circulating in communities undetected for several weeks, and because of the delay in the roll-out of testing we never had the chance to be on top of it,” said Anita Cicero. She is joint author of one of the most definitive scientific plans for reopening the US, produced by a team from the Center for Health Security at Johns Hopkins University.

    “That means it’s going to require much more ubiquitous testing,” she said.

    Estimates vary on how much testing will be needed, but they are all substantially greater than present provision. Even at the lower end, as posited by the former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration Scott Gottlieb, some 2m to 3m tests a day are recommended — up to three times the current level.

    [… more details about the John Hopkins’ plan (and other science-based plans)…]

    States still held in the grip of the contagion, such as New York, are finding it difficult to accept the idea that the buck stops with them in a country with the most powerful national government on Earth. […]

    […]

    The danger of Trump’s […] approach is illustrated by New York City, where the death toll is heartwrenching. The probable tally of deaths from Covid-19 in the city now stands at more than 11,000 — more than double the normal monthly loss of life from all other causes.

    […]

    About 10,000 New Yorkers a day are currently being tested for coronavirus. Mark Levine, chair of New York City council’s health committee, told the Guardian that the frequency would need to be stepped up twentyfold were the city to have a fighting chance at reopening.

    Yet even now New York is just days away from running out of testing kits.

    Levine said he worries that the window for federal action is rapidly closing. “Trump has the authority to order manufacturers to retool to produce test kits. Unless the White House issues the order immediately, we are going to be out of time.”

  213. blf says

    SC, The mildly deranged penguin has now checked her records, and can confirm your cat not only never crashed-landed during any of her (mildly deranged penguin taught) trebuchet-launched flying lessons, but also never took any such lessons. The mildly deranged penguin apologies for the delay in sending her condolences, she had to make up a whole new batch of records first. Normally, she would send you some cheese as an apology, but with the pandemic and all, feels that would be putting postal / parcel delivery workers at unnecessary risk (some cheeses can be quite aggressive), besides having already eaten it on your behalf.

  214. blf says

    Whilst semi-randomly browsing for some interesting music, I found this brand new video, Gamblers — Oysterband’s Alan Prosser, a slightly tweaked version of the band’s original for the current pandemic times… albeit Alan didn’t have to tweak it much. (Apologies, a quick search didn’t find a standalone version of the original version.)

  215. blf says

    (I’m listening to France24 now…) Eeeek! Apparently, the French asparagus crop is under considerable threat due to the lack of workers and the closure of restaurants… Which makes the dish I had a day or two ago even more delicious, if now a bit worrisome…

    (I am very much aware there is a shortage of farm workers, not only here in France, but also in the UK; and I presume, elsewhere, especially those locales which depend on migrant / foreign (seasonal) labour.)

  216. KG says

    blf@296,

    Farm workers have actually been flown in from Romania (or Bulgaria, I forget which) to the UK in the last few days. When a call went out for British residents to do farm work, a large number of people applied, but as the recruitment process went on, more and more dropped out or were rejected. It turns out that fruit picking, asparagus harvesting etc. is not only back-breaking and poorly paid – the reasons so few Brits wanted to do these jobs in pre-Covid (and pre-Brexit) times – it’s actually skilled work: people need to be fast and agile, and they need training. So we’re anticipating a shortage of fresh fruit and veg over the next few months. Of course, much is normally imported – the UK comes nowhere near feeding itself – but a lot of what is imported comes from countries also under lockdown.

  217. says

    A bit random, but I suddenly remembered that bit from Naked Lunch about the guy who taught his asshole to speak. Eventually, the asshole rebels and takes over the whole body:

    …nerve connections were blocked and infiltrated and atrophied so the brain couldn’t give orders any more. It was trapped in the skull, sealed off. For a while you could see the silent, helpless suffering of the brain behind the eyes, then finally the brain must have died, because the eyes went out, and there was no more feeling in them than a crab’s eye on the end of a stalk.

    Dead eyes, dead brain, and spewing shit every time he talks. Certainly sounds like Trump.

  218. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Donald J. Trump–turning the bully pulpit into the bullshit pulpit

  219. says

    About those protests, and about the protestors themselves:

    The protests we’ve seen in a handful of locations around the country have bamboozled a lot of the national press. Look closely and a lot of the turnout is heavily stocked with militia types and the kinds of groups who turned out for the Charlottesville protests a couple years ago. But the bigger thing is that for now they appear highly orchestrated.

    In Michigan, they appear to be in part in reaction polling showing severe declines in public support for President Trump. They’re organized by groups funded in large part by the DeVos family. These are basically Trump loyalists supporting Trump at his request and mobilized by key rightist groups. The key question, as TPM Reader TS explains, is whether what starts here as orchestrated and largely inorganic takes on a life of its own and gains political traction. They now have Fox and an incumbent President cheering them on as a demonstration of political identity.

    As for the “open the economy” protests right now, I am keeping an eye on them. A modest number of places so far, and participants in the tens to hundreds to around a thousand apiece. These early events look very orchestrated by a few key national professional organizations – and more electorally aimed than early Tea P or resistance protests were in 2009 and 2017. The orchestrators are Americans for Prosperity, Freedom Works, Club for Growth, and the Trump reelect campaign, all national professional operations. The advocacy groups are all ultra-free-market operations that most certainly do not want most Americans to become reliant upon public benefits or more trusting of government. […]

    I do think there are genuine hard-core Trump enthusiasts, all white and heavily middle-aged males, who for a while will pursue this instead of traveling to his big rallies. They love him and want to show it publicly – want to attract TV cameras. They see the pandemic as more of a political threat to their Guy than as a heath risk. […]

    The big question will be whether national media fall for the presentation of this as “economic frustration.” That seems dubious to me. Just like the Tea Partiers in 2009-10 were more about enthonationalist resentments than economic suffering, these folks seem similar. They are partisans, and they are also angry that non-big-city areas of states face restrictions for what I strongly suspect many of them see as a virus that hits big cities and minority populations. […]

    The catch of course is that viruses do not target demographically or (for long) geographically that much, and this one is spreading to new hot spots in the Midwest, South, etc. Sioux Falls, South Dakota, deserves a lot of attention.

    […] Jacksonville FL is a relative virus hotspot, for example, and we see opening the beaches there. Certain GOP governors and cities area really playing with fire, and their people may soon be burned, including the white middle-class ones.

    Text above is excerpted from a post by Josh Marshall, editor and publisher of Talking Points Memo.

  220. says

    Nancy Pelosi commented on the protests, and on Trump’s support for the protestors.

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) argued that President Trump’s defense of protesters defying stay-at-home orders is a “distraction” from his response to the COVID-19 outbreak, during Sunday morning interviews.

    Asked by ABC News’ George Stephanopolous about whether she thinks that the President’s guidelines to the governors are appropriate and if states are ready to begin the process of opening up, Pelosi responded that she “wouldn’t exaggerate the protests across the country” before adding that Trump’s support of the protests is “a distraction.”

    “There are some in some places, largely where there’s a Democratic governor,” Pelosi said. “But I think of it largely as a distraction and the President’s embrace of it as a distraction from the fact that he has not appropriately done testing, treatment, contact tracing and quarantine.”

    Pelosi went on to add that “the key that opens the door to the economy is testing,” which she said “we haven’t done it right.” […]

    Link

  221. says

    At Least 20 People Have COVID-19 at One ICE Jail. Those Inside Say Many More Are Sick.

    “I don’t want to die in here,” says one immigrant trying to speed up his deportation.

    On Friday evening, a Guatemalan man told me he spent three nights last week in solitary confinement at an ICE detention facility after developing a fever. Manuel, a pseudonym to protect against potential retaliation, expected to receive medical attention while in isolation at the Richwood Correctional Center, a for-profit immigration jail in Louisiana. Instead, he says he got no aide while fighting off exhaustion and aches. “They put you in there,” he surmised about his nights alone, “and you live or you die.”

    About two hours later, Immigration and Customs revealed that 17 new people had tested positive at Richwood. It brings the total there to 20, more than any other ICE detention center in the nation. But those government numbers may show only a sliver of the crisis unfolding at Richwood. Interviews with Manuel and six other Richwood detainees suggest more are infected. They said many of the roughly 70 people who remain in their unit are sick with COVID-like symptoms. Overall, the jail was holding about 200 people earlier this month. […]

    Before being isolated, Manuel had been in close contact with Salomon Diego Alonzo, who, like Manuel, was one of nearly 700 people who ICE had detained in raids of Mississippi chicken plants in August. They were in the same dorm and talked all the time until Alonzo was isolated shortly before Manuel. […]

    Manuel said nearly half the people in the dorm have come down with something. A Mexican man in the dorm told me has a headache, fever, and a cough. “It’s not just me,” he stressed. He added that he has a hernia, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Like Manuel, he’d been arrested in the chicken plant raids. He has five children, three of whom are US citizens.

    ICE revealed Friday that only about 1 percent of the roughly 32,000 people in its custody have been tested. Instead of testing detainees it knows have been exposed to COVID-19, ICE generally leaves them in group quarantines until they develop symptoms. Only then are they isolated. […] ICE has largely refused to exercise its broad authority to release people from custody to protect them from the pandemic. […]

    On Thursday, Alonzo was forced to appear for a court hearing despite being too weak to talk, attorney Veronica Semino, told the Associated Press. Semino told me she tried to get the hearing postponed while Alonzo was in isolation awaiting the results of his COVID-19 test, but the judge refused the request. During the hearing, Semino heard the judge say about Alonzo, “He needs to talk.”

    “No, he can’t talk,” Semino heard a guard interject. “He does not have the lung capacity.” […]

    Roberto, a pseudonym for another Central American detainee, told me he had a lot of contact with Alonzo as well. He is now sick himself—body pain, headaches, dizziness—but trying to hide those symptoms from the jail’s staff. He doesn’t want to get sent to solitary without medical attention like Manuel. […]

    When we spoke again on Saturday, he passed the phone to a Honduran man who has been trying to get deported since early March. The Honduran man compared his experience in Louisiana to being kidnapped. “The only thing that that matters to them is that we’re worth $75 dollars a day,” he said, referring to the amount ICE pays to detain people in Louisiana. “We’re a business.” […]

  222. says

    North Korean leaders are now fact-checking Trump’s lies:

    North Korea on Sunday dismissed as “ungrounded” […] Trump’s comment that he recently received “a nice note” from the North’s leader, Kim Jong Un.

    Trump said during a press briefing on the coronavirus pandemic Saturday that “I received a nice note from him recently. It was a nice note. I think we’re doing fine.” Trump also defended now-stalled nuclear diplomacy with Kim, saying the U.S. would have been at war with North Korea if he had not been elected.

    North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that there was no letter addressed to Trump recently by “the supreme leadership,” a reference to Kim.

    It said it would examine why the U.S. leadership released “the ungrounded story” to the media.

    “The relations between the top leaders of [North Korea] and the U.S. are not an issue to be taken up just for diversion nor it should be misused for meeting selfish purposes,” the statement said. […]

    Link

  223. says

    From New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo:

    “We’ve been watching this 24 hours a day… the total hospitalization rate is down again in the state of New York, we’re down to 16,000,” Cuomo said during his daily briefing. “It turned out the high point wasn’t a point, but the high point was a plateau, and we got up to the high point and then we just stayed at that level for a while.”

    “If the data hold and if this trend holds, we are past the high point and all indications at this point are that we are on the descent,” Cuomo added. “Whether or not the descent continues depends on what we do, but right now are on the descent.” […]

    The governor said the infection rate also appeared to be slowing, saying it has reached the point where every 10 people infect approximately nine people. Cuomo emphasized that while the new data was good news, it was imperative to reopen the economy gradually enough that the progress is not undone. […]

    Link

    In other coronavirus news, Europe has surpassed 1 million confirmed cases.

  224. says

    From Wonkette: “Life Tabernacle Church Becomes Death Tabernacle Church After Defying Stay-At-Home Orders”

    You just … you cannot make this shit up.

    Tony Spell is the pastor of the Life Tabernacle Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He’s one of those megachurch pastors who is so very dedicated to Jesus […] that he has insisted upon continuing to hold services despite the fact that his state has issued a stay-at-home order. You know, like that other pastor in Virginia who just died of COVID-19. Spell has not been deterred despite even being arrested and charged with six counts of disobeying the powers of government. […]

    “Satan and a virus will not stop us,” said the Reverend Tony Spell, 42 […]. He expects a crowd of more than 2,000 to gather in worship at his megachurch on Sunday.

    “God will shield us from all harm and sickness,” Spell said in an interview. “We are not afraid. We are called by God to stand against the Antichrist creeping into America’s borders. We will spread the Gospel.”
    Alas, as it turns out, Spell may have been a little off in his calculations

    78-year-old Harold Orillion, an usher at Life Tabernacle church died this Wednesday, and according to the coroner’s report, the causes of death were “acute respiratory distress syndrome, 2nd pneumonia, 2nd COVID-19.”

    Pastor Tony, however, claims that the coroner is lying. […] “He died of a broken heart,” Spell said. “Harold’s son died last week, that triggered Harold’s early onset Parkinson’s…his wife has lost a husband and a son in a week.”

    Spell added, “Harold did not have Coronavirus, he was never on ventilator, he did not have Covid-19.” […]

    Orllion isn’t the only one of Spell’s parishioners to get infected: Jeffrey Wittenbrink, the lawyer defending him in his criminal case has it as well. In fact, he gave an interview to The Daily Beast from his hospital bed, while on oxygen support. […]

    He said he attended Life Tabernacle on Easter Sunday along with Orillion, who was a lead usher. “He was vibrant, he was literally bouncing around the church, he was very happy to be where he was,” Wittenbrink said, adding that he thought Orillion would “probably have been happy” that attending church was one of his final activities. […]

    So let’s just review!

    Jeffrey Wittenbrink is defending the church’s right to hold services in the middle of a pandemic, claiming that there is no danger in him doing that, from a hospital bed where he is on oxygen support after attending a church service on Easter Sunday with a guy who also died of COVID-19. […]

    As if all of that were not galling enough, Spell also issued a challenge to his followers. A challenge to send him their stimulus checks, instead of spending it on groceries or rent. […]

    Link

  225. says

    Americans at World Health Organization transmitted real-time information about coronavirus to Trump administration.

    More than a dozen U.S. researchers, physicians and public health experts, many of them from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, were working full time at the Geneva headquarters of the World Health Organization as the novel coronavirus emerged late last year and [they] transmitted real-time information about its discovery and spread in China to the Trump administration, according to U.S. and international officials.

    A number of CDC staffers are regularly detailed to work at WHO in Geneva as part of a rotation that has operated for years. Senior Trump-appointed health officials also consulted regularly at the highest levels with the WHO as the crisis unfolded, the officials said.

    The presence of so many U.S. officials undercuts President Trump’s charge that the WHO’s failure to communicate the extent of the threat, born of a desire to protect China, is largely responsible for the rapid spread of the virus in the United States. […]

    German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas warned that the WHO “cannot be weakened or in any way be called into question politically. … Every inch that the U.S. withdraws from the wider world, especially at this level, is space that will be occupied by others — and that tends to be those that don’t share our values of liberal democracy,” he said.

    Canada, Japan and the European Union — all of whom participated in the call — also issued strong statements backing the organization.

    […] a post-crisis review should be “driven by science.” […]

    WHO has no power to compel member governments to do its bidding.

    The organization “has no intelligence capabilities, and no investigatory power,” said Daniel Spiegel, who served as ambassador to the United Nation’s Geneva-based organizations, including the WHO, for the Clinton administration. “They should have been more skeptical about what the Chinese were telling them, but they’re totally at the mercy of what governments provide.”

    Among his complaints, Trump seems most aggrieved by the initial WHO failure to support his Jan. 31 decision to partially ban incoming travel from China. […]

    In addition to working at WHO […] CDC officials are often members of its many advisory groups. The emergency committee advising the organization on whether to declare “a public health emergency of international concern” during deliberations in mid to late January included Martin Centron, director for CDC’s Division of Global Migration and Quarantine.

    When China eventually agreed to let a joint WHO mission into the country in mid-February, it included two U.S. scientists among 25 national and international experts from eight countries, although the Americans were not permitted to visit the “core area” in Wuhan.

    From the beginning of the outbreak, CDC officials were tracking the disease and consulting with WHO counterparts. A team led by Ray Arthur, director of the Global Disease Detection Operations Center at CDC, compiles a daily summary about infectious disease events and outbreaks, categorized by level of urgency, that is sent to agency officials.

    Arthur, according to a CDC official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, has participated in the CDC daily “incident management” calls, discussing information he learned from WHO officials.

    Information is passed up the chain of command from CDC to the Department of Health and Human Services in daily reports and telephone discussions, this official said.

    Any information of a sensitive nature about the growing outbreak was and continues to be shared by CDC officials with other U.S. officials in a secure facility located behind the CDC’s Emergency Operations Center at its Atlanta headquarters.

    In the early days of the virus response, those officials included HHS Secretary Alex Azar. Information about what the WHO was planning to do or announce was often shared days in advance, the CDC official said.

    Link

    In my opinion, while procedures at WHO may need to be improved, Trump’s placement of blame on WHO, (and his withdrawal of U.S. funding for WHO), are just examples of his usual tactics: distraction from his failures; and placing blame on anyone other than himself.

  226. says

    Those protestors who want to “liberate” Virginia, should talk to Jim Mullen first … they should see what he has seen.

    Sometime that first night, after stacking another dead body into a refrigerated truck, Jim Mullen decided he wouldn’t tell his wife everything.

    Gina is a worrier, and deep down he knew she didn’t agree with this. He had his own reasons for departing Dallas for New York on a volunteer nursing assignment April 3. But he hadn’t just left his wife alone to care for their 2-year-old daughter. Gina, a doctor, is terrified of the novel coronavirus, and Jim’s first critical care shift in four years would put him in what had become the epicenter of the pandemic. How would it change the family if Jim has the virus when he comes home? What if, in fact, he never does?

    But here he was, on the first of 21 straight 12-hour nights, and before the emergency room doors opened at a hospital in the Bronx, an orientation leader welcomed newcomers to the “pits of hell.” Jim walked in anyway, and immediately saw a patient drooling blood onto his chest, heard oxygen monitors sounding alarms in every direction, felt something he hadn’t expected when he signed up three days earlier: fear.

    “Maybe I should’ve stayed home,” he’d remember thinking, and around that time someone told him to move the two bodies upstairs and a third one in the ER.

    He wheeled down the first of them, and one of two trucks had been locked because it was full. When he opened the second truck’s door, a pair of folded legs sprung toward him. There were so many body bags that he could barely step without grazing a hand, a leg, an ear. One of the zippers had failed, and when Jim looked down, he saw the face of a man who might’ve had a wife and daughter of his own.

    He kept moving, looking forward to his call to Gina in a few hours. They’d agreed to talk every day as his workday ended and hers began. He already knew she’d ask what he’d seen. […]

    “I see this as the future,” Jim will say later, in one of several interviews. “This is what your city is going to look like if you don’t do what you’re supposed to do.”

    In their marriage, Gina is the meticulous planner and Jim is the carefree tough guy. […] though at this moment there is one paralyzing but unspoken thing they have in common: Both are afraid Jim won’t make it home.

    […] He tells her about the treatments that seem to work and the ones that don’t. If a patient goes on a ventilator, he’ll say, he or she doesn’t usually come off. He doesn’t tell her that, in the heat of battle, sometimes doctors and nurses perform the high-risk treatments they’re told to avoid: cardiopulmonary resuscitation, high-flow oxygen therapy, bilevel positive airway pressure — procedures that can eject the virus into the air, where it can linger for hours.

    More than 9,000 health-care workers in the United States have tested positive for coronavirus and 27 have died as of April 9, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But officials acknowledge that is an undercount because many sick health-care workers were never tested. […]

    Washington Post link

  227. says

    What happens if you survive? What if you were intubated and on a ventilator for an extended period of time, but you lived?

    When Janet Mendez first got off the ventilator, she had no idea who she was.

    “[The hospital staff] kept calling me Maria,” she told The Daily Beast. “I said, OK, that’s my name.’”

    Except, of course, it wasn’t. Maria is her mother, who had been anxiously calling Mount Sinai in upper Manhattan every day since her 33-year-old daughter was hospitalized with COVID-19. Somewhere along the way, the staff had misplaced Mendez’s ID tag—maybe they’d never given her one at all—and mixed up her name with her mother’s. After 10 days in the intensive care unit, Mendez was too confused to correct them.

    Mendez is one of the lucky ones—part of the minority of novel coronavirus patients who require mechanical breathing and still make it out of the hospital alive. She is recovering quickly, and one Mount Sinai doctor described her as a “success.” But for many patients like her, getting out of the ICU is only half the battle.

    […] Decades of research shows many of the sickest ICU patients will never return to their former selves. An ailment called Post-Intensive Care Syndrome (PICS) causes cognitive, physical, and psychological problems in up to 80 percent of all critical-care survivors. About a third never return to work.

    Now physicians say they are witnessing many of these effects in COVID-19 survivors, at a scale they’ve never seen before. And some are not sure we’re ready for the influx of ICU survivors this crisis will bring.

    […] The confusion Mendez felt coming off of the ventilator is common for patients with extended ICU stays—so common it has a name: “ICU delirium.” […]

    According to the Society of Critical Care Medicine, between 30 and 80 percent of ICU survivors struggle with some sort of cognitive impairment after their stay. A year after being released from the ICU, a third of patients have cognitive test scores consistent with someone who suffered a traumatic brain injury, like a car crash. A quarter have test scores in the range of mild Alzheimer’s.

    […] Almost a third of all ICU survivors show clinically important symptoms of depression, and a quarter show signs of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder—nightmares, flashbacks, fear of going back to the doctor. […]

    While it’s too early to know the lasting effects of COVID-19 on survivors, doctors told The Daily Beast these patients often awoke confused and disoriented, with no idea what happened to them. Benjamin Seidel, a rehabilitation physician at Burke Hospital in New York, said some of his patients had noticeably different MRI results compared to when they were admitted.

    “Some of these COVID patients that we see, if I get my neurologic expert therapist to evaluate them, they say, ‘This person must have had a brain injury,’” said Kyle Ridgeway, an inpatient acute physical therapist at University of Colorado Hospital. For those who have been in the ICU for weeks, he said, “this is going to be a life-altering situation for them.”

    […] For Mendez, the cognitive issues ended mercifully fast. A born-and-bred New Yorker, she said she remembered her name as soon as someone reminded her what street she was on. “The minute they told me it was 114th, I said, ‘Hey I’m close to the house!’” she recalled. Later, she entertained herself and stayed sharp by counting, multiplying and dividing the ceiling tiles above her bed.

    But regaining her physical bearings was another story. A formerly healthy 33-year-old, Mendez could not even sit up on her own when she first woke up. Her first task—moving from her bed to a chair—made her feel dizzy and required an oxygen mask. It took her four days to muster the strength to walk to the bathroom on her own; even then, using it on her own was beyond her ability. She took a three-hour nap the first time she tried.

    […] Every doctor who spoke with The Daily Beast said their patients showed significant muscle loss, reduced lung capacity, and decreased endurance. […]

    Ridgeway said what struck him about COVID-19 patients compared to other ARDS survivors was their profound exhaustion. Some of his more muscular patients still struggled to stand for more than 30 seconds without getting fatigued.

    […] For many of these patients, there is a psychological burden in suddenly waking up with a body that cannot do what it used to. Engel said she’d seen several patients try to walk and fall, forgetting that their legs could not support them. […]

    Responsible disease prevention requires limiting how many people are exposed to the patient, meaning therapists sometimes don’t get in the room with their patients at all. Ridgeway said he’d started treating some patients through a window in the hospital, with a nurse inside the room to help the patient move.

    At Burke, Seidel said they are no longer using shared equipment like treadmills with COVID-positive patients, instead making due with whatever props can be left in the patient’s room. […]

    “The focus has shifted from usual care to emergency care, meaning things like physical therapy and rehabilitation are taking a back seat, rightfully so, to oxygen status and things like that,” said Smith from the University of Michigan. “But you suffer when you do that. There are patients that aren’t going to get out of bed.” […]

    Long-term rehabilitation centers in the state, which take patients who are ready to leave the hospital but not strong enough to go home, are already struggling with the same constraints as major hospitals. […] “You have an already stretched-thin system now reduced beyond that,” he said. “You can just see the safety and the ability to care for patients is severely limited.”

    At the same time, home health aides are reluctant to visit former coronavirus patients in their houses, and many outpatient physical therapy clinics are closed for the foreseeable future. Even after the pandemic ends, the national shortage in home-care workers and physical therapists could make it difficult to treat everyone who needs help.

    Needham, who has studied PICS for years at Johns Hopkins, said many of these workers will have to be trained in how to treat critical illness survivors, rather than the survivors of heart attacks or brain injuries they are used to. […]

    Mendez appears to be on her way to a full recovery. When she finally made it home, it was in an ambulance. After 10 days of recuperation in the hospital, she still cannot get around without a walker. The hospital had to send her home in an ambulance because she couldn’t manage the subway stairs. […]

    “It took a toll on my body,” she said of the virus. “Right now, I’m like a newborn trying to walk again.” […]

    Link

  228. says

    Moscow Times – “Russia’s Coronavirus Cases Rise By Over 4,000”:

    Russia confirmed 4,268 new coronavirus infections on Monday, bringing the country’s official number of cases to 47,121.

    Three hundred and sixty-one people have been killed by the virus.

    Russia’s officially reported numbers — which are still relatively lower than those in European countries — have sparked suspicion. Experts warn that Russia’s testing capacity is hampered by bureaucracy, while officials warn that the real number of cases is likely much higher.

    The majority of Russia’s cases are in Moscow. Since March 30, all of Moscow’s 12 million residents have been ordered to stay in their homes with few exceptions.

    Moscow Deputy mayor Anastasia Rakova has warned the city “will face difficult weeks” ahead.

    “The peak in morbidity should arrive in the next two to three weeks,” she said in a video released on social media Friday.

    Russia has carried out more than 1.7 million coronavirus tests, though there have been concerns about their reliability….

  229. says

    Guardian – “Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro denounced for joining pro-dictatorship rally”:

    Former presidents, politicians and newspaper editorial boards have lined up to denounce the “moronic” and “anti-democratic” behaviour of Brazil’s far-right leader after he hit the streets to egg on protesters demanding a return to military dictatorship.

    As the number of deaths caused by Covid-19 rose to nearly 2,500 on Sunday, Jair Bolsonaro left his presidential palace in Brazil’s capital, Brasília, to fraternize with flag-waving radicals.

    Among the demands their banners listed were an end to the social distancing measures opposed by Bolsonaro, the closure of Brazil’s congress and supreme court, and a re-run of a dictatorship-era decree used by military rulers in the late 1960s to suffocate their political opponents.

    At one point – snubbing social distancing rules for the umpteenth time since the coronavirus crisis began – Brazil’s paratrooper-turned-president clambered onto a truck to address the hundreds-strong assembly.

    “The era of roguery is over. Now it’s the people who are in power,” Bolsonaro proclaimed outside the Brazilian army headquarters, coughing repeatedly as he spoke.

    “Everyone in Brazil must understand that they must yield to the will of the Brazilian people.”

    Bolsonaro’s outing – which some suspect was a deliberate provocation designed to distract from the rising Covid-19 death toll – sparked immediate censure.

    Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, president from 2003 to 2010, tweeted: “The same constitution that allows a president to be democratically elected also contains devices to stop them leading the country to the destruction of democracy and a genocide of the population.”

    Rodrigo Maia, the head of Brazil’s lower house, said Brazil was in a dual fight against coronavirus “and the virus of authoritarianism”.

    “In total, 2,462 deaths have been recorded in Brazil. Preaching a democratic rupture in the face of these deaths represents an unforgivable cruelty to the families of victims,” Maia tweeted. “We don’t have time to waste with coup-mongering bombast.”

    Even members of the military top brass were reportedly upset, with one senior official urging citizens to ignore Bolsonaro’s actions. “Let the president talk to the nutters on his lonesome,” they told the news magazine Veja.

    On Monday morning Bolsonaro denied he had been attacking Brazilian democracy but told reporters: “I am actually the Constitution”.

    Bolsonaro is a longstanding fan of the military men who ruled Brazil from 1964 until 1985, and autocrats including Chile’s Augusto Pinochet.

    Bolsonaro’s reaction to Covid-19 – which he has downplayed as media “hysteria” – has proved similarly controversial….

  230. says

    JFC – MSNBC is showing the imbecilic protest in Harrisburg, PA. There are like a thousand people all gathered together (and they have plenty of space to spread out!), and the vast majority aren’t wearing masks.

  231. says

    Oh, FFS.

    Here are some details from the most recent self-promotion extravaganza, which was thinly disguised as a coronavirus briefing by Trump:

    On Friday, the Wall Street Journal published an opinion piece that gushed about Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus epidemic, hailing the president for “rewriting the book on emergencies.” The piece, written by the Hudson Institute’s Christopher DeMuth, effectively celebrated the White House’s rejection of the historical model of a centralized federal response to a national emergency.

    Near the top of [Sunday’s] press briefing — which, in case anyone’s forgotten, is supposed to be about the pandemic and efforts to address it — the president decided to read excerpts from the opinion piece about his perceived excellence.

    At one point, while sharing the piece with the press corps and a national television audience, the president read DeMuth’s praise that Trump had “vivified the American way in action,” which was “once reluctantly aroused.” Ad-libbing his own related thoughts, the president added, “It was hard to get it aroused, and it is hard to get it aroused, but we got it aroused.”

    I’m just going to let that go without comment.

    The oddity of the display was not Trump’s unfortunate choice of words, but rather his self-indulgent, self-congratulatory presentation. The president thought it’d be a good idea to start a pandemic briefing by, in effect, telling the White House press corps, “Hey, everybody, look at this op-ed from a guy who appreciates my awesomeness more than you people do.”

    A couple of minutes later, Trump paused the briefing in order to play a video of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) saying positive things about the federal response to the crisis. After it was over, however, the president complained that the White House staff had “left out the good part,” which included related comments from Cuomo about ventilator access. Sarcastically, Trump said to members of his own team, “Great job, fellas.”

    Before the briefing ended, “the good part” was also played on the briefing room screens.

    Eventually, a reporter asked Trump about his focus on himself on the same day the U.S. death toll from the pandemic crossed 40,000: “Can you explain then why you come out here and you are reading clips and showing clips of praise for you and for your administration? Is this really the time for self-congratulations?”

    Trump said he was merely trying to honor hospital workers and administration officials on the front lines of the crisis. Reminded that the featured praise didn’t reference hospital workers, the president eventually declared:

    “It’s not about me. No, nothing is about me.”

    No, of course not. Heaven forbid. Trump read paragraphs from an op-ed headlined, “Trump Rewrites the Book on Emergencies” because of his deep and abiding appreciation for medical heroism.

    The president went on to tell the CNN reporter who dared ask the question, “You don’t have the brains you were born with.” […]

    Link

  232. says

    White House’s case against World Health Organization crumbles

    Despite Trump’s talk of a cover-up, U.S. officials knew what the World Health Organization knew in real time.

    In January, the World Health Organization issued global warnings about the need for “isolation” and “prevention” measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. At the time, Donald Trump was dismissive of the threat, assuring the public that he wasn’t worried about the danger because “we have it totally under control.”

    The president, however, believes he has an explanation for the juxtaposition: the WHO, the Republican insisted last week, was “covering up” the crisis. Indeed, Trump used this argument to justify his highly controversial decision to halt U.S. financial support for the World Health Organization.

    The White House’s line, however, appears to have effectively collapsed. The Washington Post reported:

    More than a dozen U.S. researchers, physicians and public health experts, many of them from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, were working full time at the Geneva headquarters of the World Health Organization as the novel coronavirus emerged late last year and transmitted real-time information about its discovery and spread in China to the Trump administration, according to U.S. and international officials…. Senior Trump-appointed health officials also consulted regularly at the highest levels with the WHO as the crisis unfolded, the officials said.

    Keep in mind, as Dana Milbank noted, when Trump tries to rationalize his decision to cut off funding for the world’s public health body in the middle of a pandemic, he specifically argued that the WHO failed to “share information in a timely and transparent fashion.”

    But this obviously wasn’t quite right: U.S. officials knew what the World Health Organization knew in real time.

  233. says

    And … the Trump administration’s delusions (willful ignorance? or blindness?) about testing continues:

    […] Vice President Mike Pence claimed on NBC’s Meet the Press yesterday that there is “a sufficient amount of testing to meet the requirements of a phase-one reopening,” plenty of governors know better. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) told CNN yesterday that Team Trump’s rhetoric is “delusional.”

    “That’s just delusional to be making statements like that. We have been fighting every day for PPE,” Northam said, referring to personal protective equipment. “And we have got some supplies now coming in. We have been fighting for testing. It’s not a — it’s not a straightforward test. We don’t even have enough swabs, believe it or not. And we’re ramping that up. But for the national level to say that we have what we need and really to have no guidance to the state levels is just irresponsible, because we’re not there yet.”

    Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) added that the “lack of testing” is “probably the number one problem in America and has been from the beginning of this crisis.” He added that the White House’s happy talk “is just absolutely false.”

    And yet, Trump can’t seem to help himself. At yesterday’s briefing, in reference to reagents — chemical agents needed as part of coronavirus tests — the president told reporters, “We’re in great shape. It’s so easy to get.” Reality paints a very different picture.

    Governor Cuomo repeated today that reagents for the tests are hard to get. He said he needs the federal government to help with that part of the supply chain. Trump just blatantly lie.

    All of which raises an awkward question: why, exactly, isn’t Trump making every possible effort to ramp up testing?

    At first blush, his posture seems difficult to understand. The logical progression seems obvious: the nation needs vastly expanded testing to re-open society; Trump is desperate to re-open society; ergo, the president should be ready to move heaven and earth to dramatically expand testing.

    But he isn’t. On the contrary, he’s doing largely the opposite, punting the issue to states. On Friday, Trump tweeted, “The States have to step up their TESTING!” Over the weekend, the president added that the federal government would stand “with” the states, but said governors “must be able to step up and get the job done.”

    First, states simply lack the capacity and the infrastructure to do this on their own. If the United States is going to triple its virus testing, it will be up to the federal government to coordinate and facilitate the endeavor. Whether the president likes this or not, either the federal government will implement a national testing plan or it will not happen.

    Second, the idea that the White House is prepared to stand “with” the states is itself dubious. The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday on the national “disarray” on testing and pointed to one anecdote in which a doctor reached out to Adm. Brett Giroir, the administration’s testing coordinator, who’d inquired about supplies on behalf of a commercial laboratory. “There is zero probability we can help on plates,” Giroir told the doctor, referring to the disposable plastic trays used in the testing process.

    And finally, I suspect Trump’s seemingly bizarre posture is driven by his unshakable commitment to blame-avoidance. Not to put too fine a point on this, but the more the White House is actively involved in ramping up testing, the more the president will take on greater responsibility for the federal response to the pandemic.

    In theory, Trump could ramp up testing, help clear the way for gradual economic expansion, and take credit for the progress, but he doesn’t seem willing to take the risk. Remember, the Washington Post reported two weeks ago that White House officials made “a deliberate political calculation that it will better serve Trump’s interest to put the onus on governors — rather than the federal government — to figure out how to move ahead.” The Post added that the president’s team has prioritized “trying to shield the president from political accountability.”

    It’s an inexcusable posture, but it explains quite a bit.

    Link

  234. says

    Quoted in Lynna’s #316:

    The piece, written by the Hudson Institute’s Christopher DeMuth, effectively celebrated the White House’s rejection of the historical model of a centralized federal response to a national emergency.

    They didn’t reject the model, and can’t reject the model (especially since they declared it a national emergency). They failed miserably at it, leading to tens of thousands (at least) of preventable deaths and economic devastation, and then falsely claimed it wasn’t their problem. These briefings are supposed to be about what the federal government is doing to respond to the national emergency, and this one featured Trump reading praise for his abdication of responsibility for failing to respond to the national emergency. Catastrophically fucking up and then trying to wash your hands of it (the irony) is not a model of governance. It’s cause for demanding his resignation.

  235. says

    Speak Loudly and Carry a Big Schtick: Trump’s Most Outrageous Ambassadors

    Fat wallets, skimpy resumes, and Mar-a-Lago memberships.

    […] Jeffrey Ross Gunter (Iceland): This California dermatologist and longtime GOP donor gave $100,000 to Trump’s inaugural committee. At his confirmation hearing, he reassured senators, “While I have never been to Iceland, I have spent a considerable amount of time in Western Europe, as my late wife was from the Netherlands.” […]

    David Friedman (Israel): To be fair, Friedman, a staunchly pro-Israel corporate attorney whose firm gave $300,000 to Trump’s inauguration, does have experience with old disputes involving intransigent parties bickering over property claims: He helped handle the bankruptcies of several of Trump’s Atlantic City casinos.

    Carla Sands (Denmark): The widow of a real estate mogul, Sands donated $10,000 to Trump’s 2017 inauguration bash. She’s also a former chiropractor and actor (credits include Deathstalker and the Warriors From Hell).

    David B. Cornstein (Hungary): The jewelry magnate and Trump pal flew in Paul Anka to serenade right-wing Hungarian authoritarian Viktor Orbán at the US Embassy’s Fourth of July celebration. “I can tell you,” Cornstein has said, “knowing the president for a good 25 or 30 years, that he would love to have the situation that Viktor Orbán has.” [I’ll bet.]

    Duke Buchan III (Spain and Andorra): The investment banker and his wife together gave nearly $900,000 to a pro-Trump fundraising group in 2016. Politico reported that Buchan has complained that EU regula­tions made it hard for his polo horses to join him in Spain. […]

    Robert Wood Johnson IV (United Kingdom): The Johnson & Johnson heir, New York Jets owner, and Trump megadonor dropped $1 million on the president’s inauguration. He now lives in a mansion on a 12-acre estate in London and has turned his job into a British reality-TV miniseries titled Inside the American Embassy. […]

    Richard Grenell (Germany): The highest-­ranking openly gay official in the administration is known for his Twitter trolling and undiplomatic behavior. Prominent German politicians have called for Grenell to be recalled; one described him as “a complete diplomatic failure” who “damages trans-Atlantic relations with his repeated clumsy provocations.” He was rewarded by being named the acting director of national intelligence earlier this year. […]

    Only 32% of Trump’s political nominees for ambassadorships in his first two years had any foreign policy experience. In contrast, 64% of Reagan’s political nominees did. […]

    Even as he hands out favors, Trump has been lackadaisical about staffing US embassies. As of early January, more than 25 ambassadorships were vacant, including spots in Chile, Honduras, Qatar, Pakistan, and Ukraine.

  236. says

    an op-ed headlined, “Trump Rewrites the Book on Emergencies”

    I mean…how is this a real thing that exists?
    “Chamberlain Rewrites the Book on Diplomacy.”
    “The White Star Line Rewrites the Book on Transatlantic Travel.”
    “Chernobyl Rewrites the Book on Safety Protocols.”

  237. says

    SC @320, well said.

    In other news, Trump may have been warned against halting funding to WHO by members of his own administration.

    An internal memorandum written by U.S. officials and addressed to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warns that cutting funding to the World Health Organization, as […] Trump said he would do Tuesday, would erode America’s global standing, threaten U.S. lives and hobble global efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

    The memo, which was prepared before Trump’s Rose Garden announcement, was written by officials within the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs and includes a detailed list of how U.S. funding to the WHO helps countries in the Middle East control the pandemic. […]

    It’s unclear if the memo has been sent to Pompeo, and the draft version reviewed by ProPublica was still unfinished. The State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

    The Trump administration has worked closely with the WHO on pandemic response, especially in places where the United States has a limited presence. One U.S. official with knowledge of the State Department memo said it was likely written so that Pompeo could justify waiving parts of Trump’s order, allowing U.S. funding to the WHO to continue. The emphasis on how the halt in funding could bolster China was likely meant to appeal to anti-China hawks in the administration, this person said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. […]

    A White House fact sheet issued on Wednesday said the administration will “redirect global health aid to others directly engaged in the fight.” But in some countries with weak health sectors, the WHO is by far the strongest conduit for U.S. and other international funds meant to protect public health, a U.S. official with knowledge of the situation said. That could mean the administration will find it difficult to reprogram funding originally meant for the agency. […]
    “Current discussions regarding pausing U.S. assistance to the WHO to combat the pandemic risks not only further undermining our ability to help host governments address urgent needs, but also undermines the U.S. narrative of a long-standing partner at precisely the time posts are most reliant on that narrative,” the memo said. […]

    Congressional Democrats quickly denounced Trump’s decision to halt funding to the WHO, and they argue that at least some of the U.S. funding to the organization is beyond his power to stop.

    “President Trump does not have the authority to withhold funds that Congress has appropriated for the United States’ assessed contribution to the World Health Organization,” said Evan Hollander, a spokesman for the House Appropriations Committee.

    But the emergency funds given to the State Department and USAID and referenced in the memo are separate from the “assessed contributions.” The additional funding that Congress provided for the coronavirus response gave the administration much more flexibility to determine recipients, meaning that Trump is legally able to halt those funds.

    Oh, shit. Putting more money in Trump’s hands for his discretion in disbursements … very bad idea.

    The memo detailed a number of key WHO activities related to the pandemic fight. In Lebanon, the WHO sent test kits in February and planned to send masks, gloves and other supplies afterward, the memo said. In Yemen, which is already experiencing a humanitarian crisis because of years of war, the WHO was working to open ports for humanitarian supplies and providing American and Chinese tests.

    In Libya, which is also in ongoing conflict, the memo said the WHO is “the most technically viable implementing partner on public health issues; very limited alternatives exist.” Around two dozen Americans in Libya have said they want to return to the U.S., but the State Department cannot help them do this for now, the memo said, and the agency has urged them to shelter in place. “Any one of them who encounters a health crisis will likely depend on WHO-provided assistance to make it through,” the memo said.

    In Algeria, where the coronavirus pandemic has proven especially deadly, USAID had approved half a million dollars in funding for the WHO’s response in the country and was considering sending a further $1.5 million, the memo said.

    “The PRC, meanwhile, has sent a medical team of 13 doctors and eight medical assistants, while private organizations have donated over $450,000 worth of medical equipment,” the memo said, referring to China.

    Link

  238. says

    Yeah, we could see this coming.

    “White House, GOP face heat after hotel and restaurant chains helped run small business program dry.”

    Washington Post link.

    With program out of money, backlash prompts executives at Shake Shack to return $10 million loan.

    The federal government gave national hotel and restaurant chains millions of dollars in grants before the $349 billion program ran out of money Thursday, leading to a backlash that prompted one company to give the money back and a Republican senator to say that “millions of dollars are being wasted.”

    Thousands of traditional small businesses were unable to get funding from the program before it ran dry. As Congress and the White House near a deal to add an additional $310 billion to the program, some are calling for additional oversight and rule changes to prevent bigger chains from accepting any more money.

    Ruth’s Chris Steak House, a chain that has 150 locations and is valued at $250 million, reported receiving $20 million in funding from the small business portion of the economic stimulus legislation called the Paycheck Protection Program. The Potbelly chain of sandwich shops, which has more than 400 locations and a value of $89 million, reported receiving $10 million last week.

    Shake Shack, a $1.6 billion burger-and-fries chain based in New York City, received $10 million. After complaints from small business advocates when the fund went dry, company founder Danny Meyer and chief executive Randy Garutti announced Sunday evening that they would return the money.

    They said they had no idea that the program would run out of money so quickly and that they understood the uproar. […]

    Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who has tried to defend the program in recent days, wrote on Twitter that he was “glad to see” Shake Shack return the money.

    In all, more than 70 publicly traded companies have reported receiving money from the program, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

    Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) criticized the program, saying that “companies that are not being harmed at all by the coronavirus crisis have the ability to receive taxpayer-funded loans that can be forgiven.”

    “I am concerned that many businesses with thousands of employees have found loopholes to qualify for these loans meant for small businesses,” Scott said. “Unfortunately, when it comes to the PPP, millions of dollars are being wasted.” […]

    Some of the companies receiving money are clients of JPMorgan Chase, adding fuel to criticism that Wall Street banks had helped their clients obtain large amounts. The bank put out a statement Sunday saying that it is “proud to have secured more funding for small businesses than anyone else in the industry” and that 80 percent of its PPP loans have been for businesses with less than $5 million in revenue.

    JPMorgan explained that larger companies may have been served more quickly because its commercial banking unit, which serves larger clients, was able to complete “most of the applications it received” while many more applications poured in from traditional small businesses.

    The PPP program was intended to benefit workers at businesses and nonprofit employers with fewer than 500 employees […]

    But after intensive lobbying by the restaurant and hotel industries during the weeks leading to the passage of the $2 trillion Cares Act economic stimulus package, Congress allowed separate subsidiaries and locations to apply as businesses, even if they were part of a national or international chain.

    Thus multiple Ruth’s Chris locations could apply under separate entities even though the parent company employed about 5,740 people at the end of last year, according to public filings. Other industries and advocates lobbied against affiliation rules as well, including the private equity industry. […]

    The initial PPP “was flawed from top to bottom,” said Florida small business owners Duncan and Rita MacDonald-Korth. “The program has done very little to help genuine small businesses and instead has benefited large companies who have used subsidiary entities to benefit disproportionately and unfairly.” […]

  239. says

    Trump bullies female journalists … again.

    […] After the campaign video played for the press, Trump turned to take questions. Right off the bat, Weijia Jiang with CBS News asked him why he didn’t do more to warn Americans in February and why he continued holding rallies, golfing, etc. That set Trump off right away. He demanded to know who she was and where she was from before scolding her and in the absolutely creepiest possible tone, he cut her off to say: “Relax. Nice and easy.” Later in the exchange he ordered her to “keep your voice down” more than once. Ew. Nevertheless, Jiang kept her cool and proceeded with her questions. This is the duty of White House reporters, especially when 41,000 Americans are dead. […]

    Link

    Video is available at the link.

    Trump never did answer her questions.

  240. says

    Politico – “A watchdog out of Trump’s grasp unleashes wave of coronavirus audits”:

    Lawmakers handed President Donald Trump $2 trillion in coronavirus relief — and then left town without activating any of the powerful new oversight tools meant to hold his administration accountable.

    But with little fanfare, Congress’ independent, in-house watchdog is preparing a blizzard of audits that will become the first wide-ranging check on Trump’s handling of the sprawling national rescue effort.

    And even as Trump has gone to war against internal watchdogs in his administration, the Government Accountability Office remains largely out of the president’s grasp because of its home in the legislative branch.

    The GAO has quickly taken advantage of its perch, exploring the early missteps inherent in launching a multitrillion-dollar law that touches every facet of American life. By the end of April, at least 30 CARES Act reviews and audits — “engagements,” per GAO lingo — are expected to be underway, according to interviews with senior investigators.

    Topics will range from the government’s handling of coronavirus testing to its distribution of medical equipment, and from the nation’s food supply to nursing home infections and any missteps in distributing the emergency cash payments that began landing in millions of Americans’ bank accounts this week. The office’s top fraud investigator said it’s already received a complaint about a check landing in the account of a deceased person.

    “We’re moving forward very quickly,” said Angela Nicole Clowers, chief of the GAO’s health care unit. “We’re an existing institution and have a lot of institutional knowledge about all these programs. It gives us sort of a leg up.”

    At a time when Trump has sought to undermine nearly every independent review of his administration’s conduct, the GAO is likely to dispatch most of its 3,000 investigators, experts and analysts into an arena that could make it a target for the president’s fury. And its quiet early work could soon become very loud: The office is required under the new law to brief Congress every month and issue a bimonthly public report on its findings.

    But as an independent agency that works for Congress — not the president — the GAO has far more protection from Trump. A nonpartisan entity responsive to both Democratic and Republican requests for investigations, the office is also more insulated from partisan attacks than the traditional congressional committee investigations that Trump has stonewalled to the brink of irrelevance.

    The office’s head, U.S. Comptroller General Gene Dodaro, first started in the role in 2008 and was confirmed unanimously to the position in 2010 for a 15-year term, a lengthy tenure meant to protect against politics seeping into the post.

    And the GAO will enter the fray with reinforcements at its disposal: The CARES Act provided a $20 million funding boost and the agency is now deciding where to target the funds to add auditors and experts who can aid its work.

    “Within GAO, we have everyone from policy analysts or public policy people like myself,” Clowers said, “we have nurses, we have scientists, we have engineers, we have lawyers. You sort of name an occupation, we have ’em.”

    Trump has already tangled with the GAO during the most perilous moment of his presidency, and the agency does face some hurtles in investigating him.

    The office probed his decision to delay $400 million in military aid to Ukraine and found that he violated the law by failing to inform Congress of the move. It was a politically explosive finding even if Republicans largely ignored it during the impeachment trial. GAO also noted that the White House budget office and State Department were largely uncooperative in the probe — and the administration could impose similar limitations in its coronavirus work.

    Clowers argued the GAO’s strong relationships with the agencies it oversees should minimize similar resistance to coronavirus relief oversight….

    And in a rare example of unity, Republicans and Democrats have both hailed the office as a valuable nonpartisan overseer that has served both parties well.

    GAO relies on its anonymous reporting network known as FraudNet to receive tips and complaints about fraud or mismanagement of taxpayer dollars. Arp said GAO will aggressively market its existence in the early days of the CARES Act, and he said his unit will focus on areas of government that received massive infusions of funding and a short timeline to start spending it.

    “Our pace has picked up,” Arp said….

    More atl.

  241. says

    From Wonkette: “Greg Abbott Wants To Reopen Texas, But Keep The Abortion Clinics Closed”

    Last week, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced that he would be “reopening” the state in a number of ways, including allowing for some elective surgeries to resume. Unfortunately, procedural abortions will not be included in this, for reasons that almost definitely have nothing at all to do with keeping people safe from COVID-19.

    […] Abbott explained that he would leave the question of when to allow abortion again up to the courts — which just recently decided that while the ban against medication abortion did not make any kind of sense, the state could freely ban most procedural abortions.

    Via The Texas Tribune:

    […] Abbott said his original order barring elective surgeries was based on data that forecast Texas would have “strained” hospital capacity and limited protective gear. Now, he said, there’s “a great number of hospital beds that are vacant” and a new supply chain to obtain protective equipment that has been in high demand nationwide.

    “We’re very cautious, primarily because of the limited PPE [personal protective equipment] still for current hospital workers,” he said. “Hence, it has opened up a little bit for more surgical procedures and for diagnostic tests — especially for those who may have serious illness — in ways that we do not think will compromise PPE supply and in ways that will ensure that there still will remain an adequate number of hospital beds for anybody who may test positive for COVID-19.”

    The thing is, the ban on procedural abortions is actually far more likely to exacerbate the spread of COVID-19 than to contain it. Why? Because people who want abortions will always find a way to get an abortion, and that is exactly what those with unwanted pregnancies in Texas are doing.

    Clinics in Colorado and other nearby states are reporting a rush of patients coming in from Texas in hopes of being able to obtain an abortion.

    Via ReWire:

    While restrictions implemented by Republicans throughout the country mean it’s not unusual for patients to travel long distances and to cross state lines to secure abortion care, the influx of patients from Texas is occurring even as many flights have been canceled and travel by car, bus, and train have become increasingly more difficult due to the social distancing restrictions put in place by COVID-19.

    At one of Cobalt’s partner clinics in Denver in recent weeks, 12 of the 14 out-of-state patients who sought treatment have been from Texas, […] Similar trends are taking place at other clinics the group works with, […]

    Officials at Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains (PPRM), which operates across Colorado, New Mexico, southern Nevada, and Wyoming, told Rewire.News the clinic has seen a 25 percent increase in calls from Texas as a result of Abbott’s order.

    Let’s think about this for a second, shall we?

    Which do you want people doing in the middle of a pandemic — getting abortions close to their homes, or traveling 12+ hours to go to another state, likely stay over night or at least stop to go to the bathroom a few times, get an abortion, and then drive back? The answer should be obvious. That much traveling is clearly a risk to people’s health and safety.

    And sure! I get it. These anti-choicers have a dream. A dream that if people can’t get abortions safely and conveniently, that they just won’t get them at all. […]

    The irony of the “pro-life” movement has always been how many people they are willing to kill in order to potentially save one fetus — and that’s become even more apparent in this climate.

    Link

  242. says

    From Wonkette:

    […] Ruth’s Hospitality Group, the corporate parent of Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, which has thousands of employees, but took advantage of a loophole in the stimulus law to get $20 million in loans, even though the company had “over $441 million in revenue last year — and $86 million cash reserves.” It was a pretty clever trick:

    The law contained an exception for restaurant chains as long as the chain didn’t have more than 500 employees at any single location. Ruth’s Hospitality Group exploited that exception by applying through two corporate subsidiaries, obtaining twice the limit for a single company on April 7. Ruth’s Hospitality Group was able to get to the front of the line because JP Morgan Chase, like many banks, gave preference to companies that had a preexisting banking relationship.

    […] that might be OK if Ruth’s Blur Of Republicans and Meat had actually used the funds to keep waiters, bartenders, and kitchen staff paid, but hell nah, that doesn’t appear to be where the loans went. The company has completely shuttered 23 of its 83 restaurants (plus 73 franchises) that it decided couldn’t do enough takeout or delivery business to be “viable,” and the ones that are still open appear to have shed their hourly employees, running the places with managers only, plus some chefs.

    [A] furloughed Ruth’s Chris employee in Indianapolis said that three managers and a few chefs were still working delivery, but approximately 50 hourly employees in the restaurant were out of work. The employee received a check for less than $150 on March 27, which was supposedly equivalent to their average weekly pay from January to March. The $20 million forgivable loan, financed by taxpayers, would be enough to pay all 5,195 hourly restaurant workers $3,850 each.

    Fortunately, there’s still somewhere for all that loan money to go: The executive suite, where top corporate officials are paid hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in base salary, plus benefits and bonuses […]

    This is how Ruth’s Hospitality Group can spend most of the $20 million on “payroll” while furloughing nearly all of its staff. Under the Payroll Protection Program, salary up to $100,000 counts toward the requirement that 75% of the forgivable loan is used to support payroll. But for a company like Ruth’s Hospitality Group, they could meet that threshold, for example, with just 150 employees that make $100,000 and up.

    Keep in mind, too, that as long as companies uses 75 percent of the loans for “payroll,” the loans will be forgiven, because look at all the stimulus. […]

    According to summary data released by the Small Business Administration, banks approved 67,216‬ loans of $1 million or more. Assuming the rules were followed, that means these companies have a monthly payroll of at least $400,000. Funds distributed to these companies accounted for more than 40% of the available money.

    The Wall Street Journal also details how other big companies have managed to get huge “small business” loans, too, even as they lay people off. […]

    Link

  243. says

    Rich people can get tested.

    “The very rich,” F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote, “are different from you and me.” Rarely has that statement been so glaringly clear, as the self-isolation strategies of the ultrawealthy are revealed by the coronavirus pandemic.

    Some individuals are hiding out in state-of-the-art bunkers. Some have leased seaside mansions to hunker down for the duration. In the Grenadines, billionaire entertainment mogul David Geffen posted pictures on Instagram from his 454-foot megayacht, Rising Sun, replete with a tone-deaf “hoping everybody is staying safe” message.

    And here in this Riviera resort — one of Geffen’s favorite summer ports of call — a gated compound of some of the world’s richest people has its very own, very private testing site.

    Set in the director’s office of the 270-acre Les Parcs de Saint-Tropez — where LVMH luxury group chairman Bernard Arnault, Ritz Paris owner Mohamed al-Fayed and Indian steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal have palatial villas — the medical unit is staffed with a doctor and lab technician to take and process samples from residents and their friends. Details were leaked to the regional newspaper, the Var-Matin, which reported that the effort was organized by Les Parcs’ association president, Jean-Louis Oger. The wealthy pharmacist-turned-entrepreneur owns several clinics and laboratories in the south of France.

    Townspeople have widely condemned the clandestine center […]

    Across France, which already counts more than 19,700 deaths in the pandemic, most public hospitals are overwhelmed with covid-19 patients. Tests are in short supply or are completely inaccessible. […]

    Medical personnel are “scandalized,” according to one hospital doctor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue on the peninsula. “It’s not normal that we have nothing — no tests — and that it is a nightmare for us to get a hold of one.” […]

    A half-hour drive from Les Parcs, a lab in Sainte-Maxime has coronavirus tests, and Oger said he has advised neighbors to go there if they fear they are infected. When told that the Saint-Tropez hospital had none, he responded: “That’s not my concern.”

    The town isn’t buying his explanation. “I don’t believe it for a second,” scoffed Laetitia Leplaideur, a former president of the Rotary Club. “Tropeziennes are talking about the covid-19 testing, . . . and they are furious. We would all like to have a test.” […]

    Much of Saint-Tropez is shuttered because of the national lockdown; only essential businesses, such as grocery stores and bakeries, remain open. The narrow, stone-paved alleys that meander to the 15th-century port are empty, and the dusty Place des Lices, where old-timers play boules under the leafy canopy of gnarled plane trees, is quiet.

    Les Parcs, however, is buzzing with activity. About a third of the residences are occupied, according to Oger. Gardeners and pool cleaners apparently are coming and going with ease, and construction projects are proceeding on schedule. Indeed, in disregard for safety concerns, some homeowners have told their property managers that if the maintenance personnel and contractors don’t show up, no one gets paid.

    “This is an example of the Happy Few,” Leplaideur said. “As if they are saying, ‘Well, we have money, we do what we want, and we don’t care what the state says.’ The rules of confinement are well-respected across the peninsula, except in Les Parcs.”

    It is unknown if the community has had any confirmed cases of covid-19. Since the testing site is on private property, it is outside the municipality’s jurisdiction. The Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Regional Health Office in Marseille is “aware of the testing,” whatever sort it may be, spokeswoman Brigitte Lopresti noted last week with a whiff of exasperation. “There are norms to respect, and we gave them conditions one should follow. But it’s a private residence, and we don’t know what’s going on.” […]

    Washington Post link

  244. says

    “If Trump wants to talk about what he “inherited,” the conversation ought to include the blueprint Obama left his successor on how to deal with a pandemic.”

    Shortly before 8 a.m. this morning, Donald Trump thought it’d be a good idea to publish a weird tweet featuring a video in which Barack Obama’s face was superimposed onto an actor’s body. It was a timely reminder: the incumbent president, even during a pandemic, can’t shake his preoccupation with his immediate predecessor.

    [Trump’s] tweet was part of a much larger pattern that borders on creepy. During Saturday’s White House press briefing, for example, Trump claimed that North Korea’s Kim Jong-un “wouldn’t meet with” Barack Obama. That’s ridiculously false. Trump went on to say his predecessor “left us no ammunition.” That’s equally absurd.

    […] From the official transcript [of the press briefing]:

    “Unfortunately, some partisan voices are attempting to politicize the issue of testing, which they shouldn’t be doing, because I inherited broken junk…. [Obama] left us virtually no medical and ventilators. He left us — the cupboard was dry, right? The cupboard was dry.”

    There are a few angles to this that are worth keeping mind. Let’s first tackle the idea that the Trump administration “inherited broken junk” when it comes to testing. A little common sense in this area goes a long way: COVID-19 started, as the name makes clear, in 2019. It’s true that previous presidents didn’t provide Trump with effective testing for a virus that didn’t exist, but that’s because the virus didn’t exist.

    But that didn’t stop the current president from continuing the offensive yesterday, adding that his administration “inherited” tests “that were no good.” […]

    The second part of Trump’s pitch was that the “cupboard was dry” when he took office, in apparent reference to U.S. stockpiles. This claim isn’t true, either, but it’s also self-defeating in ways the president doesn’t seem to realize: if you moved into a new place and noticed empty cupboards, you might be justified in complaining about the previous owners. But if you moved into a new place, noticed empty cupboards, and ignored the issue for three years, you’ve effectively forfeited the high ground. […]

    Last month, on the day [Trump] announced a national state of emergency, he worked into his presentation a snide comment about the Affordable Care Act’s temporary website difficulties several years ago. A week before that, Trump lied about Obama administration regulations interfering in testing development.

    […] Trump, for no apparent reason, lied about the Obama administration’s record on combating HIV/AIDS. It was during a meeting with members of the administration’s coronavirus task force and executives from leading American pharmaceutical companies, and Trump apparently just wanted to get in a rhetorical shot at Obama, even if the underlying claim was false. […]

    The irony is, if Trump really wants to talk about what he “inherited,” the conversation probably ought to include the blueprint Obama and his team left their successors on how to deal with a pandemic. Sure, the Republican administration ended up ignoring the plan, but who’s fault is that?

    Link

  245. says

    This podcast has a good interview with Jeremy Konyndyk. (There’s interference with the audio, which is annoying but somehow didn’t stop me from hearing what they’re saying.)

    “We need this response to succeed, & I just don’t see how that happens without effective federal leadership”

    Jeremy Konyndyk is a Senior Policy Fellow at the Center for Global Development & a recognized expert on global outbreak preparedness. We discussed the unsettling response to the Covid19 pandemic from the US government thus far, the disruptive impact of magical thinking, & what a fierce sense of urgency looks like.

  246. johnson catman says

    re SC @337: Sweet irony, but I just hope that the idiot McDaniel did not infect more people. That is the problem with these deniers: they are not just endangering their own lives, which would be totally fine, but they are endangering other people who have not chosen the stupid path of the deniers.

  247. says

    SC @334, a guest on Chris Hayes’ “All In” noted that Fox News worked to create the need for the protests, and then covered the protests extensively. Fox News aired 70 segments covering those protests, even though the number of protestors was small.

    The other point made was that the excuse for the protests was massaged until it became “patriotism and freedom.”

    Looks like a collaboration between the Trump administration, Fox News, various white supremacist militias, the Russians, Betsy DeVos (funding), and other bad actors.

    It was so odd to see a protestor in Colorado yell at one of the nurses who was counter-protesting, “If you want communism, why don’t you go to China.” Lot’s of layers of misinformation.

  248. says

    Brett Giroir, the federal official overseeing coronavirus testing efforts, “was told in 2015 he had 30 minutes to resign or he would be fired. His annual performance evaluation at Texas A&M, the local newspaper reported, said he was ‘more interested in promoting yourself’ than the health science center where he worked. He got low marks on being a ‘team player.'” (Information is from The Washington Post.)

    We’ll see: “President Donald Trump will use the Defense Production Act to compel an unnamed company to produce 20 million more coronavirus testing swabs every month — weeks after labs and public health officials started warning that shortages of these swabs were hurting efforts to ramp up testing nationwide.” (According to reporting by Politico.) Trump has promised before to use the Defense Production Act, and then he didn’t. So, I’ll believe this when I see it.

  249. says

    From TPM’s coverage of today’s propaganda extravaganza disguised as a press briefing:

    […] After Trump said that Pence explained the country’s testing capacity to governors and provided them with a list of labs with additional testing capacity during the call, the President then criticized Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) for misunderstanding what Pence was telling them.

    “Some of the governors, like, as an example, the governor from Maryland, didn’t really understand the list,” Trump said. “He didn’t understand too much about what was going on.”

    Trump also ripped Hogan for buying tests from South Korea because all “he needed” was to “get a little knowledge.”

    The President went on to slam Pritzker, saying that he “didn’t understand his (testing) capacity” and that he could have “simply” asked the federal government to give “unlimited support.”

    Trump is working hard to make the governors of various states look as dumb as he is. It’s not working.

    […] Trump falsely claims that he hasn’t left the White House “in months” aside from seeing the USS Comfort ship.

    When told that he held a rally in March, Trump replied: “Did I hold a rally? I’m sorry.”

    Trump repeats his argument that he put a ban on China.

    It’s worth noting that the travel restrictions didn’t stop 40,000 people coming to the US from China.

    Trump claims “a lot of people love me” and that to “the best of my knowledge, I won.”

    Trump says he doesn’t take complaints about testing personally, while explaining why the complaints are a personal attack.

    Telling a reporter that he’ll answer their question next, Trump says he “can’t tell a lie.”

    Asked why he thinks talking about testing is a “personal attack,” Trump says “it’s not bipartisan, it’s mostly partisan.”

    Trump claims that governors call him to say that his administration is doing an “incredible” job and that his team should have a 95% approval rating.

    Trump falsely claims that there used to be a trade deficit of $500 billion with China.

    Regarding sending aid to states, Trump pivots to griping about how the US spends trillions in the Middle East instead of fixing potholes and how the US defends other nations without cost.

    Giroir claims there’s “excess capacity” for testing and doesn’t know why Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) ordered 500,000 tests from South Korea.

    Giroir is a dunderhead. See comment 340.

    Although Trump announced yesterday that he was going to use the Defense Production Act to compel an unnamed company to produce swabs, he had Giroir take the podium to explain why the DPA is no longer needed. […]

    HHS assistant secretary Brett Giroir says the country is ready to enter phase one of the reopening guidelines and that the administration is ramping up capabilities for phase two.

    There are no states that have met the phase one guidelines. None.

    Birx says governors have been asked to follow federal guidelines on reopening but that it’s at states’ discretion to decide. […]

    Trump once again says that the country is “the king of ventilators” and that people are saying “we’ll get him on testing.”

    “It used to be ventilators, ventilators, ventilators,” Trump said. “Now it’s testing, testing, testing.”

    […] Despite governors saying that there is lack of testing access, Trump says his administration has made efforts to ensure African Americans and Latinos have access to tests. […]

  250. says

    About Mike Pence’s claim that every state in the USA has “sufficient capacity for testing”:

    One of Mike Pence’s key coronavirus roles is to batter, deep fry, and roll in sugar the sh#t sandwich that is the testing situation in the United States of America. It didn’t go over well when Pence briefed Democratic senators, and it didn’t go over well with governors when Pence claimed “there is a sufficient capacity of testing across the country today for any state in America” on Sunday.

    Directly in response to that claim, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, said it was “not accurate.” Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, called the claim “delusional.” Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, also a Democrat, said her state could do “double or triple” its current level of testing if it had the materials needed. But while not every governor responded directly to Pence, any number of other governors have also made clear that there is not “a sufficient capacity of testing” for their states.

    Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, recently spoke about the need for more tests; according to one expert, Arizona needs twice as many tests each month as it has conducted so far in total. Fellow Republican Gov. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire called the lack of testing kits for his state’s 13 rapid testing devices “incredibly frustrating.” On Friday, Sununu admitted that “we’re not anywhere near [reopening the state] right now, to be honest about it,” and alluded to the need for more testing in figuring that out, saying: “As we increase capacity [for testing], we’re still potentially a couple weeks away from finding a positive trend.” New Hampshire’s state epidemiologist said: “Number one, [we need] much more testing, we’re working on that.”

    Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves found a slightly different route to disagreeing with Pence on the availability of testing. Reeves is totally on board with Donald Trump’s ardent wish to reopen as many businesses as possible, testing be damned. “We can’t wait until there’s a cure to this. We can’t wait until every single person can get tested every single day to open up our economy,” he told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto. Ha ha, what a pipe dream to have adequate testing, let’s downplay it as “every person every single day.”

    South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster is reopening many businesses, but he acknowledged that “we are still in a dangerous situation,” and the state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control is “looking for ways to increase testing,” WSOC TV reported.

    None of this exactly screams “a sufficient capacity of testing across the country today for any state in America.”

    Link

  251. KG says

    An interesting Grauniad story about Milan’s plans to try and maintain at least some of the reduction in air pollution that the lockdown has brought about – air pollution being a big contributor to Covid-19 deaths. A lot of road space is going to be turned over to cyclists and walkers. Parts of northern Italy suffer a lot from air pollution not only because of high levels of motor traffic, but because they are largely surrounded by mountains, which trap the polluted air. I lived in Turin for a while, and the pollution there was pretty bad.

  252. says

    Considering that Trump has what President Obama called a “huge war chest” of campaign funds, it is good news to see that Joe Biden’s fundraising is going well:

    When it comes to campaign finance, the good news for Democrats is that former Vice President Joe Biden raised $46.7 million in March, making it the strongest fundraising month to date for the presidential hopeful.

    I am a bit surprised that payments to lawyers have not significantly reduced Trump’s war chest. (The campaign paid a lot of legal fees, but there always seems to be more money where that came from.) Also, Trump’s campaign is sloshing funds to people like the wife of one son, and the girlfriend of Trump’s other son. Those two women are paid by Brad Parscale to the tune of about $150,000 per year … for doing what appears to be nothing.

    Democrats do need a lot of money to fight Trump.

  253. says

    And so it begins:

    In the wake of Wisconsin’s ridiculous April 7 election, held at Republicans’ insistence, state health officials have reportedly identified seven people — six voters and a poll worker — who appear to have contracted the coronavirus through election activities.

    NBC News link

    […] Wisconsin Democrats worry there may be more yet-to-be-reported cases since Milwaukee officials say they have only about 30 percent of the data in yet and officials in other parts of the state have yet to release information on Election Day-related infections.

    “I fear this is just the beginning,” Wisconsin Democratic State Sen. Dave Hansen told reporters on a conference call Tuesday.

    In Florida, one of the last states to hold in-person voting before lockdowns went into effect in mid-March, at least two poll workers later tested positive for COVID-19.

    […] if [more] cases do exist [in Wisconsin], symptoms may not have appeared yet. […]

  254. says

    From Josh Marshall:

    It’s still an initial study, not the kind of double blind controlled study that is the gold standard of drug studies. But the largest study to date, based on data from the VA, shows that hydroxychloroquine, the purported miracle drug repeatedly touted by President Trump, showed slightly MORE deaths from COVID19 among those who were treated with the drug.

  255. says

    ‘More Important Things Than Living’: TX Lt. Gov. Sticks To Morbid Pitch For Saving Economy.

    TPM link

    Believe it or not, Texas Lieutenant Gov. Dan Patrick (R) is actually sticking to his pro-death solution to fixing the economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Claiming that he was “vindicated” by businesses being shut down by states’ stay-at-home orders, Patrick said on Monday night during a Fox News interview that the new plan to reopen Texas businesses was “long overdue.”

    The Texas leader then doubled down on his grim argument for allowing people to be put at risk of death from COVID-19 to help the economy recover from the damage brought on by the outbreak – a proposal that was immediately met with a flood of criticism.

    “What I said when I was with you that night is there are more important things than living,” Patrick told Fox News host Tucker Carlson, referring to when he first made the suggestion last month. “And that’s saving this country for my children and my grandchildren and saving this country for all of us.”

    “And I don’t want to die, nobody wants to die,” he added. “But man we’ve got to take some risks and get back in the game and get this country back up and running.”

    Patrick brushed off warnings from White House COVID-19 task force official Dr. Anthony Fauci and other health experts who say that it’s too soon to reopen the economy and that doing so at this moment would undermine the progress made in flattening the curve.

    “They told us, Tucker, to follow the science,” the lieutenant governor said. “Well, what science?”

  256. says

    This seems a little late, and a bit redundant, but the The Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee has sided with the Intelligence Community in an assessment that Russia interfered with the 2016 election with the aim of boosting then-candidate Donald Trump. William Barr is not going to like that, and Trump won’t like it either.

    […] The committee released a highly-redacted report on its review of that assessment [today].

    The review found that the assessment, assembled at the end of the Obama administration, was a “sound intelligence product” and that the committee was consistently told that the intelligence community analysts “were under no politically motivated pressure to reach specific conclusions.”

    “Every witness interviewed by the Committee stated that he or she saw no attempts or pressure to politicize the findings,” the Senate Intel report said.

    The committee’s conclusions come as Attorney General Bill Barr — with the help of U.S. Attorney John Durham, a prosecutor Barr himself tapped — has launched his own review of how the intelligence community came to its conclusions about Russia’s 2016 election interference.

    You lost that round, William Barr.

    President Trump has also bashed leaders of the intelligence community, while claiming the entire investigation into Russian election meddling was a “hoax” designed to take him down.

    Trump has always been deeply wrong about this. He is still wrong.

    The Senate Intel committee’s report on its own examination of the approach of the various U.S. intelligence agencies is the fourth report it’s released about the Russian election meddling issue. Its previous reports looked at efforts by Russia to influence the 2016 campaign via social media and Russia’s attempts to interfere with election infrastructure, as well as the actions the Obama administration took to respond to the attack.

    In a statement with the release of the latest report, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) said that the committee “found no reason to dispute the Intelligence Community’s conclusions.”

    The overwhelming majority of the report itself remains classified. But the spare unredacted details shed some light on what the committee found about the intelligence community’s use of the so-called Steele dossier. The dossier was a collection of claims, some of them now debunked, about Trump-Russia connections that were collected by ex-British spy Christopher Steele, whose 2016 sleuthing was financed in part by the Democratic National Committee.

    How the U.S. government handled the dossier has been the most controversial aspect of the Russia investigation, and the dossier has fueled some of most outlandish conspiracy theories put forward by Trump and his allies.

    The report noted that the Steele materials were included only in an appendix to the Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA). While the source of financing for the material was not noted in the appendix, “The Committee found no evidence that analysts working on the ICA were aware of the political provenance of the Steele material.”

    “All individuals the Committee interviewed stated that the Steele material did not in any way inform the analysis in the ICA — including the key judgments — because it was unverified information and had not been disseminated as serialized intelligence reporting,” the Senate report said.

    Link

  257. says

    Follow-up to comment 347.

    A malaria drug widely touted by President Donald Trump for treating the new coronavirus showed no benefit in a large analysis of its use in U.S. veterans hospitals. There were more deaths among those given hydroxychloroquine versus standard care, researchers reported.

    The nationwide study was not a rigorous experiment. But with 368 patients, it’s the largest look so far of hydroxychloroquine with or without the antibiotic azithromycin for COVID-19 […]

    The study was posted on an online site for researchers and has been submitted to the New England Journal of Medicine, but has not been reviewed by other scientists. Grants from the National Institutes of Health and the University of Virginia paid for the work.

    Researchers analyzed medical records of 368 male veterans hospitalized with confirmed coronavirus infection at Veterans Health Administration medical centers who died or were discharged by April 11.

    About 28% who were given hydroxychloroquine plus usual care died, versus 11% of those getting routine care alone. About 22% of those getting the drug plus azithromycin died too, but the difference between that group and usual care was not considered large enough to rule out other factors that could have affected survival.

    Hydroxychloroquine made no difference in the need for a breathing machine, either.

    Researchers did not track side effects, but noted hints that hydroxychloroquine might have damaged other organs. The drug has long been known to have potentially serious side effects, including altering the heartbeat in a way that could lead to sudden death.

    Earlier this month, scientists in Brazil stopped part of a hydroxychloroquine study after heart rhythm problems developed in one-quarter of people given the higher of two doses being tested.

    Many doctors have been leery of the drug.

    At the University of Wisconsin, Madison, “I think we’re all rather underwhelmed” at what’s been seen among the few patients there who’ve tried it, said Dr. Nasia Safdar, medical director of infection control and prevention. […]

    Link

    From the readers comments:

    Kamala Harris boldly called Trump out as a ‘drug pusher’ when he was touting hydroxychloroquine non-stop in his pressers. She was right. Since she said that the WH has gone awfully quiet on Trump’s wonder drug, especially as more results have come in and trials around the world have been suspended. There is no better example of the farcical and dangerous nature of his pressers than this hydroxychloroquine scam.
    ———————-
    So, Trump, you’re not just killing citizens, you’re killing veterans. Maybe don’t play doctor next time, asshole.
    ———————–
    I wonder if this will come up during today’s Daily ShitStorm.
    ————————
    Trump’s right-wing media bobble-heads aggressively shilled the HCQ miracle cure and it killed veterans and untold others.
    ———————
    Everyone who took this drug (or their families) on the advise of FOX news personalities, Dr. Oz, and †Я☭mp need to get good lawyers and sue the shit out of them.

    Thousands of lawsuits.

  258. says

    From Mark Sumner:

    Forget looking for a job and start looking for a storage tank. If you’re able to take a couple of thousand barrels of West Texas crude off the hands of producers in May, you can make an instant $75,000 just for giving them somewhere to pump their sludge. Seriously. And you also get to keep the oil, which might possibly be worth something again someday. Maybe.

    On Monday, the price of oil utterly collapsed. Despite many claims by Donald Trump that his negotiations with fellow authoritarians Mohammed bin Salman and Vladimir Putin had the world’s crude production back on track, those claims proved to be as accurate as everything else ever said by Trump.

    With every storage field, tank, tub, and milk glass in North America already filled with crude, and production continuing to be significantly greater than demand, oil prices didn’t just tumble to the ground, they kept right on going. After first falling to $2 a barrel, then to under $1 a barrel, futures markets proved that the floor wasn’t a floor at all. There are vast caverns down there. So now Trump is promising to bail out an industry that has been for decades the biggest wealth engine in the history of history. And yes, that’s as impossible as it sounds.

    […] The ability be paid for taking oil off the hands of producers is a real thing.

    Why don’t they just dial back production? Because that also costs money. Idling a well or closing down a pipeline are high-ticket items. So are opening them back up again. For a variety of reasons, it can be more costly to go through this cycle than it was to put in the well to begin with. At the moment, producers are making the bet that they can take an oil-bath on May futures for a few days and hope that this thing gets turned around again. […]

    Not surprisingly, oil and gas corporations believe in oil and gas. Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell may have been shoved down the charts of stock value by upstarts like Apple and Amazon, but in terms of sheer profit over time, there’s no doubt these energy industry giants have been the most lucrative businesses ever. Bar none. Not only do they enjoy huge benefits in which the government funds many of their risky endeavors while collecting little or no tax revenue, but they also enjoy tremendous political support. For oil companies, the country exists ever on the edge between using a lot of oil, and using even more and the government exists only as a candy store. […]

    Since coming into office, Trump has affixed his executive order scrawl to papers that gave oil companies benefits for running thousands of miles of leaky pipelines around the country, opened up huge swathes of federal land (and sea) for more drilling/fracking, and gave these monster corps even vaster tax breaks. National monuments have been disassembled to their benefit; the EPA turned into a PR agency goading them on to drill, baby, drill. Trump has also worked hard at raising the demand side of the equation, removing pollution guidelines and eliminating Obama-era efforts to improve auto mileage.

    In 2019, Exxon may have racked up an official profit of just $5.7 billion, a significant decline for a company that racked up a $21 billion profit the year before, but one thing which didn’t change between those years would be Exxon’s tax outlay. That would be $0.

    […] At the moment, the equation in the U.S. remains the same—too much production, too little demand, almost no remaining storage. Very, very soon oil companies will have to take the hit and start shutting down wells, or simply pour the oil out on the ground. But don’t discount the idea that Trump may allow them to do just that.

    Link

  259. says

    Trump to suspend immigration to the U.S. in a blatant attempt to distract from coronavirus failures

    Donald Trump is always looking around for excuses to use immigration to divide the country to his own political benefit, and he’s currently looking for ways to distract from his fatal incompetence on coronavirus. Monday night he tweeted out the latest plan on both fronts: “In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States!”

    Rep. Joaquin Castro nailed what Trump’s doing here, tweeting, “This action is not only an attempt to divert attention away from Trump’s failure to stop the spread of the coronavirus and save lives, but an authoritarian-like move to take advantage of a crisis and advance his anti-immigrant agenda. We must come together to reject his division.” […]

  260. says

    Here We Go: Trump Has Started Accusing the Dems of Stealing the 2020 Election

    And his campaign is shamelessly fundraising off this lie.

    […] Trump’s campaign sent out an email from him soliciting contributions for his reelection effort and making a dangerous accusation: the 2020 election cannot be trusted. The first line of the email—which likely was sent to hundreds of thousands, if not more, people on Republican and conservative email lists—reads, “It’s no secret that the Democrats are trying to steal the Election out from under me.” The letter asserts that Democrats have “been plotting against me from the very beginning” and are deploying “fraud” to “rig the game” because “they know they can’t beat me at the ballot box.”

    Less than seven months from Election Day, Trump was trying to undermine the process and cast doubt on its legitimacy. Without spelling out the matter at hand, he was responding to recent calls for an expansion in voting-by-mail as a way to hold elections safely during a pandemic. His letter referred to possible “chaos” from “ballot harvesting”—a term for volunteers or political operatives collecting absentee or mail-in ballots. But there has been no proof that such activity leads to significant fraud. Seventeen states already have some form of mail-in elections, and many others allow for absentee voting through the mail. (Remember, Trump falsely insisted after the 2016 election that there had been “millions” of fraudulent votes cast against him.)

    […] His letter asks its conservative and Republican recipients to send his campaign money it can use for an “Election Defense Fund.” A reader who clicks on the donation button is directed to a page requesting between $5 and $2800 dollars. The fine print at the bottom of the page notes that the money will go to the Trump campaign and the Republican Party in a 75/25 split. Maybe a donation will end up at an election defense fund. Maybe it will not.

    […] What’s the evidence? What harm does such a talk do? Does this encourage disrespect for elections and discourage voting? How could a president be so irresponsible and reckless with his rhetoric and so cavalier about undercutting American democracy? This email drew no such attention.

    […] he may well be preparing to deny results that do not keep him in the White House. While the nation is fixated on public health and economic crises of the moment, Trump and his lieutenants are looking ahead to the fall and readying an attack on the foundation of American self-governance. He is signaling how ugly this election will be and how much damage he is willing to cause to protect his own political health.

  261. says

    Money, money, money. Follow the money.

    How Health Care Investors Are Helping Run Jared Kushner’s Shadow Coronavirus Task Force

    Companies in their portfolios have a clear financial stake in how Trump handles the crisis.

    Last year, private equity firms spent tens of millions to to defeat bipartisan legislation reining in surprise medical bills that can send unsuspecting patients into debt. In December, Congress buckled to the industry’s pressure and failed to limit predatory billing practices of many institutional health care investors—especially private equity firms, which have aggressively moved into the health care space over the last decade.

    Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe—one such private equity firm that has generated big investor returns by following the industry playbook of buying up health care practices, loading them with debt, and charging patients more—controls companies that spent hundreds of thousands lobbying against the bill and helped fund a coalition of private equity-backed medical groups that spent $4 million to block the legislation. And last month, one of the firm’s top executives joined a shadow task force convened by Jared Kushner to help run the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

    […] When Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, assembled the group, he did not turn to experts in crisis management or public health. Instead, he enlisted people with experience in the business of health care—not necessarily medical experts, but particularly those who worked on finance side and were adept at making money off the health care industry. […]

    Because of the way the group has been assembled and run, the outsiders, unlike government employees, have not had to disclose any potential conflicts, submit to ethics determinations about recusals, nor to divest from any financial arrangements that could influence their decisions. Moreover, because Kushner’s group is operating on private phones and email accounts without regard for federal transparency requirements governing advisory committees, there’s less insight into whether or not they are using their positions to make money for themselves or their companies. […]

    The secrecy and clear conflicts of interest are in line with the group’s overall operations. The first report of its existence, published by the Washington Post in mid March, revealed that members were working out of offices at the Department of Health and Human Services headquarters, including representatives from UPS and FedEx. Kushner’s team has significant influence inside the official coronavirus task force run by Vice President Mike Pence, including a subgroup working on supply chain issues. According to NBC News, FedEx has been chartered, possibly at twice the cost that taxpayers would incur using military planes, to move supplies needed in the response. […]

    One outside member of Kushner’s team that has received little scrutiny is Nat Turner, the co-founder and CEO of Flatiron Health, a health technology company that was purchased by pharmaceutical giant Roche in 2018 for $1.9 billion. In mid-March, Turner and a few Flatiron colleagues began working out of HHS as part of Kushner’s ad hoc task force. Around that time, the FDA granted Roche emergency authorization to deploy a test for the coronavirus it had developed. “This is the first commercially distributed diagnostic test to receive an [Emergency Use Authorization] during the COVID-19 outbreak,” the FDA boasted after approving the company’s test application within 24 hours of receiving it. […]

    Turner has invested in a range of health care startups, including Oscar, a technology-focused insurer founded by Joshua Kushner, Jared’s brother. […] ethics experts say the arrangement may have run afoul of federal corruption laws.

    […] At the time Kushner entered government, his methods of divesting many of his assets—selling to his brother or a trust run by his mother that benefits members of his family—were questioned by ethics experts. One told the New York Times it sounded like a “shell game.”

    Since 2013, Thrive Capital and entities linked to Turner both invested in at least three other health tech startups, giving him and the Kushners a shared interest in the companies’ success. […]

    Turner’s holdings raise concerns that advice and expertise he’s providing the administration or information he’s gathering as part of the task force could benefit some of the many companies he is involved or invested with, including ones whose success would benefit the Kushner family. […]

    Turner isn’t the only person on Kushner’s task force with financial interests in the health care industry. According to Politico, David Caluori and a few associates at his private equity firm, Welsh Carson, are taking part in the task force […]

    The firm is heavily invested in medical practice areas that have been hit hard by the drastic reduction in medical procedures that aren’t related to tackling the virus, including anesthesiology and radiology. […]

    Welsh Carson’s issues are a microcosm of forces affecting the broader private equity world. While private equity-controlled health care companies have proven lucrative for their owners in normal times, during the pandemic, their struggles have prompted them to look to Washington for help. […] The group has asked the federal government for $3.6 billion in bailout money for its members’ practices.

    […] The situation calls to mind the 2008 financial crisis, when Wall Street firms’ irresponsible tactics threatened not only their own solvency, but the health of the broader economy. Taxpayers stepped up to bail out investors and institutions whose risky bets went awry. Having people who represent private equity’s interests taking part in Kushner’s shadow working group raises the possibility that the needs of health companies owned by such firms will be given undue weight or favorable terms in the distribution of government’s bailout funds for medical providers.

    “I don’t know what the VC guy is doing over there,” says Herrig at Accountable.us. “I don’t know what the private equity guy is doing over there. I don’t know what any of them are doing because, again, we’re just being kept in the dark.”

  262. says

    A new deal has been agreed upon. More funding is coming.

    The White House and Congress have reached a deal on a new funding package that will replenish a lending program meant to aid small businesses impacted by the novel coronavirus outbreak, two administration sources confirmed on Tuesday.

    The details of the package are forthcoming but the deal is expected to include $310 billion for the paycheck protection program, including setting tens of billions aside for smaller lenders, $25 billion for testing and $75 billion for hospitals, according to lawmakers. […]

    Link

    Note that there is no funding to bail out state governments that have no income to speak of right now (no incoming tax revenues), but they are spending billions to continue to pay teachers, firefighters, police forces, sanitation workers, coronavirus testing, etc. etc.

    Governor Cuomo of NY is meeting with Trump today. Presumably, Cuomo will convince Trump that if the Federal Government allows state governments to collapse, the blame will fall on Trump and bury him.

  263. says

    […] How [Elizabeth] Warren and [Sherrod] Brown want to protect people from being crushed by debt during the crisis.

    The CARES Act, the $2.2 trillion stimulus package signed into law in late March, provides some protections for consumers, but it could go further. For example, it entails a foreclosure moratorium and right to forbearance, meaning a pause on all payments, for federally backed mortgages. It also protects renters from eviction for 120 days, assuming they’re living in a building with a federally-backed loan or are part of specific government programs. But 70 percent of home mortgages are backed by a federal agency, meaning 30 percent are private and left out.

    Student loan debt has been handled in a similar situation. The CARES Act suspended most federal student loan payments and put federal student loan interest rates at zero percent, but it leaves out students with private loans […]

    “So, while the government is making trillions of dollars available to large companies, Congress offered no relief for Americans with auto loans, credit card debt, payday loans, or other debt,” Warren and Brown write.

    […] Protect stimulus payments: The CARES Act does not specifically prevent debt collectors and banks from seizing stimulus payments to pay off existing debts. Some states have called on the Treasury Department step in, but Warren and Brown are calling for protections to be included in the next coronavirus bill.

    Put a pause on debt: The senators want to allow consumers to put a pause on all payments of debts they’re unable to pay during the crisis and prevent them from being punished if they have to do so — that means no interest, late fees, or other penalties for nonpayment. And when the crisis ends, they’re calling for creditors to give people some time to catch up before they are expected to start paying again and for Congress to bar debt collectors from using measures such as garnishments, evictions, repossessions, and utility disconnections to collect debts.

    They have proposed the Small Business and Consumer Debt Collection Emergency Relief Act with Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), which would extend debt protections to small businesses.

    […] Protect student borrowers: Warren and Brown are calling for Congress to broadly cancel student loan debt […]

    Bring in the CFPB: It is the job of the CFPB, the government agency Warren conceived and got off the ground in response to the last economic crisis, to act as a guardian and steward for American consumers. […] The bureau was created so that consumers “would not be left at the mercy of giant financial institutions” and would have someone to look out for them, but instead, they worry Trump-picked leadership has weakened protections. […]

    Help Americans who file for bankruptcy: Whatever the government does, inevitably, some people will not be able to manage their debts and will wind up declaring bankruptcy. And if and when they do, Warren and Brown want that to be a more accessible and affordable option. Among their proposals on how to do that: scraping in-person bankruptcy requirements (also a good idea in a pandemic regardless), reducing bankruptcy costs, making the bureaucracy easier to navigate, and protections for homes, tax refunds, and stimulus benefits so they can’t be taken by creditors. […].

    https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2020/4/21/21229412/elizabeth-warren-sherrod-brown-cares-act-consumer-proposals“>Link

  264. says

    From Wonkette:

    Pastor Tony Spell of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, has already been arrested several times in the past month or so, for defying stay-at-home orders and insisting on busing in mass numbers of congregants to his church. Now, police have a warrant out for his arrest for a brand new charge — aggravated assault — after he threatened a man protesting his church services by nearly backing over him with a giant school bus. […]

    Judging by the fact that one guy from his congregation is dead from COVID-19 and his lawyer, also a member of the congregation, is currently in the hospital on oxygen therapy because he, too, contracted COVID-19, Tony Spell might not be very good at this healing people schtick. I’m sorry, but the results speak for themselves. Maybe there are people out there with the ability to magically heal people by laying hands on them, but Tony Spell sure ain’t one of them.

    Personally, if I believed in God and healing and signs and wonders, I would take a good long look at the fact that the very lawyer defending my right to defy these stay-at-home orders actually came down with COVID-19. I would probably consider that a fairly blatant “sign” that God didn’t think this was such a great idea after all.

    Link

  265. says

    From Wonkette:

    […] Louie Gohmert, who competes back and forth with every other GOP Texas congressman for the title of Stupidest Texas Congressman, has heard about a magical SPRINKLE POWDER that kills the coronas dead, […]

    Gohmert explained how magic corona sprinkle powder works in Germany to local Texas station KTLV:

    GOHMERT: Uh, there is, um, a powder that can be, um, well, two teaspoons in a gallon of water, and anyway! It’s being used in Germany as a mist! Healthcare workers go through a misting tent going into the hospital, so they, and it kills the coronavirus completely dead, not only then but also anytime in the next 14 days that the virus touches anything that’s been sprayed, it’s killed.

    And so there are places in Germany where they’re using this going in, they’re misted, and when they come out […]

    So we’re trying to get approval for that in the United States …

    OK, look, obviously this sounds like something that really exists and is science, so we probably should just rejoice that Louie Gohmert has cured the novel coronavirus, with Magic German Sprinkle Powder. All you gotta do is go into the tent! We hear if you don’t want to take the treatment as a mist, it can be mixed into Kool-Aid.

    Ahem.

    What will shock you is that there is not even a scintilla of truth in any element of what the Congressman From Dumbfuck up there just said. The San Antonio Express-News did a factcheck and found the following things to be true:

    There is no sprinkle mist.

    There are no tents, full of sprinkle mist.

    It’s not happening in Germany.

    “There are no such tents and there’s no powder or magical cure,” said Dr. Jörn Wegner, speaking for the German Hospital Association.

    “I’m sorry, but we did not hear about that magic powder,” [Thomas Ruttkowski, spokesman for the German Society of Hospital Hygiene] said in an email. “Thank you for your mail. … Finally, something to laugh about.” […]

    Link

    More details at the link, including: Trump’s YouTube Golf channel is retweeting dunderheads that are saying that drinking Belvedere vodka cures and/or prevents coronavirus infections. Diamond and Silk are pushing the conspiracy theory that 5G towers are increasing the prevalence of coronavirus.

  266. says

    Of course.

    […] Trump decreed via tweet late Monday that he intends to sign an executive order suspending immigration to the United States, but the president appears to have again publicly declared a U.S. policy that was not yet ready for implementation, leaving his aides rushing to deliver on his pronouncement. […]

    Washington Post link

  267. says

    Follow-up to comment 359.

    From Steve Benen:

    […] As a rule, this isn’t how the White House is supposed to function. Those who take governing and policymaking seriously do their due diligence first — including figuring out how ideas would be implemented — and then make an announcement to the public. On Team Trump, the president blurts out a thought via Twitter, at which point administration officials work backwards. […]

  268. says

    The courts have, once again, issued a blistering indictment of the way ICE is running things.

    Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s acting director told a House committee last week that the agency wouldn’t be releasing any more detainees beyond the few hundred it has freed so far due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, but a new court decision may force that to change. In a new ruling, a federal judge ordered ICE to “identify and track” all people “at heightened risk of severe illness and death upon contracting the COVID-19 virus” for possible release, including people over 55, pregnant people, and people with chronic medical illnesses like HIV.

    U.S. District Judge Jesus Bernal’s ruling on Monday wasn’t just sweeping, it was blistering, blasting the agency for its slow reaction to the pandemic and “callous indifference to the safety and wellbeing” of detained people. “At this stage of the pandemic, the threat is even clearer,” he continued in the ruling. “The number of immigration detainees testing positive for COVID-19 continues to increase at an alarming rate.”

    The ruling comes as the mass deportation agency says it has tested only around 300 people out of the more than 32,000 currently in detention, and of those tested, more than a third have been confirmed positive.

    There’s also indications that ICE is actively trying to fudge novel coronavirus numbers, by not reporting when third-party contractors test positive, and by dumping detainees at hospitals so that they’re not included in the agency’s official tally of in-custody cases.

    “Although the agency could immediately release thousands of individuals in its custody to preserve public health in the face of the pandemic, it has refused to do so,” the Southern Poverty Law Center, one of the groups that sued, said in a statement. Instead, ICE officials are keeping them jailed in facilities like Aurora Contract Detention Facility in Colorado, which the court’s document said took “few steps to prepare for COVID-19.”

    “Up to eighty people live in a dorm,” the document said. “The dorm consists of four- to eight-person cells, where it is ‘impossible to stay away from other people.’ Detainees do not have access to hand sanitizer, have not been tested for COVID-19, have no access to masks, and have not changed cleaning procedures. Eighty detainees share a single sink with a timed faucet that only stays on for a few seconds and that has low water pressure. According to another detainee’s report, the only guaranteed way to get bar soap is to buy it for $3 at commissary.” […]
    “ICE had time to act, and it failed,” said Lisa Graybill, deputy legal director of the SPLC. “Fortunately, the court has ordered ICE to do what it should have done long ago: take appropriate measures to reduce risk to medically vulnerable individuals, or free them.” […]

    Link

  269. johnson catman says

    re Lynna @350:

    There were more deaths among those given hydroxychloroquine versus standard care, researchers reported.

    Take it. What do you have to lose?
    .
    Gohmert says something stupid. Man bites dog. Water is wet. Etc.
    .

    [The Orange Toddler-Tyrant’s] YouTube Golf channel is retweeting dunderheads that are saying that drinking Belvedere vodka cures and/or prevents coronavirus infections.

    I guess I need to change brands of vodka.
    .

    Diamond and Silk are pushing the conspiracy theory that 5G towers are increasing the prevalence of coronavirus.

    How is it that the FCC hasn’t shut this shit down? (Talking about “Diamond and Silk” not 5G in case anyone doubts my sanity.)

  270. tomh says

    NYT:
    Trump (the Company) Asks Trump (the Administration) for Rent Relief
    By Ben Protess, Steve Eder and David Enrich
    April 21, 2020

    President Trump’s signature hotel in the nation’s capital wants a break on its rent. The landlord determining the fate of the request is Mr. Trump’s own administration.
    […]

    In recent weeks, the president’s family business has inquired about changing its lease payments, the company confirmed on Tuesday, which the federal government has reported amount to nearly $268,000 per month.

    The Trump Organization owns and operates the luxury hotel, but it is in a federally owned building on Pennsylvania Avenue. As part of its deal to open the 263-room hotel, the company signed a 60-year lease in 2013 that requires the monthly payments to the General Services Administration.

    The Trump Organization is current on its rent, according to Eric Trump, the president’s son, but he confirmed that the company had opened a conversation about possible delays in future monthly payments. The president still owns the company, but his eldest sons run the day-to-day operations.
    […]

    The G.S.A. did not immediately respond to a request for comment, including about whether its other tenants had made similar inquiries. The White House also did not respond to a request for comment.

  271. says

    Oh, FFS!

    Attorney General William Barr says he is open to going after governors deemed to have “gone too far” with their stay-at-home orders.

    Sheesh. Barr has proven he has very bad judgement. And he has proven to be unduly influenced by Trump’s expressed wishes. This is not good.

    […] Barr signaled [today] that the Justice Department may take legal action against governors’ stay-at-home orders during the COVID-19 pandemic if the opportunity arises.

    During an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, Barr said that if governors “impinge on either civil rights or on the national commerce” with the orders, “then we’ll have to address that.”

    Speaking hypothetically, the attorney general […] told Hewitt that the DOJ would look at potential citizen lawsuits that might take aim at the governors’ mandates.

    “And if we think it’s justified, we would take a position,” Barr said. “That’s what we’re doing now. We’re looking carefully at a number of these rules that are being put into place.”

    The attorney general said that if his department believes a governor has “gone too far” and is sued as a result, then “we file (a) statement of interest and side with the plaintiffs.”

    […] Trump has been desperately pushing for an end to stay at home orders to allow businesses to reopen and boost the economy as the presidential election draws nearer.

    TPM link

    From the readers comments:

    And the courts are now packed with white Christian nationalist conservative ideologues. I said this is what Barr would do as Trumps enforcer…and lo and behold…
    ———————
    He thinks he’s God’s chosen protector whose duty it is to usher in a generation of Christian authoritarian rule so that when the rapture comes he will be assured a place in heaven.
    ———————-
    As Trump’s partisan hatchetman, Barr makes thuggish threats to help his sole client. He pressures states to prematurely reopen because Dear Leader wants it.

    States with sane leaders like Illinois will resist Barr, which is what the Trump regime wants. Why? Because the Trump GOP want this to be an election issue, and cynically are using this as a cynical diversion from their deadly malfeasance.

    If states reopen prematurely and many tens of thousands die (as we will see in a few weeks in Georgia and other states run by members of the Trump death cult), expect Trump to then blame it on the states anyway.

    Barr and Trump deserve prison.
    ——————-
    ” National commerce ” ? When did something like that come under the auspices of the DOJ in terms of a known public health issue ? They’re just making it up as they go along now. And why not, it’s not like there’s such a thing as congressional oversight now.
    ——————-
    This is all beating of the chest to placate his master.
    ——————-
    What does this mean for state AGs? What role would they play? Any?
    ——————–
    No Judge, not matter how right-wing is ever going to find any Governor in violation if the Governor claims he/she is acting in the public well-being ESPECIALLY when POTUS himeself is on record as saying States are on their own.

    No one is afraid of the bullies and bluster anymore. Trump’s one-pitch is getting knocked out of the park on every swing.
    ——————
    The infringed upon rights invoked to date:

    getting a hair cut, style and blow dry
    touching up the roots to cover the gray
    getting a free soft drink fill-up at a restaurant
    shoulder to shoulder recreational fishing
    5 G networks
    buying grass seed and lawn fertilizer
    mani/pedi
    ——————-
    Trump is using a refusal to create a national testing program, withholding direct payments to states, and now this DOJ threat to force… er, “encourage” states to lift their restrictions too early. All he cares about is the economy, not peoples’ lives.

    Notice also that Barr isn’t threatening direct action, he’s saying the DOJ will weigh in on the side of a plaintiff seeking to lift the sanction. It’s a hint for people to start suing the states. Probably because the DOJ doesn’t have standing to sue a state on its own.

  272. says

    Stacey Abrams speaks out:

    […] During an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Tuesday morning, Abrams was asked about her reaction to [Governor] Kemp’s decision to reopen businesses in Georgia starting Friday. Abrams first pointed out that the state has the 14th highest infection rate and the seventh slowest testing rate, before arguing that “trying to push a false opening of the economy” will risk putting more lives in danger.

    “There’s nothing about this that makes sense,” Abrams said. “The mayors of Atlanta, Albany and Savannah have all questioned the wisdom of doing this. And the fact is the governor didn’t consult with mayors before making this decision.”

    Abrams then shared her experience as a small business owner who understands “the instinct” to “preserve your family’s economy” while also protecting your workers.

    “The responsibility of a business owner is to first protect your workers,” Abrams said. “That cannot happen when you have a nail salon where there’s no possible way for that technician to be distant from their customer, when you are running a restaurant that requires face-to-face service.”

    Abrams also argued that the federal government should help all small business owners through the Paycheck Protection Act, which ran out of funds last week.

    “Instead of these large corporations receiving millions of dollars, they need to be directed to the small businesses,” Abrams said. “We should not be putting people’s lives at risk because of the antiquated systems of financial delivery we’re facing.” […]

    Link

  273. johnson catman says

    re Lynna @364 & 365: The administration of The Orange Toddler-Tyrant is “willing” to sacrifice 1% (or more) US citizens so that the “economy” can be “reopened”. So, THREE MILLION US citizens (or more) will be sacrificed on the altar of “civil liberties” and “personal freedom” so that people can get their hair done or go drink at a bar. Saying that they are sociopaths gives a bad name to sociopaths.

  274. says

    From the G liveblog:

    Spain has been in lockdown since 14 March, and the confinement is set to run until at least 9 May.

    Some, however, have found an upside to being cooped up with their families and believe the lockdown has served to strengthen the sense of community.

    “We have all got to know our neighbours in the building and the surrounding buildings better and are having fun sharing conversations, drinks and music through our balconies,” said Maite Domingo, who lives in central Barcelona with her two daughters Abril 14, and Martina, 12.

    “We’ve even celebrated one of their birthdays and Martina played happy birthday on the piano for him.”

    Miguel Vega, who has been in lockdown with his wife Purita and two teenage sons, said the emergency measures had reinforced the importance of family.

    “I speak regularly with my mother and my sisters and I have the sensation that, living far away from each other, communication has been at times more significant and fluent than in the past,” he said.

    “My mum, being alone and the most vulnerable, has taken the role of a protective parent again, which I find very sweet. I’ve had great conversations with neighbours I had never spoken to and have reconnected with long missed friends all around the world.”

    Carmen Espinosa, who lives alone in a 47 square-metre apartment, said she had only been out for five shopping trips since mid-March.

    “The hardest thing about confinement is loneliness, the lack of physical contact, the inability to walk down the street and enjoy nature, as well as the uncertainty about the immediate and not so immediate future,” she said.

    “On the positive side, we’ve had a chance to reflect on how we live and want to live, to see the fragility of being a human being and to appreciate small gestures of affection, solidarity and the strength of cooperation.”

  275. says

    Guardian (support it if you can) – “How the 5G conspiracy theories took hold”:

    Last week a mobile phone mast serving the emergency NHS Nightingale hospital in Birmingham was one of the latest targeted by arsonists who wrongly believe 5G technology is linked to the spread of coronavirus. False theories linking 5G to coronavirus have proliferated rapidly, leading to the vandalism of dozens of masts across the UK.

    Guardian media editor Jim Waterson tells Rachel Humphreys why, despite lacking any scientific evidence, these theories have taken off, and how they have managed to spread so quickly.

    20-minute podcast at the link. I recently read Quassim Cassam’s short book Conspiracy Theories, which I recommend. He argues that Conspiracy Theories should be understood first and foremost as forms of political propaganda. Here’s an excerpt.

    …Associating oneself with Conspiracy Theories means associating oneself with the obnoxious ideologies they promote. If these ideologies are harmful, as they undoubtedly are, then so are Conspiracy Theories that promote them. These theories have a life of their own, with their own history, meaning and implications. Conspiracy Theorists who think that they can avoid these implications are deluding themselves. The Conspiracy Theorist who argues that Conspiracy Theories per se have nothing to do with extremist causes is in the same position as someone in the U.S who argues that the confederate flag per se has nothing to do with slavery. In both cases the answer is the same: you don’t get to decide what things mean.

  276. says

    AZ Central – “She’s the ICU nurse who silently stood in protest at the Phoenix rally to reopen Arizona”:

    It was her scheduled day off from the intensive care unit at a hospital in Phoenix, where she takes care of patients who have contracted COVID-19.

    She found out that morning that a rally was planned at the Arizona Capitol building. People weary of schools and businesses across the state being closed because of the new coronavirus were going to call for closures to be lifted and the state to be reopened.

    Lauren Leander texted a few nurses she knew, seeing if anyone wanted to join her there.

    Leander had seen photos of medical workers at similar rallies in other states, their presence serving as a counterweight to calls to reopen businesses. She was inspired to do the same at the rally in her home state on Monday.

    “That was the kind of action we could take against something like this,” Leander said.

    She would spend the next few hours standing silent, her facial expressions partly hidden behind her medical mask. Her body standing rigid in surgical scrubs.

    Leander said she heard a stream of insults from rallygoers. People accused her of being an actor. Or, if a real nurse, one who performed dentistry. Or performed abortions.

    Leander gave a brief interview to a television station but did not engage with the people walking by. Most were living their beliefs that concerns about the virus were overblown. They were not keeping apart from each other. Most did not wear masks.

    She was surprised at the anger directed at her. She wasn’t a politician, after all, but a health care worker. Someone whose job it is to take care of people, whether for an illness caused by the new coronavirus, or some other ailment.

    “Whether you believe in the virus or not, we’re the people who are going to take care of you one way or the other,” she said during a phone interview with The Arizona Republic on Tuesday. “It was disheartening to have those kinds of comments thrown in my face.”

    Speeches and passing conversations at the rally, some of which were captured on videos from the events, showed myriad reasons for frustration and anger.

    But a common theme seemed to be that fears over the new coronavirus were being overblown, largely by the media and by Democratic politicians.

    She thought she would be ignored. She was standing silently in scrubs and a mask. No sign. No provocation. And she was greatly outnumbered.

    But she was not ignored.

    “It was absolutely just an invitation for people to throw whatever accusation or comments they had at us,” she said.

    “For the first probably hour, I definitely had a burning desire to say something,” she said. “I wanted to say so many things to every insult I heard.

    “But that was not why I was there. That was not the statement I was trying to make. I feel fortunate I was able to say so much without saying anything at all.”

    “I took a long nap afterwards,” she said.

    She woke up to find that images from that afternoon had gone viral. They were on news websites, including azcentral, and part of television news broadcasts.

    She started getting messages on Monday night from friends and relatives and health care workers. By Tuesday morning, her phone “exploded,” she said, with messages from doctors and nurses across the country and Canada.

    As the sun set on Tuesday, she said she was just starting to sift through the messages she had received.

    But she couldn’t make it too late of a night.

    She was scheduled to start her next shift at the overflow COVID-19 unit of Banner University Medical Center at 7 a.m. Wednesday.

    More atl. She volunteered to work in the COVID-19 unit.

  277. says

    Reuters – “How Trump allies have organized and promoted anti-lockdown protests”:

    Republican politicians and individuals affiliated with President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign are organizing or promoting anti-lockdown protests across key electoral battleground states, despite the White House’s own cautious guidance on relaxing restrictions, interviews with two dozen people involved show.

    In Michigan, the organizers of last week’s rally against Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home order aimed at combating the coronavirus pandemic are involved in the Republican president’s re-election effort, a Reuters review of their profiles and interviews with them show.

    In other swing states, such as Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and North Carolina, Republican lawmakers, party leaders and Trump allies encouraged their social media followers to join the protests, often organized by conservative activists and pro-gun- rights groups, and attended the events themselves.

    Their actions contradict the Trump administration’s recommendations for a slow and phased reopening, as well as warnings from its own medical experts that opening the economy too fast risks a resurgence of the novel coronavirus that has infected almost 810,000 people in the United States and killed over 45,000 – the world’s highest number of cases and deaths.

    A bipartisan majority of Americans – 88% of Democrats and 55% of Republicans – also want to continue to shelter in place despite the impact on the economy, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Tuesday.

    Regardless, many Trump supporters saw his criticism of Democratic governors for going too far with economic restrictions, and his recent tweets calling for those states to be “liberated,” as endorsing their cause, protest organizers and Republican officials said.

    The Trump campaign declined to answer whether it had been involved with the protests, referring instead to Trump’s daily coronavirus briefings in which he has expressed sympathy for the protesters, saying he understands their frustration….

  278. quotetheunquote says

    @SC #369
    I have only one word to say about that tweet, and it is…
    Huh?

  279. quotetheunquote says

    @SC #376 Thanks.
    Ironic (as many of the replies mentioned) – but in a weird way.

  280. says

    Trump tweeted: “States are safely coming back. Our Country is starting to OPEN FOR BUSINESS again. Special care is, and always will be, given to our beloved seniors (except me!). Their lives will be better than ever…WE LOVE YOU ALL!”

    Josh Marshall: “Yesterday was the biggest daily death toll yet. 2,674 more people died just yesterday. Things are definitely completely awesome.”

    Trump tweeted this after the reports on Morning Joe and elsewhere about how his approval rating among seniors (who don’t have staff and equipment to test everyone they meet with, as he does) has dropped double digits.

  281. says

    Trump issues a stern warning to Persian Chitty Chitty Bang Bangs: “I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea.”

  282. says

    Remember the Bush years when there was a giant news story about one woman on life support possibly being taken off per her own wishes? And now those same people are straight faced asking us to sacrifice a few relatives for the sake of being able to eat at Applebee’s? Good times.

    Like the actual president weighed in and it was seen as a Great Moral Issue.

    Oh and speaking of Great Moral Issues remember stem cells from that same era?? Literal cells that maybe one day MIGHT be humans (except they wouldn’t bc they were mostly IVF byproducts) had to be Protected At All Costs but not your actual grandmother, she’s expendable.”

  283. says

    G liveblog:

    The director general of the World Health Organisation has said that there is still “a long way to go” in tackling the coronavirus crisis around the world.

    Speaking at the WHO’s thrice-weekly press conference, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that while most national epidemics in western Europe had appeared to have stabilised or were declining, outbreaks appeared to be growing in Africa, central and south America, and eastern Europe.

    And he warned against complacency, insisting that lockdown measures had no doubt helped curb the spread of the virus.

    Most countries are still in the early stages of their epidemics and some that were affected early in the pandemic are now starting to see a resurgence in cases.

    Make no mistake, we have a long way to go. This virus will be with us for a long time. There is no question that stay at home orders and other physical distancing measures have successfully suppressed transmission in many countries. But this virus remains extremely dangerous.

  284. says

    New [US] polling:

    @MorningConsult: 76% say social distancing should continue; 14% say it should stop

    @Reuters: 72% say people should stay home until health officials say it’s safe

    @NavigatorSurvey: 62% worried social distancing will end too soon; 26% worried it will go on too long”

  285. says

    Jason Patinkin:

    US journalists: how did you cover the #ebola outbreak in eastern #DRC? I know, I know, most of you didn’t cover it. But other people did, and you should look at their coverage.

    In that outbreak, armed militia and mistrustful populations who believed conspiracy theories in a toxic political environment disrupted public health measures. Sound familiar? Of course it does. People act similarly all over the place. It’s our coverage of stuff that differs.

    Anyways, did media (DRC and intl) covering outbreak coddle conspiracy theorists with both sides-ism, and give nonstop coverage to people encouraging such theories? Did they breathlessly report unproven cures and vaccines? Did they gently describe armed groups as “protesters”?

    No. Of course not. They’re professionals. They told the actual story. And unlike the US media, they’re far more experienced in covering political violence, bully politicians, and political stunts. So they know a pro-government rally disguised as a “protest” when they see one.

    They know to give right of reply, but they also know not to defer to the powerful – especially when those in power routinely lie. They know to put facts in the lede, and the conspiracies far down in the story.

    They also have spines, which means they don’t coddle violent extremists and lend credence to conspiracy theories. They don’t get distracted by intimidation or political BS.

    And, yes, they have a long leash (at least, western reporters in Africa do). That leads to lots of problems in how Africa is represented. But it also leads to clear stories where what the reporter sees is reported without varnish.

    We use blunt, unsettling words like “militia,” “fragile,” “instability,” “violence-torn,” “precipice,” “brink,” etc which paint negative pictures of eastern DRC. But I fear US journalists who shy from such words AREN’T giving a negative enough picture of what’s happening here.

    For now, the pro-Trump militia’s disruptions to US public health efforts are far less violent than what took place in eastern DRC’s ebola outbreak. But angry armed men in the streets usually doesn’t just end peacefully. The question is whether media covers it accurately or not.

    One last note, I said “conspiracy theories” a lot in this thread. I should have said “propaganda” more often. US journalists are so bad at covering propaganda. Pro-tip: ignore it, but include the juiciest line in the right-of-reply.

    Another thing – reporters covering ebola in DRC often literally “embedded” with health care organizations. That poses problems, especially when health care orgs operated under armed protection by authorities (which is a whole nother story for others to tell)…

    However, it sets up an important contrast. Journalists in DRC’s ebola outbreak in some ways “chose” a side: the side of public health. It seems to me that many US journalists, so obsessed with false ideas of neutrality, have not chosen the side of public health. This is wrong.

    One more example: in wartime South Sudan in 2015, I got proof the government was covering up a cholera outbreak for political purposes. We (@AP) broke the story and announced the outbreak before the government admitted it…

    Meanwhile, a local radio station that I worked for began sharing public health messages about cholera prevention, even before the official government declaration. We chose the side of public health.

  286. says

    Yeah, this is what I expected: Trump’s hotel seeks a break on rent from Trump’s administration

    Trump’s business is hoping the General Services Administration will be willing to revisit its existing lease agreement. The GSA is led by an administrator Trump chose for the job.

    Can you say, “conflict of interes”?

    And in addition to that,

    […] the White House has celebrated the hotels that are providing health-care workers and first responders “a place to stay while they’re on the front lines of the pandemic.” It was a nice sentiment, though it generated questions last week about why the Trump Organization’s hotels weren’t participating in the same efforts. […]

    More on the extra special privileges the Trump Hotel enjoys:

    Imagine if the General Services Administration were to tell the Trump Organization, “Sorry, but the existing lease agreement cannot be altered.” The president probably wouldn’t be pleased, which is something GSA leaders are no doubt aware of. What’s more, the GSA also likely realizes that the president has a habit of purging officials who’ve been deemed insufficiently loyal.

    Eric Trump, the president’s son, confirmed to the Times that the family business is exploring possible lease changes, adding that