Comments

  1. says

    The FDA pushed back against Trump’s effort to encourage people to take hydroxychloroquine:

    The Food and Drug Administration on Friday cautioned against prescribing hydroxychloroquine to COVID-19 patients outside of hospital settings or clinical trials. The drug, an antimalarial, was repeatedly touted by President Donald Trump as a possible treatment for the coronavirus.

    [Quote above is from NBC News]

    […] While the FDA noted that research will continue, the agency pointed to reports of serious side effects, “including heart rhythm problems, severely low blood pressure and muscle or nerve damage.”

    As we’ve discussed, Trump didn’t just express tacit support for hydroxychloroquine; he effectively became an infomercial pitch-man in support of an unproven medicinal treatment. Based on “a feeling” he said he had, Trump publicly encouraged Americans to start taking the medication — “Take it,” he said, adding, “I really think they should take it” — adding that he personally was prepared to start himself on the drug.

    What’s more, Trump suggested it was harmless. “The nice part is, we know that if things don’t go as planned, it’s not going to kill anybody,” the president told the public a month ago. He added in early April, “It may work, and it may not work. But if it doesn’t work, it’s nothing lost by doing it. Nothing.”

    The FDA, however, made the opposite conclusion.

    [Trump] urged Americans to start taking the medication, creating a run on pills that some people actually needed. What’s more, Politico reported that some health officials were “pulled away from other potential projects to address the president’s hunch.” The article quoted an HHS official who lamented the “time and energy being soaked up by a potential wild-goose chase.”

    […] career health officials had raised behind-the-scenes warnings about hydroxychloroquine, but they’d been “warned not to publicly speak out and potentially contradict Trump.”

    There were also literal investments, as the administration put millions of doses of the drug into an emergency stockpile.

    This week, a top vaccine researcher at the Department of Health and Human Services said he was removed from his job for resisting the president’s preferred course. […]

    Postscript: NBC News reported yesterday that Trump’s medicinal campaign came in the wake of a conversation with Oracle Chairman Larry Ellison, one of the president’s billionaire political allies.

    Link

  2. says

    On Monday, Trump told the public the pandemic death toll could be as low as 50,000. We crossed the 50,000 threshold today, and the total keeps climbing.

    What Trump said:

    We did the right thing, because if we didn’t do it, you would have had a million people, a million and a half people, maybe 2 million people dead. Now, we’re going toward 50, I’m hearing, or 60,000 people. One is too many. I always say it: One is too many. But we’re going toward 50- or 60,000 people.

    From Steve Benen:

    […] As of Monday, roughly 42,000 Americans had died from COVID-19. By suggesting the overall death toll could be as low as 50,000, Trump was effectively raising the possibility of a miraculous collapse in coronavirus fatalities.

    So why in the world would the president tell the public that a death toll of 50,000 to 60,000 would be as bad as the crisis gets? Could he not see where the trajectory was headed? […]

    [In February] he assured the public that “within a couple of days,” the number of coronavirus cases in the United States would drop “to zero,” as a result of the “good job” he said Team Trump was doing. […]

    Asked a couple of weeks ago to defend his spectacular error, Trump told reporters, “[Y]ou have to understand, I’m a cheerleader for this country…. I think a president has to be a cheerleader for their country.”

    […] even if the claims are somehow well intended, the fact that they’re wrong means the assertions have the opposite effect.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Trump defended the projection of 50,000 fatalities the same way: he was simply being “a cheerleader for the country.” But the public doesn’t need a cheerleader; it needs a leader who provides reliable information.

    Link

  3. KG says

    Well here’s a surprise. It turns out that SAGE, the committee supposed to give the UK government scientific advice free from political interference, has included Dominic Cummings – Johnson’s pet supergenius (at least in his own estimation), and a “Vote Leave” chum and fellow political adviser who has links with Peter Thiel:

    it is the inclusion of two Downing Street political advisers that will raise questions over whether the structure of the government’s scientific advisory process is free from political interference.
    A source in Downing Street said that in March Cummings was playing a commanding role in responding to the Covid-19 outbreak. Cummings is understood to be close to Warner, whose brother, Marc, runs Faculty, an artificial intelligence company that the Guardian revealed is involved in an “unprecedented” data-mining operation as part of the government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.
    An accomplished data scientist, Ben Warner previously worked at his brother’s AI company, which has teamed up with with Palantir, the US data firm founded by the rightwing billionaire Peter Thiel, to consolidate UK government databases to help ministers respond to the pandemic.

    The two were apparently attending the committee – as participating members, not observers – at least from February.

  4. says

    TPM – “Navy Recommends Reinstating Captain Who Warned About COVID, But Decision Is Esper’s”:

    The Navy captain who was relieved of command after ringing the alarm bell over coronavirus infections on an aircraft carrier should be given his job back, Navy officials recommended on Friday.

    But the final decision on reinstating of Capt. Brett Crozier’s command of the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt rests with Defense Secretary Mark Esper. And per The New York Times, which first reported the Navy officals’ recommendation to Esper Friday, the Pentagon chief has asked for additional time to consider whether to sign-off on Crozier’s reinstatement.

    Esper’s decision not to make an announcement about Crozier’s fate Friday afternoon interrupted the Pentagon’s plans.

    According to The Wall Street Journal, Gilday and Esper were scheduled to meet for 30 minutes midday Friday, after which the Pentagon had planned a congressional briefing on the Defense secretary’s decision. Esper’s own spokesperson said before the meeting that the secretary trusted the Navy’s judgment and would likely back its conclusion about Crozier, the Journal reported.

    But ultimately, Gilday and Esper met for two hours, the Journal reported, and the Pentagon chief still has not made a decision.

    The Times noted that at the time Crozier rang the alarm about the spread of COVID-19 on Roosevelt, just more than 100 sailors had tested positive for the disease. The number now stands at 840. On April 13, a sailor on the Roosevelt died of COVID-19-related complications.

  5. says

    CA Gov. Gavin Newsom:

    NEW: CA has launched a first-in-the-nation program–

    Restaurants Deliver will allow local restaurants to provide meals for older Californians. 3 meals a day–at no cost.

    This will help provide jobs to local businesses and aid those in need.

    Learn more:…

    Link for more information at the link.

  6. tomh says

    McConnell’s Supreme Court coup continues to pay dividends.

    Scotusblog:
    Divided court upholds restrictive reading of immigration statute, limiting relief to noncitizens facing removal
    Jayesh Rathod
    April 24, 2020

    Yesterday, the Supreme Court issued a 5-4 decision in Barton v. Barr, upholding a restrictive reading of a provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act that offers relief to noncitizens facing removal proceedings… for those anticipating detailed engagement with the arguments advanced by the parties, the majority opinion will likely disappoint.
    […]

    Briefs submitted by the parties and amici were rife with complex arguments rooted in statutory interpretation. Yet the majority opinion, authored by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, engages with only a few of these arguments, and downplays the complexity by stating that “the analysis here is straightforward.”

    No surprise here, Kavanaugh started with a goal in mind and spun his opinion to meet that goal. Detailed analysis at the link.

  7. says

    Links back to the previous chapter of this thread.

    Comment 498, details about the FDA pushback against Trump’s effort to encourage people to take hydroxychloroquine.

    Comment 497, about Trump’s comments suggesting that doctors look into the use of disinfectants injected, or somehow otherwise used, inside the human body to kill the coronavirus: Trump is now claiming that he was speaking sarcastically to reporters. No, he wasn’t.

    SC’s comment 496, which provides details related to “Brazil Justice Minister Resigns Over Bolsonaro’s Interference in Investigations — and Impeachment Talk Ramps Up”

  8. says

    From Laura Clawson: “Donald Trump is spending a deadly pandemic watching TV and stewing over negative coverage.”

    […] Trump is a lonely, angry, bitter man adrift without the usual ego-feeding he relies on. Which we already knew, but is confirmed by a New York Times story based on information from “more than a dozen administration officials and close advisers.” The story is short on direct quotes but long on delicious, pathetic details.

    Trump watches cable news for hours on end and “is angry even with Fox, an old security blanket, for not portraying him as he would like to be seen.” He dwells on his slide in the polls and takes calls from his campaign manager Brad Parscale to talk about it. […]

    Ego-feeding is the reason for the daily press briefing, too. Trump enjoys it, so it continues “although even Republicans say that the two hours of political attacks, grievances and falsehoods by the president are hurting him politically,” […] Does he bother to attend actual task force meetings? Rarely. Mostly, he takes his talking points right before the briefing starts, gives them short shrift during the briefing, and then runs his mouth about things like injecting disinfectants.

    Having started his day with hours upon hours of television, Trump typically returns to it after the briefing, this time with company: “Assorted aides who are still around will join him to rehash the day and offer their assessments on the briefings. Comfort food—including French fries and Diet Coke—is readily available.” […]

    Donald Trump had well over a month to keep us from this place, with an already horrific death toll that keeps climbing, an economy in shambles, and people around the country suffering. And still all he cares about is the fallout for his political future and the bad press coverage and the lack of opportunities to have his ego stroked in person.

    Link

    Other news reports say that Trump also occasionally rage-watches MSNBC.

  9. KG says

    ARIDS@492,
    Yes, I’m sure that’s part of McConnell’s calculation. The situation is much the same in the UK. As I tell the young people of today, in a fake Yorkshire accent: “Ee, we ‘ad it easy when I were a lad!”

  10. says

    From Mark Sumner:

    On Thursday evening, the maker of Lysol disinfectant spray issued a warning that “under no circumstances” should anyone drink or inject their their product to kill coronavirus. This warning did not come as a result of a anonymous Instagram post or from a tragic experiment by a fourth grader. Lysol was forced to warn people not to guzzle or inject cleaning fluid because that was exactly the cure that Donald Trump suggested during his Thursday coronavirus press rally.

    On Thursday, Donald Trump at first seemed to have made a simple mistake. He mixed up the coronavirus and vampires. Having learned that ultraviolet light can be used to disinfect surfaces, a fact that was apparently new to Trump, he went on to ponder—live, in front of the nation—whether exposing people to “ultraviolet or just a very powerful light” might cure COVID-19, especially if there was a way to get the light “inside the body.” But before sunbed salesmen could even start digging up the promo material, Trump had an even better idea. He genuinely suggested that people should be injected with “disinfectant.”

    Honestly, this isn’t a stupid question … if you’re six. At some point, everyone probably makes this kind of association between “if this is good there, is it also good there?” That stage of development in which children build on concepts such as object permanence and the development of symbolic thought to engage in constructing a mental model of how the world operates usually happens around the age of seven. It’s part of why children at that age tend to be full of questions as they fill in the gaps in their model. Part of this process also involves pulling together a moral framework. So … Trump obviously missed the entire step.

    This is, of course, not the first time that Trump has used his coronavirus self-love session to pass along worse-than-dubious medical advice. […]

    Then there was the point where Trump suggested that maybe we should just give Americans “a really strong flu vaccine.” Because Trump clearly doesn’t understand how vaccines work. That one also came live during the daily coronavirus show, while actual medical experts sat back and kept their lips sealed. […]

    On Friday, the United States had already passed 50,000 dead, and will hit 900,000 cases by day’s end. Not all of that illness and death could have been prevented by having someone in the White House who operated above a six-year-old level, but a hell of a lot of them could. Even so, it’s probably worth running a separate tally—one that just records the number of people directly killed by taking Trump’s “medical advice.” […]

    Link

  11. says

    Here are the tactics Republicans are suggesting as the 2020 candidates continue to campaign as best they can: “GOP memo urges anti-China assault over coronavirus.”

    The Senate Republican campaign arm distributed the 57-page strategy document to candidates.

    The National Republican Senatorial Committee has sent campaigns a detailed, 57-page memo authored by a top Republican strategist advising GOP candidates to address the coronavirus crisis by aggressively attacking China.

    The memo includes advice on everything from how to tie Democratic candidates to the Chinese government to how to deal with accusations of racism. It stresses three main lines of assault: That China caused the virus “by covering it up,” that Democrats are “soft on China,” and that Republicans will “push for sanctions on China for its role in spreading this pandemic.”

    “Coronavirus was a Chinese hit-and-run followed by a cover-up that cost thousands of lives,” the April 17 memo states.

    The document urges candidates to stay relentlessly on message against the country when responding to any questions about the virus. When asked whether the spread of the coronavirus is Trump’s fault, candidates are advised to respond by pivoting to China. […]

    The NRSC memo shows that Republicans are also eager to make China an issue in down-ballot races. It was distributed by the Senate GOP campaign arm, though it was not explicitly drafted by or for the committee. It was authored by the political consulting firm of Brett O’Donnell, a veteran Republican strategist who has advised Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton. […]

    The memo includes guidance on what Republican candidates can say when asked whether blaming China for the pandemic incites racism. Candidates are urged to respond by saying that, “No one is blaming Chinese Americans. This is the fault of the Chinese Communist Party for covering up the virus and lying about its danger. This caused the pandemic and they should be held accountable.”

    “No one has suffered more from the murderous Communist Chinese Party dictatorship than the people of China,” the memo adds. “We stand with them against their corrupt government that caused this pandemic.”

    The GOP’s planned China-focused assault, however, is complicated by Trump’s occasional praise for President Xi Jinping. The liberal organization American Bridge recently launched a commercial which plays a clip of the president praising Xi […]

    Link

  12. says

    About the increasing cases of coronavirus in states with more rural areas, and with fewer large urban centers:

    […] Now, more than half the counties showing signs of rapid growth are outside metro areas.

    While the confirmed case counts remain highest in states like New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts, confirmed cases are growing at faster rates in smaller, more rural states. In just the last three days, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico and Wisconsin have all recorded their highest daily case counts.

    Epidemiologists said the spread from urban cores to rural regions is typical of an infectious disease like influenza, which usually lands in big cities with busy hub airports. Viruses tend to fan out across cities, but expand more slowly — though no less dangerously — in rural areas. […]

    The virus can take any number of routes from big cities to small towns. Prisons and jails have become epicenters of coronavirus outbreaks in rural parts of Indiana and Ohio in recent weeks. So too have meat processing plants in South Dakota and Iowa. […]

    Epidemiologists are worried that the slow spread of the virus into rural America means it is only now arriving in communities that have been on lockdown for weeks. In conservative enclaves, many may see the virus’s slow spread in their areas as evidence that Trump was right, and that the virus poses little risk to them or their community.

    Put another way: […] It is now spreading to voters who backed Trump. […]

    Some worry that Trump’s early attempts to downplay the virus, amplified by Fox News hosts for months, coupled with the coronavirus’s slow arrival, have made conservative rural voters skeptical that it poses a real threat. Trump’s own remarks may have lulled his base voters into a false and dangerous sense of security.

    “The early messaging out of the White House was extremely dangerous. And I think a lot of people heard early on that this did not have to be taken seriously, and I think that sentiment was hard to unseat in people’s minds,” Bharti said. “Part of the feedback loop is that they heard that this pandemic was no big deal, they didn’t see that many first hand cases. A lot of rural residents didn’t really see a lot of preparation and planning in their towns.” […]

    “Some of those places may be medically underserved, there may be more chronic conditions,” Adalja said. “Those rural areas may end up having disproportionate numbers of people who need to be hospitalized.”

    Link

  13. says

    From Wonkette:

    Yesterday, Donald Trump, […] suggested during a press conference that maybe COVID-19 could be cured by injecting people with UV rays or Lysol or bleach. Some people (us) reacted to this in horror. Others (you, maybe?) compared him to Jim Jones and speculated that if he suggested his followers drink bleach, they would probably do that. Although in defense of the members of Jim Jones’s church, most of them were forced at gunpoint to drink the poison.

    Then there were those (not us! and not actual doctors or the Lysol company!), like Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit and Joel Pollak at Breitbart, who declared that everyone who said Trump speculated on ingesting bleach as a potential cure for COVID-19 was lying, and that Trump was just “speaking generally about new information about sunlight, heat, and disinfectant killing the virus.”

    Here’s a particularly aggravating quote from Breitbart’s “fact check”:

    “Trump used the word ‘inject,’ but what he meant was using a process — which he left ‘medical doctors’ to define — in which patients’ lungs might be cleared of the virus, given new knowledge about its response to light and other factors.” You almost have to admire it. Wait. No you don’t.

    And as of just a few minutes ago, the president of the United States says he was being “sarcastic.”

    This will be sad news to those who are celebrating, who are ecstatic over Trump recommending drinking bleach to cure COVID-19, because it is something they have been doing all along.

    Are they QAnon idiots? You bet they are! Since the beginning of the pandemic, QAnon people and other conspiracy theorists have been promoting “Miracle Mineral Solution” as a cure for COVID-19 and pretty much everything else in the world. Is this the stuff that turns you blue? Like Jim Bakker’s silver solution? It is not. It’s chlorine dioxide (otherwise known as “bleach”), a popular poison/snake oil supplement frequently touted to cure a number of ills — like autism, HIV, cancer and malaria. It will probably not surprise you to learn that people have died from taking it, on account of it being poison. It will likely also not surprise you to learn that Jim Humble, the “inventor” of MMS, is a former Scientologist who claims to be a billion-year-old alien god who arrived on Earth as part of “the space navy.”

    Just last week, a federal judge ordered Genesis 2, the church Humble founded to promote the use of MMS, to stop promoting it as a cure for COVID-19. […]

    Among those very excited about what they perceive as Trump’s “endorsement” of MMS is QAnon “researcher” Jordan Sather. “One of the most censored subjects online is discussion of using chorine dioxide (“MMS”), an oxygenating disinfectant, for health reasons. Big Pharma & the fake news are shitting themselves over POTUS mentioning testing “disinfectants” on COVID. They don’t want him to name what!”

    […] Several of Sather’s tweets have been nuked by Twitter, but he’s still going on about it, as are several other adherents. It’s almost as if there was some sort of correlation between being the kind of person who thinks that Hillary Clinton and Tom Hanks eat babies and being the kind of person who thinks drinking bleach is a good idea.

    Many of those advocating for MMS today, including Sather, claim that chlorine dioxide is safe because it is sometimes added to tap water to disinfect it… “Chlorine Dioxide is a “bleaching disinfectant” that’s often added to municipal water systems to make water SAFE to drink. And here the fake news media and the “medical experts” they work with are telling you that you may die from drinking something like it. That one’s a doozie” […]

    However — Sola dosis facit venenum, the dose makes the poison. There are lots of things that are safe — even beneficial! — in small doses, and yet lethal in larger ones. Tylenol, for instance. Two can help a headache, a whole bottle will kill you. Or digitalis! Digitalis (foxglove) can be used to treat heart conditions or it can be used to murder people in Agatha Christie books. […]

    Compared with some other things they’re doing, at least the only people they hurt by drinking bleach are themselves.

  14. says

    From the U.S. Surgeon General:

    A reminder to all Americans- PLEASE always talk to your health provider first before administering any treatment/ medication to yourself or a loved one.

    Your safety is paramount, and doctors and nurses are have years of training to recommend what’s safe and effective.

    From FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn:

    I certainly wouldn’t recommend the internal ingestion of a disinfectant.

    From Judy Melinek M.D.:

    Oh FFS please don’t do this. I don’t need the extra work. If you are sick call your doctor. Don’t self medicate.

    From Kashif Mahmoud:

    As a physician, I can’t recommend injecting disinfectant into the lungs or using UV radiation inside the body to treat COVID-19. Don’t take medical advice from Trump.

    From Jonathan Spicer MD PhD:

    No joke – we had a patient swallow Lysol as a #disinfectant a couple of weeks ago to prevent COVID19 infection. He made it out of the hospital after his gastrectomy…
    This kind of nonsense is absolutely mind blowing.

  15. says

    What would happen if you did act on Trump’s rambling speculations?

    […] intravenous injections of large quantities of bleach can cause acute kidney injury and thrombosis, or blood clots. Bleach causes red blood cells to rupture, thus preventing them from carrying oxygen to essential organs and other parts of the body, which could possibly bring about a slow death.

    The chemical would inflame the lining of the veins, causing the blood clots along with an intensely painful burning sensation at the injection site and sometimes near the chest. The chlorine in bleach can also alter the pH of one’s blood, possibly triggering cardiac arrhythmias and kidney damage. The kidney also filters the body’s blood, putting it in more direct contact with contaminants like bleach. There’s a good chance that the bleach will lead to death, though the extreme pain involved usually stops people from injecting large quantities of the chemical, which is why drinking it may be more fatal.

    Injecting isopropyl alcohol would similarly cause irritation of the blood vessels, rupturing of cells, and blood clots. Alcohol toxicity is also a danger, though the body does tend to break down alcohol quickly, so it would need to be present in fairly large quantities. Drinking isopropyl alcohol can cause internal bleeding and depletion of stomach lining.

    Not much has been documented about the exact effects of injecting disinfectants because it would be unethical to conduct such a lab experiment, and because it’s much more common for people to consume them orally, which usually leads to bleeding and perforations in the stomach lining and burns in the esophagus. Emergency rooms do sometimes treat intravenous drug users who have injected disinfectants because of urban myths that it reverses opioid overdoses or cleans one’s blood of impurities from the narcotics. These patients usually experience blood clots and inflammation at the injection site.

    If you have been infected by COVID-19, you technically could kill it by injecting disinfectants, since you might die and the virus would no longer have a host. […]

    Link

  16. says

    Yikes.

    Stephen Miller has a long-term vision for Trump’s ‘temporary’ immigration order, according to a private call with supporters.

    Washington Post link

    Trump senior policy adviser Stephen Miller told White House supporters in a private call this week that the president’s new executive order curbing immigration will usher in the kind of broader long-term changes to American society he has advocated for years, even though the 60-day measures were publicly characterized as a “pause” during the coronavirus pandemic.

    Miller, the chief architect of the president’s immigration agenda and one of his longest-serving and most trusted advisers, spoke to a group of Trump surrogates Thursday in an off-the-record call about the new executive order, which had been signed the night before. […]

    Miller told the group that subsequent measures were under consideration that would restrict guest worker programs, but the “the most important thing is to turn off the faucet of new immigrant labor,” he said, according to a recording obtained by The Washington Post. Miller indicated that the strategy is part of a long-term vision and not seen only as a stopgap.

    “As a numerical proposition, when you suspend the entry of a new immigrant from abroad, you’re also reducing immigration further because the chains of follow-on migration that are disrupted,” said Miller, one of the executive order’s main authors. “So the benefit to American workers compounds with time.” […]

    Although Trump described his order this week as a temporary “pause,” he also said it is an open-ended move that will remain in place until he decides the U.S. labor market has sufficiently improved once the coronavirus crisis subsides. He said he will reevaluate it after 60 days and might extend the immigration restrictions to help Americans find jobs when states reopen their economies. […]

  17. says

    Stacey Abrams made her case for selecting her a Joe Biden’s running mate:

    […] “We have to win the election. And I would point out that I ran the most successful campaign to engage the communities we need to build the broadest coalition necessary in 2020, because what we are going to see on the ground is that this is going to be a campaign unlike anything that’s been run before,” Abrams told The Atlantic in an interview published Friday. […]

    “If you look at what we were able to accomplish in Georgia, the growth of the numbers and the composition of the voters, I would put my capacity to win an election as the VP running mate alongside anyone’s,” she said. […]

    Link

  18. blf says

    [L]eader of group peddling bleach as coronavirus cure wrote to Trump this week:

    Mark Grenon wrote to Trump saying chlorine dioxide can rid the body of Covid-19 days before the president [sic] promoted disinfectant as treatment

    The leader of the most prominent group in the US peddling potentially lethal industrial bleach as a miracle cure for coronavirus wrote to Donald Trump at the White House this week.

    In his letter, Mark Grenon told Trump that chlorine dioxide — a powerful bleach used in industrial processes such as textile manufacturing that can have fatal side-effects when drunk — is a wonderful detox that can kill 99% of the pathogens in the body. He added that it can rid the body of Covid-19.

    A few days after Grenon dispatched his letter, Trump went on national TV at his daily coronavirus briefing at the White House on Thursday and promoted the idea that disinfectant could be used as a treatment for the virus. To the astonishment of medical experts, the US president [sic] said that disinfectant knocks it out in a minute. One minute!

    He went on to say: Is there a way we can do something, by an injection inside or almost a cleaning? Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it’d be interesting to check that.

    If the numerous clews haven’t already clewed you in, this is miracle cure is MMS (Miracle Mineral Supplement), one of the most lethal quack garbage being hocked today, “a toxic chemical that in ‘high oral doses’ can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and life-threatening low blood pressure due to dehydration.” It, and the quacks / religion who are pushing for this method of mass genocide, have been discussed / referenced before in this series of poopyhead threads.

    [… T]he Guardian has learned that peddlers of chlorine dioxide — industrial bleach — have been making direct approaches to the White House in recent days.

    Grenon styles himself as archbishop of Genesis II — a Florida-based outfit that claims to be a church but which in fact is the largest producer and distributor of chlorine dioxide bleach as a miracle cure in the US. He brands the chemical as MMS, miracle mineral solution, and claims fraudulently that it can cure 99% of all illnesses including cancer, malaria, HIV/Aids as well as autism.

    Since the start of the pandemic, Genesis II has been marketing MMS as a cure to coronavirus. It advises users, including children, to mix three to six drops of bleach in water and drink it.

    In his weekly televised radio show, posted online on Sunday, Grenon read out the letter he wrote to Trump. He said it began: Dear Mr President, I am praying you read this letter and intervene.

    Grenon said that 30 of his supporters have also written in the past few days to Trump at the White House urging him to take action to protect Genesis\ II in its bleach-peddling activities which they claim can cure coronavirus.

    On Friday, hours after Trump talked about disinfectant on live TV, Grenon went further in a post on his Facebook page. He claimed that MMS had actually been sent to the White House. He wrote: Trump has got the MMS and all the info!!! Things are happening folks! Lord help others to see the Truth!

    […]

    Last week the US Food and Drug Administration obtained a federal court order barring Genesis II from selling what was described as “an unproven and potentially harmful treatment for Covid-19”. The FDA also ordered a disciple of Genesis II, Kerri Rivera, to remove claims that MMS cured coronavirus from her website.

    Last August the FDA issued an urgent warning urging Americans not to buy or drink MMS, which it said was a “dangerous bleach which has caused serious and potentially life-threatening side effects”. Drinking MMS can cause nausea, diarrhea and severe dehydration that can lead to death, the federal agency said.

    […]

    On Friday Trump claimed he was being sarcastic in his remarks but there is no evidence to back up that claim and he appeared entirely serious as he made them.

    The current occupant of Wacko House fancies himself as a quack & final solution implementator, but he can’t even pretend do that convincingly. All teh bestingerest peoplesdaleks…

  19. says

    If you are really special, you get a haircut.

    A member of the White House’s Coronavirus Task Force bragged Friday night about violating the “stay-at-home” rules that his public health colleagues have said are crucial to slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus.

    Larry Kudlow, the White House economic adviser, let the story slip during an interview with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham.

    “I’m also going to confess, I had a hair trim yesterday,” Kudlow told Ingraham. […]

    “It was kind of a special deal,” Kudlow told Ingraham. “Friends of ours — you know this person, but I’m not gonna mention any names. She got her hairdresser to come in and open up her barbershop, and the guy gave me a pretty good trim.”

    “I don’t have much to work with,” the White House adviser acknowledged. “But it looks much better because I wanted it to look good on the Laura Ingraham Show. That was the key point and here I am. I had no temperature this morning coming into the White House, I tested negative last week, I feel fine.” […]

    Early on in the COVID-19 crisis, Kudlow repeatedly downplayed the severity of the disease in his capacity as a White House official, advertising stock opportunities amid the economic downturn that accompanied the pandemic.

    He was also a source of misinformation about the disease: “We have contained this,” he said in late February. “I won’t say airtight, but pretty close to airtight.”

    Around the same time, the White House adviser falsely said that the World Health Organization director-general had urged the public not to overreact to the disease. In reality, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom said the coronavirus disease “absolutely” had the potential to become a global pandemic.

    Link

  20. says

    Trump is congratulating himself this morning, while claiming that other people are congratulating him.

    […] Trump was up early Saturday morning taking credit for sending a few ventilators to Colorado and thanking all the people in the state who allegedly sent him “thank you” notes for his benevolence. He also tagged Sen. Cory Gardner, a Republican up for a tough reelection race this year, who he has previously credited for helping with the ventilator acquisition.

    But as the Denver Post has pointed out, thanks to Trump, the state actually got 400 fewer ventilators than it would have if the administration hadn’t meddled in its procurement process.

    In early April, Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat, had arranged for the state to buy 500 ventilators when the Federal Emergency Management Agency grabbed the shipment instead. Polis complained to the Post that the federal government was leaving the state high and dry. “We can’t compete against our own federal government,” Polis said. “So either work with us, or don’t do anything at all. But this middle ground where they’re buying stuff out from under us and not telling us what we’re going to get, that’s really challenging to manage our hospital surge and our safety of our health care workers in that kind of environment.”

    A few days later, Trump tweeted that he was sending Colorado 100 ventilators thanks to a request from Gardner, despite the fact that Polis had been begging the feds for weeks for more medical supplies. The move was among the first of many indicating that the Trump administration was playing politics with medical supplies during the pandemic. As the Denver Post editorial board wrote:

    The federal government should be procuring medicine, masks, and ventilators and distributing them to states on a set formula based on population, rate of infection and need. Instead, Trump’s messaging makes it feel as though he will watch with glee from the White House as people suffer in states being led by his enemies.

    Members of Congress have demanded more information from FEMA about such order seizures and whether the distribution of masks and ventilators has been dictated by political considerations rather than need. But Trump doesn’t seem too worried about appearances. On Saturday morning, he doubled down on his earlier comments, claiming that Coloradans were so grateful they were showering him with thank you notes for the ventilator delivery: “Thank you to the people of Colorado for the warm and gracious notes and letters sent to me for all of the Ventilators we got for you. It was my great honor!”

    Link

  21. says

    WHO warns against coronavirus “immunity passports” due to reinfection concerns

    It says there is “currently no evidence” that someone cannot be reinfected.

    The World Health Organization (WHO) released a scientific brief on Saturday recommending countries refrain from issuing certificates of immunity to people who have been infected with the novel coronavirus, warning there is “currently no evidence” that someone cannot be reinfected.

    Countries like Germany and Chile are looking into giving residents “immunity passports” that would allow people who have recovered from Covid-19 to be excluded from restrictive protection measures and to work outside the house. Public health officials would use tests that detect antibodies to the virus to determine if someone has previously had the virus.

    […] reinfection cannot be ruled out based on antibodies alone. […]

    The report went even further, suggesting immunity passports could backfire and unwittingly accelerate the spread of the virus. “People who assume that they are immune to a second infection because they have received a positive test result may ignore public health advice. The use of such certificates may therefore increase the risks of continued transmission,” the report says. […]

    What do we know about immunity?
    The brief is a reminder that although scientists and public health experts have made great strides in their understanding of the new virus in a relatively short period of time, there’s still a lot unknown about both the coronavirus, and the disease it causes, Covid-19. One of the largest outstanding questions is whether humans can develop immunity to coronavirus and what immunity would look like.

    […] for some infections, your immunity never wanes. People who are immune to smallpox, for example, are immune for life: Antibodies that protect against smallpox have been found as long as 88 years after a vaccination.

    Less reassuring here is that scientists have observed antibody levels to other coronaviruses (there are four coronavirus strains that infect people as the common cold) can wane over a period of years. […]

    Part of the reason a loss of antibodies doesn’t always result in a loss of immunity is because the body stores antibody blueprints — when exposed to a virus a person already has antibodies for, the body can use those blueprints to quickly restart antibody production. Whether this would happen with antibodies effective at fighting Covid-19 isn’t known.

    It is known, however, that those who have recovered from Covid-19 have a range of antibodies in their systems — some have more, others have less. The reason why isn’t yet fully understood. […] The body tends to have the greatest number of antibodies four to eight weeks after infection, meaning someone tested in that period may have more antibodies than someone given an antibody test later on. It could also be the case, as the WHO noted in its brief, that immune responses outside of antibodies play a key role in fighting the virus. […]

  22. says

    From Wonkette: “Right-Wing ‘Boogaloo Boys’ Spend Pandemic On Facebook, Plotting To Kill Us All In A Civil War”

    People have been picking up all sorts of hobbies during the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re making sourdough starters, we’re knitting […]

    Others, however, are planning a Civil War. […]

    While the whole “Let’s do another Civil War and call it ‘Boogaloo’ thing started last year in response to people considering gun control measures to curb the near-constant mass shootings, it’s really picked up steam during the last few months — both because people have a lot of time on their hands and because they have “mounting frustrations” over being told to stay home so that other people don’t get sick.

    A recent study conducted by the Tech Transparency Project found 125 “Boogaloo” Facebook groups, nearly 60 percent of which were created since February. While most of the public pages mostly post memes, members in private groups “discussed tactical strategies, combat medicine, and various types of weapons, including how to develop explosives and the merits of using flame throwers.” Many of them, it should come as no surprise, are virulent white supremacists.

    The name and the proliferation of memes on the public “Boogaloo” pages make the whole idea seem like a viral internet joke that no one is taking seriously, but that is a calculated move. While there may be participants who do think of it as a joke, many of them take it extremely seriously. Earlier this month, 36-year-old Aaron Swenson was arrested after recording himself on Facebook Live driving around looking for a lone police officer to kill. […]

    The documents they share in their groups are also pretty damned serious.

    Via Tech Transparency Project:

    The most concerning document is one entitled Yeetalonians, a reference to the boogaloo. At over 133 pages, the document provides an in-depth look at preparing for the boogaloo and offers advice on what weapons should be used, what propaganda to distribute, and how to psychologically win over civilians to the cause.

    The document mentions “target selection,” noting that assassinations of figureheads are “overrated” but “some people have to go.” It discusses how to disrupt U.S. government supply lines, noting that “national guard depots, police stations and factories that produce munitions are all very solid targets.” On propaganda, meanwhile, the document notes that the most important job is “to make the enemy (government forces) see that they are not fighting terrorists, they are fighting their own countrymen who simply love liberty.

    Oh how I despise this use of “liberty” to excuse this civil war nonsense.

    That particular propaganda angle has become part of the Second Amendment debate over the last few years. […]

    I’ve never even been in a bar fight, so it is highly unlikely that I will be taking up arms in order to keep a bunch of 4chan losers and wannabe Timothy McVeighs from “seceding.” Who the hell is gonna do that? Who would bother? And if they try to Civil War us and we don’t Civil War them back, isn’t that just murder?

    Additionally, in order to secede and have a Civil War, they need to have actual territory of some kind, which they do not. The “Boogaloo” people claim to have “sleeper cells” in every state (yes, they actually say “sleeper cells”), which is horrifying, but also rather unworkable in a Civil War scenario.

    Discussions among the group members show mixed feelings about using Facebook as a means of communication. One member post on March 20 chastised others for not being careful enough while talking about civil war preparations on social media, noting that “the boog[aloo] is a class of sleep cell organization and sleeper cells work on the basis that you don’t post about it.”

    […] they are planning mass murder. They are planning terrorism. If they were anyone other than a bunch of angry white dudes, they would almost definitely be in some amount of trouble right now, on account of how murdering people, planning to murder people and plotting terrorism is not only a violation of Facebook’s ban of “Violence and Criminal Behavior,” it is illegal.

    […] In the meantime, Facebook might want to start cracking down on this shit.

    Link

  23. says

    The pandemic at sea.

    Washington Post link

    The cruise industry’s decision to keep sailing for weeks after the coronavirus was first detected on a ship helped carry the virus around the globe.

    On land, more than 300,000 people worldwide had contracted the deadly coronavirus, and the governor of California had just ordered all 39 million residents to stay at home. But as the Celebrity Eclipse cruise ship steamed north across the Pacific Ocean on March 21, hundreds of passengers crammed together on the ship’s pool deck and overlooking gangways.

    As they stood shoulder-to-shoulder and crowded around pool chairs, the captain led the ship in a special salute to health-care workers of the world, an onboard version of the nightly applause adopted by some cities to honor medical professionals battling the novel coronavirus.

    Five days later and thousands of miles away in the Atlantic, a group of British passengers aboard another ship, Coral Princess, likewise gathered elbow-to-elbow to cheer the United Kingdom’s National Health Service.

    […] Soon, passengers on both ships were contending with flu-like symptoms.

    There have been 150 coronavirus cases and six deaths reported so far among passengers of the two vessels, which finally docked weeks after the virus was declared a global health crisis […] Two people died on the Coral Princess before passengers could even come ashore in Miami.

    The Eclipse and Coral Princess were among scores of ships that continued voyages even after early outbreaks on other vessels, carrying thousands of international passengers to far-flung ports and helping seed the virus around the globe […] the coronavirus infected passengers and crew on at least 55 ships that sailed in the waters off nearly every continent […]

    At least 65 people who traveled or worked on the ships have since died, […] although the full scope of deaths is unknown. […]

    Public health experts say that a number of factors contributed to the rapid spread of the virus around the world, predominantly air travel; an estimated 4.54 billion people flew last year, compared to the 30 million passengers who traveled on cruise ships worldwide. But with hundreds of people dining, swimming and dancing together over a sustained period of time, the ships provide unique environments for disease to spread […]

    “People on a large ship, all together, at the same time, all the time — you couldn’t ask for a better incubator for infection,” Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-diseases expert, said in February.

    […] Until early this month, federal health officials allowed passengers who left infected ships but appeared healthy to board commercial airlines home.

    […] on the Celebrity Eclipse and the Coral Princess, those aboard said they were reassured by company officials there was no coronavirus infection on their ships — even as some travelers were wracked with fevers and coughs.

    […] Despite high-profile outbreaks on several ships, industry leaders have insisted cruise ships are not more susceptible to the coronavirus than other places. […]

    But top U.S. health officials said there is evidence that cruise ships have been a factor in the spread of the coronavirus, both aboard ships and through their travel. […]

    One of the world’s first indications of the wild infectiousness of the coronavirus came in February, when it whipped through the Diamond Princess, a 2,666-passenger ship docked at a port in Japan. […]

    More than 700 passengers and crew members ultimately tested positive and 13 died. Some Americans tested positive for the coronavirus only after they were aboard buses headed to government-chartered airplanes to be flown back to the United States. […]

    another coronavirus-stricken cruise ship docked in Oakland, Calif. The Grand Princess […] more than 130 people from the ship tested positive, and at least six have died […] “We don’t see those kinds of attack rates in other settings — even in household settings,” he said. “Even in cities experiencing outbreaks, this is pretty dramatic.” […]

    The coronavirus was spreading, and Caribbean countries worried about their citizens’ exposure began to impose new rules on ships and limit access to their ports. […] The cruise industry expressed concern about the new rules, which upended scheduled stops for its vacationing guests […]

    Cruise vessels continued to visit Jamaica after the meeting.

    The clout of the industry was also apparent in the United States, where Carnival chairman Micky Arison is a personal friend of President Trump. The major cruise lines have avoided federal income taxes and labor laws by incorporating overseas and flagging their ships in other countries. […]

    The day after meeting with the Jamaican officials, top cruise line executives huddled in Fort Lauderdale with Vice President Pence, the head of the White House coronavirus task force, arguing cruise lines could voluntarily contain the outbreak. […] It still wasn’t enough.

    On March 14, the CDC issued a no-sail order for 30 days — and noted that there were already signs of covid-19 clusters associated with cruise ships […]

    In Iowa, state health officials found that the state’s first 16 confirmed coronavirus cases were all part of a group that had recently returned from a cruise on the Nile River in Egypt. Pockets of cases were linked to the same cruise voyage in Houston and Maryland.

    […] The biggest driver of the coronavirus cases in Australia has been an outbreak on the Ruby Princess cruise ship, […]
    Along with airplanes, cruise ships also played a role in the spread of the virus in the Caribbean, a region with small island populations and a fragile health-care system. While air travelers brought the first cases to islands such as St. Lucia and Cuba, cruise passengers were the first confirmed coronavirus patients in places such as the Cayman Islands and Puerto Rico […]

    A Post analysis found that five ships — the Costa Favolosa, Costa Magica, Costa Luminosa, MS Braemar and MSC Meraviglia — made 18 stops in the Caribbean between Feb. 29 and March 11 while carrying someone who later tested positive for coronavirus. […]

    […] 350 Americans and Canadians disembarked March 19 in Marseille, France. The group was crowded together on buses and then an airplane to Atlanta, where the CDC allowed many to enter the terminal and then board commercial airliners home.

    It would take more than two more weeks for the CDC to change its guidelines about disembarking passengers from stricken ships, barring even those without symptoms from further commercial travel. […]

    “My dad had said multiple times if the cruise had let them know there was a possible covid case, they would have just gotten off in Puerto Rico and flown home,” said Sheehan’s son, Kevin. “They were more worried about keeping people on the boat and spending money.” […]

    On the Coral Princess, passengers received a letter March 20 from the senior physician assuring them that the risk of the ship’s exposure was “near negligible.”

    […] hundreds partied again at a special ceremony to mark the ship’s passage of the equator. The ship’s theater hosted daily events. “They actually made more activities, to keep people occupied,” Miller said. […]

    As the ship sailed toward Barbados on March 30, where a stop the next day was planned, the cruise line released a public statement at 6 p.m. Eastern that said in part: “There remains no known risk of COVID-19 onboard.” […]

    More at the link. The article is long, and thorough. If you really want to have the complete picture of what part cruise ships played in spreading the virus, read the whole article.

  24. says

    From an op-ed by Stacey Abrams:

    […] In my home state of Georgia, we’ve exceeded 20,000 cases and have more than 800 deaths. With only a fraction of the available tests needed to adequately track this virus, officials cannot predict with certainty what is to come — when this virus will hit its peak, when hospitals should prepare for an even larger surge of critically-ill patients and how to best prevent further spread to our most vulnerable communities.

    This novel coronavirus crisis has also exposed inequities that make this pandemic deadlier than it had to be. Closures of hospitals throughout Georgia had already limited rural communities’ life-saving health care access, and the additional strain of this pandemic has put even more patients at risk. Throughout the south, black and brown Americans are contracting and dying from COVID-19 at far higher rates than white Americans. […]

    Like our fellow Americans, I am heartbroken by this ongoing tragedy. But I am also angry because, to a large extent, this devastation was preventable.

    We live each day with the effects of state and national leaders’ failures and abdication of responsibility. President Trump has repeatedly downplayed this threat and blithely used the White House’s daily briefings to promote misinformation and outright lies to cover his administration’s failed response. Closer to home, Georgia’s governor claimed he was unaware the virus could be spread asymptomatically — despite repeated warnings from the CDC throughout the month of February and March. His decision forcing localities to open their beaches has put communities like Tybee Island at risk. His failure to expand Medicaid puts lives at risk. And his decision to reopen barbershops, tattoo parlors, nail salons, gyms and restaurants while coronavirus cases continue to rise is dangerously incompetent and will lead to the loss of lives in our state. [Right. Stacey summarized that well.]

    […] This week marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, and I am hopeful that, unlike what has unfolded in the coronavirus pandemic, our leaders will once again put science before political gamesmanship as we face another looming threat: the consequences of climate change.

    In Georgia, rising sea-levels threaten our coastline and our cities from Savannah to St. Marys, and rising global temperatures increase the potential for wildfires throughout our state. Increased risk of natural disasters affects every county and community, from our farmland to our business towers. […] Climate change also reveals the same disparities the COVID-19 epidemic has, with our most marginalized communities paying the highest price for negligence and poor planning. […]

    Thankfully, we still have an opportunity to listen to experts and take strong action on climate change before the worst overwhelms our best intentions. And, if we do, we can not only prevent a crisis, but we can boost our economy and create millions of clean energy jobs here in America.

    Throughout my time in the Georgia General Assembly, I proudly co-sponsored bills to clean up hazardous waste, protect streams and waterways, offer tax credits for hybrid and low-emission vehicles, protect state parks and promote clean energy. But more must be done. […]

    That is why I am honored to be part of a bipartisan coalition in World War Zero, a campaign dedicated to bringing people together, mobilizing millions of Americans, and pushing policymakers to take the critical steps we need to prevent a climate calamity.

    When I ran for governor in 2018, our grassroots campaign held conversations with individual voters, one at a time, to inspire change — and we transformed participation in Georgia’s politics. Similarly, by the end of 2020, World War Zero aims to drive 10 million conversations across the country — transforming our nation’s commitment to change. Conversations not just with people already convinced and taking action, but with those who may need to learn a bit more, or hear from someone different, before they agree with the need to act. Person by person and community by community, I am confident that we can build the grassroots army we need to take on this global challenge and win this war for our nation’s future.

    We can’t turn back the clock and undo our leaders’ tepid, dangerous response to the coronavirus crisis. But we can shine a spotlight on those who failed to act, learn from their mistakes, and mobilize Americans to prevent history from repeating itself. This pandemic has shown us how important it is to keep our friends, families, and loved ones safe. Let’s do right by them and prevent the next disaster.

    Link

  25. says

    LA Times: New Data Reveals COVID-19 Is Killing Younger Black and Latino Californians at Higher Rates

    An analysis published by the Los Angeles Times reveals that Black and Latino Californians aged 18 to 64 are dying at higher rates than their white or Asian peers, relative to population, as the pandemic continues to highlight deep inequalities across the country.

    According to the Times:

    When accounting for each group’s share of the population, black and Latino patients under the age of 65 had higher rates of fatality than even older blacks and Latinos—although people over 65 still make up the overwhelming majority of COVID-19 deaths. The trend is particularly noticeable among those age 18 to 49, the Times analysis found…

    Among patients ages 18 to 49, black residents are dying nearly two and a half times as often as their share of the state’s population. By comparison, black people 65 and older are dying twice as often as their share of that age group. Latino death disparities also go down as patients get older, the analysis found.

    The new reporting adds extra numbers to a powerful preliminary analysis performed by my Mother Jones colleagues Eddie Rios and Sinduja Rangarajan published mid-April, which found that Black people overall have disproportionately contracted and died from the coronavirus. In 20 of the 28 states plus DC for which a usable racial breakdown of infection data was provided, Black people make up a larger share of coronavirus infections than they do of the general population.

    According to that reporting:

    In 18 of the 23 states plus DC for which a usable racial breakdown of fatality data was provided, Black people likewise make up a disproportionately large share of coronavirus fatalities. In Michigan, Black people are 14 percent of the state’s population but 33 percent of its coronavirus cases and 40 percent of its deaths. In Wisconsin, Black people are six percent of the state’s population but 25 percent of its coronavirus cases and 39 percent of its deaths.

    […]

    Link

    See the link for charts.

  26. says

    Trump and Putin just issued a joint statement … because, of course they did.

    […] Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a joint statement on Saturday commemorating the 75th anniversary of a World War II meeting of U.S. and Soviet troops at the Elbe river in 1945.

    “As we work today to confront the most important challenges of the 21st century, we pay tribute to the valor and courage of all those who fought together to defeat fascism,” the statement read.

    Protect your irony meters. Trump and Putin celebrating the defeat of fascism? Really?

    Those familiar with the statement’s drafting said that its issuance is symbolic, noting that the intent is to prove to the public that the nations can “put aside their differences,” according to a report from The Wall Street Journal. […]

    Such statements are rare, with the last one occurring in 2010 between former President Obama and then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

    […] the decision to issue the statement was controversial among Trump administration officials at the Pentagon and State Department […]

    The officials pointed to Russia’s intervention in Ukraine and its aid to Syrian President Bashar Assad for his offensive in the country’s Idlib province.

    The U.S. also charges that Russia has spread disinformation about the coronavirus pandemic and interfered in U.S. campaigns. […]

    “I am sure this was a Russian initiative,” Angela Stent, a former U.S. intelligence analyst and author of “Putin’s World,” told the Journal. “Putin wants validation from the United States that today’s Russia like the Soviet Union is a great power.”

    Earlier this month, Trump spoke with Putin for two consecutive days about oil production as the fossil fuel industry in both countries faces historic lows.

    Link

    From the readers comments:

    Russia wants everyone to forget they signed a non-aggression pact with Hitler with plans to divide up Eastern Europe between them.
    ———————-
    Putin wants to gloat. His plan worked perfectly. Trump has destroyed the USA, is mass murdering us, and fomenting a civil war.

  27. Oggie: Mathom says

    We had an astroturf anti-health rally in our town today. Forty pickups with 70 plus American flags, plus the usual assortment of traitor’s flags. About fifty motorcycles, some with AR15s slung over their shoulders. Kids standing on car roofs, no one wearing a mask And an amazing number of the protesters are in my age cohort — you know, over fifty, male. Assholes.

  28. says

    From Wonkette: “Reports Of Bleach And Lysol Drinking Increase Day After Trump ‘Sarcastically’ Suggests It.”

    Once upon a time, many years ago, Donald Trump opined that he could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot someone, and not lose any followers. He was not wrong about that. As we have learned, there is basically nothing he can do to lose the support of his base. If he does something they don’t like, they’ll change their opinion on it and swear they always felt that way. If he does something seemingly indefensible or says something obviously wrong, they will twist themselves into knots trying to defend it or find a way for him to actually be right. If he says to drink Lysol, goddamnit, they will get out their finest shot glasses and go to town. […]

    As such, in the days following Trump’s remarks about ingesting or injecting household cleaners in order to cure COVID-19, poison control centers have reported an uptick in people doing just that. WNBC reports that New York City’s Poison Control Center got about 30 calls regarding exposure to these products in the hours following the presser — 10 calls about bleach, nine calls about Lysol, and 11 regarding other household cleaners. Luckily, none of these calls resulted in death or hospitalization.

    Last year, on the same day, they got 13 such calls. That’s a pretty big increase! […] [See the link for a CDC graph.]

    […] sure, a lot of this can be explained away by the fact that we are simply using these products more, but some of it is also just people doing stupid shit with these products — like this case cited by the CDC in which a woman attempted to bleach her groceries.

    An adult woman heard on the news to clean all recently purchased groceries before consuming them. She filled a sink with a mixture of 10% bleach solution, vinegar, and hot water, and soaked her produce. While cleaning her other groceries, she noted a noxious smell described as “chlorine” in her kitchen. She developed difficulty breathing, coughing, and wheezing, and called 911. She was transported to the emergency department via ambulance and was noted to have mild hypoxemia and end-expiratory wheezing. She improved with oxygen and bronchodilators. Her chest radiograph was unremarkable, and she was discharged after a few hours of observation.

    Yeah … don’t do that. Even if you don’t get sick from inhaling the bleach, you’ll get sick from eating produce that has been soaked in it. Bleach is not edible.

    Note that apples, oranges, bananas, etc. can be washed just like you wash your hands. Rinse well.

    It would be one thing if Donald Trump were the only moron in this country who would go to the well of “Oh, maybe drink Lysol?,” but he is not. There are people who will go to that well all on their own. However, having a president who would suggest such a thing (even if he later claims he was being “sarcastic”), makes things a lot worse.

    Link

  29. says

    A follow-up, of sorts, to Oggie @30.

    Michigan state Sen. Dale Zorn [a Republican] apologized Saturday after wearing a face mask that looks like the Confederate flag.

    Zorn wore the mask to the Republican-controlled state Senate on Friday to vote on coronavirus-related measures. Zorn supported a bill that would repeal Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s emergency powers and a resolution that would create a joint committee to oversee the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

    However, after denying that the mask was a Confederate flag pattern and facing criticism that the symbol tied to slavery was inappropriate for a coronavirus discussion, Zorn apologized.

    Washington Post link

  30. says

    About shortages of PPE at hospitals for veterans:

    For weeks, nurses and other employees at Veterans Affairs hospitals have said they were working with inadequate protective gear. VA officials denied it.
    But in an interview, the physician in charge of the country’s largest health-care system acknowledged the shortage — and said masks and other supplies are being diverted for the national stockpile.

    “I had 5 million masks incoming that disappeared,” said Richard Stone, executive in charge of the sprawling Veterans Health Administration. He acknowledged that he’s been forced to move to “austerity levels” at some hospitals.

    Stone said the Federal Emergency Management Agency directed vendors with equipment on order from VA to instead send it to FEMA to replenish the government’s rapidly depleting emergency stockpile.

    Why? Are they stockpiling it for Jared?

    […] VA’s four-week supply of equipment — on the shelves of 170 medical centers and in an emergency cache normally used for hurricane responses — was almost gone, and employees have held protests to say they were not safe. The system was burning through about 200,000 masks in a day, Stone said.

    “The supply system was responding to FEMA,” said Stone, a former combat surgeon and former Army deputy surgeon general. “I couldn’t tell you when my next delivery was coming in.”

    The shortages, and the agency’s claims that they did not exist, have been a low point in what observers say is an otherwise commendable response by VA to the pandemic. The health system, with fewer covid-19 patients than it expected, is now reaching out to assist veterans in troubled state facilities. […]

    After an appeal from Secretary Robert Wilkie to top FEMA officials, the emergency management agency provided VA with 500,000 masks this week, FEMA said in a statement. It did not address questions about the agency’s diverted equipment orders. A similar shipment arrived last week, Stone said. It’s allowed him to loosen the mask policy to provide employees working directly with covid-19 patients with one face mask a day.

    What? One face mask per day is not enough?

    Still, hospitals in the sprawling system have discretion to ration equipment if they are treating large numbers of covid-19 patients and face shortages. In a recent memo, a top health system official told regional directors they should plan for “scenarios that permit extended mask use, permit limited re-use, permit staff to bring in their own facemasks and N95 respirators, and allow decontamination of used N95 respirators.” […]

    The Labor Department says it is investigating a union complaint at one hospital that employees suspected of contracting the virus were ordered to continue to report to work. On Thursday, several Senate Democrats, describing a “broken federal procurement and distribution process,” called on the Trump administration in a letter to Vice President Pence to get more supplies to VA hospitals.

    Barbara Galle, an intensive care nurse at the Minneapolis VA hospital who is president of AFGE Local 3669, said staff caring for covid-19 patients still can only get an N95 mask if they are involved in a procedure that puts them at extra risk of breathing in virus droplets in the air […]

    Other hospital workers, including pharmacy technicians and cafeteria workers who deliver food to patients on covid wards, have been told to wear their masks for a week, she said. If the straps break, they must staple them back together.

    […] VA serves a vulnerable veteran population dominated by older, Vietnam-era men with underlying health conditions. The system mobilized early in the crisis, restricting visitors to its nursing homes, screening veterans and others entering hospitals and turning its health-care system into a series of acute-care, covid-19 wards.
    […]

    The number of VA patients with covid-19 hit 6,300 in recent days, with 400 deaths.

    About 1,900 health-care workers have become sick with the virus, the agency said, with 20 deaths. About 3,600 of the health-care staff are now quarantined after exposure.

    Stone said the system was able to start testing the staff for the coronavirus only in recent weeks. […]

    regional leaders said they were starting to get frantic calls from the staff at many state-run nursing homes for veterans. The homes were desperate for help, as the virus was spreading through and killing dozens of veterans.

    […] In the last week, the health system has lent its support to the troubled state system of veterans homes. The homes are not run by the federal government, but VA gives them financial assistance — and has now offered to treat dozens of their patients in its hospitals.

    About 50 veterans from homes in 11 states are now being treated for covid-19 at VA hospitals, officials said. About 90 nurses have deployed to two New Jersey homes with virulent outbreaks.

    […] On Friday, the nurses union continued its protests over protective gear shortages, forming a picket line in front of hospitals in Florida and Georgia, two states whose governors have announced that they are reopening for business during the pandemic.

    Washington Post link

    From the readers comments:

    Wilke is a Trump stooge.
    —————-
    Just one more reason the GOP will be losing the military’s vote. Keep it up Trump.
    ———————–
    Kushner: “Since Pops cut VA’s funding they just couldn’t afford to outbid China and, well, since it is OUR stockpile…”
    ———————
    “Thank you for your service” is ringing a little hollow in this Republican administration.
    ———————–
    Under the law, the head of VHA (the Veterans Health Administration) is the Under Secretary for Health, a position requiring a nomination from the President and Senate confirmation.

    The reason Dr. Stone isn’t referred to as the Under Secretary is because there is no confirmed Under Secretary for Health in VA. Nor has there been for the entire time Trump has been president.

    Three plus years, no confirmed Under Secretary for Health.

    Says a great deal about how much the President cares about VA and veterans.

  31. John Morales says

    In Oz, former Prime Minister Turnbull has released his memoir.

    Pullquote:

    In an hour-long interview to be streamed online on Monday night for the Sydney Writers Festival, Mr Turnbull’s disdain for the organisation he once led is palpable.

    He argues that the “crazed ideology” dictating the Liberal Party’s policy on climate could now only be altered by a crushing electoral defeat, or an about-face on the issue from media magnate Rupert Murdoch.
    Lachlan and Rupert Murdoch both wear navy suits
    Photo: Lachlan and Rupert Murdoch. (Reuters: Peter Nicholls)

    “It’s basically just Australia and the United States above all where this issue of climate policy has been turned into an issue of belief,” the nation’s 29th prime minister says in the interview.

    “And it’s bonkers.”

    “To be honest with you, I think the only way out of it — unless you believe the Coalition can have a road-to-Damascus conversion which I think is unlikely — is a devastating electoral defeat. I’m not saying I want that to happen, I’m just saying, being practical, that is what would shock the Coalition.”

    Mr Turnbull describes Rupert Murdoch’s media empire as “the largest endorser of climate denialism in the world”.

    “I think if Lachlan Murdoch decided to become a greenie overnight, the Coalition would switch instantly. They’d turn on a dime. Andrew Bolt would suddenly discover he was a greenie, Alan Jones would develop a passionate love for solar panels, Peta Credlin would be, you know, into pumped hydro — they’d all switch,” he insists.

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-04-26/malcolm-turnbull-calls-for-expulsion-liberal-party/12185404

  32. says

    This is Trump’s version of what happened, and his excuse for not having a coronavirus press briefing today:

    What is the purpose of having White House News Conferences when the Lamestream Media asks nothing but hostile questions, & then refuses to report the truth or facts accurately. They get record ratings, & the American people get nothing but Fake News. Not worth the time & effort

    Trump later sent out a tweet in which he lied (again) about his bizarre statements about “injection” of disinfectant “inside the body.” Trump claimed that he did NOT address Doctor Birx, and that the “fake news” wrote that he had addressed some of those remarks too Birx. In Trump’s disordered mind, this means the “fake news” was lying about everything he said.

    Trump tweeted:

    Was just informed that the Fake News from the Thursday White House Press Conference had me speaking & asking questions of Dr. Deborah Birx. Wrong, I was speaking to our Laboratory expert, not Deborah, about sunlight etc. & the CoronaVirus. The Lamestream Media is corrupt & sick!

    Yeah, there’s just one huge problem with that: Trump did address Dr. Deborah Birx, even using her first name when he looked at her and spoke to her during the briefing.

    A pained-looking Dr. Deborah Birx listened carefully as Trump mused about “cleaning” bodies with disinfectant. When Trump asked her about using “heat and light” as a treatment, she demurred.

    Trump said, “I’m not a doctor, but I’m, like, a person who has a good you-know-what [gesturing to his head]. Deborah, have you ever heard of that, uh, the heat and the light relative to certain viruses, yes, but relative to this virus?” [This is on video!]

    “Not as a treatment,” Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator and public health expert, replied. “I mean, certainly fever is a good thing. When you have a fever, it helps your body respond. But not as — I’ve not seen heat or … ”

    Trump cut her off — “I think it’s a great thing to look at” — before moving on.

  33. says

    Even the Pentagon doesn’t have enough tests.

    With limited supplies of coronavirus tests available, the Pentagon is focusing first on testing those performing duties deemed most vital to national security. Atop the list are the men and women who operate the nation’s nuclear forces, some counterterrorism forces, and the crew of a soon-to-deploy aircraft carrier.

    Defense leaders hope to increase testing from the current rate of about 7,000 a day to 60,000 by June. […]

    The current tight supply forced the Pentagon to take a phased approach, which includes testing sailors aboard the USS Nimitz, the Bremerton, Washington-based Navy carrier next in line to head to the Pacific. Officials hope to avoid a repeat of problems that plagued the virus-stricken USS Theodore Roosevelt. On Friday the Navy disclosed a virus outbreak aboard another ship at sea, the USS Kidd.

    Despite […] Trump’s assertion that testing capacity is not an issue in the United States, Pentagon officials don’t expect to have enough tests for all service members until sometime this summer. […]

    The first tier of U.S. troops are being tested this month, followed in May and June by the second-highest priority group: forces in combat zones such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Next will be those abroad outside of war zones, like troops in Europe and aboard ships at sea, as well as those returning to the United States from overseas deployments. […]

    At least 3,900 members of the military had tested positive, including more than 850 from the Roosevelt. […]

    The military’s staggered approach to testing is necessary, officials said […]

    “It is a supply issue right now, which is causing us not to be able to go down the full spectrum of all of the forces,” Hyten said. “So we’ll have to — that’s why we came up with the tiered approach.” […]

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/pentagon-coronavirus-testing

    From the readers comments:

    People in the White House probably get tested every day or whenever they want. The rest of us…bupkis.
    ————–
    Nearly 53,000 American dead, 26 millions American jobs lost, Trillions of taxpayer money squandered in corrupt and dirty bailouts, biggest stock market crash in American history.

    More Americans have died due to COVID-19 under President Skanky Turdface’s ignorant leadership than the American combat casualties in all of the Vietnam War.
    ———————–
    We start the day at 960,000 corona virus cases and 54,254 deaths. We will almost certainly top 1 million cases by Monday, a politically significant threshold. At our current pace, we will reach 60,000 fatalities by Tuesday or Wednesday.
    ———————–
    Can someone do a study on the number of MAGA hats that were made as Trump was running for President vs the number of cotton swabs that are being produced currently?

  34. says

    Trump’s decision to hold an in-person graduation at West Point proves he is unfit.

    […] Due to that decision, some 1,000 cadets will have to come back to West Point for the June 13 ceremony. And the great majority of them will have to fly into New York, which is currently the biggest hot zone in the nation and the world for coronavirus.

    For Trump to do this so soon after much of the nation is slowly reopening would be reckless in and of itself. But to make anywhere from 700 to 800 Firsties fly back into a region that probably won’t be able to reopen until July, and at a time when air travel is a crapshoot at best, is probably the starkest evidence yet that this man is not fit to be president. […]
    Even if the ceremony is restricted to Firsties only, there’s still the risk of catching it at JFK, La Guardia or Newark, or at the hotel at some point in the journey. […] Trump damn well knows this. And he’s doing it anyway—in all likelihood, so he can get a photo op or to satisfy his desire to recreate something close to the atmosphere of his rallies. And in so doing, it increases the likelihood that I, or someone close to me, could catch this virus. […]

    In doing this, Trump isn’t owning the libs. He’s putting someone’s son, daughter, grandchild, niece, nephew in harm’s way. And all to satisfy his narcissism. That, more than Russia, more than Ukraine, more than ANYTHING this so-called president has done, should remove any doubt that he is not fit for office.

    Link

  35. says

    From Nancy Pelosi:

    “We’ve spent a lot of time on what the president said, and disinfectant in the body,” she stated to Tapper at the close of the interview. “You know what they call that? They call that embalming; that’s the medical term.”

    More details from Tapper’s “State of the Union” show. Dr. Birx appeared. Her continued make-excuses and/or minimize-as-much-as-possible-Trump’s-dangerous-statements schtick is getting on my last nerve. Maybe she needs to stop talking too.

    […] Tapper asked the White House coronavirus task force response coordinator about the disinfectant musing as well, which especially shouldn’t have been a surprise given that her facial expression went viral. In his words: “What should the American people know about disinfectants and the human body?”

    First, Birx talked through points about decontaminants, masks, and DHS studies about the effect of sunlight on the lifespan of the virus, describing Trump’s remarks as a “dialogue.” Tapper pressed Birx on Trump’s proposal to use that science as a way to “treat” coronavirus in the human body. He described her taking a “generous approach” to Trump “musing aloud.” He added: “This is potentially dangerous. I mean, poison control centers got calls from people and they had to issue statements.” […]

    Tapper asked: “As a doctor, does it bother you that you have to even spend any time discussing this?”

    “It bothers me that this is still in the news cycle,” she replied. “I think we’re missing the bigger pieces.” She pushed the need to talk about asymptomatic conditions, young people experiencing the virus, and comorbidities. She said she worries that the right information isn’t getting to the American people “when we continue to bring up something that was from Thursday night.” Given that the “something from Thursday night” was Trump casually hypothesizing about injecting disinfectant and UV rays as possible treatments during a pandemic, this back-bending twist rings in as pretty hard to hear.

    Tapper replied: “I would say that I think the source of the misinformation is not the news media on this.” […]

    Birx made a similar complaint when appearing on Fox News late Saturday night, suggesting that the media is “very slicey and dicey” in “the way they put together sentences in order to create headlines.” She went on to put the “responsibility” on the media to “really ensure” that headlines “reflect the science and data” that’s in the piece. The irony of this conversation happening on Fox is incredible.

    “I think often, the reporting may be accurate in paragraph three, four, and five,” Birx stated. “But I’m not sure how many people actually get to paragraph three, four, and five.” […]

    Link

    WTF has gone wrong with Birx? Is she now a trumpian cult follower?

  36. says

    More on Trump’s decision to deliver an in-person commencement address at West Point:

    […] As reported by multiple outlets, Donald Trump has announced his intention to deliver the commencement address at West Point, an especially savored prize because it combines Trump’s love of all things military (except serving) with hearing himself talk (at length) in front of an audience that is explicitly barred from booing him. There is a problem with this, however: Because of pandemic dangers, the graduating cadets were already sent home.

    You know what’s coming next, right? Yep. West Point is now ordering their graduating class to return, during the pandemic, despite the risks of travel, because President Tide Pods demands a military audience.

    As reported by The New York Times, the new orders by their “commander in chief” caught academy officers by surprise. They had been working to determine just what ought to be done about graduation—for example, delaying it—when Dear Leader burped out on April 17, in response to a question about Mike Pence’s upcoming trip to speak at the Air Force Academy commencement, that well he would be speaking at West Point. And he didn’t want any of the social distancing nonsense that had graduates spread out to avoid cross-contamination, he wanted the audience “nice and tight.”

    Rather than writing it off as yet another rambling aside from the Embalmer in Chief, another little something that they could all pretend not to hear and later scold reporters for even mentioning, West Point and White House officials took Trump seriously. Tear up the old plans: Now graduation will be held live, with the pretzeldent himself speaking, on June 13.

    This turns out to be a very big deal, because despite Trump’s ego we are indeed still in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, shelter-in-place orders are still commonplace, and New York is currently among the hardest hit areas of the country. For the cadets involved, it’s going to be a full-fledged Trumpian bullshit nightmare.

    The Times reports that the 1,000 re-summoned graduates will be given off-campus COVID-19 tests. The ones that pass will be quarantined for 14 days in their dorms, in relative isolation, to further ensure they do not infect each other or Dear Leader. The Defense Department will have to grant waivers to the current travel ban for military personnel to allow the graduates to return in the first place. It’s likely that the cadets will need to self-quarantine upon their arrival back home, as well; whether or not they had been exposed to COVID-19 before this, flying to and back from New York, a current pandemic hotspot, will be risky for not just themselves but for their communities.

    Doesn’t matter. Trump wants an audience. Trump wants a “tight” audience that looks good on camera, and not one that reminds viewers of his ongoing deadly-drug-boosting bleach-injection-promoting no-plan no-test megafailure, and that means assembling one from among the only people in the country who can be ordered to attend.

    Thanks for joining our military, kids. Let this be your initiation into the world of Republican leaders not giving a flying damn about your actual welfare, so long as you are properly able to carry out your duties as background prop.

    Link

  37. says

    Utah Was Really Into Trump’s Miracle Cure. Now It Wants Its Money Back.

    Utah residents may be lukewarm on […] Trump […] but Utah has proven to be an enthusiastic booster of Trump’s favorite coronavirus miracle cure, the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine. On March 21, a group of drug promoters in the state held a press conference to advocate for its use to treat Covid-19, claiming it could practically raise the dead, despite the fact that there’s no evidence that it works, and plenty of evidence that it can be dangerous to some people.

    “There are responses that are equivalent to Lazarus—literally the biblical Lazarus—people almost dead coming back,” physician Kurt Hegmann, director of the Rocky Mountain Center for Occupational and Environmental Health at the University of Utah, said at the event.

    Ten days later, the state spent $800,000 to purchase 20,000 doses from a local pharmacy chain, Meds in Motion, whose owner had been promoting the drug to state officials for weeks. […]

    Eight million dollars for pharmaceuticals is a lot of money in a state that ranks dead last in per-pupil public school spending and spent most of the last decade refusing to expand Medicaid under Obamacare, even after state residents passed a ballot initiative demanding the expansion.

    Utah House Democrats were suspicious of the GOP state officials’ enthusiasm for the unproven drug. […] Citing a recent study showing that hydroxychloroquine may endanger coronavirus patients, the state democrats said on April 21, “[O]ur colleagues quietly pushed the state to buy the stockpile of Dan Richards of Meds In Motion, a pharmacist lobbyist, with precious taxpayer dollars to compound the unproven drug without public scrutiny.”

    […] Nonetheless, Utah officials moved forward, urged on by state Senate President Stuart Adams, who had appeared at the March press conference with Richards and the other drug promoters. But on Friday, after the FDA warned against negative impacts of the drug, Governor Gary Herbert announced that the state would not purchase any more hydroxychloroquine. He claimed to have no idea how the first batch got procured by his administration, which issued the no-bid contract under emergency procurement rules enacted because of the pandemic.

    The 20,000 pills haven’t yet been delivered to the state health department, so Herbert suggested that the state should get a refund. “That’d be nice if they just said, you know, we had a miscommunication here and we’re apologizing and here’s your money back,” he said at a news conference Friday.

    Whoops.

  38. says

    Trump is taking the idea of making the World Health Organization his favorite coronavirus scapegoat to another level.

    […] Trump and his top aides are working behind the scenes to sideline the World Health Organization on several new fronts as they seek to shift blame for the coronavirus pandemic to the world body […]

    Last week, the president announced a 60-day hold on U.S. money to the WHO, but other steps by his top officials go beyond a temporary funding freeze […]

    At the State Department, officials are stripping references to the WHO from coronavirus fact sheets […]

    Petty asshats.

    “The Secretary has asked the State Department and USAID to identify and utilize alternative implementers for foreign assistance programs beyond the WHO,” read a memo sent to State Department employees in recent days. […]

    U.S. opposition to the WHO also prevented health ministers at a virtual G-20 meeting from issuing a joint statement on the pandemic earlier this month.

    The White House is imploring allies to question the organization’s credibility and push claims that its employees routinely go on excessive “luxury travel,” as one White House official, Sarah Makin Acciani, told a group of surrogates in a recent phone call without offering evidence […]

    Trump, who has said the outbreak could be contained with “very little death” if the WHO had done its job, reiterated his complaints during a Group of Seven conference call this month. World leaders cautioned that it would be unwise to “switch horses” in the middle of the race and that an investigation into mistakes could be made after the crisis subsides, European officials familiar with the conversation said. After the call, several G-7 leaders issued public statements in support of the WHO. […]
    “A 60-day pause to U.S. funding is a headache for the WHO but not necessarily an existential crisis. That said, if State starts giving funds to other implementers to carry out health programs the WHO would have overseen, there is a risk that the U.S. starts spreading resources out in an inefficient, fragmentary fashion,” said Richard Gowan, a senior fellow at the International Crisis Group. […]

    Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, said that the WHO had shown a “clear bias towards China, even though China contributes a small fraction of what the U.S. does each year.” […]

    The WHO, born out of the ashes of World War II “to promote and protect the health of all peoples,” is designed to identify emerging contagion and “support the delivery of essential health services in fragile settings,” according to a statement on its website. […]

    critics say the president is scapegoating the WHO to distract from charges that he responded slowly to the pandemic and waited too long to implement protective measures that would have saved lives in the United States. They also question the value of seeking alternatives to the WHO at this juncture. […]

    Pompeo has suggested that the United States, which contributed $553 million to the WHO in 2019, may withhold all funding to the organization in the future. On Wednesday night, he declined to rule out the possibility that the United States would seek Tedros’s removal as a condition for resuming funding.

    “It may be the case that the United States can never return to underwriting, having U.S. taxpayer dollars go to the WHO,” he told Fox News host Laura Ingraham. […]

    Washington Post link

  39. says

    Good news:

    As schools closed across the nation amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, students transitioned to online learning. For kids and teenagers who don’t have reliable internet access at home or even a computer, however, keeping up with school can be a serious hardship. That’s been the case in Detroit, where the majority of students have struggled to reach teachers over video chat or use all the virtual resources […] The solution? A “Connected Futures” program is working to get every single public school student not only a tablet but high-speed internet access before June. […]

    How does this work? For the first six months of the program, internet connectivity will be covered by the program in full. After that, the school district will cover it. District Superintendent Nikolai Vitti estimates that $17 million of the fund will go toward buying the tablets, and an additional $6 million will cover the internet. The students, grades K through 12, will own the tablets […]

    To accomplish all of this, the program started fundraising just three weeks ago. Since then, they’ve raised $23 million. The program includes the Detroit Public Schools Community District as well as the Kellogg and Skillman Foundations, General Motors, Quicken Loans, and DTE Energy.

    This is truly fantastic, and also a reminder that the internet should be considered a public utility, not a private service. Relatedly, as schools have closed, other less discussed issues have finally gotten some mainstream media attention. For example, some states (and local communities) have stepped up to help get free breakfast and lunches to kids who qualify, as well as aiding food banks struggling to meet heightened demand. Taking care of the most vulnerable among us is one of the very basic tenets of what our government should do, especially during a global pandemic.

    Link

  40. KG says

    An interesting UK poll on confidence in the UK government’s handling of the Covid-19 epidemic. There is still a majority, although a shrinking one, expressing general approval, but on specific questions – did they act quickly enough? – how have they done on testing? – there are large majorities disapproving. My guess is that the general approval is for the continued lockdown, combined with what the linked article suggests, a hope that they will succeed in controlling the epidemic.

  41. Pierce R. Butler says

    Lynna … @ # 39: WTF has gone wrong with Birx? Is she now a trumpian cult follower?

    As a longtime “just say no” faction leader on the anti-reproductive-health posse of the hyperchristian right wing, she’s had at least one foot in that camp all of her career.

  42. says

    Cases in Russia continue to rise dramatically (and the official numbers are undoubtedly the tip of the iceberg).

    Moscow Times – “Russia Sees Record One-Day Rise in Coronavirus Cases, Bringing Total to Over 80k”:

    Russia confirmed 6,361 new coronavirus infections Sunday, bringing the country’s official number of cases to 80,949 cases.

    In total, 747 people have been killed by the virus in Russia.

    The majority of Russia’s cases are in Moscow, although Covid-19 patients have been confirmed in every one of Russia’s 85 regions and the spread is accelerating outside the capital. 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….

    There was a similar rise yesterday. A week ago, Putin assured the public that the “situation is under full control” and that “everything would work out with God’s help.”

    In related news, from Yahoo, “Chechen strongman’s strategy against virus — fear and threats”:

    Elena Milashina had received death threats before. But they were never so direct or brazen.

    The erratic and iron-fisted leader of Chechnya in southern Russia, unhappy with her journalism about the coronavirus, put out an unambiguous call for violence against the reporter on social media this month.

    Ramzan Kadyrov “was direct in saying what he was going to do with me — and how. This was the first time he said it this way, so concretely,” Milashina, 42, told AFP.

    “If the threat was real… I wouldn’t be able to secure my life by taking any measures. It’s not possible.”

    Kadyrov’s response to the coronavirus pandemic is hardening his reputation as a strongman intolerant of dissent or criticism, with fresh allegations of police intimidation and press censorship emerging from his isolated fiefdom.

    “Once he understood the seriousness of the virus, he decided to fight it with characteristic excessive force, as usual employing harsh measures and intimidation,” said Ekaterina Sokirianskaia, director of the Conflict Analysis and Prevention Centre and a longtime observer of Chechnya.

    “This is something he knows how to do,” she said. “This is something he enjoys doing.”

    When the pandemic hit Russia, videos circulated on social media of Chechen police patrolling streets and imposing a curfew with batons.

    Warnings rang out from mosques in the Muslim-majority republic of punishments for breaking quarantine and not wearing protective equipment outside.

    The republic has registered 347 coronavirus cases and six deaths but observers fear the figure is higher….

    …Kadyrov has said that people who break quarantine should be “killed,” and likened Chechens who do not self-isolate and infect others to “terrorists” who should be buried in pits.

    In her April 12 article “Dying of coronavirus is a lesser evil,” Milashina reported that Chechens are battling the virus in their homes, instead of seeking support from ill-equipped hospitals, fearing punitive reprisals from overbearing law enforcement.

    The authorities “think that the main threat is the critics, not the virus. They can stop information, but they can’t stop the problem,” she told AFP in a video interview from her home in Moscow.

    A day after the article ran, Kadyrov slammed her paper Novaya Gazeta as “puppets of the West,” and urged the Kremlin to “stop those non-humans who are writing and provoking our people”.

    “If you want us to commit a crime and become criminals, just say it. One (of us) will take on this burden, this responsibility, will be punished in accordance with the law… Don’t make bandits and killers out of us.”

    Asked about Kadyrov’s comments, President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Chechen leader’s response was “nothing out of the ordinary”.

    Instead, he dismissed it as “emotional” rhetoric, saying it was understandable given the unprecedented pandemic.

    In a final blow, the prosecutor general ordered the article to be removed, ruling its “unreliable” reporting posed a threat to public health.

    The Kremlin’s lukewarm response to the threat sparked condemnation at home and abroad.

    More than 100 figures within civil society in Russia called for state protection for Milashina and for an investigation to be launched, an appeal echoed by European diplomats, leading international rights groups and press freedom monitors.

    Yet Milashina is not holding out hope for an investigation.

    After she and a human rights lawyer were assaulted in a hotel in Grozny in February this year, a police probe into the incident stalled, with security camera footage lost and no arrests made.

    “Between me and Kadyrov,” she said, “Moscow will choose Kadyrov.”

  43. says

    Meanwhile, in Brazil, updates to the comment linked @ #7 above:

    Guardian – “Brazilians take part in pot-banging protests against Bolsonaro’s coronavirus response – video”:

    People protest against the Brazilian president after the resignation of popular minister Sérgio Moro. There were calls for Bolsonaro’s impeachment and an investigation into claims he had improperly interfered in the country’s federal police.

    Bolsonaro denied claims from his outgoing justice minister that he had sought to appoint a new federal police chief in order to gain access to secret intelligence reports.

  44. says

    Also from the Guardian – “Bolsonaro in fresh crisis over son’s alleged links to fake news racket”:

    The political storm engulfing Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, has intensified with reports that federal police investigators have identified his son as one of the alleged key members of a “criminal fake news racket” engaged in threatening and defaming Brazilian authorities.

    One of Brazil’s top newspapers, the Folha de São Paulo, claimed an investigation by Brazil’s equivalent to the FBI had honed in on Carlos Bolsonaro, the president’s social-media-savvy son.

    Carlos Bolsonaro, 37, rejected the claims as “garbage” and “a joke” on Twitter, where he has 1.7 million followers.

    But the allegations will deepen the crisis consuming Bolsonaro’s 16-month-old government and further distract from the country’s efforts to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 4,000 Brazilians.

    Bolsonaro’s administration was already floundering before the recent resignation of his powerful justice minister, Sergio Moro, with another of the president’s sons, Flávio Bolsonaro, facing police scrutiny for suspected corruption and ties to Rio de Janeiro’s mafia.

    Bolsonaro’s dismissive reaction to the coronavirus crisis has sparked outrage across the political spectrum and pot-banging protests.

    The latest political melodrama exploded on Friday when Moro resigned and publicly accused the president of attempting to improperly meddle in the operations of the federal police by sacking the federal police director, Maurício Valeixo, that morning.

    Moro alleged that Bolsonaro, for reasons that remain unclear, hoped to replace Valeixo with someone more amenable to discussing federal police business and sharing intelligence reports with the president.

    The man widely touted as Valeixo’s successor is Alexandre Ramagem, the head of Brazil’s intelligence agency, who is reportedly a friend of Carlos Bolsonaro’s.

    A photograph of Ramagem and Carlos Bolsonaro fraternising at a New Year’s Eve party was published by Brazilian media on Saturday.

    The Folha de São Paulo claimed federal police officials were convinced Bolsonaro had fired Valeixo “because he was aware the corporation was closing in on his son”.

    An editorial in another leading broadsheet, O Globo, said Bolsonaro seemed to want “to turn the federal police into a personal police force, as if he were some kind of third world dictator”.

    The Folha de São Paulo claimed another of Bolsonaro’s sons, the congressman Eduardo Bolsonaro, was also being investigated for possible involvement in the fake news group. Eduardo Bolsonaro, who is the South America representative of Steve Bannon’s far-right group The Movement, claimed on Twitter the claims were “an attempt to confuse the population”. He also retweeted an image of a dog defecating on the newspaper’s masthead.

    Jair Bolsonaro and his backers have been battling to regain control of the narrative since Moro’s damaging exit, painting the former judge as a pro-choice, anti-gun traitor to their far-right cause.

    Bolsonaro denied any wrongdoing in a rambling speech in which he claimed he was the victim of a political conspiracy. “Powerful people have risen up against me. This is a reality. This is the truth. I’m fighting against the system – against the establisher [sic],” he claimed.

    “We are, in the figurative sense, going to get shot in the face loads. But we will fulfil our mission,” Bolsonaro vowed.

    But claims investigators had identified the president’s son as part of the alleged fake news network – something political foes have long suspected – prompted fresh calls for the president’s impeachment and reinforced growing doubts over whether the rightwing populist would complete his four-year term….

  45. says

    Here’s a (belated) link to the April 26 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    Israel’s embattled health minister Yaakov Litzman has announced that he would step down, following a public uproar over his handling of the coronavirus crisis and his own Covid-19 infection.

    Litzman informed the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, that he would step aside as the country forms a new government.

    He made no mention of his much-criticised performance at the health ministry, which he has led for most of the past decade, and instead said he would take over the construction ministry, the Associated Press reports.

    Part of Litzman’s early response to the pandemic was to exclude the ultra-Orthodox community from social distancing regulations, allowing public bath houses and synagogues to remain open, and even promising that the messiah would come and put an end to the epidemic, the Haaretz newspaper reports….

  46. says

    And…Simon Tisdall in the Guardian – “From Trump to Erdoğan, men who behave badly make the worst leaders in a pandemic”:

    For those too young to remember, Men Behaving Badly was a light-hearted 1990s British and American sitcom about silly blokes doing stupid things. Covid-19 has revived the storyline. But now it’s not so funny.

    Around the world, authoritarian leaders are exploiting, exacerbating or grossly mishandling the response to the pandemic, placing selfish interest ahead of public good.

    They are mostly male. Their behaviour is frequently appalling. Unlike harmless Gary and Tony, they are a modern incarnation of TS Eliot’s “hollow men”.

    Sex is relevant, in that female leaders are generally thought to be behaving better. Germany’s Angela Merkel, New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern, and Taiwan’s Tsai Ing-wen are among competent and compassionate women singled out for praise.

    Yet do the worst-performing leaders share dysfunctional characteristics beyond mere maleness? A war fixation is one. Poverty of imagination is another. They routinely trot out tired martial metaphors and cliches such as “wartime president”, “blitz spirit”, and “fighting the invisible enemy”.

    Lack of empathy also seems to be a common denominator, even among self-styled “man of the people” populists. This may be a product of class, culture or elite upbringing.

    A more decisive factor is a man’s political orientation. Broadly speaking, illiberal leaders who run authoritarian regimes, refuse democratic and legal constraints, abuse civil and women’s rights, reject media scrutiny, tolerate corruption, and believe that they, personally, know best are the worst-behaved, least effective pandemic performers.

    Much more at the link.

  47. says

    FT (free article) – “Global coronavirus death toll could be 60% higher than reported”:

    The death toll from coronavirus may be almost 60 per cent higher than reported in official counts, according to an FT analysis of overall fatalities during the pandemic in 14 countries.

    Mortality statistics show 122,000 deaths in excess of normal levels across these locations, considerably higher than the 77,000 official Covid-19 deaths reported for the same places and time periods.

    If the same level of underreporting observed in these countries was happening worldwide, the global Covid-19 death toll would rise from the current official total of 201,000 to as high as 318,000.

    To calculate excess deaths, the FT has compared deaths from all causes in the weeks of a location’s outbreak in March and April 2020 to the average for the same period between 2015 and 2019. The total of 122,000 amounts to a 50 per cent rise in overall mortality relative to the historical average for the locations studied.

    In all the countries analysed except Denmark, excess deaths far outnumbered the official coronavirus death tolls. The accuracy of official death statistics from the virus is limited by how effectively a country is testing people to confirm cases. Some countries, including China, have retrospectively revised up their death tolls from the disease.

    Even the much higher numbers of deaths in the pandemic suggested by excess mortality statistics are likely to be conservative, as lockdowns mean that “mortality from numerous conditions such as traffic accidents and occupational injuries possibly went down,” said Markéta Pechholdová, assistant professor of demography at the University of Economics, Prague.

    Much more, including startling graphs, at the link.

  48. says

    Politico – “USDA let millions of pounds of food rot while food-bank demand soared”:

    Tens of millions of pounds of American-grown produce is rotting in fields as food banks across the country scramble to meet a massive surge in demand, a two-pronged disaster that has deprived farmers of billions of dollars in revenue while millions of newly jobless Americans struggle to feed their families.

    While other federal agencies quickly adapted their programs to the coronavirus crisis, the Agriculture Department took more than a month to make its first significant move to buy up surplus fruits and vegetables — despite repeated entreaties.

    “It’s frustrating,” said Nikki Fried, commissioner of agriculture in Florida. Fried, who is a Democrat, and much of the Florida congressional delegation asked Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue nearly a month ago to use his broad authority and funding to get more Florida farmers plugged into federal food purchasing and distribution programs as the food service market collapsed. “Unfortunately, USDA didn’t move until [last week].”

    Tom Vilsack, who served as agriculture secretary during the Obama administration, put it this way: “It’s not a lack of food, it’s that the food is in one place and the demand is somewhere else and they haven’t been able to connect the dots. You’ve got to galvanize people.”

    It has been six weeks since President Donald Trump and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention first urged Americans to avoid restaurants as part of national social distancing guidelines to slow the spread of Covid-19 — a move that immediately severed demand for millions of pounds of food earmarked for professional kitchens across the country.

    Images of farmers destroying tomatoes, piling up squash, burying onions and dumping milk shocked many Americans who remain fearful of supply shortages. At the same time, people who recently lost their jobs lined up for miles outside some food banks, raising questions about why there has been no coordinated response at the federal level to get the surplus of perishable food to more people in need, even as commodity groups, state leaders and lawmakers repeatedly urged the Agriculture Department to step in.

    Demand at food banks has increased an average of 70 percent, according to Feeding America, which represents about 200 major food banks across the country. The group estimates that 40 percent of those being served are new to the system.

    In mid-April, USDA unveiled a long-awaited $19 billion aid program with $3 billion set aside to buy excess food, a pot of money that would cover a major ramp-up of fresh produce purchases, along with dairy and meats. But federal officials predicted it would take the better part of a month before that food is packed and shipped to food banks and other nonprofits in need. At that point, it will be too late for many produce growers who saw a huge drop in demand right at the peak of their season.

    “By the time that comes through, it won’t help Florida,” said Brittany Lee, a blueberry farmer and executive director of the Florida Blueberry Growers Association. Blueberry prices are about half of what they were this time last year, she said.

    In March, about a week after much of the country shut down restaurants, events and other food-service businesses, several produce groups wrote to USDA with an urgent plea to buy perishable commodities because at least $1 billion was “sitting stagnant in the supply chain.”

    “There is no reason these high-quality, nutritious, farmer-grown products should be left in facilities to rot when there are so many American families who are suddenly faced with food insecurity,” the groups wrote to Perdue. “These growers and companies are already donating to food banks and others in need and will continue … but they are also facing their own economic crises.”

    The department did not make any fresh purchases in response to that request, according to USDA records. Perdue has yet to respond to the letter.

    A handful of states, including Florida and California, set up online clearinghouses to try to match up excess food with need in their area, but the high volumes of surplus produce often can’t be absorbed by local food banks alone, making national distribution important for making even a dent in the waste….

    More atl.

  49. lotharloo says

    Yet another front page Fox news article on AOC: https://www.foxnews.com/politics/aoc-slammed-by-new-york-paper-for-voting-against-latest-stimulus-bill
    It’s really really amazing, since she burst on the national stage, I think they have been doing weekly, almost daily hit jobs on her. It’s unbelievable how threatened they feel but they are doing their job. Don’t be surprised to find out in a few years, she’s suddenly hated for no reason by the idiot “independents”.

  50. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    It appears that Dr. Birx is about to learn the only thing one can learn from serving in the Trump Administration: When dealing with a malignant narcissist who views every interaction as a zero-sum game, there is no room for anyone else to benefit. Only Donald Trump is allowed to benefit. I don’t think Birx will every be thought of as a serious professional again.

  51. says

    Moscow Times, minutes apart:

    “Russia’s Coronavirus Cases Surpass China’s in Latest One-Day Surge”:

    Russia confirmed 6,198 new coronavirus infections Monday, bringing the country’s official number of cases to 87,147.

    Russia has now surpassed China to become the world’s ninth most-affected country amid the pandemic.

    In total, 794 people have been killed by the virus in Russia….

    “Putin’s Business Tsar Attacks Economic Lockdown”:

    President Vladimir Putin’s “business tsar” has called for the government to end the economic lockdown and reopen the economy.

    Boris Titov, the president’s business ombudsman, announced Monday he will organize an online protest Friday calling for businesses to be reopened, as frustration at the government’s economic response to the coronavirus grows throughout Russia’s business community.

    “Yes, the coronavirus is a problem. But poverty and starvation are no less a misfortune. What are we [LOL – SC] going to live on in a week? A month?” Titov posted on his Facebook page.

    “I am convinced that it is time to reweigh everything. It is time to assess the danger as soberly as possible and allow those who observe sanitary conditions to work … There are many of us, and the authorities will hear us.”…

  52. says

    Here’s a link to the April 27 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    Mexico’s president Andrés Manuel López Obrador has claimed his country has managed “to tame” the coronavirus pandemic despite widespread suspicions that Covid cases are being undercounted in Latin America’s second biggest economy.

    Mexico reported its first Covid case in late February and has now registered 1,351 deaths and 14,677 infections. Experts say they believe the country is still several weeks away from the peak of infections.

    But in a video message on Sunday López Obrador, or Amlo as he is widely known, claimed: “We’re doing well because we have managed to tame the epidemic”.

    Amlo praised Mexico’s 126 million citizens for helping slow the disease’s advance by following social distancing guidelines “to the letter”.

    Health specialists questioned Amlo’s claim Covid had been completely controlled.

    “I don’t believe we should be claiming victory,” said Alejandro Macías, a leading infectious diseases specialist. “We’re still in the upward phase [of infections].”

    Amlo has said he hopes Mexico can begin returning to normal from mid-May onwards, with schools possibly reopening at the start of June.

    But Macías said he believed low testing meant only a “small fraction” of cases had been identified and that it was not yet time to reopen.

    “To me these dates seem a little premature because we don’t yet know what the intensity of this will be,” he said. “Italy, France and Spain started this problem well before Mexico.”

    In a clear indication of concern over Covid’s spread, there were reports over the weekend that authorities in Jalisco state were racing to complete a special 700-grave cemetery for coronavirus victims.

  53. says

    Reuters – “Israel’s top court says government must legislate COVID-19 phone-tracking”:

    Citing grave dangers to privacy, Israel’s Supreme Court ruled on Sunday that the government must bring its use of mobile phone tracking deployed in the battle against the new coronavirus under legislation.

    Circumventing parliament in March, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet approved emergency regulations that enabled the Shin Bet internal security service to tap into cellular data to retrace the movements of people infected by the virus.

    The technology, customarily used for anti-terrorism, has since yielded data used by the Health Ministry to locate and alert those who have been in their vicinity. The practice has been subjected to some parliamentary oversight following a subsequent court ruling.

    Accepting petitions from Israeli rights groups, the Supreme Court said the government must begin legislation by April 30 and complete it within a few weeks if it wanted to continue tracking people’s phones in its bid to stop the virus spreading.

    “The state’s choice to use its preventative security service for monitoring those who wish it no harm, without their consent, raises great difficulties and a suitable alternative, compatible with the principles of privacy, must be found,” the court said.

    Citing freedom of the press, the court also ruled that monitoring of journalists confirmed to have been infected with the coronavirus can only be done with their consent. If they refuse, members of the media could seek an injunction against the practice, in order to protect their sources.

    “We must take every precaution to ensure that the extraordinary developments with which we are dealing these days do not put us on a slippery slope in which extraordinary and harmful tools are used without justification,” said the ruling.

    The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), one of the groups which petitioned the court, hailed the ruling as a victory….

  54. says

    SAGE thread from Carole Cadwalladr:

    Ben Warner: 2 years ago he was doing physics postdoc. Now he’s a ‘data scientist’ advising govt & sitting on SAGE. His brother, Marc – who worked with Cummings on Vote Leave – won £250m NHS contract when Cummings entered Downing Street. And now the contract for NHS tracking app

    There are so many questions about Marc Warner’s firm, Faculty, & its role now with NHS & its previous work for Vote Leave & Conservatives. But first the back story…

  55. says

    Ian Dunt:

    [quoting Boris Johnson:] “I know there will be many people looking at our apparent success”. That’s obscene. Unutterably grim and tone deaf. Thousands have died. And thousands more have died than in comparable nations.

    There is no success here. Just abject failure. We’re looked at with pity and horror by the world.

    It’d be easier to be sympathetic to the govt if they confessed to what they had done wrong and the miscalculations which led us to this point. But instead we’re presented with obfuscation and the presentation of a parallel reality.

  56. says

    G liveblog:

    Fourteen vaccination campaigns that would have covered more than 13 million people have been postponed because of the crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the World Health Organization has said.

    In his opening remarks to today’s coronavirus press conference, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO director general, said vaccination drives against polio, measles, cholera, human papillomavirus, yellow fever and meningitis had not gone ahead.

    “When vaccination coverage goes down, more outbreaks will occur, including of life-threatening diseases like measles and polio,” Ghebreyesus said. “The tragic reality is that children will die as a result.”

  57. tomh says

    The SC dismissed New York State, Rifle & Pistol Association v. City of New York, because the law had been rescinded. This disappoints Second-Amendment activists who had hoped to get a definitive ruling that citizens could carry a gun to firing ranges out of state or to a second home. The restriction was unique to New York City.

    The unsigned opinion was apparently joined by Roberts, while Alito, Thomas, and Gorsuch dissented, claiming that the Court had been manipulated, as NYC rescinded the law after the SC took the case. “By incorrectly dismissing this case as moot, the court permits our docket to be manipulated in a way that should not be countenanced,” wrote Alito, joined by Thomas and Gorsuch.

    Kavanaugh agreed the case was moot but wants the Court to decide the issue. “The court should address that issue soon, perhaps in one of the several Second Amendment cases with petitions for certiorari now pending before the court.”

  58. says

    Pramila Jayapal:

    Today I am announcing my endorsement of @JoeBiden for President of the United States.

    VP Biden is a deeply dedicated public servant with the ability to unite the American people. I am moved by his compassion and ability to connect with people on the most human level.

    As Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chair, I believe wholeheartedly that gov’t can & must be a force for good—expanding access to health care & education, fighting the climate crisis, passing humane immigration reform, & looking out for working people instead of corporations.

    I started this campaign as an ardent and vocal surrogate for @BernieSanders & while I have not always agreed with Vice President @JoeBiden on matters of policy, I’m ready to work with him to craft & then implement the most progressive agenda of any candidate in history.

    As President, Donald Trump has consistently sided with the wealthy & well-connected over working families & regular Americans, fostered racism & xenophobia & undermined democratic norms & the rule of law.

    Trump & his admin have demonstrated repeatedly—& most recently in their disastrous response to COVID-19—an inability to govern, make tough decisions, speak the truth & unite the country in common purpose.

    Any progress toward a better future requires defeating him this November.

    Our progressive movement of people organizing in the streets & in the halls of Congress has only grown bigger & more diverse, & we have made enormous strides toward racial, gender, & economic justice.

    We are ready for a President who will encourage us to be as big as we can be, with compassion & bold leadership. That President must be @JoeBiden

    I will do everything I can to help @JoeBiden win back the White House, take back the Senate, & preserve our House majority.

    Together, I am confident we can build a more perfect union.

  59. blf says

    Apologies for not having any “[Pandemic and] Political Madness” to report / comment-on, albeit there is plenty. Just showing up, mostly to report I am fine; motivated by one of my best friends going silent for a disturbingly long time now… probably Ok, but I am very very worried as they are in the States.

    Here in France, the current plan is for a gradual lifting of lockdown / social-distancing requirements starting May 11th; more information (details?) to be announced tomorrow (Tuesday April 28th).

    Locally, the project to make masks — at both the yacht shipyards and at-home volunteers — is well underway (not sure of the numbers, and the masks are intended for first-responders and the health services†). Several of the local nursing homes are reporting no Covid-19 cases; this has obviously been a cause for concern, as this area is popular with retirees, and hence there is a (perhaps larger than usual?) number of elderly people here, and with (e.g.) the younger (i.e., possibly asymptomatic), international / traveling yacht crews and service people. Obviously a potential for infection (to the more vulnerable), albeit the closure of the restaurants, &tc, has massively helped.

      † I am apparently now mistaken — a recent announcement from the village council says (in paraphrased translation): “The village will provide everyone with reusable masks before May 11th.” Hand sanitiser will also be provided to all(?) shops (a bit late, in my opinion, as there are(? were?) no hand-washing stations, albeit perhaps exceptionally difficult to arrange earlier?).

  60. says

    BBC – “Coronavirus: New Zealand claims no community cases as lockdown eases”:

    New Zealand says it has stopped community transmission of Covid-19, effectively eliminating the virus.

    With new cases in single figures for several days – one on Sunday – Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the virus was “currently” eliminated.

    But officials have warned against complacency, saying it does not mean a total end to new coronavirus cases.

    The news came hours before New Zealand moved out of its toughest level of social restrictions.

    From Tuesday, some non-essential business, healthcare and education activity will be able to resume.

    Most people will still be required to remain at home at all times and avoid all social interactions.

    “We are opening up the economy, but we’re not opening up people’s social lives,” Ms Ardern said at the daily government briefing.

    New Zealand has reported fewer than 1,500 confirmed or probable cases of coronavirus and 19 deaths.

    New Zealand’s Director-General of Health, Ashley Bloomfield, said the low number of new cases in recent days “does give us confidence that we have achieved our goal of elimination”.

    He warned that “elimination” did not mean there would be no new cases “but it does mean we know where our cases are coming from”.

    Ms Ardern said there was “no widespread undetected community transmission in New Zealand”, adding: “We have won that battle.”

    But she said the country “must remain vigilant if we are to keep it that way”.

    The country brought in some of the toughest restrictions in the world on travel and activity early on in the pandemic, when it only had a few dozen cases.

    Ms Ardern said modelling indicated New Zealand could have had more than 1,000 cases a day if it had not brought in the lockdown so early.

    She said the country could never know how bad it would have been but that “through our cumulative actions we have avoided the worst”.

    New Zealand’s remote location and easily sealable borders played in its favour when the virus broke out, experts say.

    But the government has also been praised for the clarity of its messaging throughout the crisis.

    In Australia, the rise in infections has also slowed considerably in recent weeks. There were just 16 new cases recorded on Sunday.

    Much like in New Zealand, its government has been praised for its response to the crisis and opinion polls show that trust in the country’s leadership has risen.

    Restrictions are easing in some areas, with some states planning to relax social distancing rules to permit larger outdoor gatherings this week….

  61. says

    Neera Tanden:

    I just need to say this:

    I worked with @HillaryClinton on public policy [f]or two decades.

    I Know that if she was President, she would have ordered mass testing in January, stayed on it, devised a plan to contain the virus like S Korea, and countless lives would’ve been saved.

    This is both heartbreaking and enraging.

  62. says

    G liveblog:

    Children are falling ill with a new and potentially fatal combination of symptoms apparently linked to Covid-19, including a sore stomach and heart problems, Denis Campbell, the Guardian’s health policy correspondent, reports.

    The children affected appear to have been struck by a form of toxic shock syndrome. Some have been left so seriously unwell that they have had to be treated in intensive care. At least one has undergone extra corporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) treatment, which is used when someone’s life is at risk because they can no longer breathe for themselves.

    It is not known how many such cases have appeared, though it is thought to be a small number. But NHS bosses are so concerned that they have written to doctors alerting them to the existence of the syndrome and asked them to urgently refer any children who appear to have it to hospital. In a letter to GPs in north London, reported by the Health Service Journal, NHS bosses said:

    It has been reported that over the last three weeks there has been an apparent rise in the number of children of all ages presenting with a multi-system inflammatory state requiring intensive care across London and also in other regions of the UK.

    The cases have in common overlapping feature of toxic shock syndrome and atypical Kawasaki disease with blood parameters consistent with severe Covid-19 in children.

    There is a growing concern that a Sars-CoV-2-related inflammatory syndrome is emerging in children in the UK, or that there may be another, as yet unidentified, infectious pathogen associated with these cases.

  63. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 73

    …the White House has announced that the president will brief the nation tonight.

    Please let him announce he’s resigning… please, oh please, oh please…

    Yeah, unlikely, but I man can dream.

  64. johnson catman says

    re SC @77: Calling his comments and tweets “sarcasm” only makes him look worse. If he was being “sarcastic” in a presser that is supposed to be a serious event about the dire circumstances of a medical crisis in our country, he is wasting time and resources speaking to the country. The Orange Toddler-Tyrant is an ignorant liar, and his motives are completely transparent. He will never admit that he was wrong because he is a weak-ass bully.

  65. says

    johnson catman @78, too true. Well said.

    SC @75:

    a multi-system inflammatory state requiring intensive care

    And here in the USA we still have doofuses protesting, (while not observing social distancing rules), and carrying signs that claim that the media is hyping coronavirus just to hurt Trump. Meanwhile, children are dying from a multi-system inflammatory state brought on by coronavirus. Sometimes I just want to throw up my hands and give up.

    SC @73, and Akira @76, I actually experienced a moment of relief when I heard that Trump would not appear at a press briefing today to misinform the public. I was so disappointed when I saw that he would subject us to a press conference tonight. My bet is that he does not want to take questions from the press, but that he has to get his TV audience fix by appearing in front of the camera to spout his usual torrent of lies and disinformation.

  66. says

    blf @68, glad you checked in. “Several of the local nursing homes are reporting no Covid-19 cases,” I have to say “wow” to that news. So unlike most of the news in the USA. Rachel Maddow has really been on top of the nursing home infection rates and deaths here. Very disturbing news.

    Here’s one example from The Rachel Maddow Show: Link.

    Dr. Michael Wasserman, president of the California Association of Long-term Care Medicine, talks with Rachel Maddow about the steps that are necessary to secure the health of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities to maintain a crucial piece of the national coronavirus response.

  67. says

    SC @62, OMG, more bad consequences. I hadn’t considered that vaccination programs for other diseases would be cancelled because of coronavirus. Makes sense, but that just hadn’t occurred to me. It’s like dominoes falling.

    a_ray @55:

    I don’t think Birx will ever be thought of as a serious professional again.

    Yes. It’s unfortunate, but I think you are right. She is now a trumpian mouthpiece, albeit still smarter than Hair Furor himself.

  68. blf says

    Lynna@80, In France overall, the nursing home situation has been dire, a problem exacerbated by it being a not-too-well funded part of the French healthcare system (I am not familiar with details, so may be inadvertently misrepresenting), plus — initially — a systemic glitch which meant Covid-19 deaths (and cases?) were being under-reported (or simply not counted). As far as I am aware, that glitch has been fixed; to the authority’s credit, the glitch was acknowledged early on.

  69. says

    lotharloo @54:

    I think they have been doing weekly, almost daily hit jobs on her [AOC]. It’s unbelievable how threatened they feel but they are doing their job. Don’t be surprised to find out in a few years, she’s suddenly hated for no reason by the idiot “independents”.

    I’m afraid you are right.

    The hate campaign against AOC is relentless. I don’t think it will stop.

    The rightwing arguments against her are less of an actual disagreement with the policies she espouses, and are more of an expression of the rightwing’s obsessive need to have a target. All that hate has to be directed somewhere, and what better target than a woman.

    Also, the rightwing can, once it has a target, create an atmosphere in which that target stands in for everything they hate. AOC is a symbol to them, not a person. Now, to Fox News, AOC represents all liberals, all politicians who are not trumpian, etc.

  70. says

    blf @82, ah, I see. Thanks for the additional information.

    Here’s some good news from the USA: “Supreme Court rejects argument intended to undermine the ACA.”

    Many of the Affordable Care Act’s opponents keep looking to the U.S. Supreme Court to help undermine the health care reform law. They also keep failing.

    From NBC News’ Pete Williams:

    By an 8-1 vote, the court said when Congress passed the Affordable Care Act, it set up programs to compensate insurance companies during the first three years for plans that turned out to be unprofitable. But when several companies sustained a total of $12 billion in losses, both the Obama and Trump administrations said because Congress didn’t fully fund the reimbursement program, the government had no obligation to pay.

    More explanation, from Steve Benen:

    […] When the ACA was created a decade ago, there was a broad understanding that private insurers would benefit from millions of new customers, but they’d also take on new risks, since the law required insurance companies to treat all customers equally, regardless of pre-existing conditions. That raised the prospect, of course, of some insurers taking on hard-to-predict numbers of unhealthy consumers whose coverage would cost more.

    The law’s architects added “risk corridors” — an idea Republicans liked in the not-too-distant past — to help reimburse insurers that took a hit, at least for the first few years as the new marketplace took shape. The same provision also required insurance companies that didn’t take a hit to pay into a risk corridor fund to help the rest of the industry.

    As longtime readers may recall, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), for reasons that were never altogether clear, helped lead the charge to destroy the risk corridors. (It almost certainly had something to do with the Floridian’s ill-fated presidential campaign and its false claim that he “killed Obamacare.”) Rubio and his Republican brethren succeeded, which led to some very unhappy insurers: companies that worked within the system in good faith were suddenly told the money they were promised would never arrive.

    Litigation soon followed, and the justices heard the case in December. Many observers who were in the chamber for oral arguments came away with the same impression: most of the justices seemed quite sympathetic to the insurers’ concerns.

    Those impressions proved true.

    While this resolves one of the pending Supreme Court cases related to “Obamacare,” as we discussed last month, there’s a more serious threat to the law still on the horizon. The fact that today’s ruling was so one-sided has fueled some talk in legal circles that the justices just aren’t too keen on tearing down the ACA just because some far-right officials want them to.

    Link

  71. says

    Fascinating article at Mad in America – “Muzzled by Psychiatry in a Time of Crisis: The Man in the White Coat, The New York Times and The Stifling of the Public Debate about Donald Trump’s Fitness to Serve as President”:

    …As the American people face the devastating toll of the coronavirus pandemic, they are vigorously debating whether their president is psychologically fit to lead the country in the weeks and months ahead. The silencing of Lee and her collaborators by Lieberman and the APA detracts from the ability of the mainstream media to conduct this vital discussion. And today, looking back at the public relations campaign against her book, key questions have yet to be definitely answered: Why did Lieberman and the APA seek to silence the voices of these distinguished psychiatrists who study dangerousness? Was the potential loss of federal funding the main driver? Was it perhaps also done for reasons of ego and power, with Lee and her collaborators getting too much attention?

    But the most pressing question now is this: Is it time for the APA to modify or even suspend the Goldwater rule? As the nation grapples with a series of previously unimaginable long-term threats to the health and well-being of its citizens, can America afford to be guided by a guild that silences experts who could provide insight into the mind of a president who may be exacerbating this crisis?

    Much more atl. (Two notes: First, I read The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President when it came out in 2017. Some of the chapters are insightful, but the overall quality is very uneven, and so I couldn’t/can’t recommend it as a whole. I haven’t read the new edition. Second, I’m summoning every ounce of self restraint not to rant about Lieberman and the APA. You’re welcome.)

  72. says

    Trump picks a fight over state aid he doesn’t fully understand.

    Of course he doesn’t understand the real situation.

    Abandoning everything he said last week, Trump suddenly has concerns about aiding “Democrat-run” states.

    The New York Times published a good analysis yesterday on one of the “recurring features” of Donald Trump’s presidency: [Trump’s] “knack for detonating so many of our powerful shared experiences into us-versus-them grenades.” […]

    This morning, for example, the president thought it’d be a good idea to question why certain struggling states — led by officials from a party he holds in contempt — should receive federal aid during the pandemic.

    “Why should the people and taxpayers of America be bailing out poorly run states (like Illinois, as example) and cities, in all cases Democrat-run and managed, when most of the other states are not looking for bailout help?” Trump tweeted Monday morning. “I am open to discussing anything, but just asking?” he added.

    […] Trump made several seemingly unambiguous statements in support of federal aid to states early last week, treating it as an issue with broad, bipartisan support. His new posture contradicts his position from last week, suggesting the president is receiving some misguided advice from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. […]

    At this point, we could explain the fact that many states are facing fiscal crises, not because of mismanagement or reckless budgeting, but because of a global pandemic. We could also explain that the consequences of adopting this far-right approach — letting states and cities deal with deteriorating fiscal conditions through mass layoffs, for example — would be a longer and an even more brutal economic downturn.

    But for now, let’s put those relevant angles aside to focus on something known in policy circles as “donor states.”

    Governing magazine explained last year, “Residents in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York have some of the highest tax bills in the nation. They also pay thousands more in federal taxes than their state receives back in federal funding. In total, 10 states are so-called donor states, meaning they pay more in taxes to the federal government than they receive back.”

    […] Mitch McConnell’s home state of Kentucky, meanwhile, is on the other end of the spectrum: more than almost any other state, the Bluegrass State receives more in federal funds than it sends to D.C.

    Similarly, Rick Scott’s Florida — the president’s adopted home state — also receives about $3,000 more per resident in federal funds than it adds to the treasury in D.C. (In fact, the number of donor states in the southeast is literally zero.) When Florida was living “within its means,” as Scott put it, the state was doing so thanks in part to donor states that were sending federal dollars its way.

    In other words, states like New York and Illinois help subsidize states such as Kentucky and Florida — all of which adds a degree of irony to the rhetoric we’re hearing from the likes of McConnell, Trump, and Rick Scott.

    Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) was understated about this on Twitter this morning, though he wrote, “If Florida would like to have a conversation about making sure no state gets more money from the federal government than they send to it, Connecticut is ready.”

  73. says

    From Nancy Pelosi:

    In this next bill, we will be supporting vote by mail in a very important way — we think it’s a health issue at this point.

  74. says

    Daily Kos – “‘Reopen NC’ organizer tested positive for COVID-19, says quarantine a violation of civil rights.”

    …Whitlock said her 14-day quarantine period ended on Sunday and she was asymptomatic, but when contacted by ABC 11’s Jonah Kaplan about whether Whitlock had attended rallies the last two Tuesdays, Whitlock simply said, “No comment.” If she did attend, she risked the lives of hundreds of her fellow neighbors. Whitlock did confirm that she planned to attend a rally this week….

  75. says

    What Trump said earlier:

    We don’t want other leaders and other countries laughing at us anymore, and they won’t be.

    He got that wrong… so wrong.

    The Irish Times’ Fintan O’Toole had a rather brutal column over the weekend on Donald Trump’s presidency and its impact on global perceptions of the United States. “Over more than two centuries, the United States has stirred a very wide range of feelings in the rest of the world: love and hatred, fear and hope, envy and contempt, awe and anger,” O’Toole wrote. “But there is one emotion that has never been directed towards the US until now: pity.”

    The award-winning columnist added that it’s easy to “feel sorry for Americans” because we’re struggling during crisis conditions “with a malignant narcissist who, instead of protecting his people from Covid-19, has amplified its lethality. The country Trump promised to make great again has never in its history seemed so pitiful.”

    O’Toole’s indictment of the American president came the day after the Australian Broadcasting Corporation ran this similarly unfortunate report.

    Usually straitlaced and solemn in his delivery of up-to-the-minute health advice, Australia’s Chief Medical Officer stifled giggles when asked about US President Donald Trump’s latest suggested treatments for coronavirus.

    […] A journalist quite fairly summarized Donald Trump’s comments about possible research into treating the virus with ultraviolet light on disinfectant injections, and asked, “Given that this is coming from the president of the United States — an influential person — is there any scientific basis to either of these propositions?”

    Brendan Murphy, Australia’s chief medical officer, seemed to struggle to avoid laughing. Grinning and apparently amused, said he would “caution against” the injection of disinfectants because they can be “quite toxic to people.”

    Broadly speaking, I think there are two angles of note to developments like these. The first is Trump is reportedly outraged by the very idea of people laughing at him, but on the international stage, it’s not an unusual occurrence.

    […] Trump has reportedly been preoccupied for years with concerns about being the subject of ridicule, but the list of instances in which world leaders have laughed at him is not short. […]

    for all of Trump’s obsessive focus on improving the United States’ global reputation, he’s obviously done the opposite.

    As a New York Times report put it last week, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic is “perhaps the first global crisis in more than a century where no one is even looking for Washington to lead.”

    The world is, however, looking to Washington for comic relief.

    Link

  76. says

    OMFG.

    Signing relief checks wasn’t enough. Trump is now also sending letters to we-the-people, all in order to declare his magnanimity.

    Nothing says selfless generosity like holding up the checks people desperately need for food and shelter in order to attach your personal signature to them. But apparently putting his name on pandemic relief checks that were paid for by American taxpayers wasn’t deplorable enough for Donald Trump.[…]

    Now Trump will also be sending a letter to American taxpayers declaring that he “proudly signed” the checks for which they are footing the bill. (Of course, you realize, Trump thinks that’s his money and not ours. He doesn’t actually get that he’s just a steward of the financial resources that taxpayers amass and will eventually be on the hook for.)

    “I am pleased to notify you that as provided by the CARES Act, you are receiving an Economic Impact Payment of $1,200.00 by Direct Deposit,” Trump writes in the letter, according to TPM. “We hope this payment provides meaningful support to you during this period.”

    People who receive a physical check will also receive the letter, but the main problem for Trump was the notion that direct deposit recipients might not give him proper credit for all the “incredible” work he’s been doing during the pandemic. […]

    Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, however, wants to block Trump from pulling the PR stunt of affixing his signature to any future pandemic relief. Schumer plans to introduce a bill called the No PR Act.

    “President Trump unfortunately appears to see the pandemic as just another opportunity to promote his own political interests,” the New York Democrat said in a statement. “The No PR Act puts an end to the president’s exploitation of taxpayer money for promotional material that only benefits his reelection campaign.”

    Not to mention the fact that taxpayers won’t be deprived of badly needed relief for weeks on end just so Trump can perpetuate the fantasy that he’s actually doing anything during this crisis besides binge-watching cable news, sending out a few tweets, and promoting deadly “miracle cures” in his spare time.

    Link

  77. says

    Say, what now!?

    In his role as Donald Trump’s do-little secretary of state, Mike Pompeo has appeared to devote most of his diplomacy to trolling the rest of the world on Donald’s behalf. Such is the case yet again, as Pompeo prepares to unveil a new argument that Well Actually the United States remains a “participant” in the Iranian nuclear deal that Trump loudly (very loudly) withdrew from, and which the Trump team continues to insist no longer applies, and which the Trump team has been continuously pressuring all international allies to also treat as invalid, issuing various threats to those that continue to deal with Iran under the accord’s guidelines.

    […] By arguing that the United States is still “participating” in the nuclear deal despite an entire administration’s worth of public claims that no we absolutely are not, Pompeo will argue that the United States still has the authority to forcibly “snapback” harsher world sanctions on Iran that were lifted after the deal was inked, sanctions that the Trump administration will in turn argue are binding on all United Nations members. Most specifically, the Trump administration will argue that the world must re-impose sanctions prohibiting conventional arms sales to Iran, after the current such ban expires in October.

    Yes, it’s a complete troll move and everybody knows it. The United States is now known on the world stage for being the world’s greatest exporter of bullshit, and Pompeo’s performances have been reliably Trumpian in their … unsubtlety. You can’t presume we’re not part of an international accord simply because we’ve said repeatedly that we have withdrawn from it! Maybe we were lying! We probably were lying!

    […] The Trump administration has argued that the deal no longer applies, because they say so—but when it comes to the sanctions imposed by the deal, threatened by the deal, or reversed by the deal, Pompeo and team have argued that all of those sanctions should now apply because Reasons. It’s only the U.S. obligations that have gone by the wayside; on everything else, the world remains obligated to Do What Donald Says.

    The Times repeatedly refers to the Pompeo plan as an “intricate strategy,” part of the Times’ continued insistence on portraying the Trump team’s endless reversals and dishonesty as strategic, rather than flailing. The plan does not seem terribly “intricate,” however. It is just petty.

    OMG, the New York Times should just put a MAGA hat on it’s front page. The newspaper is now guilty of pumping out trumpian propaganda almost every day.

    Having failed to convince even our close international allies to abandon the Iranian nuclear deal on Donald Trump’s say-so, overall administration “strategy” toward Iran still remains the same. It is centered around forcing Iran to itself break the accord by putting it under such untenable sanctions and military pressure that they are all but obliged to do so, at which point Mike Pompeo will jump to his feet to triumphantly declare that see, that nation over there cannot be trusted, just like we told you. […]
    He’s definitely eager to please, you’ve got to give him that. […]

    Link

  78. says

    The Wisconsin health department now reports that 36 people have tested positive for coronavirus after probably being exposed during the April 7 primary election. Republicans in that state forced voters to show up in person, and to stand in long lines for hours, if they wanted to vote.

    Now the number of people who were infected continues to rise.

    […] Shortly after the state held an in-person election on April 7, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services announced “new tracing mechanisms” to help local health departments track residents who might have been exposed to the virus while working the polls or casting a ballot.

    “So far, 36 people who tested Covid-19 positive after April 9 have reported that they voted in person or worked the polls on election day,” said Jennifer Miller, a spokeswoman for the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

    Miller said “several” people within that group reported additional possible exposures, making it unclear whether the election itself is responsible for their contraction of the disease. If those people contracted the virus prior to the election, they could have also spread it to others who went to the polls that day.

    For that and other reasons, the figure is likely to grow in coming weeks. Forty people in Milwaukee County who participated in the election have tested positive, according to WUWM. Milwaukee Health Commissioner Jeanette Kowalik on Friday said data was still being analyzed but could be finalized by May 1.

    State and local health officials said they expected to see cases begin emanating from the election by the following week, but the Department of Health Services said it wouldn’t “have a full picture of the impact for several weeks,” noting the lengthy contact tracing process to track exposure of the virus. […]

    Link

  79. says

    As states continue to do what the federal government should be doing, Nevada and Colorado have joined the West Coast reopening alliance.

    […] The governors of California, Washington and Oregon had already announced a regional pact aimed at restarting their economies as the pandemic’s spread has slowed. The addition of two more states means the group will encompass some 60 million Americans, or about a fifth of the nation’s population.

    Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak said on Twitter that “our states will only be effective when working together against” the coronavirus, citing the need to share information. And he noted that their economies are intertwined by tourism and commerce, necessitating collective action to prevent the virus from flaring anew. […]

    The growing alliance reflects the fact that governors, rather than the federal government, are making the critical decisions about when to reopen their states’ slumbering economies. All five of the Western group’s governors are Democrats, and all have said they will hew to science first.

    A business group representing employers in Washington, California and Oregon wrote a letter those states’ governors on Monday urging clear directives for industry and pledging “to work with you, collectively as a region and individually in each of our states, as we execute a plan for economic recovery.”

    Link

  80. says

    After posting many tweets in which he misspelled Nobel Prize and Nobel Committee as “Noble….”, Trump claimed, once again, that he was being sarcastic:

    Does anybody get the meaning of what a so-called Noble (not Nobel) Prize is, especially as it pertains to Reporters and Journalists? Noble is defined as, “having or showing fine personal qualities or high moral principles and ideals.” Does sarcasm ever work?

    No, dude. You just can’t spell. Also, you still fail to understand what “sarcasm” means.

    There are screenshots of the multiple tweets, which Trump later deleted.

    From Wonkette:

    […] Mmhmm. “Sarcasm.” Like when he “sarcastically” wondered whether people should inject bleach into their lungs to treat COVID-19. Yep. […]

    Link

    See the link for more, including screenshots, and a summary of Trump’s other 40 tweets that confirmed his stupidity.

  81. blf says

    Lynna@90, Sadly, Fintan O’Toole’s Donald Trump has destroyed the country he promised to make great again is behind a paywall. However, this report — yet another hair furor antic — is not, Trump eyes resource-rich Greenland again with $12bn aid package (25-April-2020):

    […]
    The United States announced a $12 billion (€11.1 billion) economic development package for Greenland this week and confirmed plans to open a consulate in the capital, Nuuk, this year. The funding will allow US agencies to work with Greenlandic officials to develop [sic] natural resources.

    […]

  82. blf says

    (I’m listening to France24 right now…) Here in France, Macron promised masks for everyone (before(?) May 11th), and supplies are just now starting to reach pharmacies. Apparently the price will be restricted to at most c.5€ (each? per pair?), but details still seem to be vague (e.g., are they reusable?). And supplies are currently very very limited. The local village scheme mentioned in @68 is indirectly related — It seems the village council is annoyed about the vagueness (at least? (also, a different political party, fortunately not teh le penazis despite the disturbing levels of local support)), and hence moved ahead on it’s own…

  83. says

    BREAKING: ‘U.S. intelligence agencies issued warnings about the novel coronavirus in more than a dozen classified briefings prepared for President Trump’.

    First was in early January.”

    WaPo link atl.

  84. tomh says

    All of a sudden Barr cares about the Constitution. Look for the DOJ to get involved where states are restricting church gatherings.

    Lawfare:
    Justice Department Will Monitor State and Local Pandemic Policies for Civil Rights Violations
    By Elliot Setzer Monday, April 27, 2020

    Attorney General Bill Barr today issued a memo directing all U.S. attorneys to examine state and local policies for directives that could violate the constitutional rights and civil liberties of individual citizens. Barr also directed the assistant attorney general for civil rights and the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan to oversee and coordinate efforts to monitor state and local policies and potentially take actions to correct them.

    You can read the memo here

  85. says

    Here’s a link to the April 28 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there, more re #75 above:

    Some children in the UK with no underlying health conditions have died from a rare inflammatory syndrome which researchers believe to be linked to Covid-19, the health secretary Matt Hancock said on Tuesday.

    Italian and British medical experts are investigating a possible link between the coronavirus pandemic and clusters of severe inflammatory disease among infants who are arriving in hospital with high fevers and swollen arteries.

    Doctors in northern Italy, one of the world’s hardest-hit areas during the pandemic, have reported extraordinarily large numbers of children under nine-years-old with severe cases of what appears to be Kawasaki disease, more common in parts of Asia.

    Hancock told LBC Radio:

    There are some children who have died who didn’t have underlying health conditions.

    It’s a new disease that we think may be caused by coronavirus and the Covid-19 virus.

    We’re not 100% sure because some of the people who got it hadn’t tested positive, so we’re doing a lot of research now but it is something that we’re worried about.

    Children were until now thought to be much less susceptible than their parents or grandparents to the most deadly complications wrought by the novel coronavirus, though the mysterious inflammatory disease noticed in Britain, Spain and Italy may demand a reassessment.

    “It is rare, although it is very significant for those children who do get it, the number of cases is small,” Hancock, one of the ministers leading Britain’s COVID-19 response, said.

    He did not give an exact figure for the number of deaths.

    Kawasaki disease, whose cause is unknown, is associated with fever, skin rashes, swelling of glands, and in severe cases, inflammation of arteries of the heart.

  86. says

    Al Jazeera – “Brazil top court orders probe into accusations against Bolsonaro”:

    Brazil’s Supreme Court has ordered an investigation into accusations that President Jair Bolsonaro sought to “interfere” with police investigations for political gain.

    In his decision on Monday, Justice Celso de Mello gave the federal police 60 days to question former Justice and Public Security Minister Sergio Moro, whose resignation last week pitched the administration into turmoil, about his explosive allegations.

    The findings, which will be handed over to the attorney general, could result in either a request for a political trial against Bolsonaro or an indictment against Moro for false testimony.

    According to the judge, “the crimes allegedly practised by the president of the republic” seem to have “an intimate connection with the exercise of the presidential mandate”, which allows for an investigation of Bolsonaro.

    During Moro’s announcement of his resignation on April 24, he said Bolsonaro had told him on multiple occasions that he wanted to replace the head of the federal police with someone who could facilitate access to investigations and intelligence reports.

    He hit out at “political interference” with the federal police, saying he could not do his job without “autonomy” for the force.

    The Supreme Court judge’s document, obtained by AFP news agency and reported by local media, lists seven accusations against Bolsonaro, including malfeasance and obstruction of justice.

    Should the investigation confirm the accusations, it will be up to the Brazilian Congress to initiate an impeachment process against Bolsonaro and potentially remove him from office.

    A poll published on Monday night shows divided opinions about Bolsonaro’s future, with 45 percent of Brazilians saying Congress should open an impeachment process against the right-wing leader.

    In comparison, 48 percent think Bolsonaro should not be impeached, according to the Datafolha poll.

    The tensions come at the height of the global health crisis over the coronavirus.

    Last week, Bolsonaro fired his Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta, who supported isolation as a tool to contain the spread of the pandemic. Bolsonaro has repeatedly downplayed the danger of COVID-19.

    As of Tuesday, Brazil reported more than 67,000 confirmed coronavirus cases with at least 4,600 deaths.

  87. says

    Moscow Times:

    “Russia’s Coronavirus Cases Surpass 90K in Latest One-Day Record Surge”:

    Russia confirmed 6,411 new coronavirus infections Tuesday, bringing the country’s official number of cases to 93,558 and marking a new one-day record increase.

    Russia is now the eighth most-affected country in terms of infections, having surpassed China and Iran this week.

    In total, 867 people have been killed by the virus in Russia….

    Again, those are the official numbers.

    “Second Russian Doctor Falls From Hospital Window Amid Coronavirus”:

    A second Russian doctor has fallen from a hospital building in a week as the country’s health system continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, with authorities ruling her death a tragic accident.

    Natalia Lebedeva, the chief EMS officer at a cosmonaut training center outside Moscow, plunged to her death Friday from the window of a hospital room where she was placed with Covid-19 symptoms earlier last week.

    The FMBA said it was investigating Lebedeva’s death jointly with Russia’s Investigative Committee, which probes major crimes.

    Unconfirmed reports citing her colleagues suggested that Lebedeva may have taken her own life after facing accusations of allowing a Covid-19 outbreak to spread among the cosmonaut training center’s medical staff. Lebedeva reportedly contracted Covid-19 from Star City colleagues she had helped hospitalize.

    News of Lebedeva’s death comes days after the chief doctor of a repurposed coronavirus hospital in Siberia fell from the hospital’s fifth-floor window following talks with health officials. Yelena Nepomnyashchaya, who allegedly opposed admitting Covid-19 patients due to protective equipment shortages and a lack of training among staff, was said to be in critical condition.

    Lebedeva’s name appears alongside 71 other Russian and Belarussian doctors who have died from coronavirus-related complications in an unofficial list compiled by their colleagues mistrustful of official figures.

    Russia’s space chief said 111 space industry workers have been infected with Covid-19 as of Monday, three of whom have died.

    Putin will be making a speech later today about…something.

  88. says

    Politico – “Trump campaign lashes out over ‘Don’t defend Trump’ memo”:

    Earlier this month, the Senate Republican campaign arm circulated a memo with shocking advice to GOP candidates on responding to coronavirus: “Don’t defend Trump, other than the China Travel Ban — attack China.”

    The Trump campaign was furious.

    On Monday — just days after POLITICO first reported the existence of the memo — Trump political adviser Justin Clark told NRSC executive director Kevin McLaughlin that any Republican candidate who followed the memo’s advice shouldn’t expect the active support of the reelection campaign and risked losing the support of Republican voters.

    McLaughlin responded by saying he agreed with the Trump campaign’s position and, according to two people familiar with the conversation, clarified that the committee wasn’t advising candidates to not defend Trump over his response.

    The episode illustrates how the Trump political apparatus demands — and receives — fealty from fellow Republicans and moves aggressively to tamp down on any perceived dissent within the GOP. The president maintains an iron grip on his party, even as his poll numbers sag and he confronts fierce criticism from Democrats over his response to the coronavirus pandemic.

    During the conversation, McLaughlin called the line in the memo inartful in its wording [LOL – SC] and argued that the overall thrust of the document was about pushing candidates to go on offense over China — something that Trump has done frequently in recent days — and not to evade defending the president….

  89. says

    Yorkshire Bylines – “Watch out for Boris Johnson’s imminent Churchill impersonation”:

    The stage is already being set by this discredited prime minster and his government. They are positioning themselves as victorious leaders of the country’s emergence from our disastrous encounter with the Covid-19 virus. Moreover, they are already using the pandemic to argue for the UK’s isolation from the rest of the world, by holding to the current Brexit transition ending on 31 Dec 2020. They do not seem to care about the impact the disease, followed by a hard Brexit, will have on our economy for years to come. Despite widespread evidence to the contrary, their message will be, “Of course we can cope on our own. Look how well we’ve all responded to the epidemic.”

    The country’s response to the pandemic is indeed laudable but the PM’s role as its leader does not stand up to scrutiny. His and his government’s handling of the pandemic have been woeful. It epitomises Johnson’s casual, irresponsible and reckless nature.

    Populist, nationalistic governments have developed the management of crises into an art form. Firstly, they are the authors of the crisis through their own policies. Then they claim credit for the rescue effort, despite it being achieved by others. Finally, through the use of PR and spin, they place themselves at the forefront of these recovery efforts and thereby assert leadership prowess. They are skilled at both creating the crisis (by incompetence or design) and at capitalising on the consequences. Their actions in claiming victory from a self-inflicted crisis are as shameless as they are breathtaking.

    We are being invited to see ourselves in a battle. A battle with a virus; a virus that we can overcome with our traditional British ‘backs to the wall’ defiance…. Sadly, being ill-equipped for battle is also part of the do or die tradition we call upon. It’s insupportable to those who find themselves unable to survive the virulence of this virus. It’s offensive to the hundreds of NHS staff who have already died as a result of this tactic. And it’s a move that may well qualify as corporate manslaughter when we finally hold a public inquiry into what went so catastrophically wrong with our response.

    Seizing the narrative has become the most potent weapon for enhancing the reputation of governments and political leaders. Repeated often enough, in the absence of a critical press or confident news media, the Government’s chosen narrative has a way of becoming accepted truth amongst great swathes of the population. This is because it’s often the only narrative being given any prominence and coherence….

    When the immediate crisis passes, the county will be praised for its recent demonstration of national character, possibly attributed to a revival after years of EU oppression. Many heroes, known and unknown, will be publicly acknowledged and celebrated. And the Tories will launch a new branding campaign that places Boris Johnson at the forefront of this revival of the British character. Worse still, he will position himself in the vanguard of fight against the virus having looked death in the face and survived; both Churchillian and Christ-like.

    We must not let Boris Johnson or his government insert themselves as leaders of the heroic national effort nor accord themselves the qualities of Churchill in leading the country through the worst of the coronavirus threat. We must stand up for and applaud the real achievers: the NHS staff, the supermarket workers, the academics and the manufacturing originations, the hard-pressed local government staff, the army, the belatedly recognised key workers and the numerous community volunteers who have kept society running in the difficult life-threatening circumstances. Let us also express our anger at the unnecessary loss of life and commiserate with the relatives and friends of those who have died.

    More atl.

  90. says

    The Brexit Blog – “Coronavirus and Brexit: the connections and their consequences”:

    …There are two ways of thinking about those interconnections. One might be called ‘ideational’, meaning things arising from an overlapping mind-set (it would be to ascribe too much coherence to it to call it an ideology). The other might be called ‘institutional’, meaning those things arising from governmental or administrative overlaps. And, of course, there is an interplay between the two.

    Ideational connections

    Here, the main issue is the very clear overlap (£) between those who think that the coronavirus restrictions are overdone, should never have happened or should be lifted quickly, and that the whole thing is essentially a fuss about nothing – the self-styled ‘lockdown sceptics’ – and those who support Brexit, think it is easy and simple, and should have been done by now.

    There is a small but very influential group of politicians and commentators who approach a nexus of issues in the same way be it Brexit, coronavirus, climate change, immigration, sexual harassment or any number of other things. It’s always the same people, and always the same blokey, angry, resentful, constantly triggered but can’t-you-take-a-joke-snowflake, sneeringly superior yet self-pitying victimhood schtick.

    And it’s always the same argumentative tricks – cherry-picked statistics (£350M/ comparative death rates), semi-understood factoids (WTO rules/ herd immunity), bogus past comparisons (we managed fine before/ flu), overblown rhetoric (dictatorship/ house arrest), and drastic exaggerations of their opponents’ claims so as to erect absurd strawmen for demolition (so it means WW3/ we’re all going to die? Really?).

    In a previous post I gave Tim Martin, the Wetherspoon’s boss, as an exemplar in discussing this overlap, at least as regards Brexit and coronavirus. Martin, of course, is a passionate advocate of Brexit and ferocious critic of social distancing measures. Since then, fascinating work has been done by Professor Ben Ansell, a political scientist at Oxford University, showing correlations between Brexit-voting areas and lower levels compliance with social distancing instructions.

    The data are open to different interpretations – especially the possibility that those in leave voting areas might be more likely to have jobs that cannot be done from home – but a plausible one is that the correlation partly reflects the overlap in mind-set I alluded to (just as there is an overlap in the US between Trump’s core vote and those objecting to coronavirus restrictions).

    Another set of interconnections was identified this week by Professor David Edgerton, a historian of science and technology at King’s College London. He argues that both Brexit and the government response to coronavirus reveal shared “fantasies about British scientific and inventive genius”. He also links this to pervasive myths about the Second World War which, of course, have been central to Brexit and are almost unavoidable in relation to the pandemic. As the historian Robert Saunders, of Queen Mary, University of London, remarked, it is as if British politicians only have one historical reference point and it’s one they don’t understand anyway.

    Institutional connections

    Edgerton’s analysis centres on the government’s attempts to boost ventilator production, the story of which was devastatingly laid bare by Peter Foster in the Financial Times this week (£), provoking an angry response from the government. And here the ideational and institutional connections begin to merge. For as Foster records, the link is not just idiotic comparisons with the Blitz or Spitfire production, but a constant boneheaded refusal of politicians to engage seriously with experts. In other words, governmental failures over coronavirus are inseparable from Brexit ‘simplism’ in general and the Second World War myths in particular.

    …What both Brexit and coronavirus reveal are some fundamental flaws in the way we are governed and the political discourse around it. The populist explosion of this decade, of which Brexit was a prime example, has bequeathed a way of governing which is impervious to reason, and incapable of engaging with complexity. It isn’t just chance that we have a woefully incompetent Prime Minister, a dud stand in, and a cabinet of mediocrities, propped up by a cadre of special advisors with few skills beyond contrarian posturing.

    They are the legacy of Brexit. They were brought into power by Brexit. But all the things which secured the vote for Brexit – the clever-but-dumb messaging, the leadership-by-slogan, the appeal to nostalgic sentiment, the disdain for facts and evidence, the valorisation of anger and divisiveness, the bluff ‘commonsense’ and the ‘bluffers’ book’ knowledge – are without exception precisely the opposite of what is needed for effective governance in general, and crisis management in particular….

    Much more atl.

  91. says

    Guardian (support the Guardian if you can)- “Lithuanian capital to be turned into vast open-air cafe”:

    Lithuania’s capital, Vilnius, has announced plans to turn the city into a vast open-air cafe by giving over much of its public space to hard-hit bar and restaurant owners so they can put their tables outdoors and still observe physical distancing rules.

    The Baltic state, which has recorded 1,344 cases of the coronavirus and 44 deaths, allowed cafes and restaurants with outdoor seating, hairdressers and almost all shops to begin reopening this week as part of a staged exit from lockdown.

    But the health ministry has imposed strict physical distancing rules and safety measures. Shops must limit the number of customers at one time, masks will remain mandatory in all public spaces, and cafe and restaurant tables have to be placed at least two metres apart.

    Eighteen of the city’s public spaces, including its central Cathedral Square, have been opened up for outdoor cafes and restaurants, city hall said, and more are expected to be added as the summer progresses. The move has been welcomed by owners, with more than 160 applying to take up the offer.

    “It came just in time,” said Evalda Šiškauskienė of the Lithuanian Association of Hotels and Restaurants, adding that the measure would help members “accommodate more visitors and bring life back to the city streets, but without violating security requirements”.

    Vilnius authorities have also given the city’s public health workers €400,000-worth (£350,000) of restaurant vouchers intended both as gesture of thanks for their work and a much-needed stimulus to the city’s cafes.

    This sounds like a great idea. I wonder what arrangements they’re making for bathrooms….

  92. blf says

    The local village where I live in S.France intends to provide everyone with two washable / reusable masks next week. The masks are obtained by scheduled appointment — makes sense — and to my considerable surprise, one of them will be FFP2-grade, which is known to be effective against some viruses (however, I have not been able to locate anything too definitive on FFP2 vs SARS-CoV-2). Such masks are commonly used in construction and the like (apparently), so guessing, this is a result of the local yacht shipyards, where — again, guessing — such masks are in common use…

    Sadly, my beard — the notorious hedgehog swallowed sideways — will interfere with the masks.

    Presumably unrelated (to both the hedgehog and local village’s scheme), French police seize 14,000 face masks bound for black market. The seized masks just happen to be FFP2s.

  93. blf says

    Trump is unravelling — even his supporters can’t ignore it now:

    […]
    I don’t know what kind of disinfectant Donald Trump has been injecting, but the man does not appear to be well. The president’s [sic] lethal medical musing has turned him into (even more of) a global laughing stock and the widespread ridicule has clearly bruised his fragile ego. While Trump has never been a paradigm of calmness or competence, he has become increasingly irate and erratic in recent days. Now even his diehard supporters seem to be cooling towards him. Is the very stable genius starting to unravel? [just “starting”? — he’s never been very ravelled in the first place! –blf]

    Let’s start with the president’s [sic] weekend tweetstorm, which, even by Trumpian standards, was spectacularly unhinged. On Sunday, Trump lashed out at what he called a phony story in the New York Times that claimed he spends his days eating junk food and watching TV. […] He then deleted the tweet and replaced it with one in which hamburger was spelled correctly. (This was clearly a challenge for him: he has previously misspelled hamburgers hamberders.)

    It turned out that the hambergers were just an appetiser. A rant about the Noble prize, which Trump seems to have confused with the Pulitzer prize, followed. This was subsequently deleted and replaced with a tweet stating it had all been an exercise in sarcasm. He is a master of sarcasm, as we all know.

    […]

    Perhaps the only people more incompetent than Trump are the ragtag team of sycophants he has surrounded himself with. According to Politico, Trump is leaning heavily on Hope Hicks, who he reportedly calls Hopey, to steer him through the coronavirus crisis. Hicks, 31, who was formerly the White House communications director, is one of Trump’s most-trusted aides; according to one tell-all book, her duties used to include steaming his trousers — while he wore them. It turns out Hopey is the mastermind who urged Trump to act as a frontman during the crisis instead of deferring to health experts. Now that plan has backfired, Hicks — who officially works under boy genius Jared Kushner — is apparently developing a new strategy for Trump. He had better Hopey this one is a little more effective.

  94. says

    @SC 108
    I’ve been thinking about how to take advantage of the lack of positive case for Donald Trump. His followers often just try to pivot to someone else being worse, and depending on the issue that someone else isn’t an american running against him or politicking against him (china, who…). But since I’m not a D that doesn’t work very well.
    I didn’t consider challenging Trump with the knowledge that his supporters often don’t want to talk about him on issues. And aparently some Rs think no one should try.

    To be fair loads of Ds also redirect to Trump instead of positively supporting a candidate, but I think that’s because it’s uniquely easy at the moment.

  95. blf says

    The Grauniad has long been praised in this series of poopyhead threads, especially for their Covid-19 pandemic coverage — please support the Grauniad if possible — so not really a surprise, Guardian tops poll of national [UK] papers for coronavirus coverage:

    Twice as many Britons feel outlet is doing a ‘good job’ compared with nearest rival amid record traffic to its website

    The Guardian’s coverage of the coronavirus outbreak is considered to be substantially better than any other British newspaper, according to a University of Oxford study looking at the UK population’s attitudes to news during the lockdown.

    […]

    The Guardian’s website was also one of the most-read sources for information on the outbreak, second only to BBC News. This fits with internal traffic statistics which show the Guardian has consistently reached record audiences over the last two months […]

    […]

    Separate research published on Tuesday by media regulator Ofcom […] found that around half the population had encountered disinformation suggesting the coronavirus pandemic was linked to the roll-out of 5G mobile phone technology — although it did not ask respondents whether they believed the conspiracy theory, which has led to people burning down telecoms equipment.

  96. says

    G liveblog:

    Vladimir Putin has extended a non-working period in Russia until 11 May, as he warned the rate of infection in the country had not yet peaked, according to Reuters.

    The Russian president made the announcement during a televised meeting with senior government officials and regional heads.

    Restrictions were due to be lifted at the end of April, but Putin said the peak of Russia’s coronavirus infections had not yet been reached.

    He ordered the government to come up with fresh measures aimed at supporting the economy and citizens, and to prepare recommendations on gradually easing the coronavirus lockdown restrictions by 5 May.

    He “ordered the government”? What’s he doing?

  97. says

    Zoe Tillman, BuzzFeed: “Hello from my living room, where I’ll be streaming arguments at 9:30am before the en banc DC Circuit in two blockbuster cases about whether/under what circumstances Congress can take the executive branch to court — the Don McGahn subpoena fight, and a border wall funding dispute….”

    This is still going on.

    Tierney Sneed, TPM: “lol merrick garland just got DOJ to say that if a president instructed treasury to just pay for the health care for uninsured people, congress couldnt sue to stop it.”

  98. tomh says

    WaPo:
    Va. gun range wins first victory against order requiring businesses to close
    By Justin Jouvenal, April 27, 2020

    A Virginia Circuit Court judge ruled Monday that the governor exceeded his authority by forcing an indoor gun range in Lynchburg to close as part of his order shuttering some nonessential businesses.

    Lynchburg Circuit Judge F. Patrick Yeatts’s decision to grant a temporary injunction allowing Safeside Tactical to reopen marks the first victory by a business challenging restrictions imposed by Gov. Ralph Northam (D) to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.

    Yeatts ruled the state law that allowed Northam to declare a state of emergency gives him broad powers, but it specifically prohibits him from limiting the right to keep and bear arms. The judge found accessing indoor gun ranges falls under that right.

    The gun lobby is relentless. Although gun shops and outdoor ranges remained open, temporarily closing an indoor range was just too much.

  99. says

    HuffPo – “Senators Demand Answers About Jared Kushner’s Role In Distributing Medical Supplies”:

    Two Democratic senators are demanding that the country’s largest medical equipment providers shed light on the White House’s role in distributing life-saving supplies during the coronavirus pandemic.

    In letters sent Monday, Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) asked six companies to explain how and where the Trump administration has decided to direct critically needed medical supplies now that the White House is deeply involved with managing the nation’s supply chain.

    “Given the ‘unprecedented’ nature of this partnership, and the numerous reported problems with states and hospital officials being unable to obtain personal protective equipment and other medical supplies, or having shipments of these materials seized by federal officials and spirited to unknown destinations, the American people need an explanation for how these supplies are obtained, priced, and distributed,” the letters read.

    The senators’ questions revolve around Project Airbridge, a public-private partnership overseen by President Donald Trump’s close adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to accelerate overseas shipments of supplies like personal protective equipment.

    Kushner has touted the partnership as an “unprecedented” answer to critical supply shortages facing many hospitals. Under the arrangement, the U.S. government pays to ship orders of supplies like masks, gowns, gloves and respirators from overseas. The companies ordering the supplies — giants such as McKesson Corporation and Cardinal Health — still pay for those orders and are permitted to sell half to buyers that have already placed orders. The companies must then sell the other half to hard-hit regions prioritized by the federal government.

    But Project Airbridge is subject to little public oversight. The administration has not publicized what it considers “hot spots” or what controls it is placing on supplies being flown into the country with taxpayer money.

    Warren and Blumenthal asked companies to clarify whether they are hiking up the prices of those supplies. The senators are also seeking transparency on how much equipment Project Airbridge has moved, how companies are selected, and which hard-hit regions of the country are receiving half the equipment.

    The senators sent their requests to Cardinal Health, Concordance, Henry Schein, McKesson, Medline, and Owens & Minor, all major medical wholesalers and distributors, and set a May 8 deadline for responses….

  100. tomh says

    Re: #123
    I forgot to mention that the the judge in this case, F. Patrick Yeatts, got his J.D. from Regent University (founded by Pat Roberson) and was the attorney for Liberty University (Jerry Falwell’s school.)

  101. says

    From text quoted by SC @111:

    governmental failures over coronavirus are inseparable from Brexit ‘simplism’ in general

    That’s the first time I’ve seen “simplism” used to describe that kind of rightwing mindset, but, yes, I agree.

    The tendency to overly simplify every issue is endemic. It’s as if they get to a certain point in analyzing a situation, and then it hurts their brain to go any further. The threat of thinking too long and hard, the threat of actually having to do a lot of work … those threats are perceived as actual threats. So they retreat into an overly simplified description. And, worse yet, they run for the comfort of well-trodden pathways like “patriotism,” “English excellence in all things,” “winning WWII,” etc.

    In the USA, Trump’s cult followers do the same things. They just add trumpian flavors like MAGA, evangelical christianity, the founding fathers, freedom, guns, etc.

  102. says

    Follow-up to SC @115.

    Let’s not let Trump get away with claiming “no responsibility” this time.

    […] At a White House press briefing, NBC News’ Kristen Welker asked him whether he should take responsibility for the failure to disseminate larger quantities of tests earlier. “I don’t take responsibility at all,” Trump replied.

    Yesterday, we saw a similar display.

    President Donald Trump said he takes no responsibility for a spike in cases of people misusing disinfectants after he wondered aloud last week about possibly injecting them as a treatment for coronavirus. When asked Monday about the increase of people in some states ingesting disinfectants Trump answered: “I can’t imagine why.”

    Pressed further on whether he takes any responsibility for those harmed by misuse of cleaning products, the president replied, “No, I don’t.”

    The fact that Trump is preemptively dodging culpability isn’t exactly surprising. On the contrary, it’s one of his standard moves. But what struck me as notable was the president twice saying he “can’t imagine why” there’d be a sudden increase in poison-control problems.

    As it happens, I can imagine why. On Thursday afternoon, the president of the United States told a national television audience that disinfectants are effective in “knocking out” the virus “in a minute.” He proceeded to wonder aloud whether there’s “a way we can do something like that by injection inside — or almost a cleaning.”

    It wasn’t long before Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) said her state had “seen an increase in numbers of people calling poison control.” Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said something similar.

    State health officials in Illinois said over the weekend that there’d been “a significant increase in calls” to the state’s poison control center, and New York’s health department acknowledged a related increase.

    The Topeka Capital-Journal reported yesterday that Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Lee Norman said poison control officials in his state saw “a 40% increase in the ingestion of toxic chemicals following remarks made by President Donald Trump.” Norman added that one Kansan over the weekend drank a disinfectant product “because of the advice that he had received.”

    It’s against this backdrop that Trump “can’t imagine” why there’d be an increase in Americans misusing disinfectants. […]

    Link

  103. says

    Trump is moving the goalposts again when it comes to the death toll from the coronavirus pandemic. This makes me think, in part, that Trump is relatively comfortable accepting large death tolls because he had no empathy in the first place.

    New York’s Olivia Nuzzi asked the final question at yesterday’s White House press briefing, and it was a doozy: “If an American president loses more Americans over the course of six weeks than died in the entirety of the Vietnam War, does he deserve to be reelected?”

    The reaction to the question from assorted far-right websites was unkind, but Donald Trump didn’t seem to take issue with the premise. He replied:

    “So, yeah, we’ve lost a lot of people. But if you look at what original projections were — 2.2 million — we’re probably heading to 60,000, 70,000. It’s far too many. One person is too many for this. And I think we’ve made a lot of really good decisions.”

    The president went on to try to defend the White House’s record, concluding, “I think we’ve done a great job.” […]

    Exactly one week earlier, Trump held a briefing and shared his expectations for the pandemic’s U.S. death toll: “[W]e’re going toward 50, I’m hearing, or 60,000 people. One is too many. I always say it: One is too many. But we’re going toward 50- or 60,000 people…. We could end up at 50 to 60. Okay?”

    That was last Monday. This Monday, the goalposts shifted: 50,000 to 60,000 has become 60,000 to 70,000.

    […]. Within four days of Trump saying the U.S. death toll could end up as low as 50,000, the number of fatalities cleared that threshold and kept going.

    Which apparently meant it was time for a new bar.

    The lesson the president should’ve learned last week is that sharing overly rosy projections with the public is unwise. But Trump appears to have missed that lesson entirely, concluding that the smarter tack is to quietly move the goalposts and hope no one notices.

    Except, this strategy isn’t likely to go well, either. The U.S. death toll will clear 56,000 today, and barring a miracle, projections show the number will climb above 60,000 next week, if not sooner.

    Will Trump appear before the cameras next week and declare. “We’re probably heading to 70,000, 80,000”?

    Link

    I expect Trump to continue to move the goalposts as needed to suit his view of himself as keeping the death toll to a minimum. It’s another version of coming in “under budget and ahead of schedule.” He doesn’t mind lying and shirking his duties in order to shore up that fragile ego of his.

  104. says

    As has already been noted up-thread, Trump was warned many times about the severity of the coming pandemic. Nicole Lafond wrote about this:

    There have been dozens of news reports in recent weeks suggesting […] Trump was warned about the dire circumstances surrounding the coronavirus pandemic around the same time that he was downplaying the spread publicly.

    The Washington Post added fodder to that argument with a new report on Monday evening, revealing that Trump was warned in at least 12 difference classified intelligence briefings throughout the months of January and February about the virus spread. The warnings were reportedly included in the President’s Daily Brief, a document given to presidents each day to inform them of the most severe and sensitive developments and threats around the globe.

    It’s been known for some time that Trump rarely reads the briefing and has requested that it be read to him orally instead. But, per the Post, Trump was made aware in these reports that the virus was spreading and China was hiding information about the deadliness and contagiousness of the disease. Around the same time, we saw the President comparing the deadly virus to the flu and downplaying the need for swift action in the U.S.

    TPM link

    Utterly unforgivable.

  105. johnson catman says

    re tomh @123:

    Yeatts ruled the state law that allowed Northam to declare a state of emergency gives him broad powers, but it specifically prohibits him from limiting the right to keep and bear arms. The judge found accessing indoor gun ranges falls under that right.

    That is some pretty twisted “logic” to get to that conclusion. The right to “keep and bear arms” doesn’t really seem to say anything about “indoor shooting”.
    .
    re Lynna @129:

    [The Orange Toddler-Tyrant] said he takes no responsibility for a spike in cases of people misusing disinfectants after he wondered aloud last week about possibly injecting them as a treatment for coronavirus. When asked Monday about the increase of people in some states ingesting disinfectants [he] answered: “I can’t imagine why.”

    A non-functioning or missing brain leads to a lack of imagination.

  106. says

    WTF?

    Trump to use Defense Production Act to reopen pork, chicken plants closed due to COVID-19 outbreaks

    If there is a counterproductive way to use presidential powers, Trump will find it.

    From Hunter at Daily Kos:

    As pandemic-related closures rock the nation’s meat processing plants, Bloomberg is now reporting that Donald Trump plans to “order” beef, chicken, pork, and egg processing plants to remain open despite the risks to employees and surrounding communities.

    Bloomberg cites an unnamed source to report Trump “plans to use the Defense Production Act to order the plants to stay open.”

    This would be a … surprising move, to say the least. The plants, owned by meat producing giants like Smithfield and Tyson foods, have been shuttered due to mass outbreaks of infection among employees and multiple deaths. Over 300 workers in a now-shuttered Smithfield plant tested positive for COVID-19. Trump would essentially be ordering workers at those plants, by law, to return to the job despite the risk.

    […] Trump has hinted that he will solve the problem of endangering workers in a more brute-force way: by immunizing plant owners from liability if their employees do get infected—or die.

    This would be a smaller scale version of the blanket immunity the White House and Republican leaders are mulling for all reopening businesses.

    Whether workers will agree to return to work is not clear; Trump may be able to “order” the plants to reopen, likely paving the way for plant owners to swiftly fire any workers who refuse to come back or who demand safer working conditions for their return. However, that does not necessarily mean other workers will be eager to take their place after numerous plants throughout America swiftly became hotspots for coronavirus infection.

    Link

  107. says

    Trump, quoted in Lynna’s #130:

    [W]e’re going toward 50, I’m hearing, or 60,000 people. One is too many. I always say it: One is too many. But we’re going toward 50- or 60,000 people…. We could end up at 50 to 60. Okay?

    So, yeah, we’ve lost a lot of people. But if you look at what original projections were — 2.2 million — we’re probably heading to 60,000, 70,000. It’s far too many. One person is too many for this. And I think we’ve made a lot of really good decisions.

    The “one is too many” thing is something he says whenever the tens of thousands of preventable deaths are raised. It’s an insultingly meaningless phrase in the context of thousands of deaths a day, and not reflected in his lethargy and passivity in addressing the crisis. Very likely something one of his PR people – Hicks, possibly – gave him or told him to repeat while he’s downplaying the suffering to try to fake some understanding that the deaths are a bad thing independent of his image problems and reelection chances. (As usual, he helps give the game away when he adds “I always say it” as if to underscore that it’s nothing but an empty catchphrase.)

  108. says

    The United States has to test like no other nation, because Trump screwed up like no other leader.

    From the first moment that social distancing guidelines were considered, critics said that such steps were “just buying time.” Which is exactly correct. Diseases like COVID-19 can’t be wiped out by social distancing, but these steps can slow the rate of transmission, reducing the number of cases at any given moment and providing an opportunity for other actions. Those other actions are lead by testing. […] If it were possible to put everyone with an active infection into isolation, the rest of the nation could go back to work […]

    But the problem isn’t the time purchased by social distancing. It’s the time wasted by Donald Trump. By failing to prepare for the pandemic when it first became a threat in January and continuing to snooze through February despite a wave of cases that was building both outside and inside the United States, the nation entered March with an epidemic already underway and testing that was utterly inadequate to find active cases and isolate them.

    […] the level of testing it will take at this point is genuinely enormous.

    At the time South Korea brought the epidemic within its borders firmly under control, it had conducted just over 500,000 tests. It has continued testing since that point, and has now conducted another 100,000. On Monday, there were only 10 new cases of COVID-19 in South Korea, all of them with known sources.

    […] Fiddling away the entire month of February and continuing to provide inadequate numbers of tests since then has meant that testing has completely failed to describe the scope of infection at any point. Pair that lack of testing with no federal coordination of test results, no federal case tracing, no effort to standardize where and when tests are administered, and the result is a nation where 10 million tests can be done … and it will not, cannot be enough.

    The percentage of positive tests in South Korea is 1.7%. Australia, which has also managed to bring the rate of new cases to a tiny number thanks to widespread testing and effective case tracing, has a positive percentage of 1.2% over 500,000 tests. Both countries used social distancing guidelines to buy time, but they also used that time, acting quickly to bring in a strong, federally-managed testing program. The total number of deaths in South Korea is 243. In Australia, it’s 83.

    Had the United States engaged in an active program of testing and case tracing in February, it is almost certain that the total number of cases in the United States could have been held to a level similar to those in South Korea and Australia. And the number of Americans dead at this point would be less than 1,000.</B

    […] To reach a level of 2% positives, the United States would at this point need to conduct 45 million more tests—and that’s if it didn’t discover any new cases of disease. In reality, America is likely to need well over 100 million more tests. And it must pair those tests with an equally massive effort at case management, isolation, and follow-up. What was a huge task two months ago has been made almost overwhelming by pure time-wasting. And it still has to be done.

    As The New York Times reports, Trump’s return to the evening self-congratulation session on Monday included word that the government intended to test at a rate that eventually reaches about 2% of the population in a week. That level of testing would have been wholly adequate two months ago. But is laughably inadequate now and becoming more inadequate by the day.

    As economist Paul Romer noted, testing at a 2% level isn’t even enough to test the nation’s healthcare workers once a week, even if their patients were completely ignored. […]

    […] the choice can be made to have inadequate social distancing and inadequate testing, which simply results in more deaths. [that seems to be the choice of many Republican governors, and it is the choice Trump already took.]

    […]

    Link

  109. tomh says

    Pew Research Center yesterday released a study of the extent to which each state has created religious exemptions to COVID-19 distancing orders.

    Sixteen states allow religious gatherings, with no limit on their size. In some cases, states have deemed religious worship “essential,” in the same category as food shopping and health care. These states include Florida, South Carolina and Tennessee, among others. Twenty-one states and D.C. allow religious gatherings of only ten or fewer people. Three states have other kinds of limits. Only ten states prevent all in-person religious gatherings.

    Lawsuits have popped up all over the country seeking relief from restrictions on religious gatherings, for instance, this one in Virginia last week, seeking a TRO plus damages (warning– it’s a 50 page complaint.) Expect Barr’s DOJ to get behind these lawsuits.

  110. says

    “Nothing But Death”: Inside the Nursing Home Where NYC’s Most Vulnerable Struggle to Survive COVID-19

    Fifteen years ago, when LeVar Lawrence was 28 years old, he was shot and paralyzed from the neck down. Suddenly unable to bathe or eat or get out of bed without help, […] after the first hospital he was in closed down, he was moved to Coler Rehabilitation and Nursing Care Center on the northern tip of Roosevelt Island, a skinny strip of land floating between Queens and Manhattan in New York. Established in the 1950s, Coler is a city-run, long-term care facility for people like Lawrence who require full-time medical care and rely on Medicaid or Medicare to pay for it.

    At Coler, Lawrence rediscovered his childhood interest in art through the OPEN DOORS project, joining an artist collective called the Reality Poets. Using a stylus that he drives with his mouth, Lawrence creates digital art. Known within the group as “the Vartist,” Lawrence illustrated the “Wheeling and Healing” poetry anthology and takes commissions. Every weekend he goes to visit his family in Brooklyn, where he was born and raised.

    But for the past month, Lawrence has been isolated in his room at Coler with two other residents. Both of his roommates started showing symptoms of COVID-19 in early April. […]

    . Residents typically live four to a room and require physical help to accomplish everyday tasks, like getting into their wheelchairs or eating, which makes social distancing impossible. Lawrence cannot wear a face mask because he uses his mouth to drive his wheelchair and type with a stylus on his phone. During our conversation, incessant, hacking coughs in the background interrupted the flow. “You’re hearing everything you need to know,” Lawrence said. “It’s just been hell. Very stressful.” […]

    The arrival of the coronavirus at Coler was swift and brutal. The first case was detected in mid-March, when two long-terms residents in a women’s unit tested positive for COVID-19 and one passed away. Since then, some staff estimate that over 20 residents have died. “They’re just not testing anymore,” said Cynthia, a staff nurse who is using a pseudonym for fear she might lose her job. “They said treat them all as infectious. Residents are dying every day.” There have been five deaths in Cynthia’s unit, all of whom were showing COVID-19 symptoms; she insists that none had been tested. […]

    “Part of the perception among the residents is that because they are predominantly people of color—many of them young, mostly Latino and African American men who ended up there as the result of gun violence—the administration really doesn’t care about them.”

    On Monday, March 16, the day after deciding to close New York City’s public schools, Mayor Bill de Blasio held a press conference to explain how the city was going to respond to the rapidly escalating spread of the coronavirus across its five boroughs. At that time there were 464 cases, but over the next month the number of cases skyrocketed to 112,141, and confirmed deaths rose to 7,890, which turned New York into the epicenter of the outbreak, […]

    shortages have proved deadly. Cynthia’s unit is normally staffed with five health care workers. In April, she said that number dropped to three as her colleagues started calling out of work, either because they were sick or afraid of getting infected. “They are so short on staffing,” Cynthia said, “one day I came in and I was the only nurse on my floor, caring for two units.” The shortages only exacerbate the discomfort and poor health of residents. Another nurse who asked not to be named notes, “We try our best to turn them every two or three hours so they won’t break down, but you need two people for the transfer into the chair, and two people to get them back. Right now they cannot take them out. There are too few staff.”

    […] The Coler administration started quarantining entire units, leaving patients who were showing symptoms in the same room as those who were healthy, like LeVar Lawrence. […] “Why would you hold someone who tests positive in a unit with 50 other people? It’s going to be nothing but death.” […]

    When residents started dying, some health workers received face shields. “I asked what happened to N95,” said Cynthia. “They said we don’t have N95. Only for nurses and doctors, not nurse’s aids.” One day, one of her patients was still healthy when she left. Four hours later, she learned that the patient had been sent to Mt. Sinai hospital and died. “A healthy patient is a dead patient in four hours. We realized we don’t know what we’re up against,” she said. “We started ripping fabric to cover our hair, making our own PPE.” […]

    More at the link.

    Link

  111. says

    Guardian – “Concern as coronavirus threatens Russia’s closed ‘nuclear cities’”:

    The head of Russia’s state-run nuclear corporation has expressed concern about the spread of the new coronavirus to three “nuclear cities”, including one that houses a top-secret research institute that helped develop the Soviet atomic bomb.

    The cities are closely linked to Russia’s nuclear industry, which is managed by the Rosatom corporation. Several are closed to foreigners and Russians require special clearance to enter them as facilities located there are closely guarded secrets.

    Rosatom chief Alexei Likhachev said special deliveries of ventilators and personal protection equipment (PPE) were being sent to the closed town of Sarov, east of Moscow, and other towns where dozens of cases of the virus have been registered.

    “This [pandemic] creates a direct threat to our nuclear towns. The situation in Sarov, Elektrostal [and] Desnogorsk is today particularly alarming,” he said in an online speech to Russia’s nuclear industry workers.

    “The situation in Sarov is exacerbated by an outbreak of the illness in the nearby Diveyevo monastery,” he said, without elaborating further.

    Likhachev made his remarks on a day when Russia reported its biggest daily rise in new coronavirus cases. Russia now ranks eighth worldwide with 93,558 confirmed cases, though its [official – SC] death toll of 867 is still far below that of many other countries.

    Last week, Rosatom said seven people at Sarov’s All-Russian Scientific Research Institute of Experimental Physics had been diagnosed with coronavirus, bringing the total number of cases in the city – which has a population of about 95,000 – to 23.

    It said the outbreak in Sarov had begun when a retired couple returned to the city from a Russian holiday resort and that more than 100 people had since been isolated to stop it spreading further.

  112. says

    Ever the bully, looking for leverage to bully his perceived opponents even more, Trump suggested a federal bailout for states could depend on the sanctuary city policies of those states.

    […] Trump on Tuesday suggested that state and local bailout money from the federal government could hinge on whether the immigration policies of the individual governments seeking relief align with Trump administration priorities.

    Between skyrocketing healthcare expenses and the costs of an unprecedented economic shutdown, the coronavirus has imperiled state and local budgets across the country, prompting calls for federal relief. During an exchange with reporters on Tuesday, the president suggested he would be open to such a plan, but only for states economically impacted by coronavirus, not for problems “related for mismanagement over a long time.”

    Alongside Trump’s suggestion that states will have to look at sanctuary city policies the president also said a payroll tax cut would need to be part of any negotiation on a state and local bailout.

    “I think there’s a big difference with a state that lost money because of covid and a state that’s been run very badly for 25 years,” the president said during his meeting with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. “There’s a big difference, in my opinion. And you know, we’d have to talk about things like payroll tax cuts. We’d have to talk about things like sanctuary cities, as an example. I think sanctuary cities is something that has to be brought up where people who are criminals are protected, they are protected from prosecution.”

    He continued: “I think that has to be done. I think it’s one of the problems that the states have. I don’t even think they know they have a problem, but they have a big problem with the sanctuary situation.” […]

    In a bipartisan letter to Congress last week, the National Governors Association emphasized that coronavirus-related financial hardship has struck blue and red states across the country. But the president has used the requests as an opportunity to attack Democrat-led states, insisting on Tuesday that without certain conditions, such bailouts would be unfair to the states “that have done such a good job.” […]

    Link

  113. says

    Quoted in Lynna’s #133:

    Bloomberg is now reporting that Donald Trump plans to “order” beef, chicken, pork, and egg processing plants to remain open despite the risks to employees and surrounding communities.

    Bloomberg cites an unnamed source to report Trump “plans to use the Defense Production Act to order the plants to stay open.”

    This would be a … surprising move, to say the least. The plants, owned by meat producing giants like Smithfield and Tyson foods, have been shuttered due to mass outbreaks of infection among employees and multiple deaths. Over 300 workers in a now-shuttered Smithfield plant tested positive for COVID-19. Trump would essentially be ordering workers at those plants, by law, to return to the job despite the risk.

    […] Trump has hinted that he will solve the problem of endangering workers in a more brute-force way: by immunizing plant owners from liability if their employees do get infected—or die.

    Seems like they would then have a good case against the federal government.

  114. says

    Most legislators will stay away from D.C. a while longer.

    House leaders on Tuesday reversed course on plans to bring the chamber back into session next week amid fears about whether it is safe to return to the Capitol during the coronavirus pandemic.

    Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) announced the change in plans […] citing discussions with the Capitol physician, who warned that the Washington region has not yet flattened its number of coronavirus cases.

    […] “The House physician’s view was that there was a risk to members that was one he would not recommend taking.”

    Hoyer said that House leaders will instead wait to call members back to Washington when the next round of coronavirus relief legislation is ready for a vote. […]

    “So under those circumstances, we have decided that we will not come back next week, but we will come back very soon to pass the [next] piece of legislation. And at that point in time, we will be asking members to return to Washington,” Hoyer said.

    […] “We are going to be working in the interim on trying to facilitate committees meeting in a real way, but virtually, and provisions for the House of the Representatives to meet if in fact members cannot come back because of the virus,” Hoyer said. […]

    Guidance from House officials that everyone wear face masks had mixed results. Most members of both parties wore masks, but some GOP lawmakers opted to forgo the advice.

    Hoyer and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told Democrats on a conference call on Monday that they planned to proceed with a vote on allowing a form of remote voting regardless of whether Republicans get on board with the plan.

    House Democratic leaders have warmed to the idea of allowing proxy voting, in which absent members could authorize other members physically present in the Capitol to cast votes on their behalf. They initially planned to put the rule change up for a vote last week but called it off following pushback from Republicans, who argued that lawmakers should still be voting in person during the pandemic.

    Link

  115. says

    G liveblog:

    The US has reached the milestone of one million confirmed coronavirus cases, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

    The US death toll is now over 57,000.

    The United States accounts for about a third of all confirmed cases.

    The global total stands at 3,083,467, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The US has confirmed 1,002,498.

    That is far more than any other country. Spain has confirmed 232,128 cases, and Italy has confirmed 201,505 cases. No other country has confirmed more than 200,000 cases.

  116. says

    Good news: New Orleans reported zero coronavirus deaths for the first time in 37 days.

    Predictable, but terrible news: the USA reported more than 1 million cases of COVID-19 cases.

    Trump’s inane blathering is still having deleterious effects: The FDA issued a warning: people should NOT be drinking hand sanitizer solutions.

  117. says

    Saturday’s episode of Lovett or Leave It – “The King’s Bleach”:

    John Hodgman judges the monologue. Ronan Farrow and I face tough questions from Akilah Hughes. Katie Porter joins for an update from Congress. And we hear this week’s highs (and a few rants) from listeners. Packed show! A real barn burner. (Burning barns does NOT cure coronavirus.)

    One-hour podcast atl. Interesting discussion with Katie Porter about various aspects of the congressional situation.

  118. says

    From Wonkette: “Proud Boys See ‘Reopen America’ Rallies As Chance To Recruit Fellow Idiots To Their Cause”

    The “Reopen America” rallies happening across the country have managed to attract all kinds, and by “all kinds” we mean anti-vaxxers, QAnon people, white nationalists, neo-Confederate groups, your average unaffiliated selfish Trumpist asshole who can’t conceive of why they should have to go perm-less just because it might save a few lives, and, of course, people who are all of these things at once. Probably most of them are all of these things at once.

    Thus, it should come as no surprise that the Proud Boys are also involved. You remember the Proud Boys — the Trump-loving, cereal naming, milk-chugging, violent street gang/fraternity previously led by professional bigot Gavin McInnes and known for wearing matching outfits, assaulting protesters, and talking about “Western Chauvinism”? They are known to be friendly with various white nationalists and white nationalist groups and say a lot of racist things but also insist they can’t be racist because of how one of their members is married to a former friend of mine (no joke) who happens to be a black woman?[…]

    they’re hoping to use these rallies to attract new members and supporters and propel themselves into being minutely culturally relevant again.

    The Southern Poverty Law Center reports:

    On April 19, the Proud Boys announced a plan called “Operation: Reopen Florida”, which included a series of rallies around the state on April 25 to “stand for freedom & against the democrat driven unconstitutional lockdown.” The promotional poster for the event, […] directs you to the group’s online store. There, you can sign up for emails to hear more about their upcoming events and purchase clothing and other items that provide financial support for the Proud Boys.

    Ah yes, the Proud Boys online shop — where for $50, you too could be the “proud” owner of this travel mug reading StopTheSlander.com (a website that does not actually exist) on one side, and “Alex Jones, Gavin McInnes, Milo Yiannopoulos, Proud Boys and Laura Loomer” written on the other.

    The Proud Boys are also using these rallies to rally people to their other causes, like their war against Antifa. As such, they have declared the nurses and other health care workers blocking Reopen America jerks from blocking hospital entrances to also be Antifa. […]

    They’ve also been prominent participants and creators of Facebook “Boogaloo” groups — rightwing terrorist sleeper cells planning to use the pandemic to spark a Civil War. […]

    See comment 25 for more on Boogaloo groups.

    Of course, when they are not planning to kill us all, they are searching to find some semblance of mainstream legitimacy. As such, two of them are running for office, one already serves on the Fennville, Michigan, city commission, and others have used the rallies as opportunities to pose with congressional candidates like Michigan’s Mike Detmer:

    […] prompting Detmer to post a Facebook video describing the Proud Boys as a group fighting for “all the things that you value in your Constitution.” In an accompanying post, he listed and described all of the official Proud Boys tenets, including “Reinstating a Spirit of Western Chauvinism.”

    Yep! A Congressional candidate posting about “Reinstating a Spirit of Western Chauvinism” like it’s a good and normal thing. Those tenets also include “venerate the housewife” on account of how all the Proud Boys think women shouldn’t have jobs and should instead stay home and have their babies and make them sandwiches.

    On the bright side, while the Proud Boys may attract a few new members here and there, and may even make an impression on a few aspiring lawmakers, their participation in these rallies will only serve to remind the rest of the country of what absolute [choose your own descriptor] they are.

    Link

  119. says

    Oh, Tucker Carlson, really? You were already a mix of bad news and misinformation, and now you are effing dangerous.

    There is new misinformation du jour about the novel coronavirus and it is all over Facebook, and of course, it is now being injected into the brainless heads of Fox News viewers […]

    Fucking Tucker Carlson, goddammit. If there was a moment where he was being halfway decent about the dangers of COVID-19 — better than Hannity, at least — that moment is over. Carlson gave a prominent place to the misinformation du jour last night, […]

    Carlson featured the video that’s flying all over Facebook, of two dumbass urgent care doctors in the medical hub of “Bakersfield,” who have done a little of their own back-of-the-napkin “research” and determined that coronavirus is a mere sniffle. Tucker Carlson, of course, presented the doctors as the REAL experts THEY don’t want you to know about, because Tucker Carlson is full of shit. […]

    Carlson began by referring to new studies showing that COVID-19 is actually much more widespread in the population than we originally knew, which is something pretty much everybody suspected. He extrapolated that this therefore means it’s much less deadly than we thought, simply because all these people have it and aren’t symptomatic. (We still don’t know why some people remain asymptomatic, while others — many others — get very sick and die. We do know it’s very deadly though, to the tune of almost 60,000 dead Americans so far, in just two months. And we don’t know about what longterm effects might hit people who were exposed and didn’t die.) Carlson accused “the people in charge” of “ignoring the science.” […]
    CARLSON: Here’s a physician and researcher from California called Dr. Dan Erickson. Erickson and a partner just delivered a 50-minute briefing on the latest numbers from California. The video they made has been viewed millions of times in a few days online. [If it’s a viral video, it MUST be true! – Ed.] The bottom line is after looking carefully at the data, these two researchers have concluded that California should end its shelter-in-place order:

    DR. DAN ERICKSON: We’ve seen 1,227 deaths in the state of California, with a possible incidence or prevalence of 4.7 million. That means you have a 0.03 chance [sic] of dying from COVID-19 in the state of California. 0.03 chance [sic] of dying from COVID in the state of California. Is that — does that necessitate sheltering in place? Does that necessitate shutting down medical systems? Does that necessitate people being out of work?

    CARLSON: These are serious people who’ve done this for a living for decades.

    Actually no. They are urgent care docs from Bakersfield (Bakersfield’s finest!), and they are not epidemiologists.They own a string of urgent care facilities, and they appear to be mad COVID-19 has fucked up their business model. […]

    CARLSON: They have in their hands the largest currently available data sets on this question. And the question they’re asking after analyzing all of those numbers: Are the lockdowns worth it? So what is the answer to that? What’s so striking is that so many politicians, the ones enforcing the lockdowns, don’t seem at all interested in asking it. Instead they’re bulling (?) forward as if nothing has changed. Just today, the San Francisco Bay Area announced it will be extending its lockdown until the end of May, that’s five weeks from now. What is the scientific justification for doing that? They didn’t tell us, because there is none. None.
    Tucker Carlson says there is no scientific justification, therefore there is none. None. (Trump’s CDC director Robert Redfield, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dr. Deborah Birx, and all other public health and epidemiology experts disagree.)

    Over at Cal Matters, an actual journalism website, medicine and health reporter Barbara Feder Ostrov examined Dr. Erickson’s junk science about a “0.03 death rate [sic]” from COVID-19, and spoke to actual epidemiologists to see if these guys are full of shit. You will never guess what she found out.

    […] public health experts were quick to debunk the doctors’ findings as misguided and riddled with statistical errors — and an example of the kind of misleading information they are forced to waste precious time disputing. […]

    Dr. Carl Bergstrom, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Washington, explained to Ostrov that the dipshits shouldn’t have assumed their test subjects — people who specifically came to an urgent care looking for corona tests, because of how they were sick — were a good subset of the general population, comparing it to “estimating the average height of Americans from the players on an NBA court.”

    […] Erickson and his buddy Massihi are not very good at math or science. Did we mention they are also not epidemiologists? That seems important.

    Ostrov noted that the American College of Emergency Physicians and the American Academy of Emergency Medicine have also called bullshit on these idiots:

    T]he American College of Emergency Physicians and the American Academy of Emergency Medicine declared they “emphatically condemn the recent opinions released by Dr. Daniel Erickson and Dr. Artin Messihi. These reckless and untested musings do not speak for medical societies and are inconsistent with current science and epidemiology regarding COVID-19. As owners of local urgent care clinics, it appears these two individuals are releasing biased, non-peer reviewed data to advance their personal financial interests without regard for the public’s health.”

    Want another actual expert? Here’s Andrew Noymer, a public health professor at UC Irvine, quoted in the Bakersfield newspaper:

    “They’re advancing factual inaccuracies and playing off the esoteric nature of the mortality stats to make a case that the economy should be reopened,” Noymer said. “I agree it should be reopened, but it should be opened deliberately, bit by bit, and informed by science. Not informed by a misreading of the mortality.”

    How about another actual expert? Here’s an ER doc in Michigan, as quoted by Ostrov, calling out what really seems to be motivating these Trump-loving dumbfuck boy wonders of Bakersfield, shut up, it IS TOO where all the best and brightest medical minds go to open up urgent care chains!

    […] While re-opening the economy might be good for their Urgent Care Centers (sic), it would kill medical personnel on the actual front lines.

    […] After Tucker Carlson’s fact-free bullshit that your Uncle Bugfuck is now drunk-quoting, he went on to say everything is great now, that the “curve has been flattened, but it’s likely not because of the lockdowns.” (How does he know? Just does!) He said hospitals haven’t collapsed from coronavirus, and that actually hospitals are collapsing “from lack of patients.” He and the medical rent-a-cops are right about one thing, though: California’s COVID-19 curve got flattened way earlier than anybody else’s. California — specifically the Bay Area — also shut everything down first. Oh golly, we wonder if those things are directly related!

    Then Carlson attacked Dr. President Dictator Anthony Fauci, the boss of all of us, whose wishes must be obeyed:

    CARLSON: Earlier this month, Dr. Anthony Fauci, whom we are apparently required by law to respect no matter what he says, suggested that, in fact, we may never be allowed to resume normal life. […]
    CARLSON: Now we should tell you that is the same Dr. Fauci — and keep this to yourself, because as noted, it’s not allowed to show any skepticism whatsoever — but that’s the same Dr. Fauci who also announced that shaking hands […] should be done away with forever, but then a week later told Snapchat that actually it’s fine to have sex with strangers you meet on Tinder! That was his epidemiological advice.

    Another lie from Tucker Carlson, because that is absolutely not what Fauci said. Indeed, Fauci — adorable old balls Dr. Fauci — seemed to not initially realize the interviewer was asking specifically about meeting up just for sex, because he started talking about “relative risk,” and whether you were willing to stay six feet apart from the person you met on the dating app, and wear masks and whatnot. (Difficult to stay six feet apart WHILE FUCKING, Tucker.) Fauci did reference boning, but was clearly troubled by the idea, saying ultimately, “well, then that’s your choice regarding a risk.”

    Are you shockingly shocked Tucker Carlson outright lied to his viewers about what Fauci said? […]

    In Summary And In Conclusion!

    After that, Tucker Carlson attacked Dr. Zeke Emanuel, Rahm’s brother, because Fox News likes attacking Zeke Emanuel, Rahm’s brother. The funniest part was when Carlson cautioned listeners to always be careful when somebody like Emanuel tells you what “the truth is,” because that means they are about to lie.[…]

    Carlson also said THEY have not mentioned that there has never been a successful vaccine for any kind of coronavirus, which is funny because we have heard THEY mention that quite a few times. […]

    For more on why the Fabulous Bakersfield Boys and Tucker Carlson are totally fucking full of shit, we refer you to a not-very-well-known website called Google.

    This is a long post, but like we said, this video of Dr. Dumbfuck and Dr. Other Dumbfuck are EVERYFUCKINGWHERE right now. On Fox News, on Facebook, even on the Facebook pages of people who are otherwise smart. Misinformation and disinformation are getting worse, not better, during this pandemic.

    And the more people believe it, the more people will die. […]

    Link

  120. says

    “The U.S. plans to give $500 billion to large companies. It won’t require them to preserve jobs or limit executive pay.”

    The Fed’s coronavirus aid program lacks restrictions Congress placed on companies seeking financial help under other programs.

    Washington Post link

    A Federal Reserve program expected to begin within weeks will provide hundreds of billions in emergency aid to large American corporations without requiring them to save jobs or limit payments to executives and shareholders.

    Under the program, the central bank will buy up to $500 billion in bonds issued by large companies. The companies will use the influx of cash as a financial lifeline but are required to pay it back with interest.

    Unlike other portions of the relief for American businesses, however, this aid will be exempt from rules passed by Congress requiring recipients to limit dividends, executive compensation and stock buybacks and does not direct the companies to maintain certain employment levels.

    Critics say the program could allow large companies that take the federal help to reward shareholders and executives without saving any jobs. The program was set up jointly by the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department. […]

    More at the link.

  121. tomh says

    After dismissing the NYC 2nd Amendment case on Monday, the Supreme Court distributed for consideration at Friday’s conference 10 gun cases that had apparently been on hold for the New York case. Included are whether the Second Amendment protects the right to carry a handgun outside the home for self-defense and a challenge to Cook County’s ban on assault rifles and large-capacity magazines.

    There is a full list of the 10 cases here. Orders from Friday’s conference are expected on Monday, May 4, at 9:30 a.m. EDT.

  122. says

    The Trump administration abruptly cut off funding for a project studying how coronaviruses spread from bats to people after reports linked the work to a lab in Wuhan, China, at the center of conspiracy theories about the Covid-19 pandemic’s origins.

    The National Institutes of Health on Friday told EcoHealth Alliance, the study’s sponsor for the past five years, that all future funding was cut. The agency also demanded that the New York-based research nonprofit stop spending the $369,819 remaining from its 2020 grant […]

    “At this time, NIH does not believe that the current project outcomes align with the program goals and agency priorities,” Michael Lauer, the agency’s deputy director for extramural research, wrote in a letter to EcoHealth Alliance officials.

    The group caught national attention a week ago after reports swirled that millions from its NIH grants had been sent to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a research facility in the city where the coronavirus pandemic originated. In an email last week to NIH officials, EcoHealth Alliance President Pete Daszak denied giving any money this year to the Wuhan lab, although researchers from the facility have collaborated with EcoHealth Alliance scientists on research supported by an earlier grant.

    The Wuhan lab is at the center of conspiracy theories alleging that the coronavirus outbreak began when the virus escaped the facility. U.S. intelligence agencies and scientists have not found any evidence to support the rumors. […]

    Suddenly ending a grant early is an unusual move for the NIH, which typically takes such steps only when there is evidence of scientific misconduct or financial improprieties — neither of which it has alleged took place in this case.

    The EcoHealth Alliance has received more than $3.7 million since 2015 for its research on the risks of coronavirus spread through bats and the potential for spillover into humans. The effort has produced at least 20 scientific papers, including several published in prominent journals such as Nature.

    As recently as April 2018, the NIH issued a press release promoting a study linked to the research project, whose authors included a scientist at the Wuhan lab.

    But the project had turned into a political liability for the NIH by the time Lauer emailed Daszak on April 20 asking for a list of all Chinese participants.

    A Newsmax reporter asked President Donald Trump about the research project in an April 17 press briefing, suggesting that all $3.7 million had gone to the Wuhan lab.

    “We will end that grant very quickly,” Trump said. “It was granted quite awhile ago,” he added, referencing the Obama administration. “Who was president then, I wonder?”

    Politico link

    JFC

  123. says

    Follow-up to SC @150.

    Shortly afterward, the clinic tweeted that it had told Pence about its mask requirement in advance.

    “Mayo Clinic had informed @VP of the masking policy prior to his arrival today,” the account wrote, then deleted the post.

    TPM link

    From Kendall Brown:

    The CDC’s mask guidance is designed to protect everyone else from the wearer. Everyone is protecting Mike Pence in this video, without him returning the favor.

    The Trump administration is now wearing their disregard for everyone else on their faces, instead of wearing masks.

    https://twitter.com/kendallybrown/status/1255208086618484736

    From Brian Schatz:

    When you don’t wear a mask, especially inside the Mayo Clinic, you are not being brave. You are showing that you think the rules don’t apply to you. And you are setting a dangerous example by ignoring experts.

    From Trevor Noah at The Daily Show:

    Probably the first time Mike Pence has ever said no to Mayo

  124. says

    Illinois man sues Trump, McConnell, and Mnuchin over exclusion of U.S. citizen spouses from relief

    Impeached president Donald Trump, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Treasury Sec. Steve Mnuchin have been sued by an Illinois man over a decision to exclude nearly two million U.S. citizens and green card holders from federal pandemic relief because they filed joint taxes with immigrant spouses who lack Social Security numbers. Under the CARES Act, only taxpayers who have a Social Security number are eligible for funds, shutting out immigrants who filed returns using an IRS-issued Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN).

    But this anti-immigrant decision also shuts out U.S. citizen spouses if they filed joint returns, like “John Doe” and his spouse in Illinois. “’Mr. Trump and the other defendants have failed ‘to treat him as equal to his fellow United States citizens based solely on whom he chose to marry,’ the lawsuit alleges,” CBS News reported. “John Doe ‘has lawfully filed taxes in the United States, yet he is being denied the rights and privileges under the CARES Act.’”

    While the law makes an exception if a spouse is in the U.S. military, this caveat will still leave millions, including U.S. citizen children, without critical financial assistance as unemployment numbers continue to skyrocket, the Migration Policy Institute said. “MPI estimates that due to the restriction in the CARES Act, 15.6 million people will be excluded from the stimulus payments: 10 million unauthorized immigrants, along with 3.8 million children and 1.8 million spouses who are either U.S. citizens or green-card holders.”

    Some of the U.S. citizen spouses left out in the cold are “frontline workers employed in hospitals, police departments and public transit,” the LA Times reported earlier this month. Others are teachers, who were already struggling before this crisis. David Hessell-Cercado told the LA Times he was surprised when he saw he was excluded. “He had assumed his husband of six years, a Mexican citizen who is in the middle of applying for his green card, would not get a check as he didn’t have a Social Security number,” the report said. “But he never imagined the government would withhold assistance from a U.S. citizen.”

    Undocumented immigrants have been excluded from relief even as they pay billions in taxes annually, and pay billions more to help fund Social Security and Medicare—programs they’ll never be able to access unless they’re able to adjust their immigration status.

    As Vox reported in 2018, many undocumented immigrants have filed taxes using their IRS-issued ITIN to “create a paper trail to show when they entered the country and how long they’ve been contributing tax dollars. Many are hoping it will help them get legal status one day. That has happened in past reform efforts, and one of the first requirements is usually to prove that a person has been paying taxes … So despite all the political rhetoric, undocumented immigrants are not a drain or burden on the government.”

  125. says

    Politico – “Roger Stone search warrants reveal new clues — and mysteries — about 2016”:

    Nearly three-dozen search warrants unsealed late Tuesday reveal a web of contacts between longtime Donald Trump confidant Roger Stone, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and other key figures in the long-running probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

    Stone, who was convicted last year of lying to House investigators during their own Russia probe, was never charged with aiding efforts by Russia. But his contacts with Assange add new details to a relationship that he long denied existed.

    In a set of 2017 messages revealed in one search warrant, Stone assured Assange — who spent years in asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London before being arrested by British authorities last year — that he would “bring down the entire house of cards” if U.S. prosecutors pursued him.

    Stone also told WikLeaks in early 2017 that he was Assange’s only hope for a pardon from the president if extradited and prosecuted in the United States. The longtime Trump adviser also appeared to be trying broker a deal to resolve the long-running U.S. investigation into Assange and WikiLeaks.

    “I am doing everything possible to address the issues at the highest level of government,” Stone wrote to Assange in June 2017. “Fed treatment of you and WikiLeaks is an outrage. Must be circumspect in this forum as experience demonstrates it is monitored.”

    “Appreciated. Of course it is!” Assange wrote back.

    The newly revealed messages often raise more questions than answers. They show Stone in touch with seemingly high-ranking Israeli officials attempting to arrange meetings with Trump during the heat of the 2016 campaign. They also provide clues about an attempt to procure some kind of “October surprise” involving damaging information held by the Turkish government.

    At times, Stone and his contacts appeared to acknowledge that Trump seemed doomed in the 2016 election and needed outside intervention. Stone also described multiple direct contacts with Trump and efforts to arrange meetings for him.

    Stone also told WikLeaks in early 2017 that he was Assange’s only hope for a pardon from the president if extradited and prosecuted in the United States. The longtime Trump adviser also appeared to be trying broker a deal to resolve the long-running U.S. investigation into Assange and WikiLeaks.

    “I am doing everything possible to address the issues at the highest level of government,” Stone wrote to Assange in June 2017. “Fed treatment of you and WikiLeaks is an outrage. Must be circumspect in this forum as experience demonstrates it is monitored.”

    “Appreciated. Of course it is!” Assange wrote back.

    The newly revealed messages often raise more questions than answers. They show Stone in touch with seemingly high-ranking Israeli officials attempting to arrange meetings with Trump during the heat of the 2016 campaign. They also provide clues about an attempt to procure some kind of “October surprise” involving damaging information held by the Turkish government.

    At times, Stone and his contacts appeared to acknowledge that Trump seemed doomed in the 2016 election and needed outside intervention. Stone also described multiple direct contacts with Trump and efforts to arrange meetings for him.

    In the summer of 2016, one Stone associate expressed fears Trump would lose, floated “critical intell” that could impact the campaign and mounted a frenzied effort to get a one-on-one meeting with the candidate.

    “I have to meet Trump alone,” the associate wrote to Stone in July 2016. Stone arranged for such a meeting, but he said in a later email that a “fiasco” ensued after the associate unexpectedly brought a foreign military officer along.

    The associate’s name was deleted from the warrant application released Tuesday, but the FBI laid out the repeated efforts to meet Trump as part of a series of events involving conservative author Jerome Corsi and UK-based financial consultant Ted Malloch, including a previously reported directive by Stone telling Corsi that Malloch “should see Assange” and prod him to release information damaging to Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

    Ultimately, prosecutors did not charge Stone for his dealings with Assange or various intermediaries, but rather for misleading House investigators about them. Earlier this year, a federal judge sentenced Stone to almost three-and-a-half years in prison for lying to House investigators and impeding their probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

    Prosecutors also acknowledged that their picture of Stone’s communications was incomplete: He relied on a slew of encrypted apps during some of the most sensitive months of the campaign, from Signal to Wickr to WhatsApp, and messages he exchanged on those services were not obtained….

  126. says

    As part of reopen plan, Iowa gov warns that workers who don’t return to work over fears of contracting COVID will be deemed to have quit their jobs and lose unemployment insurance.”

    This is what it’s all about. An owner of a tattoo parlor in Georgia was interviewed on MSNBC over the weekend and she talked about how Kemp’s saying those businesses could reopen would make those workers ineligible for state unemployment benefits. (It was a very good interview with Ali Velshi; I’ll try to find the video.) Every single thing the Republicans have done or tried to do in the course of this crisis has benefited corporations, CEOs, and Republican donors and cronies at the expense of people’s lives and livelihoods. McConnell is now insisting that liability protections for bosses who reopen be included in the next relief bill.

  127. says

    BuzzFeed – “This Nurse Is Speaking Out Against Coronavirus Rumors And Hoaxes That Are Putting Him And His Colleagues In Danger”:

    …In addition to treating COVID-19 patients and worrying about their own health, health care workers like Satori are suddenly on the front lines of the coronavirus information wars. On social media and in person, they’re battered with conspiracy theories about Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates, the COVID-19 death toll, and the existence of the coronavirus itself. In Mexico, India, the Philippines, and Pakistan, rumors and lies have led to nurses and other health care workers getting assaulted, doused with bleach, and chased by mobs.

    It’s a shocking situation for nurses, who have been rated the most trusted profession in the United States for 18 years in a row. “For people to now say, ‘Well, I don’t even trust the most trusted profession’ — that’s baseless,” Dr. Eileen Sullivan-Marx, president of the American Academy of Nursing and dean of the New York University Rory Meyers College of Nursing, told BuzzFeed News.

    Nurses are sad and angry — and pushing back.

    Sartori’s Facebook post was shared more than 22,000 times. He’s received support from the post, but it has also attracted conspiracy theorists. “I’ve had people asking me if I’m paid by Bill Gates. They think I’m a crisis actor. It shows me how easily people can be manipulated.”

    Sartori said he has empathy for people who mistrust the medical establishment….

    But after a heated discussion on social media with someone who believed the coronavirus is a hoax, he realized how different things are with the pandemic.

    “It’s like a slap in the face,” Laura, a nurse at a hospital in North Carolina, told BuzzFeed News. “Not only are you saying nurses aren’t trustworthy, you’re also disputing my education when you’re saying that what you think is right because you saw it on social media.” She asked to use her first name because she didn’t want to face blowback on social media.

    “Never have I felt that distrust until recently. I just don’t understand it,” Nicole Swiers, a nurse who works with elderly patients in their homes in northeast Minnesota, told BuzzFeed News. “We have nothing to gain by lying to you.”

    Swiers said she’s blocked family members and friends on social media after they began spreading claims about the virus not being real and calling for stay-at-home orders to end. “I have hidden so many people that my Facebook feed is essentially just ads at this point,” she said.

    People who used to come to Swiers for health advice now view her work with suspicion.

    “My friends and family come to me with any little rash that one of their kids might have,” she said. “People went from ‘Please tell me if I need to take my kid to the doctor or not’ to believing that I’m lying about shortages of [personal protective equipment] or patient load.”

    Swiers said there could be long-term effects if pockets of mistrust persist beyond the pandemic. “The problem is that if you don’t trust your health care provider, you’re not going to seek medical attention. This really is so much bigger than just the coronavirus — you’re creating this sense of distrust with health care,” she said. “And gosh, don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of problems in health care, but I really don’t believe that untrustworthy nurses are one of them.”

  128. says

    Moscow Times:

    “Russia’s Coronavirus Cases Near 100K in Latest One-Day Jump”:

    Russia confirmed 5,841 new coronavirus infections Wednesday, bringing the country’s official number of cases to 99,399….

    “Russians’ Trust in Putin Hits 14-Year Low – State Poll”:

    Russians’ trust in President Vladimir Putin has fallen to a 14-year low, the state-funded VTsIOM polling agency said Monday.

    The latest poll results come as Russian authorities — and Putin in particular — have faced criticism for their response to the coronavirus pandemic, which many see as providing insufficient support to businesses and workers….

    Just 28.3% of Russians surveyed by VTsIOM in March named Putin when asked to name a politician whom they trust, the lowest percentage since the pollster began asking the question in January 2006.

    Valery Fyodorov, the head of VTsIOM, told Forbes Russia that respondents are more likely to say they trust Putin if asked the question in multiple-choice format rather than the “open-ended” format that VTsIOM normally uses.

    For example, when asked to give a yes-or-no answer to whether or not they trust Putin in April, 69.8% of respondents said yes, he said.

    “The open-ended question is more about memory and information activity than about trust, unfortunately,” Fyodorov said. “In general, I would stop asking this question at all, but if I stop asking it, they will start suspecting me of some terrible things.”

    In its May 2019 survey, VTsIOM said that trust in Putin had reached a 13-year low of 31.7%. Following criticism from the Kremlin, VTsIOM said it would change its polling methodology, and its revised results showed trust in Putin skyrocket to 72.3%.

    Wow.

  129. says

    Guardian – “‘So what?’: Bolsonaro shrugs off Brazil’s rising coronavirus death toll”:

    More than 5,000 Brazilians have lost their lives to the coronavirus – even more people than in China, if its official statistics are to be believed.

    But on Tuesday night Brazil’s president shrugged off the news. “So what?” Jair Bolsonaro told reporters when asked about the record 474 deaths that day. “I’m sorry. What do you want me to do?”

    Bolsonaro’s 11-word response – the latest in a series of remarks belittling the pandemic – sparked immediate fury. One newspaper, the Estado de Minas, stamped the president’s words on to a black front page beside Brazil’s death toll: 5,017.

    “Bolsonaro isn’t just an awful politician and a bad president, he’s a despicable human being,” tweeted Marcelo Freixo, a leftwing opponent.

    “My name’s Messiah,” Bolsonaro also told reporters on Tuesday, in reference to his second name, Messias. “But I can’t work miracles.”

    A wave of disgust swept over social media as word of the president’s comments spread. “A sociopath,” tweeted the musician Nando Moura. “What a tragedy,” wrote the journalist Sônia Bridi.

    “It’s a mockery. An insult. It is intolerable,” tweeted Mariliz Pereira Jorge, a scriptwriter and commentator.

    Another critic superimposed Bolsonaro’s words on to a photograph of the muddy graves into which scores of Brazilian bodies are being deposited each day.

    “Bolsonaro wants to turn Brazil into the Republic of So What,” the political commentator Bernardo Mello Franco wrote in his column on Wednesday.

    There is no escaping the scale of the tragedy unfolding in Brazil, with daily images of gravediggers in protective suits emerging from some of the worst-hit cities, including Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Recife and Manaus.

    As Bolsonaro made his remarks, newspapers and television programmes filled with stories about the mothers, fathers, sons and daughters losing their lives to the pandemic….

  130. says

    G liveblog (linked @ #167):

    Several hundred small business owners protested in Kiev, Ukraine, on Wednesday, demanding the authorities ease anti-virus restrictions to save them from bankruptcy, AFP reports.

    Wearing surgical masks, demonstrators briefly blocked traffic outside a government building in the centre of the capital in defiance of rules against public gatherings, an AFP journalist reported.

    “One more day of your protection and we will disappear!” read one slogan.

    Ukraine reported 456 new cases and 11 new deaths on Wednesday, bringing the total number of infections to 9,866 coronavirus cases and the death toll to 250.

    The country has been under lockdown since March, when authorities ordered all non-essential businesses to close – with only grocery stores and pharmacies permitted to remain open.

    Public transport has been reserved for employees of essential services, including police and hospital staff.

    Images atl.

  131. johnson catman says

    re SC @165:

    In its May 2019 survey, VTsIOM said that trust in Putin had reached a 13-year low of 31.7%. Following criticism from the Kremlin, VTsIOM said it would change its polling methodology, and its revised results showed trust in Putin skyrocket to 72.3%.

    Wow! Sounds like the last poll used choices like those right-wingnut sites that want people to rate the performance of The Orange Toddler-Tyrant with “great”, “wonderful”, or “couldn’t have been better”.

  132. says

    On testing, Trump’s misplaced boasts go completely off the rails

    The U.S. has conducted around 5 million tests since February; the idea that we’ll very soon be up to 5 million tests per day is literally unbelievable.

    On Monday, Donald Trump announced a new federal blueprint on expanding virus testing capacity, but the plan was rather modest in its scope. It still relied heavily on state governments, and by some assessment, the administration’s new approach would increase daily testing in the United States from about 220,000 to 260,000. That’s better, but it’s still not close to the kind of figures public-health experts are recommending.

    It’s against this backdrop that the president made some rather extraordinary claims at the White House yesterday. NBC News’ Kristen Welker asked, “Some health experts say the U.S. needs 5 million tests per day by June in order to safely reopen. You unveiled a plan yesterday that will increase testing, but not by that much. Why not? And can you get to that benchmark?”

    The president’s answer meandered a bit and included all kinds of bizarre claims. Trump claimed that the United States is “the best in the world on testing,” which is ridiculous. He twice said we’ve tested “more than every country combined,” which is a lie. He even said his administration “inherited a very broken test,” which is just odd given that he was referring to a test developed by his own team.

    But the part of the answer that stood out for me was the part in which he actually tried to answer Kristen Welker’s question:

    “Well, it will increase it and it’ll increase it by much more than that in the very near future.”

    OMG. I saw this on video. You can actually see Trump lying. You can hear him lying. You can tell from his tone and his face that he is lying. You can see him decide to just bluster his way though. Disgusting and alarming.

    Naturally, this led to a follow-up question: “Did I hear you saying you’re confident you can surpass 5 million tests per day?” Trump added:

    “Oh, well, we’re going to be there very soon.”

    No, we’re really not. The United States has conducted around 5 million tests since February; the idea that we’ll very soon be up to 5 million tests per day is literally unbelievable.

  133. says

    Well, it is somehow weird that we still have election news, but we do.

    Joe Biden defeated Bernie Sanders in Ohio by about 56 points. Ohio held a primary election yesterday.

  134. says

    Oh, FFS.

    It was among the most unfortunate of Donald Trump’s claims about the coronavirus crisis. Pointing to the modest number of positive cases in the United States, the president argued on Feb. 26, “You have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero.” He added at the time that this amazing trend line was a direct result of the “good job” he said Team Trump was doing.

    That was, of course, tragically wrong. Two months later, the 15 cases in the United States now stands at over 1 million cases.

    Asked in early April to reflect on his comments from February, Trump told reporters, “[Y]ou have to understand, I’m a cheerleader for this country…. I think a president has to be a cheerleader for their country.” By this reasoning, “cheerleading” is a legitimate excuse for saying things that aren’t true and giving the public false hope during a public-health crisis.

    At a White House event yesterday, a reporter reminded the president of his quote from February and asked, “How did we get from your prediction of zero to 1 million?” Trump replied:

    “Well, it will go down to zero, ultimately.”

    Oh. So, Trump thinks he was … right?

    In case there are any lingering doubts, the president said the total number of U.S. cases would be close to zero “within a couple of days,” not “within a couple of years.” Trump probably would’ve been better off just chalking up his mistake to “sarcasm” again.

    […] Trump’s mantra from yesterday — “This is going to go away” — is practically word-for-word identical to his rhetoric from February and March. […]

    Link

  135. says

    Follow-up to SC @168.

    Jared Kushner also said:

    The eternal lockdown crowd can make jokes on television but the reality is that the data is on our side. And President Trump has created a pathway to safely open up our country and make sure that we get our economy going.

    Commentary from Marissa Higgins:

    […] This “pathway,” of course, has low-income workers, people of color, food service workers, and others terrified about returning to work for minimal wages, perhaps without health insurance or affordable child care as students stay out of school, all while only a minuscule fraction of the public has been tested for the virus. Trump himself recently told governors to consider and maybe “get going” on reopening schools, so while the logic is baffling, it’s apparently consistent between Trump and Kushner.

    “The hope is by July,” Kushner suggested, “the country is really rocking again.” Again, this coincides with Trump’s plan for a Fourth of July event on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., this year… in spite of the global pandemic. […]

    All of this, of course, while our testing number remains shamefully low, and the new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data suggests our death toll is actually far higher than has been reported.

    Link

  136. says

    From Mark Sumner: “Republicans are creating a fake movement designed to kill workers and enrich corporations. Again.”

    When it comes to states that should be talking about “getting back to normal,” Iowa should be very, very far down the list. The state is in the middle of a burst of new cases which only accelerated on Tuesday, and University of Iowa researchers are predicting a second wave of infections if states move too quickly. But instead of expressing any concern over the health of the state’s citizens, Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds is not only rushing to remove the few social distancing guidelines that were ever put in place for Iowa, she’s making it clear that any workers who fail to show up for jobs out of concern over their health, their family’s health, or anything else that might result from exposure to a disease that has already killed 60,000 Americans, are not protected. They are the opposite of protected. They are deemed to have “voluntarily quit” their jobs.

    For anyone who had any doubts about the motivations behind wealthy conservative groups funding “reopen” protests, or right-wing media inflaming people to get out there on the streets, or Donald Trump issuing “liberate” tweets, this is it: purge workers without having to pay unemployment. And you can bet that also includes allowing corporations to pocket emergency relief that was intended to go to employees.

    […] Exactly as they did during the tea party “movement,” billionaires and corporations have stepped in, hand in glove with Republican campaigns, to fund and promote a group of reopen protests. These protests were genuinely tiny, sometimes no more than a few dozen people, and yet the media has them far more coverage than protests that have literally involved millions. Again … exactly as happened with the tea party.

    […] Iowa officials are encouraging companies to report employees who don’t show up promptly, and sent a warning about weekly fines for anyone who attempts to file a “fraudulent claim” of unemployment. All of this, after the federal government has just issued trillions of dollars in emergency funding that is supposed to help workers … but is going to companies.

    Republicans have demonstrated, again, just how easily they can convince a handful of low-wage workers to become the face of their own destruction. And how easily they can get the media to report tiny groups as though there is a huge “movement” eager to do corporate bidding. […]

    […] Trump may have been blunt in ordering meatpacking companies to remain open, even though dozens of workers are ill, and the situation is in no way safe. But though Trump may have explicitly ordered workers to lay down their lives for his chicken nuggets, the whole Republican scheme has scarcely been more subtle.

    Create corporate-funded protests. Provide corporate media coverage. Pretend that Republicans are acting in response to the needs of workers, rather than corporations.

    And above all else, this whole scheme is designed to screw workers. Screw them. Force them into a no-win situation where they have to literally risk their lives and the lives of others, or walk away without a dime of the unemployment pay they earned. Meanwhile, corporations are sitting on loans that were supposed to go to providing payroll … just guess where that money will end up.

    Link

  137. says

    From Wonkette: “Go F*ck Yourself, Jared”

    There are, as of this second, more than ONE MILLION confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the United States. As of this second, there are 59,692 deaths in America, more than the number of US troops lost in the Vietnam War, and the equivalent of approximately 30 9/11s. (What mass-death milestone will Donald Trump hit next?!) […]

    antibody tests show, as we’ve suspected, that COVID-19 is far more widespread in the population than we ever knew, which would mean it’s far less deadly than the six percent fatality rate that’s been recorded around the world but still far higher than the flu. It’s also absolutely nowhere near what we need to reach any kind of herd immunity, if such a thing in fact exists with COVID-19. […]

    As Yascha Mounk writes in a sad-but-truthful piece at The Atlantic, we are in a dark place. There’s no real testing plan, we’re not doing anywhere near the kind of testing and tracing we need, no treatments, no vaccines for a long time, if ever … it’s bad. And it’s far worse than it had to be, because of the 24/7 burlesque show of fuckups that has been the Trump administration’s response to the virus. Meanwhile, Dr. Anthony Fauci says a second wave in the fall is “inevitable.”

    So anyway, here’s Jared Kushner, crown prince of the coronavirus fuckups, to tell us all on “Fox & Friends” what a smashing success this all is, on behalf of the 59,692 people who have died so far. […]

    KUSHNER: We’re on the other side of the medical aspect of this, and I think we’ve achieved all the different milestones that are needed. So, the government, federal government, rose to the challenge, and this is a great success story.

    That punchy sound you hear is 59,692 dead people punching Jared Kushner in the face. Lined up behind them are the next, oh who knows, 50- or 100,000 people who will die of COVID-19 because of Trump’s (and Kushner’s) corona-failures.

    “Milestones.” You know, like the 1,000,000 confirmed American coronavirus cases. […]

    See? Trump’s bragging about it too.

    The only reason the U.S. has reported one million cases of CoronaVirus is that our Testing is sooo much better than any other country in the World. Other countries are way behind us in Testing, and therefore show far fewer cases! [Fact check: LIE!]

    Our testing is a fucking joke. Most states are nowhere near where they need to be to even think about reopening. According to a team at Harvard, we need to be doing at least twice as much testing as we are now. […]

    Prince Jared said more fucked up bullshit on “Fox & Friends,” assuming you care. Hey look, he’s bragging about how much testing we are doing, and saying states have “excess capacity” for testing, oh my god, it’s just so great! […]

    Do the states really have “excess” testing capacity right now? […] ask the governors.

    Prince Jared, continuing to blow smoke up the “Fox & Friends” hosts eager asses, said the country will be pretty much “back to normal” by June, so everybody relax, if Jared says that’s the timeline, that’s obviously the timeline!

    He also made a very funny wisecrack about the “eternal lockdown crowd” making impolite jokes about his father-in-law’s beautiful huge unmitigated million-strong corona-success, as if we over here in the pro-science/pro-not-dying community are just loving staying home and not being able to carry on with our normal, rich day-to-day lives: […]

    And the choir of angels said “go fuck yourself, Jared” and then the choir of angels moved to the side so more recent coronavirus victims could punch Jared in the face a whole bunch more, the end.

    https://www.wonkette.com/go-f-ck-yourself-jared

  138. says

    From Wonkette: “Wasilla [Alaska, where Sarag Palin lives] Wingnuts Use Coronavirus Shutdown To Ban Some Books

    The school board for the Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District, which includes the towns of Palmer and Wasilla, Alaska, voted last Wednesday to bar teachers from using five “controversial” books that parents had objected to several times in the past. […] there were no teachers or parents there to speak up in defense of the books. Jesus, you have to watch rightwing idiots ALL THE TIME, even during a pandemic. […]

    The books that will be removed from the district’s list of approved works for classroom use are all standbys in the college-prep curriculum, and have won multiple awards, so of course they’re suspect.

    Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
    Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man
    Joseph Heller’s Catch-22
    F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby
    Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried

    Dianne K. Shibe, president of the Mat-Su Education Association teachers union, complained that although an agenda item had mentioned the books would be considered, most teachers and parents didn’t believe the books were endangered.

    “Most of the community didn’t respond, because these books had been used forever,” Shibe told NBC News. “Now in retrospect, it’s like, ‘duh.’ I could have seen this coming.” […]

    The two board members who supported keeping the curriculum list as it is, Kelsey Trimmer and Sarah Welton, both pointed out that the books had all previously gone through a public review process. District policy already requires that if a parent objects to an assigned work, students can be assigned an alternative that meets with the parents’ approval. Welton also noted that the books were only assigned in upper-level, elective classes.

    It doesn’t really look like any of the board members who voted to ban the books from the reading list had read the books at all […]
    Board member Kelsey Trimmer noted that what’s “controversial” can often be a matter of perspective, and that there had been complaints from a lot of different outlooks over a class on the Bible in history and literature, but that the class remained in place. She again noted that the books had all been chosen for their “literary value,” […]

    Taylor insisted he thought people should have the right to read whatever they want, but that he didn’t see why schools should be assigning dirty nasty books. “For us to put them in front of teenagers as part of our curriculum, that’s just something I can’t — I don’t understand why we would put those sort of things in front of them.” Which is apparently as far as he got in reading the books.

    […] he triumphantly noted that no corporation in America would allow you to talk that way at work […]

    Well there’s a compelling argument against people reading SparkNotes summaries of novels at work. And against divorcing works from their literary context, like pointing out that the man told her he’d kill her brother if she said anything, and that Angelou therefore literally didn’t speak for years, until a wonderfully kind woman helped her to find language again. It’s one of the most singularly moving things I’ve ever read, but Angelou’s rediscovery of her own voice only works because you know what she experienced, in painful detail. It would not be the same work had she only said “Mr. Freeman molested me and told me he’d kill Bailey if I ever say a word.”

    […] He also went on to insist that these five books, which he hadn’t read, have no value at all: “We’re not talking about something that’s mind expanding or something that’s going to help anybody learn any better. We’re talking about something that would not be acceptable in a professional environment, which is what parents expect out of the schools!”

    […] In addition to prohibiting the five terrible books from being assigned by teachers, the board also voted to eliminate the schools’ use of “The Learning Network,” the New York Times’ educational supplement for teachers and journalism classes, because protecting innocent teens from Donald Trump’s second-most-hated news outlet is what dipshit local governments are into these days. […]

    Shortly after Wednesday’s vote, board President Tom Bergey explained to the Anchorage Press that barring teachers from assigning the five books was not “book banning,” because they would still be available in school libraries, […]

    Following the banning of the books for use in classrooms, NBC News reports, all five titles sold briskly at a local bookseller:

    Mary Ann Cockle, owner of Fireside Books in Palmer, about a mile from district headquarters, said her store ran out of copies of the books within hours of the board’s action.

    […] “Our biggest outpouring of support are people buying the books and donating them or leaving them to us to distribute for free.”

    A new shipment of “Caged” and “Invisible Man” arrived at Fireside on Tuesday, and Cockle expects them all to be gone by Wednesday.

    Anchorage TV station KTTU notes that its reporters “searched for favorable reactions to the board’s decision but was unable to find any prior to publication of this story.” Bravo. Let’s also hope that this idiotic decision leads to some changes on the school board.

    Link

  139. says

    Seven States Restrict Mail-In Voting on the Basis of Age. That’s Unconstitutional.

    The 26th Amendment takes on newfound importance in the pandemic.

    The 26th Amendment is often viewed as a relic of the Vietnam War era, when 18-year-olds protested the fact that they were old enough to be drafted but not to cast a ballot. Ratified in less than 100 days, the amendment enshrined in the Constitution citizens’ right to vote at age 18, knocking down laws that set the voting age at 21. […] the amendment has newfound importance: It should prevent states from discriminating against younger voters with both subtle and brazen tactics.

    The threat of the coronavirus is creating unprecedented demand for absentee ballots; many Republican lawmakers are responding by trying to limit access. There are laws on the books to help them in one regard. Currently, seven states permit only elderly voters to mail in their ballots: Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas grant this privilege to voters 65 and older; Tennessee extends it to those 60 and older; and Kentucky only bestows it upon voters of “advance age.” […] Younger people who want to vote by mail must give a reason, such as a serious illness or absence from the state on Election Day. As New York magazine’s Ed Kilgore has noted, these laws effectively limit absentee voting to “Trump-approved groups,” older Americans who are much more likely to vote Republican.

    On Wednesday, voting rights advocates filed a federal lawsuit against Texas’ restriction. It is likely the first in a spate of challenges to protect the election. Unless the federal judiciary decides to unilaterally rewrite the 26th Amendment, it will be obligated to invalidate these laws.

    Although it is often viewed as a simple promise that Americans can vote upon turning 18, the 26th Amendment is actually a broad ban on age-based voting restrictions. It declares that the right to vote “shall not be denied or abridged” for citizens 18 and over “on account of age.” […]

    it is remarkable that such laws remain on the books nearly a half-century after the ratification of the 26th Amendment. Today, most litigation over the amendment involves overt efforts to suppress college students’ suffrage—as when Florida attempted to outlaw early-voting sites on university campuses. […]

    If Americans cannot vote by mail in November, they will be forced to choose between protecting their health and exercising their constitutional rights. Some advocates are fighting in state court to expand absentee balloting, citing the health crisis and state-level voting protections. But they face a fierce battle in states like Texas, where lawmakers are appealing a state court order that would let voters cite the coronavirus as an excuse to vote by mail

    Luckily, in seven states—including Texas—the 26th Amendment plainly compels federal courts to strike the age limitation and open up vote by mail to everyone, young and old. Federal courts stacked with Donald Trump appointees may disagree given their flagrant disregard for precedent, but the Supreme Court should not let them write the amendment out of the Constitution. States simply have no power to impose “special burdens” on voters who are not in the demographic most favorable to Trump.

  140. says

    More than 80 percent of hospitalized covid patients in Georgia were African American, study finds.

    Link

    […] Surveying eight Georgia hospitals, researchers found that in a sample of 305 covid-19 patients, 247 were black — more than 80 percent and more than they expected.

    “It is important to continue ongoing efforts to understand the reasons for these racial disparities, including the role of socioeconomic and occupational factors in transmission,” the researchers wrote. “Public officials should consider racial differences among patients affected by COVID-19 when planning prevention activities.” […]

    a quarter of the patients included in the study had no preexisting conditions, and 5 percent of those patients died, a reminder the virus can cause significant illness and death for previously healthy patients.

    The median age of patients was 60. Most had private insurance or Medicare; 11 percent were on Medicaid; and 15 percent were uninsured. All the Medicaid patients in the study were black, but the black patients were no more likely than others to be uninsured. […]

  141. says

    From Alexandra Petri, writing for The Washington Post:

    “And since I don’t have the coronavirus, I thought it’d be a good opportunity for me to be here, to be able to speak to these researchers, these incredible health-care personnel, and look them in the eye and say, ‘Thank you.’” — Vice President Pence, explaining his decision not to wear a mask at the Mayo Clinic, in defiance of its policy that all visitors wear masks.

    Well, it is worse than I thought.

    Mike Pence, who is heading up our coronavirus task force, does not know where the eyes are located on the face.

    He did not want to wear a mask because he wanted to … look health workers in the eye?

    I am not wearing socks on the grounds that I want to be able to hear. I won’t be wearing a hat on the grounds that I want to be able to smell. I won’t be putting on gloves because I want to be able to taste. (I sometimes feel that I cannot hear as well when I am wearing sunglasses, but I know that this is because I am wrong and maybe something is the matter with me.) […]

    He thinks the eyes are in the mouth or perhaps in the quadrant of the face between the mouth and the ears. An alarming and potent fancy! The eyes perhaps protrude from the tip of the tongue. The eyes are tucked just beneath the nose! The eyes are in a little serried row along the lips, where they wink and glisten! Where are the eyes, Mike Pence? Show us on a map where you find the eyes. Pretend I am Mike Pompeo, and they are Ukraine.

    I understand that to know too much about the bodies of others and their mysterious construction might seem like impertinence, but — please. You are heading the coronavirus task force. I want to know that you are at least as confident as the average 3-year-old as to where the eyes are located in the face.

    Where are the eyes? Sweet God, where are the eyes? […]

    Washington Post link

  142. says

    Oh, dear god. We will be subjected to a Fox News town hall shot live, featuring Hair Furor at the Lincoln Memorial. Oh, FFS.

    Trump will participate in a Fox News virtual town hall Sunday evening shot live from the Lincoln Memorial. The event will include a sit-down interview with Fox anchors followed by a round of audience-submitted questions related to the reopening of the economy. The president also suggested Wednesday that he does not plan to extend federal social-distancing guidelines amid the coronavirus pandemic, noting that the country’s governors will make decisions on what guidelines work best given the conditions in their states.

    Meanwhile, as antsy Americans show growing signs of “quarantine fatigue” and officials face pressure to ease coronavirus restrictions, factories, malls and state governments in many parts of the country are taking steps toward reopening.

    Here are some significant developments:
    Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said a second wave of infections is “inevitable” in the United States, which has recorded more than 1 million confirmed cases — nearly one-third of the global total. […]

    Washington Post link

  143. says

    Mass layoffs begin in cities and states amid coronavirus fallout, threatening education, sanitation, health and safety

    Millions of municipal workers could find themselves out of a job or without pay. This is the next wave of the disaster, in my opinion.

    In Michigan, some unstaffed highway rest stops are shuttered. In Santa Barbara, Calif., local librarians are out of a job. Dayton, Ohio, has ordered furloughs at nearly every agency, and in Arlington, Tex., police officers and firefighters may soon see painful cuts.

    Facing an urgent financial crisis, these and other cities and states nationwide are eyeing dramatic reductions to their workforces, threatening critical public-sector employees and first responders at a time when many Americans may need their local governments’ help the most.

    Even as […] Trump and top Republicans contend that only what they depict as big-spending, liberal-leaning states are to blame for mounting budget woes, a Washington Post review found the economic havoc wrought by the coronavirus is far more widespread — saddling Democratic and Republican mayors and governors alike with souring finances and major revenue gaps. Some local governments have already started laying off or furloughing thousands of their workers, and the numbers are likely to grow markedly in the absence of federal aid.

    Among municipalities, the new budget cuts could be profound: Between 300,000 and 1 million public-sector workers could soon be out of a job or sent home without pay, according to a new estimate from the National League of Cities. The steep reductions in staffing levels could affect education, sanitation, safety and health, local leaders warn, potentially leaving critical public services in utter disarray.

    For governors, mayors and other top local officials, their economic troubles stem from the precipitous drops in revenue that have come as a result of shuttered businesses and sharp decreases in shopping and travel. The extent of the disruptions are poised to reach a level not seen since the Great Recession more than a decade ago, a reality that has prompted many city and state leaders to plead with Washington for help.

    But their public quest for federal cash has been met with staunch political resistance from Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who at one point suggested states should have the option of falling into bankruptcy. Top Trump administration officials have echoed that skepticism and signaled that any aid would come with conditions: On Tuesday, for example, the president said he would only approve money if states cracked down on immigration policies in “sanctuary cities.” […]

    The text quoted above is from The Washington Post.

  144. says

    Follow-up to comment 173.

    Hair Furor is walking back one of his recent lies.

    Trump Walks Back Huge Goal For Tests After His Own Testing Chief Said It Was Impossible

    On Wednesday, President Donald Trump retracted his claim that the U.S. will soon be able to administer 5 million COVID-19 tests every day after his own testing director on the White House task force, Admiral Brett Giroir, emphatically rejected the possibility of that goal.

    “Somebody started throwing around five million,” Trump told reporters, referring to a Harvard University study that found that reopening the economy would only be feasible if the government were able to do at least five million tests daily by early June, and then ramp it up to 20 million tests each day by late July.

    “I didn’t say 5 million,” Trump said, despite the fact that he had said exactly that the day before.

    On Tuesday, Trump had told a reporter that “we’re going to be there very soon” when she asked if the U.S. would be able to carry out 5 million tests a day.

    That was the same day Giroir told TIME that “there is absolutely no way on Earth, on this planet or any other planet, that we can do 20 million tests a day, or even 5 million tests a day.”

    From the readers comments:

    NUMBERS!!!

    must be difficult to have to deal with numbers with such a dumb fuck brain
    ———————-
    Never mind that he completely contradicts what he said about this vital matter literally the next day. He’s done that god knows how many times. It’s that this really is vital to making a semblance of normality viable in this country without risking people’s lives. And he knows nothing about it, doesn’t care about it, and they’ve done nothing about it. Nothing. The states can’t do this. It has to be the feds. And they’ve done nothing.
    ———————–
    But, but “Somebody started throwing around the 5 million tests claim and I was only passing it on doncha see? Why do you reporters always need to remind me of what I said yesterday when I don’t want you to or even remember what I said yesterday? Why is the truth so mean to me?”

  145. says

    NEW: @USAID grant-recipient language seen by The Daily Beast informs NGOs they can’t buy PPE — for themselves or for people in need — with USAID $. Ex-USAID official @JeremyKonyndyk: ‘We’re making the whole world pay the price for our own incompetence’.”

    Scoop: The U.S. has just circulated a confidential proposal to conduct an immediate evaluation of WHO’s response to the pandemic, focusing on how the pathogen got its start in China. Dips say U.S. faces uphill battle to get support.”

  146. Pierce R. Butler says

    A 1st: US study finds Gilead drug works against coronavirus

    In a study of 1,063 patients sick enough to be hospitalized, Gilead Sciences’s remdesivir shortened the time to recovery by 31% — 11 days on average versus 15 days for those just given usual care. The drug also might be reducing deaths, although that’s not certain from results of the study so far.

    By comparison, antiviral drugs for the flu shorten illness by about one day on average and only when started within a day or two of symptoms first appearing.

    About 8% of those on the drug died versus 11.6% of the comparison group, but the difference is not large enough for scientists to say that remdesivir was the reason.

    It’s given through an IV and blocks an enzyme the virus uses to copy its genetic material.

    The study only tested the drug in patients sick enough to be hospitalized, so its safety and effectiveness for people less ill isn’t known, Fauci said.

    Gilead said it was ramping up production and aims to have more than 140,000 treatment courses by the end of May, more than 500,000 by October and more than 1 million by December.

  147. says

    Ashish Jha at STAT – “We need the real CDC back, and we need it now”:

    As political leaders discuss relaxing social distancing restrictions and opening up the economy again, a majority of Americans are concerned about whether it is safe to do so. They have fundamental questions about how the nation is doing, what will happen after it opens up, whether we will be able to keep people safe, and could we have to shut down again.

    As we struggle our way through this, an essential element is missing: strong, effective leadership from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the premier public health agency in the world.

    Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, the CDC has been inexplicably absent, and Americans are suffering and dying for it.

    The CDC has long been the steady, trusted source for high-quality national data and evidence-based guidance. But not this time, when its voice is needed the most.

    While individual states oversee their public health departments, provision of health care, and actually implement policies and programs, the CDC has always provided the intellectual leadership, technical expertise, the expert guidance that states rely on to do their work. This federal agency coordinates efforts across states so they can learn from one another. And the CDC standardizes data and methods so we can get a true national picture of what is happening.

    Want to know how many tuberculosis cases there were in the U.S. last year? Ask the CDC. Want to know about health-care-associated infections? Ask the CDC. It knows.

    But ask how many Covid-19 tests have been done, and the CDC’s doesn’t have an answer. Want a daily update on how many people are getting hospitalized for Covid-19? The CDC isn’t tracking it. Want to know if social distancing is making a difference? The CDC doesn’t know.

    During this pandemic, when accurate, timely, nationwide information is the lifeblood of our response, the CDC has largely disappeared.

    The performance of the world’s leading public health agency has been surprising, and by that I mean surprisingly disappointing….

    Effective leadership from the CDC starts with immediately collecting standardized data and updating it regularly — including weekends. Yet for four weeks, the CDC took weekends off from reporting any data on the pandemic until overwhelming criticism forced it to change course. Daily CDC briefings would help the American public understand the data: Not only do we need to know the number of infections, tests, hospitalizations, deaths, and ICU cases, we need CDC experts to put these numbers in context, explain trends and outliers, and keep us grounded in science. Daily updates from the CDC would allow all of us to better understand how we are doing, whether we are likely to run out of hospital capacity and when, what the bottlenecks are on testing, and how we get ahead of this outbreak.

    It would be easy for the CDC to do this, but it hasn’t.

    Most states are already reporting some of this information every day, though often in haphazard and incomplete ways. The CDC’s natural role is working with states to standardize data collection and reporting it in a way that would make timely, important information publicly available.

    It should also commit to providing guidance based solely on evidence, not speculation….

    During any public health crisis — especially the largest one of our generation — the nation’s top public health agency needs to provide leadership. That’s what the American people expect and deserve. But so far the CDC has been absent from the fray, and its absence is being felt.

    This must be a painful time for the many extraordinary career scientists who continue to work at the agency. But it’s a painful moment for the American people, too, and with deadly consequences. Real CDC leadership — clear, science-based guidance, effective coordination of states, and public transparency of data — is absolutely essential for confronting and getting clear of this crisis.

    The CDC was once the world’s greatest public health agency. We need that CDC back, and we need it now.

  148. says

    G liveblog (see also #166 above):

    Brazil has reported a record increase in cases, with its ministry of health confirming 6,276 more infections in a 24-hour period, taking the country’s total to 78,162.

    It has also suffered another 449 deaths in that time, raising its toll to at least 5,466 people since the outbreak began. Health specialists believe the real numbers are much higher.

    Now, [Bolsonaro] has sought to blame state governors and mayors for the deaths – even though they have introduced social distancing measures against his orders while he repeatedly mingled with supporters and other Brazilians.

    He argued that they should be asked why they “took such restrictive measures and people kept dying” and told reporters: “You won’t put that bill on my lap.”

    Asked what responsibility he held for rising deaths, he replied: “The question is so idiotic I’m not going to reply.”

    In the Amazon city of Manaus, where the overloaded health system has collapsed, reports from Yahoo News said many people were dying at home without being tested and others in ambulances as they drove around the city looking for beds in intensive care. Relatives of some victims were even opening the sealed coffins of relatives being buried in mass graves to ensure they were really inside.

    Talking privately, one Manaus doctor working in the public health sector said there are about 100 people on the waiting list for intensive care beds. Hospitals are also struggling to remove bodies.

    There’s no room and nowhere to put them. The refrigerated containers fill up occasionally.

    In Rio de Janeiro, a doctor also speaking anonymously said one hospital was running out of sedatives and neuromuscular blockers used for intubating and managing intubated patients. Local media has published photos of the vertical structures cemeteries are building to stack coffins up to eight high.

    Brazil’s new health minister Nelson Teich has said he does not know when the epidemic will peak in Brazil and that a “second wave” is a very real possibility.

    According to the O Globo newspaper, Teich said a “critical point” is a lack of ventilators in the country, adding: “We’ve never had so many big problems at the same time.”

  149. says

    G liveblog:

    In Washington, the US president Donald Trump has suggested a vaccine may not be needed as part of a recovery from the pandemic.

    If you don’t have a vaccine, if the virus is gone, you’re like where we were before.

    At least 89 vaccines are in development, according to the World Health Organization. But even the most promising options still need to undergo rigorous safety testing, which could take a year to 18 months.

    But without a vaccine, why does Trump think the pandemic will just go away? He dodged the question. “It’s gonna go, it’s gonna leave,” Trump said, without explaining his thinking. “It’s gonna be eradicated.”

    I’ll take this opportunity to repeat my recommendation of the video @ #172 above.

  150. says

    Ben Shapiro: ‘If somebody who is 81 dies of COVID-19, that is not the same thing as somebody who is 30 dying of COVID-19…If grandma dies in a nursing home at age 81, that’s tragic and it’s terrible, also the life expectancy in the United States is 80’.”

    They’re all so terrible.

  151. Trickster Goddess says

    Trump told Reuters he did not believe opinion polls that showed his likely Democratic presidential opponent, Joe Biden, leading the race for the White House.

    “I don’t believe the polls,” Trump said. “I believe the people of this country are smart. And I don’t think that they will put a man in who’s incompetent.

    Link

    Trump owes me a new keyboard.

  152. says

    Moscow Times – “Russia’s Coronavirus Cases Surpass 100K in Latest One-Day Record Surge”:

    Russia confirmed 7,099 new coronavirus infections Thursday, bringing the country’s official number of cases to 106,498 and marking a new one-day record increase.

    Thursday marks the first time new cases have been registered in all 85 regions of Russia.

    Russia is now the eighth most-affected country in terms of infections, having surpassed China and Iran this week.

    In total, 1,073 people have been killed by the virus in Russia….

    CNN – “Anger rises among Russia’s doctors as coronavirus hospitals get put on lockdown”:

    The coronavirus pandemic has put the spotlight on the risks faced by frontline health workers, and Russia is no exception. Medical facilities in the country have emerged as one of the main breeding grounds for Covid-19, and two dozen hospitals have had to shut down for long quarantines, with many doctors falling sick.

    The numbers are stark. On Thursday, Russia’s total number of reported coronavirus cases surpassed the 100,000 mark, exceeding numbers reported from Iran and China. And of 285 coronavirus hotspots the country is trying to contain, 64% are in hospitals, said Alexander Gorelov, an epidemiologist at the state wellbeing agency Rospotrebnadzor, at a recent meeting chaired by President Vladimir Putin.

    For weeks, Russian independent media and non-governmental organizations have reported anonymous pleas from outraged medical workers who said they had been ordered to the frontlines of a public health crisis without adequate protection, and that bureaucratic foot-dragging was costing lives. As the situation worsens, many have become more outspoken, sometimes risking legal action against them.

    To move ahead of the curve, doctors have turned to activists and NGOs to lobby for the equipment they need. But speaking out publicly can have consequences: investigative committees in at least five regions have called in the authors of social media posts for questioning, according to a CNN tally.

    The Alliance of Doctors said on Twitter that some health care workers have been threatened with fines for spreading fakes news about the lack of equipment.

    “We have gathered over 200 requests, there is deficit of everything, but especially protective suits, respirators and eyewear,” union communications director Ivan Konovalov said. “Absolutely all regions are in need, including Moscow.”

    Russia’s Federal Security Service, or the FSB, has requested statistics from the Alliance of Doctors about the complaints they receive.

    Meanwhile, the doctors are counting their own dead. A group of doctors set up a website called “List of memory” asking colleagues across the country to submit names of those who have died of coronavirus complications.

    “The only idea here is not to forget the colleagues that died,” one of the co-creators of the project, Moscow-based cardiologist Aleksey Erlich, told independent outlet Meduza.

    As of Wednesday, the list had over 70 names, but the organizers say it is far from complete, as it has been difficult to get official confirmation of cause of death. Russia has released no official numbers yet on health worker fatalities, though Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has acknowledged “sad news” regarding the death of frontline medical personnel.

    More at the link.

  153. blf says

    One usually weekly show I try to watch on France24 is “French Connections“, which isn’t always about politics, but is instead “A quirky, insider’s guide to understanding France and the French, from the sublime to the ridiculous.” I’ve referenced the show a few times in this series of poopyhead threads.

    Since the start of the lockdown, there hasn’t been a new edition — for very probably good & understandable reasons — but there is now a new filmed-at-home(-mostly) episode, France in lockdown: Shopping and cooking in a time of confinement (video). Despite being filmed entirely in Paris, it almost could have been filmed in the S.France Mediterranean seaside village where I live: Except for perhaps fewer (long-)queues at the open shops, it gives a good look into some of the current reality (at least for those who are not badly disadvantaged). And yes, I had the “run on eggs” problem at first also, but have now found a reliable supply. (There hasn’t been a cheese problem, to the mildly deranged penguin is, ah, well “content”, in her rather unique way… just don’t mention walruses, peas, and the other usual suspects… Oops!!1!!).

  154. says

    Here’s a link to the April 30 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    Hosting the Tour de France for more than a century, it is a country already famous for cycling. Now French commuters are being urged to swap cars for bicycles when the Covid-19 lockdown ends.

    The government has announced plans to develop temporary bike lanes, with an additional €20m subsidy towards the cost of repairs.

    The initiative, by the energy and transport ministry, also includes an increase in bicycle parking spaces and training to get people back in the saddle.

    France, where there has been more than 24,000 coronavirus deaths, is due to ease lockdown measures on 11 May. The minister Élisabeth Borne said:

    While 60% of trips made in France are less than 5km, the coming weeks represent an opportunity for many French people, already cyclists or not, to choose biking.

    The “bicycle repair boost” programme, which will provide up to €50 for repairs by sponsored mechanics, as well as supporting a scheme that allows employers to cover up to €400 of travel costs of staff who commute by bike. Paris currently has about 370km of bike paths and the temporary lanes are expected to increase that to 650km.

  155. says

    Guardian – “Politics drive Georgia’s reopening gamble as coronavirus cases rise”:

    When John Gianoulidis, owner of the Kafenio Greek Diner, heard the Georgia governor, Brian Kemp, announce restaurants could offer dine-in services once again this week, he feared the worst for his restaurant and coffee shop in Atlanta.

    Here’s the deal, he typed out on Facebook.

    “Kemp mandates restaurants reopen, whether I reopen dining rooms or not. I file for business interruption insurance, it does not go through since I am ‘allowed’ to operate full capacity,” he hypothesized, adding further down in the now viral post, “If things blow up again, they are still on my tab not on the states, since they are no longer employed. Guys, this is about screwing the working class and small business, not about helping us.”

    Economists are uncertain if Gianoulidis is entirely correct about the exact rationale behind the sudden announcement to reopen Georgia as coronavirus cases continue to rise, with nearly 25,000 confirmed in the state as of Tuesday afternoon. [He’s correct. – SC] The state’s reopening has been so early that even Donald Trump urged Kemp not to do it.

    But they can agree the most in danger from Kemp’s actions – both economically and healthwise – are those who open their businesses or return to work in Georgia’s new sudden easing of restrictions.

    The state’s current count of positive virus cases makes it the tenth highest in the country as employees were cleared to serve meals in a restaurant, offer up tattoos or provide hair and nails services and check-in gym goers for Zumba class. In the last month, Georgia’s department of labor processed 1,090,536 claims, more than the last three previous years combined. Nearly a third of the claims came from the food and accommodation industry, many of whom can now – technically – go back to work as restaurants open.

    While that may help ease the burden of claims processed by the state, how it affects the greater economy is unclear, said Elise Gould of the Economic Policy Initiative.

    Kemp’s office did not respond to the Guardian’s request for comment. The state’s department of labor did not have much concrete guidance as to whether the reopening would see jobless claims shifted off the government books.

    “This is a way for them to continue to receive some of those same benefits as they gradually come back to work. And then when it’s time to get back to work that employer stops filing for them,” the Georgia department of labor communications director, Kersha Cartwright, said.

    But it’s unclear when that line between gradual and full time was drawn and by whom it was to be decided – the state or the employer.

    But for those businesses that do open up, while the state continues to follow through on its shelter-in-place order until 30 April , this could leave vulnerable employees on even more uncertain grounds, said Gould. Some might not want to go back to work, feeling unsafe while others may be living with elderly family members or those with pre-existing conditions.

    Others may return to work, uncertain about the state’s policy on unemployment insurance, Gould added, unsure if they would still qualify now that their place of employment is open.

    When asked what would happen if employees of non-essential businesses that could reopen under the state’s mandate chose not to return in fear of their safety, Georgia’s department of labor could not clarify if they would still be eligible to file for unemployment.

    “Work with your employer, try to work something out. If you cannot work it out and you decide to separate yourself from that place of employment then we will base our eligibility upon the facts presented in the case,” Cartwright said.

    But the health risks of an early reopening could be even more risky than an economic one.

    According to a new analysis of data released by the Daily Beast in collaboration with MIT and Harvard Universities, that could most likely be the case. If the state had continued its current stay-at-home mandate and kept non-essential businesses closed, coronavirus fatalities by mid-June would have been somewhere between 1,004 and 2,922. Instead, the team’s simulation suggests that number could now be as high as 9,748.

    “This is a policy that has not been endorsed by experts in public health … one concern going forward is whether it would lead to new outbreaks and contribute to a second wave of growth of the pandemic,” Cornell University labor economics professor Francine Blau said….

  156. says

    Philip Rucker:

    Since the U.S. death toll surpassed 60,000 yesterday, Trump has tweeted about:
    -Michael Flynn
    -CNN
    -MSNBC
    -Brian Williams
    -Don Lemon
    -Joe Scarborough
    -Sweden
    -Roger Stone
    -His poll numbers
    -Jim Comey
    -Hillary Clinton’s campaign
    -Rep. Jim Ryun’s birthday

  157. says

    Today is the 75th anniversary of Hitler’s death by suicide.

    Three years earlier on this date, in 1942, Hitler met with Mussolini about sending Italian reinforcements to Russia. From Shirer’s Rise and Fall:

    When Russia’s sources of oil are exhausted [Ribbentropp said] she will be brought to her knees. Then the British…will bow in order to save what remains of the mauled Empire…
    America is a big bluff…

  158. says

    G liveblog – “Russian Prime Minister diagnosed with coronavirus”:

    Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has said he has been diagnosed with coronavirus and will self-isolate from the government in the country’s highest-profile case of the disease yet, reports the Guardian’s Andrew Roth in Moscow.

    Mishustin disclosed that he was infected during a video call with Vladimir Putin, Russian state news agencies reported on Thursday evening. It wasn’t immediately clear how severe Mishustin’s case of the disease was, although one news agency reported that he had an elevated temperature of 39 degrees.

    Mishustin has been tasked with leading the government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, which surpassed 100,000 cases in Russia on Thursday. First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov would take on his duties in his absence, Mishustin said.

    “Dear Vladimir Vladimirovich, I have just found out that the tests I gave for coronavirus have come back positive. Accordingly… I will go into self-isolation, fulfilling my doctors’ orders. This is necessary to do in order to protect my colleagues,” Mishustin reportedly told Putin during a video call.

    Putin has led semi-regular video calls with members of the government from his residence at Novo-Ogaryovo. He has not been pictured with other members of the government in the last several weeks.

  159. says

    More re #203 – Shirer on Hitler’s last will and testament:

    These two documents survive, as Hitler meant them to, and like others of his papers they are significant to this narrative. They confirm that the man who had ruled over Germany with an iron hand for more than twelve years, and over most of Europe for four, had learned nothing from his experience; not even his reverses and shattering final failure had taught him anything. Indeed, in the last hours of his life he reverted to the young man he had been in the gutter days in Vienna and in the early rowdy beer hall period in Munich, cursing the Jews for all the ills of the world, spinning his half-baked theories about the universe, and whining that fate once more had cheated Germany of victory and conquest. In this valedictory to the German nation and to the world which was also meant to be a last conclusive appeal to history, Adolf Hitler dredged up all the empty claptrap of Mein Kampf and added his final falsehoods. It was a fitting epitaph of a power-drunk tyrant whom absolute power had corrupted absolutely and destroyed.

    In the hours before his death, after finally being forced to realize his ideas about surprise counterattacks turning things around were pure fantasy, he was still expelling people from the top echelons of the party, sneering at the army leadership, and lying about not having wanted the war.

  160. says

    SC @196, This is alarming: “Medical facilities in the country [in Russia] have emerged as one of the main breeding grounds for Covid-19, and two dozen hospitals have had to shut down for long quarantines, with many doctors falling sick.”

    I remember all too well the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach when doctors in Italy pointed out that hospitals had become a breeding ground for COVID-19 in that country.

    Fairly early on, China designated some hospitals as COVID-only. If I remember correctly, Germany did the same thing. I don’t think this problem has been adequately addressed. It looks to be far worse in Russia.

    And this part, in text quoted by SC, sounds all too familiar: “For weeks, Russian independent media and non-governmental organizations have reported anonymous pleas from outraged medical workers who said they had been ordered to the frontlines of a public health crisis without adequate protection, and that bureaucratic foot-dragging was costing lives. As the situation worsens, many have become more outspoken, sometimes risking legal action against them.” Sounds like the situation Trump and his cronies created in the USA, minus some of the coercion.

    Trickster Goddess @193, I can’t stop laughing, but it is bitter laughter. I have stopped replacing my broken irony meters. Trump just continues to destroy them at such a rapid pace, that I can’t keep up.

    “I don’t believe the polls,” Trump said. “I believe the people of this country are smart. And I don’t think that they will put a man in who’s incompetent.”

  161. says

    SC @209, as one reader responded, “South Korea, pop 51 million, had its first covid-19 case the same day as the US.

    247 South Koreans have died.

    How, exactly, is 60,000 US dead “spectacular?” Spectacularly bad. That’s Trump.

  162. says

    In text quoted by SC in comment 206: “In this valedictory to the German nation and to the world which was also meant to be a last conclusive appeal to history, Adolf Hitler dredged up all the empty claptrap of Mein Kampf and added his final falsehoods. It was a fitting epitaph of a power-drunk tyrant whom absolute power had corrupted absolutely and destroyed.”

    What poor schmuck is Trump going to pay to write his version of this after he loses the next election?

  163. blf says

    As the Grauniad’s current main pandemic live blog is reporting, departments in France are being assessed on a daily basis to decide the level of lockdown easing (due to start on 11th May):

    The French government has unveiled its coronavirus map dividing the country into “green” areas where lockdown regulations will be relaxed and “red” areas where strict measures will remain in place.

    A number of departments were declared “orange” meaning they will be watched closely over the next week before being declared red or green on 7 May.

    I myself am in an orange department, which isn’t surprising since Marseille is not a million kilometres away, with the additional hotspots of Italy, Corsica, and some others not all that much further. (Like I’ve observed before, I’m surrounded, even if locally the impact is still, as far as I know, fairly minor.)

    […]
    Three criteria were used to decide what people living in the 96 mainland departments and five overseas departments would be allowed to do when the national confinement finishes: the number of new Covid-19 cases in the previous seven days; the capacity of the department’s hospitals to deal with the epidemic; and the department’s ability to test, track and contain the virus.

    […]

    The definitive map used to determine who can do what and where after 11 May, will be published on 7 May.

    I understand there will be updated maps published daily, albeit I don’t know where. There is no link in the Grauniad. The best copy of today’s map I have found is in Coronavirus et déconfinement : une première carte publiée ce jeudi […]. (For some reason, most copies of the map are of an absolutely appalling quality.)

  164. says

    Justin Amash could affect 2020 outcome, but in what direction?

    From NBC News:

    Rep. Justin Amash, I-Mich., said Tuesday that he has launched a committee that would explore a presidential run under the Libertarian Party…. “Today, I launched an exploratory committee to seek the @LPNational’s nomination for president of the United States,” he said on Twitter.

    From the link above:

    […] Trump wasted little time in celebrating the announcement, apparently with the expectation that the Michigan congressman will help him win a second term. Those hoping to see Trump lose responded with equal and opposite alarm for the same reason.

    […] There are a few possible outcomes, and they each seem to have merit.

    Amash will help Trump: There’s a sizable chunk of the American electorate that’s desperate to kick Trump out of the office, and any effort that divides this chunk necessarily creates an advantage for the president. The goal for Trump’s detractors must be to consolidate these voters behind a credible, major-party rival, and in a race that’s likely to be tight, splitting off even a small percentage of votes could make a difference.

    Amash will help Biden: Giving disaffected Republicans — who’d never vote for a Democrat — another choice would help split the right, not the left. After all, Amash has been a conservative lawmaker throughout his career, and there’s very little in his agenda that would appeal to moderate or progressive voters. Plus, he’ll likely spend the next several months making the argument that Trump needs to be removed from office, and that will certainly dovetail with the Democratic message.

    And let’s not overlook the possibility that Amash won’t make much of a difference either way: The congressman is not especially well known to a national audience; he probably won’t have a lot of money; he’s likely to struggle to qualify for the debates; and a Libertarian anti-government message during a pandemic and economic crash isn’t likely to be persuasive to the vast majority of Americans.

    Which of these arguments is the correct one? I’m leaning toward Door #3, but ask me again in a few months.

  165. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s current States pandemic live blog:

    DNI believes virus ‘was not manmade or genetically modified’

    The office of the director of national intelligence has released an unusual statement saying officials do not believe coronavirus was manmade, echoing many health experts.

    “The Intelligence Community also concurs with the wide scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus was not manmade or genetically modified,” the statement reads.

    The statement added, “The IC will continue to rigorously examine emerging information and intelligence to determine whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan.”

    Trump has reportedly asked intelligence officials [US intelligence agencies under pressure to link coronavirus to Chinese labs] to investigate whether coronavirus was created in a Chinese government laboratory […].

    Someone spook told hair furor to go feck himself.

  166. says

    Good news:

    Kansas’ proof-of-citizenship voter registration requirement, championed by former Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R), was rejected yesterday by a federal appeals court. The 10th Circuit found the voter-suppression tactic, which blocked tens of thousands of Kansas from registering to vote, is unconstitutional.

    I have lost count of the number of times right-winger Kris Kobach has been slapped down by the courts. He never learns a thing.

    In other campaign news there is a lot, a LOT, of back and forth concerning allegations of sexual assault against Joe Biden. I am waiting for Biden to adequately address this himself. In the meantime, here is one opinion from Michael J. Stern: “Why I’m skeptical about Reade’s sexual assault claim against Biden.”

    During 28 years as a state and federal prosecutor, I prosecuted a lot of sexual assault cases. […]

    A year ago, Tara Reade accused former Vice President Joe Biden of touching her shoulder and neck in a way that made her uncomfortable, when she worked for him as a staff assistant in 1993. Then last month, Reade told an interviewer that Biden stuck his hand under her skirt and forcibly penetrated her with his fingers. Biden denies the allegation.

    When women make allegations of sexual assault, my default response is to believe them. But as the news media have investigated Reade’s allegations, I’ve become increasingly skeptical. Here are some of the reasons why:

    Delayed reporting … twice. Reade waited 27 years to publicly report her allegation that Biden sexually assaulted her. I understand that victims of sexual assault often do not come forward immediately because recounting the most violent and degrading experience of their lives, to a bunch of strangers, is the proverbial insult to injury. That so many women were willing to wait in my dreary government office, as I ran to the restroom to pull myself together after listening to their stories, is a testament to their fortitude.

    Even so, it is reasonable to consider a 27-year reporting delay when assessing the believability of any criminal allegation. More significant perhaps, is Reade’s decision to sit down with a newspaper last year and accuse Biden of touching her in a sexual way that made her uncomfortable — but neglect to mention her claim that he forcibly penetrated her with his fingers.

    As a lawyer and victims’ rights advocate, Reade was better equipped than most to appreciate that dramatic changes in sexual assault allegations severely undercut an accuser’s credibility — especially when the change is from an uncomfortable shoulder touch to vaginal penetration.

    Implausible explanation for changing story. When Reade went public with her sexual assault allegation in March, she said she wanted to do it in an interview with The Union newspaper in California last April. She said the reporter’s tone made her feel uncomfortable and “I just really got shut down” and didn’t tell the whole story.

    It is hard to believe a reporter would discourage this kind of scoop. Regardless, it’s also hard to accept that it took Reade 12 months to find another reporter eager to break that bombshell story. This unlikely explanation damages her credibility.

    People who contradict Reade’s claim. After the alleged assault, Reade said she complained about Biden’s harassment to Marianne Baker, Biden’s executive assistant, as well as to top aides Dennis Toner and Ted Kaufman. All three Biden staffers recently told The New York Times that she made no complaint to them.

    And they did not offer the standard, noncommittal “I don’t remember any such complaint.” The denials were firm. “She did not come to me. If she had, I would have remembered her,” Kaufman said. Toner made a similar statement. And from Baker: “I never once witnessed, or heard of, or received, any reports of inappropriate conduct (by Biden), period.” Baker said such a complaint, had Reade made it, “would have left a searing impression on me as a woman professional, and as a manager.”

    Missing formal complaint. Reade told The Times she filed a written complaint against Biden with the Senate personnel office. But The Times could not find any complaint. When The Times asked Reade for a copy of the complaint, she said she did not have it. Yet she maintained and provided a copy of her 1993 Senate employment records. […]
    Memory lapse. Reade has said that she cannot remember the date, time or exact location of the alleged assault, except that it occurred in a “semiprivate” area in corridors connecting Senate buildings. After I left the Justice Department, I was appointed by the federal court in Los Angeles to represent indigent defendants. The first thing that comes to mind from my defense attorney perspective is that Reade’s amnesia about specifics makes it impossible for Biden to go through records and prove he could not have committed the assault, because he was somewhere else at the time.

    For instance, if Reade alleged Biden assaulted her on the afternoon of June 3, 1993, Biden might be able to prove he was on the Senate floor or at the dentist. Her memory lapses could easily be perceived as bulletproofing a false allegation.

    The lie about losing her job. Reade told The Union that Biden wanted her to serve drinks at an event. After she refused, “she felt pushed out and left Biden’s employ,” the newspaper said last April. But Reade claimed this month in her Times interview that after she filed a sexual harassment complaint with the Senate personnel office, she faced retaliation and was fired by Biden’s chief of staff.

    Leaving a job after refusing to serve drinks at a Biden fundraiser is vastly different than being fired as retaliation for filing a sexual harassment complaint with the Senate. The disparity raises questions about Reade’s credibility and account of events.

    Compliments for Biden. In the 1990s, Biden worked to pass the Violence Against Women Act. In 2017, on multiple occasions, Reade retweeted or “liked” praise for Biden and his work combating sexual assault. In the same year, Reade tweeted other compliments of Biden, including: “My old boss speaks truth. Listen.” It is bizarre that Reade would publicly laud Biden for combating the very thing she would later accuse him of doing to her.

    Rejecting Biden, embracing Sanders. By this January, Reade was all in for presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. Her unwavering support was accompanied by an unbridled attack on Biden. In an article on Medium, Reade referred to Biden as “the blue version of Trump.” Reade also pushed a Sanders/Elizabeth Warren ticket, while complaining that the Democratic National Committee was trying to “shove” Biden “down Democrat voters throats.”

    Despite her effusive 2017 praise for Biden’s efforts on behalf of women, after pledging her support to Sanders, Reade turned on Biden and contradicted all she said before. She claimed that her decision to publicly accuse Biden of inappropriately touching her was due to “the hypocrisy that Biden is supposed to be the champion of women’s rights.”

    Love of Russia and Putin. During 2017 when Reade was praising Biden, she was condemning Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s efforts to hijack American democracy in the 2016 election. This changed in November 2018, when Reade trashed the United States as a country of “hypocrisy and imperialism” and “not a democracy at all but a corporate autocracy.”

    Reade’s distaste for America closely tracked her new infatuation with Russia and Putin. She referred to Putin as a “genius” with an athletic prowess that “is intoxicating to American women.” Then there’s this gem: “President Putin has an alluring combination of strength with gentleness. His sensuous image projects his love for life, the embodiment of grace while facing adversity.”

    In March 2019, Reade essentially dismissed the idea of Russian interference in the 2016 American presidential election as hype. She said she loved Russia and her Russian relatives — and “like most women across the world, I like President Putin … a lot, his shirt on or shirt off.”

    Pivoting again this month, Reade said that she “did not support Putin, and that her comments were pulled out of context from a novel she was writing,” according to The Times. The quotations above, however, are from political opinion pieces she published, and she did not offer any other “context” to The Times. […]
    The Larry King call. Last week, new “evidence” surfaced: a recorded call by an anonymous woman to CNN’s “Larry King Live” show in 1993. Reade says the caller was her mother, who’s now deceased. Assuming Reade is correct, her mother said: “I’m wondering what a staffer would do besides go to the press in Washington? My daughter has just left there after working for a prominent senator, and could not get through with her problems at all, and the only thing she could have done was go to the press, and she chose not to do it out of respect for him.”

    As a prosecutor, this would not make me happy. Given that the call was anonymous, Reade’s mother should have felt comfortable relaying the worst version of events. When trying to obtain someone’s assistance, people typically do not downplay the seriousness of an incident. They exaggerate it. That Reade’s mother said nothing about her daughter being sexually assaulted would lead many reasonable people to conclude that sexual assault was not the problem that prompted the call to King.

    Reade’s mother also said her daughter did not go to the press with her problem “out of respect” for the senator. I’ve never met a woman who stayed silent out of “respect” for the man who sexually assaulted her. And it is inconceivable that a mother would learn of her daughter’s sexual assault and suggest that respect for the assailant is what stands between a life of painful silence and justice.

    The “out of respect” explanation sounds more like an office squabble with staff that resulted in leaving the job. Indeed, in last year’s interview with The Washington Post, Reade laid the blame on Biden’s staff for “bullying” her. She also said, “I want to emphasize: It’s not him. It’s the people around him.”

    Statements to others. Reade’s brother, Collin Moulton, told The Post recently that he remembers Reade telling him Biden inappropriately touched her neck and shoulders. He said nothing about a sexual assault until a few days later, when he texted The Post that he remembered Reade saying Biden put his hand “under her clothes.”

    That Reade’s brother neglected to remember the most important part of her allegation initially could lead people to believe he recounted his Post interview to Reade, was told he left out the most important part, and texted it to The Post to avoid a discussion about why he failed to mention it in the first place.

    In interviews with The Times, one friend of Reade’s said Reade told her she was sexually assaulted by Biden. Another friend said Reade told her that Biden touched her inappropriately. Both friends insisted that The Times maintain their anonymity.

    On Monday, Business Insider published an interview with a friend of Reade’s who said that in 1995 or 1996, Reade told her she was assaulted by Biden. Insider called this friend, Lynda LaCasse, the “first person to independently corroborate, in detail and on the record, that Reade had told others about her assault allegations contemporaneously.”

    But Reade alleged she was assaulted in 1993. Telling a friend two or three years later is not contemporaneous. Legal references to a contemporaneous recounting typically refer to hours or days — the point being that facts are still fresh in a person’s mind and the statement is more likely to be accurate.

    The Insider also quoted a colleague of Reade’s in the mid-1990s, Lorraine Sanchez, who said Reade told her she had been sexually harassed by a former boss. Reade did not mention Biden by name and did not provide details of the alleged harassment.

    In prior interviews, Reade gave what appeared be an exhaustive list of people she told of the alleged assault. Neither of the women who talked to Business Insider were on that list. […] Prior statements made by a sexual assault victim can carry some weight, but only if the accuser is credible. […]

    Lack of other sexual assault allegations. Last year, several women claimed that Biden made them uncomfortable with things like a shoulder touch or a hug. […] The Times and Post found no allegation of sexual assault against Biden except Reade’s.

    It is possible that in his 77 years, Biden committed one sexual assault and it was against Reade. But in my experience, men who commit a sexual assault are accused more than once … like Donald Trump, who has had more than a dozen allegations of sexual assault leveled against him and who was recorded bragging about grabbing women’s genitalia.

    What remains. There are no third-party eyewitnesses or videos to support Tara Reade’s allegation that she was assaulted by Joe Biden. No one but Reade and Biden know whether an assault occurred. This is typical of sexual assault allegations. Jurors, in this case the voting public, have to consider the facts and circumstances to assess whether Reade’s allegation is credible. To do that, they have to determine whether Reade herself is believable.

    I’ve dreaded writing this piece because I do not want it to be used as a guidebook to dismantling legitimate allegations of sexual assault. But not every claim of sexual assault is legitimate. During almost three decades as a prosecutor, I can remember dismissing two cases because I felt the defendant had not committed the charged crime. One of those cases was a rape charge.

    The facts of that case made me question the credibility of the woman who claimed she was raped. In the end, she acknowledged that she fabricated the allegation after her boyfriend caught her with a man with whom she was having an affair.

    I know that “Believe Women” is the mantra of the new decade. It is a response to a century of ignoring and excusing men’s sexual assaults against women. But men and women alike should not be forced to blindly accept every allegation of sexual assault for fear of being labeled a misogynist or enabler.

    We can support the #MeToo movement and not support allegations of sexual assault that do not ring true. […]

    Link

  167. blf says

    Trump erupts over poll slump and threatens to sue campaign manager:

    President [sic] blows his top in Friday argument and reportedly tells Brad Parscale I’m not fucking losing to Joe Biden in November

    A row between Donald Trump and his election campaign manager, Brad Parscale, over a recent drop in the president’s poll numbers resulted in Trump threatening Parscale with a lawsuit.

    The argument reportedly happened last Friday [24th April], as the US death toll from the coronavirus pandemic reached 50,000 in three months and the fallout continued from Trump’s suggestion at the White House the night before that taking disinfectant internally could be examined as a possible treatment for coronavirus, even though it is potentially lethal.

    But the blow-up was just the latest in a series of tense moments between Trump and his 2020 re-election team, according to reports from multiple outlets including the Washington Post, the Associated Press and CNN.

    […]

    Trump deflected much of the blame for the disappointing polls, ignoring criticism of his performances at the podium during daily White House coronavirus press briefings […]

    In a meeting two days before the call, political advisers briefed Trump on data sourced internally and from the Republican National Committee. The figures showed the president [sic] losing ground against Biden in key battleground states.

    Advisers had warned Trump to change his tone at daily coronavirus briefings, citing data that showed the negative coverage was fueling a decline in approval ratings.

    The president [sic] allegedly balked at the guidance, insisting viewers love them and think he’s fighting for them. Trump instead pointed to restricted travel and an inability to host campaign rallies as the source of the slump.

    “[A]n inability to host campaign rallies” —Possibly another reason hair furor wants to abandon social distancing and other science-led actions?

    While the sincerity of the president’s [sic] lawsuit threat against Parscale isn’t clear, or what would be the grounds for suing, sources told CNN the two patched things up by that same night. On Thursday, Trump tweeted that Parscale is doing a great job.

    To the extent Parscale is assissting hair furor’s very public and obvious meltdowns — everyone has been following the advice from the very stable genusis to drink bleach, mainline hydroxychloroquine, and have a healthy internal UV glow, correct? — yes, Parscale is doing a great job. And conveniently for Biden, it’s not costing his campaign a penny (albeit it probably also isn’t being paid for by hair furor).

    I never shouted at him (been with me for years, including the 2016 win), and have no intention to do so, he wrote.

    The president [sic] then lashed out at media outlets for reporting on the alleged tensions, taking particular aim at MSNBC and its lead anchor, Brian Williams, in a flood of tweets.

    […]

  168. says

    Feel sorry for Maine:

    After leaving office last year following two tumultuous terms, former Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) moved to Florida. Yesterday, the Republican announced that he’s moving back to Maine to run for governor again in 2022.

    On another subject, here is Jeff Flake telling it like it is:

    The Washington Post asked Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) what would be better for the Republican Party: Trump’s re-election or a sound defeat for the GOP ticket. “Oh, a sound defeat, no doubt,” Flake replied. “Long term for the Republican Party, you bet. And for conservatism as well.”

  169. says

    Oh, no. Not again.

    Pentagon budget raided (again) to finance Trump’s ‘wall’

    Last year, military leaders warned that the raids on their budget could be dangerous. Evidently, the pushback wasn’t persuasive to Team Trump.

    After failing to secure funding from Congress for new border barriers, Donald Trump started raiding the Defense Department’s budget, redirecting money away from the military and toward his misguided “wall” initiative.

    It wasn’t long before U.S. military officials raised the alarm about possible consequences. Last fall, for example, NBC News obtained a report compiled by the U.S. Air Force, which concluded that money diverted away from military construction projects “poses various national security risks for the U.S. armed forces.”

    […] The Pentagon’s budget is still being raided. Bloomberg News reported this week that Defense Secretary Mark Esper is shifting a half-billion dollars worth of construction projects — “many in Europe meant to counter Russian aggression” — to finance construction of the president’s so-called “wall.”

    […] Esper lists several projects in Norway, Germany, Spain and elsewhere totaling more than $200 million from which he says funds can be redirected. Those projects are all part of the European Deterrence Initiative designed to bolster allies and undermine Russia’s growing influence on the continent. The projects include infrastructure for military aircraft, fuel, munitions and cargo.

    The report added that Esper’s initiative “would appear to conflict with the National Defense Strategy, which prioritizes ‘great power competition’ with Russia and China.”

    This wouldn’t ordinarily be possible, but the president early last year declared a national emergency at the border. Even at the time, Trump effectively admitted that there was no emergency, but for the sake of convenience, he was issuing the declaration anyway.

    “I didn’t need to do this,” the president conceded in February 2019.

  170. says

    blf @217, Trump is definitely looking around for someone to blame, not just about his low poll numbers, but about the facts appearing on the horizon. Trump is going to lose to Biden.

    Seems logical to Trump to blame his campaign manager.

  171. blf says

    This snark was from a few days ago, but is à point, as the frogs croak here in France, Trump reportedly doesn’t have time to get lunch. He might if he quit the self-praise (quoted in full (it’s short)):

    If Trump quit the self-compliments altogether, he might even have time to start taking naps

    On Friday, the New York Times accused Donald Trump of spending time eating fries and watching TV during the pandemic, sometimes not arriving at the Oval Office until noon. As a response, multiple White House officials were rolled out to confirm Trump was working non-stop, so much so that the president [sic] sometimes misses his lunch.

    Let’s make clear that this is not meant to cast shade on lunch-takers. Quite the contrary: taking lunch is as much a measure of how hard one works as a man’s shoe size is a measure of how big his ego is.

    But Trump’s “proof” of his hard work is a bit surprising. Almost a third of US workers don’t get to take a lunch break — and those are just ordinary people, the ones who homeschool their children while working from home if they’re lucky enough to have a paycheck, with a salary to reflect that.

    Unfortunately for Trump, his routine pales in comparison to other famous leaders’ schedules. Margaret Thatcher was memorably said to have slept just four hours a night, while George W Bush reportedly arrived at the White House at 6.45am. Winston Churchill reportedly did a day and a half’s work in 24 hours during the second world war, but littered among his working day were multiple naps, cocktails, board games and a few decadent meals. If his diary proves anything, it’s that productive people can take a lunch break and still manage to get things done.

    As for Trump, there is no way of proving whether he takes his lunch, nor is it possible to measure his productivity from afar. But it’s worth considering that he might be able to take a lunch break if he congratulated himself less.

    How much time would he save, you ask? Well, roughly however long it takes to say 260,000 words — and that’s just during press briefings. If he quit the self-compliments altogether, he might even have time to start taking naps.

  172. says

    Trump Threatens CNN Over Coverage Of Michael Flynn, Says Outlet ‘Should Pay A Big Price’

    […] Trump issued a threatening tweet about CNN late Wednesday night, claiming Michael Flynn, his former national security adviser who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, had suffered “persecution” at the news outlet’s hands.

    “@CNN doesn’t want to speak about their persecution of General Michael Flynn & why they got the story so wrong,” Trump tweeted. “They, along with others, should pay a big price for what they have purposely done to this man & his family.”

    “They won’t even cover the big breaking news about this scam!” he added.

    Based on his retweets of right-wing news outlets before the sinister post, Trump seemed to be referring to documents presented by Flynn’s lawyers showing former FBI intelligence director Bill Priestap’s thoughts on how investigators ought to interview the adviser in the 2017 Russian election interference probe.

    “What’s our goal? Truth/Admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired?” Priestap wrote in a handwritten note. “I don’t see how getting someone to admit their wrongdoing is going easy on him.”

    “If we get him to admit to breaking the Logan Act, give facts to DOJ & have them decide,” he continued. Or, if he initially lies, then we present him [redacted] & he admits it, document for DOJ, & let them decide how to address it.”

    It’s unclear why Trump accused CNN of not covering the story, which can be read here.

    Flynn agreed to a plea bargain with Special Counsel Robert Mueller in December 2017 after he was indicted to lying to the FBI. However, he later accused the intelligence agency of setting him up and is currently pushing to get his case dismissed.

    Trump has repeatedly come to Flynn’s defense, claiming that investigators had “ruined” his former adviser’s life and even calling the FBI “human scum” for pursuing the case.

    “What happened to General Michael Flynn, a war hero, should never be allowed to happen to a citizen of the United States again!” Trump tweeted on Thursday morning.

    The President has not yet said whether he plans to pardon Flynn.

    From the readers comments:

    He just wants to build the narrative in Rightwingostan that pardoning a traitor is OK. That’s it.
    ————————
    what “set up”? No one told Flynn to lie about being an agent for the Turks, least of all to Pence. The Obama administration warned the Trump transition team about that same involvement. If Trump were truly interested in his own political survival [I was about to write, “If Trump were smart,” but I caught myself], he’d shut up about Flynn. All this noise, though, only draws attention to the case, only compels people to re-litigate the case and lay out the definitive evidence that Flynn did this to himself–and gets people to wonder what the deal is with Trump.
    ————————–
    Wow! FBI investigators approach questioning their targets with a tough mindset. Shocking!
    BTW, I prefer “war heroes” who avoid treason.
    ——————-
    Trump fired Flynn…lets not forget that. He fired him for the same reason that Flynn is being prosecuted.

    I imagine Trump thinks enough time has passed for revisionism to work. So out come the standard tropes. “unfair”, “persecution” and “the media”. He’ll pardon Flynn. We know that. But lets hope he keeps this self destructive behavior up.

  173. says

    Elizabeth Warren and Jan Schakowsky have a plan to end mask and medicine shortages amid the Covid-19 crisis.

    Under a new bill from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), a new federal agency would take responsibility for eliminating protective gear shortages and other supply scarcities critical to the coronavirus response.

    The legislation […] seeks to remedy the critical supply shortages reported in some Covid-19 hot spots. It also serves as a counter to […] Trump’s reluctance to exploit the full power of the Defense Production Act (DPA) to address those problems.

    The bill would set up a new Emergency Office of Manufacturing for Public Health within the US Health and Human Services Department. That agency would be charged with guaranteeing “an adequate supply of drugs, devices, biological products, active pharmaceutical ingredients, and other supplies necessary to diagnose, mitigate, and treat COVID-19 and to address shortages in products used to treat non-COVID conditions and illnesses,” according to a summary of the bill.

    The office could enter into contracts with private manufacturers to produce those supplies or it could assume responsibility for manufacturing itself. The bill text authorizes the federal government to construct manufacturing facilities if necessary to perform that work. Separate from addressing supply needs, the bill would also authorize the government to construct facilities that could produce vaccines and other therapeutics as soon as they become available.

    If the bill were to become law, the office would be required to begin its work within one month of its passage. Once supplies are produced, the government must provide them to federal, state, local and Native American health programs at no cost. They could be sold to private or international entities at a fair price. The office would also be charged with replenishing the national strategic stockpiles that have been depleted during the Covid-19 outbreak.

    “We need to radically increase our supply of personal protective equipment and other medical supplies to attack the coronavirus crisis head-on. We have an Administration that is failing to lead and failing to ensure health care providers and patients have the resources they need,” Warren said in a statement. “Our bill will rapidly produce the equipment and supplies Americans are counting on. The president won’t act, but Congress should. Our bill needs to be included in the next relief package.” […]

    Link

  174. says

    The new Michael Flynn documents aren’t the bombshell Trump is making them out to be

    Trump claims they’re a “total exoneration” for his former top adviser. They aren’t.

    […] Trump’s latest string of tweets about the Flynn case came days after he retweeted a post from Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo teasing that “sources tell me @GenFlynn will be completely exonerated this week. It was a total fraud. A Set up.” Suffice it to say nothing that has emerged this week delivers on that promise.

    […] Flynn planted the seeds of his own undoing before he even started the job by having secretive communications with Russian officials during the transition period.

    Now, however, Trumpworld wants you to believe that Flynn was a victim — and is using newly released documents to make the case.

    Posting a bunch of vindictive tweets about how he overcame the forces arrayed against him may have served as a pleasant distraction for a president besieged by the coronavirus pandemic and the human and economic carnage it has produced. But a close look at the context of what Trump is saying about the new Flynn revelations reveals it’s not all he’s framing it to be. […]

    At issue are newly released documents detailing how top FBI officials handled a key January 24, 2017, interview with Flynn […]

    FBI leadership was already aware at that time that Flynn had phone calls with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the presidential transition period. In those calls, Flynn advised Kislyak not to respond to new sanctions the Obama administration placed on Russia for interfering (on Trump’s behalf) in the just-completed presidential election. Intercepts of Flynn’s conversations with Kislyak raised concerns within the bureau that Flynn had violated the Logan Act, a law that prohibits unauthorized citizens from negotiating with foreign governments. […]

    The newly unsealed documents, which were released by Flynn’s lawyer on Wednesday and are the first fruits of Attorney General William Barr’s investigation of the Flynn investigation, indicate that FBI officials debated how to question Flynn about his contacts with Russia and whether their aim was to get him to admit any wrongdoing.

    That’s right, William Barr is looking high and low for some excuse Trump can use to pardon Flynn. If Barr’s involved in this, you know it is suspect.

    In one handwritten note that Trump and his backers in Congress and on Fox News are trumpeting as a bombshell, Bill Priestap, then the FBI’s head of counterintelligence, wrote, “What’s our goal? Truth/Admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired? If we get him to admit to breaking the Logan Act, give facts to DOJ & have them decide. Or, if he initially lies, then we present him [redacted] & he admits it, document for DOJ, & let them decide how to address it.”

    On that same piece of paper, Priestap wrote, “If we’re seen as playing games, WH [White House] will be furious. Protect our institution by not playing games.” Another note says, “We regularly show subjects evidence, with the goal of getting them to admit their wrongdoing. I don’t see how getting someone to admit their wrongdoing is going easy on him.”

    None of this may seem like a big deal. But to Trumpworld, it’s evidence that Flynn was set up by “dirty cops” who were already resolved at that early date to bring Trump down.

    It was Devin Nunes, reliably batshit whacko and also a Trump lackey, who posted “Clear now that General Flynn was set up by dirty cops at the highest levels of our government.”

    Trump even went as far as to retweet a post from his son Donald Trump Jr. calling for the imprisonment of FBI officials involved in the case. […]

    What this effort to portray Flynn as a victim ignores is not only that the FBI already had evidence that he may have broken the law at the time the notes were written, but also that Flynn did lie to FBI officials during the January 24 interview, saying that he and Kislyak did not discuss sanctions.

    Flynn resigned as national security adviser in February 2017 amid reports that the DOJ had caught him in this lie. He was ultimately prosecuted by the office of special counsel Robert Mueller, pleaded guilty, and cooperated with Mueller. But now, after copping to wrongdoing, Flynn is seeking to withdraw his plea.

    […] Trump is trying to reframe Flynn’s prosecution as a symptom of the same anti-Trump bias that produced the Mueller “witch hunt.”

    Of course, Trump’s allegations that bias affecting the Russia investigation were already investigated by the Justice Department inspector general, who found it did not.

    It’s hard to assess the full significance of the Priestap notes without more context. While Trumpworld and Flynn’s lawyer are hyping it up as smoking gun evidence of FBI misconduct, former US attorney and FBI congressional liaison Greg Brower told CNN that “To the extent this is being advertised as evidence of something nefarious, I certainly don’t see it in that way. … I don’t know what this means and I don’t know that it’s important at all.”

    What we do know is that Trump is lying about them. During a press availability on Thursday, Trump claimed that the notes show the FBI was “trying to force [Flynn] to lie.” But they show no such thing — all they show is that officials debated how aggressively and on what grounds to confront Flynn about his Russia contacts. […]

    Nonetheless, in another lie, Trump added that “if you look at those notes from yesterday, that was total exoneration.” He wouldn’t even close the door to Flynn’s possible return to the administration.

    […] for a president who continues to flail in response to a deadly pandemic he wasn’t prepared for that has now killed more Americans than the Vietnam War, the opportunity to pivot back to a day of bashing the “deep state” is likely a pleasant diversion. And it sets the stage for another news cycle that Trump will relish in the increasingly likely event he pardons Flynn.

  175. blf says

    Why am I not surprised this governor is a Democrat (or, perhaps more to the point, not a thug)? Probably because I cannot image a thug sincerely apologising and admitting they got it wrong, Kentucky governor ends beef with Tupac Shakur over unemployment check:

    […]
    Governor Andy Beshear has contacted a Kentucky resident, Tupac Malik Shakur, to apologize for delaying his unemployment cheque because he believed he was impersonating the deceased rapper of the same name.

    On Monday, Beshear described problems he was having processing unemployment claims in Kentucky, where almost one in four residents has filed for unemployment, singling out Shakur, who he thought was acting maliciously.

    In a televised briefing, Beshear said: “We had somebody apply for unemployment for Tupac Shakur here in Kentucky and that person probably thought they were being funny.” He continued to accuse the alleged bad apple for delaying payments to other people: “One person thinking they were funny using someone else’s identity is gonna make tens of thousands potentially of other people wait.”

    His announcement probably gave some clarity to Shakur, a […] line cook from Lexington, who applied for unemployment after his restaurant closed down in March and was still waiting to receive his first check. “I’ve been struggling for like the last month trying to figure out how to pay the bills,” Shakur told the Lexington Herald-Leader.

    According to local reports, Shakur legally changed his name because Shakur means “thankful to God” in Arabic.

    While his legal surname remains the same, Shakur now uses his middle name, Malik, because of the understandable confusion that arises from it. Following Beshear’s original announcement, Shakur said he was upset at being publicly labelled a prankster.

    […]

    The next day, Beshear publicly apologized for his statement, and accepted that he had made a mistake. He said: “Last night I spent a little bit of time talking about fraudulent claims holding us up … I didn’t know, and it’s my fault, that we have a Kentuckian who goes by Malik, whose name is Tupac Shakur.”

    Beshear has now called Shakur to apologize personally, and there is no longer any bad blood between the two. Beshear commended Shakur’s gracious phone manner and said Shakur had even apologized to the governor for the embarrassment the mistake had brought him.

    “I understand, he’s dealing with a lot,” Shakur later told the Lexington-Herald, adding: “Mistakes happen.”

  176. says

    Oh, no. This is bad news. Trump-loving Republicans are using the coronavirus pandemic to get away with committing bad deeds. They think no one will notice. Now they are working to confirm another Trump toady as Director of National Intelligence.

    […] While the rest of the nation is distracted by a true national emergency, Senate Republicans are taking the opportunity to quietly schedule hearings for fervent Trump acolyte Rep. John Ratcliffe’s confirmation as Trump’s new director of national intelligence. Ratcliffe had to bow out of the nomination in scandal the last time Trump attempted it; after the Senate nullification of impeachment charges, however, Senate Republicans seem to be signaling that there’s no “scandal” left that they won’t pave over to do Trump’s bidding.

    The Senate Intelligence Committee, led by Sen. Richard Burr, intends to hold a confirmation hearing for Ratcliffe next week. […] Burr had opposed Ratcliffe’s prior nomination last year, but has now evidently changed his mind.

    […] Burr’s change of heart might be because he has been under heavy attack from Trump, who views him as disloyal for his unambiguous recognition that yes, the Russian government did indeed act to manipulate the 2016 elections. But it may be that Burr, at least in theory being investigated by the Justice Department for his stock dumping, has come to the same post-impeachment conclusion as every other non-Romney Senate Republican: In for a penny, in for a pound. If we’re going to erase Trump’s proven extortion attempt against a foreign nation, using the tools of government to brazenly abuse the office in a manner long recognized, unambiguously, as corrupt, it’s impossible to argue that merely installing a Trump-loyal sycophant of sketchy record as top intelligence official is an authoritarian-minded bridge too far.

    […] the move forward to install Ratcliffe is also because the current part-time acting Trump pick, odious hyperpartisan Twitter troll Richard Grenell, is deemed so universally unacceptable that both parties would rather install a rotting tuna in the post than leave him in it. […]

    Ratcliffe is, in typical Trump adviser fashion, about the last person you would want in the role of director of national intelligence. He has little relevant experience. As a House Republican, he has proven a pathetic and dishonest partisan, aggressively promoting Trump-favoring conspiracy theories like the notion that the intelligence community’s probe of 2016 Russian election hacking was actually a Democratic-led plot against Trump. These conspiracies were enough for Senate Republicans to signal Ratcliffe’s nomination would be a heavy lift even for them last time around, but it was the discovery that Ratcliffe had “embellished” his resume by a considerable amount that led to his eventual withdrawal from the nomination. […]

    That was enough, back in August, to send the seemingly perpetually dishonest Ratcliffe packing. […]

    The confirmation hearing will be eventful, however, with at least Democratic senators eager to probe Ratcliffe’s claims that the investigation into Russian hacking was a Democratic plot against the glorious ascendant Trump. And Republican estimations that Ratcliffe’s confirmation can be sneaked through a busy news cycle might instead find that news-starved, entertainment-starved Americans stuck at home might not have anything more pressing to do than watching Richard Burr and other Republicans again humiliate themselves for Donald’s benefit.

    Link

  177. blf says

    Follow-up to @215, from the Grauniad’s current main pandemic live blog:

    A bizarre moment from Trump about the Office of the Director of National Intelligence concluding Covid-19 “was not manmade or genetically modified” but investigations into the origins of the outbreak are ongoing.

    Oh my God, Trump is completely unaware that his own ODNI said that the virus was natural. John Roberts asked him about it and Trump asked: Who said that[?] Roberts told him, and Trump said who is that? Holy crap. Even Roberts was flummoxed.

    The John Roberts mentioned is not the Chief Justice, but a fox journalist (no scare quotes around “journalist” despite being from fox as he seemed to be acting like a real journalist in the exchange (as reported)).

  178. says

    From Wonkette: “California Gonna Feed Some Hungry Kids”

    Somehow, 40 percent of people who filed for unemployment claims in Florida were denied benefits. That’s horrific, and we’ll yell at Florida later. Right now we want to praise a state with a […] governor that’s done something decent.

    California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday that low-income families will soon receive up to $365 per child as part of a pandemic EBT program. According to the California Department of Social Services, about 3.8 million children rely on free or reduced-cost lunch from school cafeterias. […]

    “Food insecurity” for children was a serious problem before the pandemic, but the number of Californians who are now seeking food assistance has increased by 60 percent since the state economy was cancelled.

    The $365 is in addition to benefits from California’s food stamps program, CalFresh. It’s automatic for CalFresh recipients whose children currently receive free or reduced-cost meals. Families not already on food stamps can apply online. The Trump administration has threatened to revoke the legal status of immigrants who apply for the aid […]

    NEWSOM: Putting food on the table during this pandemic is hard for families on the brink. [W]e want families struggling to access food to know we have your backs.

    Effective Tuesday, CalFresh recipients can also use their EBT cards to purchase food online through Amazon and Walmart. This is a smart move that helps poor families comply with the state’s stay-at-home order and limit in-person trips to the grocery store or farmers’ markets, where their debit cards were previously accepted. This will positively impact about 2.2 million households or more than 4 million people.

    […] Newsom estimates that the initiative will cost about $1.8 billion […] The program is scheduled to end June 12, and Newsom suggested Wednesday that schools could physically reopen — in a drastically different format — as soon as July. […]

    The governor gave a shout out to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for her work in making the pandemic EBT program possible. Our badass lady in charge ain’t just whistling fancy ice cream. She’s helping deliver for those most in need in her state.

    Link

  179. blf says

    Follow-up to @233, the transcript the Grauniad is quoting shows just how incompetent hair furor is (my added emboldening):

    JOHN ROBERTS: The Director of National Intelligence put out a statement saying they think the coronavirus was naturally occurring

    TRUMP: Who?

    R: It was a statement from the DNI office

    TRUMP: Oh, he would know that, huh?

    R: That would be your Director of National Intelligence

    If he didn’t make a habit of not understanding things said to him, and ignoring the rest of the exchange, I’d be inclined to let the Who? be an impolite “I’m sorry, I couldn’t quite hear, so please repeat the question.” But his habit, plus his demeaning response, [H]e would know that, huh? rules out any problem with hearing the question, and rules in, very much in, hearing something he doesn’t want to hear — time to go shoot some messengers! And blame China, Biden, WHO, and Benghazi, along with the all-purpose bogeyman, Senator Clinton!! Because it’s all Obama’s fault!!!

  180. blf says

    Activists condemn threat against Muslim congressional candidate:

    Amani Al-Khatahtbeh is the first Muslim woman to run for federal office in the US state of New Jersey.

    Dozens of women activists, leaders and lawmakers have joined a petition denouncing a death threat against congressional candidate Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, the first Muslim woman to run for federal office from New Jersey.

    The 27-year-old is the founder of MuslimGirl.com, an online magazine with a global audience. After hosting a virtual town hall on Instagram, she said someone called her phone, and using racial slurs against Muslims, threatened to kill her and her family.

    […]

    Al-Khatahtbeh published a recording of the April 21 death threat on her Twitter account on Wednesday. An open letter condemning the threat was signed by many supporters, including Black Lives Matter cofounder Alicia Garza, US Representative Rashida Tlaib and fellow Democrat Representative Ilhan Omar.

    Al-Khatahtbeh is “running to be a public servant for the benefit of all Americans. Yet, because she is a Muslim woman, she is faced with Islamophobic and racist vitriol that threatens her life and the lives of those she loves,” the letter said.

    […]

    In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, Al-Khatahtbeh was bullied. People threw eggs at her home and slashed her mother’s tyres. Her family faced such a backlash that her father temporarily relocated them to Jordan.

    When she returned to New Jersey, she started a blog at the age of 17 with help from friends at her local mosque. It eventually turned into her popular site, which covers everything from how it feels to be the only woman in a hijab at a kickboxing class, to beauty tips and stories of teenagers fighting Islamophobia.

    In recent years, Forbes magazine chose Al-Khatahtbeh for its “30 Under 30” list of top achievers, and she was asked by former First Lady Michelle Obama to speak at the United State of Women Summit.

    She launched her fully digital campaign in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic; her opponent in the July 7 Democratic primary is longtime incumbent Representative Frank Pallone.

  181. says

    MSNBC during the day has a list of the five countries and five US states with the most confirmed cases. The UK has moved quickly onto the list, and I imagine will shortly be followed by Russia and Brazil (and later Mexico and possibly Turkey, Chile, and Peru). It’s plausible that we’ll see a similar pattern with US states, especially as some with Republican governors reopen.

    Trump on funds for ‘Democrat states’. ‘If we do that we’re going to have to get something for it’.” Video atl.

  182. says

    I cut my own hair yesterday and I have to say…it’s not bad! (It’s curly, so it’s much easier – little precision necessary. Can’t imagine trying to cut the back if I had straight hair…)

  183. tomh says

    U.S. appeals court rules against Trump attempt to withhold funds from ‘sanctuary’ cities
    Ted Hesson, APRIL 30, 2020

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. appeals court on Thursday ruled against a Trump administration attempt to withhold millions of dollars from so-called “sanctuary” jurisdictions that limit cooperation with federal immigration enforcement.

    The decision, by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, upheld a pair of lower court rulings that blocked the administration from placing immigration-related conditions on law enforcement grants.
    [,,,]

    Federal appeals courts have issued divergent rulings over Trump’s attempts to restrict funding to “sanctuary” cities, setting up a possible appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

  184. blf says

    SC@240, Congratulations!
    I haven’t had my hair cut since c.2000, when it was even longer than now and had it cut to raise something like 1800€ for Amnesty International (Ireland). My own current problem is my beard, which hasn’t been shaved in ten or so years, but will interfere with the wearing of (or at least with the effectiveness of) any masks… which reminds me, I still haven’t booked an appointment yet to collect my own two free masks (no, no, I don’t procrastinate, at least when I’m not procrastinating…).

  185. blf says

    Follow-up to @188(previous page), @131(two pages ago), and especially @218(two pages ago), Whistleblower complaint set to lift lid on Trump pressure to push untried drug:

    Dr Rick Bright says he was removed as head of office working on a Covid-19 vaccine for refusing to boost hydroxychloroquine

    Donald Trump’s musing over whether cleaning people’s lungs with disinfectant might treat the coronavirus caused a furore but it may be the US president’s [sic] pushing of anti-malarial drugs that does far more lasting damage to his administration.

    There is building anticipation over the content of an upcoming whistleblower complaint by Dr Rick Bright, who last week was abruptly removed as the head of the federal government office working on a vaccine for Covid-19.

    It is understood that Bright is still working on the details of the complaint before lodging it with the Department of Health and Human Services’ inspector general.

    Bright, a vaccines expert, has claimed he was removed as head of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (Barda) because he resisted an effort to expand the use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine to treat Covid-19. The drugs, approved to treat malaria, have yet to be proven effective for this new use but have been repeatedly promoted by Trump, who has called them a game-changer.

    “I am speaking out because to combat this deadly virus, science — not politics or cronyism — has to lead the way,” Bright said in a statement, adding he was concerned about “efforts to fund potentially dangerous drugs promoted by those with political connections”.

    Bright’s lawyers, Lisa Banks and Debra Katz, subsequently claimed their client was pushed out of his job solely because he “resisted efforts to provide unfettered access to potentially dangerous drugs, including chloroquine, a drug promoted by the administration as a panacea, but which is untested and possibly deadly when used improperly”.

    It is expected that Bright’s complaint, when revealed, will shed new light on the political pressure exerted by the Trump administration on health officials to back up the president’s [sic] sweeping praise of the drugs as a key weapon against Covid-19.

    According to reporting by outlets including Vanity Fair, administration officials pushed for the widespread use of hydroxychloroquine, despite the FDA’s warnings, while also formulating a narrative where Bright was shifted from his role after mistreating his staff. His lawyers reject this characterization.

    […] When asked about Bright, Trump said that he had never heard of the man heading the effort to find a vaccine for a virus that has already caused more than 60,000 deaths in the US.

    […]

    Two days after Bright announcing his planned whistleblower complaint, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning against the use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine. The drugs, the regulator warned, can cause a number of side-effects “including serious heart rhythm problems that can be life-threatening”.

    […]

  186. says

    AP – “Brazilians start defying isolation, egged on by Bolsonaro”:

    …Egged on by Bolsonaro, who has routinely scoffed at both the virus and stay-at-home policies, Brazilians are heeding his call for revolt. Support for isolation is faltering, particularly among the wealthy, and more people are milling and mixing. From the sun-worshipers to the Instagram influencers and pro-Bolsonaro protesters, denial is spreading and quarantine is coming apart. But, unlike other countries looking to ease restrictions, Latin America’s largest nation is still weeks from the peak in its viral curve.

    Bolsonaro first staked out his argument that the economy needs to get back to work in a national address at the end of March, when he referred to the coronavirus as “a little flu” and said his history as an athlete would protect him.

    Since then, he has doubled down time and again, saying only high-risk Brazilians need to be isolated, even as the official count of cases rockets past 85,000 and deaths surpass 5,900 — more than the amount suffered by China. Experts consider both figures to be significant under-counts due to a lack of widespread testing.

    Asked about the grim milestone Bolsonaro responded, “So what? I’m sorry. What do you want me to do?”

    Personal trainer Gabriela Pugliesi would seemingly have little reason to question risks posed by the virus. The 34-year-old was infected last month at her sister’s wedding. Several other guests also contracted COVID-19 at the five-star resort with beachfront bungalows.

    Coughing and feverish — yet no less bronzed and blonde — Pugliesi repeatedly told her 4.5 million followers on Instagram to stay home and take care of themselves. She recovered in late March, and on Saturday threw a party at her apartment in Sao Paulo, the epicenter of Brazil’s outbreak. No one wore masks and in one video Pugliesi posted, she and friends shouted “Screw life!” into the camera.

    Flouting isolation drew an immediate backlash and more than 100,000 people unfollowed her. She also lost about a dozen sponsors, who also bailed on her influencer guests.

    Tatá Werneck, a TV talk show host, was a fierce critic.

    “My cousin is a doctor and arrived home in tears. They already have to choose who to save,” Werneck posted on Pugliesi’s account. “This behavior of yours, even more so because you have so many followers … is inadmissible.”

    Pugliesi apologized then suspended her Instagram account. She didn’t respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press.

    Others in Sao Paulo and elsewhere are defying social distancing, albeit more discreetly….

    On Thursday, the governor of Rio de Janeiro state extended restrictions on activity and gatherings until May 11; Sao Paulo had previously extended them until May 10. The two states have the largest virus incidence.

    Still, a poll by Datafolha showed 52% of people surveyed believe even those who don’t belong to at-risk groups – the elderly and people with chronic illness – should remain in isolation, down from 60% at the start of the month. Among the wealthiest, support for continued quarantine is just 39%.

    Bolsonaro’s hard-core base has staged rallies to shore up support for their leader’s views, most recently on Sunday in the capital, Brasilia. Many of the several hundred demonstrators draped themselves in the Brazilian flag, and the few face masks were in the national colors of green and yellow. Most neglected to use masks altogether, even as they shouted into a shared bullhorn.

    Not all of Bolsonaro’s ministers have fallen into lock-step behind him, but those who don’t do so risk losing their jobs….

  187. says

    Guardian – “US germ warfare lab creates test for pre-infectious Covid-19 carriers”:

    Scientists working for the US military have designed a new Covid-19 test that could potentially identify carriers before they become infectious and spread the disease, the Guardian has learned.

    In what could be a significant breakthrough, project coordinators hope the blood-based test will be able to detect the virus’s presence as early as 24 hours after infection – before people show symptoms and several days before a carrier is considered capable of spreading it to other people. That is also around four days before current tests can detect the virus.

    The test has emerged from a project set up by the US military’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) aimed at rapid diagnosis of germ or chemical warfare poisoning. It was hurriedly repurposed when the pandemic broke out and the new test is expected to be put forward for emergency use approval (EUA) by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) within a week.

    “The concept fills a diagnostic gap worldwide,” the head of Darpa’s biological technologies office, Dr Brad Ringeisen, told the Guardian, since it should also fill in testing gaps at later stages of the infection. If given FDA approval, he said, it had the potential to be “absolutely a gamechanger”.

    While pre-infectious detection would improve the efficiency of test-and-trace programmes as governments worldwide relax lockdowns, Darpa cautioned that it must wait until after FDA approval is given and the test can be put into practise for evidence of exactly how early it can pick up the virus.

    “The goal of research is to develop and validate an early host blood response diagnostic test for Covid,” Prof Stuart Sealfon, who leads the research team at Mount Sinai hospital in New York, said in an email.

    He said the testing approach, which looks at the body’s response as it fights Covid-19, should produce earlier results than current nose-swab tests that hunt for the virus itself. “Because the immune response to infection develops immediately after infection, a Covid signature is expected to provide more sensitive Covid infection diagnosis earlier,” he told the Guardian.

    The research behind the development of the tests will eventually be made public, with the collaborating teams from medical schools at Mount Sinai, Duke University and Princeton expected to publish online, allowing scientists around the world to trial similar methods.

    If EUA is granted, the test should start being rolled out in the US in the second half of May. Approval is not guaranteed, but Darpa scientists are enthusiastic about the potential impact as governments loosen lockdowns amid worries about controlling potential second-wave outbreaks.

    The test would up up the possibility of isolating pre-infectious cases and closing down transmission chains. It could also dramatically reduce quarantine periods for people exposed to Covid-19 spreaders, allowing them to go back to work within days. “It could have exceptional demand,” said Chris Linthwaite, the chief executive of Fluidigm, a California life-sciences technology company that is part of the project, who believes frequent testing can help manage workforces as they return to offices, warehouses and factories.

    Darpa experts also see potential to improve protocols for protecting health care workers and others in high-risk jobs, as well as those in relatively self-contained or isolated communities such as care homes and prisons or onboard ships.

    Limitations on use are similar to those already faced by countries such as Britain and depend on PCR capacity, stocks of chemical reagents and logistics. Results can take an hour, or longer if samples must be sent away to laboratories….

    More atl.

  188. blf says

    Follow-up to SC@253 & @254, Business Insider has an article, DOJ began investigating a doctor promoting unproven COVID-19 treatments after a Roger Stone associate accidentally emailed a federal prosecutor instead of the doctor. However, it’s not wanting to load for me, so the following excerpt has been gleaned from some circumventions around the mysterious(? maybe ad-blocker related?) problem:

    [… Federal prosecutor Aaron] Zelinsky responded to Corsi’s email by reaching out to Corsi’s lawyer and asking for all of Corsi’s communications with Zelenko, according to The Post. The Justice Department is now investigating all of [quack Vladimir] Zelenko’s communications.

    […]

    Gregory Rigano, a lawyer who said he’s working with Zelenko, told The Post on Thursday that federal prosecutors have not contacted him or his client, and that is not aware of any potential law enforcement interest in Zelenko.

    It’s not something I’m familiar with, Rigano said. We’re just saving people’s lives that have coronavirus and getting rid of this virus from America as soon as possible.

    In his YouTube video, Corsi showed the email he said he accidentally sent to Zelinsky, in which he wrote that Zelenko had an FDA approved randomized test of HCQ underway, referring to hydroxychloroquine.

    Corsi said that Zelinsky then went to a government website that displays approved clinical trials and found no mention of or reference to Zelenko. Corsi said he later asked Zelenko about it, and Zelenko replied that his study was approved by an internal hospital panel.

    I pointed out to Zelenko, ‘But it’s not registered as an FDA test, and you can’t say it is,’  Corsi said Thursday on YouTube, The Post reported. He added that he didn’t think Zelenko was trying to dupe anyone but instead does not understand what it means to have an FDA-approved test. [he’s a quack, of course he doesn’t! –blf]

    […]

  189. says

    Thread by Jeremy Konyndyk:

    Welcome to May.

    As I feared, the federal government wasted April much as it wasted February.

    That is a harsh assessment given how much the country has been suffering. But without competent federal leadership, the best we are managing is to tread water. Some stats:…

    So for each month we remain on the plateau, we risk losing more Americans than we lost in nearly a decade in Vietnam. If we spend May like we spent April, we will blow past 100k dead in weeks.

    If we relax the restrictions too early, death tallies could be much worse.

    There is simply no way out of our current predicament without a much more aggressive approach. Distancing, as painful as it is, is not enough.

    We must, must, must scale up testing and tracing as well. Without that we are stuck.

    And alongside that, we must surge attention and support toward the kind of places that are now producing the largest volumes of new cases – unsafe workplaces and unsafe care facilities….

    The way forward is very clear: test, trace, isolate, protect. Putting that infrastructure into place can bring down cases to a manageable level, enable us to relax lockdowns, and move to a posture of sustainable suppression.

    But that will be tough to deliver without the feds.

    The states have vital roles, but they can’t do it on their own. They need a functioning federal partnership – resources, guidance, technical advice, operational support.

    Instead they have to hide their tests and PPE to avoid the feds confiscating them.

    So it is hard to be optimistic (I’m sorry). We are stuck in an untenable holding pattern as long as federal leadership means vague slide decks and empty assurances rather than test kits, PPE, and accountability.

    The feds lost February by ignoring the domestic threat and failing to prepare.

    They’ve lost April by failing to lay the foundation for a safe exit from the lockdowns.

    Will they lose May as well?

  190. says

    Jay Rosen: “Before her first briefing today, I want to remind people that @PressSec is a culture war appointment. She was hired to fight with the press on TV, and to address a narcissistic wound: that no one was defending him hard enough against… whom? Journalists! So that’s your primer.”

  191. says

    G liveblog:

    The UK has reported 739 more deaths from Covid-19, bringing the total death toll in the country to 27,510.

    In a daily briefing on the outbreak, the health secretary, Matt Hancock, said 177,454 people have so far tested positive for coronavirus, an increase of 6,201 since yesterday.

    Of those, 15,111 patients are currently in hospital, Hancock said.

    The number of people who have died from Covid-19 in Turkey has risen by 84 in the last 24 hours to 3,258, with 2,188 new cases of the virus, Health Ministry data showed on Friday, according to Reuters.

    The total number of cases rose to 122,392, the data showed, the highest total outside Western Europe or the US.

    A total of 53,808 people have so far recovered. The number of tests conducted in the past 24 hours stood at 41,431, raising the total number of tests during the outbreak to 1.075 million.

  192. says

    Dan Solomon, Texas Monthly:

    Texas has had three days where we’ve seen more than 40 people die from covid-19 in a single day and two of them were yesterday (42) and today (50). Businesses can reopen in eight hours.

    The part of this that people seem to fundamentally misunderstand is that it isn’t a choice between continued lockdown vs. deaths. It is a choice between continued lockdown vs. ending lockdown now, spread of disease, surge in hospitalizations, additional lockdowns AND death.

    The places like NYC and Lombardy where we have seen hospitals overwhelmed came DURING lockdowns, not INSTEAD of lockdowns. They were just lockdowns instituted too late.

    i wrote a little more about this… [link atl]

    people asking “should we just stay closed forever then” are asking the wrong question, the actual question is “what have we done to make it safe to reopen” and until that answer corresponds with the recommendations of public health experts, yes, we stay closed.

    if we don’t stay closed until it is safe to reopen, the consequences are a massive spread of disease AND more lockdowns, it’s not either/or.

    it’s not “stay closed until we are 100% sure no one will ever get infected again,” it’s “stay closed until we have created a robust system for testing and contact tracing that means we can do it safely.”

    if you are desperate or frustrated or angry and you need to blame someone, blame the people who didn’t find a way to use the last six weeks of lockdown to make it safe to reopen.

    Last thought tonight: this is all awful. I’m lucky that my job is stable, even if my industry isn’t. I worry constantly that as the overall economic picture gets worse, my situation will change. I get the anxiety of people whose lives got much worse the past six weeks. And yet.

    Ending lockdown doesn’t make it safe to go out. It increases the likelihood of future, longer, lockdowns, based on expert models. That is worse for everyone’s future, including those hurting right now. We can’t end a pandemic by wanting it to be over. I desperately wish we could.

    I want to go out. I want to see my niece and nephew in Houston. I want to go see Black Widow. I want to feel the relative predictability of life as it was in January. I want to eat at the Chinese buffet on I-35. I want to see Sharon Van Etten play. I want to feel normal. And yet.

    It’s not within our power to make it normal. The virus doesn’t care what we want. We don’t have treatment. We don’t have a vaccine. We don’t have measures in place to contain it. The unfairness of living in vulnerable human bodies took those things, not rules that keep us safe.

    Even those of us who are lucky right now live with the uncertainty of a future that could be much worse than our current moment. And even if that is where we end up, it will be the virus, and our lack of preparation for its inevitability, that brought us there.

  193. says

    SC @260, I liked this paragraph because it is succinct and correct:

    it’s not “stay closed until we are 100% sure no one will ever get infected again,” it’s “stay closed until we have created a robust system for testing and contact tracing that means we can do it safely.”

  194. says

    Nicole Hemmer:

    People have chosen to radically alter their lives both to avoid getting sick and to save other people’s lives.

    That is a significant political act, and there is enormous support for it. But it doesn’t fit conventional political scripts so it’s not understood as political.

    At least, it’s not understood as political in the way the lockdown protests are, even though the protests are much, much smaller and have very little public support.

    The closest we get to a political understanding of the choice to stay home (for those who have that choice) is when we talk about the partisan divide in support for restrictive measures.

    So the lockdown protests are treated — and legitimated — as a movement, while the much larger political action is not.

    And I should add: the lockdown protests are *designed* to look like a traditional political event, and meant to draw exactly the kind of media attention they generate. (Although journalists have been pretty good about looking at the people and pocketbooks behind the protests.)

  195. blf says

    In Canada (and not pandemic related), Trudeau announces Canada is banning assault-style weapons:

    […]
    “These weapons were designed for one purpose and one purpose only: to kill the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time. There is no use and no place for such weapons in Canada,” said the prime minister. “Effective immediately, it is no longer permitted to buy, sell, transport, import or use military-grade assault weapons in this country.”

    […]

    The prime minister announced a two-year “amnesty period” to allow gun owners to comply with the law. The ban covers 1,500 models and variants of firearms.

    Canada has one of the highest per capita gun ownership rates in the world, at an estimated 34.7 firearms per 100 people, according to the Small Arms Survey in 2018. The country still trails far behind the US, which has close to 120 guns per 100 people.

    […]

    An “overwhelming majority” majority of Canadians — nearly four out of five people — support the ban, according to a poll from the Angus Reid Institute, released Friday.

  196. says

    From the Washington Post article mentioned by SC in comment 253:

    Federal prosecutors are examining the communications of a New York family doctor whose work has been discussed on Fox News and who has been in touch with the White House to tout an anti-malarial as a treatment for the novel coronavirus, […]

    The examination of Vladimir “Zev” Zelenko’s records began when an associate, conservative commentator Jerome Corsi, accidentally sent an email intended for Zelenko to another “Z” name in his address book — federal prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky, who as a member of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s team had spent months scrutinizing Corsi’s activities during the 2016 presidential election.

    During episodes of his daily podcast this week and in a YouTube video he posted late Thursday in response to questions from The Washington Post, Corsi said that Zelinsky responded to the unexpected email by reaching out to Corsi’s lawyer and requesting all of Corsi’s communications with Zelenko.

    Corsi said he and Zelenko are collaborating on a website designed to connect people with doctors. They have acted lawfully, Corsi added, but he plans to cooperate with the request and has handed over his communications.

    Zelinsky is tasked now with investigating coronavirus-related crimes in the Maryland U.S. attorney’s office, as part of a directive from U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr to prioritize such cases. The department already has charged a medley of fraudsters for peddling fake cures, selling personal protective equipment they didn’t actually have or running more complicated Medicare reimbursement schemes, and officials say tips are coming in droves. […]

    Despite a lack of scientific evidence, […] Trump has enthusiastically promoted the drug as a potential treatment for patients infected with covid-19, […] Last week, the Food and Drug Administration, citing reports of “serious heart rhythm problems” associated with hydroxychloroquine, warned doctors against its use outside of a hospital or clinical trial. […]

    He [Corsi] said he had turned over to Zelinsky emails and text messages between himself and Zelenko, as well as copies of his podcast and marketing materials for the website — “everything he asked for.” […]

    even passing interest from federal authorities into efforts to promote the anti-malarial is likely to chafe the president and his allies, particularly given the involvement of a former member of Mueller’s team. […]

    Zelenko has said he successfully treated hundreds of suspected covid-19 patients with what he called a cocktail of hydroxychloroquine, the antibiotic azithromycin and zinc sulfate.

    By “successfully treated” does he mean they didn’t die? And by “hundreds of patients” does he mean ten or less?

    Experts, including Trump’s leading infectious disease specialist Anthony S. Fauci, have repeatedly cautioned that while there is some anecdotal evidence the drug shows promise, its efficacy must be validated through controlled scientific studies.

    Zelenko consults frequently with some of Trump’s closest allies. Trump aides say he has been in contact with Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and other officials. In a recent interview, Trump attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani said he and Zelenko speak frequently — often more than once a day.

    “He’s a very smart doctor,” Giuliani said. “I’ve seen an analysis of Dr. Zelenko’s patient list. There are thousands of people who have been helped by it.”

    Corsi said he was referred to Zelenko by another doctor also interested in covid-19 and hosted Zelenko for the first time on his podcast earlier this month.

    Corsi’s website, speakwithanmd.com, offers people the opportunity to schedule a virtual appointment with a doctor, by clicking on a button and inputting their name and address. It advertises a “low consult fee” of $59.95, as well as “Prescriptions Delivered Right to Your Door, Same Day!” through a partner.

    The site claims to be linked with more than 625 health-care providers, spanning all 50 states. In a “Frequently Asked Questions” section, it says it is “designed to see and treat non-emergency type consultations,” though it lists “COVID-19” as one of many health problems its doctors can examine, along with constipation, allergies and the common cold. […]

    He [Zelenko] accused Fauci and other government scientists of opposing use of the drug for political and financial reasons. “History will prove me right,” Zelenko said on Corsi’s podcast. “The difference between me and Dr. Fauci is only about 100,000 dead people.” […]

    Washington Post link

    All the best people.

  197. says

    NBC – “Government orders 100,000 new body bags as Trump minimizes death toll”:

    The federal government placed orders for well over 100,000 new body bags to hold victims of COVID-19 in April, according to internal administration documents obtained by NBC News, as well as public records. The biggest set was earmarked for purchase the day after President Donald Trump projected that the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus might not exceed 50,000 or 60,000 people.

    That batch is a pending $5.1 million purchase order placed by the Department of Homeland Security on April 21 with E.M. Oil Transport Inc. of Montebello, California, which advertises construction vehicles, building materials and electronics on its website. The “human remains pouches” have not been paid for or shipped to the Federal Emergency Management Agency yet, according to the company’s marketing manager, Mike Pryor.

    “I hope to God that they don’t need my order and that they cancel it,” Pryor said in a text message exchange with NBC News.

    Body bag contracts bid by Homeland Security and the Veterans Affairs Department are just one illustration of how Trump’s sunny confidence about the nation’s readiness to reopen is in conflict with the views of officials in his own administration who are quietly preparing for a far worse outcome.

    Around the same time it wrote the contract for the body bags, FEMA opened up bidding to provide about 200 rented refrigerated trailers for locations around the country. The request for proposals specifies a preference for 53-foot trailers, which, at 3,600 cubic feet, are the largest in their class.

    The cache of internal documents obtained by NBC News includes an April 25 “pre-decisional draft” of the coronavirus task force’s “incident outlook” for the response, a summary of the task force leaders’ meeting the same day and various communications among officials at several agencies. The documents show that task force members remain worried about several major risks ahead, including insufficient availability of coronavirus tests, the absence of a vaccine or proven treatments for the coronavirus, and the possibility of a “catastrophic resurgence” of COVID-19….

    More atl.

  198. blf says

    Facebook removes page belonging to conspiracy theorist David Icke:

    Social networks still carrying former footballer’s bogus information about coronavirus

    Facebook has removed a page belonging to David Icke after social media platforms came under pressure for giving a platform to the conspiracy theorist, whose bogus messages about Covid-19 have continued to gain viewers.

    A page […] was removed for repeatedly violating Facebook’s policies on harmful misinformation, the company said on Friday.

    But while the deleted page had more than 770,000 followers, a secondary account with more than 68,000 followers remained active. A verified account for him also remained on Twitter, which said it was prioritising the removal of Covid-19 content when it had a call to action that could potentially cause harm.

    […]

    A report by the CCDH [Centre for Countering Digital Hate] claims that Icke’s conspiracies about coronavirus have been viewed more than 30m times. Based on an analysis of videos that feature Icke speaking about the coronavirus on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, the group described him as the leading producer of misinformation on Covid-19.

    […]

    The action against Icke’s social media presence was also welcomed by Hope Not Hate, which said: “Icke’s deluded, often antisemitic, posts encourage harmful lies to spread. Other platforms should follow Facebook’s lead.”

    The local television station London Live was sanctioned recently after the media regulator, Ofcom, found it had posed a threat to the public’s health by showing a lengthy interview with Icke about the coronavirus pandemic.

    Icke, who has repeated discredited claims that the pandemic is linked to 5G, had used the broadcast to claim without evidence that the pandemic was cover for a supposed global world order to crash the economy, end the use of cash payments and track people.

    According to the BBC, Coronavirus: David Icke kicked off Facebook:

    […]
    In one video, he suggested a Jewish group was behind the virus.

    Following the ban, his Twitter account posted: Fascist Facebook deletes David Icke — the elite are TERRIFIED.

    [… examples of the loon’s blatherings from the CCDH, including the following doozey]
    ● a YouTube video in which he falsely claimed it was not possible to catch a virus from shaking hands
    […]

    I guess teh reptilians got annoyed with him. They need the humans alive…

  199. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Got a letter from the Treasury Dept. today with a letter where the hair furor was trying to take credit for the stimulus package. The shredder was ready, and easily digested the propaganda.

  200. says

    Follow-up to comment 216.

    On MSNBC this morning, Joe Biden categorically denied sexual assault allegations raised by Tara Reade, a former staffer, and called on the National Archives to release any potential records related to her claims. The likely Democratic presidential nominee also issued a written statement, calling attention to what Biden described as “the full and growing record of inconsistencies in her story, which has changed repeatedly in both small and big ways.”

  201. Akira MacKenzie says

    Nerd @ 269

    I got mine yesterday after my Trump-worshiping father brought in the mail. Since he think’s I’m a mental incompetent (nor does he have any sense of privacy), he thought I was being audited for whatever screw-up I obviously made on my taxes. After I explained that it was Trump propaganda, taking credit for the stimulus payments, he angrily replied with “If you don’t like him, then send the money back?” Not wanting to spend the rest of my suddenly shortened life in a cardboard box, I held my tongue.

  202. militantagnostic says

    BLF @268

    I guess teh reptilians got annoyed with him. They need the humans alive…

    Yes, they taste better that way.

  203. says

    Trump is siding with those “very good people” who carried AR-15 guns and other weapons into the Michigan capitol:

    The Governor of Michigan should give a little, and put out the fire. These are very good people, but they are angry. They want their lives back again, safely! See them, talk to them, make a deal.

    Some of those protesters carried machine guns into the galleries above where the lawmakers debated.

    From Governor Gretchen Whitmer:

    While some members of the legislature might believe this crisis is over, common sense and all of the scientific data tells us we’re not out of the woods ye. By refusing to extend the emergency and disaster declaration, Republican lawmakers are putting their heads in the sand and putting more lives and livelihoods at risk. I’m not going to let that happen.

    Whitmer ended the current state of emergency, and she promptly issued two new emergency declarations.

    […] She declared the first under the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act of 1945, which gives the governor broad powers without any time constraints.

    She issued the second under the Emergency Management Act of 1976, which only allots the governor 28 days of authority under a state of emergency before the legislature must approve an extension. Her first order technically ending the current state of emergency seems to be a way to skirt the law’s legislative extension requirement. […]

    TPM link

  204. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s current States pandemic live blog, albeit this pandemic isn’t Covid-19 but hair furorrid:

    Michael Cohen […] told yesterday that he must cease writing a tell-all book about his time working for Trump […]

    ABC News reports:

    Cohen received a letter from lawyers representing the Trump Organization demanding Cohen halt writing a ‘tell-all book’ about his time working for the president [sic], according to sources familiar with the matter.

    Charles Harder, the attorney representing the company, writes that Cohen signed a non-disclosure agreement when he joined the Trump Organization and thus it would prohibit him from disclosing certain information about the president [sic], his family and the company.

    […]

  205. says

    Follow-up to comment 274.

    From the readers comments:

    Nothing like having a president who is busy supporting armed insurrection.
    …………………
    So a couple dozen citizens whine about not being able to go where they want while being allowed to wander the halls of the state capital with guns (irony alert), and the Governor is supposed to make deals with them?

    70+% of America supports the stay at home orders. It’s ridiculous.
    ———————
    The President of the United States is guilty of incitement, and his fellows Repubs remain silent.
    ——————–
    …and they’re armed like a fully kitted SWAT team.

    But they mean well.
    ——————-
    Yeah, more of his “very good people.” Thugs carrying AR-15s into a State legislature.
    ———————
    Football player kneels. “Fire him!” “Get him the hell out of there!”
    Armed insurrection at a state capital “very good people”

  206. says

    Follow-up to comment 277.

    […] I didn’t think we’d fall this far this fast. I can’t believe I’m literally debating—with Trump supporters in my neighborhood—the value of letting people live during this outbreak. How the fuck are we still having serious discussions about Trump’s electability?

    Serious discussions of sacrificing the weak weren’t acceptable too long ago; I don’t even want to think what might be considered acceptable four years from now, if the right-wing is still clinging to power.

    This terrifying stance should scare you to do everything you can to make sure this Nazified version of the GOP is thrown out of power this year. Otherwise, you or your family might be subjected to the “next stage.” Right now, the right is asking for voluntary sacrifices of the old and weak, but history shows it’s just a few atrocities away from being made mandatory.

    Link

    Much more at the link.

  207. says

    The president is praising literal terrorists who have threatened the lives of duly elected leaders.

    There is no other truthful or responsible way to characterize this. Every question asked of him, his apparatchiks, and any other Republican, every story written about this, must start with this basic reality and the enormity of what it means for our country.”

    I can honestly say that this week is worse than the worst scenarios I had imagined.

  208. says

    NEW — The Capitol’s attending physician warned McConnell’s office and others LAST WEEK that DC hadn’t cleared benchmarks for reopening. McConnell’s office pushed forward with reconvening the Senate anyway.”

    Daily Beast link atl.

  209. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 279.

    More Armed ‘Boogaloo’ Terrorists To Storm North Carolina Capitol Because Haircuts And Civil War

    Yesterday, a bunch of armed militia nuts stormed the Michigan Capitol to demand that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer reopen the state despite the fact that doing so would be an incredibly bad idea.

    Today, a bunch of gun-toting “Boogaloo” enthusiasts are doing the very same in Raleigh, North Carolina, along with another group calling themselves “American Revolution 2.0.” This time, however, they are actually in a state where it is illegal for them to protest on government property while carrying guns, so it may not work out as well for them.

    As you may recall, “Boogaloo” is the latest term white supremacist and militia groups have given to their dream of a second Civil War. Many of them see this pandemic as an opportunity to get that going. Of course, as we have previously noted, when you try to Civil War people who are not interested in having a Civil War with you, that is just murder. Or terrorism.

    The first group is organized on Facebook under the name “Blue Igloo” — one of the many code terms for “Boogaloo” that have proliferated on social media — and they have been promoting their event on the supposedly more mainstream private group Reopen NC.

    Via Triad City Beat:

    Promoters of today’s event have been actively recruiting on the more mainstream Reopen NC Facebook group, which is set to private.

    “I have perfectly legal, constitutionally protected liberty sticks with plenty of freedom seeds,” wrote one user who has indicated he plans to be in Raleigh today.

    Another user chimed in: “You bet me to it. Bring the boog sticks.” Then, in another comment: “Don’t forget your Hawaiian shirt!” The same commenter spelled out his intentions for the benefit of an uninitiated person on the thread: “The boogaloo. The big igloo. The big luau. The show. Etc. Americans’ second revolution.”

    A Facebook user who has been active in the planning for today’s event posted a photo of himself on April 6 wearing a black and white shirt with palm tree silhouettes and a pink boa while holding a black pistol.

    “Grow out your mustache and go full Boognum PI,” a friend — also involved in the planning for the Raleigh event — advised.

    Cute.

    If Reopen NC sounds familiar, that’s because it is the group where one of the founders actually has COVID-19 and tried to claim it was a violation of her First Amendment rights and also the Americans with Disabilities Act to require her to quarantine herself for as long as she was contagious. […]

    They hold the rule of law in the highest regard … except for wanting to be armed in places where they are, legally, not allowed to be armed. And except for wanting to start a Civil War with the rest of us, which is, we must assume, also not legal. […]

    Of course, the group is already aware that sites like Wonkette will be writing about any stupid thing they do, and have thus encouraged participants to film everything so that we do not Project Mockingbird them.

    In order to combat against the corrupt media propaganda machine (research: Operation Mockingbird), we are going to need everyone to have their cell phones rolling at all times during this event. Live Streaming and offline video recording alike. Also need this to be on diverse platforms, so Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and whatever else. Be prepared to bring portable battery chargers as well. If we don’t do this, we will absolutely drown in lies and false narratives.

    Project Mockingbird, for the record, was an alleged Cold War era CIA program supposedly developed to counter what they saw as communist propaganda from journalists. The only official documented mention of Project Mockingbird is in the Family Jewels report, declassified in 2007, and it is in reference to wiretapping journalists (rather than telling journalists to make fun of right-wing nut jobs who are trying to get us all killed).

    So far, the protests have been as stupid as you might imagine. […]

    The other group protesting today is American Revolution 2.0, a group that may actually be just one guy named Josh Ellis, who lives in the Chicago suburbs and records many very long YouTube videos that not a lot of people watch. […]

    You may recall the whole “I have a whole group of people standing behind me and agreeing’ schtick from such classics as the Unabomber’s manifesto and Eric Rudolph’s statements to the press. Not to insinuate anything.

    According to the official website, AR 2.0 is planning 50 protests in every state capitol today. That does not appear to be happening. Ellis has, however, shown up in North Carolina and has even spoken to the news media about what his “group” hopes to achieve.

    Via WRAL:

    […] When asked if he was concerned about the spread of the virus if states opened too early, Ellis said, “That says I am not responsible for my own health. That’s the message when you are saying only government can protect you from this. You are saying you are either incapable or too stupid to take care of your own health.”

    Well, given all of the protesters showing up at these rallies, particularly those who subsequently got sick, it seems pretty clear that they are, in fact, too stupid.

  210. says

    With no fanfare, Trump’s coronavirus guidelines quietly fade away

    “You don’t want people to misconstrue the expiration of these guidelines as a recommendation that it’s okay to go back to your normal life…. It’s not.”

    [on March 16 Trump] unveiled the White House’s coronavirus guidelines — they were called at the time, “15 days to stop the spread” — complete with social-distancing recommendations. Much of the United States effectively came to a halt soon after. It wasn’t long, however, before the president started feeling antsy.

    A week after the announcement, Trump started talking up the idea of retreating from mitigation restrictions by Easter, to the alarm of public-health professionals who knew that would be far too soon. Cooler heads prevailed, and as March came to a close, the president said he was leaving the guidelines in place through the end of April.

    But there was something in his announcement that stood out for me. On March 29, Trump stood in the Rose Garden and said, “[W]e will be extending our guidelines to April 30th to slow the spread.” About a minute later, he added, “We can expect that, by June 1st, we will be well on our way to recovery. We think, by June 1st, a lot of great things will be happening.”

    Those familiar with how calendars work took note of the gap: Trump extended the White House guidelines until the end of April, and he expected great things at the start of June. Isn’t there a month in between?

    Given the framing, I more or less assumed that officials would conclude that social-distancing measures were having the intended effect and the White House would therefore leave the guidelines in place another month. As USA Today noted, that’s not what happened.

    The deadline to lift social distancing guidelines quietly passed on Thursday as the White House pushed a new set of suggestions designed to reopen the U.S. economy now decimated by the coronavirus pandemic. The White House is sunsetting the federal guidelines, once a central tenet of its coronavirus response and the focus of the administration’s message, in the latest sign of the president’s eagerness to revive the once booming economy upended by the coronavirus crisis.

    In their place, the guidelines have been replaced with voluntary re-opening directives, creating a patchwork model in which states are left to do as they please.

    It’s not hard to find knowledgeable observers who see this as a mistake. Richard Besser, the CDC’s former acting director, told the Washington Post that no one in the Trump administration has yet offered a clear explanation on why states could begin to relax such measures.

    Besser added, “You don’t want people to misconstrue the expiration of these guidelines as a recommendation that it’s okay to go back to your normal life, because it’s not.”

  211. says

    Trump works to offset erosion among older Americans lacking enthusiasm for the GOP death march

    Now that’s an accurate headline!

    […] Trump declared May 2020 “Older Americans Month” as his campaign works to blunt an erosion in support among the demographic that’s integral to his reelection. “Our country could not be anything near what it is without our incredible seniors,” Trump said Thursday at a White House event.

    But older Americans can be forgiven if they’re not super excited by the transactional rhetoric of a man who very clearly considers them collateral damage in his reelection. Trump and other Republicans have eagerly prioritized saving the economy over slowing the spread of the virus, which has proven particularly lethal to older people. […]

    Buttressing the trends in recent Civiqs polling that showed the group’s sagging support for Trump, the Wall Street Journal notes that Trump has trailed Biden among 65-plus voters in all four of its polls this year, sometimes by double digits. That stands out in particular because older voters have favored Republicans in elections for the past couple decades. In Florida, for instance, which Trump won by 17 points in 2016, Trump trailed Biden by 10 points in the latest Quinnipiac poll in mid-April. […]

    But Trump doesn’t just have a Biden problem—he’s got a Trump problem. Trump’s campaign […] found that Trump’s slide with older voters was directly related to his piss-poor showings at the White House coronavirus briefings. It’s almost as if older voters remember how a real commander in chief is supposed to act in the midst of a national emergency. […]

    Old voters, a critically at-risk population with very few other distractions, have been paying a great deal of attention to those briefings, according to the campaign. And many, apparently, don’t like what they’ve seen.

    “I quit watching. I truly can’t stand it,” Judy Hoffman, a 72-year-old Ohio retiree who had considered supporting Trump until the pandemic emerged, told the Journal. “I quit feeling like I was gaining any information. I started listening to podcasts.”

  212. says

    From Mark Sumner: “Mike Pence retaliates against reporter for telling the truth—Pence knew he should wear a mask.”

    The most amazing fact about the entire Trump White House is not that they’re constantly wrong. Any deliberately ignorant, boneheaded ideologue can be wrong—just ask Louie Gohmert. Nope, what has set Team Trump apart from the very beginning is their inability to admit to being wrong about the smallest, most obvious thing. Ever. The phone call was perfect. The inauguration crowd was huge. Little things like transcripts and photos be damned.

    Fast climbing the ranks of things that are wrong, undeniably wrong, fully documented wrong, obviously, on camera, in your face wrong … and yet still being inexplicably defended by people who just can’t let anything go, is Mike Pence’s face mask. Or rather, the fact that Mike Pence doesn’t apparently have a face mask. Four days after Pence offered himself up as the great white virus vector, his staff isn’t just finding new ways to justify the unjustifiable—they’re threatening to sue reporters for showing what Pence actually did.

    These are the facts:

    The Mayo Clinic informed Mike Pence that anyone coming to visit their facility needed to wear a mask. […] Pence himself didn’t deny it when the White House was in Excuse Round #1.

    Everyone with Pence at the clinic was wearing a mask. The video of him strolling around exhaling his milk breath into everyone’s face is immediately striking expressly because everyone else is clearly following the rules, and Pence is so clearly not following the rules.

    Pence’s initial response when questioned about why he wasn’t wearing a mask wasn’t to say he didn’t know he needed to wear a mask—because it was just damn obvious that he knew he was supposed to be wearing a mask. Instead Pence claimed he didn’t wear a mask because he wanted to look healthcare workers “in the eye.” Which shows that Pence knew he should have been wearing a mask, but doesn’t know how to wear a mask.

    Pence then engaged the claim that he didn’t need to wear a mask because he gets tested for COVID-19 all the time. That’s maybe not the best thing to say in a nation where most healthcare workers, nursing home workers, and people who are displaying symptoms still can’t get tested. It also offers absolutely no protection to people who could be infected by Pence between those regular tests.

    In the third round of how to bungle a response, “Mother” Karen Pence was dispatched to Fox, where she denied everything up to that point and claimed that her husband was unaware that everyone in the clinic was required to wear a mask. Because the idea that Mike Pence is just intensely, intensely ignorant is always an acceptable position. Also, it’s apparently okay for Mother to blatantly lie on nationwide TV.

    And now The Washington Post is ready with the next round in this thing that might be funny if it wasn’t putting people’s lives at risk. Pence’s office is threatening to sue a reporter for revealing the fact that Pence’s own office warned journalists accompanying Pence to the clinic that they would need to wear masks.

    Not only did Pence’s office know that masks were required, they—not Mayo Clinic, but Pence’s team—told journalists they would have to wear masks to go along. Voice of America Reporter Steve Herman spilled the beans that all the journalists “were notified by the office of @VP the day before the trip that wearing of masks was required by the @MayoClinic and to prepare accordingly.” […]

    For making it clear that Karen Pence was simply out-and-out lying to America in the continued effort to cover up this event, an event that would be the silliest aspect of the entire crisis had not Donald Trump suggested drinking bleach, Trump’s staff is now claiming that Herman “violated the off-the-record terms” of the memo telling him to wear a mask for the trip. He has also been banned from Air Force Two and from coming along on future Pence trips.

    Notice what’s not in these statements is any claim from Pence’s staff that Herman is lying. That’s exactly the problem—Herman told the truth. But his truth is getting in the way of their lies … and that clearly can’t be allowed.

    Link

  213. says

    Here’s a link to the May 2 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    Russia has posted another record jump in coronavirus cases, as the disease continues to overwhelm the country’s hospitals and infect top members of government.

    Russia posted a record increase of 9,623 new confirmed cases of coronavirus on Saturday, indicating the country has still not reached a plateau, with the national tally growing to 124,054. Russia is showing the second-highest rate of spread of the disease in the world behind the US, and the surge has vaulted Russia past Turkey to give it the seventh-largest caseload in the world.

    Officials say that the actual number of infected may be far higher than government statistics show. Moscow’s mayor, Sergei Sobyanin, estimated on Saturday that 2% of the Russian capital’s population was infected, meaning that more than 240,000 people may have the virus in a city of more than 12 million. That exceeds the confirmed 62,658 cases by nearly four times.

    Hospitals in the capital are at capacity, with television footage showing ambulances forced to wait for hours or even overnight in order to deliver the infected to emergency rooms. Sobyanin last week also ordered medical students to be mobilised in the fight against disease, with some telling the Moscow Times and other news outlets that they had been coerced into serving at local hospitals.

    Officially, Russia has posted close to 1,200 deaths from coronavirus, but the numbers are likely higher. In St Petersburg, eight refrigerator trailers used as mobile morgues appeared outside of hospitals this week to handle the overflow, according to the Fontanka news agency.

  214. johnson catman says

    re SC @286:

    Russia is showing the second-highest rate of spread of the disease in the world behind the US

    WOOHOOOO! The US is still #1! USA! USA!

  215. says

    France24 with more re #166 above – “President’s ‘So what?’ as 5,000 die sparks fury in Brazil”:

    Rarely have two words ignited such a firestorm of controversy.

    “So what?” said Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Tuesday when a journalist asked him about the fact that more than 5,000 Brazilians had died of the coronavirus.

    The far-right leader’s off-the-cuff comment has been sparking anger ever since, with governors, politicians, healthcare professionals and media figures all weighing in to express their outrage at his lack of empathy.

    Bolsonaro is no stranger to controversy. But his latest remark sparked such a fury because Brazil is facing a seemingly uncontrollable outbreak of the disease and is still several weeks away from the peak of the pandemic, with a death toll that threatens to surpass even the most dire predictions.

    There have been more than 91,000 officially confirmed cases so far but scientists warn the real figure could be 15 to 20 times higher.

    With a death toll that has already topped 6,300, the giant South American country is facing as grim a scenario as Italy or the United States.

    “So what? I’m sorry. What do you want me to do?” Bolsonaro said Tuesday when questioned about his country passing the 5,000-death mark, more than China. He joked that even though his middle name is Messias, or Messiah, “I don’t do miracles.”

    Wilson Witzel, the governor of Rio de Janeiro state, called the president’s remarks “absolutely unacceptable.”

    With his own state on the verge of a public health meltdown, Witzel slammed the president for “being ironic about the deaths” rather than “being a leader at such a moment.”

    “Do your job,” he said on Twitter Wednesday, the day when the pro-gun president was training at a target range, far from the woes of Brazil’s 210 million citizens.

    Joao Doria, governor of Sao Paulo state which is also on the frontlines of the battle against the coronavirus with more than 2,500 deaths already, replied furiously to Bolsonaro in the capital Brasilia.

    “Get out of your Brasilia bubble,” he retorted, urging Bolsonaro to visit hospitals “in this country which is crying for its dead and infected.”

    Unlike many other heads of state, the Brazilian leader has not been seen in any hospitals nor has he expressed much solidarity with victims of the disease, bereaved families or healthcare staff who have condemned the lack of ventilators or beds.

    The head of the doctors’ union in Sao Paulo, Eder Gatti, called on television for “a more serious attitude from the president of the republic.”

    Bolsonaro “shows very little sensitivity to the tragedies that the families of those directly affected by the pandemic are going through,” said Lucio Renno, director of the Institute of Political Science at Brasilia University.

    “His style is the iron fist, to be hard rather than to show solidarity or empathy,” he told AFP.

    It is a style that inevitably draws comparison with Bolsonaro’s own role model, US President Donald Trump.

    That type of reaction is “shocking for a large part of the population” and “reinforces the idea for a good part of the elites and for the Brazilian people that he is not fit to govern,” Renno said.

    Miriam Leitao, an op-ed writer at the daily O Globo, wrote on Thursday that with his “So what?” Bolsonaro had “renounced the presidency.”

    “Anyone who shows such contempt for his own people can no longer be president,” she wrote….

  216. says

    G liveblog:

    The Chinese virologist whose work has been at the centre of the controversial claim that the coronavirus came from a laboratory has dismissed rumours that she has defected from China, South China Morning Post reports.

    Shi Zhengli, a researcher of bat coronaviruses, wrote on WeChat on Saturday that she and her family had not fled the country, despite coming under heavy scrutiny amid conspiracy theories that the virus responsible for the Covid-19 pandemic had originated at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in central China where she works.

    “No matter how difficult things are, there will not be a ‘defector’ situation as the rumours have said,” Shi wrote.

    Chinese state newspaper Global Times said it had confirmed the post had been written by Shi.

    “We have not done anything wrong and we continue to have strong faith in science. There must be a day when the clouds part and the sun comes out,” she added.

  217. blf says

    Still trying to buy his way to the presidency, albeit not as the president-by-title, Michael Bloomberg expands influence network within Democratic party:

    […] Bloomberg’s enormous wealth and influence is still strong in the party via a growing network of groups, former associates and allies sprinkled across the Democratic party universe.

    [… claims he’s trying to help defeat hair furor (probably true), nothing else (very unlikely)…]

    [… efforts to buy dummie-leaning data gathering / analysis firms to add to his collection of such firms…]

    The end goal for Bloomberg, 78, is still somewhat murky.

    The former mayor has repeatedly said he would use his considerable resources to oust Trump from office. But the rapid expansion of Bloomberg-connected groups and operatives around Washington also suggests Bloomberg intends to hold a seat at the table among the most influential Democratic party leaders, albeit one outside of elected office.

  218. blf says

    A few snippets from assorted Grauniad articles about antics in the States:

    ● White House blocks Fauci testimony as Trump welcomes Senate return: “White House said it would be counterproductive for senior member of the taskforce to discuss response in House hearing”. In contrast, defunding WHO, using an implausible conspiracy theory to blame China, and not doing much of anything expect lying & profiteering is very much productive. How’s that bleach-fueled internal UV glow working? Some more from the article:

    Late on Friday, the White House moved to replace a health department official who warned of supply shortages and testing delays at hospitals, according to the New York Times.

    Trump criticized the official, Christi Grimm, at a briefing three weeks ago, in response to the report she authored. Trump also attacked Grimm on Twitter, highlighting her work in the Obama administration. She also served under George W Bush and Bill Clinton.

    The White House announced Friday night that it had nominated a new inspector general for the department. Grimm would be the fourth government watchdog pushed out in recent weeks.

    […]

    The 5 minute Abbott Test will be used [for the Senate], Trump wrote. The Times has also reported that Trump and other members of the White House have access to a rapid-testing kit developed by Abbott Laboratories which provides results in five minutes. [The Congress doctor, Dr Brian] Monahan’s office said the testing kits to which it has access do not provide results for two days.

    McConnell, the Senate majority leader who is requiring senators, staff and US Capitol employees to return on Monday despite Monahan’s recommendations, is doing so in part because of his election-year focus on pushing conservative judicial nominees through the Republican-majority Senate.

    My motto for the rest of the year is leave no vacancy behind,” McConnell said in late March.

    ● Auschwitz memorial condemns presence of Nazi slogan at US anti-lockdown rally: “Arbeit macht frei on sign at Illinois demonstration against state’s coronavirus measures”. It’s actually a bit worse, as the article explains:

    [The sign bore] the words Arbeit macht frei, JB.

    The German phrase translates as work sets you free, with JB referring to the Illinois governor, JB Pritzker, who is of Jewish descent.

    The font of both instances of the letter “B” on the picket sign bore a striking resemblance to the shape of the letter “B” on the sign above the gates of Auschwitz, the largest of the German Nazi concentration camps and extermination centres, where more than 1.1 million men, women and children were murdered.

    ● Florida man stalks beach as Grim Reaper to protest reopening amid pandemic (images (plural) at link):

    Florida’s governor, Ron de Santis, announced on Friday that state parks will soon reopen, even as the coronavirus pandemic continued and Death himself stalked the beaches of the Sunshine state.

    In fairness, the Grim Reaper in question was actually Daniel Uhlfelder, a lawyer and campaigner for public beach access who put on a cowl and wielded a scythe in an attempt to alert Floridians to the dangers of reopening their economy too soon.

    As footage of a socially distanced interview with a TV reporter at Miramar Beach in Walton county went viral, Uhlfelder told CNN: “We aren’t at the point now where we have enough testing, enough data, enough preparation for what’s going to be coming to our state from all over the world from this pandemic.

    “I know how beautiful and attractive our beaches are. But if we don’t take measures to control things, this virus is going to get really, really out of control.”

  219. blf says

    The Grauniad’s current main pandemic live blog notes:

    Reuters reports on the conservative groups advising the US government [sic] that have issued an array of coronavirus economic reopening plans. They all have a common theme: Americans should go back to work immediately to halt the economic and societal damage from prolonged lockdowns.

    The Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus has focused in recent days around the same message — the need to reopen quickly. The White House did not renew federal guidelines on social distancing that expired on 30 April, and Donald Trump is expected to go to Arizona next week, after a month without travel. […]

  220. says

    A Mysterious, COVID-Linked Surge In Heart Symptoms Has Forced Cardiologists To Adapt

    TPM link

    […] Apart from the disease’s more well-known ravaging of the respiratory system, significant numbers of COVID-19 patients arrive at hospitals with serious heart problems, many of which first appear to be those of a heart attack but turn out to be symptoms of the coronavirus or the body’s response to it.

    So doctors on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic have adapted, relying on new medical research from foreign hotspots like Wuhan and Lombardy to contend with how little we still know about the virus itself. Many hospital cardiology departments, for example, have begun to take potential heart attack patients with suspected COVID-19 into their ERs to first determine whether they have contracted the virus before moving “them back into the cardiac care path,” Thomas Maddox, chair of the American College of Cardiology’s Science and Quality Committee, told TPM.

    He added that in hotspots like New York City, hospitals had “moved to a lower threshold: to test, and wait until it comes back, before doing anything with the patient.”

    Maddox described the dilemma to TPM as a decision between bad variables. On the one hand, treating a COVID patient presenting heart symptoms as if he had a heart attack could expose the doctor. On the other, treating all patients as if they were infected with COVID could deprive those suffering from heart attacks of precious minutes.

    “It’s been so hard to solve,” Maddox added. “Because, at the same time, you don’t want to take somebody who is short of breath because they’re having a heart attack and delay their treatment because you send them to a COVID unit, and miss the opportunity to help out their heart.”

    The symptoms appear in different ways, experts told TPM. Some patients struggle with blood clots that course throughout their body, while others have severely inflamed hearts. Others still face organ failure amid spiraling blood oxygen levels.

    “There’s not an easy way to tell, though, if they’re presenting so much like a heart attack,” Gulati told TPM. “We’re seeing reports of myocardial infarction when they have COVID-19, but often they aren’t always having blockages of the coronary arteries that we traditionally expect.”

    She added that, in COVID-19 patients, lack of blood oxygen can creep up fast, overtaxing the heart.

    “They are sitting there talking to you, and suddenly they go incredibly bad,” Gulati said, speaking of patients with dangerously low blood oxygen levels. “That is a big demand on the heart, if the heart is not getting enough oxygen, and the organs aren’t getting enough oxygen. As a result, everything is compromised.”

    The lack of knowledge around COVID-19 and its symptoms can complicate diagnosis after death, as well.

    Preliminary mortality data released by the Centers for Disease Control suggests that, as the pandemic peaked in New York City, the number of people dying due to what the CDC classifies as “diseases of the heart” also peaked. […]

    More at the link, including graphs of mortality data.

  221. blf says

    Lynna@293, That excerpt reminds me of this Grauniad article, More cases of rare syndrome in children reported globally (29-April-2020):

    Nearly 100 cases of the unusual illness linked to Covid-19 have emerged in at least six countries

    Doctors around the world have reported more cases of a rare but potentially lethal inflammatory syndrome in children that appears to be linked to coronavirus infections.

    Nearly 100 cases of the unusual illness have emerged in at least six countries, with doctors in Britain, the US, France, Italy, Spain and Switzerland now reported to be investigating the condition.

    The first cases came to light this week when the NHS issued an alert to paediatricians [At least 12 UK children have needed intensive care due to illness linked to Covid-19] about a number of children admitted to intensive care units with a mix of toxic shock and a condition known as Kawasaki disease, an inflammatory disorder that affects the blood vessel, heart and other organs. So far 19 children have been affected in the UK and none have died.

    The French health minister, Olivier Veran, said on Wednesday that the country had more than a dozen children with inflammation around the heart, and while there was insufficient evidence to prove a link with coronavirus, he said the cases were being taken “very seriously.”

    […]

    The new syndrome, which has yet to be named, dominated discussion between leading doctors on a teleconference about Covid-19 in children hosted on Tuesday by the World Health Organization.

  222. says

    Despite the coronavirus pandemic, Republican state legislators are still looking for ways to deprive people of their right to vote. (This remind me of Mitch McConnell’s determination to carry on despite the coronavirus risks, as detailed in comments 280 and 291.)

    Missouri remains under a COVID-19 stay-at-home order. But that didn’t stop GOP legislators who returned to the capitol this week from reviving a measure that would shore up their political power.

    The Missouri House is considering a constitutional amendment that would usher in an anti-immigrant approach to redistricting. The proposal is packaged with several others that would water down an anti-gerrymandering initiative voters approved in 2018.

    The House has until May 15 to pass the new measure, in order to put it on the ballot in the fall elections. […]

    Since at least 2018 Missouri Republicans have tried to change redistricting so that maps are drawn based on the number of citizens, rather than total population. The failed 2018 proposal to do so came as the Trump administration was trying to do add a citizenship question to the census.

    Changing the metric that’s used to draw legislative maps has been a longstanding goal of the GOP. […]

    It would mean that parts of the country with relatively few noncitizens — i.e. whiter, rural and more Republican regions — would get more representatives while those with higher noncitizen rates — including urban, Democratic-leaning areas — would get fewer.

    […] the proposal mandated that districts should “be drawn on the basis of one person, one vote.” The current version uses the same language.

    The measure’s sponsor Sen. Dan Hegeman (R) admitted at a House committee hearing Thursday that the goal would be to count only citizens when drawing legislative districts. He pushed back at the suggestion that minors — who also don’t vote — could be excluded from the count as well. […]

    If Republicans successfully get the measure on the ballot and it is approved by voters, the state could provide the test case for whether the Supreme Court would allow noncitizens to be excluded in redistricting. […]

    The measure was considered Thursday by the House’s General Laws committee, which advanced the measure by a party line vote.

    Hegeman, the bill’s sponsor, repeated several falsehoods at the hearing about the measure he is currently trying to pass.

    He repeatedly claimed that it was about keeping “illegals” out of the count for legislative maps. Rep. Peter Merideth (D) pointed out that there are several classes of non-citizens and other non-voters in Missouri who are not there illegally. After a staffer ran up to whisper in Hegeman’s ear, he clarified that he meant “non-Missouri citizens.”

    Hegeman also claimed falsely that […] “in the past, we dealt with citizens in the state being the counted and taken into consideration, not the illegals.” Missouri has historically included noncitizens, including undocumented immigrants, in its redistricting count, and a 1875 amendment to the constitution said that apportionment would be done based on the “whole number of inhabitants.”

    Hegeman is obviously an anti-immigrant fanatic. He is Missouri’s Stephen Miller. Hegeman lies as readily as Trump does.

    Additionally, Hegeman insisted that it was “well defined” and “well established” in federal law idea that the idea of “one person, one vote” meant using citizenship rather than total population for redistricting.

    Merideth tried to correct him, noting that the question of using citizens instead of total population has not been resolved by the courts. The case that Hegeman seemed to be referring, Merideth said, settled only the question of whether states could use total population. (The Supreme Court in 2016’s Evenwel v. Abbott unanimously said they could).

    “The only court case that has addressed this, as we just talked about, said it could include total population, which is different than what you just said,” Merideth said,

    “You’ve asked the question, I’ve answered it to the best of my ability,” Hegeman said.

    TPM link

    And, why is Hegeman’s bill named “Clean Missouri”? Sounds racist.

  223. says

    Follow-up to comment 296.

    From the readers comments:

    Has the Misery GOP tried intravenous Clorox and a Twenty Mule Team Borax enema
    ———————-
    You couldn’t scream “Dirty Immigrants!” any louder than that, even with a bullhorn.
    ——————-
    Why doesn’t the Missouri Republican Party just cut out all the BullShit and put into a bill what they REALLY WANT: Only White, Male, Christians are allowed to vote.
    ———————
    Clean Missouri was a voter ballot initiative. It was to change redistricting to a non-partisan method. After passing Republicans keep trying to ignore the vote of the people (sound familiar?).

    The Kansas City Star: In November 2018, 62 percent of Missourians voted to amend the state constitution to enact a series of campaign finance and legislative ethics proposals, along with a new system for redrawing legislative districts following the U.S. Census.

    Clean Missouri passed after a two-year campaign garnering hundreds of thousands of petition signers.

    Among the changes to the redistricting process, the constitutional amendment requires that a state demographer use a mathematical formula to try to engineer “partisan fairness” and “competitiveness” in legislative elections.

    An Associated Press analysis found that while the new method appears unlikely to impact overall control of the Missouri General Assembly, it will likely increase Democrats’ chances of winning elections and cut into Republicans’ supermajorities in the state House and Senate.

  224. says

    Bad journalism from Newsweek … well, maybe it is not even journalism. The headline is particularly misleading.

    […] It’s been a long time since Newsweek has been, you know, Newsweek. As in the once respected news magazine that did significant original reporting and was seen as a regular source of impactful political journalism. But even in these later days, the site occasionally snags some information of significance, or reframes an issue in a way that’s helpful.

    And then there’s this nonsense. If you didn’t click through, and I wouldn’t blame you, the title of the article is this: “Dr. Fauci backed controversial Wuhan lab with millions of U.S. dollars for risky coronavirus research.” Except to really get the feel for it, you have to imagine all that in 32-point block capitals.

    That’s a headline that surely has it all when it comes to giving a big sloppy kiss to every conspiracy theory percolating on the right, alt-right, and gun-slinging vaccine-hating virus-humping right.

    It features all of the above:

    Betrayal! By internationally-respected infections disease expert Anthony Fauci, who the most MAGA of MAGA know is secretly to blame for everything that has gone wrong. Ever.

    Evil China! Whose lab Donald Trump has fingered as the source of the outbreak, and who dumped coronavirus on the world because it was the only way to slow the Trump train.

    Wasted tax dollars! Your hard-earned money routed to Asian people, almost certainly so they can do unspeakably unbiblical things with bats.

    The truth behind this article? The lab near Wuhan has been an essential part of research into emerging diseases for decades. It’s been the recipient of outside grants since at least 2003, when that dangerously liberal George W. Bush administration provided funds for research on SARS … which would be some of the “risky coronavirus research” in the Newsweek headline. In fact, the lab in Wuhan has been there, in one form or another, since the 1950s specifically because the area has been recognized as a source of emerging diseases.

    Only, the fact that grants have been going to this lab for critical research isn’t quite what the article indicates. Newsweek didn’t stop the misinformation at the headline. In reporting Fauci’s treacherous support for research into diseases, Newsweek describes the funding this way “In 2019, with the backing of NIAID, the National Institutes of Health committed $3.7 million over six years for research … the program followed another $3.7 million, 5-year project for collecting and studying bat coronaviruses, which ended in 2019, bringing the total to $7.4 million.” ‘

    Okay. Except they’re really, really really hiding some important information in those sentences. As Snopes pointed out weeks ago, only a portion of either grant went to the Wuhan lab, or to the study of coronaviruses, or even to China. Over a five year period, between 2014 and 2019, a series of grants totaling $3.7 million went to the EcoHealth Alliance. That’s a 45 year-old international organization that works across borders to support medial research of all types. It receives contributions from multiple nations, corporations, individuals, and from other NGOs. EcoHealth Alliance, in turn, made contributions toward China’s research into coronavirus. So the U.S.—including the U.S. under Donald Trump—gave money to the EcoHealth alliance, and the EcoHealth alliance in turn gave some funding to China for research into emerging diseases.

    […] What’s the result of that funding? It has directly resulted in the publication of papers showing the origins of the SARS virus and reporting on other aspects of the features and threats of related coronaviruses. That research has direct benefit into the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the search for an effective vaccine.

    What’s the result of the attention of the bad reporting about those grants, and the way they’re being presented as something controversial and risky? As Science reports, the U.S. has abruptly cut off funding to the EcoHealth Alliance to prevent money going into a six-year study called “Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence Novel zoonotic, bat-origin CoVs.” Which seems like pretty fucking important research. This funding was cut off as stories like the one in Newsweek became hot stuff for Republicans to wave around while claiming that China was to blame for the pandemic […]

    chopping funding for the EcoHealth Alliance research at this point is precisely the kind of thing that is going to get lots, and lots of people killed. These are the people who have done, and are doing, the research necessary to identify these viruses, sequence their genetics, determine their source, uncover how they work, and figure out how to fight them. […]

    Oh, and where did Newsweek get that claim that $3.7 million went to the Wuhan Institute of Virology? That came from a question at one of Trump’s press events. A question asked by a reporter from right-wing conspiracy site Newsmax.

    Maybe it’s time for Newsweek to change their name. After all, they wouldn’t want people to mistake them for actual Newsweek.

    Link

  225. says

    Texas:

    On Monday, Republican Gov. Greg Abbot of Texas told the world that he would be allowing the state’s stay-at-home order to expire on Thursday, April 30. Alongside other historically awful Texas officials, Gov. Abbott made an attempt at oration, saying, “Now it’s time to set a new course, a course that responsibly opens up business in Texas.” Starting on Friday, restaurants, movie theaters, and malls will all open—though only at 25% capacity. Museums and libraries also opened Friday under the same restrictions.

    It’s noteworthy that on Thursday, the day before the grand reopening of Texas began, the Lone Star State reported that 50 Texans died in a single day and 1,033 tested positive for COVID-19 over that same 24-hour period. The number of people who died marks the highest number Texas has seen in a single day from the virus. The number of confirmed cases marks the third highest single-day figure, according to the Texas Tribune. […]

    Texas infectious disease epidemiologist Catherine Troisi questioned the governor’s low bar, saying, “We’re not testing as many people as we should be. Are we testing in vulnerable neighborhoods, grocery store workers, bus drivers?”

    Abbott and other GOP leaders like Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp don’t really care too much about what’s good for public health. But there’s something even more distressing about these two governors’ moves: As COVID-19 infection rates have been imbalanced across racial lines, it almost seems like these two men, both big supporters in suppressing Black and minority votes, are using this epidemic as a war of attrition—with real human casualties.

    Link

  226. says

    New White House Press Secretary Vows “I Will Never Lie to You” Before Telling a Few Lies

    […] Trump’s new press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, held her first White House briefing on Friday afternoon. That in itself was notable considering that it marked the first official press briefing since March 11, 2019 as her predecessor, Stephanie Grisham, never actually held one. And McEnany said she plans to continue with the practice that was common when Sarah Sanders held the job. “I will never lie to you. You have my word on that,” she told the reporters gathered at the White House on Friday. What happened next shouldn’t surprise anyone. McEnany proceeded to sprinkle her answers with falsehoods and lies. […]

    The first notable falsehood peddled by the press secretary was concerning the news of the day, former Vice President Joe Biden’s staunch denial of sexual assault allegations by Tara Reade. Trump had said Reade’s accusations were “far more compelling” than those made against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and McEnany was asked to comment. “I think it was a grave miscarriage of justice with what happened with Justice Brett Kavanaugh. There’s no need for me to bring up the salacious, awful, and verifiably false allegations that were made against Justice Kavanaugh,” she said. But of course, there’s no way you could actually accurately characterize the accusations against Kavanaugh as “verifiably false.” […]

    McEnany also blasted reporters for asking questions about sexual assault allegations against Trump. “Leave it to the media to really take an issue about the former vice president and turn it on the president and bring up accusations from four years ago,” she said. Except, of course, the allegations against Trump aren’t all from four years ago and there have been plenty of new ones since he took office, including one from E. Jean Carroll, who said last year that Trump assaulted her in a store in the mid-1990s. […]

    The new White House press secretary also wasn’t quite truthful when asked about fired national security adviser Michael Flynn and new FBI notes that administration officials say is evidence about how the investigation was mishandled. At the heart of the issue is a handwritten note from Bill Priestap, who was then the counterintelligence director at the FBI. “We have a handwritten FBI note that says, quote, we need to get Flynn to lie, quote, and get him fired,” McEnany said. Except that’s not what the note says. Priestap actually wrote: “What’s our goal? Truth/Admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired?” Flynn is currently trying to withdraw his guilty plea for lying to the FBI. […]

    That’s not all the FBI note said. For context, see comment 230.

    For now at least, it seems McEnany will continue having the same complicated relationship with the truth as her predecessors.

  227. says

    Oh, that’s not good!

    Officials in Stillwater, Okla., on Friday walked back a requirement that people wear face masks inside reopened stores and restaurants, citing threats of violence and physical abuse directed at employees.

    Mayor Will Joyce, an independent, amended his emergency declaration on the same day it took effect “in response to concerns voiced by business proprietors and citizens,” according to a news release. The anger directed toward store employees started in the first three hours businesses were open and included a threat of gun violence.

    State and local governments have included a requirement that people wear masks in at least some circumstances as part of their reopening plans. […]
    McNickle [City Manager Norman McNickle] said wearing a mask is a minor inconvenience that protects the person wearing it and anyone they encounter. “The City of Stillwater has attempted to keep people safe by the simple requirement to wear a face covering to protect others,” McNickle wrote. “It is unfortunate and distressing that those who refuse and threaten violence are so self-absorbed as to not follow what is a simple show of respect and kindness to others.” […]

    Washington Post link

  228. blf says

    Coronavirus woes raise Democratic chances of taking US Senate:

    […]
    The coronavirus, a teetering US economy, and President Trump’s uneven response to the pandemic combined with Joe Biden’s emergence as the presumptive Democratic nominee appear to have put the Senate in play, key political analysts are now predicting.

    Old GOP assumptions about the political climate “are totally upside-down” GOP pollster Neil Newhouse told the Associated Press news agency. “Republicans have to be prepared for an all-out battle, and it’s going to be a challenge.”

    Although much can change by Election Day, favourable signs for Democrats are evident. Analysts point in particular to two Republican senators whose re-elections were once considered safe — Lindsey Graham in South Carolina and Steve Daines in Montana — but now face credible Democratic challengers.

    “The race for control of the Senate has gotten more competitive,” said Kyle Kondik, a political analyst at the University of Virginia Center for Politics.

    “At the start of the cycle, Republicans were favoured to hold a majority. At this point, it’s more of a 50–50 game,” Kondik told Al Jazeera.

    […]

    The four most vulnerable Republicans are Martha McSally in Arizona, Cory Gardner in Colorado, Susan Collins in Maine, and Thom Tillis in North Carolina.

    [… McSally is the appointed replacement for John McCain in Arizona, which explains why hair furor’s next travalling lie-a-thon circus will be in Arizona, at a factory now making masks…]

    The Lincoln Project, a political action committee formed by eight Republican political operatives who oppose Trump, is targeting the four vulnerable senators with a new television advertisement accusing them of “spineless servility” to Trump.

    […]

  229. blf says

    France24 just did a report on the situation in Russia, where apparently, e.g., few hospitals in Moscow have ICUs, and the hastily-installed ones are appallingly inadequate — lack of equipment and even dirty — and very poor to non-existent confinement / isolation measures. Plus a lack of PPE, possibly unreliable tests (resulting in dubious statistics), and so on. They interviewed a number of health-care workers (all(?) in Moscow), all of whom requested anonymity and so had their appearances and voices distorted. I cannot find a video of this report on the site, but this older video, Russia sees record one-day increase in Covid-19 cases (20-April-2020) touches on some of issues reported.

  230. says

    blf @304, it almost doesn’t seem possible, but Russia is fucking up even more than Hair Furor of the USA when it comes to handling the coronavirus pandemic. No wonder Russian hospitals are becoming super-spreaders of the virus. I feel sorry for the health-care workers.

    In Hair Furor news, as reported by Daniel Dale:

    Trump now says we’ll “hopefully” have a final death total below 100,000. (On April 20, he said we’d end between 50,000 and 60,000, then this week mentioned 70,000 and 65,000.)

    Trump is again describing their problem-plagued pandemic response as a great success, citing model estimates of up to 2.2 million people dying.

    “We have saved thousands and thousands of lives,” he says. “I can even make that, if you want, hundreds of thousands of lives.”

    the president is lying so much that I’m doing like 15-hour days to try to catch up on all the lies that’ve piled up.

    McEnany claimed the Russia probe ended with “$40 million of taxpayer money being lost in a complete and total exoneration of President Trump.”

    The final total was $32M, per official figures; govt. expected to recoup about $17M; Mueller report explicitly said it didn’t exonerate.

  231. blf says

    No leadership and no plan: is Trump about to fail the US on coronavirus testing?:

    Declarations of false victory and a vacuum of federal leadership have undermined testing as experts warn reopening the US could result in disaster

    A broad coalition of US health systems has mobilized to ramp up coronavirus testing in a national effort on a scale not seen since the second world war. But declarations of false victory by the Trump administration and a vacuum of federal leadership have undermined the endeavor, leading experts to warn that reopening the US could result in a disaster.

    Interviews with agents on the frontlines of the coronavirus battle — lab directors, chemists, manufacturers, epidemiologists, academics and technologists — reveal as diverse an application of the legendary American ingenuity as the century has seen.

    Test kit manufacturers are running production lines around the clock to triple their output, and triple it again. A private healthcare institute in California has constructed a mega-lab to process thousands of tests daily and deliver the results by text message alert. In smaller labs across the country, microbiologists improvise each day to fill unpredictable supply chain gaps that might leave them without swabs one day, and without crucial chemicals the next.

    [… A]nalysts say that without centralized governance and coordination, the national effort remains a competing coalition of state and local outfits hampered by duplicated work, competition for supplies, siloed pursuits of non-transferable solutions and red tape that leaves some labs with testing backlogs and others with excess capacity.

    [… A]s states begin to relax social distancing measures, the Trump administration is spreading dangerous misinformation, denying persistent supply shortages, underestimating the number of Covid-19 cases and exaggerating the margin of safety conferred by the current volume of testing and contact-tracing, experts say.

    We’ve done more than 200,000 tests in a single day, Mike Pence said at a taskforce briefing this week, in which Trump touted testing as one of the great assets that we have in reopening the US.

    But at current testing levels, with only rudimentary plans for contact tracing for new cases, the US will be flying virtually blind as it reopens, said Glen Weyl, a technologist who co-authored a report issued by Harvard’s Safra Center for Ethics that calls for 5m tests a day by early June.

    “No, definitely not, you can’t open up with that number,” Weyl said of Pence’s announcement. “It’s not even remotely in the right ballpark. It’s off by a factor of 10.”

    [… synopsis of the need for testing and tracing…]

    In the US, regulatory and administrative hurdles are everywhere, with clinics unable to send samples to private labs that might be out of their usual networks, a lack of protocols for reporting testing data, slow regulatory approval for the use of alternative testing materials, insufficient federal funding to support lab efforts and no central leadership steering the country’s massive laboratory apparatus.

    […]

    The Trump administration’s response to this complicated thicket has been to declare the federal government a supplier of last resort and wish the states luck. It’s pretty simple, Trump has said. They have tremendous capacity. We hope to be able to help out.

    […]

    “If Jared Kushner wanted to do something decent, and Vice-President Pence, they could try to standardize and distribute nationally a global test,” said [a renowned research chemist in the pharmaceuticals industry who teaches at Princeton University, Paul] Reider. “At least make it available and let people choose if they want to use it.”

    The Harvard report called for the establishment of a “Pandemic Testing Board” “akin to the War Production Board that the United States created in World War II”. The director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota calls for a new Marshall plan to stand up testing in the US.

    But no efforts to create such a central authority are apparent, said Michael Osterholm, CIDRAP director, who described a shortage of reagents, or chemicals used in testing […].

    […]

    In Minnesota, academics at the state university partnered with scientists at the Mayo clinic, one of the country’s premier labs, to deliver on a challenge by governor Tim Walz to stop coronavirus in the state with comprehensive testing and contact tracing. [poopyhead is in Minnesota, albeit the governor has not called out for spider assistance… –blf]

    […] About two in three Americans think restrictions on restaurants, stores and other businesses are appropriate, and 16% on top of that wanted tighter restrictions, a poll this week from the Washington Post and the University of Maryland found.

    Top epidemiologists believe it’s possible that the US could get some kind of reprieve from the virus in the warmer months ahead. If that happens, the summer could feature the scenes Trump has dreamed about, of packed churches, humming factories, crowded beaches and sold-out flights.

    But Trump’s dream that the virus will simply disappear is just that — a dream, epidemiologists say.

    “I hope that over the course of the next few weeks to two months, we’re going to actually see a substantial reduction in transmission,” Osterholm said. “And if it does, it shouldn’t be interpreted that we won, or that somehow we’re in control.

    “I hope that the case numbers continue to decrease over time, but I’m also very, very aware that they’re coming back, and we just have to remember that.”

  232. says

    I see that Nerd posted up-thread that he received Trump’s stimulus letter, and that he promptly shredded it. That made me smile.

    Here’s another response:

    I received the letter from the US Treasury about a week ago, announcing my “Economic Impact Payment” with the letterhead of the White House signed with the Trumpian scrawl. After some thought, I mailed the letter back to the White House, along with my own letter:

    Dear Mr. Trump:

    I am returning your letter about the recent stimulus payment. I don’t want this letter with your signature in our home. It is as unwelcome as the COVID-19 virus.

    We did receive the stimulus deposit. We sent much of it to a family member in New York, who is now unable to work, and living in a hot sport under siege from the pandemic. This is the pandemic that you neglected, and continue to neglect, by ignoring public health and national security exports, and by minimizing its threat.

    We are using some of that stimulus payment in hopes of making 2021 a better year than 2020.

    We are contributing some of it to Joe Biden, so that next year you’ll be an ex-president, and to Democratic Sentorial candidates, so that Mitch McConnel will be Senate minority leader, or better yet, an ex-senator. We’re also sending contributions to the ACLU to help them fight your authoritarian and anti-immigrant policies, and to environmental groups to mitigate some of the effects of climate change that you continue to deny, and defend environmental safeguards that you continue to weaken.

    Here’s your letter. I don’t need a memento of the least qualified, least competent and most corrupt president in U.S. history.

    I dropped it into the mailbox with a recent John F. Kennedy commemorative stamp on the envelope—just a reminder of what a real President looks like.

    I’d like to think that some years from now, a scholar sifting through the papers of the infamous Trump Administration will use this letter as another small data point of citizen correspondence to the White House. […]

    Link

    I like this return-to-sender response.

  233. blf says

    Follow-up to @268, from the Grauniad’s current main pandemic live blog:

    YouTube have deleted conspiracy theorist David Icke’s account.

    […]

    The video service, owned by Google, told the BBC:

    YouTube has clear policies prohibiting any content that disputes the existence and transmission of Covid-19 as described by the WHO and the NHS. Due to continued violation of these policies we have terminated David Icke’s YouTube channel.

    […]

    The Centre for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) claimed Icke’s conspiracies over Covid-19 have been viewed more than 30m times and welcomed the move.

    CCDH’s chief executive Imran Ahmed said:

    […]
    It is time for Instagram and Twitter to follow Facebook and YouTube by acting to remove Icke and his content from their platforms. Lies cost lives in a global pandemic, and their failure to act promptly puts us all at risk.

    [… The eejit] tweeted: YouTube delete David Icke — the man the Elite are terrified of — after complaint from CCDH. The reason is made-up. Where are you gutless media? Silent or cheering.

  234. blf says

    Donald Trump’s four-step plan to reopen the US economy — and why it will be lethal (emboldening in the original):

    The president [sic] and his allies are hiding the facts and pretending freedom conquers all. As a result, more Americans will die

    Donald Trump is getting nervous. Internal polls show him losing in November unless the economy comes roaring back.

    But much of the economy remains closed because of the pandemic. The number of infections and deaths continue to climb.

    So what is Trump’s re-election strategy? Reopen the economy anyway, despite the risks.

    Step 1 — Remove income support, so people have no choice but to return to work.
    Trump’s labor department has decided that furloughed employees must accept an employer’s offer to return to work and therefore forfeit unemployment benefits, regardless of Covid-19.

    […]

    GOP officials in Oklahoma are even threatening to withhold the $600 a week of extra unemployment benefits Congress has provided workers, if an employer wants to hire them. Safety is irrelevant.

    […]

    Forcing people to choose between getting Covid-19 or losing their livelihood is inhumane. It is also nonsensical. Public health still depends on as many workers as possible staying home. That’s a big reason why Congress provided the extra benefits.

    Step 2 — Hide the facts.
    No one knows how many Americans are infected because the Trump administration continues to drag its heels on testing. To date only 6.5m tests have been completed in a population of more than 200 million adults.

    Florida, one of the first states to reopen, has stopped releasing medical examiners’ statistics on the number of Covid-19 victims because the figures are higher than the state’s official count.

    […]

    Step 3 — Pretend it’s about freedom.
    Weeks ago, Trump called on citizens to LIBERATE states like Michigan, whose Democratic governor, Gretchen Whitmer, imposed strict stay-at-home rules.

    […]

    Meanwhile, the attorney general, William Barr, has directed the justice department to take legal action against any state or local authorities imposing lockdown measures that could be violating the constitutional rights and civil liberties of individual citizens.

    Making this about freedom is absurd. Freedom is meaningless for people who have no choice but to accept a job that risks their health.

    Step 4 — Shield businesses against lawsuits for spreading the infection.
    Trump is pushing to give businesses that reopen a liability shield against legal action by workers or customers who get infected by the virus.

    […]

    The Senate majority leader [sic], Mitch McConnell, insists that proposed legislation giving state and local governments funding they desperately needs to include legal immunity for corporations that cause workers or consumers to become infected.

    We have a red line on liability, McConnell said. It won’t pass the Senate without it.

    But how can the economy safely reopen if companies don’t have an incentive to keep people safe? Promises to provide protective gear and other safeguards are worthless absent the threat of damages if workers or customers become infected.

    The truth — The biggest obstacle to reopening the economy is the pandemic itself.
    Any rush to reopen without adequate testing and tracing — far more than now under way — will cause a resurgence of the disease and another and longer economic crisis.

    […]

    The first responsibility of a president is to keep the public safe. But Donald Trump couldn’t care less. He was slow to respond to the threat, then he lied about it, then made it hard for states — especially those with Democratic governors — to get the equipment they need.

    Now he’s trying to force the economy to reopen in order to boost his electoral chances this November, and he’s selling out Americans’ health to seal the deal. This is beyond contemptible.

    Here in France, I just made an on-line appointment to collect my two free masks next week. Since the seaside village I live in is in a so-called “Orange” zone, the local council is now making contingency plans for a more limited lifting of the lockdown on 11th May than they’d apparently originally anticipated. Note that they are being fairly open about it… and speaking of being open, apparently the original map of French Red / Orange / Green zones had some errors, which They™ admitted (albeit I haven’t seen any explanation of what happened). (And whilst doing some “spring cleaning” I also found my credit card I’d mislaid perhaps three weeks ago… Yeah!)

  235. says

    Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren co-authored an editorial titled, “There’s no oversight of coronavirus relief — because that’s what Trump wants.”

    Miami Herald link

    Sixty-four thousand dead. Thirty million people out of work. Small businesses collapsing. Communities of color hit exceptionally hard.

    Even the most ideological conservatives have been forced to acknowledge that government is an essential part of the COVID-19 solution. Government delivers best when its actions are fair, transparent and accountable. But […] Trump’s approach to this crisis doesn’t reflect these values. Without change, more lives will be lost and more families will go broke.

    Relief legislation passed by Congress provides critical support for hospitals, families, small businesses and local governments — efforts that will save lives and help cushion the economic blows of this pandemic.

    As the price of their support for these measures, Trump and the Republicans insisted on a $500 billion slush fund for big businesses with minimal conditions — a fund Trump could use to reward his political friends and punish his political enemies. They also jammed in a tax cut that overwhelmingly benefits millionaires. This tax break will be particularly helpful to hedge funds and real estate investors like the president’s friends and family — on top of the $1 trillion in giveaways to the wealthy and big corporations Trump previously pushed through Congress. The administration has even allowed a fund meant for America’s small businesses to be used by wealthy, well-connected investors. The cost is more than simply tax dollars — Americans’ faith in government is undermined when the price of helping everyone else is more giveaways for those at the top.

    The coronavirus rescue package imposed some oversight of these programs, but when he signed it, Trump said he’d ignore the law and prevent a new inspector general from communicating with Congress. He then appointed a White House loyalist to serve in that role. And just to be sure there was no real accountability, he fired another inspector general independently designated to oversee the bailout.

    Both of us have served in Congress overseeing the executive branch. We have also both served in the executive branch and answered to independent oversight. Take it from us: Oversight is vital to an effective democracy and a fair economy, and it’s a threat only if you have something to hide.

    When Vice President Joe Biden ran implementation of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009, he invited relevant inspectors general to scrutinize his work. In 2010, they concluded that a remarkable 99.8% of awards were free of any hint of fraud, waste or abuse. And Sen. Elizabeth Warren not only led the oversight panel for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, but she also set up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in 2010, where she maintained a strong working relationship with multiple inspectors general, who gave her high marks for her work. […]

    Taxpayer relief should go to those most in need. Hospitals, essential workers, small businesses, and state and local governments should get the help they need immediately. If large corporations want help, they should agree not to turn around and fire all their workers. The relief bill’s unconscionable tax giveaway that overwhelmingly benefits millionaires should be repealed. But that is not enough. […]
    ▪ Conflicts of interest

    We need strong, vigorously enforced protections against conflicts of interest, including transparency of personal finances. We need to close loopholes and strengthen the rules on the books — which in emergencies such as this are especially critical in maintaining public confidence. Both of us have long refused to own or trade in individual stocks while in office, and this should be a requirement, not a choice, for members of Congress and other government officials responsible for the recovery programs.

    ▪ Lobbying

    It is time to close loopholes and require more extensive public reporting of all lobbying activity, such as disclosure of the materials that lobbyists now provide behind closed doors to public officials. Big corporations that will apply for or accept bailout funds should not be able to engage in political spending or to use their resources and political clout to lobby for bailout legislation that helps them, not the Americans and small businesses in need. A president who holds up relief for millions of people just so he can put his name on the checks cannot be permitted to auction off federal help in exchange for electoral favors.

    ▪ Oversight

    Inspectors general should be shielded from removal except for what’s codified as “good cause.” Whistleblowers must be protected. While the Federal Reserve recently agreed to disclose certain key information, the full details of every bailout deal the Treasury Department or the Fed strikes with a company must be made public. And the Congressional Oversight Commission, which sits beyond Trump’s reach, needs subpoena power and the authority to oversee all aspects of the recovery, including a Paycheck Protection Program riddled with problems in its implementation.

    If Congress and the Trump administration are unwilling to act now, then we will ensure that these changes are made in January 2021, both through new legislation and immediate executive commitments made by the Biden administration.

    The Biden administration will appoint an inspector general to review every coronavirus relief transaction currently evading serious scrutiny. Wasteful, corrupt deals and giveaways will be rooted out and undone. Suspicious transactions will be referred to the Justice Department for investigation and prosecution. Every Trump administration official and business executive contemplating such deals should hear us loud and clear. Trump may wink and nod at this corruption. We will not.

    Real unemployment in America is soaring. But for many Americans, our economy wasn’t working even before the devastation of the COVID-19 crisis. As we recover, we have the opportunity to create an economy that truly works for everyone. That begins with a government that is accountable to the people — and that is what we will deliver.

    There’s a lot of “we” in that opinion piece.

  236. says

    blf @310, congratulations on completing your spring cleaning, and on finding your credit card. Great accomplishments! Sounds like your credit card was lost for a long enough period of time for any virus still living on it to have died. I have been neglecting my spring cleaning in favor of working outside in my garden. But now I’m looking around the house and seeing that things are in a sorry state indeed. I know what to do next … go outside and work in the garden.

    In other news: “Second ‘accusation’ Against Biden Goes Down in Flames”

    The young woman who is a relative of “I am not a witch” Christine O’Donnell and who has accused Biden of speaking to (and looking at) her inappropriately when she was 14 has just been fact-checked by an actual journalist.

    Chirps from the archives cast new questions on whether Biden may have been somewhere else entirely… at home recovering from a sinus surgery.

    Contemporaneous local news reporting shows Biden may have been out of commish for the “remainder of the week,” according to his then-spox.

    […]

    And, then-V.P. of the First State Gridiron Dinner wrote a letter today provided by the campaign, “to whom it may concern” saying, “After reviewing my files of the dinner which included attendees and the show itself, I can conclusively say, Senator Biden was not at the dinner.”

    So Christine O’Donnell claimed she was right there and heard Biden say this embarrassing uncomfortable thing when Biden was actually at home recovering from sinus surgery. […]

    Just wanted to add that unlike Ms Pezenik, the NY Times seems to have trouble with basic journalism.

    NY Times editor-at-large Jessica Bennett tweets that sexual harassment wasn’t a thing in 1993. […]

    She didn’t take the 30 seconds needed to google sexual harassment and find that the term dates from the early to mid-70s and became extremely well-known during the 1991 Clarence Thomas hearings. […]

    Link

    I don’t know if “goes down in flames” is an apt description or not. We’re not done with this. No matter what the facts are, it is clear that Republicans will continue to push stories about Joe Biden having inappropriate interactions with women.

  237. says

    ALEC [American Legislative Exchange Council] is playing a big role in pushing lawmakers to reopen the economy.

    Long-time readers of this thread will recognize ALEC as a bad actor.

    David Armiak and Alex Kotch at the Center for Media and Democracy have given some lengthy scrutiny to documents they have obtained showing that the American Legislative Exchange Council—the powerhouse operation that has spurred many a state legislature to adopt its right-wing, Koch Bros.-funded agenda over the years—is a leader in goading politicians to reopen the economy despite the raging of the coronavirus.

    At the time this is being written, the U.S. death toll from the virus is more than 67,000. Epidemiologists and physicians across the nation continue to warn that prematurely ending the economic lockdown will have lethal consequences. Here’s an excerpt from the CMD exposé—ALEC Leading Right-Wing Campaign to Reopen the Economy Despite COVID-19:

    […] ALEC is a corporate pay-to-play operation where legislators and corporate lobbyists vote behind closed doors to adopt model legislation on a broad range of public policy issues.

    At a time when many hard-hit states and medical experts are lamenting the lack of federal leadership in dealing with the health crisis, the ALEC documents call for action to “bring the economy back to life through a free market approach that gets big government out of the way.”

    In an email to legislators obtained by CMD, ALEC touts that “your ALEC team has been value-pushing your ideas and solutions into the mainstream” with “9 across the States podcast episodes with guests such as Newt Gingrich,” “30 policy prescriptions,” and hosting of “9 calls with top government officials and policy experts.”

    ALEC is also coordinating a sign-on letter from “policy leaders and elected officials” to […] Trump and state leaders urging them to “reopen the economy and get people back to work.” The letter praises Trump for his “Opening Up America Again” plan and thanks him for a “disaster response [that] is locally executed, state managed and federally supported.”

    Recent polling shows ALEC’s aggressive position on resuming commercial activity to be outside the mainstream of public opinion. Three in four voters (73 percent) think we need to continue social distancing measures despite the impact on the economy, 80 percent want more testing before schools and restaurants reopen, and 65 percent said “they did not want to go back to work without more thorough testing.”

    ALEC writes in the letter that, “It is possible and preferable for employers to implement best practices to protect the health of their customers and employees – without micromanagement from the government,” but industry practices during the pandemic suggest otherwise.

    “Essential” businesses that have stayed open have repeatedly jeopardized the health of their workers, including “thousands of employees across the country” at meat processing plants and shift workers in over 55 of Amazon’s fulfillment centers who have contracted the coronavirus.[…]

    Link

  238. says

    Trump ignored calls for unity and complained once again about being impeached.

    Former President George W. Bush, in a rare message for the Call for Unity campaign, is urging Americans across the political spectrum to come together in order to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

    “In the final analysis, we are not partisan combatants,” Bush said in a video that premiered Saturday, as somber images of healthcare workers, immigrant families, and loved ones practicing social distancing measures were played. “We are human beings, equally vulnerable, and equally wonderful in the sight of God. We rise or fall together—and we are determined to rise.” […]

    Here is Trump’s reply:

    .@PeteHegseth “Oh bye the way, I appreciate the message from former President Bush, but where was he during Impeachment calling for putting partisanship aside.” @foxandfriends He was nowhere to be found in speaking up against the greatest Hoax in American history!

    Commentary:

    Trump seizing on a message to put aside political differences only to complain about his impeachment trial […] during a public health crisis that has already killed more Americans than the death toll from the Vietnam War is no longer surprising. But such grotesque behavior is still worth tracking as a reminder, yet again, that none of this is acceptable.

    Link

  239. says

    From former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb:

    The concerning thing here is that we’re looking at the prospect that this may be a persistent spread.

    While mitigation didn’t fail, I think it’s fair to say that it didn’t work as well as we expected. We expected that we would start seeing more significant declines in new cases and deaths around the nation at this point, and we’re just not seeing that.

    […] the doubling time has come down dramatically, [the number of days it takes for the epidemic to double in size]. But We may be facing the prospect that 20,000, 30,000 new cases a day diagnosed becomes a new normal and a thousand or more deaths becomes a new normal as well.

    When people let their guard down a little more, and people are back at work after an August recess, and then you can see this slow simmer explode into a new epidemic, or a large outbreak.

    That’s the concern, that if we don’t snuff this out more, that you have this slow burn of infection, it can ignite at any time. […]

    Link

    The total number of new cases of coronavirus infection are still rising in about twenty states, including: Illinois, Texas, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Idaho, and more. At the same time, many states across the USA are slowly starting to reopen. There is a patchwork approach that I fear is going to guarantee failure to control the epidemic. Sarah Cammarata, writing for Politico, noted this reality, and I am paraphrasing her conclusion.

  240. says

    Northeast states band together to buy protective gear

    Seven northeast states will band together to buy personal protective equipment and other medical supplies needed amid the coronavirus pandemic, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced on Sunday.

    Cuomo said the move will help states get the equipment he and other state leaders have said for weeks is difficult to obtain.

    “[This] will make us more competitive in the international market place, and I believe it will save taxpayers money. I also believe it will help us actually get the equipment, because I have trouble still getting the equipment, and just buying the equipment,” Cuomo said during a briefing Sunday.

    “These vendors on the other side they’re dealing with countries, they’re dealing with the federal government. Why should they do business with one state, right, when they can do business with an entire country? So this consortium I think will help us get the equipment and get it at a better price,” he added.

    The consortium includes New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. […]

    Cuomo said the northeast states will share information regarding vendors “found to be irresponsible,” based on past orders.

    He said the states will also look to purchase from vendors in the U.S. and in the northeast region, when possible. […]

  241. blf says

    Lynna@312, I didn’t “finish” my “spring cleaning”, more just scored a significant find under relatively recent stratum. Having said that, I now have evidence there is, at least in some parts of the lair, an actual floor; confirmation awaits further evacuations. Ceilings remain hypothetical. (Ceilings on the lair that is; a ceiling on my credit card very much exists.)

  242. lumipuna says

    Lynna wrote at 305:

    It almost doesn’t seem possible, but Russia is fucking up even more than Hair Furor of the USA when it comes to handling the coronavirus pandemic.

    Actually, I suspect plenty of tinpot dictatorships across the world are fucking up their response worse than US, and most of them have fewer healthcare resources to begin with.

    As of now, US response remains the most notorious failure internationally (and not just to its own citizens) because the US is a very large and influential country, and because it has a uniquely contrasted free media against authoritarian policies. The US media industry has very successfully marketed itself (together with knowledge of the English language, and recent social media connections) to the global audience, grabbing everyone’s attention to US political failures, which are reported in excruciating detail, in a language much of the world understands without translation.

  243. says

    34 days of pandemic: Inside Trump’s desperate attempts to reopen America.

    Washington Post link

    The epidemiological models under review in the White House Situation Room in late March were bracing. In a best-case scenario, they showed the novel coronavirus was likely to kill between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans. […] Trump was apprehensive about so much carnage on his watch, yet also impatient to reopen the economy — and he wanted data to justify doing so.

    So the White House considered its own analysis. A small team led by Kevin Hassett — a former chairman of Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers with no background in infectious diseases — quietly built an econometric model to guide response operations.

    Many White House aides interpreted the analysis as predicting that the daily death count would peak in mid-April before dropping off substantially, and that there would be far fewer fatalities than initially foreseen, according to six people briefed on it.

    Although Hassett denied that he ever projected the number of dead, other senior administration officials said his presentations characterized the count as lower than commonly forecast — and that it was embraced inside the West Wing by the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and other powerful aides helping to oversee the government’s pandemic response. It affirmed their own skepticism about the severity of the virus and bolstered their case to shift the focus to the economy, which they firmly believed would determine whether Trump wins a second term.

    A serious case of alternative facts!

    For Trump — whose decision-making has been guided largely by his reelection prospects — the analysis, coupled with Hassett’s grim predictions of economic calamity, provided justification to pivot to where he preferred to be: cheering an economic revival rather than managing a catastrophic health crisis.

    Trump directed his coronavirus task force to issue guidelines for reopening businesses, encouraged “LIBERATE” protests to apply pressure on governors and proclaimed that “the cure can’t be worse than the problem itself” — even as polls showed that Americans were far more concerned about their personal safety.

    By the end of April — with more Americans dying in the month than in all of the Vietnam War — it became clear that the Hassett model was too good to be true. “A catastrophic miss,” as a former senior administration official briefed on the data described it. The president’s course would not be changed, however. Trump and Kushner began to declare a great victory against the virus, while urging America to start reopening businesses and schools. […]

    The span of 34 days between March 29 […] and this past week […] tells a story of desperation and dysfunction.

    So determined was Trump to extinguish the deadly virus that he repeatedly embraced fantasy cure-alls and tuned out both the reality that the first wave has yet to significantly recede and the possibility of a potentially worse second wave in the fall.

    The president sought to obscure major problems by trying to recast them as triumphs. He repeatedly boasted, for instance, that the United States has conducted more tests than any other country, even though the total of 6.75 million is a fraction of the 2 million to 3 million tests per day that many experts say is needed to safely reopen.

    […] The factors that health and business leaders say are critical to a speedy and effective reopening — widespread testing, contact tracing and coordinated efforts between Washington and the states — remain lacking.

    […] This story documenting Trump’s month-long struggle to reopen America is based on interviews with 82 administration officials, outside advisers and experts with detailed knowledge of the White House’s handling of the pandemic. Many of them spoke on the condition of anonymity to recount internal discussions or share candid assessments without risk of retribution. […]

    Trump crowned himself “the king of ventilators” and boasted of his work shoring up supply chains, yet shamed governors for asking for too many supplies for besieged hospitals and health-care workers in their states. At one point, he seemed to suggest that hospitals were selling protective gear provided by the federal government on the black market.[…]

    Trump tried to manage the perception of his performance by holding daily, hours-long press briefings that confused and repelled large swaths of the country. As the death toll mounted, the briefings became less about providing critical health information and more a forum for Trump to air grievances, shift blame, stoke feuds, spread misinformation and inspire false hope.

    […] Aside from reading perfunctory remarks scripted by aides, the president voiced little compassion for the tens of thousands who have lost lives or the tens of millions who have lost their jobs. […]

    […] Task force members prepared to extend social distancing guidelines, already in place for 15 days, for an additional two weeks and then reassess. But Trump — who also had been influenced by watching television footage of body bags being carried out of a hospital near his Queens boyhood home in New York — surprised them by agreeing to extend social distancing for 30 days, until the end of April. For the doctors, this was a quiet victory.

    […] Trump, meanwhile, used his presidential megaphone to promote what he thought was a silver bullet: hydroxychloroquine. […]

    On April 3, Fox host Laura Ingraham paid Trump a visit in the Oval Office to talk up hydroxychloroquine. […]
    Some senior Republicans who heard about the meeting cringed about a television host’s special access to offer medical advice to the president, but it fit a pattern of Trump soliciting input from media stars rather than government experts.

    In what was widely seen as an effort to placate Trump, the FDA issued an emergency use authorization for the drug, and the drug was added to the Strategic National Stockpile. But the president conflated those efforts with outright approval of the drug, [snipped details of alarming drug deals set up by Trump lackeys]

    […] Marc Short, chief of staff to Vice President Pence, exerted significant influence over the coronavirus task force, setting the agenda and determining seating arrangements for meetings as well as helping to orchestrate press briefings. Short also is one of the White House’s most vocal skeptics of how bad the pandemic would be. He repeatedly questioned the data being shared with Trump, and in internal discussions said he did not believe the death toll would ever get to 60,000 and that the administration was overreacting, damaging the economy and the president’s chances for reelection, according to people who have heard his arguments. […]
    A former senior administration official briefed on the internal dynamics described the consensus mind-set among this bloc [Short, Kushner, and others] as believing health officials were “like the school nurse trying to tell the principal how to run the school.”

    […] The task force members with medical degrees — Birx, Fauci and Hahn, as well as CDC Director Robert Redfield, Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams and Brett Giroir, who leads the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps — splintered off in mid- to late-March and began meeting on their own almost daily, three senior administration officials said. Some in the “doctors group” were distressed by what one official dubbed the “voodoo” discussed within the broader task force. […]
    “There’s a little bit of a God complex,” one senior administration official said of the group. “They’re all about science, science, science, which is good, but sometimes there’s a little bit less of a consideration of politics when maybe there should be.”

    With health professionals and other new faces suddenly in his midst, Trump sought comfort from the familiar. Hope Hicks, an original staffer on the 2016 campaign who left the White House in 2018, returned in March in a senior adviser capacity.

    Hicks accompanied the president to most every meeting and planned his daily schedule, aides said, suggesting themed events, tweaking his scripted public comments and even calling Cabinet secretaries […]

    One of the more political issues during this period was the fight for supplies, such as ventilators, testing machines and swabs, and masks and other protective gear. Amid disruptions to the global supply chain, governors pleaded with the White House for help obtaining equipment from the Strategic National Stockpile, but the administration did not quickly meet their needs, and Trump derided governors when he thought they were asking for too much or not praising him enough.

    […][Trump] promised that 5 million tests would be distributed before the end of the month. A few days earlier, Pence had been even more optimistic, announcing that more than 1 million tests already had been distributed and another four million would be sent out by the end of that week.

    But Trump’s promise of a drive-through testing site at your neighborhood CVS or Walmart never materialized. The administration ultimately stood up 78 testing sites, rather than the thousands initially promised, and then the president placed responsibility for testing on the states.

    […] Trump has tried to claim testing as an unambiguous success. “We want to get our country open, and the testing is not going to be a problem at all,” he said Monday in the Rose Garden. “In fact, it’s going to be one of the greatest assets that we have.” […]

    Trump has often touted a testing system created by Abbott that can run nearly 500 tests in 24 hours. But the vast majority of Abbott’s tests are going unused because of a shortage of materials and staff to run them, two senior administration officials said. […] Gov. Tony Evers (D) requested 60,000 plastic tips needed to store reagents and 10,000 testing swabs and numerous reagent kits from FEMA in late March. But by April 21, the day Pence visited Wisconsin to tout the administration’s pandemic response, Wisconsin had only received 2,800 tips and 3,500 testing swabs […]

    on April 8, FEMA changed its policy to make it the responsibility of states to procure supplies from commercial distributors, Pocan said. “Just telling us to go to the private market isn’t a solution,” Pocan said. “It’s an excuse.”

    […] In Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) quietly entered into negotiations with South Korea, with the help of his wife, Yumi, a Korean American. Exasperated with the lack of tests in his state, Hogan spent about 22 days arranging to procure 500,000 tests, […]

    Once the FDA and U.S. Customs and Border Protection signed off on the deal, a Korean Air jet touched down at Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport on April 18 to deliver the supplies. Hogan said he was worried federal officials would try to commandeer the tests, so he had Maryland Army National Guard members and Maryland State Police officers escort and protect the cargo. […]
    Kushner said Saturday that criticisms from governors are outdated and that every state’s testing needs have now been satisfied. […]

    The weekend of April 11, [Trump] spent considerable time on the phone with friends and advisers and began to shift toward concluding that the country could not afford to remain locked down much longer. He was irate with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, officials said, screaming and swearing at one ally about how things were so unfair. […]
    “Get open, get open, get open — we kept pressing that point,” Moore said. Otherwise, he recalled telling Trump, “You’ll have a mini-Great Depression. You’ll have body bags of dead businesses and jobs that will never be resurrected.”

    On April 14, Ingraham returned to the Oval Office to meet with the president. […]

    […] To create political cover for Trump, White House aides scrambled to put together a business advisory council made up of chief executives from across a range of industries. […] the group has been largely dormant since, with no clear mechanism to share ideas.

    […] CDC and FEMA officials sent a 36-page document on April 10 outlining in detail the recommended stages of reopening, including detailed instructions for schools, child-care facilities, summer camps, parks, faith-based organizations and restaurants.

    But on April 16, when Trump and Birx released their guidelines for a slow and staggered return to normal in places with minimal cases of the coronavirus, many of the details fine-tuned by the CDC were stripped out. […]

    Trump formally embraced the quarantine protesters on April 17 with a trio of all-caps tweets: “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” “LIBERATE MINNESOTA!” and “LIBERATE VIRGINIA.”

    […] the “LIBERATE” tweets brought Trump back into the realm of conspiracy and anger, which he considers safe harbor when he feels boxed in. […]

    “The White House apparatus is totally shifting to the economy,” the senior official said, noting that Trump is convening discussions about reopening this weekend at Camp David.

    With Trump engaged in a war of words with governors over testing, public health experts were sounding an alarm about another vulnerability: contact tracing. Finding and isolating infected people and their contacts had been the cornerstone for successful mitigation efforts in South Korea, Singapore and other countries. […]

    But as with testing, the federal government has placed the onus on states to devise their own contact tracing programs. So state and local health departments started developing programs on their own, or formed regional partnerships.

    […] Trump senior adviser Stephen Miller questioned contact tracing because so many people were asymptomatic, advisers said.

    Trump, however, rarely mentioned contact tracing. His focus was on more personal challenges. One senior White House official said that the president was among the most animated when discussing what his press appearances would be like: A call-in to the radio? A morning photo opp? An evening news conference? Hicks had to move along the conversation in coronavirus meetings by telling the boss they would decide later. […]
    His reelection team — including Kushner, campaign manager Brad Parscale and Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel — staged something of an intervention. They presented fresh polls that painted a picture so grim they hoped the president would be persuaded to curtail his daily press briefings, as the data suggested the performances had damaged him. [snipped details of polling data]

    The decision to share the data with Trump backfired. The president went into one of his rages. He said he did not believe the numbers, arguing that people “love” his performances at the briefings and think he is “fighting for them,” […] He berated Parscale for the polling data,[…]

    On April 23, the day after his campaign team’s polling intervention, Trump continued with his usual behavior. During a lengthy and at times hostile question-and-answer session with reporters, Trump mused aloud about being treated with ultraviolet light or injecting bleach or another household disinfectant into the body to cure the coronavirus. […]

    That day, 1,857 Americans died of the coronavirus. The next week, the number of cases reported in the United States surpassed 1 million.

    And by month’s end, as Trump cheered businesses reopening in Georgia, Texas and several other states “because we have to get our country back,” the total dead climbed past 63,000, with no sign of slowing down.

    More at the link. The article is thorough, and it is well-written. There’s not a “Noble” prize for journalism, as Trump claimed, but there are Pulitizer prizes, and this article may well qualify. It was difficult to choose excerpts from the article. The text posted here is choppy and sometimes lacking in details. I suggest reading the original.

  244. says

    lumipuna @318, good point. Thanks.

    blf @317, I’m glad, in a way, to hear that your spring cleaning is not complete. That makes my inside-the-house situation look less bad. I did clean the bathroom. I’m calling that good for now.

  245. says

    In other news, many people are slipping off their already-precarious perch on the lowest rungs of the ladder to middle-class status. I am one of them, so this account by Ray Suarez touched me:

    […] “Dad, what are you afraid of?” That might have been a cue for a heartwarming father-daughter conversation about overcoming life’s challenges. Nope. From my lizard brain, or from the primordial soup in my guts, came an answer I didn’t even consider, out of my mouth before I had a conscious thought of it.

    “Being poor. That’s what I’m afraid of.” Then we crossed the street.

    I keep returning to that exchange over the past few weeks, as my inbox fills with coronavirus-driven bad news. A paid speaking engagement in Texas? Canceled. Several days of work at an international conference? The organizers decided not to take the risk. A gig moderating a climate change conference in Chicago? Postponed, maybe until October. When I traveled as a reporter to health crises in Africa and Latin America in recent years, exposed to malaria, tuberculosis and pneumonia, I knew that if I got sick my health-care costs would be paid by my employer, as would any days I needed to recover. […]

    Now that I’m a gig worker over 60, “sick days” are simply salary-free days off. Even if work dries up, that $2,800-a-month health insurance bill still comes due on the first of the month. The electric company won’t take a podcast, a column or a television documentary as in-kind payment for kilowatt hours.

    […] A study from the New School estimates that 8.5 million older workers over 55 would fall into poverty or near-poverty if they retired at 62 and began taking Social Security payments. […]

    An eye blink ago, I was anchoring a nightly program for the cable news network Al Jazeera America. Before that, I had long tenures with “PBS NewsHour” and NPR. When I read warnings that workers could face sudden and catastrophic losses of income in their final years of employment, I was empathetic but concluded it could never happen to me. After all, I had worked hard to build in bumpers around my life, and my career, to avoid that. I climbed the ladder in a very competitive business to jobs of greater renown, greater responsibility and higher pay. I did all the things that would have made me the hero of a financial advice column: got married and stayed married, paid off my mortgage years early, fully covered three college educations so my kids wouldn’t have to borrow. Then the wheels came off. After Al Jazeera pulled the plug on its young network, I headed to Amherst College as a visiting professor while beating the bushes for jobs in radio, television and print. I shoved down the rising panic, kept one eye on my bank balance as I started freelancing, and kept the other eye out for the next big thing. […]

    For me, the financial strain arrived quickly. As my COBRA health coverage reached its time limit, my wife and I had a long talk about how to lower our enormous monthly health-care costs. One quick fix was to drop dental coverage, so we did it. Two weeks later, I was riding my bike on D.C. streets when I hit an enormous, and unexpectedly deep, pothole. The shock slammed my jaw shut, but I shook it off and continued to pedal. Then the pain began — first searing, then a steady, throbbing ache radiating from my jaw to my eyes to the top of my head. It felt like my teeth were misaligned. I was having trouble chewing food. In just a few weeks I had moved from being a guy who had top-drawer health coverage to being one of the guys I read about, one of the guys I covered, who deferred health care for fear of the cost. […]

    These past few weeks indicate that I’ll soon have plenty of company. […]

    I’m asked to make generous contributions to organizations for which I had written big checks in the past; today, that’s out of the question. I feel sheepish talking publicly about all this, because I know how many live a lot closer to the edge than I do. But I’m not whining when I say my life is different now. Even before social distancing rendered the outside world strange, I would do a walk-through at the supermarket with my wife’s list in hand, to see if items close enough to what was specified were on sale. A pair of old shoes is resoled for a second time instead of being replaced. […]

    Washington Post link

    Suarez emphasized the plight of being an older man. For the most part, I didn’t find that helpful, and I left those parts out

    I focused on the more universal aspects of his piece. Being afraid of being poor may mean you have been poor before. You know what that’s like. Ditto for not having access to health care. Ditto for being homeless. Anybody can slide into poverty, including someone as well-known as Ray Suarez.

  246. says

    On Fox News, Dr. Deborah Birx did not agree with Trump.

    […] Appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” Deborah Birx offered very different comments compared with […] Trump’s on the projected coronavirus death toll and the protesters who recently stormed the Michigan State Capitol.

    Birx was asked about Trump’s projections in recent weeks that there would be between 50,000 and 60,000 deaths, which he later increased to 60,000 to 70,000. We are at over 66,000 deaths, with little sign in recent weeks of any significant downturn.

    Birx told host Chris Wallace that “our projections have always been between 100,000 and 240,000 American lives lost, and that’s with full mitigation and us learning from each other of how to social distance.”

    That contradicts what Trump said. The president hasn’t just offered a more optimistic tone on the death toll; on April 20, he suggested 50,000 to 60,000 deaths had actually replaced the previous 100,000-to-240,000 goal that he had said would constitute a successful response.

    “We’re going toward 50, I’m hearing, or 60,000 people,” Trump said. “One is too many. I always say it: One is too many. But we’re going toward 50 or 60,000 people. That’s at the lower — as you know, the low number was supposed to be 100,000 people. We could end up at 50 to 60. Okay?”

    That first lowered estimate was passed in a matter of days, and the 60,000-to-70,000 estimate appears as though it won’t last past the early part of this week.

    Birx’s most significant comments on Sunday, though, came with regard to the protesters in Michigan. They stormed the State Capitol, some brandishing guns, to urge a reopening of the state.

    Birx’s message was clear: It’s a horrible development.

    “It’s devastatingly worrisome to me, personally, because if they go home and infect their grandmother or their grandfather who has a co-morbid condition and they have a serious or a very — or an unfortunate outcome, they will feel guilty for the rest of our lives,” she said. “So we need to protect each other at the same time we’re voicing our discontent.”

    That’s a kind of cautioning and rebuking of the protesters that we simply haven’t seen from Trump. […]

    photos showed that the protesters at the time were not abiding by guidelines on social distancing or wearing masks — nor have protesters since then. […]

    In cautioning those protesters about putting their own loved ones’ lives at risk, Birx offered almost a diametrically opposed message — as has often been the case between Trump and his top health officials.

    Washington Post link

  247. blf says

    Lynna@320, I cleaned half my bathroom… does that count? (Ok, ok, and other places, like most of the kitchen and perhaps half of the main room (the remaining uncleaned half of which is mostly either under the furniture or else is the suspected location of the ceiling)).

    Not-at-all jokingly, I’m concerned to hear about your situation in @321. At the moment, I cannot think of anything concert & legal & plausible I can do to help. The mildly deranged penguin suggests a trebuchet-full of cheese, and another of, ah, well, well-rotten shite, your choice as to the targets… (I’d suggest deferring, her aim isn’t all that great; in addition, whilst she’s unlikely to get the two payloads mixed up, the same cannot be said of the two targets.)

  248. johnson catman says

    re Lynna @322:

    It’s devastatingly worrisome to me, personally, because if they go home and infect their grandmother or their grandfather who has a co-morbid condition and they have a serious or a very — or an unfortunate outcome, they will feel guilty for the rest of our lives.

    I don’t think that they will feel guilty at all. That is how clueless and heartless that they are. They just don’t give a good god-damned because their “rights” are being violated.

  249. raven says

    I don’t think that they will feel guilty at all.

    QFT.
    The current slang term for the Covid-19 virus is…Boomer Remover.
    That is what passes for humor these days, especially for the right wingnuts.

    I do want to thank Lynna, SC, and the rest for this thread.
    I don’t post here because I don’t have anything much to add.
    But I do read it every day.

    And everyone is hurting these days one way or another.

  250. says

    Here’s a link to the May 4 Guardian coronavirus liveblog.

    Also today, Moscow Times – “Russia’s Coronavirus Cases Rise By Over 10K for Second Straight Day”:

    Russia confirmed 10,581 new coronavirus infections Monday, bringing the country’s official number of cases to 145,268.

    Russia is now the seventh most-affected country in terms of infections, having surpassed China, Turkey and Iran last week….

    “Third Russian Doctor Falls From Hospital Window After Coronavirus Complaint”:

    A paramedic who complained about being forced to work despite contracting coronavirus is in critical condition after he fell from a hospital window in western Russia this weekend, local media reported.

    This is at least the third incident in which a Russian healthcare professional has plunged from a hospital building under mysterious circumstances in the past two weeks. The two previous doctors have died from their injuries.

    Alexander Shulepov is in critical condition with a skull fracture after falling from the second floor of a rural hospital where he was being treated for Covid-19, the local crisis center told the Vesti Voronezh outlet Saturday.

    Shulepov, 37, and his colleague filmed a video on April 22 complaining that the chief doctor of the Novaya Usman village hospital forced him to work despite the fact that he tested positive for Covid-19.

    A second video appeared three days later in which Shulepov denied his initial “emotional” claims. His colleague Alexander Kosyakin reportedly faces criminal charges for spreading “fake news” about the virus, which carries a prison sentence of up to five years under a recently passed federal law.

    Police have reportedly launched an inspection into Shulepov’s fall from the hospital in the Voronezh region 500 kilometers south of Moscow….

  251. says

    Al Jazeera – “Brazil’s Bolsonaro: Turning COVID-19 denial into media spectacle”: “Bolsonaro and COVID-19 misinformation. Plus, how well has WHO performed as a key information source during the pandemic?”

    The 26-minute video also includes a short report on Pakistan.

    Also from AJ – “Brazil’s Bolsonaro rallies the right amid coronavirus criticism”:

    Brazil’s right-wing president Jair Bolsonaro attacked Congress and the courts in a speech to hundreds of supporters on Sunday, as the country’s known coronavirus cases rose to more than 100,000 underlining the former army captain’s increasing isolation over his response to the pandemic.

    Bolsonaro has drawn criticism from across the political spectrum for dismissing the threat of the virus in Brazil, which has registered 101,147 confirmed cases and 7,025 deaths, according to the most recent data from the Health Ministry.

    On Sunday, dozens of public figures signed an open letter to the Brazilian government calling on officials to protect the nation’s indigenous people, who often live in remote locations with limited access to healthcare.

    On Saturday, Moro…presented testimony regarding possible obstruction of justice by Bolsonaro. Hours before, the president called Moro “Judas” on Twitter, referring to the apostle who betrayed Jesus.

    [See #105 and others above for more on Moro.]

    As Bolsonaro’s relationship with legislators and the courts has cooled, he has become increasingly dependent on a cadre of military-linked advisers in his government.

    As in an April rally also attended by Bolsonaro, demonstrators called on Sunday for the closing of the Supreme Court and Congress and a return to authoritarian measures used during Brazil’s 1964-1985 military government.

    “We have the armed forces at the people’s side: the side of order, democracy, liberty,” Bolsonaro said in a speech broadcast live on Facebook.

    “Enough interference. We’re not allowing any more interference. Our patience is over.”

    Bolsonaro did not call for a military takeover at the rally in Brasilia and such an occurrence is widely considered unlikely in Brazil, where Congress, the courts, the press and civil society wield significant power.

    But political leaders have called Bolsonaro’s participation in anti-democratic rallies irresponsible, especially as he has spoken approvingly of the nation’s former military dictatorship, which was responsible for hundreds of extrajudicial executions.

    Bolsonaro’s attendance also drew criticism as the nation is a significant coronavirus hot spot.

    Bolsonaro, who did not wear a mask on Sunday, has dismissed the coronavirus as a “little flu,” saying the economic fallout of quarantining measures would be deadlier than the virus itself.

    The open letter on Sunday, which warned that loggers and ranchers could introduce the virus to indigenous communities in a development tantamount to “genocide,” was signed by celebrities ranging from US television personality Oprah Winfrey to Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen.

    The government has banned people from entering indigenous reserves during the pandemic. It has also cut down, however, on law enforcement against illegal loggers and miners in remote regions as a safety measure.

    At the Sunday rally, at least three photographers were attacked by demonstrators, according to a witness quoted by the Reuters news agency – an increasingly routine occurrence in Brazil, where Bolsonaro routinely calls the work of leading newspapers “fake news.”

    The Reuters witness saw one photographer from Sao Paulo newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo pulled off a ladder and repeatedly kicked in the ribs.

    Joy Reid yesterday showed video of a woman at one of the pro-virus rallies this week, without a mask, getting in the face of a reporter and screaming at her. It’s not an assault like the one described on the Brazilian photographer, but I think this behavior should be understood as some form of assault in the current context.

  252. tomh says

    Baltimore Sun:
    State delegates, pastors and businesses file lawsuit against Hogan seeking to end coronavirus restrictions

    Maryland politicians, pastors and business owners banded together Saturday afternoon to file a sweeping federal lawsuit aimed at ending restrictions enacted by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan in response to the coronavirus.

    The lawsuit argues that the governor’s orders banning large gatherings and closing most businesses violate constitutional and federal laws protecting commerce, freedom of assembly, the right to protest and the right to practice their religion.

    Republican Dels. Dan Cox, Warren Miller and Neil Parrott argue that the restrictions against travel violate their duties to oversee Hogan and state government.
    […]

    The plaintiffs mention a recent memo by U.S. Attorney General William Barr calling for federal prosecutors to be on the lookout for states that infringe on the rights of its citizens.
    […]

    And elsewhere:
    In New Jersey a priest has filed a federal lawsuit against Gov. Phil Murphy, saying that an emergency executive order amid the state’s first public health emergency is unconstitutional for restricting gatherings including religious services.

    An Evangelical Christian church in Illinois similarly sued Illinois Governor JB Pritzker for a stay-at-home executive order in effect the same day as Murphy’s.

    More and more of these, all with the blessing of Barr’s DOJ.

  253. says

    blf @323, oh, yes, half a bathroom counts when it comes to cleaning.

    Thanks for your concern. Not much anyone can do. I am happy to report that more work-via-internet came my way this morning as one of my clients revived a previously cancelled project. I will have more money coming in soon.

    In other news, as part of his blame-anybody-but-me routine, Trump is now blaming the intelligence agencies for giving him weak warnings about the coronavirus threat. Trump doesn’t read the daily briefings sent to him by the intelligence agencies. How would he know if the warnings were weak or strong.

    The one thing “strong” about Trump is the personal force field he uses to deflect facts.

    There have been a variety of reports over the last month about the coronavirus warnings Donald Trump and his team received, but failed to heed, but last week’s Washington Post report was arguably the most serious. It painted a picture of U.S. intelligence agencies issuing a series of warnings — including notices in the President’s Daily Brief — in January and February, which the president failed to take seriously.

    As we discussed the other day, the Post’s report added that the PDB, which Trump reportedly does not often read, highlighted the growing viral threat; it raised doubts about the veracity of the claims from Chinese officials; and it warned of dire domestic consequences. What’s more, the frequency with which the coronavirus was mentioned in the PDB “reflected a level of attention comparable to periods when analysts have been tracking active terrorism threats, overseas conflicts or other rapidly developing security issues.”

    During an Oval Office Q&A on Tuesday, a reporter asked Trump about the intelligence briefings he received in the early weeks of the year. The president’s long, odd answer meandered a bit — it even included a strange tale about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — before eventually concluding, “I’d have to check. I would have to check. I want to look as to the exact dates of warnings.”

    Evidently, we’re supposed to believe that Trump has now checked and discovered how right he was all along. From a tweet he published yesterday afternoon:

    “Intelligence has just reported to me that I was correct, and that they did NOT bring up the CoronaVirus subject matter until l