A very thin line separates being diplomatic from being a sycophant

Dr. Deborah Birx has become a very public figure because of her presence at the daily press conferences of the coronavirus task force that Donald Trump has turned into a substitute for his campaign rallies.

Prior to being assigned to the coronavirus task force on Feb. 26 (the same day Vice President Pence was assigned to the body), Birx was the U.S. global AIDS coordinator. That’s an ambassador-level job inside the State Department in which she oversaw the U.S. government efforts to combat the spread of HIV globally. She was appointed to the post by President Barack Obama in 2014.

She’s one of the few Obama-era holdovers at the Trump White House. Her job as AIDS coordinator included running the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the highly praised program launched by President George W. Bush that has gotten millions of people with HIV around the world onto life-saving anti-AIDS therapy.

Before that, she spent nearly a decade running the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s global HIV/AIDS division.

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Maybe Mexico will build that wall

In an ironic turn of events, Mexicans in the border state of Sonora are urging their government to close its border with the US to prevent Americans from bringing Covid-19 into their country.

Mexican protesters have shut a US southern border crossing amid fears that untested American travellers will spread coronavirus.

Residents in Sonora, south of the US state of Arizona, have promised to block traffic into Mexico for a second day after closing a checkpoint for hours on Wednesday.

They wore face masks and held signs telling Americans to “stay at home”.

Mexico has fewer than 500 confirmed Covid-19 cases and the US over 65,000.

The border is supposed to be closed to all except “essential” business, but protesters said there has been little enforcement and no testing by authorities.

The blockade was led by members of the group Sonorans for Health and Life, who called for medical testing to be done on anyone who crosses from the US into Mexico.

If this push to keep Americans out of Mexico becomes widespread in that country, who knows, Trump’s campaign promise to have Mexico build the wall might yet come true.

We’re #1!

We have come a long way in the short time since Donald Trump blithely announced that the 15 Covid-19 cases that had been reported thus far would start to decline to zero and that by magic the virus would disappear by April. Yesterday, the US reached a grim milestone, overtaking China to become the country with the most number of people who have tested positive for Covid-19.

The US now has more confirmed cases of coronavirus than any other country with at least 82,404 positive tests.

According to the latest figures collated by Johns Hopkins University, the US overtook China (81,782 cases) and Italy (80,589).

The grim milestone came as President Donald Trump predicted the nation would get back to work “pretty quickly”, after 3.3 million layoffs.

More than 1,100 people with Covid-19 have died in the US.

All together now: “We’re #1! USA! USA!”

The stimulus package has conditions to stop Trump and his family from benefiting

The Trump family’s grifting and exploitation of his office is so shameless and obvious to all that the stimulus package apparently has language preventing them from using it to benefit themselves. Although it does not name him but instead says that it applies to the president, other lawmakers, and their families, it is clearly Trump that lawmakers had in mind.
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Samantha Bee’s show is back on the air

She is putting on her show from a remote location, using her family as her video crew. She points out that 70% of the labor force does not have the option of working from home and have little savings. One in three Americans say that they or an immediate family member has lost their job because of the pandemic measures and more than half report a cut in pay or work hours. Many are going to be seriously hurt by the social distancing and shut down protocols and will need immediate relief measures, like this couple in Kansas City.
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Grocery shopping during the pandemic

I have not been to the grocery store in nearly two weeks. I have been going out just for my daily walks though one day I did take a drive to the countryside for about half an hour just to get a change of scenery and also because I did not want to risk my car battery going dead from lack of use.

There are mixed reports in the media about the reliability of the supply chain for grocery stores. Authorities assure us that there is no shortage of food and other essentials except that suppliers have had to switch the way their products are packaged from largely serving restaurants to serving grocery stores. But some people report empty stores. How well and how frequently the stores are restocked may depend on where you live. Some places report that most items are available while in other areas the shelves are stocked each morning but get quickly emptied by people still panic buying. It appears that if people buy just what they need for a week or two, instead of months, there would be no problem.
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False choices in dealing with the pandemic

I wrote earlier that we are living in a strange time when things seem normal immediately around us while the news on a larger scale is alarming. Nathan J. Robinson echoes that sentiment and says that only those who know someone who has been seriously and adversely affected by the Covid-19 disease can fully appreciate the seriousness of the situation. He goes on to say that the pandemic has undermined many of the myths that sustain right-wing ideology and nowhere is this clearer than in the crackpot idea floated by Trump, his economic advisors Larry Kudlow, and their conservative allies that we need to ease up on the restrictions in order to ‘save the economy’.
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Jordan Klepper talks to Trump supporters

During the 2016 election, the very funny Jordan Klepper produced some excellent pieces for The daily Show talking to Trump supporters at his rallies. He then left the show but is back as a correspondent to once again cover Trump’s 2020 election campaign rallies. Below is a montage of him talking to Trump supporters at his rallies from the 2016 campaign and this year. Klepper is clean-shaven in 2016 and bearded now.