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COVID-19 - social and political fallout

This topic was continued by COVID-19 - social and political fallout (2).

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Edited: Mar 18, 1:28pm Top

Branching the discussion to allow the other thread to continue following news of the disease itself.

Let's hope Congress is thinking their bailout options through.

From the LA Times today -

Opinion: In coronavirus bailouts of big business, here's what we should demand in return

It’s fair to say that some industries might indeed need government assistance to get over the emerging economic slump. The question is, what does the American public get in return?

Saying that the survival of these industries should be reward enough won’t do. Unlike such small businesses as restaurants and bars, which have been shut down in parts of the country by government order and were facing huge drops in patronage anyway, most of the hardest-hit major industries have the capacity to survive one way or another.

But no government help should be provided without strict oversight about how it’s used. That’s warranted because American industry has grossly misused its previous handouts, fattening shareholder returns and executive pay while leaving employees aside. That can’t happen again.

Prohibiting the use of government help to pay executives or raise returns for shareholders is mandatory, along with preserving union contracts.

Airlines and all other recipients of government largess should be required to commit to noninterference with union organizing in their shops and to welcoming labor representatives onto their boards. If any industry needs to be put out of business as a result of the crisis, it’s the union-busting business.

Let’s be clear what we’re talking about. Mnuchin, in congressional testimony March 11, rejected the term “bailout.” He said, “This is not a bailout. This is considering providing certain things for certain industries.”

In other words, a bailout.

Mar 18, 1:58pm Top

You would have had some hope with President Sanders. As things stand, though, I see no help forthcoming. Trumpo will throw a handful of bucks at people to buy votes, but nothing meaningful will change.

It's really as if the Americans must see people dying in the streets before they move two inches toward where most of the world is already.

Edited: Mar 18, 2:32pm Top

A different proposal - no to bailout, yes to 'bridge loan.'

A NYT financial writer, Andrew Ross Sorkin

This Is the Only Way to End the Coronavirus Financial Panic

The Covid-19 crisis will take time to be solved by science. The economic crisis can be solved right now.

With President Trump proposing to send $1,000 checks to every American and industries, like the airlines, lining up for bailouts, there is a better way to arrest the panic.

I chronicled the 2008 financial crisis and spent the past week on back-to-back telephone calls with many of the experts who crafted that bailout, as well as the programs put in place after 9/11, Katrina, the BP oil spill and other crises. Now here is a thought experiment that could prevent what is quickly looking like the next Great Recession or even, dare it be mentioned, depression.

The fix: The government could offer every American business, large and small, and every self-employed — and gig — worker a no-interest “bridge loan” guaranteed for the duration of the crisis to be paid back over a five-year period. The only condition of the loan to businesses would be that companies continue to employ at least 90 percent of their work force at the same wage that they did before the crisis. And it would be retroactive, so any workers who have been laid off in the past two weeks because of the crisis would be reinstated.

The program would keep virtually everyone employed — and keep companies, from airlines to restaurants, in business without picking winners and losers.

It would immediately create a sense of confidence and relief during these tumultuous times that once the scourge of the coronavirus was contained, life would return to some semblance of normal. It would also help encourage people to stay home and practice social distancing without feeling that they would risk losing their job — the only way to slow this disease.

The price tag? A lot. Some back-of-the-envelope math suggests that many trillions — that’s with a “t” — of dollars would go out in loans if this crisis lasted three months, possibly as much as $10 trillion. That’s half the size of America’s gross domestic product. And assuming 20 percent of it is never repaid, it could cost taxpayers hundreds of billions if not several trillions. I get that. But with interest rates near zero, there is no better time to borrow against the fundamental strength of the U.S. economy, spend the money and prevent years of economic damage that would ultimately be far, far costlier.

The alternatives being proposed may be worse — because the size of the bailouts may be too small and come too late, and because the politics of targeted bailouts at specific industries and businesses would create a morass of anger and distrust.

Ultimately, the plan being suggested here is the equivalent of a full-employment act for the country during the crisis.

Some politicians have argued that bailouts should be directed only toward individuals and families, rather than companies. After all, we don’t want a repeat of 2008, when so much of the country felt the bailouts benefited Wall Street banks but not Main Street businesses.

But the truth is that sending checks directly doesn’t solve the problem: People want a paycheck and a sense of confidence that when the crisis subsides they will still be employed. And one-time check writing — or even a series of checks — won’t restart the economy when the crisis is contained because so many companies would be forced to file bankruptcy without immediate loans.

The proposal here, a shock and awe plan, avoids that.

The most challenging part would be executing it.

Who would make the loans? The government doesn’t have the expertise or people to make it happen.

The easiest way to do it would be to have the banks, which already have a relationship with companies and individuals, administer the program, guaranteed by the government. Banking may not be the most popular industry, but it could get the job done in short order. In truth, the banks should volunteer to administer the plan for free as a gift to the country for the bailouts of 2008. Besides, if the economy goes down, so do they.

Self-employed individuals, including contractors, gig workers and others, would be provided no-interest loans based on their provable income in the previous 12 months. And companies would have to be restricted from using the loans to “refinance” past loans or use the money for stock buybacks. But other than that, there should be few restrictions, lest individuals and companies refuse to take the money.

In a crisis, getting buy-in matters. And time is the enemy. At the rate of the economic slowdown in just the travel industry alone, unemployment would jump to 6 percent right now, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is warning that unemployment could rise to 20 percent, Depression-era levels.

Would there be fraud and abuse along the way? Yep. Is that acceptable? Of course the answer is no, but given the scale of this crisis, it may just be part of the price paid.

Admittedly, if you hated the economic system before the Covid-19 crisis — inequality, executive compensation and the like — this proposal wouldn’t change it. If you believe the airline industry is terrible and deserves to file for bankruptcy, this plan wouldn’t make that happen, either. If you feel that we are once again privatizing profits and socializing losses, that wouldn’t be wrong.

In truth, the plan’s entire aim is to return the economy to the state it was in before the crisis with as little change and interruption as possible.

But once we do that, and the economy gets back on its feet, we need to have a very serious, almost grave, conversation in the country with our political and business leaders about financial responsibility and our policies. Over the past 20 years, we have lurched from bailouts to wars to rescue packages to bailouts again, and we never fill up our coffers during the best of times to pay for any of them.

At some point, our debt will become the crisis that we can’t end with more money.

Mar 18, 2:37pm Top

One social and political fallout: https://www.librarything.com/topic/317841 ;)

Mar 18, 4:34pm Top

I'm glad to hear SOMETHING on this question, as my office (Rural Development) is already getting inquiries. Realistically, the wording will reassure people, but not accomplish much. Foreclosures and evictions are a much more drawn out process than one month allows. It might even encourage tenants to just skip paying April 1's rent, no matter what.

Trump orders HUD to suspend evictions and foreclosures

"The Department of Housing and Urban Development is providing immediate relief to renters and homeowners by suspending all foreclosures and evictions until the end of April," Trump said at a White House press briefing. … The moratorium will apply only to homeowners with mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration, a HUD agency that backs affordable home loans issued through private firms.

Mar 18, 5:20pm Top

Both Trump and Biden are corporate friendly and not labor friendly. So is the great majority of democratic and republican congresspeople and Senators. So it's going to be interesting to see how any of them deal with this. Literally though everyone is going to have to have a safe place to be and a safe place to stay and they are going to have to have something to eat and medical care if they need it. We ignore those at the bottom of our economy at our own peril. Evictions and foreclosures will only put more people on the street with nowhere to go and the disease will spread even further if we do that.

Really I agree with #2---that Sanders would be best here. That we would be much better prepared for this if we had M4A already in place. The wealthy donors who back both political parties have put us in a position where at least a good third of our population is afraid of seeing a doctor or going to the hospital. When we have the most expensive health care system in the world and it leaves so many people out you have a recipe for a real catastrophe. Our economy is going to get fucked but that's really only a secondary issue--it's going to get fucked worse if we can't handle the primary issue which is the pandemic itself. Honestly I'm not that worried about saving the airline industry right now that can't or won't really be able to fly passengers for a while. I'm thinking we should worry about making sure we're up to speed on getting the medical care and equipment necessary for dealing with the pandemic to the people and places it needs to go before worrying about saving United Airlines or Delta--and then keeping people housed safely and fed is also a primary concern.

Mar 19, 5:40pm Top

something very nice

Restaurant owners appreciate landlord’s advice to ‘pay employees’ instead of rent

Young Investment Company announced Tuesday night on social media it would “not expect its restaurant tenants to pay April rent.”

Instead of paying rent, Clay Young urged owners to “pay your employees and take care of your family. We will get through this together.”

Edited: Mar 20, 7:01am Top

>7 2wonderY: That is nice. When all this has passed, Young Investment Company and its kind will be able took back with pride on how they responded.


According to an e-mail from Catholic Charities, "This pandemic has caused a 40% increase in first-time clients, struggling with the fallout of disease, leaving the local food pantries and shelters dangerously low on supplies."

Also heard that our local food pantry is not only running low on supplies due to demand and restaurant closures, etc., but also volunteers, as those most vulnerable to COVID-19 have had to bow out for the time being. (Sure wish I could confirm that I already had the virus and am now immune--I could be sorting cans with the best of them! ;-)

Edited: Mar 20, 7:00am Top

So, to review, Republican Senator Richard Burr warned only his rich constituents about the severity of coronavirus,
then sold $1.5M in stocks right before the market nosedived,
all while falling in line behind Trump and assuring the public everything was under control. A new low.
- Robert Reich @RBReich | 6:45 PM · Mar 19, 2020

A correction to our story on Senator Burr's stock trades:
He sold between $628,000 and $1.72 million in 33 separate transactions, not between $582,029 and $1.56 million of his holdings in 29 separate transactions.
Because I missed 4 transactions.
- Derek Willis @derekwillis | 8:21 PM · Mar 19, 2020

Reminder: In 2012, the Senate passed the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act (STOCK Act) by a 93-2 vote.
One of the two who voted against it was Richard Burr.
- Walter Shaub @waltshaub | 5:39 PM · Mar 19, 2020



NEW: Sen. Kelly Loeffler sold between $1.2M and $3.1M worth of stock in the three weeks beginning on Jan 24—
the day of a closed-door, all-Senator briefing on the coronavirus
- Lachlan Markay lachlan · 9h

Sen. Kelly Loeffler offloaded up to $3.1M worth of stock AND
bought stock worth between $100,000 and $250,000 in Citrix, a tech firm that provides networking and
TELEWORK software whose stock has managed to rise amid the chaos.
FYI, Citrix' customers include DOD, IRS, VA, DHS
- Frank Konkel @Frank_Konkel | 10:50 PM · Mar 19, 2020

REMINDER: Sen. Kelly Loeffler is married to Jeffrey Sprecher, the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, and the chairman and CEO of Intercontinental Exchange, which is NYSE's parent company.
- David Gura davidgura | 9:59 PM · Mar 19, 2020



Whoops. Looks like we found *another* GOP senator who "suddenly" dumped his stock holdings right after a private briefing on #coronavirus.
Senator @JimInhofe sold up to $500,000 of his stock on the Monday after his Friday (1/24) briefing.
- Dr. Dena Grayson @DrDenaGrayson | 9:43 PM · Mar 19, 2020


We need to see the stock trades of President Trump and his family in the month of February.
- David Frum @davidfrum | 9:08 PM · Mar 19, 2020

Richard Burr selling all his stock right before a crash while
Larry Kudlow and Eric Trump* are telling the American people they should buy the dip
is the perfect vignette from a career scam artist’s administration.
- Tim Miller @Timodc | 6:01 PM · Mar 19, 2020
* https://twitter.com/SharonCoryell3/status/1240780346867642369

The only reason we know about Burr and Loeffler is they have to report their trades.
The president and his families finances are largely secret.
His friends at Mar-a-lago's trades are secret.
If you think none of them are in on the graft I have a Trump steak to sell you.
- Tim Miller @Timodc | 9:55 PM · Mar 19, 2020

Edited: Mar 20, 7:05am Top

The Daily Beast reports that Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) also sold stocks worth millions, starting on January 24 - the day some senators had a private briefing from officials including Anthony Fauci. She wasted no time - she assumed her Senate seat on January 6, after being appointed to replace Johnny Isakson. Her husband is chairman and CEO of the NY Stock Exchange. Their personal fortune is estimated to be $500 million, making her the wealthiest person in the Senate.


(Edited for typo - I hate virtual keyboards)

Mar 20, 7:19am Top

Federal judge cites coronavirus in decision blocking Trump admin cut to food stamps
Brooke Seipel - 03/13/20 10:01

...D.C. District Court Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell granted a preliminary injunction blocking the new rule (that would have tightened work requirements for food stamps), which government estimates predicted would kick as many as 700,000 Americans off of food stamps.

“Especially now, as a global pandemic poses widespread health risks, guaranteeing that government officials at both the federal and state levels have flexibility to address the nutritional needs of residents and ensure their well-being through programs like SNAP, is essential"...


Mar 20, 8:33am Top

#9--Tucker Carlson is calling for Burr's head on Fox News and promising to talk more about it today. No doubt that Tucker is a hard right guy but he's different from the likes of Ingraham, Hannity or Limbaugh. A lot of his stances and things he says are atrocious but he has convictions and he doesn't budge or swerve away from them when it's convenient. He stands his ground on them. He's also influential and is one of the few people at Fox who took coronavirus seriously--didn't slough it off or have to change his mind recently. He's not a shill.

Edited: Mar 20, 10:21am Top

>9 margd: You point out stock sales by Burr, Inhofe, and Loeffler. Any reason you omitted Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein, who reportedly sold $1.5 million in stock after that briefing on the Chinese coronavirus?

Edited: Mar 20, 12:59pm Top

#13--those are the 4 names I've heard too. Chris Collins Buffalo NY area congressman went to prison for insider trading just very recently and very much deserved to. Inhofe and Feinstein are both in their 80's but IMO they shouldn't get better treatment than Collins if they've done the same or near enough as he did. There should be no special treatment for people who use their high position to protect their bank accounts while at the same time withholding information that leaves everyone else to drown. Loeffler doesn't have anything except bullshit.

Mar 20, 2:14pm Top

>13 TrippB: Any reason you omitted Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein, who reportedly sold $1.5 million in stock after that briefing on the Chinese coronavirus?

I also didn't mention Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), whose transaction, like Feinstein's, was reported as legit/innocuous:

According to stock sales disclosures by Senators after a closed door briefing on January 24 about the Coronavirus threat, the following senators sold stocks:
Senator Richard Burr
Senator Kelly Loefner
Senator Dianne Feinstein,
Senator Ron Johnson
Senator Jim Inhofe
- Charles Gaba @charles_gaba · 4h

Feinstein (D) and Johnson’s (R) selloffs appear to be legit. The other three have some serious explaining to do.
- Charles Gaba @charles_gaba | 4h


Forensic News @forensicnewsnet | 9:55 PM · Mar 19, 2020:
@SenRonJohnson dumped $5,000,000-$25,000,000 of stock in a manufacturing company tied to his family on March 2nd:

Johnson appears to have sold his share of the company whose CEO is his brother.

Here’s the point where Johnson made the sale.
Image ( https://twitter.com/forensicnewsnet/status/1240820990457696256/photo/1 )

Note: the sale is listed under “other securities” so it may not have been stock, but rather his direct share in the company.

The company, Pacur, isn't publicly traded so there isn't a stock price. Johnson just sold his stake to what looks like a private equity firm.
It's unknown if the PE firm knew what was about to happen with COVID 19.
Private equity firm buys stake in Wisconsin-based sheet extruder Pacur


And finally, Dianne Feinstein. This one is clearly innocuous as well. In fact, her husband's $1M-5M sale of shares in biopharma company Allogene actually came at a low-point in its stock value, as noted by Barron's a few weeks ago
- Lachlan Markay lachlan · 4h


>13 TrippB: Any reason the only senator Fox and Trump mention by name is Feinstein, hmm?


Spicer asks the President about the stock dumping scandal and the President only mentions Dianne Feinstein.
When pressed by another reporter on Burr and Loeffler, the President accuses the reporter of only mentioning republicans
1:01 ( https://twitter.com/Acyn/status/1241043829345505280 )
- Acyn Torabi @Acyn |12:48 PM · Mar 20, 2020

Mar 20, 3:48pm Top

>16 margd:

>13 TrippB: TrippB: Any reason the only senator Fox and Trump mention by name is Feinstein, hmm?”

I can’t answer for Fox and President Trump, but I mentioned her due to her very long history of alleged shady dealings and clear violations when it comes to finances. And because I don’t agree with her on much of anything.

If any Member has violated the STOCK Act, they should face consequences. Too many politicians, regardless of party, have profited from inside information. It might be difficult to prove in this case, though, as they certainly didn’t need a private briefing to recognize it was time to bail from the market. Information in the open media made it overwhelmingly clear that the Chinese coronavirus was going to result in a hit to stocks. Feinstein may have even gotten a tip from an old friend…. https://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2018/08/01/details-chinese-spy-dianne-feinstei...

Mar 20, 5:58pm Top

the Chinese coronavirus

The American moronovirus is a worse scourge.

Edited: Mar 20, 6:27pm Top

So for some equal opportunity major political party bashing I'll start with Trump:


.....and then we'll go on to the Democratic Party leadership who circled their wagons around Joe Biden and can't get out of their own way and actually do something for the people they say they represent:


.....which is to say that while Trump has fucked everything up so hard that quite possibly hundreds of thousands may die and our economy freefall to boot.....the Democrats have ceded Republican politicians the high ground by cowardly standing around with their collective thumbs up their asses and neither offering or doing anything but stand in the way of ideas that might actually help and exactly as in #18 the American moronovirus. By the way it shouldn't be us closing our doors to Mexico and Canada.....it should be them closing their doors to us. As usual we're the most dangerous actor.

Mar 20, 7:11pm Top

When this is over, I hope the rethinking of neoliberal shibboleths that has started in the US and the UK results in a positive change. It's horrible that it took something like this, but I guess also inevitable.

I wouldn't mind a grave-dancing party on the corpses of Trumpo, the GOP, and Boris Johnson, too.

Mar 20, 7:27pm Top

Trump owns the virus now, due to his criminal ineptitude, moral degeneracy, and disordered sexuality.

Mar 21, 5:55am Top

Suddenly, knucklehead culture has lost any charm it once might have had

... Knucklehead culture is based in sports, but its goal is permanent adolescence for all dum-dums, regardless of athletic ability.

Not adolescence in the good ‘experience new things and figure out who I’m meant to be’ way, but in the bad, ‘nothing matters to me but myself’ way.

Knucklehead culture is aggressively stupid. It’s all YOLO, all the time. If you don’t like your job, quit your job. If it feels good, do it. If someone suggests you stop, that means go harder. ...

It seems certain there will be a massive philosophic shift to go along with the sociological and financial ones already happening. Our values and ethics will change. The hierarchy of things we hold important will radically alter.

A lot of stuff that used to seem necessary – luxury goods, three vacations a year, putting off adulthood until your 30s – will go out the window. A sense of imminence, that feeling that something is about just about to happen, will replace the late-20th/early-21st century attitude that things would always remain comfortably the same. ...

It is the knuckleheads who continued ramming the bars after they were asked to stop. They were the ones who refused to get off the beaches. They were the people cornering the market on bulk hand-sanitizer.

One of those profiteers was so proud of himself that he gave an interview to The New York Times about it. Not because he’s stupid (though perhaps he is that, too). But because he’d been raised in a culture that’s taught him it is not only permissible, but morally defensible, that he do whatever is best for him. Anyone who says otherwise is a hater. Anyone who says otherwise twice is a bully.

This sort of behaviour used to be mildly tolerated in teenagers. But it’s been creeping up the demographic scale for ages. ...

Not quite as sanguine as he that there will BE a "massive philosophic shift", but some new ideas will visit some heads unaccustomed to deep thinking.

Edited: Mar 21, 6:51am Top

Hopefully not too late, but some attention now being paid to those in detention during COVID-19.
(It must be terrifying to be locked up during pandemic or hurricane--or fire. Touring Canada's Alcatraz, I asked guide (a retired guard) how they handled fire. Not many safeguards in old days, but he told me that arsonists were "not liked" by other prisoners. Bet that was an understatement!)

Joshua Matz @JoshuaMatz8 | 7:18 PM · Mar 20, 2020:
BREAKING: Major opinion from the Second Circuit in Federal Defenders of New York v Bureau of Prisons
"The Defenders describe a course of events that demands the attention of all components of the system that our country relies on for meting out justice."

In its powerful, unanimous decision -- authored by all three judges on the panel (Walker, Parker, Carney) -- the Second Circuit emphasizes the importance of "real-time, comprehensive solutions" to healthy & safety crises at federal prisons.

This lawsuit was filed after the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn lost heat and power last winter, causing a humanitarian crisis & illegal limits on attorney access

Here, the Second Circuit also highlights the "drastic challenge" to prison safety "presented by COVID-19"

It urges "in the strongest possible terms" that the district court appoint "an individual with the stature, experience, and knowledge necessary to ... facilitate the adoption of procedures for dealing with ongoing and future emergencies, including the COVID-19 outbreak"...


Thousands of Doctors Demand ICE Release Detainees to Stop a COVID-19 Disaster
ICE won’t close its overcrowded detention centers to stop the coronavirus. Doctors say people are going to die.
Janus Rose | Mar 18 2020

Over 3,000 medical professionals are demanding the immediate release of all detainees held in immigration facilities by ICE, warning of deadly consequences as COVID-19 continues to spread.

In an open letter sent to the US immigration agency this week, medical workers point out that the conditions of overcrowded prisons, jails, and detention facilities guarantee the rapid spread of sickness and disease—including the highly-contagious and life-threatening virus that has paralyzed cities across the world.

“Considering the extreme risk presented by these conditions in light of the global COVID-19 epidemic, it is impossible to ensure that detainees will be in a ‘safe, secure and humane environment,’ as ICE’s own National Detention Standards state,” the letter reads. “As such, we strongly recommend that ICE implement community-based alternatives to detention to alleviate the mass overcrowding in detention facilities.”...



Guards and workers are also at risk. while US Supreme Court has paused hearings on some significant cases, DOJ's Immigration Courts plow on. Stephen Miller has no doubt decided their work is essential... :(

Immigration Courts Are Telling Employees to Come to Work — Ignoring Health Risks and Local Shelter-in-Place Orders
Interviews with 10 workers at immigration courts around the country reveal fear, contradictory messages and continuing perils for the employees.
Dara Lind | March 20, 2020

Mar 21, 8:59am Top

America needs to be on a war footing
Danielle Allen | March 20, 2020

...The threats of war notably include loss of life, yes, but also instability of economy and society, degradation of standards of justice and disintegration of the political institutions in the polity under attack. The same threats pertain now. That is why we need to understand ourselves as on a war footing and our job as not cost-benefit balancing but existential decision-making about arranging and triaging our activities and resources to maximize our ability to fend off a fundamental threat.

In the face of surprise attack by an armed enemy, societies understand this and enter into a process of triage to ensure the society as a whole is ready to wage war. That is the stage we are in now. We are triaging the parts of the economy we don’t need for this fight. We are triaging kids’ time in school so that we can deliver back to them a stable society that can provide school. As we triage in this way, we also need to recognize that, in the language of just-war theory, fighting justly requires protecting the innocent and vulnerable, civilians and non-combatants.

Now, too, as in a defensive war, the goal is to defeat the adversary with minimal loss of life and minimal damage to the material supports of a healthy economy and society. The fight must be waged with a view to laying a foundation for a transition back to a peacetime setting and fully renewed political and social institutions. In other words, the goal is not to defeat the adversary at any cost but to preserve society, including preserving it as the kind of society it is.

In the case of the United States, this means that efforts must always have in view not only protecting American lives but also American constitutional democracy and its cultural supports, including sturdy standards for ethical action and robust commitments to justice. Protecting the vulnerable is one of the first requirements of fighting a war justly.

In addition to accepting the rigorous demands of aggressive social distancing, then, we need to invest publicly and privately in the re-composition of the economy in support of the effort to fight the virus; we need to invest in sustaining output in the economy; we need to find alternative ways of educating homebound children, including through the mail, as well as digitally; we need to find ways of feeding children who received their nourishment at school; we need to secure mail-in and absentee ballots for comprehensive use over the next 12 months; we need to ensure that states use their quarantine authorities in ways that align with the requirements of civil liberties; and we need to include incarcerated, homeless, nursing home and undocumented populations in our efforts to protect the vulnerable. The effort to control the spread of the virus will have to be a whole-society undertaking.

My colleagues and I offer more detail on each of these choices in the white paper we published today, “Securing Justice, Health and Democracy against the COVID-19 Threat.” (41 p, https://ethics.harvard.edu/justice-health-white-paper)

Insofar as questions about how to balance one set of costs against another depend on the existence of a functioning society, our first effort — over the next six weeks — should be to focus simply on saving that functioning society while protecting the most vulnerable as we do. If we work hard enough and fast enough, as if in response to a surprise attack, we ought to then be able to revisit our first-round choices and decisions — and again six weeks thereafter and so on. As we walk through that process, we will also learn more about this specific adversary, what it means to fight it and also what it will mean to live with it in an ongoing way once it is under control.

We can hope for effective anti-viral therapies and a vaccine and invest in their production, but we have to plan for a world without those. That means engaging now in a sustained process of societal triage as we put ourselves on the equivalent of a war-time footing.


Edited: Mar 21, 10:30am Top

>24 margd: America needs to be on a war footing

No, it doesn't. That's as misguided as the "war on drugs" and all the other uses of militaristic language to describe dealing with things which are not wars. It needs to be on a practical, attitudinal, medical, political, social, economic, scientific (etc) footing, not a war footing.

Mar 21, 1:31pm Top

We certainly don't need to be bailing out cruise ship lines and the airline industry or fracking concerns. No one is going to be flying off or sailing on vacations for a long while. But money does need to go into the public sphere and things like foreclosures and evictions have to stop. All people are going to need a safe place--access to medical help and food regardless of whether they have the means to pay for it. What can't be paid for should be provided free. The more people on the loose without help the longer this virus is going to have the fuel to keep on going or at least until there's a vaccine and whenever that arrives all people are going to need access to that too.

Mar 21, 1:52pm Top

One trillion a day to the banks... to boost credit? Kill 'em, or if you can't immediately, indebt them.


Mar 21, 1:57pm Top

Oh if only the cruise ship business would die. Oh, if only.

Mar 21, 2:22pm Top

>26 johnthefireman: Two million dead is more than we lost in 911 and the wars since.
It compares percentage-wise to major wars: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_military_casualties_of_war
Coverage of the carnage would be as unavoidable as Viet Nam and 911. We will all know people who succumbed.
The economy, culture, government would take hits that will affect our kids for the rest of their lives--maybe in a good way, mostly not?
We might not like the term "war", but it certainly connotes the threat and the level of effort needed to confront COVID-19, e.g.,

The Battle of the Atlantic: How the Allies Won the War by Jonathan Dimbleby:
1. US lend-lease program
= commandeering manufacturing and merchant ships for medical equipment, research on meds and vaccines

2. the Atlantic campaign: Allies’ eventual victory over the U-boats, lifeline to UK
= targeted support for people and infrastructure (not all, but essentials)

3. the Red Army’s desperate defense of the Motherland in 1941 and 1942
= Chinese efforts, though we didn't exactly take advantage of the warning given

4. the Western Allies’ Mediterranean campaigns in 1942 and 1943, and the growing British and U.S. Combined Strategic Bombing campaign
= vaccination program


Edited: Mar 22, 12:46am Top

>30 margd:

It's not about statistics or scale, nor about the amount of effort that should be put into dealing with the virus, it's about the focus on violence and war. Coronavirus is a virus, not a war. But we live in a world where so much language and culture is militarised that I don't really expect anything different.

Mar 21, 6:52pm Top

I don't know who compiled this originally, so, credit to the Unknown Internaut...

WhenThisIsOver, how can we make the orange criminal pay?

February 10: Trump says without evidence that the coronavirus “dies with the hotter weather”

February 24: Trump baselessly claims the situation is “under control”

February 25: A senior White House official falsely claims the virus has been “contained”

February 25: Trump falsely claims Ebola mortality was “a virtual 100%”

February 25: Trump falsely claims “nobody had ever even heard of Ebola” in 2014

February 26: Trump wrongly says the coronavirus “is a flu”

February 26: Trump baselessly predicts the number of US cases is “going very substantially down” to “close to zero”

February 26: Trump wrongly says the flu death rate is “much higher” than Dr. Sanjay Gupta said

February 27: Trump baselessly hints at a “miracle”

February 28: Trump baselessly hints at an immigration link to the virus

February 29: Trump exaggerates Tim Cook’s comments about Apple and China

March 1: Azar wrongly says 3,600 people have been tested

March 2: Trump falsely claims “nobody knew” the number of US flu deaths

March 2: Trump says a vaccine is coming “relatively soon”

March 4: Trump falsely claims Obama impeded testing

March 4: Trump wrongly says as many as 100,000 people died of the flu in 1990

March 4: Trump says “the borders are automatically shut down”

March 4: Trump says he believes there was a coronavirus death in New York, though there hadn’t been one

March 4: Trump falsely claims the Obama administration “didn’t do anything” about H1N1

March 5: Trump misleadingly describes a Gallup poll relating to his handling of the virus

March 5: Trump wrongly claims the virus only hit the US “three weeks ago”

March 6: Azar wrongly claims there is no test shortage

March 6: As the number of cases and deaths in Italy rises, Trump says the number is “getting much better”

March 6: Trump falsely claims anybody can get tested if they want

March 6: Trump exaggerates the number of people on the Grand Princess cruise ship

March 6: Trump falsely says US coronavirus numbers “are lower than just about anybody”

March 6: Trump baselessly muses that “maybe” the coronavirus improved US jobs numbers

March 9: Pence says Trump’s “priority” was getting Americans off the ship

March 13: "I take no responsibility."

Mar 21, 8:48pm Top

#32--This post needs to be made into a poster and put on the wall of every home in the United States.

Edited: Mar 21, 9:09pm Top

And another list.

Jan 22: "We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China. It’s going to be just fine."

Feb 2: "We pretty much shut it down coming in from China."

Feb 12: "You know in April, supposedly [the virus] dies with the hotter weather."

Feb 24: "The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA ,,, Stock Market starting to look very good to me!"

Feb 25: "CDC and my Administration are doing a GREAT job of handling Coronavirus."

Feb 25: "I think that's a problem that’s going to go away ... They have studied it. They know very much. In fact, we’re very close to a vaccine."

Feb 26: "The 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero." [There were 53 US cases of COVID-19 on Feb 26]

Feb 26: "We're going very substantially down, not up."

Feb 27: "One day it’s like a miracle, it will disappear."

Feb 28: "We're ordering a lot of supplies. We're ordering a lot of, uh, elements that frankly we wouldn't be ordering unless it was something like this. But we're ordering a lot of different elements of medical."

Feb 28: "This is their new hoax."

Feb 28: "We're totally prepared."

Mar 2: "You take a solid flu vaccine, you don't think that could have an impact, or much of an impact, on corona?"

Mar 2: "A lot of things are happening, a lot of very exciting things are happening and they’re happening very rapidly."

Mar 4: "If we have thousands or hundreds of thousands of people that get better just by, you know, sitting around and even going to work — some of them go to work, but they get better."

Mar 5: "I NEVER said people that are feeling sick should go to work. "

Mar 5: "The United States ... has, as of now, only 129 cases ... and 11 deaths. We are working very hard to keep these numbers as low as possible!"

Mar 6: "I think we’re doing a really good job in this country at keeping it down… a tremendous job at keeping it down."

Mar 6: "Anybody right now, and yesterday, anybody that needs a test gets a test. They’re there. And the tests are beautiful ... the tests are all perfect like the letter was perfect. The transcription was perfect. Right? This was not as perfect as that but pretty good."

Mar 6: "I like this stuff. I really get it. People are surprised that I understand it ... Every one of these doctors said, ‘How do you know so much about this?’ Maybe I have a natural ability. Maybe I should have done that instead of running for president."

Mar 6: "I don't need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasn't our fault."

Mar 6: "I didn’t know people died from the flu." [his own grandfather died from the flu]

Mar 8: "We have a perfectly coordinated and fine tuned plan at the White House for our attack on CoronaVirus."

Mar 9: "This blindsided the world."

Mar 13: "National emergency, two big words."

Mar 15: "It's a very contagious virus, it's incredible, but it's something we have tremendous control of."

Mar 16: "We've done a fantastic job from just about any standpoint."

Mar 16: "We have a problem that, a month ago, nobody ever thought about." [about two months after he was first briefed on the epidemic]

Mar 16: "I've been very strongly tested."

Mar 17: "I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic."

Mar 20: [What do you say to Americans who are scared?] "I say that you're a terrible reporter, that's what I say. I think that’s a very nasty question."

Mar 20: "I’ve been right a lot"

Mar 20: [When will everyone who needs a coronavirus test be able to get a test?] "No-one is talking about this except you, which doesn’t surprise me."

Combining them would make one very long poster.

Edited: Mar 22, 3:08am Top

Lay off those war metaphors, world leaders. You could be the next casualty (Guardian)

The language of the battlefield is woefully out of place in a global pandemic and does nothing but breed fear...

It is always dangerous when facing a crisis to invoke war as an analogy. War is chaos. War, as Thomas Hobbes and those with personal experience know, is limitless death and destruction. By definition, it comprises uncontrollable, random events occurring in a vacuum when the laws and conventions that bind people and societies in peacetime no longer apply.

Politicians, scientific experts and commentators who now routinely resort to wartime metaphors, images and language to describe the battle against Covid-19 do so at their peril. And yet few heed the danger. “We are at war,” the French president, Emmanuel Macron, declared repeatedly in a national address last week – ignoring the fact that any talk of war is inherently scary.

Donald Trump, who dodged the Vietnam draft, now pretentiously calls himself a “wartime president”. Boris Johnson, another man who never wore uniform, suggests the country is fighting a second Battle of Britain. Cringeworthy newspaper headlines summon up the “blitz spirit”, recycling 1940’s propaganda.

In some key respects, a war and a pandemic do pose similar challenges and require similar responses. In Albert Camus’s 1947 novel, La Peste (The Plague), the initially unbelievable spread of a lethal disease in a small town serves as an allegory for human suffering in the fascist era. “We find it hard to believe in a pestilence when it descends upon us,” he wrote. Camus continued: “There have been as many plagues in the world as there have been wars, yet plagues and wars always find people equally unprepared. When war breaks out, people say: ‘It won’t last long, it’s too stupid.’ And war is certainly too stupid, but that doesn’t prevent it from lasting. Stupidity always carries doggedly on.”

War is not only stupid. It is by its nature divisive. And divisions spawned by Covid-19 are everywhere: in last week’s ugly blame game between the US and China; in the closing of Europe’s and America’s borders to “foreigners”; in the failure, as Gordon Brown says, of the international community to join forces effectively.

The language of war divides communities. For each volunteer supplying food to the elderly, there are legions of panicked shoppers stripping supermarkets in a particularly stupid bid to pre-empt “wartime” rationing. In rural France, signs warn fleeing Parisians to go elsewhere – a disturbing echo of actual events during the Nazi occupation.

The familiar, often unjustified democratic compromises that accompany real wars are already evident in the fight against Covid-19. Governments around the world assumed emergency powers last week, limiting human rights such as freedom of movement and in some cases, freedom of speech. From Peru to Italy, troops took to the streets.

Claiming to be bolstering safety yet feeding fear, politicians cite a vast threat from an “invisible enemy”. As in an actual war, they deem collateral damage to be unfortunate but inevitable...

As in past global conflicts, rivalrous allies are competing for postwar advantage. Western critics accuse China of trying to weaponise apparently successful suppression policies in Hubei to showcase the advantages of centralised, authoritarian governance over less organised democratic models.

Europe and Trump’s America are at odds on several fronts. Winning the battle with the virus is important. But for some, winning the wider geopolitical and moral argument may be more so...

When countries take up arms, an abiding question for those required to make sacrifices concerns the sort of society they want when it’s all over. The war of Covid-19 has already produced some startling shifts, such as increased political and business support for universal basic income, state controls and environmentally friendly home working.

Radical social upheaval may be the welcome price of eventual victory. It’s often said, after a major conflict, that things will never be the same again. Nor should they be. Historically, war often leads to revolution. Armchair generals Trump and Johnson please note.

Mar 22, 1:33am Top

>9 margd: Insider trading, contd.

NEW: Turns out GOP Senator Kelly Loeffler's HUSBAND - the CEO of the NYSE - *ALSO* sold $3.5 million worth of shares just before they plummeted 25%. I'm sure this is all a coincidence though and had nothing to do with his wife's Senate briefings.
- Brian Tyler Cohen @briantylercohen | 8:19 PM · Mar 21, 2020


NYSE boss sold his own stock ahead of coronavirus market meltdown
Jeffrey Sprecher sold $19 million in shares of Intercontinental Exchange, which owns the "Big Board," in February and March.
Stephen Gandel | March 20, 2020

The CEO of the Intercontinental Exchange, which owns the New York Stock Exchange, sold millions of dollars worth of the parent company's shares in late February just days before the first reported death from the novel coronavirus in the U.S. The transaction also came as financial markets were starting to tumble as the devastating economic impact of the outbreak was becoming clear.

Jeffrey Sprecher, who is the husband of Republican U.S. Senator Kelly Loeffler of Georgia, on February 26 sold $3.5 million in shares of ICE, as the exchange is called, at an average price of $93.42 each, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Since then, ICE shares have plunged nearly 25% amid a broader downdraft in stocks.

Sprecher and Loeffler also sold $15.3 million worth of ICE shares on March 11, at an average price of around $87...


Edited: Mar 22, 1:53am Top

>32 LolaWalser: >34 Taphophile13: contd.

Every American should see this ad.
(1:22 https://twitter.com/Politidope/status/1241077097080197121 )

- Matt Rogers @Politidope | 3:00 PM · Mar 20, 2020

Edited: Mar 22, 8:10am Top

>35 johnthefireman: Okay, fine.

(Our teaching hospital, anticipating the deluge and having already reached out to industry, is appealing to the public to drop off any personal protection equipment or sanitizers laying around the house that might be spared. I pulled together a pitiful little collection that I'll drop off this week, and I plan to make some masks in case any illness in our family. Reminds me of going without nylon stockings and rolling bandages in wars past...)

Mar 22, 7:13am Top

#35--thanks to Trump there are people like for instance my older brother who still think this pandemic is a bunch of bullshit. He listened to 2/3 months of Donald's and Limbaugh's and Hannity's garbage and now that's what he thinks. So he is a 63 year old financial advisor (not a rich one mind you) who had a major bloodclot issue last year and more often than not sleeps in his chair at night because he has breathing issues quite often when he tries to sleep in a bed. He was complaining to me the other day that 'one person dies in Pennsylvania and they shut down the whole state. They're destroying the markets'. I know this is partly his investors complaining to him about their portfolios getting killed but anyway I don't see him taking a whole lot of precaution. We almost agree on nothing politically but I don't want to see him dead and IMO he will die if he gets this shit. My other brother probably will die too---he's a two time cancer survivor.

So I get what you're saying about terminology but in some cases whatever works works and if that kind of language is what it takes to get someone's attention then you do what you have to do.

Edited: Mar 22, 7:34am Top

I also think it's a matter of time before what's happening in Italy starts to happen in NYC. They're getting overwhelmed and they're going to start looking at medical histories and cut off ages of who to treat at which point people are going to die in much greater numbers.

Edited: Mar 22, 11:23am Top

>39 lriley: whatever works works

Indeed, such militaristic hyperbole might encourage someone with their head in the sand to take the virus seriously. On the other hand, it already has (not "might") encouraged division, discord, xenophobia and violence, none of which are helpful to dealing with the pandemic. It is not the sort of language we should be hearing from our leaders.

Edited to add: I suppose my point is that if it were a neutral action which caused no harm, then "whatever works works" might be acceptable, but not when it is something which causes harm in itself and is also detrimental to the wider issue of dealing with a pandemic, which is not the same as a war.

Mar 22, 11:41am Top

>34 Taphophile13:

Thanks. I feel there's even more--I have no stomach for following Trumpo personally but I see tidbits of his public bowel movements in what gets reported--and I recall his ugly twisty little chicken's ass mouth enunciating "Chayna virus--I call it Chayna virus" etc. That piece of atrocity has to be up there.

>37 margd:

Yep, excellent. Fitting memorial for that shit.

Mar 22, 12:01pm Top

>35 johnthefireman: "war" >42 LolaWalser: "Chayna virus"

In addition to the violence there are definitely some aspects of previous wars we don't want repeated, e.g. Japanese internment.
For example, as posted on bigots & bullies (China Virus),
immigration (DOJ's immigration courts open, but borders closed), and
norms (DOJ's appeal to Congress for flexibility on habeus corpus).

Mar 22, 1:44pm Top

#41--I don't look at this as fight against anybody per se. But I also don't appreciate all the efforts that Trump and his lackey chorus of buffoons sang for two/three months that it was all nonsense meant to drive him out of office. Like most everything else he turned the growing epidemic to something just all about himself and push buttoned the aggrievement of his mass of supporters and meanwhile he and his administration did nothing to prepare for the actual threat that was headed straight towards us. The least we should expect from a leader (even a corrupt one) is the ability to distinguish what is real from what is not.

So at least here in New York Andrew Cuomo is holding long press conferences it seems almost every day and he's talking to people as an adult to adults--not like we're all kindergartners. He's explaining what he's trying to do. He goes into detail--some of these are over an hour long. Shit he doesn't know he says he doesn't know. Shit he says no one knows yet he says no one knows yet. But he's also encouraging that we can come through this......that we are responsible for and interdependent on each other. It's better messaging than anything I'm hearing from almost any other politician.

So basically the only place I'm going to go to for the next several months or even more is the grocery store when I need to. In and out and no fucking around. That's it.

Edited: Mar 22, 3:59pm Top

Rand Paul voting against the coronavirus bailout, while awaiting test results uses the Senate swimming pool and gym, now found to be positive, is the most fucking libertarian thing to do ever.

Edited: Mar 22, 3:50pm Top

Speaking of Rand Paul who is supposed to be a real doctor. This is what Paul says to Neil Cavuto on his Fox News hour on March 2:

'While it is worldwide, I think there is room for optimism that this thing may plateau out in a few weeks and not be as bad as it may have been portrayed'

Meanwhile last week we have an article at the New River Valley News penned by Ron Paul (Rand's father and another supposed real doctor) under the headline 'The coronavirus hoax'.

I've always wondered if or how much that attack on Rand Paul by his neighbor a year or so ago (a real ass whupping) might have been provoked by Paul.

Paul also is adamantly against government run health care systems such as an M4A would be but has no problem running up to Canada for elective surgery (like for his recent hernia)--meanwhile he demonizes the same back home as communism. Socialism is fine only when it benefits Rand. Mitch McConnell isn't the only shitbird Senator from the state of Kentucky.

Mar 22, 3:53pm Top

>45 theoria:

Should be a crime.

The arrogant prick knows that if the worst comes to the worst, he can count on preferential treatment. Never mind if he pushes off the list some unfortunate whose existence is deemed less vital to the republic.

I hope this dogs him forever.

Edited: Mar 22, 4:00pm Top

>47 LolaWalser: >46 lriley: I've amended my comment. Still it is criminal.

Mar 22, 4:01pm Top

>48 theoria:

Oh, no question.

Are they filling in the pool? :)

Edited: Mar 22, 4:23pm Top

David Frum @davidfrum · 1h:
Trump illegally used money voted for Ukraine for his own unlawful purposes.
He was literally impeached for this high crime.
And now Trump's Treasury is asking to be entrusted with half a trillion dollars, at whim and in secret, no accounting until after the 2020 election?

Help to the corporate sector is absolutely warranted. The hospitality industry has been hit hard through no fault of its own. We're in this together!

But a president who has already paid himself millions should not get a dime more until he complies with Congress's subpoenas

And I'd argue that the bailout funds should not be run by the Treasury but
by an (independent) body headed by respected and experienced people not beholden to the president whose negligence laid the country so low.

Any rescue fund should be administered by an independent body, not by the Treasury Secretary of the most incompetent and corrupt administration in US history.

I'd nominate one of the front-line grunts from 2008 (Neal Kashkari?) + Senators Mitt Romney & Elizabeth Warren as the ideal commission to run a bailout of the corporate sector


Let’s not give Mnuchin a secret slush fund or even a regular slush fund.
- Justin Amash @justinamash | 2:55 PM · Mar 22, 2020


It shouldn’t be lost on anyone that Mnuchin as the final arbiter of loans to the struggling hotel industry - coupled with no need to disclose who gets the loans for six months - sets up ideal circumstances for Trump and his children to be bailed out by his own administration

- Tim O'Brien @TimOBrien2:10 PM · Mar 22, 2020

Mar 22, 5:06pm Top

Even the best coronavirus scenario is terrible
Mike Allen, Sam Baker | Mar 21, 2020

Sadly, the more we learn about the coronavirus pandemic, on both the medical and economic sides, the worse the best-case scenarios become.

Why it matters: Some readers tell us they think virus coverage has been overly dramatic. So we wanted to share with you the consensus of what the most clear-eyed, serious, optimistic people are saying, as a way to focus our minds.

Tens of thousands of Americans die, we have double-digit unemployment for months, countless businesses die, retirements are wiped out, and the nation is saddled with once unimaginable debt.

...A survey of epidemiology experts in academia, government and industry, posted by a scholar at UMass Amherst ...anticipates about 200,000 deaths in the U.S this year, but experts have established a range that stretches from as few as 19,000 deaths to as many as 1.2 million.

...Even under the optimist's scenario, the fallout for jobs and businesses will long outlast the medical calamity.

...The bottom line: The optimist's scenario has summer as the light at the end of the tunnel. But with every day and every new data point, the upside scenario gets dimmer — and more distant...


Edited: Mar 22, 6:28pm Top

Bill Barr's would be contribution to the crisis:


Basically arrest and detain without trial whoever they want for however long they want.

Mar 22, 7:19pm Top

New York Governor Cuomo has been really shining in the moment.


Something tells me he'll be cashing in that political capital before too long.

Edited: Mar 22, 7:39pm Top

Of course, this is the bit that I know that's coming. The dreaded knot in the stomach. The thing I don't want to think about.
The world economy barely survived 2008. It is unlikely to survive another such crisis with its present structures intact. We may ultimately see positive developments resulting from this years down the line, but...well, mind the gap.

Mar 22, 7:59pm Top

Rumors in Slovenia

1. Money set aside for virus: new government voted itself a raise
2. Expansion of government powers (I am looking into this for clarification--I never established a good source in Slovenia for investigative journalism, relying on friends...)

Mar 22, 8:48pm Top

>46 lriley:
” Paul also is adamantly against government run health care systems such as an M4A would be but has no problem running up to Canada for elective surgery (like for his recent hernia)--meanwhile he demonizes the same back home as communism. Socialism is fine only when it benefits Rand. Mitch McConnell isn't the only shitbird Senator from the state of Kentucky. ”

In what way was this socialism that benefitted Rand Paul? Senator Paul, very much a real doctor (M.D. from one of the top-rated medical schools in the U.S.), chose a world-renowned private medical provider in Canada for his hernia surgery. The facility is a for-profit business that only accepts credit cards, cash, or bank drafts. They won’t even bill an insurance company. Nothing socialist about it….which may be one reason its reputation for quality is world-renowned.

Twenty-five years ago, Dr. Rand Paul founded Southern Kentucky Lions Eye Clinic, an organization that provides eye exams and surgery to needy families and individuals. It’s been widely reported that he’s performed more than a hundred pro bono surgeries. His last election wasn’t even close. The people of Kentucky overwhelmingly preferred him, and it’s obvious they don’t consider him to be a shitbird.

Edited: Mar 22, 10:03pm Top

#53--Cuomo has been really good. He backed off Trump IMO because he knows he needs all the help he can get. There are a lot of lives on the line and he's doing what he can to help them.

#54--I think there is going to have to be some kind of across the board amnesty on debt when it's over.

Edited: Mar 23, 1:21am Top

U.S. Jobless Rate May Soar to 30%, Fed’s Bullard Says
St. Louis Fed chief calls for maximum support for economy
‘Everything is on the table’ for Fed to provide support


Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard predicted the U.S. unemployment rate may hit 30% in the second quarter because of shutdowns to combat the coronavirus, with an unprecedented 50% drop in gross domestic product.

Bullard called for a powerful fiscal response to replace the $2.5 trillion in lost income that quarter to ensure a strong eventual U.S. recovery, adding the Fed would be poised to do more to ensure markets function during a period of high volatility.

“Everything is on the table” for the Fed as far as additional lending programs, Bullard said in a telephone interview Sunday from St. Louis. “There is more that we can do if necessary” with existing emergency authority. “There is probably much more in the months ahead depending on where Congress wants to go.”

Massive Aid
Bullard’s grave assessment of the world’s largest economy underscores the critical need for Congress and the White House to quickly find agreement on a massive aid program. The Fed last week restarted financial crisis-era programs to help the commercial paper and money markets, after cutting interest rates to near zero and pledging to boost its holdings of Treasuries by at least $500 billion and of mortgage securities by at least $200 billion.

Mar 23, 1:25am Top

Nigeria Has Chloroquine Poisonings After Trump Praised Drug
I read somewhere that only in vitro studies had even been done up to this point. Can anyone confirm or refute that?

Edited: Mar 23, 2:27am Top

Most sobering thread I've seen. Fortunately the most pessimistic bits are not yet confirmed.

Francois Balloux

I should be qualified to comment on the covid-19 pandemic. I'm a computational/system biologist working on infectious diseases and have spent five years in a world class 'pandemic response modelling' unit. In this thread, I will summarise what I believe I (don't) know. (1/12)
After having spent considerable time thinking how to mitigate and manage this pandemic, and analysing the available data. I failed to identify the best course of action. Even worse, I'm not sure there is such a thing as an acceptable solution to the problem we are facing. (2/12)
I believe that the covid-19 pandemic is the most serious global public health threat humanity faced since the 1918/19 influenza pandemic. There are major differences between the two events but I suspect there will also be similarities that may emerge once we look back. (3/12)
The most plausible scenario to me is for the covid-19 pandemic to wane in the late spring (in the Northern hemisphere), and come back as a second wave in the winter, which I expect could be even worse than what we're facing now. Pic below is what happened in 1918/19. (4/12)
Predictions from any model are only as good as the data that parametrised it. There are two major unknowns at this stage. (1) We don't know to what extent covid-19 transmission will be seasonal. (2) We don’t know if covid-19 infection induces long-lasting immunity.
Seasonality is difficult to predict without time-series. Comparison between regions for the covid-19 pandemic suggests some seasonality, but likely less than for influenza. This would be roughly in line with other Coronaviridae (common cold and MERS).
How long immunity lasts for following covid-19 infection is the biggest unknown. Comparison with other Coronaviridae suggests it may be relatively short-lived (i.e. months). If this were to be confirmed, it would add to the challenge of managing the pandemic.
Short-lived immunisation would defeat both ‘flattening the curve’ and ‘herd immunity’ approaches. Devising an effective strategy would be even more challenging under low seasonal forcing. It would also considerably complicate effective vaccination campaigns. (8/12)
The covid-19 pandemic is an extremely challenging problem and there are still many unknowns. There is no simple fix, and poorly thought-out interventions could make the situation even worse, massively so.
The covid-19 pandemic is not just an epidemiological problem. It is a ‘Global Health’ problem, that can only be tackled with an integrated and global approach. For example, there is no such thing as a choice between managing the pandemic vs. protecting the economy.
Health and the economy are closely linked. The correlation between per-capita GDP and health (life expectancy) is essentially perfect. If the covid-19 pandemic leads to a global economy collapse, many more lives will be lost than covid-19 would ever be able to claim. (12/12)

Mar 23, 2:26am Top

Denmark’s Idea Could Help the World Avoid a Great Depression
Derek Thompson | March 21, 2020

“We are freezing the economy.”

...(Flemming Larsen, a professor at the Center for Labor Market Research at Denmark’s Aalborg University): Denmark’s government agreed to cover the cost of employees’ salaries at private companies as long as those companies do not fire people. If a company makes a notice saying that it has to either lay off 30 percent of their workers or fire at least 50 people, the state has agreed to take on 75 percent of workers’ salaries, up to $3,288 per month. (This would preserve the income for all employees earning up to $52,400 per year.)

The philosophy here is that the government wants companies to preserve their relationship with their workers. It’s going to be harder to have a strong recovery if companies have to spend time hiring back workers that have been fired. The plan will last for three months, after which point they hope things come back to normal.

Thompson: So the government is offering to pick up the tab for workers whose employment is threatened by the downturn. Couldn’t companies easily defraud the government and collect the money anyway?

Larsen: Maybe, but the workers compensated are not allowed to work in the period. Workers staying with the company do not receive the 75 percent compensation.

Thompson: Some American economists say the U.S. should copy Germany’s work-sharing plan, Kurzarbeit, in which workers’ hours are reduced and then the government takes on part of workers’ salaries. Is Denmark’s plan like that?

Larsen: Not exactly. In the German plan, the government and the employer share the cost of paying for work. Here, the government is paying companies for employees who are going home and not working. These workers are being paid a wage to do nothing. The government is saying: Lots of people are suddenly in danger of being fired. But if we have firing rounds, it will be very difficult to adapt later. This way, the company maintains their workforce under the crisis and people maintain their salaries. You are compensating people even though they have to go home.

Thompson: I think I understand you, and I’m going to try to summarize, but tell me if this summary is wrong: Denmark is putting the economy into the freezer for three months. You’re saying: We know that all these people won’t be able to work for the next few months. It’s inevitable. Rather than do rounds of firing followed by rounds of hiring, which will delay the recovery, let’s throw the whole economy into a deep freezer, and when the virus winds down we can thaw it out and almost everybody will still be with the company they worked for in January.

Larsen: That’s exactly it. We are freezing the economy. Because otherwise the government is afraid of the long-term damage that this will do to the entire system. The hope is that this will be over in three or four months, and then we can start up society again.

Thompson: What else is Denmark’s government proposing?

Larsen: There are a few things. To prevent the financial sector from shutting down, the state will guarantee 70 percent of new bank loans to companies. This will encourage more lending even in the case of more bankruptcies.

Also, people on unemployment benefits are put on pause. Typically, people have to go to meetings at job centers and make a certain number of job applications to receive jobless benefits. There are a lot of rules. But those rules are suspended for now. There are no requirements. The other part of the pause is that, while you can only be on unemployment benefits for two years in Denmark, people who pass that threshold will still receive benefits. Again, we are freezing everything.

Also, the state agreed to compensate companies for their fixed expenses, like rent and contract obligations, depending on their level of income loss. If they typically sell $1 million in a period, but now they can only sell $100,000, they lose 90 percent of their income. That will qualify them to receive large government help to cover fixed expenses.

Also, the spring payment of taxes for companies have been postponed until autumn, and all public employees will keep their salaries when sent home.

Thompson: This sounds incredibly bold and incredibly expensive. How much does the government expect this is going to cost?

Larsen: The cost is 287 billon DKK. (Over email, we worked out that this is the equivalent of approximately 13 percent of the country’s GDP. In the U.S., that would be about $2.5 trillion)...


Edited: Mar 23, 2:42am Top

The argument for sacrificing the elderly to save the economy is difficult to read if one has vital, active 80-ish friends--or younger ones diminished by chemo, say--threatened by this virus. Especially since it is the global economy that brings it to their doorsteps.

The conservatives who would sacrifice the elderly to save the economy
Noah Millman | March 17, 2020

...There's a strain of argument being voiced in certain quarters...that...rather than limit the virus's spread, we should effectively encourage it — at least among the young and healthy — and focus on isolating the most vulnerable. Once the disease has spread very widely, "herd immunity" will inhibit transmission and prevent future outbreaks. Meanwhile, we shouldn't shut down our economies, but focus on keeping them up and running as fully as possible. Some people may die, but lots of people die from car accidents, and we don't shut the roads — and lots of people will die from the costs of an economic contraction as well.

This is the philosophy that underpins the U.K.'s initial response to the crisis, and for which it has come in for an avalanche of criticism. The reason is that the risks of failure are enormous, a fact that the government is belatedly acknowledging. It is far from easy to comprehensively isolate the most vulnerable populations — which include everyone over 70 at a minimum — for the length of time it would take for the disease to pass through 60-70 percent of the population, at which point herd immunity would kick in. And if isolation fails, then the death rate could spike massively. Meanwhile, it's not even possible to identify perfectly who the most vulnerable are. In France, it was reported Saturday, 50 percent of the cases in ICUs were under 60 years old. Even if the prospects of recovery are much better for that group than for older patients, that prospect dims considerably if the medical system is overwhelmed and can no longer provide adequate respiratory care. And that is certain to happen if the virus is allowed to spread uncontrolled through the population.

On a coldly economic level, though, one might still ask: so what? Let’s take the U.K. as an example, since they are the most prominent proponents of the “herd immunity” strategy. Say that nothing is done to halt the spread and attempts to isolate vulnerable populations like the elderly fail. The over-70 crowd is literally decimated by the virus: One in ten of the infected die. Say that for adults under 70, by contrast, the death rate is half a percent. By the time 60 percent of the population is infected, that would mean approximately 600,000 deaths across the U.K. That sounds awful — but given the concentration of casualties among the elderly, the excess death rate would surely be lower, as over 450,000 Britons over the age of 70 already die annually, and those most-likely to be felled by the virus are also those most likely to die of other causes. And these are hardly the economy's most productive citizens; the economic impact of them dying earlier might even be positive. Moreover, if the elderly were simply denied medical intervention for any reason and limited to the simplest forms of palliative care during the duration of the crisis, we could probably keep the medical system from being overwhelmed and provide adequate care for those capable of returning to productive work.

I hope nobody would be comfortable making an argument like that explicitly. But it lurks in the background of the all-purpose dismissiveness voiced by the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity about the seriousness of the virus (who are following the President’s lead in doing so), or in pieces like this one by Heather Macdonald at the conservative cultural journal The New Criterion. It is implicit more generally in any purely economic read on the crisis. The fact is that only a portion of modern health care is aimed at enhancing productivity; much of it aims at improving and lengthening the lives of those whose most productive years are largely behind them. If you don't have any non-economic reason for valuing those lives — like the value of their presence in the world to children, grandchildren, neighbors, and friends, or simply the inherent dignity of being human — then it is hard to argue for spending scarce resources on them in normal times, much less in times of crisis.

Of course, there is a point where lifeboat ethics come into play. Where resources are acutely scarce, triage becomes necessary. You treat those who are in acute need and with good prospects for recovery first; those with less acute need have to wait, and those with poorer prospects likely die. That's the position that Italy's doctors are in right now.

But a big part of what makes us civilized is that we seek not to live that way. We don't want doctors to have to decide minute to minute who is worth saving based on their potential value, and we don't want to tell our parents and grandparents that their potential value is too low for them to be worth saving. In that sense, the escalating scale of restrictions isn't just about saving lives, but about trying to preserve that sense of civilization, to preserve our ability to look at ourselves and say: We don't just let people die by the tens of thousands because saving them would be too expensive and inconvenient.

Of course, not everyone on the right has been blithe; Tucker Carlson deserves particular credit for pushing back against the dismissiveness of his colleagues. And there's been plenty of clueless incompetence on the left, with New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio earning particular opprobrium. But there’s something particularly odious about supposed conservatives mocking authorities, public and private, that are taking prudent action against a novel threat...


Edited: Mar 23, 2:56am Top

Logistical dislocations.

Interestingly enough, one unobtainable item from U.S. home appliance retailers: chest freezers. Everybody seems to be backordered until the summer.

Edited: Mar 23, 3:27am Top

>52 lriley:

Barr's proposal is not being well received. He has managed to unite AOC and Mike Lee (R-UT) in opposition.


Mar 23, 6:56am Top

>34 Taphophile13:

You cite Trump as follows, with, in succession, these two remarks:

Mar 4: "If we have thousands or hundreds of thousands of people that get better just by, you know, sitting around and even going to work — some of them go to work, but they get better."

Mar 5: "I NEVER said people that are feeling sick should go to work."

as though the first statement is a contradiction of the second.

It is not. Trump has said nothing of the kind, "People feeling sick should go to work," and to imply that he has--as you do here--is typical of pseudo-liberal Trump-haters' "standard operating procedure" : bullshit calumny.

Mar 23, 7:03am Top

This thread is more of the stuff that is now nauseatingly typical of "discussion" at this site where anything of a political nature is concerned.

Dreary fucking bullshit; a waste of time.

Mar 23, 5:01pm Top

They imprisoned millions of innocents in their own homes without trial. Now they're taking advantage of the manufactured crisis to release actual malfeasants from the jails where they belong all around the world :


The plan all along? Or just a crime of opportunity?

Edited: Mar 23, 7:15pm Top

>68 Kuiperdolin: Better buy more guns just in case!

Mar 23, 10:43pm Top

The sad thing is that if social distancing works to limit the fatalities to something not to much worst than the flu then kuiperdolin will just see that as evidence that the pandemic was a hoax all along.

Edited: Mar 24, 12:49am Top

>68 Kuiperdolin:

The "actual malfeasants" were sentenced to limited periods of imprisonment, not to death due to overcrowding, poor access to medical services, and inability to protect themselves by social distancing and other measures.

'Everyone will be contaminated': prisons face strict coronavirus controls (Guardian)

New WHO guidelines are aimed at protecting one of the most vulnerable sectors of society from the spread of Covid-19... Prisons around the world can expect “huge mortality rates” from Covid-19 unless they take immediate action including screening for the disease, the World Health Organization has warned...

Mar 24, 4:28am Top

Keeping in mind that the staff in prisons are in danger because of overcrowding too.That at least the guards are considered essential to maintaining order within the prison and that they can bring the disease back home with them when their shifts are done---so why keep non-violent/non-dangerous people locked up or even someone whose time is nearly up? It only increases the risk for everyone.

Mar 24, 5:37am Top

COVID-19 Threatens South Sudan’s At-Risk Populations (Human Rights Watch)

South Sudan has issued measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, notably a ban on inbound and outbound flights, self-paid mandatory quarantines, and a ban on mass gatherings. While important, these measures do not address the complex reality in South Sudan, a country with limited health services struggling to emerge from six years of civil war and with many population groups at heightened risk – including displaced people and prisoners.

More than 1.5 million people remain internally displaced as a result of conflict, including close to 200,000 living in cramped United Nations Protection of Civilians’ sites across the country. Thousands who fled recent intercommunal fighting are already in dire need of aid, including sanitation and medical care. Meanwhile, South Sudan’s prisons and its National Security Service (NSS) detention sites continue to be overcrowded, unsanitary, and with inadequate medical care.

These are not contexts in which social isolation alone can be reasonably counted on to limit the spread of the virus...

Edited: Mar 25, 5:14am Top

Trump's critics look on in wonder as their constant barrage of unhinged attacks on Trump are met with plain indifference by those who don't share their manic obsessions with denigrating Trump. They're stumped and mystified at the failure of their tirades to turn the remaining part of the observing world against their arch-villain.

The answer, of course, is obvious to everyone except these anti-Trump maniacs: they have ZERO CREDIBILITY. Their every claim has been discounted as just so much more of their tiresome, monotonous bullshit. So, even if they came up with valid criticisms, few to none would give a damn. The anti-Trump crusade is already a long lost cause.


by Dominick Mastrangelo
| March 22, 2020 02:17 PM

(from Washington Examiner)

A Washington Post reporter has apologized for and deleted a tweet in which she falsely claimed President Trump called the coronavirus a "hoax" during a recent campaign rally.

"My apologies for quoting the president out of context," said Amber Phillips, a reporter for the Post's "The Fix" political blogging team. "As The Washington Post’s Fact Checker makes clear, he called Democrats politicizing coronavirus a hoax. I have deleted the incorrect tweet."

My apologies for quoting the president out of context. As The Washington Post’s Fact Checker makes clear, he called Democrats politicizing coronavirus a hoax. I have deleted the incorrect tweet. https://t.co/R38kPEdBG3
— Amber Phillips (@byamberphillips) March 21, 2020

Mar 24, 9:13am Top

>66 proximity1: Bravo! If more of you would heed #66, fewer of you would have to stomach >74 proximity1:. Now, come on people: this is a human crisis and you're using it to discuss politics. I mean, if ever there was a time for people to cast their values aside and run about in non-rational ellipsoids, that time is now!
ETA: shame!

Edited: Mar 24, 10:48am Top

David Frum @davidfrum | 10:42 AM · Mar 24, 2020:

Where we seem to be headed.
1) Trump urges return to work.
2) Some states refuse. Interstate barriers rise.
3) Some states accede. Social distancing degrades.
4) Death toll passes 50,000, keeps rising.
5) Trump panics, seeks extreme powers
6) Full national crisis.

Image ( https://twitter.com/davidfrum/status/1242461713859072003/photo/1 )


Susan Glasser @sbg1 | 10:21 AM · Mar 24, 2020:

If Trump is going to send everybody back to work in the middle of a pandemic, then why does he need a $2 trillion bailout bill?
Is it still a war, or no big deal?

Edited: Mar 24, 12:32pm Top


My new favourite thing is Italian mayors and regional presidents LOSING IT at people violating quarantine.
Here's an (English) subtitled compilation e.g.,
"I hear you wanna throw graduation parties. I'm gonna send the police over. With flamethrowers."
#Covid19 #coronavirus
1:11 ( https://twitter.com/protectheflames/status/1241696164782669824 )
- @protectheflames | 12:38 PM · Mar 21, 2020

You asked for more Italian Mayors losing their shit at people breaking quarantine. I'm delivering. Here's two more mayors.
"Something else that drove me crazy is people secretly going to the beauty parlour. You will die all nicely waxed. But you will die." #Covid19
0:49 ( https://twitter.com/protectheflames/status/1242190140757458945 )
- @protectheflames | 4:43 PM · Mar 23, 2020


Well, this blew up. I don't have anything to advertise, but please consider donating to the Italian hospitals in this thread if you can.
The healthcare system is struggling and we need help. The deaths are piling up.
And please, everyone: stay safe.
- @protectheflames | 2:03 PM · Mar 22, 2020

Quote Tweet
eli@allysmaine · Mar 9
thread raccolte fondi per gli ospedali italiani #COVID19italia
Show this thread ( https://twitter.com/allysmaine/status/1237050776553390081 )

Can you please add this to your list of hospitals worth donating to? It’s a my local hospital, and
all the money goes DIRECTLY to our intensive care unit, not a single cent or penny is lost in bureaucracy
Image ( https://twitter.com/ArturoRomagna/status/1241867047430209539/photo/1 )
- roMAGNA @ArturoRomagna | 7:19 PM · Mar 22, 202

Mar 24, 1:50pm Top

Judd Legum @JuddLegum | 8:05 AM · Mar 24, 2020:
( https://twitter.com/JuddLegum/status/1242422188701102081 )
1. Amazon, owned by the richest man in the world, is soliciting PUBLIC DONATIONS to pay sick leave for contract drivers who contract COVID-19
This is not a joke

2. Amazon has one of the worst policies for workers who contract COVID-19. Requires a positive test or a formal quarantine order to get paid.
But contractors have it even worse. They have to apply for a "grant" from the Amazon Relief Fund.

3. Amazon gave $25 million to the Amazon Relief Fund and then solicited donations for more.
Apparently someone realized this looked bad so later they added language saying the "aren't expecting" anyone to donate...

Edited: Mar 24, 3:04pm Top

"The curtailing of individual freedom to live, move, and work may be a new experience for some of us—but is familiar to communities who have suffered from oppression for centuries. By necessity, they have developed ways of coping with fear and uncertainty on an individual and communal level."

Richard Rohr (link)

Mar 24, 3:44pm Top

Testing Blunders Crippled US Response as Coronavirus Spread
Associated Press | 23 March 2020

A series of missteps at the nation’s top public health agency caused a critical shortage of reliable laboratory tests for the coronavirus, hobbling the federal response as the pandemic spread across the country like wildfire.

...outside observers and federal health officials have pointed to four primary issues that together hampered the national response —
the early decision not to use the test adopted by the World Health Organization,
flaws with the more complex test developed by the CDC,
government guidelines restricting who could be tested and
delays in engaging the private sector to ramp up testing capacity...

...Only in the last few days has the United States finally begun testing more people each day than far smaller South Korea, according to data complied by Johns Hopkins University.

(Dr. Ashish K. Jha, the director of the Global Health Institute at Harvard) estimates the U.S. should be testing 100,000 to 150,000 people per day — figures he said should be obtainable given the number of high-quality diagnostic labs in the country.

“We certainly have the capacity. It’s just we’re not doing it,” Jha said Thursday. “We are up to about 40,000 tests per day now — and so we are moving in the right direction. Still far from where we need to be, but moving.”


Edited: Mar 24, 4:40pm Top

Edited: Mar 24, 5:36pm Top

Meanwhile...somehow (don't ask), I stumbled across this.

N95 plague doctor masks.

Apparently great minds think alike. Soon to be the latest in hipster fashion?

Mar 24, 6:37pm Top

The history of how the US became hostage to the rich is simply breathtaking:

The System: Who Rigged It, How We Fix It with Robert Reich

Mar 24, 10:14pm Top

China screwed up in the beginning, but later they got it right. The rest of the world should learn from their example.

Mar 25, 12:32am Top

'Coughing while Asian': living in fear as racism feeds off coronavirus panic (Guardian)

Racist incidents are increasing while Trump promotes racism by calling coronavirus ‘the Chinese virus’...

Mar 25, 2:25am Top

Probably not?

Can the Federal Government Override State Government Rules on Social Distancing to Promote the Economy?
Robert Chesney | March 24, 2020

1. The practical power of Trump’s advocacy
2. No, the president cannot simply order state and local officials to change their policies
3. But could the federal government override contrary state and local rules?
4. Could someone sue to strike down the shelter-in-place orders on “dormant commerce clause” grounds, because they so plainly disrupt interstate commerce?
5. Can the president instead achieve his goal by leveraging control over discretionary forms of financial and other aid?


Edited: Mar 25, 2:44am Top

I hope someone keeps a list of price-gougers and good guys, so that when this is over, we can shun and patronize, as appropriate.

COVID19 For-profit hospital group in bankruptcy offers a 6 mo. lease of its vacant hospital to Philadelphia for $400,000/month.
Philadelphia is the largest US city with no public hospital. Hahnemann University Hospital is owned by a private equity firm.

City officials slam Hahnemann owner over negotiations to reopen site
Kennedy Rose | Mar 24, 2020

...(Joel) Freedman is the founder and president of American Academic Health System, which owns Hahnemann and previously owned St. Christopher’s. AAHS also owns the Philadelphia Academic Health System....


- altEPA @altUSEPA | 6:20 PM · Mar 24, 2020

Mar 25, 2:41am Top

COVID-19: Many - but not all - pastors following the rules


Mar 25, 3:29am Top

Times of India
New Delhi: The resident doctors at India's premier hospital AIIMS on Tuesday sought the government's intervention saying their colleagues were facing eviction from their homes by their landlords . . .


Mar 25, 10:11am Top

>78 margd: 2. Amazon has one of the worst policies for workers who contract COVID-19. Requires a positive test or a formal quarantine order to get paid.

I don't know how long Amazons policy covers, but it's probably no worse than what my company is offering. We can get up to two weeks additional sick leave under the same conditions. On the up side for us, we're now getting an extra 10%/hour while this is going on and that 10% will be included in figuring our OT/Premium pay.

Mar 25, 2:44pm Top

Gangs in Brazil are imposing curfews in the favelas to help control the spread of COVID-19.


Mar 25, 3:40pm Top

A Presidential Succession Nightmare
Jack Goldsmith, Ben Miller-Gootnick | Wednesday, March 25, 2020

...Imagine, as it is easy to do, that President Trump and Vice President Pence die or are temporarily unable to discharge the powers and duties of the Office of the President due to infection by the coronavirus.

...Article II’s Succession Clause provides that in case of a president’s removal, death, resignation or incapacity, the office’s powers “shall devolve on the Vice President.” And if both the president and vice president cannot serve, “Congress may by Law . . . declare what Officer shall then act as President, and such Officer shall act accordingly until the Disability be removed, or a President shall be elected.” The clause does not define “Officer.”

...President Harry Truman believed that legislative leaders who enjoyed an electoral mandate, rather than Cabinet officers who did not, should be first in presidential succession. Truman urged this view on Congress. And his acting attorney general, Douglas McGregor, wrote a letter to the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee that concluded the proposal was constitutional because members of Congress were “Officers” under the Succession Clause. Congress subsequently enacted the Presidential Succession Act of 1947 (Presidential Succession Act of 1947, now codified at 3 U.S. Code § 19), which placed the speaker and the president pro tempore before Cabinet officers in the succession order.

...Akhil and Vikram Amar...argue that the term “Officers” is predominantly used in the Constitution to mean executive officials, that evidence from the Philadelphia Convention confirms this view, and that James Madison maintained that legislative succession was unconstitutional. They acknowledge that the textual case, “while forceful, is not a slam dunk,” since the Constitution twice uses “Officers” to refer to legislative officials. But this argument proves too much, they claim, since it would allow Congress to include state officials (also referred to in the Constitution as “Officers”) in the presidential line of succession...

...The only way to resolve the uncertainty about the constitutionality of legislative succession in advance of a crisis is to adopt the commission’s proposal to remove congressional leaders from the statutory line of succession—perhaps with a five-year delay before it becomes operative so that no one will know which party potentially benefits. (We are not saying that the Constitution compels this result. But this is the only way to ensure that a potentially debilitating fight about legislative succession does not occur.) It is very hard to imagine this happening in the current environment. But just as we will surely better prepare for the next pandemic after suffering through the current one, we should better prepare for a double vacancy atop the executive branch if we are lucky enough to dodge the bullet this time round.


Mar 25, 4:22pm Top

>32 LolaWalser: >34 Taphophile13:

Warnings Ignored: A Timeline of Trump’s COVID-19 Response
During the critical period between the outbreak in China and the landfall of coronavirus in America, Donald Trump was warned about our general vulnerabilities and the specific actions his administration needed to take to avoid the worst. This is the timeline of how he ignored them.
Tim Miller | March 25, 2020

...The prescient recommendations from experts across disciplines in the period before COVID-19 reached American shores—about testing, equipment, and distancing—make clear that more than any single factor, it was Trump’s squandering of out lead-time which should have been used to prepare for the pandemic that has exacerbated this crisis. Because of Trump’s inaction, the country was caught flat-footed, exacerbating a pandemic that is causing substantial death and economic destruction.

What follows is an annotated timeline revealing the warning signs the administration received and showing how slow the administration was to act on these recommendations.

The Early Years: Warnings Ignored...

2020: COVID-19 Arrives...


Edited: Mar 25, 7:08pm Top

Remembering what happened in 2008 and the magnitude of what's likely to come, I think now is an excellent time to check on the health of the financial institutions with which one does business and act accordingly.

For the US:

No immediate find for a comparable UK resource, but did find this:

Others are welcome to add.

Mar 25, 7:31pm Top

#93--no doubt this was going to get here but it's a lot worse because of our shitbird in chief.

Mar 26, 12:47am Top

Book sales surge as self-isolating readers stock up on ‘bucket list’ novels (Guardian)

Book sales have leapt across the country as readers find they have extra time on their hands, with bookshops reporting a significant increase in sales of longer novels and classic fiction...

Have to confess I've added a few titles to my Kindle in recent weeks...

Mar 26, 2:16am Top

Countries Starting to Hoard Food, Threatening Global Trade (Bloomberg)

It’s not just grocery shoppers who are hoarding pantry staples. Some governments are moving to secure domestic food supplies during the conoravirus pandemic. Kazakhstan, one of the world’s biggest shippers of wheat flour, banned exports of that product along with others, including carrots, sugar and potatoes. Vietnam temporarily suspended new rice export contracts. Serbia has stopped the flow of its sunflower oil and other goods, while Russia is leaving the door open to shipment bans and said it’s assessing the situation weekly. To be perfectly clear, there have been just a handful of moves and no sure signs that much more is on the horizon. Still, what’s been happening has raised a question: Is this the start of a wave of food nationalism that will further disrupt supply chains and trade flows?...

How will COVID-19 affect Africa’s food systems? (African Arguments)

Food supplies shouldn’t be too badly affected, but social restrictions will make it hard for many to buy and access food...

Edited: Mar 26, 8:28am Top

Hoping everyone will put in gardens as they can. The local farm supply store was closed though, where I usually buy my bulk seeds. Ace Hardware is still open though. Also, brushing up on the edible weeds for this time of year. Chickweed, dandelion, etc.

Mar 26, 9:05am Top

Bought seeds the other day! Victory garden, hey what?

Manu Raju (CNN) @mkraju | 11:31 PM · Mar 25, 2020
A Democratic aide said that the GOP had left out of a final draft a provision that would force the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve to publish weekly the names of the companies and others financed through the $500 billion loan program established in the legislation.

“Without this language, this information could have been kept secret from public,” the aide said.

Bill was delayed until the provision was added back in at Schumer’s request - and a new draft was sent around to Hill offices. The two sides had previously agreed to the language

A GOP source involved in the deliberations confirmed this characterization.

Source familiar says this was a drafting mistake, wasn’t an intentional omission since both sides had agreed to it. And this, of course, can happen when such a massive piece of legislation is being rushed through Congress

Mar 26, 10:01am Top

>99 margd: The last two sentences - Oh, RIGHT! Where's the sarcasm emoti when you need it?

Edited: Mar 26, 12:45pm Top

Trump continues to be a life-long con man and many people are
happy to fall prey to his cons. They prefer to believe that DJT,
and only DJT, cares about them. To him, however, what is
good for Trump and his brand is what is uppermost in his mind.
Some people have the knack of fooling a large number of people
most of the time. This is a bad omen for the November election.
And, it is a modern-day version of Germany before, and during,

Edited: Mar 26, 1:58pm Top

>101 Molly3028:


Good omen, good omen.

Or, as Joe Biden would say,

"Good Odin, Good Odin, good boy,! good boy! Fetch, Odin, fetch! Who's a good kitty? That's right, you are! Good doggie! Good doggie! Where am I? Who are you? Is it time for lunch yet?"


Only recently retracted by the bullshit reporter who was responsible for the canard that Trump had claimed that the Covid-19 outbreak was the work of Democrats as "their latest hoax", indicating that Trump's view was that the virus itself was a hoax, the demented fool Biden releases a current paid political ad embarrassing himself by re-stating implicitly this false accusation about Trump's intent.

Mar 26, 3:15pm Top

>100 2wonderY: Another oversight--totally innocent, of course. Tiny, itchy fingers would NEVER take advantage of a national tragedy, right?

Democrats delayed stimulus bill to insert tighter ban on Trump family profiting
ANITA KUMAR | 03/26/2020

...The updated language was meant to address a loophole in the original clause, which barred the bill's loans from going to businesses that were at least 20 percent owned by presidents or their children, spouses and in-laws.

But that wording would have still allowed the money to go to businesses that family members collectively — but not individually — owned at least a 20 percent stake of. That's the case with some of Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner's financial holdings, and lawmakers didn't want it to seem like Kushner's family was getting a carve-out.

So the two sides agreed to tweak the language to address the collective ownership issue.

Yet the tweak was somehow missing from the final bill. A Republican source familiar with the situation said it was an oversight and that both sides were fine with the updated language.

“To suggest it is anything other than a clerical error is wrong,” the person said.

The bill also was missing a second provision that Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) had pushed, indicating that the Treasury Department had to publish the companies receiving the loans every seven days...


Mar 27, 1:34am Top

Mar 27, 2:16am Top

SA lockdown: Minister Fikile Mbalula shuts down Gautrain and all commuter services (IOL)

Following President Ramaphosa’s announcement of a national lockdown in an effort to combat the scourge of the Covid-19 pandemic in South Africa, the Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula, has subsequently announced that all commuter rail services would shut down for the duration of the lockdown.

This includes all Metrorail and Gautrain services. In full compliance with this announcement by the Minister of Transport, Gautrain services (trains, buses, and midi-buses) would be suspended from midnight on Thursday, March 26...

Mar 27, 6:26am Top

As world struggles to stop deaths, far right celebrates COVID-19 (Al Jazeera)

But for many far-right hardliners, it's a crisis to be welcomed.

The hardest-core "accelerationists" - violent neo-Nazis who want civilisation to crumble, hope that COVID-19 will turn out to be their secret weapon...

A leader of the Nordic Resistance Movement (NRM), a neo-Nazi movement based in northern Europe, said that he welcomed the pandemic as a necessary step to help create the world that his group wants to see...

Other far-right groups see the pandemic as an opportunity to further push xenophobic, racist messages. In Germany, members of the neo-Nazi group Die Rechte (The Right) claimed that German borders should have been sealed off weeks ago to all "non-Europeans". Another German neo-Nazi group, Der Dritte Weg (The Third Way), said that the virus was being exploited by German leaders as a "diversionary tactic" to distract from an apparent oncoming "flood" of refugees and migrants from the Middle East. In Ukraine, a figure in the country's far-right Azov movement took to messaging app Telegram to claim that the spread of COVID-19 "generally isn't the fault of white people" and stated that ethnic minorities in Italy should alone be blamed for the spread of the virus there - where now more than 8,000 have died...

"Neo-Nazi accelerationist Telegram channels have increased their calls for destabilisation and violence related to COVID-19"... "These channels are treating the current situation … as an opportunity to try to increase tension and advocate for violence"...

Edited: Mar 27, 7:17am Top

Dan Rather
Everyone should read this and share it. What we’re seeing now was not only predictable, it was predicted.

Trump team failed to follow NSC’s pandemic playbook
The 69-page document, finished in 2016, provided a step by step list of priorities – which were then ignored by the administration.


Mar 27, 7:33am Top

Also on my reading list -- the Atlantic writeup.

Rudderless, blindsided, lethargic, and uncoordinated, America has mishandled the COVID-19 crisis to a substantially worse degree than what every health expert I’ve spoken with had feared. “Much worse,” said Ron Klain, who coordinated the U.S. response to the West African Ebola outbreak in 2014. “Beyond any expectations we had,” said Lauren Sauer, who works on disaster preparedness at Johns Hopkins Medicine. “As an American, I’m horrified,” said Seth Berkley, who heads Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. “The U.S. may end up with the worst outbreak in the industrialized world.”

Edited: Mar 27, 12:20pm Top

>108 davidgn:

Idiotic bullshit & plain drivel.

Dr. Deborah Birx: Coronavirus Data Doesn't Match The Doomsday Media Predictions| Posted By Ian Schwartz On Date March 26, 2020

( @ 00:01m:33s (as linked, above) ) :

..."Because the predictions in the model don't match the reality on the ground in either China, Korea or Italy." -- Dr. Deborah Birx

"Models are models," she said. "When people start talking about 20% of a population getting infected, it's very scary, but we don't have data that matches that based on our experience."

... ""There is no model right now -- no reality on the ground where we can see that 60% to 70% of Americans are going to get infected in the next eight to 12 weeks. I want to be clear about that."

DR. DEBORAH BIRX: I'm sure you have seen the recent report out of the U.K. about them adjusting completely their needs. This is really quite important. If you remember, that was the report that says there would be 500,000 deaths in the U.K. and 2.2 million deaths in the United States. They've adjusted that number in the U.K. to 20,000. Half a million to 20,000. We are looking at that in great detail to understand that adjustment.

I'm going to say something that is a little bit complicated but do it in a way we can understand it together. In the model, either you have to have a large group of people who a-asymptomatic, who never presented for any test to have the kind of numbers predicted. To get to 60 million people infected, you have to have a large group of a-symptomatics. We have not seen an attack rate over 1 in 1,000. So either we are measuring the iceberg and underneath it, are a large group of people. So we are working hard to get the antibody test and figure out who these people are and do they exist. Or we have the transmission completely wrong.

So these are the things we are looking at, because the predictions of the model don't match the reality on the ground in China, South Korea or Italy. We are five times the size of Italy. If we were Italy and did all those divisions, Italy should have close to 400,000 deaths. They are not close to achieving that. ...

... "the predictions in the model don't match the reality on the ground in either China, Korea or Italy." -- Dr. Deborah Birx

Unfortunately, about half of Americans, many of them, indeed, especially those supposedly well- or, at least, "highly educated" (i.e. they hold university degrees), are so fucking stupid that this mismatch won't trouble them any more than their damnably idiotic views of President Trump having never matched the reality on the ground has troubled them.

My own layman's hunch—and I ascribe no more to its validity than that: a layman's hunch— is that the Covid-19 strain(s) (or at least the greater part of them: we don't know what to expect as typical in the mutability of this strain) we face is greatly more virulent than heretofore thought. While, correspondingly, I suspect that the real mortality is, for the most part, greatly lower than either predicted or even now thought to be the case after recent revisions downward.

I would not be surprised if the virus has already infected (i.e. is present in) something between, on average, 40 and 65 percent of the U.S. population. That is, on the low end, 151 600 000 people (carrying the virus but not necessarily presenting any symptoms at all or only so mild as to be barely or entirely unaware that they carry it) and, on the high end, 240 500 000.* This would represent Dr. Birx's sub-surface "iceberg" while the infected and suffering symptons from more than mild to severe—serious enough to be either at home in bed or worse, in the hospital's Intensive or Critical care units—would correspond to the "(visible) tip of the iceberg." Though the mortality rate should be highest among these latter, not even all of them are to be expected to be fatal cases.

Supposing as a mortality rate, 0.016, the total fatalities, from the high-end (65%) estimate could arrive by the end at something like 3.848m lost (U.S.).
But it seems to me that, in the U.S., the mortality rate may prove out in the end to be somewhere between one-tenth and three-twentieths of that (3.848m) figure.

The Covid-19 “real-time” tracker at “Medpage” is, of course, neither truly “real-time” nor entirely reliable. How in the world are we to know the actual figures for the fatalities in China, let alone the real total of infected from this virus? Be that as it may be, that site at last view was reporting 553 244 cases world-wide and, from these, 25 035 reported deaths and 127 567 reported recovered.

As we know, these don't average out the same way everywhere in the world.

But, taking the reported number of deaths to-date and applying an estimated mortality rate from above to that figure, the 0.016 rate should have been the product of 1 564 687 cases. But if the mortality rate (estimated per above for the U.S.) ratio were instead the low-end figure of one-tenth of the previously estimated, then the total case-load to produce these deaths would be ten times higher, or 15 646 870 and, the high-end figure, three-twentieths (or 0.15) would result from a total case-load of 17 993 900. I wonder who actually believes that, world-wide, only something around 17 993 900 have contracted the virus so far.

* based on a total population of 370m.

Mar 27, 10:04am Top

>109 proximity1: Well, davidgn, you've been shamed again

Mar 27, 10:17am Top

Coronavirus: In Sudan, confusion reigns as hundreds escape quarantine centres (Middle East Eye)

While it has only a few confirmed cases so far, Sudan has been torn between attempts to stop the virus in its tracks, and complaints that its isolation centres are ill-equipped...

Mar 27, 10:24am Top

This is Donald to Sean Hannity last night:

'I have a feeling that a lot of the numbers that are being said in some areas are just bigger than they're going to be. I don't believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators. You know, you go into major hospitals sometimes, they'll have two ventilators. And now all of a sudden they're saying we can order 30,000 ventilators?

Look, it's a very bad situation. We haven't seen anything like it, but the end result is we've got to get back to work, and I think we can start by opening up certain parts of the country.'

So while the virus is ramping up Donald's idea is to go back to normal. Proximity should be over here and living in his own country. He should be doing his act in NYC and maybe then he'd have a better idea of what idiotic bullshit & plain drivel really is. To Donald all this is an annoyance not because people are getting sick and dying but because it might hurt him in November and he's losing money. He has no idea of what the situation is and he doesn't care---he takes no responsibility for his inaction that made all this worse. He would double down on the worse by putting people back to work. The remarks to Hannity quoted above were aimed at Andrew Cuomo--the federal govt. has 12,000 ventilators in reserve and NYC has almost half the Covid-19 cases in the country and Trump sent NYS 400 and Cuomo complained because he's interested in saving lives and he knows the federal govt. to do a lot more. If Trump thinks Cuomo is bullshitting him then Trump should get his ass down to one of the hospitals most overwhelmed and effected and take a look for himself. That's what a real leader might do. Trump just doesn't give a fuck how many people die--maybe if Ivanka was the one lying in an ICU bed on a ventilator it would finally come home to him how serious this is.

Mar 27, 11:54am Top

>112 lriley:

Maybe Trumpo has a relative in the medical field, that's as good as being a doctor himself. He's a genius after all.

Edited: Mar 27, 12:47pm Top

#113--Trump is one of those people who think that once he utters something---despite his ignorance of facts and/or evidence--it automatically is true. That's why he's such a genius in his own eyes--all he needs is to orate on a subject and expertise from elsewhere crumbles. He was claiming the other day that he could have been a doctor. No doubt he could have been an astronaut or a ballerina too. He's a narcissistic fool and incapable of self critique or criticism and he has almost half the country believing his bullshit or at least getting a kick out of it. He's already directly responsible for hundreds of deaths with this and before it's over that numbers will be in the thousands and possibly in the millions. Proximity with his stories about homelessness and begging on the streets (not sure I believe that one either) is one of them and he could easily end up one of the victims too.

Mar 27, 12:56pm Top

Aye, the situation in the US beggars belief.

Edited: Mar 27, 2:49pm Top

>112 lriley:

“So while the virus is ramping up Donald's idea is to go back to normal. Proximity should be over here and living in his own country. He should be doing his act in NYC and maybe then he'd have a better idea of what idiotic bullshit & plain drivel really is.”

Are you fucking kidding me!?

New York, “the city of 8.6 million has become the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., with more than 23,000 cases and 365 deaths.” !?

Excuse me? 365 deaths to date? From a total population of 8.6m?

The virus has raged (in China) since, oh, sometime in November of 2019 or, if the Chinese authorities hid it well, then something far longer than that. The first known case in New York dates from 2 March, 2020.

NYC's (present but, yes, increasing) Morbidity ---> 0.00267441

~43 deaths/million (so far)

Over 12 months (n=12), if we take this rate and calculate an exponential growth of 1.5 (correct me please if this is mistaken)

365 x 12^1.5 = 5953 deaths, whereas, if the death rate remained static at 365/mo. the annual deaths would be 12 x 365 = 4380.

For perspective, which you lack, consider these statistics, now six years old:

"10 Leading Causes of Death, New York City, 2012-2014"

Just the top two causes, heart disease and malignant neoplasm together accounted for 30,000 deaths in NYC over the two-year period.

Mar 27, 4:06pm Top

COVID-19 to send almost all G20 countries into a recession
Thu, 26th Mar 2020

“The global economic picture is looking bleak, with recessions in almost every developed economy across the world. We assume that there will be a recovery in the second half of the year, but downside risks to this baseline scenario are extremely high, as the emergence of second, or third waves of the epidemic would sink growth further. At this stage, it is also hard to see an exit strategy from the lockdowns, which means that uncertainty will remain high. Finally, the combination of lower fiscal revenues, and higher public spending, will put many countries on the brink of a debt crisis.”
- Agathe Demarais, The EIU’s Global Forecasting Director


Edited: Mar 27, 9:16pm Top


My old job. 51 positive cases--2000 in quarantine. Might go under in 3 months. Who's going to deliver those Amazon packages? Not sure I know anybody still working there. It's only been 7 years but we were down to 7 clerks (from 150+ when I began) at the plant I worked at the day I left. The mailhandlers were down to 2 from about 50. Restructuring--anything to kill jobs--plant managers were getting bonuses back then for that. Still whoever's doing the jobs now are very much at risk.

Edited: Mar 27, 9:53pm Top

>109 proximity1: Birx has drunk the Kool-Aid. The 500k->20k readjustment does NOT reflect a change in the Imperial College model. It reflects the difference between the business-as-usual projection and the measures that have, in fact, been enacted in the UK. This is either a truly boneheaded misunderstanding or a deliberate misrepresentation on Birx's part.

Surprised I have to go here for the rebuttal:

Neil Ferguson's thread:

Edited: Mar 28, 2:07am Top

Two articles from the Guardian:

Posturing and point-scoring leave UN hamstrung against coronavirus

In the face of a truly global crisis, the world’s highest deliberative body, the UN security council, has been paralysed by squabbling among the major powers.

The 15-member council has not even been able to muster a joint statement on combating the spread of the coronavirus – in part because of US insistence that it should stress the Chinese origins of the pathogen, which was unacceptable to other states, not least China.

A draft statement would have echoed the calls from the UN secretary general, António Guterres, for a global ceasefire in view of the pandemic.

The US has also ignored Guterres’ calls for sanctions to be suspended on vulnerable countries. Over the past week, Washington has intensified punitive action against Iran and Venezuela. At the same time, Russia has blocked an attempt to hold virtual security council sessions by video conference.

“In the current circumstances, it is important to show to the rest of the world that UN and its security council are functioning,” the Russian ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, wrote to his Chinese counterpart, who had proposed video conferences.

The letter was first reported by Foreign Policy. The Russians have allowed some video conferences to go ahead but have insisted they be counted as informal consultations rather than formal sessions...

Coronavirus has not suspended politics – it has revealed the nature of power

We keep hearing that this is a war. Is it really? What helps to give the current crisis its wartime feel is the apparent absence of normal political argument. The prime minister goes on TV to issue a sombre statement to the nation about the curtailment of our liberties and the leader of the opposition offers nothing but support. Parliament, insofar as it is able to operate at all, appears to be merely going through the motions. People are stuck at home, and their fights are limited to the domestic sphere. There is talk of a government of national unity. Politics-as-usual has gone missing.

But this is not the suspension of politics. It is the stripping away of one layer of political life to reveal something more raw underneath. In a democracy we tend to think of politics as a contest between different parties for our support. We focus on the who and the what of political life: who is after our votes, what they are offering us, who stands to benefit. We see elections as the way to settle these arguments. But the bigger questions in any democracy are always about the how: how will governments exercise the extraordinary powers we give them? And how will we respond when they do?

These are the questions that have always preoccupied political theorists. But now they are not so theoretical. As the current crisis shows, the primary fact that underpins political existence is that some people get to tell others what to do. At the heart of all modern politics is a trade-off between personal liberty and collective choice. This is the Faustian bargain identified by the philosopher Thomas Hobbes in the middle of the 17th century, when the country was being torn apart by a real civil war...

And an open letter to President Trump from Pax Christi International regarding sanctions on countries in the Middle East.

We write to you out of deep concern for the people of the Middle East during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic. As an international Catholic network with 120 member organizations around the world, we are hearing directly from our partners that daily life for people was already tenuous for many in places such as Iran, Syria, and Gaza and these realities have only become more difficult as a result of COVID-19. We urge you to ease and suspend sanctions that negatively impact civilian populations and other restrictions that impair governments’ abilities to respond to the health crisis. This includes financial sanctions that impact the ability of countries to import much-needed medical supplies and equipment...


And from the New Humantarian:

Peace and the pandemic

‘Pressures may grow on governments and opposition in polarised situations to find common ground’...

The coronavirus has sparked at least one positive, if tentative, outcome: a rebel group in the Philippines announced a ceasefire this week... Elsewhere, a separatist militia in Cameroon also declared a coronavirus ceasefire, the BBC reported, while combatants in Libya agreed on a “humanitarian pause”. The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, allied against Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, also reportedly announced it would “avoid engaging in military action”...

Edited: Mar 28, 5:30am Top

>119 davidgn: WaPo is beaten to the punch by the National Review, but here they are.

Edited: Mar 28, 5:59am Top

Not authenticated at this point, but rumor in China: massive riot on bridge between Hubei and Jiangxi province after lockdown lifted in Hubei. Apparently the Hubei prople want access to Jiangxi and the Jiangxi authorities want none of it? In any event, something ugly is going down, possibly involving different police departments going after one another? Consider the source, but... https://twitter.com/TruthAbtChina/status/1243473247536058368

Edited: Mar 28, 7:23am Top

>119 davidgn:

What fucking bullshit.

... "A narrative rocketed around social media earlier today: An Imperial College study said that COVID-19 could kill 500,000 Brits, but in recent testimony, Neil Ferguson, the head of the group behind the study, put the number below 20,000. Clearly the lying alarmist was walking back his ridiculous predictions!

"Well, no. The paper actually offered simulations of numerous scenarios. The one resulting in 500,000 deaths was one where Great Britain just carried on life as before. Other scenarios, where the country locked down whenever it was necessary to stop the disease’s spread, put death totals below 20,000. * (See the rightmost death columns of Tables 4 and 5.)

"Since the paper came out, Great Britain has adopted a strategy of aggressively containing the virus and expanded its intensive-care capacity, so a prediction of a much lower death toll and less stress on ICUs hardly seems surprising.

"Models like this will always turn out to be wrong in some way or other, because they rely on very strong assumptions about aspects of the disease we haven’t thoroughly studied yet." * ...

* What fucking rubbish! That is idiotic ex post facto excuse-making and, yes, that does constitute "walking back" previous projections presented as actual possibilities.

Yes, something in all such models shall always turn out to be off the mark of real-world experience. All the more reason to be prudent when predicting horrific outcomes!

WTF?! Why would any scientist/researcher present morbidity and mortality rates as genuinely possible outcomes when these are premised on a society's "just carr(ying) on life as before"? What modern society faced so situated would ever do that when there are obvious courses of defense? Your appeal to this magazine's idiotic attempt to wave away Ferguson's incompetence. Ferguson got things wildly wrong. But getting things so wrong isn't unusual in science. What used to be rather unusual--and what Ferguson is rightly blameable for--is that he wasn't prudent, careful or accurate in describing the true picture as he should have then been abie to do even with all the remaining questions about this pathogen. Indeed, because of those unanswered questions he should have been much more reserved in making projections at all.

WTF stopped Ferguson from making it very clear that, by his calculations, the mortalities should never reach so high as 500k in the U.K. in any scenario which is realistic--i.e. where Britain, even in its present pathetically-deprived and depraved state, does as much as it reasonably can to combat the spread of the virus? To that you have no fucking answer at all. Nor does this irresponsible nit-wit Ferguson.

Why ought any reasonable scientist posit his "worst-case" scenario on a plague-stricken modern society's "just carr(ying) on life as before"? -- that is to say, virtually doing next-to-nothing?

You don't bother to pause and consider that question. That's why so much of your "reasoning" and the commentary which comes from it is so often such a load of worthless junk.


What if, as is entirely plausible, Covid-19 becomes as ubiquitous and recurrent as its cousin virus, the "common cold"?-- another of the Corona-virus strains and one for which, after centuries of research, the world still lacks an effective vaccine. Are we supposed to seriously plan such "lock-downs" these annually!?, semi-annually!?

An effective vaccine for Covid-19 is perhaps probably going to be developed. Unitl then, we're going to live indefinitely with this virus and suffer what may turn out to be on average, one to four deaths per million infected overall--though some segments of the infected population will see higher mortality rates.

Wholesale shutdowns for every fresh outbreak are not going to be a practical (or sane) working strategy over the longer term.

Mar 28, 10:30am Top

Inside Trump’s risky push to reopen the country amid the coronavirus crisis
Robert Costa and Philip Rucker | March 28, 2020

...the political calculations underway inside the leadership ranks of the Republican Party as the president balances dual crises as he seeks reelection: the pandemic that is claiming lives and overburdening hospitals, and the resulting economic meltdown that already has left millions jobless, with many facing financial ruin.

...The president is not technically the decider, however. The battle to reopen the country pits Trump against multiple governors, Democratic and Republican alike, who are scrambling to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus in their communities and marshal medical supplies for their hospitals. They will have the final say on when restaurants, stores and other gathering places in their states can reopen.

...Trump has fostered a transactional dynamic — in which he insinuates that loyalty and praise could be helpful for states seeking federal help — that has unsettled governors looking for fair terms and clear guidance from the federal government...A growing uneasiness about Trump’s motives and leadership hovers over private conversations among governors, according to top Democrats and Republicans privy to the conversations. Even those who are Trump’s political allies are “never quite sure what he’ll do or if they can trust what they hear from Pence,” according to one adviser to a Republican governor...

Trump’s highly charged approach has prompted some governors to band together and discuss their own timelines for closures and other issues, with bipartisan and strong but under-the-radar partnerships driving many decisions.

...This collective gubernatorial power could be a counterweight in the coming days if Trump continues to rally for a national reopening. But governors will also continue to lean on Trump for federal help — an imperative that New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) said would outweigh emerging tensions over reopening the economy, at least for now.

...Some red-state governors have been more aggressive about keeping their economies humming...Florida...Mississippi...Alabama...

Trump has said that his “first priority” is the health and safety of the American people and that his decision about what to recommend will be guided by the medical experts on his team...Yet in private discussions, the president has been driven much more by economic concerns, according to people involved in internal debates or briefed on them. Trump has long viewed the stock market as a barometer for his own reelection hopes, and he has been distraught at the meltdown in recent weeks. He has been inundated with calls from business leaders, wealthy supporters and conservative allies urging him to get Americans back to work and stave off further calamity, even if doing so carries health risks.

“There’s a fatalism that no matter what he does, he’s going to get blamed by half of the country,” said a former senior administration official with knowledge of Trump’s thinking. “If there is something he has some measure of control over, which is the economy, why not potentially try to take action? Yes, there will be a death toll, and he’ll get blamed one way or another, but in all likelihood, whether he gets reelected or not will depend on where the economy is and where people’s perceptions of the economy are six months from now. That’s where he is primarily focused.”...


Mar 28, 11:41am Top

#125--On the one side you have those concerned about people getting sick and dying and on the other side those whose main concern is their stock portfolios and bank accounts. Trump is definitely on the Dow Jones side. He's not going to get the economy going again though and even if he were able to briefly rev the engine back up it's going to sputter and die as soon as the next wave of sick people end up in hospitals and morgues. Plain and simple he's a narcissistic ignoramus and more than willing to ignore facts, evidence and experts advice for his own warped fantasies.

Mar 28, 2:56pm Top

Virus causes surge in WW II references, but is it merited? (ynet news)

Compare the utter destruction of cities to empty streets now. Or the death tolls: 85 million then, over 18,000 now, though that latter figure is expected to multiply; World War II reference is unhelpful and only adds to the fear...

Mar 28, 4:41pm Top

A virus targets our lungs. People with asthma are particularly vulnerable. So what does the Administration do?

"An open license to pollute": Trump administration indefinitely suspends environmental protection laws during coronavirus pandemic
Sophie Lewis | March 28, 2020

The Trump administration introduced this week a sweeping relaxation of environmental laws and fines during the coronavirus pandemic. According to new guidelines from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), companies will largely be exempt from consequences for polluting the air or water during the outbreak.

In a letter to all government and private sector partners on Thursday, the EPA's Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Susan Parker Bodine said that the agency does not expect power plants, factories or other companies to meet environmental standards and reporting of pollution during this time — and it won't pursue penalties if companies break the rules.

Under normal circumstances, companies are required to report when they release certain levels of pollution into the air or water. Now, the EPA has effectively ceded its federal authority to state offices and said companies will be responsible for monitoring their own air and water pollution during this time...

EPA press release: https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/epa-announces-enforcement-discretion-policy-cov...

Mar 28, 5:40pm Top

Not since the Black Plague have Jerusalem’s holy alleys fallen so still
Steve Hendrix
March 27, 2020

JERUSALEM — Adeeb Joudeh, standing in front of the now-locked Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem's Old City, had a pretty specific answer when asked when the church last closed to the public like this:

“It was the year 1349, at the time of the Black Plague,” he said, holding the key that had shut things down a day earlier and back in the 14th century as well.

They measure time differently here in the oldest section of one of the world’s oldest cities, the ancient, dispute-riddled and spiritually dense center of three major religions. Yet it takes an eternity to recall the last time Christians, Jews and Muslims, each claiming various overlapping quarters of the Old City, were kept from their eternal rounds...


Mar 28, 6:52pm Top

It occurs to me that it is fortunate that Steve Bannon is no longer a White House advisor.

Mar 28, 9:25pm Top

It would seem that one of the initiators of the idea of quarantining Connecticut, New York and New Jersey was Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida a key Trump ally who seemingly was worried about New Yorkers travelling to his state. And of course Mar-a-Lago is there besides.......but DeSantis didn't seem at all concerned about Spring Breakers on his beaches a very short time ago--beaches which he refused to close--in fact he's another who has been resistant to pretty much any action until now. It's the New Yorker's fault I guess that Florida is getting coronavirus cases.

Edited: Mar 29, 1:12am Top

Two pieces from the Guardian:

Blitz spirit? It's another bonanza for spivs and thieves

From loo-roll heists to bogus virus tests, criminals are making hay as the crisis unfolds, just like during the second world war...

We must take drastic action but let’s not turn into a nation of little tyrants

Crisis measures often become permanent – it’s up to us to ensure our democracy stays safe...

And from the BBC:

Lockdown, what lockdown? Sweden's unusual response to coronavirus

the heart of the government's strategy here: self-responsibility. Public health authorities and politicians are still hoping to slow down the spread of the virus without the need for draconian measures.

There are more guidelines than strict rules, with a focus on staying home if you're sick or elderly, washing your hands, and avoiding any non-essential travel, as well as working from home.

"We who are adults need to be exactly that: adults. Not spread panic or rumours," Prime Minister Stefan Löfven said in a televised address to the nation last weekend.

"No one is alone in this crisis, but each person has a heavy responsibility"...

there is a high level of trust in public authorities in Sweden, which many believe is driving locals to adhere to voluntary guidelines...

Mar 29, 5:01am Top

Q&A: How Organizations Can Take Major Meetings Online
Nature Canada | 03/26/2020

...In mid-March, Nature NL took their Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Photo Night online. We caught up with (Laura King, President of Nature Newfoundland and Labrador (Nature NL)) and Sohil Pramij, Nature NL’s tech lead (who is also on their Board of Directors), to hear how it went...


Mar 29, 5:26am Top

‘Last On The Food Chain’: Equipment Shortages, Coronavirus-Infected Bodies Shaking Funeral Industry


Edited: Mar 29, 6:45am Top

Amount of medical supplies the feds have shipped to various states, relative to amount requested:

Massachusetts 17%
Maine 5%
New York 2%

(and wait for it...)
Florida 200%

- Mark D. Levine (NYC health committee) @MarkLevineNYC | 9:12 PM · Mar 28, 2020


Desperate for medical equipment, states encounter a beleaguered national stockpile
Amy Goldstein, Lena H. Sun and Beth Reinhard | March 28, 2020

...Anecdotally, there are wide differences, and they do not appear to follow discernible political or geographic lines. Democratic-leaning Massachusetts, which has had a serious outbreak in Boston, has received 17 percent of the protective gear it requested, according to state leaders. Maine requested a half-million N95 specialized protective masks and received 25,558 — about 5 percent of what it sought. The shipment delivered to Colorado — 49,000 N95 masks, 115,000 surgical masks and other supplies — would be “enough for only one full day of statewide operations,” Rep. Scott R. Tipton (R-Colo.) told the White House in a letter several days ago.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency inherited control of the stockpile barely a week ago from HHS. Lizzie Litzow, a FEMA spokeswoman, acknowledged the agency maintains a spreadsheet tracking each state’s request and shipments. Litzow declined repeated requests to release the details, saying the numbers are in flux.

Florida has been an exception in its dealings with the stockpile: The state submitted a request on March 11 for 430,000 surgical masks, 180,000 N95 respirators, 82,000 face shields and 238,000 gloves, among other supplies — and received a shipment with everything three days later, according to figures from the state’s Division of Emergency Management. It received an identical shipment on March 23, according to the division, and is awaiting a third.

“The governor has spoken to the president daily, and the entire congressional delegation has been working as one for the betterment of the state of Florida,” said Jared Moskowitz, the emergency management division’s director. “We are leaving no stone unturned.”

President Trump repeatedly has warned states not to complain about how much they are receiving, including Friday during a White House briefing, where he advised Vice President Pence not to call governors who are critical of the administration’s response. “I want them to be appreciative,” he said....



No other state get what it needs, but Florida “submitted a request on March 11 for 430,000 surgical masks, 180,000 N95 respirators, 82,000 face shields and 238,000 gloves, among other supplies, and received a shipment with everything three days later.” -WAPO 1/3

The Post goes on that shortages “do not appear to follow discernible political or geographic lines.” REALLY? The declared new state of residence of @realDonaldTrump whose governor is one of his top sycophants, home of Mar-a-Lago gets everything it asks for? 2/3

I am an investigator, and we in the investigative business call this a CLUE!! THIS IS NOT A COINCIDENCE. THIS IS SELF DEALING!!! 3/3

- William A. Miller @WilliamAMiller | 4:36 AM · Mar 29, 2020

Edited: Mar 29, 7:03am Top

Death panels. Even "pro-life" administrations are making ethically ill-informed decisions that advantage some folks and let others fall by wayside...

‘I Will Not Apologize for My Needs’
Even in a crisis, doctors should not abandon the principle of nondiscrimination.
Ari Ne’eman | March 23, 2020

...To allow discrimination against the disabled, even when there isn’t enough to go around, is simply wrong. Disability advocates are mobilizing to defend this position — on Thursday, the American Association of People with Disabilities sent a letter to Congress urging “a statutory prohibition on the rationing of scarce medical resources on the basis of anticipated or demonstrated resource-intensity needs.”

Though some insist otherwise, we should maintain a broad approach of “first come first served” when it comes to lifesaving care, even scarce medical resources like ventilators. We certainly should not remove ventilators from those who are already using them in the name of allocating more “efficiently.”

This is a sacrifice — but not so great as some might imagine. Maintaining nondiscrimination does not require hospitals to treat those who would die anyway. Even under nondisaster situations, clinicians can withhold care that is deemed futile — medically ineffective. But those who can be helped should not be given lower priority because of pre-existing disabilities, even those that will require more scarce resources.

I recognize that this approach imposes a cost. By maintaining “first come first served” for the provision of nonfutile lifesaving care, we may save fewer lives than through ruthlessly efficient optimization. If someone needs twice the average amount of time on a ventilator, maintaining that we shouldn’t turn them away — or deprive them of a ventilator they are already using — means that we are potentially costing the lives of two people who come into the I.C.U. after them.

...At its core, these debates are about value — the value we place on disabled life and the value we place on disability nondiscrimination. When Congress passed the Americans With Disabilities Act 30 years ago, did it do so as a form of charity limited to times of plenty? Or was our country serious about disability as a civil rights issue? Charity can end when resources are scarce — civil rights must continue, even if doing so imposes a cost in time, money and even lives. People with disabilities have an equal right to society’s scarce resources, even in a time of crisis.



The oldest person to survive COVID-19 was 101.

The Covid-19 risks for different age groups, explained
Dylan Scott | Mar 23, 2020

Different age cohorts have different vulnerabilities to Covid-19, but nobody’s risk is zero...death rates reach 20 percent or more among people 80 and older...



A Woman With Lupus Said Her Health Care Provider Is Stopping Her Chloroquine Prescription And Thanked Her For The “Sacrifice”
Tanya Chen, Dan Vergano March 25, 2020

"The fact that they thanked me for my 'sacrifice' is disturbing," she told BuzzFeed News. "I never agreed to sacrifice my health and possibly my life and cannot believe that I am being forced to do so."...


Edited: Mar 29, 7:27am Top

Rush Limbaugh and his ilk are showing their true colors, and
they ain't red, white and blue. Actively working to turn
Americans against Dr. Fauci/the CDC and WHO scientists is
unconscionable. Apparently, greed and hate rule every waking
moment of their worthless lives.

Edited: Mar 29, 8:52am Top

For the podcast-inclined...

To add one more, Dr. John Campbell went on Radio Ecoshock yesterday.

Mar 29, 3:00pm Top

Coronavirus Shock Is Destroying Americans’ Retirement Dreams
Many in the U.S. will be left with only one fallback: Social Security.
BenSteverman | March 26, 2020, 5:00 AM ED


Mar 29, 3:08pm Top

The Great American Migration of 2020: On the move to escape the coronavirus
Marc Fisher, Paul Schwartzman and Ben Weissenbach | March 28, 2020


A plea from rural America: Urban covid-19 refugees, please stay home
David Yamamoto | March 28, 2020

Mar 29, 3:22pm Top

How the Covid-19 recession could become a depression
Coronavirus is a global economic catastrophe.
Ezra Klein | Mar 23, 2020

...There will be at least four waves of economic pain, (Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics) told me, each building on the last. Wave one is “the sudden stop,” the unexpected cessation of economic activity all across the country. A month ago, people were going to work, eating in restaurants, paying child care workers, buying flights, planning car purchases, looking at new homes, growing workforces, holding conferences. Now, vast swaths of the country are sheltering in place, and much of the economy has simply ... stopped.

...When the economy stops, and GDP plummets, workers lose their jobs. That, Zandi said, is wave two, and “it’s coming very quickly.” It may already be here. Initial data suggests we’re seeing a spike in unemployment claims so massive it makes the worst week of the Great Recession essentially disappear on a chart.

...The third wave, according to Zandi, will be “all these folks who’ve seen their nest egg wiped out. They thought they were set for retirement and they’re not. They’ll go into panic mode.” The shattered stock market will be a disaster for those in or near retirement. They’re watching wealth they worked their whole lives to build crumble in the space of weeks. They won’t purchase that new car, buy that new house, plan that vacation — and unlike some of the direct economic stoppages, which will lift when the virus ease, their reticence to spend will slow economic growth long after the direct crisis ends.

Wave four, Zandi continues, will see businesses cut investment. Corporations that intended to open a new factory won’t; media organizations thinking of launching new publications will hold back; businesses that meant to upgrade their office space in 2021 will decide they’re fine where they are. Another engine of economic growth dead.

All of that, Zandi said, is “definitely going to happen” — indeed, it’s already happening. But if the virus is brought under control in May, and Congress passes enough stimulus, Zandi, and other forecasters, think powerful catch-up growth in the third and fourth quarters is possible. Perhaps this could be a “V-shaped” recession: a sharp drop followed by a swift recovery.

The nightmare scenario is that the virus isn’t under control by the summer, and extreme social distancing measures are needed throughout the year — which many public health experts consider likely. Then, Zandi said, the ground could collapse underneath the economy.

...Only part of what we’re facing is a conventional recession, which can be offset by fiscal and monetary policy,” wrote Paul Krugman, the Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist. “The rest of it is more like a natural disaster, where the government’s role is to help families avoid economic hardship, not put them back to work.”...


Mar 29, 4:34pm Top

Another contender for a Medal of Freedom, to be awarded by the next president:

Medical Expert Who Corrects Trump Is Now a Target of the Far Right
Davey Alba and Sheera Frenkel | March 28, 2020

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the administration’s most outspoken advocate of emergency virus measures, faces a torrent of false claims that he is mobilizing to undermine the president...


Mar 29, 6:06pm Top

This was posted at >132 LolaWalser:, but it's one of those things that bears re-posting. I am only about 10 minutes in, where I paused for emotional reasons. I don't think anyone can put the state of the world in context like Chomsky: he had just said something about Germany being unable to help Greece while Cuba is currently helping Europe...
The power of this is enhanced by my own reaction to turning 60 last May. Normally I don't feel birthdays in any real sense, but I was unable to avoid the fact that I had passed 4 decades fighting fascism in my various ways and we have gone from the monstrous absurdity of a Reagan presidency to virtually assured doom.

Mar 29, 8:33pm Top

#144--I think Chomsky is right that we have a chance to rethink where we are as a society and go in another direction. We actually had something of a chance with the Sanders campaign. Establishment democrats though have seemed to derail that chance. It's been discussed again and again but older folks particularly have a hard time separating themselves from a bunch of corrupted old fossils. They're stifling the voices of younger voters in doing so. I think something good is coming but I'm not sure it's going to get here soon enough. So for those older more conservative democrats--can Joe Biden handle an enormous climate event--or two? I'm thinking probably not. Will he do anything about the widening wealth gap? That's a pretty easy no. We've already heard from him that if you can't afford to pay ever increasing health care premiums you're on your own.

Chomsky's remarks on neo-liberal economics as usual are right on the mark. People talking about this virus coming out of China should keep in mind that their stock portfolios, 401K's allowed our corporations overseas to other countries like China where they could increase their profits producing the very same goods with cheaper (sometimes slave) labor and lax environmental standards. China has become the platform for producing cheaper goods for us to profit the wealthy and the super wealthy--in doing so though they have been destroying their own environment--air, water and ground pollution and it's not really a surprise then to see biological issues coming out of an increasingly polluted environment.

By the way republican party congresspeople and Senators are almost all on board with neo-liberal economic policy and probably a good two thirds of democratic congresspeople and Senators are as well including Mr. Biden.

Mar 30, 12:06am Top

When death dealers make ventilators, we know it’s time to end the arms trade (The Canary)

Peace activists might be relieved to hear that UK arms companies are teaming up to make much-needed ventilators. Some of the country’s biggest dealers in death – BAE Systems, Airbus, Thales, Meggitt, Rolls-Royce, GKN and Ultra Electronics – have joined a 12-company consortium called Ventilator Challenge UK.

Meanwhile, arms company Babcock is working with a medical equipment company to make thousands of ventilators. Babcock is now seemingly concerned with saving lives, rather than being complicit in taking lives...

For years, anti-militarists have been campaigning for arms industry engineers to switch their skills to something that’s actually useful...

Unsurprisingly, arms companies aren’t mentioned in the government’s list of non-essential businesses that should close. Factories continue to produce weapons, despite the coronavirus crisis...

Edited: Mar 30, 12:23am Top

>146 johnthefireman: They're just making a different kind of ventilators now.

See also: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=whnms4CLJys

Mar 30, 3:36am Top

'COVID-19 knows no borders': Pope Francis Calls for Global Ceasefire (ACI Africa)

Pope Francis appealed for a global ceasefire on Sunday as countries work to defend their populations from the coronavirus pandemic.

“The current emergency of COVID-19 … knows no borders,” Pope Francis said March 29 in his Angelus broadcast.

The pope urged nations in conflict to respond to an appeal made by the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres on March 23 for an “immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world” to “focus together on the true fight of our lives,” the “battle” against the coronavirus.

The pope said: “I invite everyone to follow up by stopping all forms of war hostility, promoting the creation of corridors for humanitarian aid, openness to diplomacy, attention to those in a situation of greater vulnerability.”

“Conflicts are not resolved through war,” he added. “It is necessary to overcome antagonism and differences through dialogue and a constructive search for peace”...

Edited: Mar 30, 6:22am Top

Horse. Barn. Out. (Scapegoats sought.)

Texas expands quarantine requirement for out-of-state travelers
COLBY BERMEL | 03/29/2020

Texas expanded its quarantine requirement for out-of-state travelers on Sunday, adding to a growing patchwork of domestic travel rules aimed at stemming the spread of the coronavirus.

Gov. Greg Abbott...order(ed) that air travelers from California, Washington state and several other places must self-quarantine for two weeks after arriving in Texas. His executive order, which previously focused on New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and New Orleans, was also expanded Sunday to all of Louisiana and Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit and Miami...state troopers to enforce the quarantine order for Louisiana motorists driving into Texas...punishment of a $1,000 fine and six months in jail.

Texas...Department of State Health Services reporting more than 2,500 cases and 34 deaths as of Saturday night.

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, a Democrat, who first required quarantine for New York motorists but expanded her order Sunday to all states...

...Florida has also gone after neighboring Louisiana and the faraway New York tri-state region, with Gov. Ron DeSantis setting up checkpoints along the Panhandle border...

The president...asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to “issue a strong Travel Advisory“ for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. “A quarantine will not be necessary”...


Mar 30, 6:27am Top

FDA lifts restrictions on Ohio-based Battelle's mask-sterilizing technology amid coronavirus shortages
Marty Schladen | March 29, 2020

COLUMBUS, Ohio — After a day of pressure from Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration late Sunday rewrote rules to allow full application of a potentially game-changing Battelle technology to sterilize protective masks worn by those treating coronavirus victims.

The agency ruled that upgrading its emergency use authorization from partial to full “is appropriate to protect the public health or safety.”

...the FDA issued a new waiver to Battelle, a Columbus-based non-profit. It said, “Battelle is authorized to decontaminate up to 10,000 compatible N95 respirators per chamber load,” in its new machine that decontaminates the safest masks against coronavirus and can allow 20 re-uses of the devices, which are in perilously short supply.

The company has two machines — each capable of cleaning 80,000 masks a day — ready to go for Ohio. It also is deploying machines to New York, Seattle and Washington, D.C. That means the new order could allow for up to 400,000 clean masks a day in the short run.

The FDA's original limit...10,000 mask sterilizations each day...


Mar 30, 7:22am Top

>9 margd: contd.

Exclusive: Justice Department reviews stock trades by lawmakers after coronavirus briefings
David Shortell, Evan Perez, Jeremy Herb and Kara Scannell | March 30, 2020

The Justice Department has started to probe a series of stock transactions made by lawmakers ahead of the sharp market downturn stemming from the spread of coronavirus, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The inquiry, which is still in its early stages and being done in coordination with the Securities and Exchange Commission, has so far included outreach from the FBI to at least one lawmaker, Sen. Richard Burr, seeking information about the trades...


Mar 30, 7:30am Top

This could be bad. I think states (Michigan, anyway) are constitutionally constrained from running deficits?

Cuomo warns of ‘drastic’ budget cuts as lawmakers prepare to vote remotely
Denis Slattery | Mar 29, 2020

ALBANY — Major cuts are in store for the state budget as New York faces billions in lost revenue due to the coronavirus crisis, Gov. Cuomo said on Sunday.

...education funding, which makes up about a third of state spending annually, could be in for a hit and hinted that dramatic belt-tightening could be in store.

...Some school aid could come from Washington as Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) touted the latest coronavirus stimulus package over the weekend that he said includes more than $1 billion for education in the state.

Cuomo has...blast(ed) Congress for not offering more funds directly to the state and hampering his plan to overhaul the state Medicaid program.

State budget director...said New York will likely be forced to borrow money in the short-term to cover immediate costs due to lost revenues and the federal government’s decision to delay the tax filing deadline to July.

...Cuomo has already pitched the idea of allowing his administration the flexibility to amend state spending throughout the year as they get a better idea of just how bad the economic impact of COVID-19 will be...


Mar 30, 7:39am Top

Trump extends federal social distancing guidelines to April 30
Paul LeBlanc, Jason Hoffman and Kevin Liptak | March 29, 2020

...The White House's social distancing guidance* advises all Americans to avoid groups of more than 10 and urges older people to stay at home.

...persistent problems in testing have prevented the full picture of the virus's spread from becoming known, leaving officials without a clear idea of which states were faring better than others.

...Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease specialist...predicted on CNN that more than 100,000 Americans could eventually die from coronavirus with millions more infected.

Trump suggested during his briefing that he didn't believe the larger numbers Fauci had mentioned earlier in the day, and called him to the podium.
But Fauci only reiterated the figures he cited earlier.

He said it's "entirely conceivable" that more than a million people in the US could contract coronavirus, but added that mitigation and extending the distancing guidelines through April will hopefully curb those numbers.

Fauci was among the health advisers on Trump's team encouraging a continuation of the current guidelines after Trump heard from business leaders and some conservative allies that the restrictions were more damaging than the virus itself...


* https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/03.16.20_coronavirus-guida...

Mar 30, 7:46am Top

1. Consider the source.
2. Nonetheless...

China's efforts to blame coronavirus on a US army delegation to Wuhan infuriate No. 10 as Boris Johnson's advisers say Beijing's statistics on its cases could be downplayed by a factor of 40
*Ministers demand review of Britain's relationship with Communist super-state
*It comes amid fury over China's misinformation blitz around Covid-19 outbreak
*PM urged to block deal with technology giant Huawei to build UK's 5G network
*Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?


Awaiting confirmation.

Mar 30, 8:10am Top

#152--Cuomo was not kind to Schumer yesterday when talking or asked about the Federal stimulus plan. If I understood what he was saying right--the stimulus plan left New York with the option of choosing between their medicaid funds which the state was in the middle of redesigning (reforming) or taking the direct stimulus funds but not an option of taking it all at once. He couldn't have both. Cuomo said Schumer knew and knows all this but still talks like all the monies are available.

So much for the Senate Minority leader. I'd have to think that he is full of bull here. That it looks like it's there but it's really not. That's more or less what Cuomo was saying.

As for the State budget--the monies that would be allotted for education is absolutely tapped out. I wouldn't be surprised if New York schools were shut down all of next year too. It wouldn't surprise if other states too.

Edited: Mar 30, 12:03pm Top

Nonviolent Action in the Time of Coronavirus (US Institute of Peace)

Popular movements are confronting the challenge of how to practice social distancing while still acting to advance their demands...

Edited: Mar 30, 3:52pm Top

Tariffs disrupted medical supplies critical to US coronavirus fight
Chad P. Bown (PIIE) | March 17, 2020

...The US-China trade war has forced US buyers to reduce purchases of medical supplies from China and seek alternative sources. US imports of Chinese medical products covered by the Trump administration’s 25 percent tariffs dropped by 16 percent in 2019 compared with two years earlier. (These tariffs on China were imposed under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974.) US imports of the same products from the rest of the world increased by only 23 percent, roughly the same pace as US imports of medical products less affected by tariffs or not affected at all.

Compounding the supply bottlenecks, dozens of countries are now restricting their exports of critical medical equipment to the United States and other markets. If shortages deepen globally, medical suppliers in China and elsewhere made wary by the Trump administration’s trade policy are likely to consider American buyers their last choice for sales. American healthcare providers thus face obstacles maintaining access to the highest quality, lowest cost supplies, including access to Chinese products.



Desperate for medical equipment, states encounter a beleaguered national stockpile
Amy Goldstein, Lena H. Sun and Beth Reinhard | March 28, 2020

"'We don’t know how the federal government is making those decisions,'... Since the state made the first of several requests — 233k respirators and 200k surgical masks — the supplies have been arriving piecemeal and without any explanation of the numbers."


Mar 30, 5:45pm Top

Hungary jumps off the cliff.

A Harrowing Warning' to All as Hungary Hands Far-Right Leader Dictatorial Powers Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

Unlikely to be the only ones. This is what Chomsky was warning about.

Edited: Mar 30, 6:13pm Top

Main reason for on-air changes at FOX News ~

Apparently, FOX lawyers warned the powers-that-be at FOX News that continuing
to spread virus disinformation and conspiracy theories could bring a truckload of
lawsuits its way.

Mar 31, 2:57am Top

Two short essays under the auspices of the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative:

COVID-19: Toward authentic security rooted in nonviolence

Perhaps this pandemic will help us to recognize the critical need for a transformative shift away from violence in our values and priorities...

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

“This crisis is so universal that it not only begs for an immediate response, it cracks open the possibility for a long-term cultural and planetary shift toward a more just, peaceful and sustainable order”...

Mar 31, 6:23am Top

Coronavirus: Millions will be left in poverty, World Bank warns

The financial impact of coronavirus will stop almost 24 million people from escaping poverty in East Asia and the Pacific, according to the World Bank.

...“substantially higher risk” among households that depend on industries particularly vulnerable to the impact of the virus...tourism in Thailand and the Pacific Islands, along with manufacturing in Vietnam and Cambodia.

...In its baseline scenario, almost 24 million fewer people will escape poverty across the region in 2020 due to the economic impact of the pandemic.

Under its worst-case scenario, the bank predicts that almost 35 million people would be expected to remain in poverty, including 25 million in China. It defines the poverty line as living on $5.50 a day or less.

The World Bank predicts growth this year in the developing East Asia and Pacific region will slow to 2.1% in its baseline scenario. This compares with an estimated expansion of 5.8% for 2019.

...Unavoidable significant pain in all countries - that's the World Bank's forecast for growth in the East Asia region this year.

The poor will get poorer - and there will be more of them...

...the virus's impact on the (Chinese) economy will see growth slow to 2.3% this year from 6.1% last year...if the pandemic (gets) growth could be just 0.1% this year. The bank's forecasts for other countries in east Asia are similarly grim.

...Those in the informal sector will be hardest hit, and will need the most help...


Edited: Mar 31, 7:43am Top

Rahm Emanuel once said, "Never let a good crisis go to waste."
e.g., EPA suspended environmental regulations, OH & TX tried to stop abortions, the rescue package -- ai yi yi!

Federal Judges Block Texas and Ohio Coronavirus Abortion Bans
Dahlia Lithwick | March 30, 20208:22 PM

...last week, Republican governors in both Ohio and Texas tried opportunistically to halt abortions in their states by claiming that the procedures are not-essential and that states should redirect personal protective equipment, including masks and gloves, away from clinics so they can better serve coronavirus patients. Of course, women actually need abortion services even more during such crises, clinics don’t use most of the essential medical equipment necessary to fight the virus, and most abortions are time-sensitive procedures that can’t be delayed indefinitely...


(margd: I suspect that right now most people will avoid healthcare settings if at all possible, anyway, so as to avoid the virus?)


A lot of bad things got into the rescue package. Here’s a list.
Paul Waldman | March 30, 2020

...Here are some of the provisions Republicans made sure were in the bill. This is not a comprehensive list, just a sampling:

A windfall for real estate investors allowing them “to use losses generated by real estate to minimize their taxes on profits from things like investments in the stock market. The estimated cost of the change over 10 years is $170 billion,” according to the New York Times.

$17 billion in loans for “businesses critical to maintaining national security,” a provision seemingly targeted solely at Boeing.

$25 billion in grants and $25 billion in loans for the airline industry.

A series of regulatory changes sought by the banking industry.

A tweak to the tax code, retroactive to 2018, allowing certain retailers to more quickly write off expenses they incurred upgrading their properties.

A series of other tax changes that in many cases take concessions business made in exchange for lower tax rates in Trump’s 2017 tax cut and eliminate them for a period of years. As one budget expert said to me, “corporations and pass-through owners are having their cake from the 2017 tax cut and eating it too.”

A gift to for-profit colleges: They’ll be able to keep loan money for students who drop out due to the coronavirus.

Help for manufacturers of “innovative” sunscreen technology.

A six-month extension of funding for abstinence-only education.

An expansion of the services that health savings accounts, which mostly benefit wealthier people, can pay for.

A provision allowing many hotel chains to access the $350 billion in loans intended for small businesses if their individual hotels employ fewer than 500 workers each. Unlike the loans in the fund intended for large businesses, many of these loans will not have to be repaid if the money is used mostly to keep workers on the payroll. This could allow large firms with the ability to successfully navigate the program to scoop up a significant portion of this fund, potentially pushing aside actual small businesses...


Apr 2, 6:15am Top

>119 davidgn: "Birx has drunk the Kool-Aid." ...


(Washington Times)The Left's Despicable Attacks on Dr. Birx | Tammy Bruce

"There is absolutely no good reason for those on the left to attack Dr. Birx, but they do" ...

“Not surprisingly, despite the fact that she has devoted her adult life to saving lives, primarily anonymously versus so many who pursue a public-facing career, the legacy media and the left in general have decided that Dr. Birx is no longer in favor and must be mocked and marginalized. Why is this? Because she gets along with Mr. Trump, and has dared to occasionally praise him and his work.

"Dr. Birx is the latest example of someone who has committed the crime of working well with the president and contributing to the success of his work, which is a vision focused on getting this nation back on its feet. That work is now greatly focused on stopping this virus and making sure the fewest number of people are affected by the scourge.

"Despite this being a time of crisis for the nation, The New York Times is reliably trying to set the usual divisive and caustic tone so preferred by the left. In a recent article, it offers up a melange of gossip, sniping and whining implying that Dr. Birx has succumbed to some sort of mind-control unleashed by Bad Orange Man, rendering her weak and untrustworthy.”

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