Aggregated News & Opinion
Today’s posts in bigger type.
Prior 2-3 days in smaller type.
Obama's ACA didn't fix this:
Coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak, from the science of testing, treatment, and developing a vaccine to the impacts of quarantines and social distancing.The New Yorker is making its news coverage and analysis of the coronavirus outbreak available for free to all readers. Read our stories here.
Americans are about to learn something horrifying: how irrational it is for health insurance to be linked to your employment status
The virus is throwing familiar inequalities into sharp relief – and may force us to confront some new ones, too
A bubble has finally been burst – but will we now attend to the other threats facing humanity?
Bacterium is able to break down polyurethane, which is widely used but rarely recycled
Damian Carrington Environment editor
| The Guardian
Calls to reopen America have disturbing intellectual roots. And the millions of deaths that could ensue would fuel a depression beyond our imagination
Offshore windfarms and onshore projects in US and China fuel one of strongest years on record
Facilities thought to be 75% full with Saudi Arabia due to ramp up output as demand falters amid coronavirus shutdowns
UN urges G20 to adopt ‘wartime plan’; Prince Charles tests positive for coronavirus; Senate and White House reach stimulus deal
Alexandra Topping (now); Damien Gayle and Helen Sullivan (earlier)
| The Guardian
Andrew Cuomo said hospitals are unequipped for deluge and called on Trump for federal help
He fears the public health measures that have shut down large swaths of the economy could cause their own health catastrophe, as lost jobs lead to poverty and hopelessness.
‘Largest scale experiment ever’ shows what is possible as satellite images reveal marked fall in global nitrogen dioxide levels
If one of the most powerful tech companies can’t call out the president’s dishonesty, who can?
The Trump administration announced plans to erect 150 miles of barrier on the border, involving large numbers of contractors
Both countries see increase of over 1,000; Italy warns of worst crisis since WWII; Romania records first death, India launches curfew
Haroon Siddique (now) and Helen Davidson (earlier)
| The Guardian
Up to a third of the UK’s greenhouse emissions come from central heating. But a switch from natural gas to hydrogen, one of three proposals for greener energy, has experts divided
Indigenous species do not grow fast enough, so imports will have to be planted in their millions to offset emissions, expert warns
Measure to target items such as straws, cutlery and polystyrene food and drink containers
Bad journalists are howled at
If world leaders do not fathom the threat to all life on Earth, they must be removed from office. [REF: World Economic Forum]
– Today's Posts: 3/29/20 –
The Trump administration’s unprecedented indifference, even willful neglect, forced a catastrophic strategic surprise on to the American people
‘If somebody does not consistently parrot the president’s proclamations with adequate intensity, they are fired, or it is leaked that their firing could be imminent at any time.’ Photograph: Yuri Gripas/EPA
Get tough now. Test widely to isolate those infected, and slowly revive businesses with workers and customers who have developed immunity.
Healthcare professionals at a drive-thru testing site in Houston this month. Rapidly increasing testing is a first step toward sharply limiting the spread of Covid-19. Credit...David J. Phillip/Associated Press
....I’ve helped make the case before that a strong, fast, federal effort to speed the distribution of testing, protective gear, intensive care equipment and training, to coordinate and plan a national response, could sharply limit the spread of Covid-19.
The [now dangerously incompetent] federal government has done little, but if it acts now a similarly strong national response may allow America to open up sooner — in June, not by Easter — and do it more safely. Here’s how:
Stop the virus. A nationwide shelter-in-place or quarantine should take place for the next eight to 10 weeks. According to Chinese data, this would mean the number of Covid-19 cases would peak in four weeks or so and then decline over the next four to six weeks. So, as hard as it will be, everybody but crucial workers will have to remain inside until roughly June 1st.
Make reasonable exceptions. In counties with few cases of Covid-19 and the ability to test and trace infected people’s contacts, normal life could go on as long as people believed to be infected are quarantined and those who are known to be infected are rapidly isolated.
Mobilize public health resources. During the eight weeks of shelter-in-place, the federal government needs to produce and distribute enough tests so state and local health officials can check as many people as possible, even those without symptoms, and determine the true extent of infections. We should also push the Food and Drug Administration for rapid approval of blood tests to determine who has antibodies to coronavirus, and is thus immune, and then deploy millions of them.
State and local health department then need to deploy thousands of teams to trace contacts of all new Covid-19 cases using cellphone data, social media data, and data from thermometer tests and the like. We also need to get infected people to inform their own contacts. It will be easier to lift the national quarantine if we isolate new cases, find and test all their contacts, and isolate any of them who may be infected....
In a signing statement
, the president undermined a key safeguard Democrats had insisted upon as a condition of approving $500 billion in corporate relief in the $2 trillion law.
In a signing statement, President Trump suggested he had the power to decide what information a newly created inspector general had to share with Congress. Credit...Erin Schaff/The New York Times
....In a signing statement released hours after Mr. Trump signed the bill in a televised ceremony in the Oval Office, the president suggested he had the power to decide what information a newly created inspector general intended to monitor the fund could share with Congress.
Under the law, the inspector general, when auditing loans and investments made through the fund, has the power to demand information from the Treasury Department and other executive branch agencies. The law requires reporting to Congress “without delay” if any agency balks and its refusal is unreasonable “in the judgment of the special inspector general.”
Democrats blocked a final agreement on the package this week as they insisted on stronger oversight provisions to ensure that the president and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin could not abuse the bailout fund. They feared that Mr. Trump, who has previously stonewalled congressional oversight, would do the same when it came to the corporate aid program.
But in his statement, which the White House made public about two hours after the president signed the bill, Mr. Trump suggested that under his own understanding of his constitutional powers as president, he can gag the special inspector general for pandemic recovery, known by the acronym S.I.G.P.R., and keep information from Congress....
CEOs, billionaires and advisers have the president’s ear and want people back to work. They are callous – and wrong
Defense Secretary Mark Esper and President Donald Trump watch as the hospital ship USNS Comfort leaves Naval Base Norfolk, in Virginia, for New York. Photograph: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images
Democratic states have tended to be more proactive while some Republican governors followed Trump in downplaying the crisis
Kevin Stitt, Oklahoma’s Republican governor, declared a state of emergency on 16 March, the day after posting a picture of himself and his two sons in a packed restaurant. Photograph: Alonzo Adams/AP
New York, New Jersey and Connecticut halt non-essential travel; global deaths pass 30,000 with one-third in Italy
Army medical staff clears the coffins in the church of San Giuseppe in Seriate, Italy. Photograph: Carlo Cozzoli/REX/Shutterstock
Jedidajah Otte (now) and Helen Davidson (earlier)
| The Guardian
Japan seemed to have escaped a massive coronavirus outbreak. Now cases are rising.
People strolling along a street in a popular shopping area in Tokyo, Japan, on March 27, 2020. Carl Court/Getty Images
....as cases have steadily increased, not much has changed in terms of the government’s policy response since late February. The prime minister’s office announced on March 20 that according to the expert panel’s latest recommendation, they would continue to focus on infection cluster countermeasures and preparing the health care infrastructure to be able to treat the seriously ill in the event of a leap in infections.
While Japan has a strong national health care system [$4,774 per capita/yr compared to highest-profit U.S. system at $10,209 per capita/yr] and more than four times the number of hospital beds per 1,000 people than the US, a shortage of medical supplies is an ongoing concern. More than 90 percent of medical institutions in Nagasaki prefecture have said they are facing shortages of masks and disinfectant, and hospitals in Hokkaido are providing just one mask per hospital visitor per day to protect their supply [while in the U.S. many health professionals cannot get masks].
....Based on the latest round of recommendations from the expert panel, the Japanese government is seeking “thorough behavioral changes” to improve citizens’ response to the coronavirus and ensure that people avoid places that meet the three conditions of poor ventilation, dense crowds, and dense conversation.
Faced with skyrocketing infections, much of Europe and the US have moved toward lockdowns. Japan hasn’t. The government insists that it doesn’t need to, citing that in some areas, almost all of the local coronavirus patients have been identified via contact tracing.
But Sato warns that as long as cases continue to rise, no one can afford to take their foot off the gas: “Even if we continue with the measures already in place, the spread will not end.”
It’s a worrying sign for a country that’s clearly ready to take off the masks and enjoy the cherry blossoms.
By Eric Margolis
On the campaign trail and in the latest CNN debate, Biden himself used [intentionally distorted] corporate media “factchecks” to discredit Sanders’ accurate attacks on his record.
The US president has been exposed by the coronavirus crisis. The only small comfort for the rest of the world is that he’s not their leader
During the Great Recession, Republicans favored a do-nothing policy. Now they are singing a different tune
The president was aware of the danger from the coronavirus – but a lack of leadership has created an emergency of epic proportions
by Ed Pilkington and Tom McCarthy in New York
| The Guardian
"What did the Senate majority fight for? One of the largest corporate bailouts, with as few strings as possible, in American history."
"Instead of forcing American taxpayers to spend $500 billion subsidizing a fund for Secretary Mnuchin, that money would be far better spent going directly back to the people."
Extraordinary move signals to US companies that they will not face any sanctions for polluting the air or water
Governors have found themselves under an intense spotlight, highlighting an evolving dynamic between those running states and an impossible-to-predict president
An author in Rome describes what to expect based on her experiences of lockdown
Actions taken to suppress coronavirus reveal what measures are possible in an emergency, say experts
Fiona Harvey Environment correspondent
| The Guardian
The wealthy and the powerful are counting on us not paying attention. They’re looking out for their own while we are left on a sinking ship
The UK expects thousands of deaths, and dangerously mixed messages risk making an already grave situation worse
Once branded ‘rogue animals’, the elusive creatures were on the brink of extinction, but hope is rising for their survival
The country acted fast when the virus began to spread. Strict quarantine measures and testing have helped to curb it
The politics of denial, first honed in the tobacco industry, has serious consequences for a floundering Johnson government
- Seoul’s handling of the outbreak emphasises transparency and relies heavily on public cooperation in place of hardline measures such as lockdowns
- While uncertainties remain, it is increasingly viewed by public health experts as a model to emulate for authorities desperate to keep Covid-19 in check
In what is being called the worst financial crisis since 1929, the US stock market has lost a third of its value in the space of a month, wiping out all of its gains of the last three years. When the Federal Reserve tried to ride to the rescue, it only succeeded in making matters worse. The government then pulled out all the stops. To our staunchly capitalist leaders, socialism is suddenly looking good.
Unethical and selfish behavior becomes especially disgusting in a time of a deadly pandemic
Idea updated 03/10/20: Those who think nation-states are not increasingly corrupt will not understand why change (below) is needed. [Ref.: The world is waking up to this!]
Instead of Plutocratic/Corporate-Politicians owning and controlling people (and their children ad infinitum) in "their" Nation State, wouldn't it be better if adults world-wide could selectively contract with UN-certified professional agencies to perform nation-level fiduciary functions
Such nationalesque fiduciary agencies could manage escrow for Social Security and Medicare, plus smart funding for your priority governance and your charities better.
If this were possible and replaced Nations States, then it would end wars and immigration crises because citizens of every Virtual Nation's citizens would be scattered worldwide, as before Nation States. And a world-wide common language might naturally coalesce.
Local city, county and state governments can continue unchanged. But at the Virtual Nation level, Democracy would be professional-only and not be political. Your only annual(?) vote for Virtual Nation agency would be to renew with the same Virtual-Nation agency or change to another (which transfers escrows) and/or change priorities for governance and charities.