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Professor Pigworth

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  1. Well, of course. This is why a sleazy failed businessman and ignorant game-show host does not make a good leader. . . A top White House official warned in January that a pandemic could imperil millions of Americans. A top White House adviser starkly warned Trump administration officials in late January that the coronavirus crisis could cost the United States trillions of dollars and put millions of Americans at risk of illness or death. The warning, in a memo by Peter Navarro, President Trump’s trade adviser, is the highest-level alert known to have circulated inside the West Wing as the administration was taking its first substantive steps to confront a crisis that had already consumed China’s leaders and would go on to upend life in Europe and the United States. “The lack of immune protection or an existing cure or vaccine would leave Americans defenseless in the case of a full-blown coronavirus outbreak on U.S. soil,” Mr. Navarro’s memo said. “This lack of protection elevates the risk of the coronavirus evolving into a full-blown pandemic, imperiling the lives of millions of Americans.” Dated Jan. 29, it came during a period when Mr. Trump was playing down the risks to the United States. He later went on to say that no one could have predicted such a devastating outcome. Mr. Navarro said in the memo that the administration faced a choice about how aggressive to be in containing an outbreak, saying the human and economic costs would be relatively low if it turned out to be a problem along the lines of a seasonal flu. But he went on to emphasize that the “risk of a worst-case pandemic scenario should not be overlooked” given the information coming from China. In one worst-case scenario cited in the memo, more than a half-million Americans could die. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/07/world/coronavirus-news.html?action=click&module=Spotlight&pgtype=Homepage
  2. On the contrary, I hope he pulls through. Just because I dislike Donald doesn't mean that I automatically dislike other random people. Also, I'm not in the habit of hoping people die.
  3. "Inspector General Atkinson is known throughout the Inspector General community for his integrity, professionalism, and commitment to the rule of law and independent oversight." Well, there you go. When has Donald ever been about integrity, professionalism and commitment to the rule of law in his job as pseudo-president? He's all about grifting, self-enriching, reneging on deals and gorging at the trough for fat pigs. And as for independent oversight, a partisan toady who looks the other way is much more to Donald's taste. Yet despite all his low, gluttonous instincts and prior history of corruption, Donald can certainly be trusted from now on to do without independent oversight, right Donald fanboys?
  4. Sure. Why not? Isn't this just the sort of thing that corrupt autocratic-minded leaders do in banana republics? ' Trump Fires Intelligence Chief Involved in Impeachment Democrats accuse the president of trying to settle scores by firing senior official Michael Atkinson US President Donald Trump has fired a senior official who first alerted Congress to a whistleblower complaint that led to his impeachment trial. Mr Trump said he no longer had confidence in Michael Atkinson, the inspector general of the intelligence community. Democrats said the president was settling scores during a national emergency caused by the coronavirus. They also accused him of trying to undermine the intelligence community. Last year, Mr Atkinson informed Congress of the complaint that President Trump had allegedly abused his office by pressuring Ukraine to open an investigation into Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son. In letters to Congress, Mr Atkinson described the complaint as "urgent" and "credible". The Democratic-majority House of Representatives voted to impeach the president, but a trial in the Republican-led Senate later acquitted him of all charges. On Friday, Mr Trump notified Congress that Mr Atkinson would be removed from his post within 30 days. Sources told the Associated Press the official had been placed on administrative leave and would not serve out his 30 days. "It is vital that I have the fullest confidence in the appointees serving as inspectors general," Mr Trump wrote. "This is no longer the case with regard to this inspector general." He said he would name a successor "at a later date". Officials quoted by Reuters said Thomas Monheim, a career intelligence professional, would serve as acting inspector general in the meantime. Democrats reacted angrily to the move. "In the midst of a national emergency, it is unconscionable that the president is once again attempting to undermine the integrity of the intelligence community by firing yet another intelligence official simply for doing his job," said Senator Mark Warner, the most senior Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee. Congressman Adam Schiff, who chaired the House impeachment hearings, said "the president's dead of night decision puts our country and national security at even greater risk." "President Trump's decision to fire intelligence community inspector General Michael Atkinson is yet another blatant attempt by the president to gut the independence of the intelligence community and retaliate against those who dare to expose presidential wrongdoing," he said. Last month President Trump replaced his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, who was perceived to have implicated the president in the impeachment inquiry with an off-the-cuff remark at the White House podium. Mr Trump has recently come under fire for his handling of the coronavirus outbreak in the US which has so far claimed more than 7,000 lives. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-52164706 Generalissimo Donald says: "That's a real nice country you've got there. Be a shame if anything happened to it."
  5. Now, HipKat. Certainly if it were anyone besides Straight J, then it might seem like he was suffering from delusions of grandeur. But this is Straight J we're talking about. Straight J. If he's not entitled to show his superiority by lording it over everyone around him, all the time while demonstrating no familiarity whatsoever with the concept of humility, then I don't know who is. In conclusion, Straight J is amazing, and I'm not just saying that because I'm one of his new devoted acolytes and seek to curry his favor.
  6. As a professor, I'm not accustomed to making mistakes, except perhaps in this case. [Chortle.] The order of the conversation was Bowman, Sucked in Again and then you; so I presumed you believed that you were having an adult conversation with both of them. So I apologise for my error. You've taken it easy on me and you believe your kindness was maybe unwarranted? I see. How interesting. Well, I certainly hope I can live up to your expectations in future posts, SJ. It's certainly very important to me. Really, I should consider myself lucky to even be conversing with you.
  7. The fact that you think you're having a serious, adult conversation with the likes of Bowman should be enough by itself to make anyone here question your judgement and sense related to the latest conspiracy theory you're trying to sell.
  8. When is concrete, indisputable, evidentiary proof not concrete, indisputable, evidentiary proof? When it's viewed by Donald's emotionally underdeveloped fanboys.
  9. Having a bungling, inept, lying charlatan and all-around sleazebag at the helm in a time of crisis is never a good idea. Donald, when informed directly by a desperate governor that there is a massive problem with testing: "I haven’t heard about testing in weeks. We’ve tested more now than any nation in the world. We’ve got these great tests and we’ll come out with another one tomorrow where it’s, you know, almost instantaneous testing. But I haven’t heard about testing being a problem." Leaked audio suggests Trump is in denial about the coronavirus testing problem “I haven’t heard about testing being a problem,” Trump said on a call with governors on Monday. Governors and public health officials — including those on President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force — have spoken often about difficulties finding and processing Covid-19 tests. In a call with governors Monday, however, Trump said he has not heard about these issues. In audio of the call published by CBS News, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) details two problems with testing. First, that his state doesn’t have enough tests, saying “we’re one day away if we don’t get test kits from the CDC that we wouldn’t be able to do testing.” And second, that the federal government has depleted the tests available on the private market. These are known issues, and are problems the Trump administration has been repeatedly criticized for not working harder to solve. But Trump respond to Bullock’s concerns by saying, “I haven’t heard about testing in weeks. We’ve tested more now than any nation in the world. We’ve got these great tests, and we’ll come out with another one tomorrow, that’s almost instantaneous testing. But I haven’t heard about testing being a problem.” It is true that testing capacity has ramped up in recent weeks, and that the FDA approved a new test from Abbott Laboratories that can deliver results in as little as five minutes. But testing does remain a problem, and one a number of governors have been vocal about. Monday, for example, Govs. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan (D) and Larry Hogan of Maryland (R) published an op-ed in the Washington Post asking the federal government for more “test kits, medical supplies and other lifesaving equipment to meet the scope of this pandemic.” Trump’s response to questions of testing typically mirrors the answer he gave Bullock — that the US is doing more testing than anyone else. And this, to a point, appears to be true. As of Saturday, Adm. Brett Giroir, coronavirus task force member and assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services, said the US had done 894,000 tests. But while that is a large number, the number of tests done per capita is much smaller: According to the Washington Post, the US had conducted 2,250 tests per million people by March 28, a figure roughly two-thirds of the per capita testing rate South Korea achieved three weeks earlier. The reason this distinction is important is that if we are to end social distancing in the next few months, rather than ending it only when a vaccine becomes available, it is imperative enough tests exist to test on a massive scale, as Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, has explained. “If you look at an area, any area — take one that has moderate degree of activity — you can’t just empirically say, I’m going to loosen restrictions there,” Fauci said on CNN’s State of the Union Sunday. “You can do it, but you absolutely must have in place the capability of going there, testing, testing in an efficient way, not take a test, come back five days later, and find out if you’re infected, testing, knowing in real time if a person is infected, and then getting them out of circulation, and contact tracing.” Essentially, the way to begin to go back to something resembling normal life is to test a lot, and track who those who test positive had contact with (or, contact trace). The infected and exposed can then practice social distancing on a more individual level. Trump brags about US test numbers, but has yet to advocate for the massive testing needed to end current social distancing practices A vaccine could be as far as 17 months away, according to experts, making more strategic social distancing an attractive strategy. In the call with the governors that elicited Trump’s remark about having heard nothing about testing difficulties, Fauci attempted to learn how close those on the line were with getting to a point where limited social distancing would be a viable strategy. “Do you have any system in place that you feel can adequately identify cases and isolate them and contract-trace them, or are the capabilities and resources there that’s not something you can do with what you have?” Fauci asked Bullock. Bullock responded that Montana is nowhere near that point, leading to Trump to tout his test numbers. It doesn’t appear that Trump has bought into the idea that expanding testing could lead to a solution for the situation the country has found itself in. He has said it understands the concept. During his March 25 daily press conference, after being asked about a proposal from Dr. Ashish Jha, head of Harvard University’s Global Health Institute, that recommended testing be done broadly in order to quarantine selectively — broadly, what Fauci outlined — the president said, “I saw his statement.” “We have tested, by far, more than anybody,” Trump continued. “And our tests are the best tests. ... But if you’re saying we’re going to test 350 million people — I watched his statement; I disagree with it.” Testing each and every American isn’t necessarily needed, but as Vox’s Brian Resnick has explained, broad and regular testing is needed throughout the country “to see where the virus may be lurking, especially in cases where symptoms are mild or don’t manifest at all.” Once those places are identified, they can be quarantined on a limited basis, Resnick writes, turning “that sledgehammer of social distancing into a scalpel.” This is the approach South Korea has taken to get the coronavirus under control. Some of the huge number of tests needed to get to that point are in production — Abbott has said it can deliver 50,000 of its new tests each day starting Wednesday, but far more will be needed. My colleague Alex Ward has outlined one way to help ramp up production: Trump could invoke the Defense Production Act, which would allow the federal government to direct private companies to make the tests and other essential material like ventilators and masks. Trump has been hesitant to commit to that thus far — and certainly can’t be swayed to change his mind on the matter until he comes to understand the importance of the testing problem. Fauci has said the federal government’s top scientists have changed the president’s mind on coronavirus matters before, most recently encouraging him to extend the period of federally recommended social distancing by a month and convincing him not to lock down New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey. And so it may be that the president can be made to understand why testing is still a problem, and that the federal government can do more to help governors get the tests they desperately need. https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2020/3/31/21200994/coronavirus-testing-shortage-trump-governors-call
  10. I think just about everyone in the world already suspected the Chinese government was lying all along about their number of dead. Estimates Show Wuhan Death Toll Far Higher Than Official Figure As authorities lifted a two-month coronavirus lockdown in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, residents said they were growing increasingly skeptical that the figure of some 2,500 deaths in the city to date was accurate. Since the start of the week, seven large funeral homes in Wuhan have been handing out the cremated remains of around 500 people to their families every day, suggesting that far more people died than ever made the official statistics. "It can't be right ... because the incinerators have been working round the clock, so how can so few people have died?" an Wuhan resident surnamed Zhang told RFA on Friday. "They started distributing ashes and starting interment ceremonies on Monday," he said. Seven funeral homes currently serve Wuhan -- a huge conurbation of three cities: Hankou, Wuchang and Hanyang. Social media users have been doing some basic math to figure out their daily capacity, while the news website Caixin.com reported that 5,000 urns had been delivered by a supplier to the Hankou Funeral Home in one day alone -- double the official number of deaths. Some social media posts have estimated that all seven funeral homes in Wuhan are handing out 3,500 urns every day in total. Funeral homes have informed families that they will try to complete cremations before the traditional grave-tending festival of Qing Ming on April 5, which would indicate a 12-day process beginning on March 23. Such an estimate would mean that 42,000 urns would be given out during that time. Various calculations Another popular estimate is based on the cremation capacity of the funeral homes, which run a total of 84 furnaces with a capacity over 24 hours of 1,560 urns city-wide, assuming that one cremation takes one hour. This calculation results in an estimated 46,800 deaths. A resident of Hubei province, of which Wuhan is the capital, said most people there now believe that more than 40,000 people died in the city before and during the lockdown. "Maybe the authorities are gradually releasing the real figures, intentionally or unintentionally, so that people will gradually come to accept the reality," the resident, who gave only his surname Mao, said. A source close to the provincial civil affairs bureau said many people had died at home, without being diagnosed with, or treated for, COVID-19. The source said any talk of the true number of deaths in Wuhan was very sensitive, but that the authorities do likely know the real figure. "Every funeral home reports data on cremations directly to the authorities twice daily," the source said. "This means that each funeral home only knows how many cremations it has conducted, but not the situation at the other funeral homes." The source said Wuhan saw 28,000 cremations in the space of a single month, suggesting that the online estimates over a two-and-a-half month period weren't excessive. Wuhan resident Sun Linan said relatives of those who died are now forming long lines outside funeral homes to collect their loved ones' ashes. "It has already begun," Sun said on Thursday. "There were people lining up in Biandanshan Cemetery yesterday, and a lot of people forming lines today at Hankou Funeral Home." Hush money Wuhan resident Chen Yaohui told RFA that city officials have been handing out 3,000 yuan in "funeral allowances" to the families of the dead in exchange for their silence. "There have been a lot of funerals in the past few days, and the authorities are handing out 3,000 yuan in hush money to families who get their loved ones' remains laid to rest ahead of Qing Ming," he said, in a reference to the traditional grave tending festival on April 5. "It's to stop them keening [a traditional expression of grief]; nobody's allowed to keen after Qing Ming has passed," Chen said. The son of deceased COVID-10 patient Hu Aizhen said he had been told to collect his mother's ashes by the local neighborhood committee. "The local committee told me they are now handling funerals, but I don't want to do it right now," the man, surnamed Ding, told RFA. "There are too many people doing it right now." Chen said nobody in the city believes the official death toll. "The official number of deaths was 2,500 people ... but before the epidemic began, the city's crematoriums typically cremated around 220 people a day," he said. "But during the epidemic, they transferred cremation workers from around China to Wuhan keep cremate bodies around the clock," he said. A resident surnamed Gao said the city's seven crematoriums should have a capacity of around 2,000 bodies a day if they worked around the clock. "Anyone looking at that figure will realize, anyone with any ability to think," Gao said. "What are they talking about [2,535] people?" "Seven crematoriums could get through more than that [in a single day]." https://www.rfa.org/english/news/china/wuhan-deaths-03272020182846.html
  11. Wouldn't everyone like to read another inflammatory article that makes Donald look like the incompetent, clueless little excrement-covered, excrement-throwing monkey that he is? I know I would. I started to highlight in red the parts that make Donald look particularly inept and POS-ish, until I realized just about everything was going to end up in red. Remaining Donald fans, what are your favorite parts? Coronavirus: What This Crisis Reveals About the US -- and Its President There are no fresh flowers at the 9/11 Memorial any more. An American altar usually decorated with roses, carnations and postcard-sized Stars and Stripes is sequestered behind a makeshift plastic railing. Broadway, the "Great White Way", is dark. The subway system is a ghost train. Staten Island ferries keep cutting through the choppy waters of New York harbour, passing Lady Liberty on the way in and out of Lower Manhattan, but hardly any passengers are on board. Times Square, normally such a roiling mass, is almost devoid of people. In the midst of this planetary pandemic, nobody wants to meet any more at the "Crossroads of the World". A city known for its infectious energy, a city that likes to boast it never even has to sleep, has been forced into hibernation. With more cases than any other American conurbation, this city is once again Ground Zero, a term no New Yorker ever wanted applied here again. With manic suddenness, our world has been turned upside down, just as it was on September 11th. Nations, like individuals, reveal themselves at times of crisis. In emergencies of this immense magnitude, it soon becomes evident whether a sitting president is equal to the moment. So what have we learnt about the United States as it confronts this national and global catastrophe? Will lawmakers on Capitol Hill, who have been in a form of legislative lockdown for years now, a paralysis borne of partisanship, rise to the challenge? And what of the man who now sits behind the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office, who has cloaked himself in the mantle of "wartime president"? Of the three questions, the last one is the least interesting, largely because Donald Trump's response has been so predictable. He has not changed. He has not grown. He has not admitted errors. He has shown little humility. Instead, all the hallmarks of his presidency have been on agitated display. The ridiculous boasts -- he has awarded himself a 10 out of 10 for his handling of the crisis. The politicisation of what should be the apolitical -- he toured the Centers for Disease Control wearing a campaign cap emblazoned with the slogan "Keep America Great". The mind-bending truth-twisting -- he now claims to have fully appreciated the scale of the pandemic early on, despite dismissing and downplaying the threat for weeks. The attacks on the "fake news" media, including a particularly vicious assault on a White House reporter who asked what was his message to frightened Americans: "I tell them you are a terrible reporter." His pettiness and peevishness -- mocking Senator Mitt Romney, the only Republican who voted at the end of the impeachment trial for his removal from office, for going into isolation. "Every one of these doctors said: 'How do you know so much about this?'" His continued attacks on government institutions in the forefront of confronting the crisis -- "the Deep State Department" is how he described the State Department from his presidential podium the morning after it issued its most extreme travel advisory urging Americans to refrain from all international travel. His obsession with ratings, or in this instance, confirmed case numbers -- he stopped a cruise ship docking on the West Coast, noting: "I like the numbers where they are. I don't need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasn't our fault." His compulsion for hype -- declaring the combination of hydroxycholoroquine and azithromycin "one of the biggest game-changers in the history of medicine," even as medical officials warn against offering false hope. His lack of empathy. Rather than soothing words for relatives of those who have died, or words of encouragement and appreciation for those in the medical trenches, Trump's daily White House briefings commonly start with a shower of self-congratulation. After Trump has spoken, Mike Pence, his loyal deputy, usually delivers a paean of praise to the president in that Pyongyang-on-the-Potomac style he has perfected over the past three years. Trump's narcissistic hunger for adoration seems impossible to sate. Instead of a wartime president, he has sounded at times like a sun king. Then there is the xenophobia that has always been the sine qua non of his political business model -- repeatedly he describes the disease as the "Chinese virus". Just as he scapegoated China and Mexican immigrants for decimating America's industrial heartland ahead of the 2016 presidential election, he is blaming Beijing for the coronavirus outbreak in an attempt to win re-election. is attempt at economic stewardship has been more convincing than his mastery of public health. A lesson from financial shocks of the past, most notably the meltdown in 2008, is to "go big" early on. That he has tried to do. But here, as well, there are shades of his showman self. He seems to have rounded on the initial figure of a trillion dollars for the stimulus package because it sounds like such a gargantuan number - a fiscal eighth wonder of the world. Trump, in common with all populists and demagogues, favours simple solutions to complex problems. He closed America's border to those who had travelled to China, a sensible move in hindsight. However, the coronavirus outbreak has required the kind of multi-pronged approach and long-term thinking that seems beyond him. This has always been a presidency of the here and now. It is not well equipped to deal with a public health and economic emergency that will dominate the rest of his presidency, whether he only gets to spend the next 10 months in the White House or another five years. The Trump presidency has so often been about creating favourable optics even in the absence of real progress - his nuclear summitry with the North Korean despot Kim Jong-un offers a case in point. But the tricks of an illusionist, or the marketing skills of the sloganeer, do not work here. This is a national emergency, as countless others have pointed out, that can't be tweeted, nicknamed or hyped away. The facts are inescapable: the soaring numbers of the dead. What have we learnt of the United States? First of all, we have seen the enduring goodness of this country. As with 9/11, we have marvelled at the selflessness and bravery of its first responders -- the nurses, doctors, medical support staff and ambulance drivers who have turned up to the work with the same sense of public spiritedness shown by the firefighters who rushed towards the flaming Twin Towers. We've witnessed the ingenuity and creativity of schools that have transitioned to remote, online teaching without missing a beat. We've seen a can-do spirit that has kept stores open, shelves stocked and food being delivered. In other words, most Americans have shown precisely the same virtues we have seen in every country brought to a halt by the virus. As for the American exceptionalism on display, much of it has been of the negative kind that makes it hard not to put head in hands. The lines outside gun stores. The spike in online sales of firearms -- Ammo.com has seen a 70% increase in sales. The panic buying of AR-15s. Some Christian fundamentalists have rejected the epidemiology of this pandemic. To prove there was no virus, a pastor in Arkansas boasted his parishioners were prepared to lick the floor of his church. Once again, those who live in developed nations have been left to ponder why the world's richest country does not have a system of universal healthcare. Ten years after the passage of Obamacare, more than 26 million Americans do not have health insurance. Rather than a coming together, the crisis has demonstrated how for decades Americans have conducted a political version of social distancing: the herd-like clustering of conservatives and liberals into like-minded communities caused by the allergic reaction to compatriots holding opposing political views. Once again, we have seen the familiar two Americas divide, the usual knee-jerk tribalism. Republicans have been twice as likely as Democrats to view coronavirus coverage as exaggerated. Three-quarters of Republicans say they trust the information coming from the president, whereas the figure among Democrats is just 8%. As the Reverend Josh King told the Washington Post despairingly: "In your more politically conservative regions, closing is not interpreted as caring for you. It's interpreted as liberalism." Even on 13 March, when the CDC projected that up to 214 millions could be infected, Sean Davis, the co-founder of the right-wing website, The Federalist, tweeted: "Corporate political media hate you, they hate the country, and they will stop at nothing to reclaim power to rule over you. If that means destroying the economy via a panic they helped incite, all while running interference for the communist country that started it, so be it." The latest Gallup polling shows the split: 94% of Republicans approve of his handling of the crisis, compared with 27% of Democrats. But overall, six out of ten Americans approve, pushing his approval rating up again to 49%, matching the highest score of his presidency. As with previous crises, such as 9/11, Americans tend to rally around the presidency, although Donald Trump remains a deeply polarising figure. After the attacks of September 11th, George W Bush's approval rating was over 90. The political geography of America, with its red and blue state separatism, has even affected how voters are being physically exposed to the virus. Democrats tend to congregate in the cities, whose dense populations have made them hotspots. Republicans tend to live in more sparsely populated rural areas, which so far have not been so badly hit. Thus, the polarisation continues amidst the pandemic. Rather than to the Trump White House, much of "Blue America" has looked for leadership to its state capitals: Democratic governors such as Andrew Cuomo in New York (who Trump tweeted should "do more"), Gavin Newsom in California (whom Trump has praised) and Jay Inslee in Washington state (whom the president called a "snake" during his visit to the CDC). For American liberals, Dr Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has become the subversive hero of the hour. Offering an antidote to this post-truth presidency, Fauci sticks to scientific facts. After repeatedly contradicting Donald Trump over the seriousness of the outbreak, he is on his way to being viewed with the same affection and reverence as the liberal Supreme Court jurist Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Fauci has become a phenomenon on social media Surely the coronavirus outbreak will eventually lead to an end momentarily to the gridlock on Capitol Hill. Legislators have no other choice but to legislate given the enormity of the economic crisis and the spectre of a 21st Century Great Depression. However, the first two attempts to pass a stimulus package failed amidst the usual partisan acrimony and brinksmanship. Republicans and Democrats are arguing over whether to include expansions of paid leave and unemployment benefits, and what the Democrats are calling a slush fund for corporate America that could be open to abuse. Once again, Capitol Hill's dysfunction has been shown to be both systemic and endemic. Given the scale of the public health and economic crisis, the hope would be of a return to the patriotic bipartisanship that prevailed during much of the Fifties and early Sixties, which produced some of the major post-war reforms such as the construction of the interstate highway system and the landmark civil rights acts. History, after all, shows that US politicians co-operate most effectively in the face of a common enemy, whether it was the Soviet Union during the Cold War or al-Qaeda in the initial months after 9/11. But the early response of lawmakers on Capitol Hill is far from encouraging. And if there is cross-party co-operation - as there will surely be in the end - it will not be the product of patriotic bipartisanship but rather freak-out bipartisanship, the legislative equivalent of panic buying. The paradox here, as lawmakers face-off, is that crises erase philosophical lines. As in 2008, ideological conservatives have overnight become operational liberals. Those who ordinarily detest government have come in this emergency to depend on it. Corporate America, which is generally phobic towards federal intervention, is now desperate for government bailouts. Trickle-down supply siders have become Keynesian big spenders, such is their desire for government stimulus spending funded by the taxpayer. Even universal basic income, a fringe idea popularised by the Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, has gone mainstream. The US government intends to give $1,200 payments to every American. In this call to national action, we have been reminded of how the federal government has been run down over the past 40 years partly because of an anti-government onslaught that started with Ronald Reagan. In 2018, the team responsible for pandemic response on the National Security Council at the White House was disbanded. The failure to carry out adequate testing, the key to containing outbreaks early on, is linked to a funding shortfall at the Department of Health and Human Services. As with the attacks of 11 September 2001, warnings within government were repeatedly ignored. In recent years, there have been numerous exercises to test the country's preparedness for a pandemic - one of which involved a respiratory virus originating from China - that identified exactly the areas of vulnerability now being exposed. As with Hurricane Katrina, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has struggled. As ever, there are tensions between federal agencies and the states. The institutional decline of government that led so many Americans to pin their faith in an individual, Donald Trump, is again plain to see, whether in the shortage of masks and protective gowns or the dearth of early testing. Consequently, America's claim to global pre-eminence looks less convincing by the day. While in previous crises, the world's most powerful superpower might have mobilised a global response, nobody expects that of the United States anymore. The neo-isolationism of three years of America Firstism has created a geopolitical form of social distancing, and this crisis has reminded us of the oceanic divide that has opened up even with Washington's closest allies. Take the European travel ban, which Trump announced during his Oval Office address to the nation without warning the countries affected. The European Union complained, in an unusually robust public statement, the decision was "taken unilaterally and without consultation". Nor has the United States offered a model for how to deal with this crisis. South Korea, with its massive testing programme, and Japan have been exemplars. China, too, has shown the advantages of its authoritarianism system in enforcing a strict lockdown, which is especially worrying when the western liberal order looks so wobbly. Hopefully, nobody will forget how officials in China tried to cover up the virus for weeks and silenced whistleblowers, showing the country's ugly autocratic side even as the outbreak was spreading. But whereas Beijing managed to build a new hospital in just 10 days, the Pentagon will take weeks to move a naval hospital ship from its port in Virginia to New York harbour. Politically, there will be so many ramifications. It is worth remembering, for example, that the Tea Party was as much a reaction to what was called the "big government conservatism" of George W Bush in response to the financial crisis as it was to the pigmentation of Barack Obama. The official history of the Tea Party movement states it came into existence on 3 October, 2008, when Bush signed into law TARP, the Troubled Asset Relief Programme which saved the failing banks. Tea-Partiers viewed that as an unacceptable encroachment of government power. Likewise, it is worth bearing in mind that the two major convulsions of the 21st Century, the destruction of the Twin Towers and the collapse of Lehman Brothers, both ended up having a polarising effect on US politics. The fragile bipartisan 9/11 consensus was shattered by the Bush administration's decision to invade Iraq. The financial crisis fuelled the rise of the Tea Party and further radicalised the Republican Party. What will be the impact on the presidential election? Judging by the Lazarus-like revival of Joe Biden, the signs are that Democrats are voting for normal. Clearly, a significant majority is not in the mood for the political revolution promised by Bernie Sanders. A 78-year-old whose candidacy was almost derailed in its early stages because he was so tactile looks again like a strong candidate in these socially distant times. The view from Lincoln Memorial across the National Mall in Washington, DC Many Americans are yearning for precisely the kind of empathy and personal warmth that Biden offers. Even before the coronavirus took hold, he had made recovery his theme, a narrative in accord with his life story. Many also want a presidency they could have on in the background. A less histrionic figure in the Oval Office. Soft jazz rather than heavy metal. A return to some kind of normalcy. But who would make any predictions? Only a few weeks ago, when the chaos of the Iowa caucuses seemed like a major story, we were prophesying Biden's political demise. Besides, normalcy is not something we can expect to see for months, maybe even for years. Rather, the coronavirus could dramatically reshape American politics, much like the other massive historical convulsions of the past 100 years. The Great Depression led to the New Deal, and its massive extension of federal power, through welfare programmes such as Social Security. It also made the Democrats, the champions of government, politically dominant. From 1932 onwards, the party won five consecutive presidential elections. World War II, among other social changes, gave impetus to the struggle for black equality, as African-American infantrymen who fought fascism on the same battlefields as white GIs demanded the same menu of civil rights on their return home. The attacks of 11 September made many Americans more wary of mass immigration and religious pluralism. The Great Recession undermined faith in the American Dream. A migrant worker in California in 1937 How America changes as a result of coronavirus will be determined by how America responds. Liberals may be hoping the outbreak will highlight the need for universal healthcare, a New Deal-style revival of government, the return of a more fact-based polity and a stronger response to global warming, another planetary crisis which has the potential to paralyse and overwhelm so much of the world. Conservatives may conclude the private sector rather than government is better equipped to deal with crises, amplifying their anti-government rhetoric, that gun controls should be further relaxed so that Americans can better protect themselves, and that individual liberties should not be constrained by nanny states. Every day on my way to work, I pass the 9/11 memorial where the Twin Towers once stood, and watch people laying their flowers and muttering their quiet prayers. Many is the time I have wondered whether I would ever cover a more world-altering event. As I look out of my window on a quiet and eerie city that feels more like Gotham than New York, I fear we may be confronting it now. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-52012049
  12. As Coronavirus Deaths Mount, Trump's Handling of Intelligence Warnings Looks Worse and Worse I thought Trump's willful blindness might manifest itself in a failure to heed signs of a terrorist strike or a state-sponsored cyberattack. Instead, the missed warnings pointed to a pandemic By Frank Figliuzzi, former FBI assistant director for counterintelligence and NBC News/MSNBC analyst Those of us who served in the intelligence community knew this day was coming. The day when President Donald Trump's near total disregard for intelligence professionals would eventually affect every American. Personally, I thought Trump's willful blindness might manifest itself in a failure to heed signs of an imminent terrorist strike, military assault or state-sponsored cyberattack. Instead, the missed warnings pointed to a pandemic that has so far resulted in over 82,000 infected Americans and over 1,100 dead here at home. While Trump claims the coronavirus was a "surprise," we've now learned that as early as January, intelligence professionals were sounding the alarm. Our country's intelligence agencies monitor pandemic preparedness not only because of the possibility that adversaries could weaponize a virus, but also because the impact of such a virus poses a national security threat. A widespread, unchecked illness that affects troop strength, police and rescue staffing, health care workers, critical infrastructure and our economy makes us more vulnerable to both internal and external threats. That's why intelligence agencies assess global response capabilities generally and individual virus outbreaks specifically. Now it appears the president's disdain for unvarnished intelligence may have caused him to disregard their prescient warnings. Whoever coined the phrase "ignorance is bliss" never met Trump. The president has a well-established record of ignoring his intelligence advisers on even the most serious issues. When Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, our intelligence community concluded that Saudi government operatives, and more precisely the crown prince, were to blame. Trump disputed the findings. When U.S. intelligence agencies found the Russian government responsible for hacking into the Democratic National Committee and for social media propaganda during our 2016 presidential election, the president chose to accept Russian President Vladimir Putin's denial. When the CIA, the State and Defense departments and other agencies all concluded that North Korea would not abandon its nuclear weapons program, Trump insisted he and Kim Jong Un could negotiate a deal. The president's repeated dismissals of articulable facts damaged and demoralized our key institutions and cast doubt upon honest brokers of the truth. Now the ripple effects of that damage are being felt far beyond the diplomatic community. According to The Washington Post, "U.S. intelligence agencies were issuing ominous, classified warnings in January and February about the global danger of the coronavirus while President Trump and lawmakers played down the threat and failed to take action that might have slowed the spread of the pathogen." Almost a year before that, an annual threat report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence by Dan Coats, then its director, stated, "The United States will remain vulnerable to the next flu pandemic or large-scale outbreak of a contagious disease that could lead to massive rates of death and disability, severely affect the world economy, strain international resources, and increase calls on the United States for support." Coats stepped down last year after he was reported to have angered the president with unwelcome intelligence assessments. The 2020 report, which was supposed to have been released in February, remains mysteriously classified. Until now, many Americans took a distant, impersonal view of the president's disdain for the truth presented in regular intelligence briefings and reports. Accounts of the president's lashing out at intelligence agency heads, briefers and analysts and his openly discounting even unanimous findings and conclusions may have been viewed as differences of opinion, self-serving posturing or, by some, the dismissal of "deep state" operatives. And when it comes to how America should interact with North Korea or Saudi Arabia, there is a certain disconnect. Not everyone cares about the details of those decisions in large part because they do not touch the lives of everyday Americans. Debates between the White House and the intelligence community over foreign policy, geopolitical strategies and even adversarial threats sound to many Americans like standard Washington dissonance. Such disagreements were easier to pass off as mere differences of political opinion. The pandemic is different, however, both because of how many people it has touched and because of the nonpartisan nature of the crisis. COVID-19 is — or at least should be — an apolitical problem with apolitical warnings and an apolitical response. Yet Trump's self-serving distrust of our intelligence agencies, and his harmful portrayal of them as partisan, caused him to blow off their reporting at our peril. This time, the impact is personal, and the consequences are tangible. We need expert voices more than ever, and we need a president who will listen to them. https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/coronavirus-deaths-mount-trump-s-handling-intelligence-warnings-looks-worse-ncna1169996
  13. No surprises here. Donald sounds like a child or simpleton lashing out in frustration at car-makers in his latest deflection tweet. Does anyone, besides Donald's mostly child-like or gullible supporters, think this man is any good at his job? Trump lashes out at GM, Ford over ventilators President Donald Trump lashed out at Ford and General Motors in a Friday morning tweet, blaming them for not gearing up production of medical supplies quickly enough. GM sold the Lordstown plant last November. GM and Ford both announced earlier this month that they are working with medical suppliers to help ramp up production of medical gear. GM responded to Trump's tweet by pointing out in a statement it is “taking aggressive steps” to speed up production of ventilators by Washington-based Ventec Life Systems, while also converting a GM plant in Kokomo, Indiana, to have it ready to start shipping additional ventilators “as soon as next month.” Ford this week announced it will work with 3M and GE Healthcare for production of medical supplies, hoping to have several hundred thousand ventilators ready by June. It has already delivered a first batch of masks.
  14. In times of crisis, it's absolutely disastrous to have a president who is a cheap happy-talking salesman that routinely lies or makes misleading statements. He's the one person people should be able to look to for inspiration and reassurance and leadership. Instead, the office is occupied by a conman and lifelong bullshitter whose main concern is about his personal wealth and image. Coronavirus: Is the US Testing More Than South Korea? President Donald Trump has been defending his handling of the coronavirus outbreak as the number of cases there continues to rise sharply. We've fact-checked some of the president's recent claims. Claim 1 "The United States has done far more 'testing' than any other nation, by far!" Mr Trump said this on 25 March, when the latest official data showed that a total of 418,810 people had been tested in the US. Figures from South Korea for that date show a total of 357,896 tests. Before that, South Korea had conducted more tests than anyone else. So the US has carried out more tests in total, but what's important is that South Korea has a population of about 51 million, compared with the US which has about 328 million. Therefore, by 25 March the US had tested around one in 780 people, compared with South Korea which had tested more than one out of every 150 people. That's far fewer per capita in the US than in South Korea, and both countries detected their first case of Covid-19 on the same day in late January. In early March, the White House conceded that the United States did not have enough testing kits and some health centres have also reported difficulties using them. However, testing in the US has significantly ramped up recently, with the total number almost doubling in late March. Claim 2 When asked about WHO data on the virus's death rate: "I think the 3.4% is really a false number... Personally, I think the number is way under 1%." In a telephone interview on Fox News, President Trump said a WHO figure of 3.4% for the coronavirus death rate was "false". The WHO reported this figure on 3 March and said it was based on all the confirmed coronavirus cases that had resulted in death. Mr Trump said he thought the true death rate, based on "my hunch", was "way under 1%". He said the death rate appeared higher because many people who caught a mild form of the virus did not report it to the doctor and therefore did not end up as confirmed cases. At the moment we don't know how likely you are to die from coronavirus, mainly because of the lack of data on infections. However, scientists' current best guess is about 1%. Claim 3 On 9 March: "Last year 37,000 Americans died from the common flu. Nothing is shut down, life and the economy go on... Think about that." This statement from the president requires context. We don't know exactly how many American deaths there have been linked to flu. But estimates from the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) give a range between 26,339 and 52,664 flu deaths last winter (between October 2019 and February 2020), with a best estimate of 34,157. So a lot of people die from flu each year, as Mr Trump points out. However, unlike most strains of flu, the spread of the new coronavirus has not yet been contained by vaccines or immunity from previous outbreaks, and scientists (including those from the WHO) believe it has a significantly higher death rate than that of seasonal flu (which, on average, is about 0.1%). Claim 4 On 7 March: "Very soon, we're going to come up [with a vaccine]." Currently there is no vaccine for this new coronavirus, although scientists in many countries are working hard to develop one. Scientists say realistically, one won't be ready until at least the middle of next year. Testing of vaccines on animals has already started. There's also been a test on human volunteers of a vaccine against coronavirus, but it will take many months before we know if this works. Claim 5 On 29 February: "We've taken the most aggressive actions to confront the coronavirus. They are the most aggressive taken by any country." The US has now imposed sweeping restrictions and some quarantine measures. But other countries have also taken aggressive measures to counter the virus - in some instances, more than the US. China and Italy, for example, introduced widespread quarantining, affecting millions of people. The EU has closed its external borders for at least 30 days, with some European states closing their borders to any non-nationals, as well as introducing severe restrictions on movement. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-51818627
  15. Donald just doesn't seem very skilled at not saying amazingly stupid and ignorant things on a regular basis. If these weren't such dark, dangerous times, I could actually envisage a laugh track running in the background each time Donald spoke. He really is best suited for a golf course or armchair at a retirement home, where he could be out of the way and not embarrassing himself and not constantly making things worse.
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