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Roaming Charges: The Scum Also Rises

EMT making an emergency COVID-19 call in Portland, Oregon. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

+ One month ago today Trump said the US infection rate would go from 15 patients to close to zero in just a few days. Today the US passed 1,000 deaths and became the world’s leading hot spot in COVID-19 cases, surpassing Italy and China on the same day. In Trump’s own words, Congratulations America!

+ It’s hard to conceptualize the pace of the outbreak, but consider this: As of mid-day Friday, there were 100,500+ COVID-19 cases and 1,500+ COVID-related deaths in the US. Two weeks ago, there were only 1,009 “reported” cases in the entire country.

+ So, the question is: Shelter in place and then storm the palaces? Or storm the palaces and shelter in their place?

+ Here’s what a real leader sounds like in the tumult of a catastrophe, Irish health minister Simon Harris: “We must of course have equality of treatment, patients with this virus will be treated for free, and they’ll be treated as part of a single, national hospital service. For the duration of this crisis the State will take control of all private hospital facilities and manage all of the resources for the common benefit of all of our people…”

+ In a crisis, I’d take the Cubans, the Irish and the Palestinians versus the rest of the field…

+ (And a few Italian doctor/poets.) A doctor in the Lombardy hot zone holds up a sign quoting the last line of Dante’s Inferno: “When this Hell ends . . . ‘And we emerged to see the stars again.'”

+ The tradeoff Kudlow and Trump are talking about is your life for the stock portfolio of CEOs. But why is a guy who repeatedly said there was nothing to worry about because COVID-19 was “contained” being interviewed by anyone in the press (and not the FBI)? Let’s see Kudlow’s stock trades…

+ When billionaire hedge funder Bill Ackman went on CNBC last week to histrionically warn that “hell is coming” and urge the Trump to shut down the country for 30 days, he failed to inform his audience that he is neck deep in a bet against the markets that eventually reaped him $2.6 billion in profits. The scum also rises.

+ At least Agamemnon sacrificed his own flesh and blood to summon the winds at Aulis. These people want to sacrifice YOUR parents and grandparents to boost their own stock portfolios….

+ Dan Kovacevich, former CEO of Wells Fargo: “We’ll gradually bring these people back [workers younger than 55] to work late next month, if the virus is under control, and see what happens. Some of them will get sick, some may even die, I don’t know. Do you want to suffer more economically or take some risk of getting flu-like symptoms and a flu-like experience? Do you want to take an economic risk or a health risk? You get to choose.” (I hope someone is taking down names.)

+ Trump: “The country was meant to be open…(and, yet, totally walled in).”

+ Glenn Beck says older Americans should return to work: “Even if we all get sick, I would rather die than kill the country.” Lead by example, Glenn.

+ Lindsey Graham: “We have incentivized people not to go back to work.” (“The South shall rise (and die) again!”)

+ Trump’s finally found a way to cut “entitlements”, knock off the beneficiaries….

+ Will Thomas Friedman end up with a higher body count than the NYT’s current champ, Judith Miller? Stay tuned, America…

+ Viral Logic: the more cases there are today, the more cases there will be tomorrow.

+ How will Trump get rid of the meddlesome Dr Fauci, send one of Pence’s infected staffers to his office delivering the day’s lunch: Two Big Macs, a Filet-o-Fish , a supersize fries and a large Diet Coke with a used straw or order him to go take Rand Paul’s temperature every two hours? “Mr. Trump has become frustrated with Dr. Fauci’s blunt approach at the briefing lectern, which often contradicts things the president has just said, according to two people familiar with the dynamic.”

+ As Easter and the Great Culling approaches, who will Trump replace Dr. Fauci with at the daily briefings, “Pastor” Paula White or “Rev.” Jerry Falwell Jr.?

+ Falwell’s decision to re-open Liberty University is likely to give new meaning to FINAL exams…

+ American journalism in action:

Trump: “I would love to have it [the whack-granny economy] open by Easter,” April 12. “It’s an important day for other reasons, but it’s important for this too.”

FoxNews personality Bill Hemmer responds: “That would be a great American resurrection.”

+ Hang in there, Motown, Easter is Coming!

+ You too, Atlanta!

+ Before Trump called for reevaluating lockdowns, state and local governments had shuttered six of his top-earning clubs and resorts…

+ Trump: “You look at automobile accidents. Which are far greater than any numbers we’re talking about. That doesn’t mean we’re going to tell everybody no more driving of cars.” Over to you, Ralph Nader…

+ Suicide Right on the Stage: Trump says people can go to work and clean their hands five times more than usual, and not shake hands, “and things will happen,” but this situation can’t go on. “You’re going to have suicides by the thousands.”

+ Of course, Trump hasn’t actually closed anything at all, only the governors and mayors have; yet, he’s threatening–over the objections of all of his (remaining) medical advisors–to “open the country back up” in the next couple of weeks. Is that the real reason Bill Barr was on stage instead of Fauci this afternoon? Because Barr will threaten to force governors like Inslee, Newsome and Cuomo, to bend to Trump’s will or face a federal takeover of their states, a battle against largely blue states that Trump will relish?

+ Trump at his Weds press rant: “As we near the end of our historic battle with the coronavirus and that there is now light at the end of the tunnel.” His government’s own plan warns that the pandemic likely “will last 18 months or longer.”

+ $2.6 Trillion Corporate Bailout only worth 495 point bump for Dow…nothing like the 1000+ spike as news leaked of Whack-Granny-by-Easter Economic plan from Trump, Kudlow and Blankfein.

+ Amount of coronavirus aid package is $6 TRILLION in total, Larry Kudlow says. A week ago, Trump and his advisers were reviewing a plan for an $850 billion stimulus. And just over two weeks ago, Trump and aides pronounced the economy resilient enough to withstand coronavirus. Don’t let them ever again tell you that Medicare for All, free college tuition and Green New Deal are too expensive…

+ Signs you may have COVID-19: When you find yourself rooting for the Senator from Citibank to negotiate a Corona Relief bill that benefits the people…knowing its going blow up in your face.

+ Foreclosure Kingpin-cum-Treasury Steve Mnuchin declares report of record-breaking unemployment “not relevant.

+ Meanwhile, Mnuchin is huddling with his former buddies at Goldman Sachs to help him plan how to distribute his $200 billion corporate slush fund. Maybe he’ll hire HRC as a consultant?

+ Public Citizen: “One section of the Senate’s stimulus plan contains language preventing companies from using bailout money to buy back their own stock or raise CEO pay. The very next section gives Steve Mnuchin the power to COMPLETELY IGNORE THE PREVIOUS SECTION. Jaw-dropping corruption.”

+ After the closing bell on Wall Street on last Friday, Mnuchin’s pal Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon pocketed a 19% raise. It’s the biggest payday for a Goldman exec since Lloyd Blankfein took home $41 million in 2007, right before the crash…

+ Record unemployment numbers (3.6 million), stock market jumps. That’s capitalism for you…

+ Despite what Lindsey Graham may say, not everyone is eligible for Unemployment Insurance, so the real job losses are bigger, much much bigger, than 3.6 million. All in just one week.

+ We interrupt this tedium for an important Public Health message from Essie Jenkins, a criminally neglected blues singer and songwriter, who grew up in Arkansas and moved to California in the 40s, where she did most of her recording and performing.

+ A bailout at the onset of a killer pandemic without any structural change to the economy that exacerbated the crisis is the most contemptible kind of looting. What plausible excuse can Sanders, Warren & Merkley offer for lending their support to this act of corporate pillage of the sick, the jobless and the dying?

+ It’s odd that I find myself rooting for the odious Thomas Massie, as the only Member of Congress willing to throw a monkeywrench in the “bipartisan” bailout bill. (Every time you see such a mad rush under the banner of “bipartisanship,” you know nearly all of us are going to get screwed and the corporations are going to cash in.) Go Tom, go!

+ The Senate passed their corporate bailout and then adjourned for three weeks in the middle of (well, start of…) a pandemic. Maybe they won’t return. One lives in hope…

+ So the Senate passed their corporate bailout and then adjourned for three weeks in the middle of (well, start of…) a pandemic. They made no provision for voting remotely, as they have not done since 9/11. Maybe they won’t return. One lives in hope…

+ The McConnell/Schumer Slush Fund, passed by the Senate last night, is 5 times the Obama stimulus package that gave rise to the Tea Party and lead to the election of Trump. This probably means that 5 years from now the country, if it survives, will be led by someone to the right of Trump.

+ Ben Ehrenreich: “What is government for if not to make sure that rich people never have to lose their own money?”

+ Death Race 2020, Sponsored by the Federalist Society…”It is time to think outside the box and seriously consider a somewhat unconventional approach to COVID-19: controlled voluntary infection.” Buy the ticket, drink the Kool-aid, take the ride!

+ Before rushing out of town for their “spring break,” how many senators are attending the Chicken Pox Pie Party at the Federalist Society tonight?

+ How did Trump arrive at the Easter Sunday deadline? “I just thought it was a beautiful time.” Do Not Disturb: Very stable genius at work…

+ Trump wants to Open the Country for Easter…Don’t you think the Resurrected One (Osiris, Jesus, Hendrix, whatever you call him) would also Open the Borders, Open the Jails, Open the Prisons and Open the Concentration Camps?

+ Dr Fauci: “You don’t make the timeline. The virus makes the timeline.”

+ The SEC’s enforcement (so-called) division issued a stern warning this week against insider-trader on Coronavirus information, after it was dislosed that at least four US senators had dumped millions in stock after attended private briefings on the real threat posed to the global economy from COVID-19. Georgia Senator Kelly Loeffler, and her husband Jeff Sprecher (chairman of the NYSE), traded more than $3 million securities in the weeks before the market collapsed.

+ Jared Yates Sexton (Hoosier): “What we’re learning in a real hurry is that nobody in this country who actually works for a living is paid a halfway decent wage and this economy was never built to be stable or even remotely humane or fair.”

+ Pandemic Capitalism in Motion: “More than 750,000 medical-grade masks were sold at huge markups in a private auction in Texas, even after the attorney general issued a cease-and-desist.”

+ Try as they might, there’s no escaping the fact that Trump and Co. screwed up almost every aspect of dealing with the COVID-19 crisis from the very beginning in ways that were both entirely predictable and others almost unimaginable in a country as wealthy as our own.

“In late Feb, the CDC’s deputy director of infectious disease projected calm in a conference call w/ state laboratories. The labs were told they could now send samples to the CDC & receive results within 24 hours.

“‘That was a bald-faced lie,’ said Wadford.”

+ NYT: “At the Mount Sinai Health System, some hospital workers in Manhattan have posted photos on social media showing nurses using trash bags as protective gear.”

+ Trump: “Nobody in their wildest dreams would have ever thought that we’d need tens of thousands of ventilators.”

2015 CDC study: A severe flu pandemic could require 60,000 additional ventilators

+ COVID-19 patients average time on ventilator: 11 – 21 days (vs. 3 – 4 days for non-COVID-19 patients).

+ The government’s secret ventilator stockpile contains just 16,600 ventilators, according to an investigation by the Center for Public Integrity, not even close to the number needed to help people affected by a severe pandemic…

+ Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you can find the 50,000 missing ventilators…

+ How much Jeff Bezos makes, measured in ventilator costs:

1 minute: 6 ventilators
1 hour: 258 ventilators
1 day: 8,602 ventilators
1 week: 60,385 ventilators
1 month: 261,667 ventilators
1 year: 3,140,000 ventilators

Hospitals in the U.S. have only 170,000 ventilators. (Source: Public Citizen.)

+ Speaking of the world’s richest man, Bezos is $5.5 billion richer today than he was at the start of the year.

+ Trump said Friday morning that he doesn’t “believe” New York needs “40 or 30,000 ventilators” or additional  critical medical equipment.

+ Columbia law prof Tim Wu, author of The Curse of Bigness: “Here’s another reason to abolish the electoral college: It allows the President to ignore, and even allow people in New York state to die, while knowing he will not suffer an iota of electoral consequence.”

+ Just a hunch, but I don’t think Jared and Ivanka will ever be able to eat lunch in NYC again…not in public, anyway.

+ I didn’t think it was possible to love Kim Gordon any more than I did yesterday. She keeps proving me wrong…

+ Alice Dreger, bioethicist and author of Galileo’s Middle Finger: “If you need a wake-up call, here it is: My husband was on a large conference call of American med school deans last night. One asked about legal coverage for pulling people off ventilators to give to others more likely to survive. i.e., not being charged with murder. Here we are.”

+ Will someone ask Trump what he believes an acceptable death rate for the 60+ population is? Sen. Ron Johnson at least had the guts (or hubris) to say 3.4 percent of the US population (11.6 million).

+ Germany’s fatality rate for coronavirus — 0.5% —is the lowest in the world, by a long shot. Experts say that’s because they’re testing early and often. One virologist estimates the country has been testing about 120,000 people a week…

+ Coal miners have been told to keep working during the Covid-19 outbreak despite close quarters, damaged lungs…

+ When West Virginia coal meets corona: “We have lots of folks who have occupational-related illnesses, like black lung, and all of those respiratory things put folks at higher risk.”

+ In 2013, Jared Kushner had controlling interest in a holding company which owned Oscar, a health insurance concern that is now marketing a website, promoted by Trump, that aims to direct consumers to coronavirus testing locations. Oscar was started by Kushner’s brother, Joshua.

+ Ben Carson’s daughter-in-law Merlynn Carson works for a company hustling to sell for-profit coronavirus tests to the City of Miami…

+ The contradictions of capitalism have been heightened to the breaking point. Now’s the time for that last twist of pressure to make it snap.

+ I marvel at the millions of Americans who are taking medical advice from the man who removed his protective glasses and stared directly into a total solar eclipse.

+ Dr. Ann Schuchat, deputy director of the CDC, is warning that the conditions in NYC are a sobering preview of what’s about to hit the rest of the country:

“We’re looking at our flu syndromic data, our respiratory illness that presents at emergency departments. Across the country there’s a number of areas that are escalating. The numbers in New York are so large that they show up, but we’re looking at increases over time and we’re really seeing some in a number of places. It would be surprising to me based on what I’ve seen about how this virus spreads if it were not going to increase in many other parts of the country…”

+ Now’s the time join our Death Cult. The experts agree: it’s the greatest of all the Death Cults! Special two for the price of one offer. (Deal good until Easter. Sorry, no refunds.)

+ I don’t recall Rudy placing the 3,000 who died on 9/11 in a similar kind of context…

+ The health insurance industry is one big death panel. Their entire business model depends on denying treatment and medication to people who they don’t think will live long enough to sue them….

+ More infantile babble from Trump: “I’ve been briefed on every contingency you can possibly imagine. Many contingencies. A lot of positive. Different numbers. All different numbers. Very large numbers. And some small numbers too, by the way.”

+ This vicious hack has a degree from an Ivy League institution and can’t even read her own very simple graph…

+ A child under the age of 18 has died of coronavirus in Los Angeles, public health officials announce, in what is believed to be the first child death from the virus in the US. “A devastating reminder that COVID-19 infects people of all ages,” an LA health official said. According another report, “when the teen became ill, his parents took him to an urgent care center and were turned away because he didn’t have health insurance…” American triage, in action. who will break the news to Ann Coulter?

+ Trump can try to blame China if he wants, but…..Several months before the coronavirus pandemic began, the Trump administration eliminated a key American public health position in Beijing intended to help detect disease outbreaks in China.

+ Deep Thoughts from one of Trump’s favorite conservative “intellectuals”….

+ Demographic memo to Mitchell: Rhode Island is the state with the highest percentage of citizens with Italian heritage…

+ Buried deep in the 1,ooo-plus pages of the Senate bailout bill is a provision allowing corporations to stop paying into social security through the end of the year. What are the odds, if approved by the House, this little neutron bomb becomes a permanent fixture?

+ A Senate GOP spokesman on why D.C. (PR, Guam, et al) didn’t get full coronavirus funding relief: “Because Washington, D.C., is not a state. One can debate whether or not it should be, but that’s a separate discussion.”

+ The COVID bailout bill includes some paid sick leave benefits. But the law includes exceptions that some analysts say could exclude nearly 20 million private sector workers.

+ Share of workers at major corporations without paid sick leave:

Sonic: 94%
Applebee’s: 89%
Pizza Hut: 88%
Burger King: 86%
Subway: 86%
Domino’s: 85%
Dunkin’ Donuts: 85%
Wendy’s: 84%
McDonald’s: 78%
Chick-fil-A: 78%
Taco Bell: 77%

+ Dean Baker: “The Senate bill shows yet again that conservatives (at least those in politics) do not care at all about the market. They see the purpose of the government to give as much money to the rich as possible.”

+ Signs You May Have COVID-19: When you start to wish Carly Fiorina was running the US Treasury..

.”A $50 billion bailout for you when you spent the last eight years buying your stock back to the tune of about $46 billion, doesn’t strike me as the right way to use taxpayer money,” she said. “I think we should focus on individuals, working families and small businesses. So I’m pleased there is a focus on them in this bill. But eventually a bill will come due and I think the corporate bailout was too much, too soon. Maybe we didn’t need it ever.”

+ Mirror, mirror on the screen
Why’s the press so goddamn mean?
Every time you show my face
They’re call me a big disgrace.
Don’t they know God anointed me?
Just drink my Elixir and be virus-free…

+ Trump is, of course, deeply in love with his own image of himself. His problem is that the love is not returned.

+ Freud: “The thing you fear most has already happened.”

+ What it took to convince Oregon’s Gov. Kate Brown, who has been sheltering in place since her election five years ago, to declare a statewide lockdown order: “The residents of the coastal town of Tillamook, Oregon, awoke on Saturday to find Portlanders had emptied the shelves of their local grocery stores….”

+ The Atlantic’s Ed Yong has written a devastating indictment (“How the Pandemic Will End“) of Trump and the entire for-profit health “care” industry:

“In a crucial month when the American caseload shot into the tens of thousands, only hundreds of people were tested. That a biomedical powerhouse like the U.S. should so thoroughly fail to create a very simple diagnostic test was, quite literally, unimaginable. “I’m not aware of any simulations that I or others have run where we [considered] a failure of testing,” says Alexandra Phelan of Georgetown University, who works on legal and policy issues related to infectious diseases.”

+ Trump gets this at a gut level, which almost certainly prompted him to Tweet out one of the most brazen and deadly lies ever told by a sitting US president.

+ To the extent that Trump is conscious of anything, this clumsy attempt at ass-covering is evidence of his consciousness of guilt.

+ Iran, a nation under crippling sanctions, manages to test 33 million people, while the US has tested fewer than 200,000, nearly half of those in New York…

+ OK, class, look at the graph. Now, who can spot the failed state?

+ Matt Bruenig: “Pandemic throws people out of work. Throwing people out of work throws them off their insurance. Throwing them off their insurance makes it harder for them to get medical care needed for pandemic. Not a good system imo.”

+ We are edging closer and closer to the brink of a clampdown: The Trump campaign warned TV stations they could lose their licenses for airing an ad criticizing the president’s actions in the coronavirus crisis .

+ In 2016, the Obama’s NSC prepared a 69-page document providing a step-by-step plan for how handle a pandemic. This was about 68.5 too many pages for Trump to digest. All he needed to know was that it had been published by the Obama administration. It was shelved.

+ Ralph Nader: “Dangerous testing swab shortage in the mighty USA! Why? Because major manufacturer is in Italy, besieged by country’s coronavirus pandemic. Bitter fruit of corporate managed “free trade.” U.S. companies abandoned America and outsourced. Future is self-reliance.”

+ We may not have had a president worth a damn in decades, but since the early 1960s we’ve been fortunate to have a First Citizen: Ralph Nader, who has saved more lives than any other American and will save many thousands more if they’d follow his advice.

+ At 1,400 cases per million, Switzerland now has the highest Covid-19 infection rate in the world. If this is primarily a measure of widespread testing, then we might assume that 1400+ cases per million will become the real infection rate here in the US.

+ Alien: “Take us to your leader…Hmmm. Do you have any others ones?”

 

+ Trump (native of a city where this has been going on since the 50s at least) seems surprised about restaurant delivery drivers: “It’s incredible. They’re doing service where people come and they pick it up, delivery — it’s been incredible…Totally different business…other than that they cook food.”

+ C’mon, pops, don’t you know this is all just a hoax? Hey, pops. (Shakes body.) Pops? WTF, dude….?

+ I assume this proclamation by Rush is destined to be inscribed on a wall at the Smithsonian or whatever national museum collects the greatest hits of Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients.

+ Ofelia Rousseva, a Bulgarian national visiting her family in Pittsburg, refused to go to the hospital after falling ill for fear of being unable to pay her hospital bill. She later died of complications from COVID-19. “She didn’t have insurance. She thought she might not be able to pay the bills,” her son, Ludmil Velev, told the Pittsburg Post-Gazette from his hospital bed at UPMC Presbyterian, where he has been treated for COVID-19 since Monday. “And being a foreigner, she was worried even more.”

+ Pittsburg sanitation workers launch a wildcat strike for protective clothing and hazard pay. May it (the work stoppages) spread faster than virus!

+ David Orr: “Drivers at the transit agency in Texas where I work are concerned about their own safety but the union contract prohibits strikes. Paratransit drivers must come very close to passengers in wheelchairs who must be tied down to the floor. Hazard pay is not in the cards so what to do?”

+ At least three U.S. Navy sailors aboard the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt in Philippine Sea have tested positive for Covid-19, marking the first time the virus has spread to an American warship at sea. (There are more than 5,000 sailors aboard this ship.)

+ Texas is halting abortion services during the COVID-19 crisis and anyone found in violation of the order could face 180 days of jail time

+ Looks like Trump is considering militarizing the northern border to prevent Americans from fleeing to Canada to get health care…

+ Maybe Mexico will end up paying for the wall after all…to keep desperate Americans out?

+ Denmark and The Netherlands aren’t “socialist” countries, unless you’re comparing them to Texas: Denmark has promised to cover 75% – 90% of salaries for businesses that don’t lay off their employees. And in the Netherlands, the government will pay up to 90% of wages for companies hit hard by the pandemic, with additional help for restaurants…

+ Trump: GM and Ford are making ventilators “right now.”

AP fact check: GM and Ford are not yet making ventilators.

+ When Trump placed his ventilator order with Ford, did he request the top of the line Edsel model or the Pinto?

+ I don’t know why Trump isn’t reprising his Puerto Rican schtick by touring America, Walmart to Walmart, throwing out rolls of toilet paper from the back of the presidential pick-up truck…

+ In Portland, Oregon, suicide-related 911 calls are up 41 percent from last year. “My clinicians are telling me that on almost every call somebody mentions COVID-19,” Greg Border with Lines for Life, one of Portland’s mental health crisis lines, told the Portland Mercury.

+ Whatever you do, protect the brand! The director of the Convention Center, Melvin Rodrigue, said this week that he’s hesitant to use the Convention Center to house critically ill New Orleanians because he is worried images of the Center housing sick patients would “hurt New Orleans’ tourism brand“.

+ From Daniel Wolff, producer of Right to Return: New Home Movies from the Lower 9th Ward:

As of March 25, New Orleans has the ninth largest number of confirmed cases of COVID-19, even though it’s a much smaller city than the likes of New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. New Orleans has more known cases than 36 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the US Virgin Islands.

Nearly 1 in 5 New Orleans households do not have access to a vehicle—making drive-up testing nearly impossible. Fully 22 percent of New Orleanians have no access to internet (not even smart phones).

Also, New Orleans adults suffer from high blood pressure, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and other pre-existing health conditions at rates higher than in Seattle, New Rochelle, or New York City.

Compared to other early COVID-19 hot spots such as King County, WA (which includes Seattle), Westchester County, NY (includes New Rochelle and Yonkers) and New York City, New Orleans has higher poverty rates and lower average incomes.]

+ A Louisiana judge is refusing to release low-level offenders to stop COVID-19 because “the members of this particular population are overwhelmingly drug addicts who have the worst hygiene of anyone in the community, other than the mentally ill.”

+ Number of functioning ICU units in all of Gaza after years of Israeli lockdown: 100.

+ Noura Erakat: “The siege of Gaza shouldve been lifted already- the WHO has said that it will be unlivable by 2020 (this year) & the pandemic has laid bare its immorality. 2 mil Palestinians sealed off from the world, collectively punished, subject to systemic war. Demand Israel lift the siege.”

+ The US Air Force may have to drop a MOAB bomb on these places to keep them from reopening. Of course, given the accuracy of US smart-bombs they’d probably hit the LACMA and Sloppy Joe’s in Key West instead…

+ Vijay Prashad: “Trump says US will be dependent on none. 90% of US vitamin-C is imported from China……Good luck.”

+ Kentucky Gov Andy Beshear says that one person in the state tested positive after attending a coronavirus party (COVID Party? Did the all the fine ladies wear their floppiest Kentucky Derby Day hats?)

+ When Mitch Mulvaney was at CPAC slamming the media’s coronavirus coverage as “an attempt to bring down the president” and blaming the press for the stock market stump, he’d already taking a test for COVID-19.

+ Trump is back on TV with another disinfomercial, pushing his killer cocktail again…

I’m your doctor, doctor mean
only guy with chloroquine
You know me, I’m your friend
Your main boy, thick and thin
I’m your pusherman

+ MAGAman see, MAGAman do, MAGAman die…(Wife of deceased, also hospitalized after taking chloroquine, says from her hospital bed, “Don’t trust Trump about anything.”

+ Landon Spradlin, a so-called musical evangelist, had spent a few weeks railing against the “mass hysteria” over the Coronavirus hoax. Then a week later, he became the the first Virginia resident to die of Covid-related symptoms. Apparently, he didn’t die so much as ascend in a pre-Rapture recon mission…

+ Trump “Pastor” Rick Wiles says God is spreading Covid-19 in synagogues to avenge the killing of Jesus…Really.

+ In that case, one wonders why “Pastor” Wiles is broadcasting from his house. He’s not Jewish…

+ San Francisco has 33,000 hotel rooms that currently have an occupancy rate of 5-7%. This means the city has approximately 30,000 empty rooms. Safe spaces for hospital beds, the homeless, the jailed, the imprisoned?

+ Citing coronavirus, homeless families seize 12 vacant homes in L.A.: “We have to do this!

+ Nobody speaks in tongues like Trump speaks in tongues. He has all the best tongues. Consider his Thursday press appearance…

+ Trump’s reassuring message to restaurant owners fearful about the fate of their businesses during the lockdown: “Restaurants will come back, might be with different owners… I understand the restaurant business. It’s very delicate. You can serve 30 great meals to a person and a family…one bad meal, #31, and they never come back again. It’s a very tough business.”

+ Trump on why he’s considering sending troops to the Canadian border: “Gotta be concerned about steel dumping.”

+ Trump claims he’s going to Virginia tomorrow to see off the USS Comfort medical ship, which, may or may not be, heading to New York: “I’ll kiss it goodbye. There’s something very beautiful about it.” This is the same ship that sat nearly empty in the San Juan harbor as 100s of Puerto Rican victims of the hurricane perished.

+ We’ve made some adjustments to the CounterPunch Style Manual: In order to encourage social distancing, we’ve decided to reinstitute the rule of two spaces after each period.

+ Trump: “Nobody would have ever thought a thing like this could have happened.” U.S. intel was warning about a serious pandemic in January.

+ Trump: “The mortality rate… in my opinion, is way way down.” (I think he may be referring to the “MORALITY” rate…)

+ Carl Sagan: “One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.”

+ Covid-19 related deaths in the US are doubling every 3 days. But the real number, according to doctors and nurses on the frontlines, may be much higher

+ “It is absolutely impossible to practice social distancing in prison,” Laron Rogers, who is serving twenty-five years to life at Sing Sing

+ Coronavirus has struck the remote Navajo village of Chilchinbeto infecting 18 people and 26 others on the Big Rez, whose residents have now been ordered to shelter-in-place, further taxing the underfunded and understaffed Indian Health Service…

+ Signs you may have CoronaVirus: When Liz Cheney starts to make sense…

+ Nothing sparks a rally on the Dow Jones quite like a plan to Cull the Elderly…

+ UN supremo Antonio Guterres called for a global ceasefire: “The fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war. That is why today, I am calling for an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world. It is time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives.” (A message that has yet to find its way out of the White House mailroom.)

+ While you were worried about when you’d be able to get a CoronaV test, Pompeo Maximus, Bill Barr and Elliot Abrams have been plotting some wickedness against Venezuela, which they’ve now declared, with not a trace of evidence, a narco-state and state sponsor of terrorism.

+ The Trump administration has put a $15 million bounty on the head of Nicolas Maduro, ludicrously claiming he’s an international drug-trafficker. How many ventilators, masks and respirators could that $15 million fund?

+ Using data provided by the US Government itself, this report from WOLA explains that Venezuela is not a narco-state. In fact, in the last two years drug trafficking through the country has decreased steadily.

+ Forrest Hylton: “With the price on Maduro’s head now official US policy, I guess we now know what those US-Colombian civic-military exercises in the Guajira, along the Venezuelan border, are all about. Frightening and potentially devastating for the Wayúu, who have already been through some of the worst famine/drought cycles in their history during the past 10 years.”

+ US sanctions against Venezuela have already killed at least 40,000 people. How many thousands more will die this summer as the COVID-19 virus begins to ravage the southern hemisphere?

+ Since the late 70s, at least, US-backed death squads and paramilitaries across Central and South America have funded their killing with drug money with the active encouragement of the US State Dept and CIA.

+ Even Pakistan’s Imran Khan, normally one of the most obedient of the Empire’s retainers, is pleading with Trump over Twitter to end the murderous sanctions on Iran…

+ Meanwhile, here’s the US State Dept. (of a country whose chief executive tried bribe a Germany drug company to make a promising Corona vaccine available only to US citizens) warning COVID-19-imperiled countries against accepting help from Cuban doctors … or else. Or else what? Trump won’t send US doctors?

+ Here’s my pitch for a new medical Netflix series: Better Call Cuba…

+ Middle East’s “only democracy” in action again: “A Palestinian man who was working in Israel without a permit and displaying symptoms of the coronavirus was abandoned by police at a West Bank checkpoint with a fever on Monday, without any Palestinian authorities being notified.”

+ Today Biden’s teleprompter broke. Tomorrow his thermometer?

+ Under DNC rules, if Biden gets a plurality of votes and then dies, is incapacitated, or can’t find his way out of his cryogenic isolation tank, the nomination goes not to the runner up (Sanders), but into the hands of the DNC, who will then hand it to, drumroll, please… Andrew Cuomo…

+ Look’s like the time is up for Time’s Up: When Tara Reade came to the organization Time’s Up with a #MeToo allegation against Joe Biden, she was told the group couldn’t fund her case because it’s a nonprofit, and Biden is running for president.

+ Tara Reade: “He pointed his finger in my face and told me I was nothing.” (This rings true. He does it all the time to anyone who confronts him or asks a question he has no answer for…)

+ Biden says he “believes all the women, all of them.” Except the one’s who accuse him, naturally.

+ If you watch one thing on the internets today, this should probably be it…

+ Asked if he’d debate Bernie Sanders in April, Joe Biden says, “I think we’ve had enough debates. I think we should get on with this.” Besides, Joe has a hyperbaric isolation chamber reserved for the month of April, no refund on that deposit…

+ We’ve been pretty much in isolation here for going on two weeks. The last trip to a grocery store was 12 days ago. Out of wine, out of edibles, out fresh vegetables, except what we can pluck from the raised beds. So I’ve been cooking meals that can last three or four days, the best of which has been a variation on a Haitian red beans and rice recipe passed down from Deva. It’s tasty, filling and lasts for three or four days. The spice can be adjusted up or down..

1) Soak a cup of red kidney beans in cold water with salt, a pinch of cayenne and a tablespoon of olive oil for 12 hours.

2) Drain. Put in large pot with 6 cups of cold water, another tablespoon of olive oil and salt. Boil for 15 minutes, then cover and simmer for another 90 minutes. Drain into a bowl and save the liquid.

3) Dice a medium-sized yellow onion and 6 to 8 cloves of garlic. Sautée until tender in a large skillet, then add beans, stir and let cook for 3 minutes on medium heat, then add one cup of dry long-grained white jasmine rice and 5 cups of the reserved liquid from the beans. Stir in one tablespoon of red Adobo powder and one tablespoon of chili powder. (Two tablespoons of chili powder if you don’t have the Adobo.) Add two cloves, two Bay leaves and one or two chopped hot peppers (Serrano). Bring to a boil, then cover and let simmer for 20 minutes. Serve with chopped cilantro and red wine vinegar.

+ In the best news from an otherwise morbid week, the Standing Rock Sioux tribe just won a big victory against the Dakota Access Pipeline…

+ Under the cover of the COVID-19 pandemic, the EPA has decided to stop enforcing, to the limited extent they have over the last three years, most environmental regulations. So if you survive the COVID outbreak, you’re now more likely to die of cancer…

+ Old record high for March 26  in Oklahoma City: 85 degrees
High temp on March 26, 2020: 95 degrees.
(100+ on the Texas border.)

+ Researchers studying the 1918 influenza pandemic found that US cities burning more coal for electricity had a much higher rate “excess” deaths than low-coal cities. Then they looked at the top 180 US cities in 2018, and found that the “top third for coal use decidedly worse off than the bottom third.”

+ Isn’t evangelical climate change denial a kind of abortion, killing off future generations? (If coronavirus doesn’t do the job first.)

+ Cattle grazing on public lands may be implanted/drugged with all manner of toxins and the ecological harm ripples through food chain. If Wildlife Services really wanted to “serve wildlife”, they’d be shooting cows not bison and wolves…

+ In the Northwest Territories, the government is rushing to hire a helicopter and shooter to start gunning down up to 300 wolves, a figure that amounts 80% of the entire wolf population. Why? Allegedly to protect caribou, whose real threat is a nearby diamond mine. This is the 21st century, right?

+ New border wall construction in Arizona and New Mexico, still ongoing amid the fevers of COVID, will effectively block all jaguar migration routes & travel corridors, effectively isolating and dooming the North American population…

+ Research from a growing number of scientists around the world shows a clear pattern: As biodiversity decreases and wild places vanish, pathogens can run amok, putting humans, wild and domestic animals, and even plants at risk. See David Quammen’s Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic.

+ NO2 emissions in LA this time last year versus now…

+ Here’s a link to the lyrics to Bob Dylan’s 17-minute long (that’s basically 30 loops of the Zapruder film) JFK assassination song, Murder Most Foul. I have to say, as a devote of Bob, much of this reads like doggerel to me, in the first stanza alone, JFK is both a “sacrificial lamb” and “shot like a dog”…Perhaps this one was better left in the vault?

+ The advantage of rock ‘n’ roll over singer-songwriter “folk” music is that a great rock song can express in 3 minutes what a folksinger labors for 5, 10, 15 or 17 minutes trying to say. I thought Dylan recognized this back in 1965. His Julius & Ethel sez a lot more about America than the lugubrious Murder Most Foul…Check it out.

+ There were rumors, some of them maybe even true, that Thomas Pynchon’s long-awaited follow-up to Gravity’s Rainbow was to be a novel about a Japanese insurance claims adjuster assessing damages after Godzilla and Mothra went on a rampage against the nuclear power industry. We could use an intervention by Mothra now, Tom….

+ Here’s some potentially life-saving practical information on how to sterilize musical instruments of Covid-19  for those who can play and the rest of us who merely think we can play…

+ Carol Kaye, legendary bassist and guitar player: “There are bass players who rip people to death for playing with a pick. I say, hey, they don’t know the history. Most of those records that came out in the ’60s were done with a pick on flatwounds. That was the sound.”

+ Trying to wash my mind of all things COVID and Trump, I flipped through some images of Saturn taken by the Cassini probe, was stunned by this one of Saturn…

+ I took it as a sign that today’s music would be devoted to one who has been there and back. Over to you, Sun Ra…

Advice to Medics

Booked Up
What I’m reading this week…

Hellfire From Paradise Ranch: On the Frontlines of Drone Warfare
Joshua Zulaika
(University of California Press)

Station Eleven
Emily St. John Mandel
(Vintage)

Severance
Ling Ma
(Picador)


Sound Grammar

What I’m listening to this week…

The Vagabond
Aaron Diehl
(Mack Avenue)

Gigaton
Pearl Jam
(Monkeywrench)

Wild Wild East
Sunny Jain
(Smithsonian Folkways)

An Inability to Think

“Whether writing his memoirs in Argentina or in Jerusalem, whether speaking to the police examiner or to the court, what he said was always the same, expressed in the same words. The longer one listened to him, the more obvious it became that his inability to speak was closely connected to an inability to think, namely to think from the standpoint of anyone else. No communication was possible with him, not because he lied, but because he was surrounded by the most reliable of all safeguards against the words and the presence of others, and hence against reality as such.” (Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem)

More articles by:

Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His most recent books are Bernie and the Sandernistas: Field Notes From a Failed Revolution and The Big Heat: Earth on the Brink (with Joshua Frank) He can be reached at: sitka@comcast.net or on Twitter  @JSCCounterPunch

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