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Zorro

Profile Information

Gender: Male
Hometown: America's Finest City
Current location: District 50
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 10,954

Journal Archives

Trump needs to put commanders in charge of this war

One month ago, President Trump expressed great confidence in his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. “When you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero,” he said, “that’s a pretty good job we’ve done.” Now the United States has more than 100,000 cases, the most in the world, and more than 1,300 deaths — and the pandemic is expanding. The “job” Mr. Trump has done is disastrously inadequate, failing to lead the government or marshal the country to face this crisis.

Mr. Trump says he feels like a “wartime president.” The most important thing he can do now is to manage the pandemic as if in wartime: put it in the hands of commanders who know how to fight it. The president needs to draw from the country’s rich and talented pool of seasoned experts. He should immediately put someone in charge of the ongoing first wave, which may yet last for many weeks, and he should name a second person to begin planning for the transition period that follows, an immensely complex task. Then he should get out of their way.

Mr. Trump cut off travel from China early on. But instead of taking advantage of the reprieve that might have given the country, he entered a state of denial – “I think it’s going to work out fine,” he said Feb. 10 — and failed to prepare. The result is shortages and bottlenecks of tests, masks and hospital beds, leaving the United States today in the sad situation of health-care workers wearing plastic garbage bags and construction goggles for protection. Mr. Trump then sensibly called for social distancing, a move that requires cooperation from everyone, but soon seemed to have second thoughts and impulsively declared Easter as a nice target date for a return to work. The most fundamental point of crisis communications — a clear, straightforward and credible message— has been sundered.

In the near term, New York should not be bidding against Louisiana for vital supplies. The federal government must bring order and efficiency out of this chaos, overcome shortages, kick-start production and ensure the safety of health-care workers. It also must communicate clearly to the American people — and to all 50 governors — why social distancing and school and business closings are essential to break the chains of virus transmission. If we lose faith, the virus wins.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/trump-needs-to-put-commanders-in-charge-of-this-war/2020/03/28/c04ca988-704b-11ea-a3ec-70d7479d83f0_story.html

Homeschooling during the coronavirus will set back a generation of children

As the coronavirus pandemic closes schools, in some cases until September, American children this month met their new English, math, science and homeroom teachers: their iPads and their parents. Classes are going online, if they exist at all. The United States is embarking on a massive, months-long virtual-pedagogy experiment, and it is not likely to end well. Years of research shows that online schooling is ineffective — and that students suffer significant learning losses when they have a long break from school. Now they’re getting both, in a hastily arranged mess. And the kids who suffer most from the “summer slide” are the low-income students, the ones already struggling to keep up.

Schools and teachers are mobilizing to roll out instruction. Many are showing entrepreneurial spirit and creativity, and the ad hoc home-school universe is awash in ideas and resources. District leaders are working long hours, trying their best to serve kids. While larger districts have at times struggled with communication and rollout, some schools and districts are showing a more nimble and collaborative approach. Achievement First, a charter network with schools in multiple states including Rhode Island, has jumped in and offered to share all resources with the Providence Public School District, which is under a state takeover for low performance. And Chiefs for Change, an organization of state and local education leaders, is hosting a virtual forum for school districts to share how they are collaborating with charter schools during this crisis. Hopefully, in the coming weeks, those jurisdictions struggling to support online coursework will catch up and find workarounds for students without access to technology, learning from the more entrepreneurial players.

But the barriers they face are daunting.

First, research shows that even with great planning, a willing audience and lots of effort from teachers well-schooled in distance learning, results for K-12 students are lackluster. The author of one study of virtual charter schools (which have more online offerings and thus more to study than public institutions) noted that “challenges in maintaining student engagement are inherent in online instruction,” in part because of the limited student-teacher contact time. “Years of evidence [is] accumulating about how poorly these schools are performing,” the author of one multiparty report held in 2016. That report concluded, “Full-time virtual schools are not a good fit for many children.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/coronavirus-homeschooling-will-hurt-students-badly/2020/03/27/f639882a-6f62-11ea-b148-e4ce3fbd85b5_story.html

The Great American Migration of 2020: On the move to escape the coronavirus

Back home in Oakland, Calif., Lisa Pezzino and Kit Center built a life that revolved around music and the people who make it — the musicians who recorded on Pezzino’s small label and performed in places where Center rigged the lights and sound equipment.

Where they are now, deep in the redwood forest near Big Sur, 140 miles south along the California coast, there is mostly the towering silence of isolation. A tiny cabin, an outdoor kitchen, just one neighbor. This is life in the flight from the virus.

They left town with four days of clothing and every intention of coming right home. And then the new rules kicked in, and state officials urged people to stay inside. There would be no concerts, no musicians wandering by to plan a recording session. Pezzino, a civil engineer who can work remotely, and Center, whose rigging work definitely cannot be done from home, decided to stay put in the woods, indefinitely. They joined the impromptu Great American Migration of 2020.

“The heartbeat of what we do is in gathering, the community of where we live,” Pezzino said. “That’s what keeps me in the Bay Area. It’s certainly not the rent, which is crazy. When everything we do was canceled, my response was, ‘Gosh, then, can we go to the country?’ ”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/coronavirus-great-american-migration/2020/03/28/b59d4d44-6f6f-11ea-a3ec-70d7479d83f0_story.html

Florida Surgeon General says 'stay home' to one-third of state's population: seniors

All individuals over the age of 65 and those with certain medical conditions are being urged to stay home, according to a new public health advisory signed by the Florida Surgeon General late Wednesday night.

The 2-page public health advisory is a major move for the state of Florida. Nearly a quarter of the sunshine state's population is made up of seniors, which appears to be one of the most vulnerable groups when it comes to COVID-19.

"Safe is better. We all love each other. I think as a community we want to protect those who are most vulnerable," said Tampa resident Ellie Baggett, whose parents are over 65.

According to the order, all individuals over the age of 65 and all individuals of any age with high-risk conditions should remain in their residence and take all measures to limit the risk of exposure to COVID-19.

https://www.fox13news.com/news/florida-surgeon-general-says-stay-home-to-one-third-of-states-population-seniors

Thomas Massie is a monster Republicans created

Republicans were aghast that one of their own had committed such a monstrously selfish act.

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), in purely symbolic opposition to the $2.2 trillion emergency coronavirus legislation, forced hundreds of his colleagues to risk their lives — literally — by flying back to Washington. So what if many of the lawmakers are elderly and at high risk?

To thwart Massie’s pointless protest, an attempt to force a roll-call vote instead of a simple voice vote, leaders had to summon 216 members to fill the chamber, eerily separated on the floor and in the gallery above to limit infection. This fruitless, immoral gesture by the 49-year-old legislator was in service of another: to thwart a nearly unanimous Congress from dispensing aid to the sick and suffering in the middle of a pandemic.

President Trump called Massie a “third rate Grandstander” and proposed to “throw Massie out of Republican Party!” Joining in bipartisan revulsion, former secretary of state John Kerry shared Trump’s tweet and added: “Congressman Massie has tested positive for being an a--hole. He must be quarantined to prevent the spread of his massive stupidity.”

But if Republicans are disturbed by Massie, they might pause for self-reflection. Massie is the epitome of the anti-government culture they have nurtured and encouraged. He embodies the drain-the-swamp political philosophy they have embraced.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/03/27/thomas-massie-is-monster-republicans-created/

Senate Republicans knew the country was facing disaster yet still voted to keep Trump in office

After a week during which the nation began to watch the coronavirus horrors we have seen play out in other countries finally make their way into our own hospitals, it's worth remembering the active role Senate Republicans played in getting us here. During the critical early handling of the virus here in the U.S., senators from both parties had a window into what was to come—well before the virus had even made the radar of most Americans.

But instead of focusing on preparing for a potential pandemic in the making, Senate Republicans were busy staging a sham no-witness impeachment trial for Donald Trump so they could ultimately vote to acquit him, ensuring that Trump would be at the helm as the nation faced the greatest public health crisis in a century. That trial began on Jan. 16 and concluded on Feb. 5 with Trump's acquittal. But that critical three-week period also included early warning signs that U.S. senators, in particular, were privy to. As one U.S. official told The Washington Post about the intelligence reporting shared with both Trump officials and members of Congress in January, "Donald Trump may not have been expecting this, but a lot of other people in the government were -- they just couldn't get him to do anything about it. ... The system was blinking red."

On Jan. 20, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) confirmed the first case of novel coronavirus here in the U.S., a Washington man who had recently returned from visiting Wuhan, China, the city where the disease had first taken hold.

On Jan. 24, the Senate Health and Foreign Relations Committees hosted a private, all-senators briefing on the coronavirus with Trump health officials, including the CDC director and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. That date has gained some notoriety in the past week as reports emerged that four U.S. senators began dumping stock shortly after that briefing. In fact, one of them, Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler of Georgia, reported her first stock sale on that very day. GOP Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma sold at least $180,000 in stocks on Jan. 27.

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/3/27/1931905/-Senate-Republicans-knew-the-country-was-facing-disaster-yet-still-voted-to-keep-Trump-in-office

Now we know: The conservative devotion to life ends at birth

After watching so many on the right deny the science of climate change for so many years, I am not remotely surprised to now see so many “conservatives” denying the reality of the novel coronavirus. I am, however, shocked to see that the “pro-life” movement is so willing to sacrifice the lives of the elderly and ailing in a sick attempt to restart the U.S. economy while we are struggling with more coronavirus cases than any other country. Apparently, the right-wing devotion to life ends at birth.

The Republican reaction initially was to write off concern about the virus as a “hoax” designed to embarrass President Trump. There was a brief turn in mid-March, when both Trump and his media boosters began to take the virus a bit more seriously. But now Trump and the right-wing media are coalescing around the theme that “the cure is worse than the disease” — meaning that, after trying social distancing for a week or two, we should all get back to normal and pretend people aren’t dying around us.

Their justification for this dangerous move is based on pure ignorance. To cite but one example, Ann Coulter tweeted that “For people under 60, coronavirus is LESS dangerous than the seasonal flu.” In support of this view she included a chart that shows the coronavirus death rate for those aged 30 to 39 is 0.12 percent compared with a death rate for the flu of 0.02 percent for those aged 18 to 49 — meaning coronavirus is at least six times deadlier. But how many of her fans bothered to read the fine print?

Fox News host Laura Ingraham, for her part, touted Trump’s miracle cure, claiming: “Lenox Hill in New York among many hospitals already using hydroxychloroquine with very promising results.” As a HuffPost reporter noted, this was based on false information from a man who doesn’t actually work at Lenox Hill Hospital. In fact, a small Chinese study just concluded that hydroxychloroquine is no more effective than standard treatment for the coronavirus. More research needs to be done, but it is highly irresponsible to tout this anti-malaria drug as a “gift from God,” as Trump has done. An Arizona man even died from ingesting fish tank cleaner containing chloroquine phosphate in hopes of preventing covid-19.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/03/27/now-we-know-conservative-devotion-life-ends-birth/

It was the worst week for the economy in decades. The pain is just beginning.

The record 3.3 million jobless claims reported Thursday mark the beginning of an economic crisis facing American workers and businesses — a slump, experts say, that will only end when the coronavirus pandemic is contained.

The economy has entered a deep recession that has echoes of the Great Depression in the way it has devastated so many businesses and consumers, triggering mass layoffs and threatening to set off a chain reaction of bankruptcies and financial losses for companies large and small.

What sets this downturn apart is how rapidly the virus — and the economic pain — have spread. It remains a wide open question whether this will become a long-lasting slump or a short-lived flash recession.

Economists say the jobless claims reported Thursday, which reflected workers seeking unemployment insurance last week, is the start of a massive spike in unemployment that could result in over 40 million Americans losing their jobs by mid-April.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/03/26/it-was-worst-week-economy-decades-pain-is-just-beginning/

Cruise lines, early source of coronavirus infections, out of bailout package

Like hotels and airlines, cruise companies have seen their business decimated by the coronavirus pandemic and economic shutdowns.

But unlike those industries, major cruise operators don’t locate their headquarters in the United States, so they will not have access to $500 billion in aid for large employers in the massive stimulus bill, the industry’s trade group said Thursday.

Language in the 883-page bill passed by the Senate says that to be eligible for aid from the $500 billion fund, companies must be certified as “created or organized in the United States or under the laws of the United States” as well as having “significant operations in” and a majority of employees based in the United States.

Major cruise companies have located their primary headquarters overseas, which for years has allowed them to pay almost no federal taxes and avoid some U.S. regulations. To staff their ships, the companies rely heavily on foreign workers from the Philippines, Indonesia and India.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/03/26/cruise-line-bailout/

Pablo Escobar's Hippos Fill a Hole Left Since Ice Age Extinctions

When Pablo Escobar died in 1993, the Colombian drug kingpin’s four adult African hippopotamuses were forgotten. But the fields and ponds along the Magdalena River suited them. One estimate puts their current population at 50 to 80 animals: By 2050 there may be anywhere from 800 to 5,000 in a landscape that never before knew hippos.

They aren’t the only herbivores showing up in unexpected places. In Australia, feral camels roam the outback. Antelope are a common sight in rangelands from Texas to Patagonia. And feral hogs are everywhere. Conventional wisdom holds that these animals are causing new, and potentially damaging, impacts to beleaguered ecosystems. But a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences argues that the lifestyles of these and other exotic fauna may be restoring the ecological functions of species lost to extinction during the last ice age.

“We found that, amazingly, the world is more similar to the pre-extinction past when introduced species are included,” said Erick Lundgren, an ecologist at the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia, and the study’s lead author.

Beginning 100,000 years ago, during the Late Pleistocene, a wave of extinctions claimed large animals throughout the world: mammoths in Eurasia, horses and giant sloths in the Americas and a bestiary of giant marsupials in Australia. Researchers have suspected that the loss of these megafauna may have left holes in the food webs and other cycles of the ecosystems where they lived, particularly in places like the Americas and Australia, where the extinctions were more intense.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/26/science/pablo-escobar-hippos.html
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