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Zorro's Journal
Zorro's Journal
March 26, 2020

Republicans block most aid to help states plan for presidential election amid coronavirus pandemic

Source: Yahoo News

Voting reforms that would make it much easier to cast ballots by mail in the fall presidential election were left out of the $2 trillion rescue package that was unveiled Wednesday, but key lawmakers vowed to keep pushing for a series of measures that would prepare the country for an election in the likely scenario that the coronavirus will still be a major presence in the country.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said that while the $400 million included in the current package is “a step in the right direction,” it fell well short of what they and other Democrats had pushed for.

The money included for now will be available to states “to increase the ability to vote by mail, expand early voting and online registration and increase the safety of voting in-person by providing additional voting facilities and more poll workers,” one House Democratic staffer told Yahoo News.

But it’s a fraction of the $4 billion that House Democrats had pushed for. Those measures, along with the reforms in the “Natural Disaster and Emergency Ballot Act” proposed by Klobuchar and Wyden, would radically expand the ability of Americans to vote by mail in this fall’s elections, and would also expand early voting for up to two weeks prior to Election Day.

Read more: https://news.yahoo.com/republicans-block-most-aid-to-help-states-plan-for-presidential-election-amid-coronavirus-pandemic-223136209.html

March 26, 2020

New Evidence Indicates Intelligence Not Contagious

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—New evidence uncovered over the past several weeks indicates that intelligence is not contagious, a study by the Centers for Disease Control reports.

In a controlled experiment documented by the study, a seventy-nine-year-old man with intelligence was placed in close proximity to a seventy-three-year-old man without it for a period of several weeks to see if even a trace of his knowledge and expertise could be transmitted.

After weeks of near-constant exposure, however, the seventy-three-year-old man appeared “a hundred per cent asymptomatic” of intelligence, the researchers found. “In terms of facts, data, and wisdom, there was zero community spread,” the report stated.

The researchers, however, left open the possibility that intelligence might be transmissible to other people, just not to the seventy-three-year-old who was the subject of the experiment.

“There is evidence to suggest that this subject has developed a super-immunity to intelligence, making it impossible for even rudimentary information to permeate his extraordinarily thick cranium,” the study indicated.


March 26, 2020

Venezuelan President to Be Charged in the U.S. With Drug Trafficking

Source: New York Times

The president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, was charged in the United States on Thursday with federal drug trafficking crimes after an investigation by federal authorities in Washington, New York and Florida, people briefed on the matter said.

The charges were expected to be announced Thursday morning at a live-streamed video news briefing by the head of the U.S. Justice Department’s Criminal Division in Washington and the top federal prosecutors in New York and Miami, according to a news advisory.

In addition to Mr. Maduro, charges are also expected to be announced against nearly a dozen others, including the Venezuelan government and intelligence officials and members of the largest rebel group in Colombia, the Revolutionary Armed Forces, known as FARC, which has long drawn its financing from the cocaine trade.

Few details of the charges were not available early on Thursday, but the charges included narco-terrorism conspiracy and conspiracy to import cocaine into the United States.

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/26/nyregion/venezuela-president-drug-trafficking-nicolas-maduro.html

March 25, 2020

Fauci Tricks Trump Into Believing There Is No Easter This Year

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Taking bold action to safeguard the health of millions of Americans, Dr. Anthony Fauci has tricked Donald J. Trump into believing that there is no Easter this year, Fauci has confirmed.

After hearing Trump declare on Tuesday that he hoped to reopen the country on Easter Sunday, an alarmed Fauci decided to spring into action. “I ran down to my computer and mocked up a phony 2020 calendar with no Easter on it,” Fauci said. “Then I showed it to Trump and said, ‘There’s a problem with your plan, Mr. President. There’s no Easter this year.’”

According to Fauci, Trump was initially baffled by the news. “How could that be?” Trump asked. “There’s Easter every year.”

“This is a leap year,” the quick-thinking virologist replied.

“I guess I didn’t know it worked that way,” Trump said. “I never go to church.”


March 25, 2020

Trump to New York: Drop Dead

So it’s essentially come to this: President Trump is treating each of our 50 states as individual contestants on “The Apprentice” — pitting them against one another for scarce resources, daring them to duke it out — rather than mobilizing a unified national response to a pandemic.

If that’s the case, this is the episode where New York loses. The coronavirus is whipping through the state, especially New York City, at a terrifying rate. We need personnel, ventilators and personal protective equipment, stat.

But Trump’s response has been the same as President Gerald Ford’s in 1975, when our city, faltering on the brink of insolvency, begged Washington for help and was brutally rebuffed, a moment forever enshrined in The Daily News’s headline “FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD.”

Now Trump is telling us the same. Literally.


March 25, 2020

New Jersey Slaps Terror Charge on Man Over Alleged Supermarket Cough Threat

A New Jersey man has been charged with making terroristic threats after he was accused of coughing on a supermarket employee and saying he was infected with the coronavirus behind the ongoing pandemic, authorities said Tuesday.

George Falcone, 50, was issued a summons for terroristic threats in the third degree and other charges over the incident, according to the office of New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal.

In a Facebook message to Reuters on Tuesday, Falcone denied the accusations, saying, "Didn't cough on anyone and never mentioned corona."

According to Grewal, Falcone was in a Wegman's supermarket in Manalapan, New Jersey on Sunday evening when an employee asked him to step back from prepared foods while she covered them. Instead, prosecutors said, he leaned toward her and purposely coughed, laughing and saying he was infected with the coronavirus, which causes a respiratory illness known as COVID-19 that can be severe or fatal.


March 25, 2020

Trump's goal of sending people back to work early is reckless

When the 18-deck cruise liner Diamond Princess returned to Japan on Feb. 3, it had already made six stops in three countries. One passenger had departed in Hong Kong, with symptoms of the new coronavirus, confirmed by tests on land. Japanese authorities eventually tested all 3,711 passengers and crew, and discovered that, of the 712 people with positive test results, 331 of them were asymptomatic, or had no symptoms, at the time of testing.

The finding, included in a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday, points to a significant challenge in managing a response to the pandemic. When the virus lodges in the upper respiratory tract, people may not show any symptoms for days, even as they may transmit the virus to others. A preliminary study in China of infected people who came to Chongqing from Wuhan showed that 18 percent were asymptomatic, including about a quarter of children and the elderly. This is not out of line with what is seen in cases of influenza, an endemic disease that returns over and over again, but the coronavirus is much more lethal. The fact that many people may be carrying the coronavirus and not yet feel its symptoms should give pause to everyone thinking about the months ahead.

President Trump has declared that people “want to return to work,” and he is eager to reopen the U.S. economy. He said this can happen soon while people maintain precautions such as social distancing. “We can do two things together.” But what if a colleague in the office or the worker on the assembly line is asymptomatic, carrying the virus and potentially shedding it? What if returning to normal reignites a virus explosion? How does anyone make sure that everyone by the water cooler is already recovered, or not infected?

Going back to work too soon is reckless. More time is needed to break chains of transmission. But at some point, return is inevitable. Until a vaccine or drug therapy is found, tested and manufactured, getting back to normal will become a complex social, medical, economic and political problem. The planning should start now, while there is time. A vast increase in testing is mandatory. Hospital-bed capacity will be a major bottleneck and must be alleviated. We will need more ventilators and protective masks.


March 25, 2020

Conservatives gutted the social safety net. Now, in a crisis, they're embracing it.

Throughout his term, President Trump has chipped away at the social safety net, proposing budgets that gutted housing assistance, food stamps and health insurance for the poorest Americans. When Congress rejected those cuts, the Trump administration enacted rules to make it harder to access federal benefits, such as requiring recipients to work.

Now, with businesses shuttered, workers laid off, and scores more worrying about buying groceries, being evicted and getting sick, the swelling need for federal assistance has forced even conservative lawmakers to embrace government protections in a series of sweeping stimulus bills.

Under the $2 trillion stimulus deal reached in the Senate early Wednesday, Republicans are proposing sending direct cash payments of $1,200 to individual Americans, an idea that, on the surface, echoes former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang’s universal basic income platform. They want to bolster the unemployment insurance system after many GOP-led states spent years enacting restrictive criteria and reducing benefits.

“Anybody who is a moderate-wage worker who just experienced an economic lockdown in their state is in distress. Most people don’t have savings,” said Robert Rector, a research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank that guides much of the Trump administration’s policymaking.


March 24, 2020

As Fox News Played Down the Coronavirus, Its Chief Protected Himself

If you were watching some of the commentators on Fox News and Fox Business in the first 10 days of March, you wouldn’t have been too worried about the coronavirus — it would be no worse than the flu, and the real story was the “coronavirus impeachment scam.”

Many of the networks’ elderly, pro-Trump viewers responded to the coverage and the president’s public statements by taking the virus less seriously than, a week later, everyone else had. Public health experts have said that some of them may die as a result, as I reported this week.

But one elderly Fox News viewer, a crucial supporter of President Trump, took the threat seriously: The channel’s chairman, Rupert Murdoch, who was to celebrate his 89th birthday on March 11.

On March 8, as the virus was spreading, the Murdoch family called off a planned party out of concern for the patriarch’s health, according to a person familiar with the cancellation. There were about 20 people on the guest list.


March 24, 2020

Republicans Add Insult to Illness

If you want a quick summary of the state of play over fiscal stimulus legislation, here it is: Republicans insist that we should fight a plague with trickle-down economics and crony capitalism. Democrats, for some reason, don’t agree, and think we should focus on directly helping Americans in need.

And if legislation is stalled, as it appears to be as I write this (although things change fast when we’re on Covid time), it’s because Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, is holding needy Americans hostage in an attempt to blackmail Democrats into giving Donald Trump a $500 billion slush fund.

First, let’s talk about the nature of the economic crisis we face. At the worst point in the 2007-2009 recession, America was losing around 800,000 jobs per month. Right now, we’re probably losing several million jobs every week.

What’s causing these job losses? So far it’s not what usually happens in a recession, when businesses lay off workers because consumers aren’t spending enough. What we’re seeing instead are the effects of social distancing: restaurants, entertainment venues and many other establishments have been closed to limit the spread of the coronavirus.


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