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Zorro

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Gender: Male
Hometown: America's Finest City
Current location: District 50
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 12,796

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I was in charge of Mt. Rushmore. Trump's plan for fireworks there is a terrible idea.

It has been more than 10 years since fireworks were last seen at Mount Rushmore National Memorial. The fireworks were canceled in 2010, my first year as superintendent of the memorial, and they never resumed during my tenure. While such patriotic celebrations were memorable, they also endangered public safety and irreplaceable natural and cultural resources within the national park and surrounding area.

Yet this year, President Trump and his administration, with the support of South Dakota Gov. Kristi L. Noem, have insisted on resuming the fireworks on July 3. And the Interior Department, under Secretary David Bernhardt, is allowing this to happen, overlooking the well-documented danger this event presents.

Several concerns drove the sound decision to cancel the fireworks in 2010. In case of emergency — wildfires started by the fireworks, medical emergencies or extreme weather events — evacuation of visitors could prove tremendously difficult. The anticipated traffic congestion and gridlock could last for hours before and after the event, compounded by visitors who are not familiar with the area. Furthermore, chemicals in the groundwater caused by perchlorates from fireworks is a concern to the health and safety of visitors and employees. A recent analysis of water and soil samples from the memorial found contamination “an order of magnitude higher” than sites measured outside the memorial; the analysis also stated that further fireworks events would increase contamination levels. This is an unacceptable outcome.

And this year, resuming the fireworks demonstration is an even greater threat to both humans and nature. Thanks to an extremely dry summer, South Dakota faces a higher than usual risk of wildfires. A former fire management officer for Mount Rushmore and numerous national parks warned that the fireworks show would be “ill-advised” given the dry conditions. The National Park Service has heeded similar warnings in previous years, canceling the fireworks in 2002 and 2010 at least in part because of high fire danger. And the park service has continued to cite concern over devastating wildfires as a reason for discontinuing the event until now.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/07/01/danger-fireworks-mount-rushmore/

The World Builds a Wall to Keep America Out

America has no monopoly on success.

You might call it poetic, if it weren’t so painful. Donald Trump won the White House largely on a campaign of shutting America’s borders to pretty much everyone other than people of European descent. “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” he once asked, about Haitians, Salvadorans and Africans. “We should have more people from places like Norway.”

So what should one conclude about America’s own proximity to Trump’s global latrine now that “places like Norway” have decided to keep their borders indefinitely closed to us?

Among the list of nations to which Norway and the rest of Europe will soon reopen for travel are three from the continent that Trump flushed down the toilet: Algeria, Morocco and Rwanda. Canada is also on the list. So is China, assuming it reciprocates.

But Trump’s America is not, because we are nowhere close to meeting Europe’s criteria for reducing the spread of the coronavirus. How successfully a society can fight a pandemic is as objective a measure of national capacity, not to mention “greatness,” as one is likely to find — and on this, like so much else these days, America ranks near the bottom.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/01/opinion/us-travel-ban-europe.html

Why Do the Rich Have So Much Power?

Americans may be equal, but some are more equal than others.

America is, in principle, a democracy, in which every vote counts the same. It’s also a nation in which income inequality has soared, a development that hurts many more people than it helps. So if you didn’t know better, you might have expected to see a political backlash: demands for higher taxes on the rich, more spending on the working class and higher wages.

In reality, however, policy has mostly gone the other way. Tax rates on corporations and high incomes have gone down, unions have been crushed, the minimum wage, adjusted for inflation, is lower than it was in the 1960s. How is that possible?

The answer is that huge disparities in income and wealth translate into comparable disparities in political influence. To see how this works, let’s look at a fairly recent example: the budgetary Grand Bargain that almost happened in 2011.

At the time, Washington was firmly in the grip of deficit fever. Even though the federal government was able to borrow at historically low interest rates, everyone who mattered seemed to be saying that the budget deficit was the most important issue facing America and that it was essential to rein in spending on Social Security and Medicare.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/01/opinion/inequality-america-paul-krugman.html

In unusual deal, U.S. Treasury to acquire 30 percent of trucking company in exchange for $700M loan

Source: Washington Post

In unusual deal, U.S. Treasury to acquire 30 percent of trucking company in exchange for $700 million loan

YRC Worldwide helps the U.S. military with transportation needs, the government said

The Treasury Department announced Wednesday that it will loan $700 million to a trucking firm that ships military equipment, in exchange for having U.S. taxpayers acquire an almost 30 percent stake in the company.

Under the unusual arrangement, the Treasury Department will provide the emergency loan to YRC Worldwide, while taking a 29.6 percent equity stake in the company. The U.S. government does not typically take ownership stakes in companies but was given permission to do so by Congress as a way to ensure taxpayer funds are not misspent.

The deal is the first under a $17 billion loan program approved as part of the broader stimulus by Congress in March. That pot of money was earmarked for firms deemed “critical” to U.S. national security. Congress gave Treasury the authority to approve more than $500 billion in emergency loans to companies and cities, although most of that money has not been disbursed.

“We are pleased for Treasury to make this loan pursuant to the CARES Act,” Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said in a statement. “This loan will enable a critical vendor to the Department of Defense to maintain significant employment while providing appropriate compensation to taxpayers.”


Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/07/01/treasury-loan-yrc-worldwide-cares-act/



Looks like socialism to me!

I wonder how many Republicans will howl about this...
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