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Gender: Male
Hometown: America's Finest City
Current location: District 50
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 10,252

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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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

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.


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

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.”


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.

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