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Zorro's Journal
Zorro's Journal
March 31, 2020

Trump Tackles Medical Supply Shortage By Awarding ExxonMobil Contract To Drill For Ventilators

WASHINGTON—Saying there was no way the coronavirus could win with such amazing corporations on their side, President Donald Trump kicked off his plan to tackle the medical supply shortage Tuesday by awarding ExxonMobil an exclusive contract to drill for ventilators in the arctic.

“Today, the heroic crews at ExxonMobil will travel to Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, where they will drill 6,000 feet below the earth in search of new, undiscovered mechanical breathing devices,” said Trump, signing the $86 billion deal that gave the oil company sole access to survey, drill, and extract from over 30,000 square miles of “vast, untapped reservoirs of respiratory ventilators.”

“While this crisis is a challenge, I want to assure the American people that there are millions of medical devices lying just below the arctic surface, and all we need is ExxonMobil’s vast network of drilling rigs to find them. That’s why we’re also announcing the construction of a long-distance ventilator pipeline, as well as an exclusive, multi-billion-dollar contract with Shell to begin extracting ventilators on Native American reservations throughout South Dakota.”

At press time, President Trump had reportedly once again downplayed the need for medical supplies after one of ExxonMobil’s largest offshore tankers exploded.


March 31, 2020

America's Teachers Urge Trump to Use Time at Home to Repeat First Grade

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Donald J. Trump should use this time when he is staying at home to repeat first grade, the nation’s teachers are urging.

Carol Foyler, the executive director of the National Alliance of Elementary Educators, said that the homebound Trump has a “golden opportunity” to use remote learning to repeat the first-grade curriculum.

“At a time when many of our nation’s children are being homeschooled, this seems like the perfect time for President Trump to learn the basics of reading, writing, and math,” she said. “By June, he could be reading ‘Hop on Pop’ and ‘Go, Dog, Go!’ ” She added that anyone at the White House would be qualified to homeschool Trump, “except Jared.”

Foyler acknowledged that the plan for Trump to repeat first grade had faced dissent from some of the nation’s teachers, who felt strongly that he should first repeat kindergarten. “From an educational standpoint, the kindergarten curriculum is mainly devoted to socialization and getting along with others,” she said. “I think the ship has sailed on that.”

That disagreement aside, Foyler said that the nation’s elementary educators were prepared to offer Trump a broad array of online learning resources. “He will have everything he needs to repeat first grade while Dr. Fauci runs the country,” she said.


March 30, 2020

Fauci Warns Trump That If Everyone in U.S. Dies It Could Affect His TV Ratings

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—In a conversation over the weekend that reportedly left the President “shaken,” Dr. Anthony Fauci warned Donald Trump that if everyone in the United States dies, it would adversely affect his television ratings.

Although Fauci was quick to add that the everyone-dying scenario was purely hypothetical, he stressed that, from a medical perspective, alive people were more likely than dead ones to watch television.

According to a source familiar with the conversation, the possible impact of covid-19 fatalities on Trump’s ratings “totally blindsided” the President, who immediately convened an emergency meeting of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. “It’s time you losers started taking this situation seriously,” Trump reportedly barked. “Especially you, Pence.”

In what was described as an increasingly rancorous session, Trump reprimanded the group for “not doing enough” to safeguard his TV ratings. “I like the numbers being where they are,” he thundered.

Shortly after the meeting, Trump signed an executive order requiring all Americans to be quarantined in their living rooms until further notice.


March 30, 2020

When DeSantis shut reporter out of coronavirus briefing, he shut out all Floridians

Gov. Ron DeSantis denied Mary Ellen Klas, a Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times reporter in Tallahassee, access to his coronavirus press conference on Saturday. It was vindictive, petty — and illegal. He should be ashamed — not because he thinks he put one over on a reporter, the Times or the Herald. No, to them it’s not personal.

Rather, he should be ashamed because, in not allowing Klas to do her job and ask the serious questions that deserve his serious answers, he is really denying access to the Floridians who look to these media outlets for vital information.

There’s no denying it: DeSantis, like some — but not other, more-conscientious — Republican governors, is taking his marching orders from President Trump, who is still downplaying the intensity of COVID-19’s grip on the nation, ignoring medical experts and playing politics with Americans’ very lives. After all, the president had threatened to hold coronavirus aid hostage unless certain governors who have criticized him play nice. Deplorable.

But that’s why, when Dr. Anthony Fauci, the infectious-disease expert, warned in early March that there was “community spread” of the virus in the state — a worrisome sign — Florida’s governor pushed back, claiming, No, there isn’t any such thing. That was another early and worrisome sign.


March 30, 2020

Uranus Ejected a Giant Plasma Bubble During Voyager 2's Visit

Uranus is unquestionably weird. Swirling with mostly water, methane and ammonia, the solar system’s seventh planet is tipped over at 98 degrees, so its magnetic poles take turns directly facing the sun. And its magnetic field is strangely misaligned with the planet’s rotation, causing it to wildly lurch about.

Back in 1986, the ice giant world got what remains its only visitor from Earth — Voyager 2, which is now more than 11 billion miles from Earth, but at that time flew a mere 50,600 miles above Uranus’s cloudy skies. As it passed, Voyager 2 heard an odd magnetic whisper, a signal so ephemeral that it went unnoticed.

More than three decades later, scientists were taking a deep dive into the venerable spacecraft’s data pool, hoping to find scientific mysteries that could help support a return mission to Uranus and its ice giant sibling, Neptune. They unearthed that magnetic hiccup, and realized it represented the detection of a mass of electrically excited gas with a width 10 times Earth’s circumference.

This ginormous bubble was a jettisoned part of Uranus’s atmosphere. Although only one was spotted, other gassy missiles may also be launched every 17 hours, the time it takes Uranus to complete one rotation.


No comment.

March 30, 2020

Inside G.M.'s Race to Build Ventilators, Before Trump's Attack

While much of the U.S. economy has ground to a halt because of the coronavirus outbreak, several dozen workers in orange vests and hard hats were hauling heavy equipment on Sunday at a General Motors plant in Kokomo, Ind.

The crew was part of a crash effort to make tens of thousands of ventilators, the lifesaving machines that keep critically ill patients breathing. The machines are in desperate demand as hospitals face the prospect of dire shortages. New York State alone may need 30,000 or more.

President Trump on Friday accused G.M. and its chief executive, Mary T. Barra, of dragging their feet on the project and directed his administration to force the company to make ventilators under a 1950s law. But accounts from five people with knowledge of the automaker’s plans depict an attempt by G.M. and its partner, Ventec Life Systems, a small maker of ventilators, to accelerate production of the devices.

With deaths surging as cases snowball, the two companies have moved urgently to find parts, place orders and deploy workers, the people said. Tasks that normally would take weeks or months have been completed in days. The companies expect production to begin in three weeks and the first ventilators to ship before the end of April.


March 30, 2020

Pompeo's pandemic performance ensures his place among the worst secretaries of state ever

Let’s recall how the U.S. secretary of state has historically behaved at a time of grave international crisis: circling the globe (at least telephonically); formulating a coherent multilateral response; and lining up nations behind it — starting with America’s closest allies.

Now, consider how Mike Pompeo spent his time last week, as cases of covid-19 soared in the United States and numerous other countries. He kicked off Monday by indulging in a pointless war of words with Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, whom he accused of lying about the country’s grave coronavirus outbreak.

Then he flew off to Afghanistan, where, after a brief and failed attempt to persuade President Ashraf Ghani and rival Abdullah Abdullah to put aside their deep-seated differences, thereby facilitating the pre-election troop withdrawal President Trump wants, he resorted to the administration’s favorite foreign policy tool: abruptly cutting off aid.

On Wednesday, Pompeo had an opportunity to lead when foreign ministers of the Group of Seven convened by telephone. James A. Baker III, George Shultz or Madeleine Albright would have emerged with a clear statement of purpose by the world’s leading democracies — perhaps a commitment to aiding the poor nations and refugees that face devastation by the new disease.

Instead, Pompeo blocked the G-7 from issuing any communique after the other ministers sensibly refused to go along with his petty insistence that it refer to the “Wuhan virus.” The message he sent was clear: Scoring a rhetorical point against Beijing is more important to this U.S. administration than forging a consensus with Britain, France, Germany and other close allies.


March 30, 2020

Trump beats a retreat on opening the country as coronavirus data, images show dark reality

For six days straight, President Trump talked about reopening the country quickly. He wanted people filing into offices again, diners returning to restaurants and shoppers gathering at malls without fear of contagion.

Trump mused about a reopening date of April 12, picking it arbitrarily because he thought it would be beautiful to see church pews packed with parishioners on Easter. Then he dug in, seeming to tune out the nearly unanimous assessment of public health experts and governors and mayors fighting to help save lives, which was that Easter would be far too soon because the worst still was yet to come. As the self-described wartime president saw things, the novel coronavirus was a “silent enemy” and America was defeating it.

What a difference a week makes.

Trump beat a hasty retreat on Sunday, announcing from the Rose Garden just before dusk that the federal government’s stringent social distancing guidelines, set to expire on Monday, would be extended through April 30.

More still — as the number of coronavirus deaths in the United States surpassed 2,400, nearly 1,000 of them in New York alone — the president acknowledged that the silent enemy was gaining ground.


March 29, 2020

The U.S. Tried to Build a New Fleet of Ventilators. The Mission Failed.

Thirteen years ago, a group of U.S. public health officials came up with a plan to address what they regarded as one of the medical system’s crucial vulnerabilities: a shortage of ventilators.

The breathing-assistance machines tended to be bulky, expensive and limited in number. The plan was to build a large fleet of inexpensive portable devices to deploy in a flu pandemic or another crisis.

Money was budgeted. A federal contract was signed. Work got underway.

And then things suddenly veered off course. A multibillion-dollar maker of medical devices bought the small California company that had been hired to design the new machines. The project ultimately produced zero ventilators.


March 29, 2020

The Rise and Fall of Bernie Sanders: A Theory

Ari Rabin-Havt, a burly, bearded political operative, had been doing events with his boss for three years, since his boss was just 75 years old. But Bernie Sanders had never before asked for a chair. Sanders was as tired as Rabin-Havt had ever seen him, sitting in front of a banner bearing his name at a private fundraiser in a Middle Eastern restaurant in Las Vegas. Rabin-Havt cut the event short. He was a little alarmed, but political campaigns are exhausting, and it had been a long day, beginning early in Eastern Standard Time.

Jesse Cornett, the body man, was with them — his first day on the job. A body man is literally someone who takes care of the needs of the corpus of an important and busy person. It was his job to know how the candidate’s body was faring, but it was not his job to push.

In the car, Rabin-Havt asked if Sanders was okay. Sure, Sanders said. He’d just go to the hotel and lie down. He had a big day tomorrow. Then Rabin-Havt asked about dinner. Sanders said he was not hungry. He hadn’t eaten for hours and hours. Sanders should have been hungry. It could have been nothing, but two alarm bells had just rung for Rabin-Havt, and here came the third: Sanders said he was feeling a tightness in his chest.

Sometimes in high-pressure jobs, at the risk of irritating someone who is paying your salary, you have to substitute your judgment for theirs. Cornett and Rabin-Havt said it at the same time: They should go to an urgent-care clinic. And they did.


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