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Member since: Mon Sep 6, 2004, 09:54 PM
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America's Bible Belt played down the pandemic and even cashed in. Now dozens of pastors are dead

'A phantom plague': America's Bible Belt played down the pandemic and even cashed in. Now dozens of pastors are dead
Right to worship emerges as battleground in looming culture war as many congregations hit hard by coronavirus
Alex Woodward
New York

Dozens of pastors across the Bible Belt have succumbed to coronavirus after churches and televangelists played down the pandemic and actively encouraged churchgoers to flout self-distancing guidelines.

As many as 30 church leaders from the nation's largest African American Pentecostal denomination have now been confirmed to have died in the outbreak, as members defied public health warnings to avoid large gatherings to prevent transmitting the virus.

Deaths across the US in areas where the Church of God in Christ has a presence have reportedly stemmed from funerals and other meetings among clergy and other church staff held during the pandemic.

The tragedy among one of the largest black Pentecostal groups follows a message of defiance from many American churches, particularly conservative Christian groups, to ignore state and local government mandates against group gatherings, with police increasingly called in to enforce the bans and hold preachers accountable.

The virus has had a wildly disproportionate impact among black congregations, many of which have relied on group worship.

Yet despite the climbing death toll, many US church leaders throughout the Bible Belt have not only continued to hold services but have urged worshippers to continue paying tithes — including recent stimulus checks — to support their mission.

Bishop Gerald Glenn, founder and leader since 1995 of the New Deliverance Evangelistic Church in Chesterfield, Virginia, was the first black chaplain of the town's police. He had vowed to continue preaching "unless I'm in jail or the hospital" before his death from coronavirus earlier this month.


Posted by babylonsister | Sat Apr 25, 2020, 01:05 PM (14 replies)

Donald Trump is spending a deadly pandemic watching TV and stewing over negative coverage


Donald Trump is spending a deadly pandemic watching TV and stewing over negative coverage
Laura Clawson
Daily Kos Staff
Friday April 24, 2020 · 2:12 PM EDT

Donald Trump is a lonely, angry, bitter man adrift without the usual ego-feeding he relies on. Which we already knew, but is confirmed by a New York Times story based on information from “more than a dozen administration officials and close advisers.” The story is short on direct quotes but long on delicious, pathetic details.

Trump watches cable news for hours on end and “is angry even with Fox, an old security blanket, for not portraying him as he would like to be seen.” He dwells on his slide in the polls and takes calls from his campaign manager Brad Parscale to talk about it. Unfortunately, Trump’s unhappiness does not make the situation any better for the rest of us. We’re still living in the hell he created.

In March, Trump was so low and unhappy that when his MyPillow buddy Mike Lindell visited, Lindell tried to cheer him up by showing him a text from a Democratic-leaning friend who said he was doing a good job. “I just wanted to give him a little confidence,” Lindell said, and apparently a single text message from a random friend was the key.

Ego-feeding is the reason for the daily press briefing, too. Trump enjoys it, so it continues “although even Republicans say that the two hours of political attacks, grievances and falsehoods by the president are hurting him politically,” Katie Rogers and Annie Karni report. Does he bother to attend actual task force meetings? Rarely. Mostly, he takes his talking points right before the briefing starts, gives them short shrift during the briefing, and then runs his mouth about things like injecting disinfectants.

Having started his day with hours upon hours of television, Trump typically returns to it after the briefing, this time with company: “Assorted aides who are still around will join him to rehash the day and offer their assessments on the briefings. Comfort food—including French fries and Diet Coke—is readily available.” But hey, “occasionally” Trump has dinner with his wife and son. What a rich life.

Donald Trump had well over a month to keep us from this place, with an already horrific death toll that keeps climbing, an economy in shambles, and people around the country suffering. And still all he cares about is the fallout for his political future and the bad press coverage and the lack of opportunities to have his ego stroked in person.
Posted by babylonsister | Sat Apr 25, 2020, 11:17 AM (3 replies)

Worst Day of Trump's Presidency?

womp womp


Worst Day of Trump’s Presidency?
April 25, 2020 at 8:56 am EDT By Taegan Goddard

New York Times: “Several White House officials said they shared the view that Mr. Trump had been taken out of context, even as they acknowledged that his comments were problematic.”

“But they acknowledged that Mr. Trump’s delivery was too sloppy for a president in the middle of managing the response to a pandemic that has killed over 45,000 Americans. Some said it was one of the worst days in one of the worst weeks of his presidency.”
Posted by babylonsister | Sat Apr 25, 2020, 09:14 AM (6 replies)

Nervous GOP Sees Trump Sinking and Losing Senate Too


Nervous GOP Sees Trump Sinking and Losing Senate Too
April 25, 2020 at 7:36 am EDT By Taegan Goddard

“President Trump’s erratic handling of the coronavirus outbreak, the worsening economy and a cascade of ominous public and private polling have Republicans increasingly nervous that they are at risk of losing the presidency and the Senate if Mr. Trump does not put the nation on a radically improved course,” the New York Times reports.

“The scale of the G.O.P.’s challenge has crystallized in the last week. With 26 million Americans now having filed for unemployment benefits, Mr. Trump’s standing in states that he carried in 2016 looks increasingly wobbly: New surveys show him trailing significantly in battleground states like Michigan and Pennsylvania, and he is even narrowly behind in must-win Florida.”
Posted by babylonsister | Sat Apr 25, 2020, 08:25 AM (56 replies)

Coronavirus found in woman's eye after nasal swabs no longer detected it, report says


Coronavirus found in woman’s eye after nasal swabs no longer detected it, report says
By Summer Lin
April 24, 2020 04:33 PM, Updated 4 hours 14 minutes ago

Italy’s first coronavirus patient tested positive for COVID-19 in her eye days after it was undetectable in her nose, according to a new report.

The 65-year-old woman arrived in Italy from Wuhan on Jan. 23 and was admitted to the hospital a week later with a cough, stuffy nose, sore throat and pink eye, the report said.

Doctors took swabs from her eyes and found she had coronavirus in her eye, the report said. They continued to collect swabs and her pink eye cleared up by the 20th day. There were traces of the virus in her eye until her 21st day at the hospital, and it showed up again on the 27th day, after it had already been undetectable in her nasal swabs.

“We found that ocular fluids from SARS-CoV-2-infected patients may contain infectious virus, and hence may be a potential source of infection,” the authors of the report wrote. “These findings highlight the importance of control measures, such as avoiding touching the nose, mouth, and eyes and frequent hand washing.”

Posted by babylonsister | Fri Apr 24, 2020, 08:50 PM (8 replies)

Singapore Contained the Coronavirus for Months. Now It Has One of the Worst Outbreaks in Asia.


Singapore Contained the Coronavirus for Months. Now It Has One of the Worst Outbreaks in Asia.
By Chloe Hadavas
April 24, 20205:21 PM

Just last month, some East and Southeast Asian countries were held up as models for their coronavirus responses—especially Singapore and Taiwan, which had largely contained the outbreak despite close economic, geographic, and cultural ties to China, the pandemic’s original epicenter. Some have continued to fare well. Taiwan, with only 428 confirmed cases, has managed to avoid a lockdown. Even South Korea, despite an alarming rate of infection in early March, has flattened its curve. But Singapore now has the largest recorded outbreak in Southeast Asia. Between its first case on Jan. 23 and March 23, Singapore reported fewer than 510 known cases of COVID-19. Now, it has more than 11,000.

Despite Singapore’s early vigilance in addressing the pandemic—including extensive contact tracing—the government’s response had a blind spot. The key to what happened lies in how Singapore, a country of 5.8 million people, has treated its 1 million migrant workers.

Singapore relies on foreign labor to build and maintain its gleaming infrastructure. But many of the low-wage migrant workers, mostly from South Asia, live in dense dormitories on the outskirts of the island nation. Rights groups and activists worried early on about the government’s negligence of the migrant population. In March, Transient Workers Count Too, or TWC2, a Singaporean nonprofit dedicated to improving conditions for migrant workers, warned of a potential cluster outbreak in the dorms, where it’s impossible to socially distance. Migrants often sleep 12 to 20 per room, in bunk beds, and they’re packed into the back of trucks on their commute to work each day. Some told the Guardian the shared bathrooms often don’t have soap or enough water for showers or toilets. The group also noted that employer policies often discourage workers from admitting they’re ill or seeking medical help. “The risk of a new cluster among this group remains undeniable,” TWC2 wrote.

Over the past few weeks, as COVID-19 has traveled through the dorms, Singapore has quickly lost control of its outbreak. (While the country was initially worried about a second wave from Singaporeans returning home from overseas, those cases have been largely controlled.) The Ministry of Health said that 982 of the 1,037 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday were migrant workers. About 80 percent of all cases in the country can now be traced to the dorms.

“This reflects the deliberate invisibilization of the foreign worker; the whole machinery of state operates as though they don’t exist,” Alex Au, vice president of TWC2, told the Washington Post.

Singapore has responded to the outbreak by introducing a partial lockdown in the country, which has shuttered most workplaces and staggered the days individuals can go to supermarkets, until at least June 1. The government has moved 7,000 workers, mostly in essential jobs, out of the dorms, the Guardian reported, but about 293,000 remain. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong wrote in a Facebook post last week that the government is building up its health care and isolation infrastructure to reduce the “chain of transmission” in migrant housing. On Tuesday, the government announced a quarantine for the dorms and said that it is setting up medical facilities and triage clinics there to ensure workers get adequate care. “It will take some time to show results, so we must expect to see more dorm cases for a while longer,” Lee wrote in the Facebook post.

Singapore’s outbreak serves as a cautionary tale for neglecting marginalized communities during a pandemic. It’s hard not to see parallels between Singapore’s migrant workers and the U.S.’s underclass of essential workers who labor without the necessary safety protections, or our undocumented farmworkers who are somehow considered both “essential” and “illegal” (and are even being detained on the job). Singapore’s preparedness for COVID-19 is something other countries have only aspired to: It’s implemented aggressive contact tracing and widespread testing and is home to a robust health care system and an efficient government that can enforce strict home quarantines. And yet it has shown us that, without looking after society’s more vulnerable members, those measures won’t be enough.

Posted by babylonsister | Fri Apr 24, 2020, 08:17 PM (6 replies)

Trump plans to cut daily coronavirus briefings


9 mins ago - Politics & Policy
Trump plans to cut daily coronavirus briefings
Jonathan Swan

President Trump plans to pare back his coronavirus press conferences, according to four sources familiar with the internal deliberations. As soon as next week, he may stop appearing daily and make shorter appearances when he does, the sources said.

Why this matters: Trump's daily press conferences — televised to a largely homebound population — have dominated the public discourse about the coronavirus.

Behind the scenes: A number of Trump's most trusted advisers — both inside and outside the White House — have urged him to stop doing marathon televised briefings.

They've told him he's overexposed and these appearances are part of the reason polls aren't looking good for him right now against Joe Biden.
"I told him it's not helping him," said one adviser to the president. "Seniors are scared. And the spectacle of him fighting with the press isn't what people want to see."

But Trump has defended the practice, telling critics that the briefings get good ratings.

One source cautioned that decisions like this one are never final until they're final.
A senior administration official involved in the discussions said: "He should keep everyone guessing as to whether he appears day by day. And leave the technical briefings to others. Be there to announce victories."

Another source close to the deliberations said there simply isn't enough new material to justify Trump appearing before the press every day. "I mean, you wonder how we got to the point where you're talking about injecting disinfectant?" the source wondered aloud.

These conversations were underway before Trump suggested that researchers investigate whether doctors could cure coronavirus by injecting people with disinfectant. But a source said it finally seems to have dawned on Trump, after this incident, that these briefings aren't helping him. The CDC and other public health officials responded obliquely to the comment by telling people not to drink bleach.
Posted by babylonsister | Fri Apr 24, 2020, 06:18 PM (18 replies)

The President Is a Few Disinfectants Short of a Cleaning Kit


The President Is a Few Disinfectants Short of a Cleaning Kit
In which the American leader uses his daily briefing during a global pandemic to muse about injecting coronavirus patients with Lysol or bleach.
By Jack Holmes
Apr 24, 2020

We should probably talk more often about how the president is an insane moron. It was enough that we elected a game-show host with a vocabulary of about 200 words, whose skills do not include "reading" or "paying attention to anything that does not mention him by name for more than a few seconds," in the Before Times. But now it's a global pandemic, and 50,000 Americans are dead as our country experiences the worst outbreak of anywhere in the world, and we continue to just sit back and watch this guy's wheels spin right off the axles each evening as he turns a "briefing" nominally meant to update the public on the national response into some sort of rally-slash-therapy-session wherein he talks about how great he is and screams at reporters.

The president is not well, and it does us no good to pretend otherwise. He cannot do the job. He never has been capable of it, and not just because he only considers the roughly 40 percent of people who support him—no matter what he does—to be the only real American citizens. Not just because of his virulent public racism, or the disgusting behavior he continually exhibits towards other human beings who fail to sufficiently praise him. Not just because the shop he runs is almost comically corrupt. At root, beneath the primal nastiness and predatory instinct that has allowed him to survive this long, he simply knows nothing about anything and cares less.
He's the kid in class who didn't do the reading. That's part of why we still don't have sufficient testing, a key factor in reopening the economy, and the process of getting masks and protective equipment to states and hospitals remains the Wild West.

On Thursday night, at the daily I'm in Charge But Anything That Goes Wrong Is Not My Fault Briefing, it was all just too clear.

This guy is crazy. Straight up. He's nuts.


But he's not going to get better. He's not going to grow into the job or become more "presidential". How many words, realistically, do you really believe he's read about COVID-19? How many pages of briefings? When are we going to demand more than a circus from the people in whom we now have so much of our futures invested, willingly or not? We should be calling for this guy to resign on a daily basis. He should be impeached again for gross incompetence. Mike Pence looks like fucking FDR by comparison. Most of the president's supporters will never hold him to any standard that he might not meet. In fact, they will continually lower the bar to accommodate him, because they have already invested too much of themselves in this to go back. The sunk cost is too high. It's up to everyone else to plainly say that he should not have this job any longer. We hired him, on a temporary basis, to manage the Executive Branch of our government. He should be fired.
Posted by babylonsister | Fri Apr 24, 2020, 05:34 PM (1 replies)

A coronavirus wake-up call is coming to red America, complicating Trump's push to reopen


A coronavirus wake-up call is coming to red America, complicating Trump's push to reopen
Kerry Eleveld
Daily Kos Staff
Friday April 24, 2020 · 1:51 PM EDT

When several Republican governors initially refused to implement social distancing orders, they invoked a sort of red state exceptionalism. "South Dakota is not New York City," Gov. Kristi Noem quipped in early April. Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey agreed, asserting: "We are not California."

That sentiment also appears to have trickled down into more conservative-leaning regions of the country, particularly more rural and some suburban areas of the South and Midwest. But a new data analysis shows that areas of the country where the coronavirus was initially slow to spread are now experiencing a notable uptick in cases.

"There is a stereotypical view of the places in America that COVID-19 has affected most: they are broadly urban, comprised predominantly of racial minorities, and strongly vote Democratic," demographer and Brookings Institution senior fellow William Frey writes in a post on his new analysis. But during the first three weeks of April, Frey adds, "new counties showing a high prevalence of COVID-19 cases are more suburban, whiter, and voted more strongly for Donald Trump than counties the virus hit first."

Frey examined the counties with more than 100 confirmed cases per 100,000 residents and found the total number of those counties had increased nearly 12-fold over the last couple weeks, from 59 at the end of March to 717 by mid-April.

Initially, Frey notes, these high-prevalence coronavirus counties were "heavily concentrated" in the Northeast, especially around New York City. But from March 30 to April 5, the high-prevalence counties moved into the Midwest and the South. By April 6 to 12, the virus prevalence increased "dramatically, especially around Miami, Atlanta, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Memphis and Nashville, Tenn., as well as many smaller metropolitan and nonmetropolitan counties." And in the Northeast and Midwest, the virus spread beyond the urban areas into more suburban areas and smaller metropolitan regions.

In essence, the high-prevalence areas are beginning to be spread more evenly between counties that voted for Hillary Clinton and Trump in 2016. As of March 29, voters in high-prevalence areas leaned strongly Democratic, with Clinton holding a 62%-34% advantage over Trump. But by April 13-19, voters in high-prevalence counties only favored Clinton over Trump by by 10 points, 52%-42%.

The change in political leanings of constituents in high coronavirus areas could pose political problems for Trump, particularly as he tries to ramp up his "reopening" effort. Frey told Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent that the perception of coronavirus mainly plaguing urban and Democratic areas of the country “underlies a lot of these protests that are going on.” Even though those anti-lockdown agitators represent only a fringe minority of the country, the sentiment they're feeding off of is the notion that "we're not like that," Frey noted.

But that perception could change rather quickly. The coronavirus, Frey said, is “coming to places where these protesters are probably living — far-out suburbs, small metropolitan areas, rural America.”

The darker areas below were show the counties that initially had a high prevalence of confirmed areas. The lighter areas depict the counties that have newly become high-prevalence areas.

Posted by babylonsister | Fri Apr 24, 2020, 03:40 PM (8 replies)

Donald Trump Is Exploiting the Coronavirus Pandemic to Sell Campaign Swag


April 23, 2020
Donald Trump Is Exploiting the Coronavirus Pandemic to Sell Campaign Swag
David Corn

Though President Donald Trump has been not big in the empathy department during the coronavirus pandemic—he more often talks about his own TV ratings than the tens of thousands Americans who have died during the crisis—the Trump campaign wants his supporters to know that Trump truly cares about them during this time of tragedy and hardship. As proof of Trump’s deeply felt concern, his campaign is offering to send his devotees a set of Trump-Pence pint glasses. All for just a contribution of $31.

Yes, the Trump campaign is exploiting the coronavirus to sell campaign swag to Trump supporters. And it is claiming this is a beneficent act on the part of Trump himself.


This sounds like a bad joke. But it’s not. While tens of thousands of Americans are dying, Trump and his campaign decided he could console his supporters and show them he’s on their side by peddling them campaign tchotchkes. And this email—sent out with the subject heading “Cheers”—also requested contributions of $250 and more. What could be more Trumpian? I will recognize this is a difficult period for you and other Americans by offering you the opportunity to help me.

The Trump campaign’s fundraising emails often have the whiff of grift. They frequently tell supporters they can join an exclusive group of donors—become part of the Trump Gold Card Member circle!—and be placed on a list of names that Trump will review personally, as long as they send in a donation immediately. (It can be as small of $35.) This is all bunk and goes above and beyond the usual political sales pitches.

Now the coronavirus pandemic has been seized upon by the Trump campaign as a marketing opportunity. Especially, given that so many Americans are currently self-isolating in their homes. In other recent fundraising solicitations, the campaign has peddled “BRAND NEW Trump-Pence 2020 Playing Cards.” Two decks for “only” $30. And the email for this offer proclaimed this was another special deal, for Trump has “requested that we give you EARLY ACCESS to get these iconic cards before anyone else.” Moreover, the email stated, this is the perfect time to buy playing cards: “We know you’re at home right now, doing your part to Keep America Safe, and there is no better way to keep yourself entertained AND support your President than by purchasing our Official Trump-Pence 2020 Playing Cards.” Another campaign email offered an “Official Trump Puzzle” for $45. This note, too, declared that during a time of social isolation “there is no better way to pass the time with family AND show your support for President Trump than by purchasing a Trump Puzzle.”

Trump glasses, Trump cards, Trump puzzles. They’re part of a long tradition: Trump Steaks, Trump Vodka, Trump University. If there’s a chance to sell something, Trump will give it a try. (Another recent email from the campaign promoted Trump-Pence welcome mats.) Blatant commercialism and self-promotion is no surprise for Trump. That is his brand. But this week he and his campaign showed that they can surpass the usual Trumpish crassness by using the horrific coronavirus nightmare to make a buck by selling pint glasses bearing the campaign’s logo. How long can it be before Trump and his campaign attempts to raise money by hawking MAGA face masks?
Posted by babylonsister | Fri Apr 24, 2020, 02:50 PM (5 replies)
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