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  • Trump now says if 100,000 Americans die from coronavirus he will have done 'a very good job'

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    The president repeatedly cited a projection that as many as 2.2 million people would have died if the administration had “done nothing” to mitigate COVID-19’s spread.

    Mon, 30 Mar 2020 11:33:53 -0400
  • Suspected SARS virus and flu samples found in luggage: FBI report describes China's 'biosecurity risk'

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    An FBI report about China’s involvement with scientific research in the U.S. has raised alarms. While the report refers broadly to foreign researchers, all three cases cited involve Chinese nationals.

    Mon, 30 Mar 2020 10:45:26 -0400
  • Are pot and guns essential in a pandemic?

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    As states and cities shut down all nonessential businesses to stop the spread of coronavirus, pot shops and gun stores are staying open in some places. Are they really essential?

    Mon, 30 Mar 2020 15:44:57 -0400
  • Rep. Velazquez has presumed COVID-19 infection, was near Pelosi, other lawmakers last week

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    Rep. Nydia Velazquez spoke on the House floor Friday and stood near Speaker Nancy Pelosi during the signing of the $2 trillion stimulus bill.

    Mon, 30 Mar 2020 15:28:00 -0400
  • Lindsey Graham Calls on IG Horowitz to Testify in Further FISA Hearings after Scathing New Report

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    Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) plans to call DOJ inspector general Michael Horowitz to testify before congress regarding his office’s audit of the FBI’s FISA application process, which was released Tuesday and revealed potentially systematic abuses of the transparency measures required of the Bureau when agents interact with the FISA court.“I have just been briefed on Inspector General Horowitz’s audit of FISA applications involving American citizens. This random audit shows discrepancies regarding verification of the information under the Woods Procedures,” Graham said in a press release. “I intend to have Inspector General Horowitz come to the Committee to explain his findings and receive his recommendations about how to change the program.”Horowitz’s latest report revealed that the FBI included “apparent errors or inadequately supported facts” in all 29 FISA surveillance applications filed between 2014 and 2019 and reviewed as part of the audit.The Woods Procedure dictates that the Justice Department verify the accuracy of and provide evidentiary support for all facts stated in its FISA application. The FBI is required to share with the FISA Court all relevant information compiled in a Woods file when applying for a surveillance warrant.Four of the 29 applications lacked Woods files entirely, while the other 25 had “an average of about 20 issues per application reviewed, with a high of approximately 65 issues in one application and less than 5 issues in another application.”“FBI and NSD officials we interviewed indicated to us that there were no efforts by the FBI to use existing FBI and NSD oversight mechanisms to perform comprehensive, strategic assessments of the efficacy of the Woods Procedures or FISA accuracy, to include identifying the need for enhancements to training and improvements in the process, or increased accountability measures,” the report states.Horowitz recommended that the FBI begin to “systematically and regularly examine” its Woods reviews to uncover abuse, beginning with a “physical inventory to ensure that Woods Files exist for every FISA application submitted to the FISC in all pending investigations.”In a statement after the audit’s release, the DOJ said that it is “committed to putting the Inspector General’s recommendations into practice and to implementing reforms that will ensure all FISA applications are complete and accurate.”> DOJ statement on today’s report from IG Horowitz identifying concerns with the FBI’s handling of procedures related to FISA applications. pic.twitter.com/DAiB61IoSk> > -- KerriKupecDOJ (@KerriKupecDOJ) March 31, 2020The findings are the latest in a growing trail of FBI abuses involving the FISA Court. Horowitz appeared in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee in December after finding “basic and fundamental errors” in the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation of the 2016 Trump campaign, and blamed the FBI chain of command for lacking oversight in the FISA applications used to surveil Trump-campaign adviser Carter Page.“The circumstances reflect a failure, as we outline in the report, not just by those who prepared the applications, but also by the managers and supervisors in the Crossfire Hurricane chain of command, including FBI senior officials who were briefed as the investigation progressed,” Horowitz said in his statement to Graham and the other senators.Later in the hearing, Senator Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) said Horowitz’s findings showed how the “the FBI effectively meddled in an ongoing presidential campaign,” while other Republicans acknowledged that they had not realized FISA abuse was a serious threat.“As a national security hawk, I’ve argued with Mike Lee in the four-and-a-half or five years that I’ve been in the Senate that stuff just like this couldn’t possibly happen at the FBI and at the Department of Justice,” Senator Ben Sasse (R., Neb.) said. “ . . . Mike Lee has warned me for four-and-a-half years the potential for abuse in this space is terrible and I constantly defended the integrity and the professionalism of the bureau and of the department that you couldn’t have something like this happen.”Senator Thom Tillis (R., N.C.) echoed Sasse in recognizing Mike Lee’s past criticisms of FISA.“Because we’ve now seen the abuses we were warned about, you can smirk again, you were right,” Tillis told the Utah Republican.

    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 15:50:22 -0400
  • Venezuela prosecutor's office summoned Guaido for 'attempted coup'

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    State prosecutors in Venezuela have summoned opposition leader Juan Guaido for an alleged "attempted coup d'etat" and attempted assassination, Attorney General Tarek William Saab announced Tuesday. In a statement broadcast on state television, Saab said Guaido had been summoned to appear before prosecutors next Thursday following an investigation last week into the seizure of a weapons cache in neighboring Colombia that he said was to be smuggled into Venezuela.

    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 11:16:54 -0400
  • Mexico's president defends his handshake with 'El Chapo' Guzman's mother — a 'respectable old lady'

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    The president said corruption is a much bigger threat to Mexico than a 92-year-old woman "who deserves my respect."

    Mon, 30 Mar 2020 16:35:46 -0400
  • Stabbing of Asian-American 2-Year-Old and Her Family Was a Virus-Fueled Hate Crime: Feds

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    The vicious stabbing of an Asian-American family, including a 2-year-old girl, at a Sam’s Club in Texas earlier this month has been deemed a hate crime by the feds, as authorities continue to raise alarm bells about a potential surge in racially motivated crimes amid the coronavirus outbreak.Jose L. Gomez, 19, confessed to authorities that he attempted to murder three Asian-American family members, including the toddler and a 6-year-old, on March 14 at the Midland, Texas store, according to the Midland Police Department. Gomez, who stabbed the individuals and a Sam’s Club employee, is now facing several charges, including three counts of attempted capital murder and one count of aggravated assault. He is being held on several bonds totaling $1 million.“The suspect indicated that he stabbed the family because he thought the family was Chinese, and infecting people with coronavirus,” according to an FBI analysis report obtained by ABC News.Inside the Ugly Uber and Lyft Driver Freakout Over CoronavirusThe Texas incident was used in the report as one example of a recent surge in hate crimes and racially fueled violence targeting Asian-Americans as the coronavirus pandemic continues to sweep the United States. According to an arrest affidavit obtained by the Midland Reporter-Telegram, Gomez attempted to kill the Asian-American family of four inside the wholesale store at about 7:30 p.m. When a Sam’s Club employee and another patron intervened, Gomez allegedly stabbed the patron in the leg and fingers with a knife. At one point, the customer was able to knock the knife away from Gomez during the struggle before the teenager was finally subdued by Border Patrol Agent Bernie Ramiez, who was off-duty and just leaving the store after shopping for groceries, the affidavit states.Ramirez later told CBS7 that during the altercation, he saw the store employee had managed to put Gomez in a chokehold after he had stabbed multiple people.“My initial thought was it was just the shortage of items that they were fighting over,” Ramirez told the local outlet. “So I just started making my way over there to break it up.”The agent added, “I’ve got close to 19 years in law enforcement. It’s crazy and it’s sad the way certain individuals think, their mindset. It’s a sad deal.”When authorities arrived at the Sam’s Club, investigators immediately began to question Gomez. The teenager then admitted to trying to kill the family and assaulting the patron with a knife, the affidavit states. Ramirez did not immediately respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment and a spokesperson for Midland Mayor Patrick Payton’s office declined to comment, stating that the case has now been turned over to the FBI. According to the intelligence report that was compiled by the FBI’s Houston office and distributed to local law enforcement agencies across the nation, federal officials believe hate crimes will only increase as COVID-19 continues to spread.‘We’re Scared’: Doctors in New Coronavirus Hotspots Brace for ‘Tsunami’ of Patients“The FBI assesses hate crime incidents against Asian Americans likely will surge across the United States, due to the spread of coronavirus disease... endangering Asian American communities,” the report states. “The FBI makes this assessment based on the assumption that a portion of the US public will associate COVID-19 with China and Asian American populations.”To date, more than 3,416 people have died and 174,467 individuals have been infected with the virus nationwide—a death toll that has eclipsed China’s official count and put much of the United States on lockdown.Since then, several political and media commentators, including President Donald Trump, have adopted the practice of calling the pandemic the “China virus” or the “Wuhan virus.”“It did come from China,” Trump said at a March 19 White House briefing. “It is a very accurate term.”Many experts and political figures believe that officials using racial terms for the virus has contributed to discrimination against members of the Asian-American community. “This is a global emergency that should be met with both urgency and also cultural awareness that COVID-19 is not isolated to a single ethnic population,” Jeffrey Caballero, executive director of the Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations, said in a statement to The Daily Beast. “Xenophobic attacks and discrimination towards Asian American communities are unacceptable and will not make our families safer or healthier.”California Gov. Gavin Newsom reiterated the FBI’s report findings, stating he has seen a “huge increase” in assaults targeting the Asian-American community in his state. In New York, Attorney General Leticia James launched a hotline for victims of coronavirus-related bias crimes. Since the surge, even Trump tried to backtrack on his language, tweeting on March 23, “It is very important that we totally protect our Asian American community in the United States, and all around the world. They are amazing people, and the spreading of the Virus is NOT their fault in any way, shape, or form. They are working closely with us to get rid of it. WE WILL PREVAIL TOGETHER!”‘This Is a War’: Cuomo Pleads for Help From Doctors Across U.S. as Coronavirus Death Toll SurgesAccording to one New York City medical social worker, racism is also rampant in the health-care system as Asian-American doctors and nurses struggle to care for patients who don’t want to be touched. “I get yelled at down the street coming into work from people in their cars saying all these really nasty things and telling me I should be punished for bringing the virus here,” the social worker told The Daily Beast last week. “Inside the hospital, I have heard from several Asian-American doctors and nurses that some patients don’t want to be treated by them because they think they already have the virus. It’s like we are the virus or something.”“It’s scary and it’s dangerous. We’re already putting ourselves on the line to help others. Don’t make it harder for us than it is,” she added. Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 15:03:24 -0400
  • U.S. is swiftly deporting migrant children at the border

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    "Despite everything I experienced along the way, they deported me the next day," one indigenous teenager from Guatemala told CBS News.

    Mon, 30 Mar 2020 22:23:41 -0400
  • Trump, Cuomo and the mystery of the missing masks

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    Earlier this month, Cuomo said that people were stealing face masks and other equipment needed to fight the coronavirus from area hospitals. On Monday, the New York governor dismissed a similar claim by the president.

    Mon, 30 Mar 2020 15:08:39 -0400
  • Idaho governor signs into law anti-transgender legislation

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    Mon, 30 Mar 2020 20:19:53 -0400
  • What does furlough mean? Can I leave my home under shelter-in-place? Coronavirus terms, explained

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    What does it mean when you hear New York is the coronavirus "epicenter" in the United States? Do doctors say they need ventilators or respirator?

    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 09:18:55 -0400
  • One country is refusing to shut down to stop the coronavirus

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    “It is better to die on your feet than live on your knees!” Lukashenko, who hit the ice for a weekend hockey game, said.

    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 12:35:28 -0400
  • Meet Candy Sterling, a fierce drag queen at night and a corporate professional by day

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    This is Candy Sterling – a fierce drag queen who lights up the New York City nightlife while maintaining a professional day job. Get to know her both in and out of drag on this week's episode of Behind the Drag.

    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 14:26:09 -0400
  • AOC Drifts Away from Activist Left, Toward a More Conventional Staff and Political Strategy

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    Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has taken steps recently to collaborate more with the Democratic establishment, taking a less contentious approach and allying with fellow Democratic members.After urging fellow progressives in 2018 to run for office with the support of the progressive group the Justice Democrats, which supported her, the New York Democrat has declined to endorse most of the candidates the group is backing to oust incumbent Democrats in 2020.Of the six candidates the group is backing this time around, Ocasio-Cortez has endorsed Jessica Cisneros in Texas and Marie Newman in Illinois, both of whom are running against conservative Democrats who oppose abortion and were subsequently supported by several other high-profile Democrats.The move comes as the Justice Democrats are recruiting progressive candidates to run against liberals and moderate Democrats."We don’t usually endorse so far out," Ocasio-Cortez's communications director, Lauren Hitt said of the congresswoman's lack of endorsements for the group of candidates, according to Politico.Meanwhile, Ocasio-Cortez, who shot to notoriety in 2018 when she ousted powerful Democratic congressman Joe Crowley, is also replacing some of her more radical, progressive top aides with more conventional political professionals, Politico reported.The freshman congresswoman has also struck a more conciliatory tone towards Democratic leadership in recent months, in February calling Pelosi the “mama bear of the Democratic Party.”She also criticized supporters of her progressive ally, 2020 presidential contender Bernie Sanders, for their antagonistic behavior online.“There’s so much emphasis on making outreach as conflict-based as possible,” she said. “And sometimes I even feel miscast and understood. Because it’s about what tools you use, and conflict is one tool but not the only tool.”Nevertheless, Ocasio-Cortez has largely maintained her status as a progressive standard-bearer. Earlier this year, she endorsed a group of progressive women running for Congress on Friday through her political action committee, Courage to Change.In January, she announced that she would not pay dues to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which works to elect Democrats to the House.

    Mon, 30 Mar 2020 09:59:52 -0400
  • Wuhan's death toll could be astronomically higher than the Chinese government has reported, some residents say

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    Officials in Wuhan, China, reported that 2,535 people in the city have died from COVID-19. Some residents suspect that's a severe undercount.

    Mon, 30 Mar 2020 16:45:33 -0400
  • 12 Buildings That Show the Beauty of Deconstructed Architecture

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    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 18:59:05 -0400
  • 'This is about survival': California tenants plan rent strikes as Covid-19 relief falls short

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    Renters say governor’s emergency eviction protections leave many behind and that the only option is to withhold money * Coronavirus – live US updates * Live global updates * See all our coronavirus coverageTenants across California are organizing rent strikes for the month of April, arguing they will not be able to pay their landlords for the foreseeable future and that the minimal protections now in place fail to provide relief for vulnerable renters.As Covid-19 shelter-in-place orders have led to a surge in unemployment and slowed down the state’s economy, the California governor, Gavin Newsom, has passed a two-month delay on imposing evictions for people who cannot pay rent due to the crisis. His order prevents the enforcement of evictions until the end of May but requires tenants to repay the full amount later, forces renters to jump through numerous hoops and opens the door for evictions to resume in June.contentsWhile several large municipalities have passed stronger protections, tenants’ groups say the governor’s order does not go far enough and could pave the way for an even more catastrophic housing crisis than the one plaguing California before coronavirus.Activists are now coordinating rent strikes, a practice that has gained traction in LA in recent years and involves tenants organizing as a group, withholding rents and making collective demands.“We are all suffering, but we shouldn’t have to suffer to this extent,” said Melissa Reyes, a 25-year-old Los Angeles resident who plans to withhold her rent and is helping organize a strike in her Boyle Heights building. “This is about survival and necessity.”Newsom’s order only temporarily restricts the enforcement of evictions, still allowing landlords to start the eviction process, file notices and move to kick tenants out when the moratorium ends. His policy further requires tenants declare in writing that they can’t pay due to Covid-19, and that they have documentation, which could be a hurdle for undocumented workers, people with non-traditional employment and those dealing with medical crises.It also does not stop landlords from moving forward with evictions for reasons other than non-payment, such as remodeling or taking a rental off the market.“It includes a lot of ways for tenants to trip up,” said Michael Trujillo, staff attorney at the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley’s housing program, adding, “The governor has the power right now to just prohibit all evictions.”In a state where many workers have to divert a significant portion of their paychecks to rent, activists have called for a complete moratorium on evictions and foreclosures and a statewide suspension of rent, meaning a rent freeze or forgiveness so that tenants do not wind up with insurmountable debts.“For some, the decision is pay rent and starve, or don’t pay rent and pay for food,” said Chris Estrada, an organizer with the Los Angeles Center for Community Law and Action, which has fielded calls from dozens of tenants who don’t have the cash to pay this week. For many others, he said, the reality is, “‘If we pay April, will I starve in May?’”In a city such as San Francisco, where the median rent for a one-bedroom is $3,479, paying retroactively will be impossible for many. “If six months later, I had a $20,000 debt waiting for me that I was expected to pay off right away, that would not be possible, especially after months of not having a stable paycheck,” said Lupe Arreola, executive director of Tenants Together.The city of Oakland has passed what advocates said was the strongest protection in the state, with a moratorium that prohibits all evictions and prevents late fees and rent hikes in the next two months. While tenants will owe back rent when the emergency is over, the ordinance prohibits landlords from evicting them because of non-payment during that time, a move meant to encourage payment plans. “This should be passed everywhere,” said Leah Simon-Weisberg, an Oakland attorney, adding that she did not know a single tenant advocate in the state who supported Newsom’s much weaker policy.LA’s city council stopped short of passing a complete ban on evictions and requires tenants defend themselves against an eviction in court. The policy gives tenants a year to repay landlords. San Francisco also continues to allow limited evictions.“The reality is corporate landlords are already negotiating with their banks to figure out their mortgage situation and how to not pay,” said Kenia Alcocer, 34, who will not be paying rent in East LA and is helping other tenants strike. “Why not us? We’re the ones most impacted.”Alcocer, an organizer with the group Union de Vecinos, gave birth in January to her second child, who suffered from numerous medical complications, which has already been a huge financial strain on her family and has escalated Covid-19 concerns. She estimated that more than 300 tenants who have worked with her group would not be paying rent this week, adding: “They are talking to their neighbors and their family members, and the numbers are growing rapidly.”Alcocer is encouraging others to strike in solidarity and said she heard from one tenant who panicked, paid April’s rent and now regrets it: “Now, he has no money for food, no money for anything else. He has no job.”The LA Tenants Union is pushing a “food not rent” campaign and urging people not to pay this month even if they temporarily can afford it.Tracy Jeanne Rosenthal, a co-founder of the union, said that while there were clear risks to striking, “There has never been a better time to use what little power we have, which is often your rent check, as a way of demanding that the city and state do right by a majority of its constituents.”In LA county, she noted, an estimated 600,000 people spend 90% of their income on rent: “Tenants were already in crisis.”Some have noted that the $1,200-a-person check from the government as part of its Covid-19 stimulus package would barely make a dent in some people’s rent even as the emergency bill offers major benefits to large corporations. And activists have argued that although corporate landlords should not get bailouts, smaller property owners should also see a suspension of mortgage payments.Kyle Cunningham, a 32-year-old Boyle Heights resident, said he had lost all income as a freelance camera operator and that he had asthma and was uninsured. Withholding rent was the only feasible option for him and his fiance, who is also a freelancer, he said: “It’s a completely unprecedented situation for me. I’ve always paid … But I need to redirect the money I have to protect my family and buy groceries and the other necessities we need to stay inside.”Carolina Reid, faculty research adviser at the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley, said without drastic action, she feared the economy and housing market was heading toward another crash like the foreclosure crisis of 2008, which led to widening inequality and is still affecting California a decade later: “I’m worried about what happens when this crisis ends.”Jesse Melgar, a spokesman for Newsom, did not respond to specific criticisms about the policy, saying in an email the order would provide “significant relief to millions of Californians who worry about making rent next week and in the months to come – especially in jurisdictions around the state that didn’t act locally to implement their own moratoriums”, adding, “These protections provide a strong, statewide foundation that cities can build upon.”

    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 06:00:49 -0400
  • Trump says Democrats' push for expanded voting threatens Republicans

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    President Trump on Monday criticized attempts by Democrats in Congress to expand voting access for the presidential election in the fall, saying increased voter turnout would keep Republicans from getting elected.

    Mon, 30 Mar 2020 13:26:01 -0400
  • Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is what real coronavirus leadership looks like

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    New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has long had an uneasy relationship with both the media and the overwhelmingly Democratic residents of his state. He has let the vital New York City subway fall into ruin, actively connived with Republicans to give them control of the state Senate, and generally been a thorn in the side of anyone who wants to do anything good. But now, thanks to the novel coronavirus outbreak, suddenly everyone loves him. He's getting breathless (even lustful) media coverage, and his approval rating has jumped by 27 points.Don't be fooled, though: Cuomo has royally messed up the coronavirus outbreak, just like he has everything else. If you want an example of effective crisis leadership, look to Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee.To begin with, the numbers don't lie. New York state has thus far had the worst outbreak not just of any state, but of any place in the world. Its deaths have risen faster than any other sub-national region at an equivalent point in their outbreaks, even Lombardy, Italy and Madrid, Spain.> Death toll trajectories in subnational regions:> > • New York curve still steepening. Deaths almost doubled in last 24h > • Michigan also looking bad > • Lack of joined-up measures in US starting to take its toll as multiple outbreaks spread> > All charts: https://t.co/VcSZISFxzF pic.twitter.com/LWzrNYx5hS> > — John Burn-Murdoch (@jburnmurdoch) March 29, 2020Many have pointed to the density of New York City, with its heavy reliance on public transportation and many international travelers, as one reason its outbreak spread so fast. But while it is surely easier for a virus to spread in such a place, this fails to explain why Hong Kong and Singapore, which are both comparably dense and internationally connected, and also much closer to the initial coronavirus outbreak, have not seen shattering numbers of cases.Pandemic control measures work in dense cities just as they do in rural areas (which are not remotely immune to viral epidemics), and Cuomo was inexcusably lax in setting them up. New York had its first confirmed case on March 1, and its second on March 3, a "super-spreader" event who was linked to 28 more cases by March 6. But on that same day, Cuomo was still reminding people that more people were in the hospital from the flu than COVID-19. The state transit authority (which Cuomo controls) also informed its employees they would not be issued protective gear, and forbade them from wearing their own. On March 8, he said shutting down public transit was unnecessary. He did not start even moderate lockdown measures until March 12.To be fair, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio was also incredibly irresponsible about this. He also downplayed the virus' severity, dragged his feet on lockdown measures, and was still going to the gym on March 16. But that, in turn, points to the horrible relationship between the governor and the mayor, which is about three-quarters Cuomo's fault. De Blasio is an incompetent nincompoop, but Cuomo is a vicious political backstabber who seems to take great personal delight in needling de Blasio, starting pissing matches with him, and obstructing his agenda out of pure spite. Now, when a working relationship between the two most important authorities in New York could not be more important, that childish pique is taking its toll.Now that the outbreak is extremely bad, New York's hospitals are being overwhelmed. Few are more responsible for this than Cuomo, who has relentlessly hacked away at his state's hospital capacity during his terms as governor. He pushed through repeated cuts to the state's funding of Medicaid and vetoed a funding increase, which helped bankrupt several hospitals that served New York's poorest residents. Several of them were subsequently turned into luxury housing developments, which was probably half the point. In sum, the state has lost about 20,000 hospital beds since 2000 — a trend that predated Cuomo but kept going under his watch. Even today Cuomo is still trying to push further Medicaid cuts, as hospitals face a completely unprecedented onslaught of work and costs.Yet for the last few weeks, Cuomo has been holding daily televised updates about the progress of the outbreak in New York. His clear warnings about the dangers of mass death, and the obvious contrast between him and President Trump's daily buffoonery, have made these briefings ripe for media pickup and must-watch viewing for many Americans who are desperate for information. But no amount of showmanship now will make up for the early delays that set New York on its current trajectory.Returning to the above chart, Washington state, despite being the site of the earliest cluster of confirmed cases in the U.S., has contained its outbreak better than any state, and many other sub-national regions as well. This simply must be because Governor Inslee started testing earlier, implemented clampdown measures earlier, and tightened them earlier. By late February it was clear that Washington would suffer a serious outbreak, and Inslee declared a state of emergency on the same day, Feb. 29, that the state recorded its first COVID-19 death. Working closely with Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, Inslee first strongly encouraged people to avoid groups and stay at home, then started requiring them to do so in early March. The state set up a command center to coordinate the overall response and direct resources to where they were most needed, and Inslee began regular briefings to inform the public about what was going on.A month later, Washington has less than a tenth as many cases as New York, and its hospitals have so far been strained but not overwhelmed. It easily could have been just as bad — Washington is only somewhat smaller than Lombardy, where the devastating Italian outbreak has been centered. As we have learned over and over and over, quick action is absolutely vital when it comes to containing the coronavirus.Now, Inslee was lucky to have access to the world-class medical research centers of the University of Washington system, and the bottomless pockets of Bill Gates, who has provided a lot of resources and assistance to the state. Even his efforts fell far short of Taiwan's or Vietnam's, which actually squelched their outbreaks almost entirely. But on the other hand, Inslee was and is seriously hampered by the lack of a coordinated federal response. With the doddering lunatic Donald Trump in the White House, Washington state is heavily limited in what it can do — and yet has managed better than many European cities.This is what competence looks like: not some faux-macho media hound going on television a lot, but careful, agile governance informed by the best available information. Inslee may not get such an approval bump from role-playing as the Important Leader, but his quick work saved thousands of lives.Want more essential commentary and analysis like this delivered straight to your inbox? Sign up for The Week's "Today's best articles" newsletter here.More stories from theweek.com The case for cautious optimism about the pandemic As coronavirus spreads in prisons, California to release 3,500 inmates early Almost 30 spring breakers test positive for coronavirus following Mexico trip

    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 05:50:00 -0400
  • COVID-19 deaths climb in NY; Chris Cuomo tests positive

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    New York City’s coronavirus death toll surpassed 1,000 on Tuesday as an overwhelmed health system embraced the arrival of hundreds of additional paramedics, EMTs and ambulances. The lifeline of health care support includes 500 paramedics and EMTs and 250 more ambulances, city officials said. A somber-sounding Gov. Andrew Cuomo said early Tuesday that more than 300 new deaths had been reported in the state in the previous 24 hours, a number rendered obsolete just hours later by the virus that has infected more than 75,000 statewide.

    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 08:07:49 -0400
  • 'Best they can get' or more 'politics than policy?' U.S. offers Venezuela a deal

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    A former senior U.S. government official says it's the "best" deal they can get, while an analyst said this is more about "politics than policy."

    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 17:00:00 -0400
  • No let-up in coronavirus deaths in Italy, new cases steady

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    The death toll from an outbreak of coronavirus in Italy has climbed by 837 to 12,428, the Civil Protection Agency said on Tuesday, with the daily tally rising, albeit slightly, for a second day running. There were 889 deaths on Saturday, 756 on Sunday and 812 on Monday.

    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 12:13:50 -0400
  • Open coffins are left on roads to remind people to stay inside while soldiers shoot disinfectant from water cannons. Here's what lockdown for 57 million people in the Philippines looks like.

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    Despite the lockdown, on Sunday the Philippines reported a daily increase of 343 new coronavirus cases — its highest one day increase yet.

    Mon, 30 Mar 2020 23:12:43 -0400
  • 'Sailors do not need to die': Captain of aircraft carrier hit by coronavirus outbreak begs Navy for more help

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    The commanding officer told the Navy that the outbreak was worsening and called for the removal of almost the entire crew as soon as possible.

    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 11:47:07 -0400
  • India’s coronavirus emergency just beginning as lockdown threatens to turn into human tragedy

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    A week after Narendra Modi ordered the largest national lockdown the planet has ever seen and Delhi's Bhogal market is little quieter than usual. Rather than being confined to home to stop the spread of Covid-19, large groups of residents instead huddle together in the shade, drinking tea and playing cards. Street vendors continue to hawk fresh fruit and vegetables and the police watch as daily life in the capital's backstreets continues, apparently content to enforce movement restrictions only on the capital's major thoroughfares. The failure to abide by the prime minister's decree is due to necessity, rather than defiance, said Muhammad Asif, 21, a cycle-rickshaw driver scanning the crowd for customers. The three-week-long social distancing precautions ordered by Mr Modi are an unaffordable luxury for tens of millions of daily-wage labourers.

    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 15:08:51 -0400
  • 29 Best Closet Organization Ideas to Maximize Space and Style

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    Mon, 30 Mar 2020 19:06:00 -0400
  • Trump warns of 'painful two weeks' as officials predict up to 240,000 US coronavirus deaths

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    President offers unusually sombre press conference with projections that take physical distancing measures into account * Coronavirus – live US updates * Live global updates * See all our coronavirus coverageDonald Trump has warned America to brace for a “very, very painful two weeks” as the White House projected that the coronavirus pandemic could claim 100,000 to 240,000 lives, even if current social distancing guidelines are maintained.Striking an unusually sombre tone at the start a marathon two-hour briefing, the US president defended his early handling of the crisis and displayed models that, he said, justified his decision to keep much of the economy shut down.“I want every American to be prepared for the hard days that lie ahead,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “We’re going to go through a very tough two weeks. This is going to be a very painful, very, very painful two weeks.”The US death toll from the coronavirus climbed past 3,800 on Tuesday, eclipsing China’s official count. Trump has been widely condemned for exacerbating the crisis by failing to prepare testing kits, breathing apparatus and other equipment.On Tuesday his experts said their models showed between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans could die from the coronavirus even if the country keeps mitigation measures in place.Dr Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus taskforce response coordinator, told reporters that models show a worst case scenario of between 1.5m and 2.2m deaths in the US “without mitigation”.But with measures in place, she added, the “mountain” could be reduced to a “hill” that projects 100,000–240,000 deaths – still a staggering total. She stressed that the number could be lower if people changed their behavior.She displayed a chart in which New York had by far the most cumulative cases, followed by New Jersey, then the other 48 states bunched together. Birx expressed hope that social distancing could prevent major outbreaks in those states.Early mitigation slowing the spread of disease in California and Washington state “gives us great hope”, she added. “It’s communities that will do this. There’s no magic bullet. There’s no magic vaccine or therapy. It’s just behaviour.”Asked if Americans be prepared for the likelihood that there would be 100,000 Americans who die from this virus, Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said: “The answer is yes. As sobering a number as that is, we should be prepared for it.“Is it going to be that much? I hope not, and I think the more we push on the mitigation, the less likelihood it will be that number ... We are really convinced mitigation is going to be doing the trick for us.”He added: “We’re going to continue to see things go up. We cannot be discouraged by that because the mitigation is actually working ... Now is the time, whenever you’re having an effect, not to take your foot off the accelerator and on the brake, but to just press it down on the accelerator. And that’s what I hope and I know that we can do over the next 30 days.”Trump eventually heeded such advice, and opinion polls, after previously declaring an ambition to restart the economy by Easter. He announced on Sunday that he was extending to 30 April the guidelines that urged Americans to cease social gatherings, work from home, suspend onsite learning at schools and more in a nationwide effort to stem the spread of the virus.Trump spoke after another bad day for the stock market. The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged more than 400 points, or roughly 1.9%, to seal the worst first-quarter finish of its 135-year history.But the president defended shutting down much of the economy, attempting to rewrite history. Trump, who in speeches and on Twitter has compared Covid-19 to the common flu, said: “A lot of people have said, ‘Ride it out. Don’t do anything, just ride it out. And think of it as the flu.’ But it’s not the flu. It’s vicious.”And as the briefing wore on, more of the old Trump emerged. He made misleading claims about the early travel restrictions he imposed on China and Europe and, despite complaints from state governors, defended the supply of ventilators and other equipment.Although public health experts raised the alarm early based on reports from China, the president claimed: “Nobody knew how contagious this was. I don’t think any doctor knew it at the time. People have not seen anything like this.”Trump denied his early downplaying of the virus had given people a false sense of security and dismissed critics who said he should be more willing to deliver bad news. “This is really easy to be negative about, but I want to give people hope, too,” he said. “I’m not about bad news. I want to give people hope. I want to give people the feeling that we all have a chance.”And trying to put his own efforts in a positive light, he noted that without his mitigation guidelines, models show the death toll could have reached 2.2m. “You would have had people dying all over the place.“You would have seen people dying in airplanes, you would have seen people dying in hotel lobbies. How many people have even seen anybody die? You would have seen death all over.”The president added: “One hundred thousand is, according to modeling, a very low number.” But he also described the figure as “very sobering”.Trump was asked if, as the Republican Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has suggested, he was distracted by the impeachment trial in January. “I don’t think I would’ve acted any differently,” he replied. “I don’t think I would’ve acted any faster.”In the wide-ranging session, there was also a question about a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor who proposed that the coronavirus could be carried on droplets a distance of 27ft. Fauci responded: “This could really be terribly misleading ... That is not practical ... That is a very, very robust, vigorous, atchoo sneeze.”

    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 20:42:32 -0400
  • US working on plan to allow virus-hit ship to dock

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    US authorities were finalizing a plan on Tuesday to allow a coronavirus-stricken cruise ship, the Zaandam, to dock in Florida after its operator warned that more passengers may die if it is left out at sea. "Already four guests have passed away and I fear other lives are at risk," Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line, said in a column published in the South Florida Sun Sentinel newspaper. The Zaandam, which left Buenos Aires on March 7, was originally meant to dock in Fort Lauderdale on April 7 at the conclusion of a month-long cruise.

    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 21:22:50 -0400
  • Nurses Die, Doctors Fall Sick and Panic Rises on Virus Front Lines

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    NEW YORK -- A supervisor urged surgeons at Columbia University Irving Medical Center in Manhattan to volunteer for the front lines because half the intensive-care staff had already been sickened by coronavirus."ICU is EXPLODING," she wrote in an email.A doctor at Weill Cornell Medical Center in Manhattan described the unnerving experience of walking daily past an intubated, critically ill colleague in her 30s, wondering who would be next.Another doctor at a major New York City hospital described it as "a petri dish," where more than 200 workers had fallen sick.Two nurses in city hospitals have died.The coronavirus pandemic, which has infected more than 30,000 people in New York City, is beginning to take a toll on those who are most needed to combat it: the doctors, nurses and other workers at hospitals and clinics. In emergency rooms and intensive care units, typically dispassionate medical professionals are feeling panicked as increasing numbers of colleagues get sick."I feel like we're all just being sent to slaughter," said Thomas Riley, a nurse a Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx, who has contracted the virus, along with his husband.Medical workers are still showing up day after day to face overflowing emergency rooms, earning them praise as heroes. Thousands of volunteers have signed up to join their colleagues.But doctors and nurses said they can look overseas for a dark glimpse of the risk they are facing, especially when protective gear has been in short supply.In China, more than 3,000 doctors were infected, nearly half of them in Wuhan, where the pandemic began, according to Chinese government statistics. Li Wenliang, the Chinese doctor who first tried to raise the alarm about COVID-19, eventually died of it.In Italy, the number of infected heath care workers is now twice the Chinese total, and the National Federation of Orders of Surgeons and Dentists has compiled a list of 50 who have died. Nearly 14% of Spain's confirmed coronavirus cases are medical professionals.New York City's health care system is sprawling and disjointed, making precise infection rates among medical workers difficult to calculate. A spokesman for the Health and Hospitals Corp., which runs New York City's public hospitals, said the agency would not share data about sick medical workers "at this time."William P. Jaquis, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians, said the situation across the country was too fluid to begin tracking such data, but he said he expected the danger to intensify."Doctors are getting sick everywhere," he said.Last week, two nurses in New York, including Kious Kelly, a 48-year-old assistant nurse manager at Mount Sinai West, died from the disease. They are believed to be the first known victims among the city's medical workers. Health care workers across the city said they feared many more would follow.Riley, the nurse at Jacobi, said when he looked at the emergency room recently, he realized he and his colleagues would never avoid being infected. Patients struggling to breathe with lungs that sounded like sandpaper had crowded the hospital. Masks and protective gowns were in short supply."I'm swimming in this," he said he thought. "I'm pretty sure I'm getting this."His symptoms began with a cough, then a fever, then nausea and diarrhea. Days later, his husband became ill. Riley said both he and his husband appear to be getting better, but are still experiencing symptoms.Like generals steadying their troops before battle, hospital supervisors in New York have had to rally, cajole and sometimes threaten workers."Our health care systems are at war with a pandemic virus," Craig R. Smith, the surgeon-in-chief at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, wrote in an email to staff on March 16, the day after New York City shut down its school system to contain the virus. "You are expected to keep fighting with whatever weapons you're capable of working.""Sick is relative," he wrote, adding that workers would not even be tested for the virus unless they were "unequivocally exposed and symptomatic to the point of needing admission to the hospital.""That means you come to work," he wrote. "Period."Arriving to work each day, doctors and nurses are met with confusion and chaos.At a branch of the Montefiore hospital system in the Bronx, nurses wear their winter coats in an unheated tent set up to triage patients with symptoms, while at Elmhurst Hospital Center in Queens, patients are sometimes dying before they can be moved into beds.The inviolable rules that once gave a sense of rhythm and harmony to even the busiest emergency rooms have in some cases been cast aside. Few things have caused more anxiety than shifting protocols meant to preserve a dwindling supply of protective gear.When the pandemic first hit New York, medical workers changed gowns and masks each time they visited an infected patient. Then, they were told to keep their protective gear on until the end of their shift. As supplies became even more scarce, one doctor working in an ICU said he was asked to turn in his mask and face shield at the end of his shift to be sterilized for future use. Others are being told to store their masks in a paper bag between shifts."It puts us in danger, it puts our patients in danger. I can't believe in the United States that's what's happening," said Kelley Cabrera, an emergency room nurse at Jacobi Medical Center.An emergency room doctor at Long Island Jewish Medical Center put it more bluntly: "It's literally, wash your hands a lot, cross your fingers, pray."Doctors and nurses fear they could be transmitting the virus to their patients, compounding the crisis by transforming hospitals into incubators for the virus. That has happened in Italy, in part because infected doctors struggle through their shifts, according to an article published by physicians at a hospital in Bergamo, a city in one of the hardest-hit regions.Frontline hospital workers in New York are now required to take their temperature every 12 hours, though many doctors and nurses fear they could contract the disease and spread it to patients before they become symptomatic.They also say it is a challenge to know when to come back to work after being sick. All medical workers who show symptoms, even if they are not tested, must quarantine for at least seven days and must be asymptomatic for three days before coming back to work.But some employers have been more demanding than others, workers said.Lillian Udell, a nurse at Lincoln Medical Center, another public hospital in the Bronx, said she was still weak and experiencing symptoms when she was pressured to return to work. She powered through a long shift that was so chaotic she could not remember how many patients she attended. By the time she returned home, the chills and the cough had returned."I knew it was still in me," she said. "I knew I wasn't myself."Christopher Miller, a spokesman for the Health and Hospitals Corp., said the agency could not comment on Udell's claim, but said its hospitals had "never asked health care workers who are sick and have symptoms of COVID-19 to continue to work or to come back to work."There is also the fear of bringing the disease home to spouses and children. Some medical workers said they were sleeping in different rooms from their partners and even wearing surgical masks at home. Others have chosen to isolate themselves from their families completely, sending spouses and children to live outside the city, or moving into hotels."I come home, I strip naked, put clothes in a bag and put them in the washer and take a shower," one New York City doctor at a large public hospital said.Because the pathogen has spread so widely, even medical workers not assigned directly to work with infected patients risk contracting the disease.A gynecologist who works for the Mount Sinai hospital system said she had begun seeing women in labor who were positive for the coronavirus. Because she is not considered a front-line worker, she said, restrictions on protective gear are even more stringent than on COVID-19 units. She said she was not aware of any patients who had tested positive after contact with doctors or nurses, but felt it was only a matter of time."We're definitely contaminating pregnant mothers that we're assessing and possibly discharging home," said the doctor, who spoke on condition on anonymity because her hospital had not authorized her to speak.Mount Sinai said in a statement that it had faced equipment shortages like other hospitals, but added the issues had been solved in part by a large shipment of masks that arrived from China over the weekend. The hospital "moved mountains" to get the shipment, the statement said.This week, the Health and Hospitals Corp. recommended transferring doctors and nurses at higher risk of infection -- such as those who are older or with underlying medical conditions -- from jobs interacting with patients to more administrative positions.But Kimberly Marsh, a nurse at Westchester Medical Center outside New York City, said she has no intention of leaving the fight, even though she is a 53-year-old smoker with multiple sclerosis and on a medication that warns against getting near people with infections."It almost feels selfish," she said, though she acknowledged that with two years before retirement she could not afford to leave if she wanted to.Even so, she said, the fear is palpable each time she steps into the emergency room. A nurse on her unit has already contracted the virus and one doctor is so scared he affixes an N95 mask to his face with tape at the beginning of each shift. Marsh said she sweats profusely in her protective gear because she is going through menopause and has hot flashes."We all think we're screwed," she said. "I know without any doubt that I'm going to lose colleagues. There's just no way around it."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company

    Mon, 30 Mar 2020 17:16:35 -0400
  • 'I don't know what he's trying to say': Cuomo on Trump's accusation that medical PPE is being stolen by health workers

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    At a coronavirus press briefing, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he didn’t know what President Trump was talking about with regard to his accusation that medical personnel were stealing personal protective equipment.

    Mon, 30 Mar 2020 14:24:43 -0400
  • Justice Department cites more flaws in FBI handling of surveillance warrants

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    The FBI failed to keep all the records it needed to justify wiretaps within the United States, a Justice Department watchdog said on Tuesday in a report that raised new questions about a domestic surveillance program criticized by lawmakers in both parties and civil libertarians. The findings by Michael Horowitz, the department's inspector general, represented another setback for the FBI. Horowitz in a December report criticized the FBI for its handling of surveillance warrants in the early stages of its investigation into contacts between President Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign and Russians.

    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 10:36:10 -0400
  • Women who left N.Y. for China amid U.S. coronavirus outbreak document their journey

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    “Because we're kind of in between these two cultures, we also understand both. So it feels like our experience could speak to both of the audiences.”

    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 14:20:17 -0400
  • 28 Texas spring breakers who just returned from Cabo have tested positive for the coronavirus

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    The spring breakers reportedly got on a chartered plane with 70 people. It shows why spring break is such a problem during the coronavirus pandemic.

    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 17:28:50 -0400
  • Syria: Air defenses down missiles from Israeli warplanes

    No description related. Click here to go to original article.

    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 14:22:00 -0400
  • No, America’s Response to Coronavirus Isn’t the Worst in the World

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    The coronavirus pandemic is already a catastrophe. How we fare in comparison to the rest of the world is hardly of paramount importance. Once the Chinese government hid the outbreak, failed to contain it, and then misled the world, there remained little possibility that any nation, much less an enormous and open society like the United States, was going to be spared its devastation.Yet, when the political media isn’t preoccupied with a gotcha du jour, pundits, partisans, and journalists have seemed downright giddy to let their minions know that the United States now has the most coronavirus cases in the world. It took a six-siren-emoji tweet from MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough to tell us that fact.Here is how the New York Times’ Paul Krugman framed the number:> America's response to the coronavirus is the worst in the world, which is shocking and has a lot to do with a leader who is completely unfit, temperamentally and intellectually, for the job 1/ pic.twitter.com/sGZuFUukgr> > -- Paul Krugman (@paulkrugman) March 29, 2020A Nobel Prize–winning economist surely understands that we don’t have enough data to definitively declare the United States the world leader in cases. Even if we did, it doesn’t necessarily follow that this is the fault of public policy. There are plenty of unexplained coronavirus disparities around the world.The Financial Times chart that that is circulated by Krugman and his fellow pundits, and sometimes cynically deployed as a means of attacking the administration’s response, is largely useless as a point of comparison. For one thing, a graph illustrating per capita cases in all the nations that the Financial Times chart includes looks different. A chart that combined all the cases in European nations — the continent has approximately the same population as the United States — would also look dramatically different. The known cases in Spain and Italy alone are nearly twice as many as the United States right now.Cross-country comparisons at a given point in time fail to account for many things, including density and time. Iceland is not like Italy, and New York is not like Alaska. And simply because nations such as Italy and Spain experienced outbreaks earlier and more deadly than nations such as Germany and Sweden does not mean the disparities are destined to last.Moreover, testing in the United States began slowly before being ratcheted up quickly (and criticism of that delay is a fair one). Thus, the curve reflects the reality of expanded testing as much as it reflects reality of the disease. And though I’m not a statistician, I do know that nations have varied criteria for testing, varied standards of testing, and varying effectiveness in the testing they do perform. Hundreds of thousands of Chinese coronavirus tests sent to European nations, for example, have turned out to faulty. The data are incomplete. Krugman’s claim lacks vital context.Speaking of China, accepting the veracity of numbers offered by the ChiCom government without any skepticism might be good enough for The New York Times and other outlets, but it shouldn’t be enough for anyone who values facts.It’s also worth mentioning that the timeline of these charts are also uncertain. It’s unlikely we know when the tenth or hundredth case was actually transmitted in China or Iran or even here -- and it’s possible that some people had died and some others had recovered before most people understood the magnitude of the future pandemic.All of this is worth keeping in mind when as we see journalists harping on the overall case number without context. If you want to continue to utilize this once-in-a-century pandemic as a cudgel against your political adversaries, have fun. But the most important gauges of success right now are flattening the curve so that hospitals aren’t overwhelmed with new patients, ramping up our testing capacity to get a better handle on the virus’s properties, and measuring the number of recoveries from coronavirus. Not owning Donald Trump.The United States has already dealt with coronavirus far better than the Chinese government. The fatality rate in the U.S., so far, is nowhere near that of Italy. Our dynamism is one of the reasons why an early high case count is a not a measure of either national success or failure. It’s not our nature to allow the state to close down borders, travel, or trade, or to stop interactions with the world — or with each other, for that matter. And yet, many of same people who incessantly and cynically warned of the coming Fourth Reich are now blaming the administration for not acting like a dictatorship. It’s difficult to keep up.

    Mon, 30 Mar 2020 16:02:37 -0400
  • Barack Obama takes veiled swipe at Donald Trump's handling of coronavirus pandemic

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    Barack Obama appeared to take a swipe at Donald Trump, saying there are steep consequences because of 'those who denied warnings of a pandemic.'

    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 16:27:14 -0400
  • Russia's top coronavirus doctor who met Putin tests positive

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    The head of Moscow's main coronavirus hospital who met with President Vladimir Putin a week ago has tested positive, he said Tuesday, as the Kremlin announced the Russian leader's health was fine. Last Tuesday Denis Protsenko met with the Russian leader who inspected the Kommunarka hospital while wearing a bright yellow hazmat suit. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov swiftly told Russian news agencies that Putin took regular tests and there was no reason to worry about his health.

    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 10:43:33 -0400
  • How to tell if you have a fever without a thermometer

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    To tell if you have a fever without a thermometer, you should look for symptoms like chills, body aches, and hot or flushed skin.

    Mon, 30 Mar 2020 15:06:33 -0400
  • Coronavirus: Anger as migrants sprayed with disinfectant in India

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    Footage shared thousands of times shows a group of workers in India being sprayed with chemicals.

    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 09:33:59 -0400
  • U.S. House Speaker Pelosi will not take coronavirus test

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    U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Tuesday she does not plan to be tested for coronavirus despite her proximity to the latest lawmaker diagnosed with the illness. U.S. Representative Nydia Velazquez, a Democrat from New York, said on Monday that she had been diagnosed with a presumed case of coronavirus after developing symptoms of the ailment on Sunday, although she had not been tested. Velazquez was in the Capitol on Friday and attended a ceremony at which Pelosi signed a $2.2 trillion coronavirus response plan.

    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 09:09:27 -0400
  • Dr. Birx predicts up to 200,000 coronavirus deaths 'if we do things almost perfectly'

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    "I think in some of the metro areas we were late in getting people to follow the 15-day guidelines," the White House coronavirus response coordinator said on "TODAY."

    Mon, 30 Mar 2020 10:47:42 -0400
  • The US paid millions of taxpayer dollars to a company for thousands of much-needed ventilators. But the company is busy selling more expensive models abroad.

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    A ProPublica investigation found the US paid millions for 10,000 ventilators to prepare for a pandemic. Not a single one is in the national stockpile.

    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 16:53:02 -0400
  • US outlines plan for Venezuela transition, sanctions relief

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    The Trump administration is prepared to lift crippling sanctions on Venezuela in support of a new proposal to form a transitional government requiring both Nicolas Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaidó to step aside in favor of a five-person governing council, U.S. officials said. The one-page “Democratic Transition Framework for Venezuela” was presented Tuesday by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. It echoes a proposal made over the weekend by Guaidó that shows how growing concerns about the coronavirus, which threatens to overwhelm the South American country's already collapsed health system and economy, are reviving U.S. attempts to pull the military apart from Maduro.

    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 07:08:13 -0400
  • Energy Jobs Could Be Greener After Coronavirus

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    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- Energy enables work. Here endeth the physics lesson, because this is about jobs. Oil and gas, like most other sectors, is slashing payrolls amid the Covid-19 crisis. Even now, though, the industry must consider what comes afterward, especially in an election year when Uncle Sam’s role in energy and economic stimulus looks poised for a big expansion.Oil and gas producers were trimming the ranks even before disaster struck (see this). Now Rystad Energy, a consultancy, estimates perhaps 30% of oilfield services workers could be let go by the end of the year. At the same time, it expects U.S. oil and gas production to drop about 8% by then. That outcome would accelerate productivity gains that kicked in after the last crash. On BLS numbers, oil and gas extraction and support payrolls peaked in September 2014 at almost 540,000 before shedding about a third of those. In the subsequent recovery, payrolls never got much above 420,000 — yet oil and gas production soared.One crude indicator I track is an estimate of how much industry revenue goes on payroll.(1) This is less about the absolute percentage; more the relative level and direction. In the last crash, the burden soared to about 20% of “revenue,” indicating big job cuts were inevitable. In January, it was running around 10%, where it’s been more or less since early 2017, when payrolls and production bottomed out. But commodity prices were a lot higher two months ago. Plug in today’s and we would be back to the untenable levels of four years ago.Taking this a step further, assuming some recovery in oil and gas prices by December, a 30% cut to payrolls and Rystad’s production estimates, the implied wage burden drops back to about 10% by then.(2)But that relies on a further productivity gain of almost one-third.Catnip for consultants, perhaps, but not for politicians. Even before Covid-19 showed up or Saudi Arabia and Russia started a price war, the U.S. oil and gas business was losing easy access to capital markets. Investors were, in effect, demanding rationalization, which is now happening at an apocalyptic pace. When the acute phase passes, though, the industry will face a world in which capital markets remain scarred (and still worried about climate change), inventories have ballooned and the previously reliable OPEC+ put can’t be taken for granted. Remaining competitive precludes a big payroll rebound.Yet this will be happening even as the economic and political imperative is putting Americans back to work. With various secondary stimulus proposals being discussed, the fight is on for which bits of the energy sector will benefit. Jobs will be a potent weapon in that battle. Seeking to revive the economy after the financial crisis, then-President Barack Obama, no buddy of the fossil-fuel industry, was nonetheless “transformed from critic to reluctant ally” as the shale boom added hundreds of thousands of jobs, as ClearView Energy Partners pointed out in a recent report.But that boom sowed the seeds of shale’s financial downfall; it can’t repeat that. Moreover, even the oil and gas industry — bits of it anyway — now accepts climate change is happening. As I wrote here, while some frackers would welcome government aid, they may think otherwise if greener politicians take the reins. One of the hallmarks of the Green New Deal proposals floated a year ago was how they linked environmental policy with broader populist themes like job creation and investment in public infrastructure. That approach is tailor-made for a scenario of large-scale government intervention focused on getting people back to work, especially given the makeup of the energy-related labor force.The National Association of State Energy Officials and the Energy Futures Initiative , a clean-energy think tank, publish an annual round-up of employment across the U.S. energy sector. This puts fossil-fuel employment — including extraction, transportation, processing and power generation — at almost 1.7 million in 2019. The electricity sector, ex the bits related to fossil fuels, isn’t far behind at almost 1.6 million. Within these totals, though, there are some striking details.A third of the fossil-fuel workforce, or about 550,000, is engaged in extraction and therefore exposed to sustained pressure on headcount. Coal, in structural decline, employs roughly 10% of the entire workforce. There’s simply a lot of systemic drag in the fossil-fuel cohort. The one area with better growth prospects is natural gas, and that’s mostly because more than half of those workers engage in transporting the stuff or using it to run power plants, taking share from coal and providing a lower-carbon narrative for oil producers. There’s a reason why the American Petroleum Institute now styles itself as representing the “natural gas and oil industry,” a formulation about as intuitive as asking someone to pass the pepper and salt.On the non-fossil electricity side, about 40% of employees, some 656,000, work on the grid. Meanwhile, wind and solar power’s ranks, along with their close counterparts in battery storage and smart/micro-grids, now add up to almost half a million(3); not far off the entire workforce engaged in fossil-fuel extraction.More importantly, one-in-three non-fossil electricity jobs relate to construction — one-in-two for solar, wind, batteries and smart/micro-grids — versus just 13% for fossil fuels. GND-ers should hammer this point when stimulus is being debated. While the economics of extraction are both geographically concentrated and dependent on limiting headcount, electrification and renewables expansion demand more workers for construction roles deployable anywhere.In this effort, they should have a couple of natural allies. Utilities employ a quarter of the non-fossil energy workforce as opposed to 13% for fossil fuels (mostly natural gas). With their political power at the state level, and financially induced love of construction, utilities could be useful friends in this regard (even if some GND-ers might have to grit their teeth on this). Meanwhile, beyond direct energy jobs, energy efficiency-related roles employ another 2.4 million Americans. They are ostensibly agnostic about the source of the energy. In practice, though, 56% of energy efficiency jobs relate to construction, with building upgrades a big growth area, making that cohort a more natural ally for GND-ers.In broad terms, one side of the energy industry busies itself primarily with digging stuff out of the ground while the other concerns itself more with planting stuff in the ground. If one result of Covid-19 is that America finally gets around to infrastructure week, then the latter should enjoy a working advantage.(1) This is calculated using the BLS data for employment, average hours and average hourly rate for total wages. For revenue, I multiply monthly production data from the Energy Information Administration by average benchmark prices for liquids and natural gas. It doesn't take account of regional price differentials or hedging. Like I said, it's crude.(2) Assumes a 30% cut in oil and gas extraction and support workers in December, year over year. Production: 11.7 million barrels a day of crude oil, 4.6 million barrels a day of other liquids and 87 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas. Prices: $40 per barrel of crude oil, $0.4 per gallon of other liquids and $2 per million BTU of natural gas. Assumes average hours per week and wages per hour flat with January 2020 figures.(3) An additional 97,359 workers are classified as engaged in solar power on a part-time basis.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Liam Denning is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering energy, mining and commodities. He previously was editor of the Wall Street Journal's Heard on the Street column and wrote for the Financial Times' Lex column. He was also an investment banker.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 09:04:33 -0400
  • Police commander killed, 2 officers wounded in Phoenix shooting

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    Commander Greg Carnicle, a 31-year police veteran, died after being shot in the line of duty. Two officers were shot and are expected to recover.

    Mon, 30 Mar 2020 11:07:54 -0400
  • Cuomo: Rate of hospitalizations decreasing

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    New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Monday that the rate of hospitalizations because of the coronavirus pandemic is slowing in the state.

    Mon, 30 Mar 2020 15:24:07 -0400
  • New coronavirus death rate estimates show how sharply the risk rises with age

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    The fatality rate for people infected with the novel coronavirus is estimated to be less than 1%, according to a new study. It's 1.38% for those with COVID-19.

    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 17:21:59 -0400
  • Why Taiwan has become a problem for WHO

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    Taiwan is effectively locked out of the World Health Organization - and tensions are rising.

    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 01:23:24 -0400
  • Putin sending medical supplies to help U.S. fight coronavirus: IFX

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    Russia is sending the United States medical equipment to help fight the coronavirus outbreak, the Interfax news agency reported on Tuesday, citing the Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. President Vladimir Putin made the proposal in a phone conversation with President Donald Trump on Monday, when they discussed the coronavirus and oil markets, directing their energy ministers to speak. "Trump gratefully accepted this humanitarian aid," Interfax quoted Peskov as saying.

    Tue, 31 Mar 2020 15:47:24 -0400
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