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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 73,171

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How the Pandemic Defeated America

How the Pandemic Defeated America
A virus has brought the world’s most powerful country to its knees.

Story by Ed Yong

(The Atlantic) How did it come to this? A virus a thousand times smaller than a dust mote has humbled and humiliated the planet’s most powerful nation. America has failed to protect its people, leaving them with illness and financial ruin. It has lost its status as a global leader. It has careened between inaction and ineptitude. The breadth and magnitude of its errors are difficult, in the moment, to truly fathom.

In the first half of 2020, SARS‑CoV‑2—the new coronavirus behind the disease COVID‑19—infected 10 million people around the world and killed about half a million. But few countries have been as severely hit as the United States, which has just 4 percent of the world’s population but a quarter of its confirmed COVID‑19 cases and deaths. These numbers are estimates. The actual toll, though undoubtedly higher, is unknown, because the richest country in the world still lacks sufficient testing to accurately count its sick citizens.

Despite ample warning, the U.S. squandered every possible opportunity to control the coronavirus. And despite its considerable advantages—immense resources, biomedical might, scientific expertise—it floundered. While countries as different as South Korea, Thailand, Iceland, Slovakia, and Australia acted decisively to bend the curve of infections downward, the U.S. achieved merely a plateau in the spring, which changed to an appalling upward slope in the summer. “The U.S. fundamentally failed in ways that were worse than I ever could have imagined,” Julia Marcus, an infectious-disease epidemiologist at Harvard Medical School, told me.

Since the pandemic began, I have spoken with more than 100 experts in a variety of fields. I’ve learned that almost everything that went wrong with America’s response to the pandemic was predictable and preventable. A sluggish response by a government denuded of expertise allowed the coronavirus to gain a foothold. Chronic underfunding of public health neutered the nation’s ability to prevent the pathogen’s spread. A bloated, inefficient health-care system left hospitals ill-prepared for the ensuing wave of sickness. Racist policies that have endured since the days of colonization and slavery left Indigenous and Black Americans especially vulnerable to COVID‑19. The decades-long process of shredding the nation’s social safety net forced millions of essential workers in low-paying jobs to risk their life for their livelihood. The same social-media platforms that sowed partisanship and misinformation during the 2014 Ebola outbreak in Africa and the 2016 U.S. election became vectors for conspiracy theories during the 2020 pandemic. ...............(more)


Florida Man Arrested With Gun In One Hand, Beer In The Other

WIMAUMA, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, a man in Wimauma was arrested on Saturday, August 1, 2020 after reports that he was waving a firearm at citizens while walking down the road.

At 11:49 a.m. on Saturday, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office received multiple calls from citizens that a man walking near Railroad Street and State Road 674 was pointing a gun at vehicles driving by. Deputies arrived within minutes and located the armed man walking south on Railroad Street.

Eric Ricardo Felder, 66, was still holding and carelessly waving the firearm around in one hand with an alcoholic beverage in the other. Deputies took him into custody without incident. ...............(more)


The Swamp: a revealing look into Washington corruption

The Swamp: a revealing look into Washington corruption
A new documentary finds bipartisan common ground as it follows Republican lawmakers to examine the corrosive influence of money in US democracy

Adrian Horton
Published onMon 3 Aug 2020 03.35 EDT

(Guardian UK) There’s a recurring graphic in The Swamp, a new HBO documentary riffing on the Trump campaign’s (false) promise to drain Washington of moneyed interests, in which vines overrun the Rotunda as it sinks into a gooey morass. The lure of corruption, and the entrenchment of money, is all-encompassing – a rare shared point between America’s two political parties, and a thesis of a film attempting to pull back the curtain on business as usual in Washington.

Directors Morgan Pehme and Daniel DiMauro were not strangers to corruption in American politics; the two directed the 2017 documentary Get Me Roger Stone, a film about the Trump campaign consultant who was sentenced to 40 months in prison for corruption charges (Trump commuted his sentence last month). But the two did not expect to find commonality on the issue of corruption in Congress in Drain the Swamp, a book invoking the Trump slogan by a co-founder of the House Freedom Caucus, Colorado representative Ken Buck.

The duo, self-described liberals, read the first seven or so chapters and were surprised to find themselves thinking, “we’re on the same page with this conservative member of the Freedom Caucus about how the rich donors and special interests are controlling and perverting our government,” Pehme told the Guardian. Then they got to the chapter on Buck’s argument for the end of the Endangered Species Act, and it was, “Oh, right, we’re not on the same page with you at all.”

Still, the near-overlap with progressive calls from the likes of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren to cleanse Washington of big-money donors seemed like a window into the deliberately opaque and confusing world of congressional fundraising. Filming Buck and two fellow Republican lawmakers – Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Matt Gaetz of Florida in their DC offices, at their homes, at campaign stops and constituent visits – could offer “a chance to take the American public behind closed doors in Congress for the first time and show them how the sausage is made”, said Pehme. .............(more)


Anti-abortion centers receive at least $4m from US coronavirus bailout

(Guardian UK) Anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers across the United States received at least $4m and possibly more than $10m in forgivable federal loans as part of the government’s first coronavirus bailout package, called the paycheck protection program (PPP).

Formally part of the Cares Act, the program was meant to give employers a cash infusion to retain employees just as coronavirus lockdowns caused revenue to nosedive. It allowed religiously affiliated and faith-based non-profits to apply.

Crisis pregnancy centers often operate out of storefronts with the look and feel of full-service reproductive health clinics. However, the organizations often provide “sham” medical treatments such as abortion “reversal” pills, oppose modern birth control methods and exaggerate medical risks of abortion to persuade women not to have them. ............(more)


Great white sharks have returned to New England

Great white sharks have returned to New England
Maine's first fatal shark attack on record is further evidence of their comeback. It's both a conservation success and a public safety concern—though attacks remain extremely rare.


(National Geographic) ROCKLAND, MAINE Maine saw its first fatal shark attack in the state’s history Monday when a shark killed a 63-year-old New York woman off Bailey Island, Maine, northeast of Portland.

“Based on the information I have from the state of Maine, including photos of tooth fragments, this was definitely caused by a white shark attack,” says Greg Skomal, a leading Atlantic great white shark expert and senior scientist with the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries. Maine officials invited Skomal to consult on the investigation into the attack.

The return of great white sharks to New England over the past two decades is both a conservation success story and an emerging public safety concern. Though it is extremely rare for a shark to attack—much less kill—a human, incidents are on the rise in New England. Since 2012, there have been five attacks in the region, all in Massachusetts. Only two have been fatal: Monday’s, and the death of a boogie boarder off Cape Cod in 2018. Before 2012, the most recent attack occurred in 1936.

It’s not known precisely how many great white sharks are in New England waters, but a tagging program Skomal started in 2009 suggests the number is growing steadily. Data from a five-year population study he launched in 2014 is still being processed, but he tagged a record-breaking 50 white sharks off Cape Cod in 2019. ............(more)


Florida Man Hangs On to Hood of Big Rig, Driver Claims He Went Berserk

Florida man strikes again -- only this time, he's in action hero mode, which looks way more terrifying in real life than it does on the big screen.

This insanity went down Saturday in the Sunshine State somewhere along I-95 -- where a big rig was cruising down the highway at a pretty fast clip with a HUMAN BEING stuck on its hood outside ... clinging on for dear life. ...........(more)


Coin Shortages Are Causing a Liquidity Crisis at Laundromats

(Bloomberg Businessweek) Every morning, Charles Boukas drives to six Chase banks in the San Diego area in search of quarters. The most he ever drove to was eight, but one branch was closed that day, and two others didn’t have change. Boukas, the 55-year-old owner of the Coin Hut Laundromat, is in a bind: He’s running low on quarters because residents of apartment complexes are making change and not using his machines. The whole trip takes about two hours, and the total amount of quarters he can get is worth $120 because his banks limit how many coins they give out. So he’s been seeking alternative sources.

Under couch cushions? Maybe not that far—but close. “Our biggest success has been friends and family so far, and the banks are just a daily grind that I do,” he says.

On top of a slowdown in foot traffic, laundromat owners such as Boukas are struggling because the coronavirus seems to have stopped up the flow of coins through the economy. People made fewer store trips and many businesses stayed closed with old change sitting in their tills. Even big retailers have felt the pinch, with many putting up signs at registers encouraging customers to use exact exchange or pay with plastic. Some have called it a national coin shortage, but as of April, the U.S. Treasury estimated that about $47.8 billion worth of coins were in circulation, compared with $47.4 billion last year.

“I don’t refer to it as a shortage, I refer to it as ‘We don’t have coin moving.’ It’s there, it’s just not in the right place,” says Jim Gaherity, chief executive officer of Coinstar, which collects loose change at machines that often are found in grocery stores. “It’s in homes. It’s probably in some businesses that haven’t reopened at this point in time. It’s in banks—so it’s there.” .................(more)


Could this anti-Trump Republican group take down the president?

Could this anti-Trump Republican group take down the president?
Savage attack ads from a well-funded group of dissident Republicans are aiming to sway a key sliver of opinion in swing states

Richard Wolffe in Washington
Published onSat 1 Aug 2020 06.00 EDT

(Guardian UK) Amid all the noise of an election involving Donald Trump – all the inflammatory tweets and shadowy Facebook posts – one set of ads has somehow managed to break through.

There’s the one of the US president shuffling down a ramp that declares that the president “is not well”. There’s the whispering one about Trump’s “loyalty problem” inside his White House, campaign and family.

There’s the epic Mourning in America that remakes Reagan’s election-defining 1984 ad, turning the sun-bathed suburbs into a dark national portrait of pandemic and recession. On Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, those three ads alone have racked up more than 35m views.

The Lincoln Project, run by a group of renegade Republican political consultants, has crystallized one of the core narratives of the 2020 campaign in ways that few other political commercials have in past cycles. ................(more)


Florida man buys Porsche with check printed from home computer

MIRAMAR BEACH — A Wewahitchka man walked into a car dealership in Okaloosa County and left in a Porsche after paying with a check printed from his home computer, authorities say.

Casey William Kelley, 42, was arrested Wednesday for grand theft of a motor vehicle and uttering a false banknote.

He also tried to buy Rolex watches with a bad check, according to an arrest report from the Walton County Sheriff’s Office.

During the investigation it was determined Kelley had purchased a Porsche 911 Turbo from a Porsche dealership in Destin by using a fraudulent check written for $139,203.05 on Monday, July 27. ............(more)


Florida man accused of firing gun in hotel lobby over lack of social distancing

A Florida man was arrested for allegedly firing a gun inside the lobby of a Miami Beach hotel in response to a family flouting social distancing norms, a report said.

Douglas Marks, 29, is accused of squeezing off the rounds at the Crystal Beach Suites on Monday night, the Miami Herald reported, citing police.

Marks confronted a mother-son duo sitting on a lobby couch and told them, “You all aren’t social distancing,” according to an arrest report obtained by the paper.

The mother, Veronica Pena, and her son ignored Marks and remained in place, the report said. ......(more)


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