The Evening Blues - 3-25-20



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The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: Walter Davis

Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features St Louis blues singer and piano player Walter Davis. Enjoy!

Walter Davis - Ashes In My Whiskey

"The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organised habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country."

-- Edward Bernays


News and Opinion

Creepy old hair-sniffer Joe appears to have dodged a #MeToo bullet yet again with the help of interlocking elite Democrat organizations.

Time’s Up Said It Could Not Fund a #MeToo Allegation Against Joe Biden, Citing Its Nonprofit Status and His Presidential Run

Last April, Tara Reade watched as a familiar conversation around her former boss, Joe Biden, and his relationship with personal space unfolded on the national stage. Nevada politician Lucy Flores alleged that Biden had inappropriately sniffed her hair and kissed the back of her head as she waited to go on stage at a rally in 2014. Biden, in a statement in response, said that “not once” in his career did he believe that he had acted inappropriately. But Flores’s allegation sounded accurate to Reade, she said, because Reade had experienced something very similar as a staffer in Biden’s Senate office years earlier.

After she saw an episode of the ABC show “The View,” in which most of the panelists stood up for Biden and attacked Flores as politically motivated, Reade decided that she had no choice but to come forward and support Flores. She gave an interview to a local reporter, describing several instances in which Biden had behaved similarly toward her, inappropriately touching her during her early-’90s tenure in his Senate office. In that first interview, she decided to tell a piece of the story, she said, that matched what had happened to Flores — plus, she had filed a contemporaneous complaint, and there were witnesses, so she considered the allegation bulletproof. The short article brought a wave of attention on her, along with accusations that she was doing the bidding of Russian President Vladimir Putin. So Reade went quiet.

As the campaign went on, Reade, who first supported Sen. Elizabeth Warren and then Sen. Bernie Sanders, began to reconsider staying silent. She thought about the world she wanted her daughter to live in and decided that she wanted to continue telling her story and push back against what she saw as online defamation. To get legal help, and manage what she knew from her first go-around would be serious backlash, she reached out to the organization Time’s Up, established in the wake of the #MeToo movement to help survivors tell their stories. The Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund was the recipient of an outpouring of donations over the past two-plus years, and is set up as a 501(c)3 nonprofit housed within the National Women’s Law Center. ...

In January of this year, Reade spoke with a program director at NWLC, Ellie Driscoll, and was encouraged by the conversation. ... By February, she learned from a new conversation with Time’s Up, which also involved Director Sharyn Tejani, that no assistance could be provided because the person she was accusing, Biden, was a candidate for federal office, and assisting a case against him could jeopardize the organization’s nonprofit status. On February 11, Driscoll wrote to Reade that she “wanted to let you know that after our conversation I talked further with our Director, Sharyn Tejani, about our ability to offer funding or public relations support in your case. Unfortunately, the Fund’s decision remains the same." ... Ellen Aprill, a professor of tax law at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, said that Time’s Up’s analysis is too conservative, and the group wouldn’t be putting its tax-exempt status at risk by taking a case involving a candidate for federal office as long as it followed its standard criteria for taking on cases. ...

The public relations firm that works on behalf of the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund is SKDKnickerbocker, whose managing director, Anita Dunn, is the top adviser to Biden’s presidential campaign.

Ryan Grim: Did #MeToo organization cover for Joe Biden?

Worth a click and a full read:

COVID-19: Our Leaders Are Terrified. Not of the Virus — of Us

You can almost smell the fear-laden sweat oozing from the pores of television broadcasts and social media posts as it finally dawns on our political and media establishments what the coronavirus actually means. And I am not talking about the threat posed to our health. A worldview that has crowded out all other thinking for nearly two generations is coming crashing down. It has no answers to our current predicament. There is a kind of tragic karma to the fact that so many major countries — meaning major economies — are today run by the very men least equipped ideologically, emotionally and spiritually to deal with the virus. ...

As I predicted in my last post, the U.K. government last week threw out the austerity policies that have been the benchmark of Conservative Party orthodoxy for more than a decade and announced a splurge of spending to save businesses with no business as well as members of the public no longer in a position to earn a living. Since the 2008 financial crash, the Tories have cut social and welfare spending to the bone, creating a massive underclass in Britain, and have left local authorities penniless and incapable of covering the shortfall. For the past decade, the Conservative government excused its brutalist approach with the mantra that there was no “magic money tree” to help in times of trouble.

The free market, they argued, was the only fiscally responsible path. And in its infinite wisdom, the market had decided that the 1 percent — the millionaires and billionaires who had tanked the economy in that 2008 crash — would get even filthier rich than they were already. Meanwhile, the rest of us would see the siphoning off of our wages and prospects so that the 1 percent could horde yet more wealth on offshore islands where we and the government could never get our hands on it. “Neoliberalism” became a mystifying term used to reimagine unsustainable late-stage, corporate capitalism not only as a rational and just system but as the only system that did not involve gulags or bread queues. ...

Pandemics like this one are the outcome of our destruction of natural habitats — to grow cattle for burgers, to plant palm trees for cakes and biscuits, to log forests for flat-pack furniture. Animals are being driven into ever closer proximity, forcing diseases to cross the species barrier. And then in a world of low-cost flights, disease finds an easy and rapid transit to every corner of the planet. The truth is that in a time of collapse, like this decade-long one, capitalism has only “magic money trees” left. The first one, in the late 2000s, was reserved for the banks and the large corporations – the wealth elite that now run our governments as plutocracies.

The second “magic money tree,” needed to deal with what will become the even more disastrous economic toll wrought by the virus, has had to be widened to include us. But make no mistake. The circle of beneficence has been expanded not because capitalism suddenly cares about the homeless and those reliant on food banks. Capitalism is an amoral economic system driven by the accumulation of profit for the owners of capital. And that’s not you or me. No, capitalism is now in survival mode. That is why Western governments will, for a time, try to “bail out” sections of their publics too, giving back to them some of the communal wealth that has been extracted over many decades. These governments will try to conceal for a little longer the fact that capitalism is entirely incapable of solving the very crises it has created. They will try to buy our continuing deference to a system that has destroyed our planet and our children’s future.

It won’t work indefinitely, as Dominic Cummings knows only too well. Which is why the Johnson government, as well as the Trump administration and their cut-outs in Brazil, Hungary, Israel, India and elsewhere, are in the process of drafting draconian emergency legislation that will have a longer term goal than the immediate one of preventing contagion. Western governments will conclude that it is time to shore up capitalism’s immune system against their own publics. The risk is that, given the chance, they will begin treating us, not the virus, as the real plague.

Journalist David Dayen: It's not a bailout, it's corporate robbery

Pay People A Living Wage To Stay Home

This whole debate about either (A) returning to normal and killing millions of people or (B) consenting to draconian authoritarian measures which may never be fully rolled back once the pandemic is over is a false dichotomy, since our governments have the option of simply giving everyone a paid holiday.

At a time of far less material abundance, governments all around the world managed to fund two years-long planetwide wars which killed tens of millions of human beings. When they say it’s impossible to pay people a living wage to stay home, they are lying. Instead of the citizenry funnelling their money toward the war machine, money can be funnelled away from the war machine and toward the citizenry for a few months.

Money is a made-up concept the rules of which are constantly bent for the benefit of plutocrats, imperialists and war profiteers. Bend it for the benefit of ordinary people instead. To the extent that we still want to pretend money is an actual thing with hard and fast rules, we can redistribute it away from the very wealthy and away from the obscene and unnecessary war machine.

Governments are supposed to take care of their citizenry in situations like this. That is the primary argument for their continued existence. A government which cannot take good care of its citizenry at a time like this does not deserve to exist. If we’re going to consent to the existence of governments, at bare minimum we should be able to expect them to protect our quality of life as much as possible without consenting to full-blown authoritarianism. ...

This is totally doable, but instead we’re hearing groups like the Republican Party saying it would be better for a few million older Americans to die than for the economy to take a hit by people not showing up for work. Instead of playing the beggar and trying to negotiate a compromise with that insane position (“Maybe we can at least find a way for fewer people to die?”), citizens can demand an actual non-psychopathic solution to our dilemma that actually makes sense.

Debt And Power - With Michael Hudson

Coronavirus Treatment Developed by Gilead Sciences Granted “Rare Disease” Status, Potentially Limiting Affordability

On Monday afternoon, the Food and Drug Administration granted Gilead Sciences “orphan” drug status for its antiviral drug, remdesivir. The designation allows the pharmaceutical company to profit exclusively for seven years from the product, which is one of dozens being tested as a possible treatment for Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

Experts warn that the designation, reserved for treating “rare diseases,” could block supplies of the antiviral medication from generic drug manufacturers and provide a lucrative windfall for Gilead Sciences, which maintains close ties with President Donald Trump’s task force for controlling the coronavirus crisis. Joe Grogan, who serves on the White House coronavirus task force, lobbied for Gilead from 2011 to 2017 on issues including the pricing of pharmaceuticals.

“The Orphan Drug Act is for a rare disease, and this is about as an extreme opposite of a rare disease you can possibly dream up,” said James Love, director of Knowledge Ecology International, a watchdog on pharmaceutical patent abuse.

“They’re talking about potentially half the population of the United States,” said Love, adding that “it’s absurd that this would happen in the middle of an epidemic when everything is in short supply.” ...

The distinction could severely limit supply of remdesivir by granting Gilead Sciences exclusive protection over the drug and complete control of its price. Other pharmaceutical firms, including India-based pharmaceutical firm Cipla, are reportedly working toward a generic form of remdesivir, but patients in the U.S. could be prevented from buying generics with lower prices now that Gilead Sciences’s drug has been designated an orphan.

Today, Gilead abruptly announced that it would no longer provide emergency access to remdesivir, telling the New York Times that “overwhelming demand” left it unable to process requests for the drug through its compassionate use program. Hours later, the FDA gave the drug orphan status. Almost immediately, Gilead’s stock price shot up.

Stupid question of the month:

Can Trump be trusted not to abuse his coronavirus emergency powers?

As the coronavirus crisis has grown, so too has the power of the president’s whim to shape American life, whether that means choosing which states get emergency medical equipment first, deciding where to deploy troops to build temporary hospitals – or controlling what the public knows about what the government is doing. In recent weeks, Trump has invoked emergency powers enabling him to waive certain healthcare regulations and direct enormous streams of cash to areas of need. He has also announced that the federal government would use its authority to direct private companies to boost the production of surgical masks, gloves and other equipment, although the status of those efforts was unclear.

For now the risk – the seeming surety – of a national disaster has fostered a willingness in even Trump’s harshest critics for him to aggressively seize the reins of his office and marshal the power of the federal government toward a muscular and decisive response that could save thousands of lives. But with this widespread desire for action has come related concerns about where, exactly, that power will stop growing, when the emergency crests, and how that power will shrink when the crisis subsides. ...

“Ordinarily, that’s not something you’d be worried about, because it would seem kind of unthinkable for a president to exploit a pandemic to arrogate a bunch of power that he doesn’t need,” said Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the liberty and national security program at the Brennan Center for Justice.

“But we have seen that this president is willing to abuse emergency powers, and to use them for political gains. And so we have to worry.”

By invoking the National Emergencies Act on 13 March, Trump gained access to emergency powers in more than 100 other statutes, Goitein said, “and if you look at those authorities, very few of them relate to health crises”. With incremental action, Trump could expand government control of the internet, freeze private assets or change the size and composition of the armed forces. Other steps Trump has taken in the coronavirus response, such as restricting international borders and imposing mandatory quarantines for certain travelers, do not rely on emergency authorities but could create a legacy of expanded executive power that advocates fear could outlast the virus.

One step Trump did not take after his administration declared a public health emergency on 31 January was to reallocate funds to speed approval for drugs and ramp up the production of coronavirus tests kits. Trump’s failure to deploy that power, the University of Texas law professor Steve Vladeck said, may have ironically created a scenario in which he ends up using much broader powers. “The president’s dilatory use of the powers he has, I think, is going to end up requiring him to use a lot more of that power, in ways that are a lot more controversial and a lot more coercive and a lot more inconsistent,” Vladeck told Benjamin Wittes of the Brookings Institution in a Lawfare podcast about emergency powers and coronavirus.

Trump privately appeals to Asia and Europe for medical help to fight coronavirus

The US has been appealing to its allies for help in obtaining medical supplies to overcome critical shortages in its fight against coronavirus. In his public rhetoric Donald Trump has been talking up the domestic private sector response to the crisis. “We should never be reliant on a foreign country for the means of our own survival,” Trump said at a White House briefing on Tuesday evening. “America will never be a supplicant nation.”

However behind the scenes, the administration has approached European and Asian partners to secure supplies of testing kits and other medical equipment that are in desperately short supply in the US. On Tuesday, Trump spoke by phone with the South Korean president, Moon Jae-in, asking if his country could supply medical equipment.

The official White House account made no mention of the request, but according to the South Korean presidency, the Blue House, the call was made at Trump’s “urgent request”. Trump praised the South Korean testing programme, which has helped contain the outbreak there. Moon told Trump that he would support South Korean exports of critical supplies to the US “if there is a domestic surplus”.

Foreign Policy reported that the third-ranking diplomat in the state department, David Hale, had asked for a list of countries that might be able to sell “critical medical supplies and equipment” to the US. “Depending on critical needs, the United States could seek to purchase many of these items in the hundreds of millions with purchases of higher end equipment such as ventilators in the hundreds of thousands,” an email sent to embassies in Europe and Eurasia said. The email underlined that the request applied to host countries “minus Moscow”. ...

The US is by far the largest buyer of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies from China, and is seeking to import Chinese face masks and protective gear, but negotiations have been complicated by growing acrimony between the country, over what Trump has insisted until very recently on calling the “China virus”.



Donald Trump Says America’s Ventilator Shortage Was “Unforeseen.” Nothing Could Be Further From the Truth.

In recent days, President Donald Trump has repeatedly defended his administration against the suggestion that the government is failing to secure enough ventilators, medical devices that help Covid-19 patients breathe and can save the lives of those suffering serious respiratory distress. “We have tremendous numbers of ventilators, but there’s never been an instance like this where no matter what you have, it’s not enough,” Trump said on March 18. “It sounds like a lot, but this is a very unforeseen thing. Nobody ever thought of these numbers.” A day later, he doubled down, noting that “nobody in their wildest dreams would have ever thought that we’d need tens of thousands of ventilators.”

Except, of course, somebody did think that. A lot of somebodies, actually, and for a very long time. Almost every federal agency you can imagine has, in fact, warned about shortages — and some have offered specific and sobering estimates of need — for the better part of two decades.

Almost 15 years ago, for example, the Department of Health and Human Services published a 400-page Pandemic Influenza Plan that was nothing if not explicit. ... That startling report was just one of many to sound the alarm. Most were written in the wake of 2003 SARS outbreak or the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic. ... More recently, Trump reportedly ignored increasingly alarming updates from the U.S. intelligence community about the danger and spread of Covid-19.

Trump’s falsehoods about coronavirus preparedness aren’t confined to his contention that “nobody has ever heard of a thing like this,” of course. He has also claimed that automakers including Ford, GM, and Tesla are lending a hand to produce ventilators “fast” to make up the shortfall. It just isn’t true. And ventilators are just the start. Trump has responded similarly to criticism about the alarming shortage of specialized N95 masks needed by health care workers on the front lines of the pandemic. ... But the need for large stockpiles of masks, like the need for ventilators, has been no secret. “As occurred during the SARS outbreak in Canada, hospitals would especially need N95 particulate respirators to protect medical staff against infection,” according to the 2006 CBO report. “Widely adopted just-in-time practices … leave too small an inventory margin to accommodate the increased demand for supplies that would accompany an influenza pandemic.”

Calls Grow for Sen. Burr to Resign After He Sold $1.7 Million in Stocks & Downplayed COVID-19 Risks

Shareholder suit accuses Sen. Richard Burr of securities fraud

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) is being sued after selling shares in a hotel company while possessing confidential information about the potential impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Alan Jacobson, a shareholder in Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, sued Burr in federal court on Monday, alleging that the senator used private information to motivate a mass liquidation of his assets. It is illegal for senators to use nonpublic information in conducting securities exchanges. ...

Jacobson argued he had suffered harm because he kept his shares while they were trading at artificially inflated prices due to the lack of public knowledge on the coming economic devastation from coronavirus.

Burr asked the Senate Ethics Committee on Friday to review his stock sales and maintained that he “relied solely on public news reports to guide my decision regarding the sale of stocks.” He denied using information that was not public regarding the coronavirus outbreak. Burr is planning to retire at the end of 2022

Stimulus Showers Corporations With Cash & Screws Citizens

Coronavirus stimulus bill: Democrats and Republicans appear close to $2tn deal

The US Senate and the Treasury appeared to be close to a deal over a coronavirus stimulus bill on Tuesday, even as Donald Trump signaled his wish to reopen the economy and continued to attack the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, over her own stimulus proposal. ...

The US treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, had told reporters on Capitol Hill, just before midnight on Monday: “I think we’ve made a lot of progress. There’s still a couple of open issues, but I think we’re very hopeful that this can be closed out [on Tuesday].”

Mnuchin said he and the Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, had consulted the president and Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, on the details of the deal, which is believed to secure around $2tn in aid for workers and businesses.

But the president took aim at Pelosi, who had introduced House Democrats’ own $2.5tn stimulus plan overnight in an attempt to shape negotiations. In a late-night tweet, Trump accused Pelosi of seeking to derail a Republican-sponsored Senate bill.

Republicans criticized Pelosi’s rival bill as a wishlist, saying it included politically charged spending add-ons and regulations on federal elections, minimum wage, union regulations and climate change. Democrats made similar charges about the Republican Senate bill.

“People Go Before Money. This Is About Saving Lives,” Says San Juan Mayor on Pandemic in Puerto Rico

Analysis Shows More Workers Filed for Unemployment Last Week Than Any Other in US History

A new analysis released Tuesday shows that more U.S. workers filed unemployment claims last week than during any other week in the nation's history. An estimated 3.4 million Americans filed such claims for the week ending March 21, according to the findings from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).

"This will dwarf every other week in history," wrote EPI's Aaron Sojourner and Paul Goldsmith-Pinkham, adding, "The true impacts are undoubtedly of larger scale than described here."

The startling calculation—based on claims in 35 states and Washington, D.C. and extrapolated to the other 15 states—comes as the nation continues to experience a rise in cases of the novel coronavirus—with over 46,000 confirmed as of Tuesday—and as ordinary Americans feel the economic and societal impacts of the crisis, with schools, stores, and work places temporarily shuttered, varying degrees of lockdowns in place, and households and frontline workers still wondering if lawmakers will put their urgent needs above those of corporate America.


Sojourner and Goldsmith-Pinkham, both research associates at EPI, put the projection into the context of the nation's unemployment rate:

For scale, consider that 3.4 million Americans moving from employment to unemployment would raise the number of the unemployed from 5.7 million to 9.1 million. This alone would raise the unemployment rate by more than half, by 2 percentage points from 3.5% to 5.5%, moving back to 2015 levels in just one week. This spike represents 2.2% of all jobs in the economy. The largest monthly rise in the unemployment rate in American history was plus 1.3 percentage points in October 1949.

Grim as the scenario painted by the analsis is, reality may be even worse. The researchers wrote that the actual tally of claims "could be substantially higher." Not all unemployed workers are able to file unemployment insurance claims either, and for those that do, they'll get about half—or less—of their regular income. The end of the coronavirus crisis is also not in the immediate future.

All that points to the need for the federal government to provide states with more aid.

"American working families are paying a large price through no fault of their own," wrote Sojourner and Goldsmith-Pinkham. "But there is no shortcutting public health to get the American economy back to work. A healthy economy requires public health."

Krystal and Saagar: DC holds workers hostage with corporate bailout

With Millions of Students Cut Off Digitally, Coronavirus Pandemic Bolsters Demand to Treat Internet as Public Utility

While Senate Democrats continue to hold the line against a third GOP coronavirus package condemned as a corporate bailout that leaves behind the nation's most vulnerable, concerns about remote education and digital connectivity during the pandemic are rising, bolstering the argument for treating the internet as a public utility like water and electricity.

In a letter Sunday to Senate Majority Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), 20 senators requested that the new COVID-19 relief package include at least $2 billion in E-Rate funds for schools and libraries to provide hotspots or other Wi-Fi capable devices for students lacking internet access at home.

"Children without connectivity are at risk of not only being unable to complete their homework during this pandemic, but being unable to continue their overall education," warns the letter, led by Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.). "Congress must address this issue by providing additional financial support for home internet access in the next emergency relief package so that no child falls behind in their education."

Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democratic member of the Federal Communications Commission, welcomed the push for increasing student internet access in a tweet Monday and wrote that because of the ongoing public health crisis, "millions of kids are out of school and struggling to go online for class."

Free Press Action on Monday proposed a spending plan for Congress and the FCC to keep people connected to the internet during the pandemic. It calls for $1 billion in immediate funding for Lifeline, a federal program that provides affordable communications to people with low incomes; $25 billion for a Lifeline benefit of up to $50 per month for a home-internet connection; $5 billion for the E-Rate educational connectivity program; and $50 billion to deploy high-capacity broadband networks in rural and unserved areas.

Overall, the plan calls for allocating up to $100 billion in subsidies, rebates, and tax relief to create a broadband system "that would benefit people, not just companies."

The White House Now Wants Everyone Who's Visited New York City to Self-Quarantine

The White House warned that anyone leaving New York City should self-quarantine for 14 days, in the latest attempt to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus from the city that’s become the epicenter of the outbreak in the United States.

Roughly 1 in 1,000 people in and around the city are infected, White House officials said Tuesday evening, warning that those who leave the city risk seeding the infection in new places.

“We have to deal with the New York City metropolitan area as a high risk area,” said Vice President Mike Pence, head of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

The rate of infection in New York State, where more than 25,000 cases have been confirmed, is now doubling about every three days, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced in a heated press conference earlier Tuesday. ...

Despite the swirling crisis in New York, Trump suggested Tuesday evening that restrictions could be loosened within the next few weeks in other parts of the country, including relatively sparsely populated areas in the Midwest, West and Texas — if the low rates of infection in those areas hold.

Frontline NY Nurses Lack Protective Masks & Ventilators, Say Worst Yet to Come as COVID-19 Spreads

Kaiser Permanente Threatened to Fire Nurses Treating Covid-19 Patients for Wearing Their Own Masks, Unions Say

Nurses at Kaiser Permanente hospitals and clinics in California could be fired immediately for wearing their own face masks, according to unions representing nurses at the facilities. The news comes after nurses were ordered to reuse disposable protective gear to save supplies in the face of shortages brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

The California Nurses Association and National Nurses United sent a flyer to members noting that Kaiser had threatened nurses with firing if they wear their own N95 masks, which offer a high level of protection from airborne contaminants, to work. “Kaiser has told nurses that if they’re seen wearing their personal N95 masks, they could be fired ‘on the spot’ for insubordination,” the flyer read. The unions did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Kaiser spokesperson Marc Brown said firing nurses for using their own N95 gear is not the company’s official policy. Asked if nurses would not be disciplined if they wear their own masks, Brown did not provide an answer. “That is not our policy. We provide the appropriate medical-grade protective equipment for the protocols and level of patient care being provided. We cannot assure the integrity of protective equipment not provided by Kaiser Permanente,” Brown wrote in a statement to The Intercept. “We want them to wear equipment we can be sure is effective.”

Kaiser nurses last week received guidelines downgrading protective standards and giving instructions on how to reuse certain types of eyewear and masks. That change came after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention earlier this month downgraded from protocols for airborne contamination to protocols for droplet contamination, noting that the change was based on supply rather than science.



the horse race



Biden’s Most Awkward Interview Yet Is A Cringe Festival

Krystal Ball: Biden seeks Wall Street approved VP pick

Krystal and Saagar: Bernie insists on debating Biden and establishment is furious



the evening greens


Market Headwinds Buffet Appalachia’s Future as a Center for Petrochemicals

Less than two years ago, the Trump administration and the chemical industry were promoting development of a plastics manufacturing center in Appalachia they thought would benefit Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Kentucky. IHS Markit, a global information and data company, forecast the potential for as many as five plants that would turn abundant ethane from fracking in the Marcellus and Utica shale regions into ethylene and polyethylene, among the most commonly produced petrochemicals and components of all sorts of plastic products.

Now, analysts at IHS Markit have concluded that a proposed $5.7 billion ethane plant in Belmont County, Ohio, may never be constructed due to circumstances that were present even before the coronavirus began to dramatically shrink the economy. ...

The plant's fate is seen by both the IEEFA and IHS Markit as a harbinger of trouble for the broader vision of Appalachia as a major petrochemical hub. A string of significant setbacks and delays now seem more important amid the coronavirus pandemic, a crashing economy, cratering oil prices, slowing demand for plastics and what could be the final months of a fossil fuel-friendly Trump administration. ...

"Too many regulators, too many lawmakers, and too many government officials were too eager to sign us up and lock is into a bigger fossil fuel future, and at a time when we don't need more plastics," said Lisa Graves-Marcucci, the Pennsylvania community outreach coordinator for the Environmental Integrity Project. "This could be an important moment in time where we need more reflection, where we need a pause button, and ask, what do we really want for this region?"

Industry representatives acknowledge the challenges but continue touting the region's natural gas-driven petrochemical future, while asking for government help.

Climate Change Push Fuels Split On Coronavirus Stimulus

Clean energy and climate advocates say the huge stimulus bill Congress is negotiating should address not only the economy, but also climate change. But a split over that appears to have contributed to delays in passing the bill.

"Democrats won't let us fund hospitals or save small businesses unless they get to dust off the Green New Deal," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday. McConnell said Democrats were filibustering the $1 trillion-plus bill hoping to include policies such as extending tax credits for solar and wind energy.

Two trade groups, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), sent a joint letter to members of Congress last week saying that extending the credits "would allow our member companies to hire thousands of additional workers and inject billions in the U.S. economy."

The share of solar and wind energy in the U.S. had been booming. But now, without help, the SEIA estimates the solar industry could see as much as 50 percent of residential solar jobs lost this year due to the pandemic. AWEA estimates $43 billion dollars of investments and payments, mostly in the rural communities where wind projects usually are built, is at risk. ...

Eight Democratic U.S. senators also called on fellow lawmakers to tie financial help for airlines and cruise lines to new environmental requirements that would reduce their carbon footprints.

Greta Thunberg says it's 'extremely likely' she has had coronavirus

Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenager who inspired the global school climate strikes, says it is “extremely likely” she has had the Covid-19 virus. The teenager, whose solo protest outside the Swedish parliament kickstarted the global youth campaign, said in a post on Instagram that she had self isolated after she and her father returned from a trip around central Europe about two weeks ago. A few days later she said they both began to feel ill, and she complained of feeling tired with “shivers, sore throat and cough”.

Thunberg said she had not been tested for the virus, in line with the policy in Sweden, and was now “basically recovered”. But she issued an urgent warning to other young people to take the virus seriously – even if they themselves were often only facing mild symptoms.

“We who do not belong to a risk group have an enormous responsibility, our actions can be the difference between life and death for many others.”


Also of Interest

Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.

Deconstructed podcast: How to Save the U.S. Economy, With Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Stephanie Kelton

Trump Cabinet Bible Teacher Blames Coronavirus Pandemic on God’s Wrath — Somehow It Involves China, Gay People, and Environmentalists

'The US of Amazon': how the coronavirus has created a governance vacuum the tech giant is quickly filling

Message from big business on coronavirus pandemic: Save profits, not lives

Boeing CEO says quiet part out loud, admits they don't REALLY need money

Anti-Abortion Politicians Are Exploiting the Coronavirus Outbreak to Shutter Health Clinics

Goldman Sachs says it is time to buy gold — the ‘currency of last resort’

Unite Here President: bailout does nothing to save workers' healthcare

US students are being asked to work remotely. But 22% of homes don't have internet

Rising: How big companies are screwing gig workers

Saagar Enjeti: Obama-Bro's, Dem elites don't care about workers, here are their stories

Krystal and Saagar: Biden CRASHES AND BURNS in multiple TV appearance

Pablo Escobar's 'cocaine hippos' show how invasive species can restore a lost world


A Little Night Music

Roosevelt Sykes & Walter Davis - M&O Blues

Roosevelt Sykes & Walter Davis - L & N Blues

Walter Davis - Don't You Want To Go

Walter Davis - Red Cross Blues

Walter Davis - Cotton Farm Blues

Walter Davis - You've Gotta Reap What You Sow

Walter Davis - Why Should I Be Blue

Walter Davis - Travellin' This Lonesome Road

Walter Davis - Teasin' Brown Skin

Walter Davis - I Just Can't Help It


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Granma's picture

live.berniesanders.com

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joe shikspack's picture

@Granma

thanks! sorry i missed it.

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GreatLakeSailor's picture

Sent to my 3 chuckle-head congress worms

I read this today:
= = =begin tweet= = =
Naomi Klein @NaomiAKlein
Read this. It's infuriating beyond words:

"The people get a $1,200 means-tested payment and a little wage insurance for four months. Corporations get a transformative amount of play money to sustain their system and wipe out the competition."

Quoted Tweet:

David Dayen @ddayen

Unsanitized today is about the outrageous bailout deal Congress is poised to pass; it's not a bailout for the coronavirus, it's a bailout for the past decade of corporate irresponsibility. https://prospect.org/coronavirus/unsanitized-bailouts-tradition-unlike-a...

10:30 AM · Mar 25, 2020
= = =end tweet= = =

So once again you Washington Swamp Dwellers short us American citizen and shower largess on your corporate owners.

I really hate the whole lot of you inside-the-beltway, corrupt, elite, owned-by-the-rich swampers - Republicans & Democrats alike. When it comes to raining trillions on your owners and screwing America's People, you're not different enough to matter.

GLS

Crooks, the lot of them.

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17 users have voted.

Compensated Spokes Model for Big Poor & Big Peace.

joe shikspack's picture

@GreatLakeSailor

it's good of the congressworms to so transparently demonstrate who they care about.

maybe this time "we the people" will get the message.

stock up on your critical supplies of pitchforks and torches.

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8 users have voted.
Granma's picture

Covid stimulus package. It lasted half an hour. I liked hearing his explanation of what is in the bill, what he likes and doesn't, and why. In half an hour, I learned more than in my last two days reading about it (maybe because of where I was reading).

It will cover gig, part-time, tip, and self-employed workers.I'm not going to try to cover whole thing. There surely are other places to learn about it.

Now I'll read the rest of the EB.

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joe shikspack's picture

@Marie

wait a few weeks. right now, most trump supporters probably still think it's a hoax.

when it hits the fan, then there might be a teachable moment.

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Azazello's picture

1 more for the guillotine file: Party Zero: How a Soirée in Connecticut Became a ‘Super Spreader
Here's another clip from last night's marathon Jimmy Dore livestream.

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joe shikspack's picture

@Azazello

thanks!

dore's youtube feed says he's going live again shortly:

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Azazello's picture

@joe shikspack
Beats the hell out of PBS or the old folks' movie channel.

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@Azazello
A long held belief among immigration opponents is that immigrants would bring diseases into the country.

Now, note the high number of celebrities claiming COVID-19 infection. Note the COVID-19 hotspots. World travelers, including cruisers, dominated by those with higher income and wealth, have been spreading COVID-19. Of course, not knowingly. But also not personally too concerned because they have access to the best health care money can buy and therefore, expect to survive. Not so with those who service the lifestyles of these travelers/VIPs and whose living arrangements require a much higher degree of close interaction with family and others.

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12 users have voted.

Reade and her story sound credible. What is striking to me is the casualness of Biden as he allegedly sexually assaulted Reade. If true, this wasn't the only assault by Biden. Will we hear from more women? Or is Trump/GOP sitting on this for the general election?

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joe shikspack's picture

@Marie

people like neera tanden probably figure that biden is safe because trump has similar claims against him.

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@joe shikspack No different from Republican voters. They only care about their team winning, and unlike the party insiders/elites, the voter schlubs get nothing other than the emotional high from winning.

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Lily O Lady's picture

@Marie

DOES repeat itself after all.

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"The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

@Lily O Lady Note that this alleged sexual assault took place after the Thomas' confirmation hearings. About a year and a half later.

Reade alleges a far more serious assault than Anita Hill did; although it's possible that Hill was much too modest to reveal everything that had happened to her. Could be that Biden dismissed Hill's claims because from his personal perspective, they were no big deal. That's not something that I considered in the past even though I was furious at Biden for his treatment of Hill and refusal to stop Thomas' confirmation.

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actually gives me some hope that TPTB are afraid of some rebellion, at least in England.
I am not seeing it here.

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5 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@on the cusp

i think cook is right in looking to the countermeasures that governments take to prevent the torches and pitchforks from marching. if that is a good measure, the u.s. has devoted considerable resources (both public and private) to creating a surveillance state and militarizing its police forces. the military responses to occupy and the black lives matter movement for example are quite telling.

i would guess that rebellion is possible here - and it will likely be sparked by some particularly egregious demonstration of callous disregard that the ruling elites have for the little people - and once it gets started, it will probably be double plus unpretty.

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@joe shikspack I do not think it will be the money given to the banks that does it. So many people do not understand bailouts to banksters. It will have to be flagrant, callous, a giant fuck you that is rubbed in our faces, and the games will begin, and will not stop until there is a clear winner, with the losers in prison camps.

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enhydra lutris's picture

I'm working on for April (6?), thanks in advance and thanks for posting it - its a classic. Same old news, different pile. Don't know if I can even bring myself to try to watch Biden, and I can pretty well guess what the corporate welfare bill contains and lacks.

Harvested and julienned a huge bowl of greens, they're up in large quantity just in time for us to put them in everything and thereby stretch our veggie supply.

be well and have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

joe shikspack's picture

@enhydra lutris

watching biden is kinda painful. he is clearly not all there. i don't know what they gave him in order to appear lucid at the last debate, but clearly they forgot to renew his prescription. i never liked him, but watching him decline before our eyes is just sad.

enjoy the greens and have a great evening!

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9 users have voted.
Azazello's picture

@enhydra lutris
I read that article. I think it's pretty cool. They've got a simple coin-toss probability model with parameters that make it conform to real-world statistical data.
From a political standpoint, the one parameter we can influence is χ which includes tax policy.
One thing though, in the middle of the article there's a box that talks about the Gini coefficient. It reports the US Gini as .89. Most estimates are .43 or so, about half that.
There's a factor of 2 somewhere in the math that I don't get.

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enhydra lutris's picture

@Azazello
The article was published in 2018, but the work was obviously done over a period of years. I'll have to take another peek at it.

have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

enhydra lutris's picture

@Azazello
exactly. The area under the diagonal line, on a unit square is 1/2. The article says that the coefficient is twice the area between that line and the Lorenz curve. If we call that area A, then that means that the coeff is A/0.5 = 2A. All the other sources I've found compute the coeff as the ratio of Area A to the total area under the line divided by 2. That works out to be A/.05/2 = A. Dunno what's going on with that.

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2 users have voted.

That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

enhydra lutris's picture

@Azazello
exactly. The area under the diagonal line, on a unit square is 1/2. The article says that the coefficient is twice the area between that line and the Lorenz curve. If we call that area A, then that means that the coeff is A/0.5 = 2A. All the other sources I've found compute the coeff as the ratio of Area A to the total area under the line divided by 2. That works out to be A/.05/2 = A. Dunno what's going on with that.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

I will not be able to open my office. At least I should be able to go feed the cat and get my mail.
Grocery stores will stay open.
This will last until April 19th. I had intended to re-open, or reassess the situation April 6th.
I will have to read it very closely to see if I can drive across the county line.
hmmm...
I am going to go nuts. Not to mention, I am going to lose a buttload of money.
At least we do not have any confirmed cases, so I am happy the judge stepped up, and our dumbass commissioners followed suit, and took this drastic preventative measure.
I come from an environment with many people who cannot read or write.
It wouldn't surprise me that a lot of folks around here do not understand what is happening.
Interesting times we live in.

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joe shikspack's picture

@on the cusp

that you are on hiatus and financially disadvantaged by the shutdown orders. i hope that whatever measures the congress is preparing will assist you and your workers.

welcome to club cabin fever. Smile

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snoopydawg's picture

@joe shikspack

IMG_4142.JPG

Krystal and Saagar were already pretty ticked off by what they were hearing about the bailouts, but tomorrow I'm sure that they will up their ticked off levels by a huge amount. They are having people tell them what is happening in their lives and the first one broke my heart. There is always enough stress when you lose your job, but to not know how long you will be off work during this epidemic is so much worse. F congress for not doing enough for people who are going through this! Sideways and hard and hold the lube!

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8 users have voted.

"I will be the best, the best, you know, you know the thing!”
- Joe Biden

joe shikspack's picture

@snoopydawg

tonight i've been reading a bunch of pieces about the proposed bailout - and the funny(?) thing is that the estimates of the actual cost of the package keep going up. in the space of a few hours this evening i've read estimates from 4 to 14 trillion dollars. at this rate, i shudder to think of what it might be by morning. Smile

but the interesting thing is that the part that goes to working people doesn't rise in these estimates, only the part that goes to wall street and corporations grows.

so at current, the 99% get 2 trillion dollars, while the 1% get 12 trillion dollars.

it's a great illustration of who the congress cares about.

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snoopydawg's picture

@joe shikspack

And none of that increased for we the 99%? Color me surprised. Bernie put a hold on the bill until Graham and his friends backed down on unemployment benefits, but not for making sure that the one time checks were weekly or even monthly? And Warren is saying that "we lost the first round, but we will make sure that we....blah blah blah...next time." Both of them could have done better.

You can feel the anger on Twitter tonight. People are pissed at what congress did today. Good. Putin just put the whole country on holiday with guaranteed pay checks for at least a week. Plus he held the upcoming vote on whether he can be president longer which the people have to agree to. As I said in my essay no company should receive money until they show why they need it. After less than one month we are supposed to believe that they don't have any to weather the storm? Please.

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4 users have voted.

"I will be the best, the best, you know, you know the thing!”
- Joe Biden

joe shikspack's picture

@snoopydawg

i just watched a new jimmy dore segment (which i've posted in tonight's eb) where dylan ratigan revises his estimate down from 14 trillion to 10 trillion. so, i guess we'll see where it is in another few days if it gets past the house.

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@joe shikspack My judge has lived here all his life, is well aware of the segment of the population that either does not comprehend the dangers, or willfully ignore them, claiming it is a hoax.
Other governments lock down, but infuse families with money to maintain a status quo.
Not us, not here.
I guess the banksters want to buy up a whole bunch of small lots and mobile homes and get rich being slumlords.
Hope all the meth cooks burn them down to the ground.
Just sayin'...

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dervish's picture

to surpass Italy and China today in cases of COVID-19.

We're finally #1.

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"Obama promised transparency, but Assange is the one who brought it."

joe shikspack's picture

@dervish

yep, i have a sinking feeling that we are going to stay #1 going forward, too.

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6 users have voted.