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Trump says 1,000 additional military personnel to deploy to NY   

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Trump says 1,000 additional military personnel to deploy to NY | 04 April 2020 | President Trump said 1,000 additional military personnel are being deployed to New York to help the city manage the coronavirus outbreak. "At my direction, 1,000 military personnel are deploying to New York City to assist where they'e needed the most," Trump said at a White House coronavirus task force briefing Saturday. "That's the hottest of all the hot spots." When asked, Trump said that number is subject to increase and that although there aren't plans in place to expand military personnel in other parts of the country, it's possible they could be sent to places with increased cases.


          

Book-to-film event: The Secret Garden   

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Monday, April 6, 2020, 1 – 3pm

Book-to-film event: The Secret Garden

***This event has been cancelled.***

The Secret Garden tells the story of Mary Lennox, a prickly and unloved 10-year-old girl, born in India to wealthy British parents. When they suddenly die, she is sent back to England to live with her uncle, Archibald Craven on his remote country estate deep in the Yorkshire moors, under the watchful eye Mrs Medlock and only with the household maid, Martha for company.

Mary begins to uncover many family secrets, particularly after meeting her sickly cousin Colin, who has been shut away in a wing of the house, and through her discovery of a wondrous garden, locked away and lost within the grounds of Misselthwaite Manor. While searching for Hector, the stray dog who had led Mary to the garden walls, she befriends local boy Dickon and together they discover a secret garden.

Join in the fun of celebrating this film with activities and games. Ideal for children aged eight years and older.

Venue addressBrisbane Square Library, 266 George Street, Brisbane City
VenueBrisbane Square Library
Status: Cancelled
Parent event: School Holiday Fun
Age range: Kids
Bookings: Bookings required. Phone Brisbane Square Library on 07 3403 4166 to reserve your place.
Cost: Free
Event type: Free, School holidays
Library event types: Literary events
Age: 8-12 year olds
          

Top Crypto Exchanges, Token Issuers Named In Barrage Of U.S. Class-Action Lawsuits   

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According to The Block, a coordinated series of lawsuits filed in New York federal court on Friday alleges securities law violations against numerous token issuers and crypto exchanges. The lawsuits – filed by the same firm that represents plaintiffs in litigation against Craig Wright and Bitfinex – say that numerous tokens were in fact unregistered securities, that their issuers violated registrations requirements and that token exchanges violated exchange and broker-dealer registration requirements. The resolution of these lawsuits may take many years, given the usual pace of class action litigation, compounded by international defendants and COVID-19 court slowdowns. But contain substantive allegations that may be problematic for some of the defendants, particularly given recent court findings that consider other digital asset sales.
          

New Yorban vagy Chicagoban finomabb a hot dog?   

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Az embernek zömének, ha az amerikai hot dog jut eszébe, akkor azt New Yorkhoz társítja. Kétségtelen, hogy a filmekből legtöbbször egy New Yorki utcán tűnik fel a hot dogos kocsi, ahol a szereplők rendre vásárolnak is egy amerikai hot dogot. Az amerikai hot dog legalább annyira népszerű az egész világon, mint a hamburger, de kint majdhogynem […]

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Így készíts házi hot dogot!   

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Sokunkban felmerül a kérdés, hogy milyen laktató, ámde könnyen elkészíthető étel kerüljön az asztalra. A mi tippünk, a házi hot dog! A házi hot dog olyan alapanyagokból készül, ami jó eséllyel minden háztartásban megtalálható! Akik beválalósabbak, azok a házi hot dog kiflit is megsüthetik maguk. Számtalan kiváló receptet találhatunk hozzá az interneten (bocsánat érte, de […]

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Egy hot dog kocsi felszereltsége változó lehet és vannak eszközök, amiket kötelező beszerezni a gördülékeny kiszolgálás végett. Viszont vannak olyan plusz, extra eszközök és kiegészítők, amikkel igazán egyedivé varázsolhatod a hot dog kocsi megjelenését. Például a hot dog kocsi egésze használható reklámfelületként, szinte a teljes külső felülete egyedileg felmatricázható. Ezen felül megállító táblát is elhelyezhetünk […]

The post appeared first on New York hot dog Budapest.


          

Zoom Freezes Feature Development to Focus on Security and Privacy – DTH   

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Zoom CEO Eric Yuan announces that it will freeze feature updates for 90 days to focus on security and privacy, Amazon begins testing employee temperatures in New York and Seattle, […]
          

Recordaantal coronadoden in dag tijd in staat New York   

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In de Amerikaanse staat New York zijn in een dag tijd 630 mensen overleden door het coronavirus. Dat is een record, aldus gouverneur Andrew Cuomo zaterdag.
          

Presidente y exgobernantes de Honduras lamentan muerte de Rafael Callejas   

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Tegucigalpa, 4 abr (EFE).- El presidente de Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernández, lamentó este sábado la muerte del exmandatario del país centroamericano Rafael Callejas, acaecida hoy en Estados Unidos, lo que también deploraron los exgobernantes Porfirio Lobo, Manuel Zelaya y Ricardo Maduro.

'Lamentamos enormemente el fallecimiento del expresidente Rafael L. (Leonardo) Callejas. Mi solidaridad con su esposa Norma Regina de Callejas, sus hijos y nietos', expresó Hernández en un mensaje en Twitter.

Callejas fue presidente de Honduras del 27 de enero de 1990 al 27 de enero de 1994 bajo la bandera del gobernante Partido Nacional de Honduras.

Porfirio Lobo, también del conservador Partido Nacional y quien gobernó en el período 2010-2014, expresó en Twitter estar 'muy apesarado por la pérdida irreparable del expresidente Rafael Leonardo Callejas', a quien calificó como 'un gran líder que deja huellas imborrables en muchos de nosotros, en Honduras y en el Partido Nacional'.

'Para doña Norma Regina de Callejas, para sus hijos, sus hermanas y para toda su querida familia mi más sentido pésame. Resignación Cristiana', indicó Lobo.

El expresidente Manuel Zelaya, quien llegó al poder el 27 de enero de 2006, al frente del Partido Liberal, también conservador, dijo en la misma red social que 'lamentamos muerte del Presidente de Honduras, Rafael Leonardo Callejas (período 1990-1994), cuestionado, pero indiscutible LÍDER popular del Partido Nacional que ganó elecciones sin FRAUDE. Que en paz descanse'.

Zelaya no concluyó su mandato porque fue derrocado el 28 de junio de 2009 cuando promovía reformas constitucionales que la ley le impedía.

Ricardo Maduro, del Partido Nacional y presidente de Honduras en el período 2002-2006, expresó que 'Con profunda tristeza recibo la pérdida de Rafael Leonardo, un gran amigo y jefe del que guardo los mejores recuerdos'.

Señaló además que puede 'dar fe de su amor por Honduras' porque lo vio 'anteponer los intereses de su pueblo a los suyos personales en muchas ocasiones'.

Maduro fue jefe de campaña de Callejas en el proceso electoral que culminó con los comicios generales del 26 de noviembre de 1989, que fueron ganados por el expresidente fallecido hoy.

Además, Maduro presidió el Gabinete Económico durante la Administración de Callejas, quien murió en Atlanta, Estados Unidos, a causa de una leucemia 'AML', que le fue descubierta en 2018, por lo que recibió un trasplante de médula ósea en octubre de ese mismo año.

Callejas enfrentaba en EE.UU. un juicio por un millonario escándalo de corrupción en la Federación Internacional de Fútbol Asociado (FIFA), que trascendió a finales de 2015. Murió sin conocer sentencia, la que fue pospuesta en varias ocasiones.

El expresidente, un economista agrícola con estudios en Estados Unidos, nació en Tegucigalpa el 14 de noviembre de 1943. Fue presidente de la Federación Nacional Autónoma de Fútbol de Honduras (FENAFUTH).

Roberto Callejas, un primo del exmandatario, dijo a periodistas en Tegucigalpa que el expresidente estaba mal de salud desde hace varios años, y que el viernes había sido ingresado a un hospital, sin que pudiera recuperarse y falleció hoy.

El exgobernante fue uno de los máximos líderes y populares que ha tenido el Partido Nacional, fundado el 27 de febrero de 1902.

Correligionarios y parientes recordaron algunas de las obras materiales que dejó Callejas cuando fue presidente del país y sus años como directivo de la FENAFUTH, en cuyo mandato Honduras logró clasificar a los mundiales de Sudáfrica 2010 y Brasil 2014.

Durante la Administración que presidió Carlos Roberto Reina (1994-1998), del opositor y también centenario y conservador Partido Liberal, fue acusado por presuntos actos de corrupción cuando gobernó el país, por lo que enfrentó un largo proceso sin que la Justicia lo declarara culpable, aduciendo falta de pruebas.

El 28 de marzo de 2016, Callejas se declaró culpable ante un juez Estados Unidos de haber cometido actos de corrupción durante el tiempo que fue titular de la FENAFUTH, de 2002 a 2015, dentro del millonario escándalo destapado en la FIFA.

El exmandatario, desde que se entregó en 2015 a la Justicia de EE.UU. estuvo en libertad condicional en Nueva York, con un grillete electrónico en un tobillo, y luego de pagar una fianza se trasladó a vivir a Florida, con un miembro de su familia, y posteriormente a Atlanta, donde falleció hoy.

El 18 de septiembre de 2006, las autoridades de EE.UU. le revocaron, por presunta corrupción, el visado a Callejas, quien recibió la notificación ese mismo día al llegar al aeropuerto de la ciudad de Miami, en compañía de su esposa, Norma Regina, quien se quedó en esa ciudad por razones de salud.

Hasta ahora no se sabe si los restos de Callejas serán traídos a Tegucigalpa, por la emergencia que se vive en su país a acusa de la epidemia del coronavirus, lo mismo que en Estados Unidos. EFE


          

EE.UU. supera los 300.000 casos y se prepara para su semana 'más dura'   

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Lucía Leal y Jorge Fuentelsaz

Washington/Nueva York, 4 abr (EFE).- Estados Unidos superó este sábado los 300.000 casos de coronavirus mientras el presidente Donald Trump advertía que la próxima semana será 'la más dura' hasta ahora y volvía, al mismo tiempo, a dar señales de impaciencia respecto a las medidas para mitigar la crisis.

Más de un tercio de los contagios en Estados Unidos del COVID-19, la enfermedad causada por el nuevo coronavirus, están concentrados en el estado de Nueva York, cuyo gobernador, Andrew Cuomo, pronosticó este sábado que el pico de contagios tendrá lugar en los próximos siete días.

El mensaje coincidió con el expresado unas horas más tarde por Trump, quien aseguró que habrá 'mucha muerte' de forma inminente pero volvió a expresar su voluntad de que el país vuelva 'pronto' a la normalidad, algo que contradice las recomendaciones de los expertos en salud pública.

'Esta será probablemente la semana más dura, entre esta semana y la próxima, y habrá mucha muerte', dijo Trump en su rueda de prensa diaria.

MÁS DE 300.000 CASOS

Estados Unidos, el país con más contagios de coronavirus del mundo, alcanzó este sábado los 305.820 casos, el doble que hace cinco días, con al menos 8.291 muertos por la enfermedad, según el recuento extraoficial del Centro de Sistemas, Ciencia e Ingeniería (CSSE) de la Universidad Johns Hopkins (Maryland).

Mientras que España e Italia, que son respectivamente el segundo y tercer país en número de contagios, 'están viendo cómo cae el número de casos' en su territorio, Estados Unidos 'está unos 12 días por detrás de ellos', explicó la doctora Deborah Birx, que dirige el grupo de trabajo de la Casa Blanca contra el coronavirus.

'Esperamos estar en la misma posición' que España e Italia próximamente, añadió Birx durante la rueda de prensa en la Casa Blanca.

El principal epidemiólogo del Gobierno de EE.UU., Anthony Fauci, coincidió durante el mismo acto en que 'esta semana y la próxima, las muertes van a seguir subiendo' en el país.

Sin embargo, Fauci pidió 'fijarse en el efecto de (las medidas de) mitigación' que se han implementado en las últimas dos semanas, y afirmó que donde se verán reflejadas será 'en el número de nuevos casos'.

NUEVA YORK, 'CASI INMANEJABLE'

En su propia conferencia de prensa diaria, el gobernador de Nueva York calificó la situación en su estado de 'casi inmanejable', al reconocer que, aunque solo han pasado 30 días desde que se detectó el primer caso allí, 'parece toda una vida'.

'Nos estamos acercando al pico. Dependiendo del modelo que se use estamos a 4, 5, 6, 7 días, aunque algunos lo alargan hasta 14 días, pero nuestra lectura de las proyecciones es que estamos en algún sitio cercano al rango de los siete días', precisó Cuomo.

El gobernador subrayó que Nueva York todavía no está preparado para afrontar ese pico, que supondrá 'el mayor reto para el sistema de salud', aunque anunció que recibirá mil respiradores donados por el Gobierno chino y Trump reveló que mil doctores y enfermeras militares llegarán al estado para reforzar su respuesta a la crisis.

En todo el estado de Nueva York hay al menos 113.704 casos de coronavirus, 10.841 más que el viernes, mientras que el número de fallecidos ha alcanzado los 3.565, 630 más que el día anterior, según Cuomo.

TRUMP VUELVE A IMPACIENTARSE

Apenas seis días después de rendirse en sus amagos de reabrir el país para el domingo de Pascua y aceptar lo que recomendaban los expertos de su Gobierno -mantener las medidas de distancia social hasta el próximo 30 de abril-, Trump se dejó vencer de nuevo por sus instintos y opinó que EE.UU. debería volver a la normalidad.

'Tenemos que volver al trabajo. Tenemos que abrir nuestro país de nuevo. No queremos hacer esto durante meses y meses y meses. Nuestro país no está hecho para esto', recalcó el mandatario respecto a las medidas para mantener la distancia social.

Esa afirmación pareció preocupar a Fauci, quien subió en dos ocasiones al podio para subrayar que 'las medidas de mitigación funcionan' y que los estadounidenses deben quedarse en casa todo lo posible, porque lo que están haciendo 'está marcando una diferencia y hay que seguir con ello', por 'difícil que sea'.

En un momento, Trump recuperó el podio que acababa de dejar Fauci para matizar: 'Sí, la mitigación funciona, pero, ¿saben qué? No vamos a destruir nuestro país (económicamente), tenemos que volver (a la normalidad)'.

Trump adoptó esa postura al mismo tiempo que reconocía que las cifras de fallecimientos previstas para los próximos meses en EE.UU., de hasta 240.000 muertos con medidas de contención y 2,2 millones sin ellas, 'no se han visto desde quizá la Primera o la Segunda Guerra Mundial'.

Pero el mandatario, que se juega la reelección en noviembre próximo, ha dejado claro que su prioridad es la economía, y este sábado dijo que le 'gustaría' que los estadios deportivos del país vuelvan a estar llenos de público para agosto, a pesar de que los expertos no descartan que algunas ciudades se encuentren todavía para entonces en su pico de contagios. EFE

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Jones Jr. derrota a Durant en el Torneo virtual NBA 2K   

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Nueva York, 4 abr (EFE).- El alero Derrick Jones Jr., de los Heat de Miami, superó 78-62 a Kevin Durant, de los Nets de Brooklyn, en el inicio, la noche del viernes, del Torneo de Jugadores de la NBA 2K.

Jones Jr. y Durant tuvieron un enfrentamiento intenso, mientras los jugadores hacían fila para un juego de NBA 2K20 en el que el ganador seleccionaría a los Bucks de Milwaukee y Durant a los Clippers de Los Ángeles.

Sentados en sus casas en Miami y Nueva York, respectivamente, Jones Jr. y Durant compitieron en un juego de 24 minutos que terminó con una victoria del alero de los Heat.

Fue el comienzo del Torneo de Jugadores NBA 2K, en el que 16 jugadores compiten en NBA 2K20 por una donación de 100.000 dólares que hacen la NBA, la Asociación Nacional de Jugadores de Baloncesto y 2K a una organización benéfica que ellos seleccionen y que esté trabajando en el combate contra la pandemia del coronavirus.

El viernes participaron Jones Jr. y Durant, así como el base Trae Young (Atlanta), el escolta Zach LaVine (Chicago), el pívot Hassan Whiteside (Portland) y el base Patrick Beverley (Los Angeles Clippers).

Durant, quien se recupera de una lesión en el tendón de Aquiles que sufrió en las Finales de la NBA 2019, dijo que no ha tocado una pelota 'en mucho tiempo', mientras que Jones Jr. comentó que ha estado tratando de mantener sus habilidades haciendo tiros en su casa de Florida.

En el partido más desigual del viernes, Young dominó 101-59 al alero de los Kings de Sacramento, Harrison Barnes.

Young usó los Bucks, que se convirtieron en la opción favorita en los cuatro partidos.

Los Bucks fueron elegidos para tres de los cuatro partidos, y los jugadores que los usaron promediaron 87,7 puntos por encuentro y mantuvieron a sus oponentes en promedio de 58,3 puntos.

Los otros dos enfrentamientos fueron de LaVine contra el pívot jamaiquino de los Suns de Phoenix, Deandre Ayton, y otro hombre alto, Whiteside, ante Beverley.

Ayton, usando a los Rockets de Houston, derrotó 57-41 a los Heat, de LaVine.

Durante el enfrentamiento Whiteside-Beverley, Beverley le gritó a Whiteside mientras se levantaba de su silla. '¡Soy el mejor de todos!' Beverley ganaría 84-54 usando a los Bucks contra Whiteside de los Lakers de Los Ángeles.

El Torneo de jugadores de la NBA 2K se reanudará el domingo a las 18.00 hora del Este.

En los partidos de la NBA 2K del domingo enfrentarán al ala-pívot lituano Domantas Sabonis, de los Pacers de Indiana, contra el pívot Montrezl Harrell de los Clippers.

Mientras que el escolta Donovan Mitchell, de los Jazz de Utah, segundo jugador que dio positivo al coronavirus, se enfrentará al alero novato, el japonés Rui Hachimura, de los Wizards de Washington.

El escolta hispano Devin Booker, de los Suns, jugará contra el ala-pívot Michael Porter Jr., de los Nuggets de Denver, y el pívot Andre Drummond, de los Cavaliers de Cleveland, contra otro hombre alto, DeMarcus Cousins. EFE


          

EE.UU. supera los 300.000 contagiados por el coronavirus   

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Washington, 4 abr. (EFE).- El número de personas contagiadas por el coronavirus en Estados Unidos superó este sábado los 300.000, con más de 8.000 muertos en todo el país, según los últimos datos de la Universidad de Johns Hopkins (Maryland).

Además, el recuento de la citada universidad confirmó que España ya es el segundo país con más casos de coronavirus del mundo, con 124.736 contagios y 11.744 muertes hasta las 19:30 GMT de este sábado.

Eso sitúa a España solo por detrás de Estados Unidos en número de casos y por primera vez por delante de Italia, que acumula 124.632 contagios pero sigue teniendo el récord mundial de muertes por la enfermedad, con 15.632.

Estados Unidos, el país con más casos de coronavirus del mundo, rebasó hacia las 19:30 GMT la barrera de los 300.000 contagios al registrar en concreto 300.915, de los cuales 8.162 han fallecido, de acuerdo con el recuento del Centro de Sistemas, Ciencia e Ingeniería (CSSE) de Johns Hopkins.

El número de personas infectadas en EE.UU. se ha duplicado en solo cinco días, ya que el pasado lunes el país superó los 150.000 casos y el miércoles sobrepasó los 200.000, según Johns Hopkins, cuyo mapamundi del coronavirus se ha convertido en una fuente de referencia ante la lentitud de actualización de los datos oficiales.

Casi un cuarto de las muertes se han registrado en la ciudad de Nueva York, con al menos 1.905 fallecidos, y con otros 1.202 muertos en el mismo estado, según la universidad, cuyos datos son algo inferiores a los ofrecidos este sábado por el gobernador Andrew Cuomo, que confirmó 3.565 decesos en todo el territorio.

En el resto del país, la cifra de decesos por localidad sigue siendo baja en comparación con Nueva York, con 223 muertos en el condado donde está Detroit (Michigan) y 188 en el de Seattle (Washington).

Cuomo dijo este sábado que espera que el pico de la curva de contagios en Nueva York, que supondrá 'el mayor reto para el sistema de salud', tenga lugar en los próximos siete días.

En el mejor de los casos, la Casa Blanca augura que el coronavirus podría dejar entre 100.000 y 240.000 muertos incluso con las medidas de contención que se han implementado, y ha avisado de que la cifra puede llegar a entre 1,5 y 2,2 millones si no se hace nada para combatir el virus.

De momento, 42 de los 50 estados del país, además de Puerto Rico, el Distrito de Columbia y varias otras ciudades y condados han emitido decretos para urgir a sus ciudadanos a quedarse en casa, lo que supone que más del 90 % de la población estadounidense (unos 300 millones de personas) se encuentra recluida.

Este martes, el presidente de EE.UU., Donald Trump, avisó a la nación de que las próximas dos semanas serán 'muy dolorosas' debido a la expansión de la enfermedad, y recomendó mantener las medidas de contención al menos hasta el 30 de abril. EFE


          

Estado de Nueva York registra récord de 630 muertes en un día   

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El estado de Nueva York, epicentro del nuevo coronavirus en Estados Unidos, anunció este sábado 630 nuevos fallecidos por COVID-19 en un día, su peor balance en 24 horas, y acelera los preparativos ante la llegada del pico de la epidemia, informó el gobernador, Andrew Cuomo.

Desde el principio del brote se han registrado 3,565 muertos y más de 113,000 casos en el estado -63,000 solamente en la ciudad de Nueva York-, casi tantos como en Italia o España, donde los balances de víctimas mortales son más altos.

“Aún no hemos alcanzado el pico” de la epidemia, “pero nos acercamos a ello”, declaró el gobernador demócrata durante una rueda de prensa, en la que destacó que la progresión de la enfermedad era especialmente rápida en Long Island.

Para evitar la saturación de los hospitales, las autoridades locales han emprendido una carrera contrarreloj para aumentar su capacidad y afrontar la llegada de pacientes prevista.

“Cuando empezamos, nuestra primera preocupación era tener bastantes camas, ahora nos centramos en el material y el personal”, explicó Cuomo, insistiendo en la necesidad de respiradores para los casos más graves.

“El gobierno chino va a hacer una donación de 1,000 respiradores que deben llegar hoy al aeropuerto JFK” de Nueva York, anunció Cuomo, que agradeció su ayuda, entre otros, al fundador de la compañía de comercio en línea Ali Baba, Jack Ma.

El estado de Oregón, en la costa oeste, también entregará 140 respiradores, informó el gobernador.

Según él, el hospital de campaña abierto en un centro de conferencia de Manhattan se reservará a los enfermos de COVID-19 y podrá acoger a 2,500 pacientes. El Estado federal aportará su personal.

El alcalde de Nueva York, Bill de Blasio, llamó por su parte a los profesionales de la salud a movilizarse.

“Médicos, enfermeros, especialistas de la respiración... A todos aquellos que aún no están en la batalla: os necesitamos”, declaró el alcalde demócrata en un video publicado en Twitter.

“Necesitamos que 45,000 profesionales de la salud se unan a la lucha en abril y mayo para poder salir adelante”, añadió Bill de Blasio.

A nivel del estado, 85,000 personas se presentaron como voluntarias, de las cuales 22,000 proceden de otras partes del país, según Cuomo.

El gobernador indicó además que iba a firmar un decreto para autorizar a los estudiantes de medicina que iban a obtener su diploma en la primavera boreal a empezar a trabajar desde ahora.

“Es un periodo excepcional y Nueva York necesita ayuda”, dijo para justificar la medida.

En uno de los pocos comentarios positivos que hizo, Cuomo señaló que, a pesar del alza del número de muertos, dos tercios de los neoyorquinos hospitalizados por coronavirus lograban recuperarse.


          

El sorteo universitario de la NFL se celebrará de manera virtual   

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Nueva York, 4 abr (EFE).- La Liga Nacional de Fútbol Americano (NFL) llevará a cabo el sorteo universitario tal como lo tenía programado desde el inicio, pero con la modalidad de que lo realizará de manera virtual.

Los días en lo que se llevará a cabo serán del próximo 23 al 25 de abril, como lo estipula el programa de la liga desde antes de que se suspendieran las actividades debido a la pandemia del coronavirus.

El comisionado de la NFL, Roger Goodell, dijo en un comunicado el 26 de marzo que era 'unánime e inequívoco que el sorteo debería avanzar según lo programado', a pesar de la pandemia de coronavirus que ha interrumpido el trabajo en la mayor parte del país.

Inclusive, Goodell 'advirtió' por carta a los equipos de la NFL que evitasen criticar públicamente si la celebración del sorteo era lo más conveniente en este momento por el que atraviesa todo el país con el desarrollo de la mortal enfermedad del COVID-19.

De acuerdo a varias fuentes periodísticas, el subcomité de gerentes generales de la liga recomendó a Goodell retrasar el proceso, pero éste no quiso.

Los gerentes generales habían expresado su preocupación de que en este entorno actual, con las actividades canceladas fuera de temporada y las instalaciones de algunos equipos cerradas, no habrá tiempo suficiente para los exámenes físicos de los jugadores, la recopilación de pruebas psicológicas y la obtención de más información verificada sobre los jugadores.

Por su parte, el vicepresidente de la NFL, Troy Vincent, ya invitó a varios jugadores promesas a participar 'en vivo' en el sorteo.

Inicialmente se pensaba realizaron en Las Vegas, pero los planes cambiaron cuando la liga anunció que no sería abierto al público.

Goodell dijo que habría cambios significativos y les informó a los clubs que se prepararan para realizar el sorteo fuera de las instalaciones del equipo y con un número limitado de personas. EFE


          

El expresidente hondureño Rafael Callejas muere en EE.UU.   

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(Corrige lugar donde murió el expresidente. Bien: Atlanta)

Tegucigalpa, 4 abr (EFE).- El expresidente de Honduras Rafael Callejas (1990-1994) murió este sábado en Atlanta, Estados Unidos, país donde enfrentaba un juicio por un millonario escándalo de corrupción en la Federación Internacional de Fútbol Asociado (FIFA) que trascendió a finales de 2015, informaron familiares suyos en Tegucigalpa.

Callejas, quien nació en Tegucigalpa el 14 de noviembre de 1943, fue presidente de Honduras del 27 de enero de 1990 al 27 de enero de 1994, bajo la bandera del gobernante y conservador Partido Nacional de Honduras.

Economista agrícola de profesión, graduado en Estados Unidos, Callejas también fue ministro del sector agrícola durante los regímenes militares de Juan Alberto Melgar Castro y Policarpo Paz García, en el decenio de los 70 e inicios de los 80 del siglo pasado, y presidente de la Federación Nacional Autónoma de Fútbol de Honduras (FENAFUTH).

Roberto Callejas, un primo del exmandatario, dijo a periodistas en Tegucigalpa que el expresidente estaba mal de salud desde hace varios años, y que el viernes había sido ingresado a un hospital, sin que pudiera recuperarse y falleció hoy.

El exgobernante fue uno de los máximos líderes y populares que ha tenido el Partido Nacional, fundado el 27 de febrero de 1902.

Callejas fue el tercer presidente electo de manera consecutiva desde que Honduras retornó a la democracia en 1980, cuando se instaló una Asamblea Nacional Constituyente que convocó a elecciones generales en noviembre de 1981.

Líderes del Partido Nacional, como su presidente, Reinaldo Sánchez, y el titular del Parlamento hondureño, Mauricio Oliva, y algunos de sus familiares en Tegucigalpa como el diputado Antonio Rivera Callejas, expresaron sus condolencias a la esposa del expresidente, Norma Regina Gaborit.

El canciller hondureño, Lisandro Rosales, también lamentó el deceso de Callejas y expresó sus muestras de pesar a su familia.

Correligionarios y parientes recordaron algunas de las obras materiales que dejó Callejas cuando fue presidente del país y sus años como directivo de la FENAFUTH, en cuyo mandato Honduras logró clasificar a los mundiales de Sudáfrica 2010 y Brasil 2014.

Durante la Administración que presidió Carlos Roberto Reina (1994-1998), del opositor y también centenario y conservador Partido Liberal, fue acusado por presuntos actos de corrupción cuando gobernó el país, por lo que enfrentó un largo proceso sin que la Justicia lo declarara culpable.

El 22 de abril de 2009, la Sala de lo Penal del poder judicial en Tegucigalpa, le ratificó 16 cartas de libertad por los juicios que enfrentó en los tribunales.

En lo deportivo, Callejas fue directivo del equipo Olimpia, de Tegucigalpa, y presidente de la FENAFUTH.

El 28 de marzo de 2016, Callejas se declaró culpable ante un juez Estados Unidos de haber cometido actos de corrupción durante el tiempo que fue titular de la FENAFUTH, de 2002 a 2015, dentro del millonario escándalo destapado en la FIFA.

El exgobernante presentó su declaración de culpabilidad de los cargos que se le imputaban ante el tribunal de Brooklyn, en Nueva York, que lleva el escándalo de la FIFA, informó entonces el Departamento de Justicia de EE.UU. en un comunicado.

Las autoridades judiciales estadounidenses acusaron al expresidente de delitos de crimen organizado y conspiración para cometer fraude electrónico en relación con la recepción de sobornos a cambio de la adjudicación de los contratos de derechos comerciales y de transmisión de los partidos de clasificación para la Copa Mundial de la FIFA.

El exmandatario, desde que se entregó en 2015 a la justicia de EE.UU. estuvo en libertad condicional en Nueva York, con un grillete electrónico en una de sus piernas, y luego de pagar una fianza se trasladó a vivir a Florida, con un miembro de su familia, y posteriormente a Atlanta, donde falleció hoy.

Callejas fue uno de más de 30 dirigentes de fútbol, en su mayoría de América, acusados de estar implicados en la red de corrupción de la FIFA.

En octubre de 2018 fue sometido a un trasplante de médula ósea en Estados Unidos, luego de que en marzo de ese año le confirmaron un diagnóstico de 'leucemia AML'.

'El trasplante de médula ósea que recibirá el ex presidente Callejas es un procedimiento sencillo. Se extraerá médula ósea a una persona y luego mediante un sistema inyectable se traspasará al cuerpo de Callejas', indicó entonces su primo Roberto Ramón Castillo.

Hasta ahora se desconoce si los restos de Callejas serán traídos a Tegucigalpa, por la emergencia que se vive en su país a acusa de la epidemia del coronavirus, lo mismo que en Estados Unidos. EFE


          

Casos de coronavirus se multiplican por diez en el mundo con EEUU a la cabeza   

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Redacción Internacional, 4 abr (EFE).- Los casos de coronavirus se han multiplicado por diez en el mundo en solo un mes, hasta alcanzar a 1,05 millones de positivos, con Estados Unidos a la cabeza de los contagios e Italia en número de muertos.

Conforme a los datos facilitados hoy por la Organización Mundial de la Salud (OMS), el 7 de marzo se superó la barrera de los 100.000 casos y hoy, algo menos de un mes después, se llega a los 1,05 millones de afectados por un virus que ya sufren 207 países y territorios del mundo.

ITALIA SUPERA LOS 15.000 MUERTOS Y EEUU SE ACERCA A 300.000 CASOS

Italia sigue siendo el país del mundo con más fallecidos por la COVID-19, 15.362 desde que se detectó el brote a finales de febrero, con un incremento de 681 muertes desde ayer viernes. Cifra que, no obstante, es la mejor desde el pasado 27 de marzo y confirma tendencia descendente en el número de fallecidos.

En total los contagios desde febrero alcanzan a 124.632 personas, entre fallecidos, casos positivos actuales (88.274) y curados (20.996).

Tras Italia en número de muertos se sitúan España (11.744) y Estados Unidos (más de 7.800), si bien este último país es el que registra la cifra más elevada de contagios, casi 300.000.

Y, dentro de Estados Unidos, Nueva York es el estado más afectado, hasta el punto de constituir actualmente el epicentro mundial de la pandemia.

Este sábado el número de contagiados en Nueva York por la COVID-19 se sitúa en 113.704 (10.841 casos más que ayer) y el de fallecidos en 3.565 (un aumento de 630 en veinticuatro horas), la mayoría en la propia ciudad.

Pero lo peor aún parece estar por llegar y el gobernador de Nueva York, Andrew Cuomo, alertó de que se prevé que el pico de contagios tenga lugar en los próximos siete días.

ESPAÑA, SUPERADO EL PICO, PRORROGA EL CONFINAMIENTO

España, con 11.744 fallecidos y 124.736 contagiados de coronavirus, considera superado el pico de la pandemia y, para seguir el combate contra la COVID-19, ampliará hasta el día 26 de abril la situación de confinamiento.

El presidente del Gobierno español, Pedro Sánchez, indicó en una comparecencia televisiva que, conforme a los datos de los expertos, se ha 'superado' el pico de propagación del coronavirus y se está 'en condiciones de doblegar la curva' de expansión de la epidemia para después comenzar una etapa de 'transición'.

'Me someto a estos quince días de nuevo de prórroga, pero ya anuncio que vendrán más días', dijo Sánchez acerca de una medida, el estado de alarma, que se decretó por primera vez a mediados de marzo y se amplió una primera vez hasta el 11 de abril.

Y respecto a la Unión Europea (UE), Sánchez aseguró que 'España no va a renunciar a los eurobonos', ante los daños que está causando la pandemia y frente a la reticencia de algunos miembros de la eurozona, como Alemania, Holanda o Austria.

'Eso es solidaridad, eso es Europa', subrayó, para agregar que 'Europa no puede fallar esta vez'.

La Comisión Europea (CE) propuso este jueves crear un fondo europeo dotado con 100.000 millones de euros que concederá préstamos a los países más afectados por el COVID-19, como España e Italia, para ayudarles a costear medidas destinadas a evitar los despidos por la pandemia.

CIFRAS AL ALZA EN EL REINO UNIDO

En el Reino Unido, mientras tanto, las cifras van al alza y, así, en total han muerto hasta ahora 4.313 personas por la COVID-19, cifra que aún no incorpora a los fallecidos fuera de los hospitales o aquellos a los que no se les había realizado un test antes de morir.

En concreto, en las últimas veinticuatro horas han fallecido 708 personas, el mayor incremento diario hasta ahora.

En Francia, los muertos en hospitales por coronavirus ascienden a 5.532, a los que se suman 2.028 fallecidos en residencias de ancianos. Hoy murieron en Francia otras 441 personas por la pandemia.

Al tiempo, en Oriente Medio, las autoridades iraníes temen un posible agravamiento de la situación y siguen ampliando su capacidad hospitalaria para los contagiados de coronavirus que, hasta este sábado, ha causado la muerte a 3.452 personas.

ESCENAS DE DOLOR EN ECUADOR Y EN TODA LATINOAMÉRICA

Las escenas de dolor se suceden en toda Latinoamérica y, más en concreto, en Ecuador, donde ya hay 172 fallecidos (27 más que ayer), en especial en la provincia de Guayas, y los contagiados se acaercan a los 3.500.

En Chile, los contagios superan los 4.100, pero la cifra de fallecidos se limita a 27.

Mientras, Brasil corre contra el tiempo para desarrollar y fabricar respiradores con tecnología propia y a un valor quince veces menor al del mercado.

Y dentro de la larga lista de casos y fallecidos, dos personas murieron a bordo del Coral Princess, de la naviera Princess, que había reportado una docena de contagios de COVID-19 y que se dirige a desembarcar este sábado en el Puerto de Miami (Florida, EEUU).

La situación que está generando el coronavirus es tal que la Cruz Roja considera que es uno de los mayores retos a los que esta centenaria institución se enfrenta en su historia, dado el elevadísimo número de países azotados por la COVID-19. EFE


          

El expresidente hondureño Rafael Callejas muere en EE.UU.   

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Tegucigalpa, 4 abr (EFE).- El expresidente de Honduras Rafael Callejas (1990-1994) murió este sábado en Florida, Estados Unidos, donde cumplía un juicio por un millonario escándalo de corrupción en la Federación Internacional de Fútbol Asociado (FIFA) que trascendió a finales de 2015, informaron familiares suyos en Tegucigalpa.

Callejas, quien nació en Tegucigalpa el 14 de noviembre de 1943, fue presidente de Honduras del 27 de enero de 1990 al 27 de enero de 1994, bajo la bandera del gobernante y conservador Partido Nacional de Honduras.

Economista agrícola de profesión, graduado en Estados Unidos, Callejas también fue ministro del sector agrícola durante los regímenes militares de Juan Alberto Melgar Castro y Policarpo Paz García, en el decenio de los 70 e inicios de los 80 del siglo pasado, y presidente de la Federación Nacional Autónoma de Fútbol de Honduras (FENAFUTH).

Roberto Callejas, un primo del exmandatario, dijo a periodistas en Tegucigalpa que el expresidente estaba mal de salud desde hace varios años, y que el viernes había sido ingresado a un hospital, sin que pudiera recuperarse y falleció hoy.

El exgobernante fue uno de los máximos líderes y populares que ha tenido el Partido Nacional, fundado el 27 de febrero de 1902.

Callejas fue el tercer presidente electo de manera consecutiva desde que Honduras retornó a la democracia en 1980, cuando se instaló una Asamblea Nacional Constituyente que convocó a elecciones generales en noviembre de 1981.

Líderes del Partido Nacional, como su presidente, Reinaldo Sánchez, y el titular del Parlamento hondureño, Mauricio Oliva, y algunos de sus familiares en Tegucigalpa como el diputado Antonio Rivera Callejas, expresaron sus condolencias a la esposa del expresidente, Norma Regina Gaborit.

El canciller hondureño, Lisandro Rosales, también lamentó el deceso de Callejas y expresó sus muestras de pesar a su familia.

Correligionarios y parientes recordaron algunas de las obras materiales que dejó Callejas cuando fue presidente del país y sus años como directivo de la FENAFUTH, en cuyo mandato Honduras logró clasificar a los mundiales de Sudáfrica 2010 y Brasil 2014.

Durante la Administración que presidió Carlos Roberto Reina (1994-1998), del opositor y también centenario y conservador Partido Liberal, fue acusado por presuntos actos de corrupción cuando gobernó el país, por lo que enfrentó un largo proceso sin que la Justicia lo declarara culpable.

El 22 de abril de 2009, la Sala de lo Penal del poder judicial en Tegucigalpa, le ratificó 16 cartas de libertad por los juicios que enfrentó en los tribunales.

En lo deportivo, Callejas fue directivo del equipo Olimpia, de Tegucigalpa, y presidente de la FENAFUTH.

El 28 de marzo de 2016, Callejas se declaró culpable ante un juez Estados Unidos de haber cometido actos de corrupción durante el tiempo que fue titular de la FENAFUTH, de 2002 a 2015, dentro del millonario escándalo destapado en la FIFA.

El exgobernante presentó su declaración de culpabilidad de los cargos que se le imputaban ante el tribunal de Brooklyn, en Nueva York, que lleva el escándalo de la FIFA, informó entonces el Departamento de Justicia de EE.UU. en un comunicado.

Las autoridades judiciales estadounidenses acusaron al expresidente de delitos de crimen organizado y conspiración para cometer fraude electrónico en relación con la recepción de sobornos a cambio de la adjudicación de los contratos de derechos comerciales y de transmisión de los partidos de clasificación para la Copa Mundial de la FIFA.

El exmandatario, desde que se entregó en 2015 a la justicia de EE.UU. estuvo en libertad condicional en Nueva York, con un grillete electrónico en una de sus piernas, y luego de pagar una fianza se trasladó a vivir a Florida, con un miembro de su familia.

Callejas fue uno de más de 30 dirigentes de fútbol, en su mayoría de América, acusados de estar implicados en la red de corrupción de la FIFA.

En octubre de 2018 fue sometido a un trasplante de médula ósea en Estados Unidos, luego de que en marzo de ese año le confirmaron un diagnóstico de 'leucemia AML'.

'El trasplante de médula ósea que recibirá el ex presidente Callejas es un procedimiento sencillo. Se extraerá médula ósea a una persona y luego mediante un sistema inyectable se traspasará al cuerpo de Callejas', indicó entonces su primo Roberto Ramón Castillo.

Hasta ahora se desconoce si los restos de Callejas serán traídos a Tegucigalpa, por la emergencia que se vive en su país a acusa de la epidemia del coronavirus, lo mismo que en Estados Unidos. EFE


          

Senior Financial Advisor | Altfest   

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New York, New York, As a member of a Client Team at the firm that works with about 200 clients, you will be providing: Client Service: Actively support clients under the team leader Financial Plan Creation: Based
          

FINANCIAL PLANNING ASSOCIATE | Altfest   

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New York, New York, Duties and Responsibilities Client Account Administration : Handle trading and portfolio reporting. Work with clients and their custodians to open accounts and deposit and transfer funds. Finan
          

La NBA contempla disputar toda la fase final de temporada 2020 en Las Vegas   

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Nueva York, 4 abr (EFE).- En la medida en que la suspensión del campeonato de la NBA se acerca a su cuarta semana, va tomando forma la idea de que toda la fase final de la temporada 2020 en la ciudad de Las Vegas.

En medio de a crisis que ha creado la pandemia del coronavirus, Las Vegas se perfila como uno de los escenarios más adecuados para un evento de esa naturaleza, según 'Sport Illustrated', que destaca que de esta forma se evitaría que los equipos viajaran por todo el país, lo que expondría a demasiadas personas a una infección por el COVID-19.

Las Vegas se ha convertido en el único sitio potencial para tal competencia porque la NBA tiene una larga relación con la ciudad, además de considerarse un sede que tiene todo para celebrar este tipo de eventos.

Realizarlo conlleva obstáculos, como mandar a miles de jugadores y empleados a Las Vegas, ya que se necesitarían miles de personas de apoyo en hoteles y campos de juego, además del personal de medios de comunicación, pero podrían presentarse series de cinco partidos en la primera ronda y en las Finales de la NBA, con las semifinales y finales de la conferencia, cada una de ellas a un partido, similar al torneo nacional universitario de la NCAA.EFE


          

La NBA propone a jugadores reducción de sueldo del 50 por ciento   

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Nueva York, 4 abr (EFE).- La NBA propone que los jugadores tomen una reducción de sueldo del 50 por ciento a partir del 15 de abril, a lo que la asociación de estos, la NBPA, ha respondido que solo aceptarán una disminución del 25 por ciento y a partir del 15 de mayo.

Según publica 'The Athletic', ambas partes discuten qué hacer financieramente si la temporada regular 2019-20 no se reanuda, incluida la posibilidad de retener hasta el 25 por ciento de los salarios restantes de los jugadores en un depósito de la liga.

En la misma información, se afirma que si la NBA comienza a cancelar partidos, la cláusula de fuerza mayor en el convenio colectivo se ejercerá automáticamente, según la cual los jugadores perderán aproximadamente el uno por ciento de su salario por cada partido cancelado.

El paro de actividades por la pandemia de coronavirus se considera un evento de fuerza mayor porque impide que la NBA cumpla con sus obligaciones, según lo establecido en el acuerdo laboral.

Hasta el final de temporada aun se tendrían que disputar 18 partidos de la competición regular. EFE


          

Esposa de entrenador de los Steelers cose mascarillas para donarlas   

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Pittsburgh (EE.UU.), 3 abr (EFE).- Kiya Tomlin, esposa del entrenador en jefe de los Steelers de Pittsburgh, Mike Tomlin, es diseñadora de ropa, pero optó por confeccionar mascarillas para donar a los hospitales locales.

Los centros médicos en el país están careciendo de material sanitario para combatir la pandemia de coronavirus.

Cuando la pandemia empezó a causar estragos en todo el país, Kiya Tomlin, detuvo los planes para terminar su colección de primavera y decidió confeccionar las máscaras.

La compañía de Kiya Tomlin prepara al menos 500 máscaras a la semana desde sus hogares.

'Cuando comencé, pensé que no podíamos terminar nuestra colección de primavera, así que cuando estamos sentados en casa sin hacer nada, podemos coser esto hasta que podamos volver a trabajar', dijo Tomlin a medios de comunicación locales.

Tomlin tuvo la idea hace tres semanas cuando alguien le envió un tuit de Rachel Maddow que destacaba un hospital en Evansville, Indiana, pidiéndole a la gente que cosiera sus propias máscaras y las donara al hospital.

El centro hospitalario adjuntó un patrón de una máscara de tela que cumple con los requisitos de los Centros para el Control y la Prevención de Enfermedades (CDC) y de esta forma ayudar a las personas a aprender cómo coserlas.

Inicialmente, Tomlin quería hacer máscaras N95, pero se dio cuenta de que tenían que ser fabricadas específicamente. Entonces ella y su equipo comenzaron a hacer máscaras de algodón de doble pared con dos pliegues y elásticos para las orejas. Recientemente, cambiaron el diseño para agregar un bolsillo para filtros u otro material de protección, como toallas de taller azules.

El grupo hizo 300 máscaras la primera semana. Sin embargo, estaban en camino de alcanzar la marca de 500 en la segunda semana.

Tomlin dijo que cada máscara tarda unos ocho minutos en fabricarse en su máquina de coser doméstica, un equipo que es un poco menos eficiente que las máquinas industriales en su taller. Aun así, su objetivo es producir 50 máscaras por día, e incluso recibe ayuda de su hija cuando no está haciendo clases en línea.

Además de hacer donaciones para los hospitales locales de Pittsburgh, Tomlin también envía máscaras a hospitales en Cleveland y Nueva York.

Con la nueva guía del gobierno que les dice a todas las personas que usen máscaras de tela cuando estén en la calle, Tomlin planea comenzar a vender paquetes de máscaras en su sitio web con las ganancias destinadas a comprar más tela para hacer las máscaras.EFE


          

Harper y Matz hacen donaciones para combatir el coronavirus   

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Nueva York, 3 abr (EFE).- Bryce Harper, guardabosques de los Filis de Filadelfia, y Steven Matz, lanzador de los Mets de Nueva York, son los jugadores que de manera más reciente hicieron donaciones para combatir la pandemia del coronavirus.

Harper y su esposa Kayla donaron 500.000 dólares a Direct Relief y Three Square en su ciudad natal Las Vegas y a Philabundance en Filadelfia.

A través de un comunicado, la pareja indicó que '¡Ahora es el momento de unirnos y adherirnos a las pautas de los profesionales médicos! Deseamos lo mejor a todos con nuestras oraciones durante este tiempo'.

Por su parte, Matz, a través de su fundación, donó 32.000 dólares a los socorristas y hospitales de la ciudad de Nueva York. Los dos primeros dígitos coinciden con su número de uniforme.

Matz informó a través de su página social que el dinero será entregado por TRU32.

Indicó que agradece 'a quienes apoyan y contribuyen al programa durante todo el año'.

Dijo que 'en parte debido a su generosidad, podemos contribuir ahora. La primera de las tres donaciones se envió a uno de los hospitales más afectados de Nueva York, Elmhurst Hospital en Queens, tan cerca de nuestro campo Mets Citi'.EFE


          

Los Rangers y la NHL condenan insultos racistas contra jugador afroamericano   

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Nueva York, 3 abr (EFE).- Los Rangers de Nueva York investigan cómo un vídeochat del joven talento K'Andre Miller con los aficionados en una aplicación de videollamadas fue 'secuestrado' y usado para proferir insultos raciales dirigidos hacia el jugador afroamericano.

Los hechos se dieron cuando Miller, de 20 años, participó el viernes por la tarde en un vídeo de preguntas y respuestas en la aplicación Zoom que estuvo limitado a 500 participantes.

Cuando había unos 150 participantes en el chat, en la sección de preguntas apareció la palabra 'N', que se publicaba una y otra vez, bajo diferentes nombres de usuario. Posteriormente se desactivó la posibilidad de realizar preguntas y comentarios.

El vídeo del incidente se publicó en las redes sociales, y tanto los Rangers como la Liga Nacional de Hockey (NHL) publicaron declaraciones condenando el acto.

El equipo dijo que 'realizamos un vídeochat en línea con los aficionados y la promesa de los Rangers de Nueva York, K'Andre Miller, durante el cual un individuo vil secuestró el chat para publicar insultos raciales, que desactivamos lo antes posible'.

Agregan que 'estábamos increíblemente horrorizados por este comportamiento, que no tiene lugar en línea, sobre la pista de juego, el hielo, ni en ningún otro lado, y estamos investigando el asunto'.

De acuerdo a una fuente cercana al equipo, el incidente ha sido enviado al FBI.

Por su parte, la NHL dijo que 'la Liga Nacional de Hockey está horrorizada de que una vídeollamada organizada hoy por los Rangers de Nueva York para presentar a sus aficionados a una de las estrellas entrantes de la Liga, K'Andre Miller, fue 'pirateada' con burlas racistas y cobardes'.

Agregan que 'la persona que cometió este acto despreciable no es en modo alguno aficionado de la NHL y no es bienvenida en la comunidad de hockey'.

La liga indicó que 'nadie merece ser sometido a un trato tan feo y no será tolerado en nuestra Liga. Nos unimos a los Rangers para condenar este comportamiento desagradable'.

Miller fue seleccionado en el puesto 22 en general en el sorteo universitario de la NHL 2018 por los Rangers, y el defensa de la Universidad de Wisconsin firmó su primer contrato profesional en marzo.

El equipo de Nueva York había establecido el chat como introducción del joven jugador a los seguidores de los Rangers.EFE


          

Account Representative   

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PA-York, Here at Scotts Miracle-Gro there is no such thing as a typical day. Our culture is constantly energized by new and exciting growth opportunities and at a rapid pace. Every Associate plays an important role in providing innovative solutions for today’s gardeners and growers and contributing new ideas to improve operations. In our company you need grit, it is what we were founded on over 150 years a
          

Impeach Him Again   

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Over the next few months, the United States will be tested by a reality that moves much faster than our imaginations. Things are already changing in ways that seemed impossible months ago: Unemployment claims are spiking beyond the point where a graph can adequately convey the carnage. If things go well, deaths will be limited to somewhere between 100,000 and 240,000 people. That’s the “good” outcome. As we come to terms with what it means to live through this historical crisis, we must also get our heads around the fact that the president is making it all worse, not better. If we had a functioning political system, which we do not, this president’s missteps would be grounds for impeachment and removal. The fact that this is not even in the conversation, even while commentators acknowledge that Trump’s actions will lead to a death toll with few precedents outside of war, is a frightening indictment of our politics.

The lack of widespread testing and the excruciating delays in issuing stay-at-home orders are clear evidence of the administration’s immediate inability to grapple with this crisis, but this administration’s failures of planning began years ago. In 2018, the Trump administration cut the Centers for Disease Control’s pandemic prevention budget by 80 percent and pushed out the top official in charge of coordinating the nation’s pandemic response in a reorganization that also disbanded the entire National Security Council global health team. An administration official explained the decision to The Washington Post at the time: “In a world of limited resources, you have to pick and choose.” Even as recently as January, the Trump administration failed to heed intelligence reports warning of a likely pandemic. Can you impeach a president for failing to plan for a pandemic? Legal scholars will no doubt spend many long hours debating the matter. In the meanwhile, maybe we should just give it a whirl.

Until only a couple weeks ago, Trump continued to downplay the severity of the pandemic, comparing it to the flu and saying it would “miraculously” disappear as the weather warmed. He has refused to use the Defense Production Act to require companies to manufacture medical equipment, despite invoking it for hundreds of thousands of orders for military equipment. Perhaps the most screamingly impeachable act committed by Trump has been the uneven distribution of necessary equipment to states from the federal stockpile, seemingly dependent on whether the governor of that state has been particularly mean to him. He claimed that governors are asking for equipment they don’t need, like Andrew Cuomo of New York, the clear epicenter of the outbreak: “I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators,” the president said, on television. Some Republican states are receiving more equipment than they requested, while California received 170 broken ventilators from the federal government.

This equipment is needed to keep Americans alive, to keep them breathing when their lungs fill with fluid, or to protect doctors and nurses from catching the virus themselves. This is not some abstract question of corrupted interests or a dodgy investigation into a political foe; it is Trump standing directly in the way of human lives being lived, of people getting to attend their grandchild’s next birthday party, of future children being born at all. Does this not warrant at least investigation from Democrats, who could request documents and emails to find out whether Trump really did direct supplies away from dying patients in blue states?

It is crucial not to think of Trump’s mistakes as purely failures of competence, though they are that too. They are, just as importantly, failures of ideology. So it would be ideal for Democrats to use this moment to make the case against conservatism itself, instead of acting like this would all be basically fine if the Republicans of a decade ago were in charge. Joe Biden’s much-praised TV ad about Trump’s poor handling of the coronavirus pandemic flashed an image of George W. Bush standing on the wreckage of 9/11. Bush’s “handling” of that crisis included starting the Iraq War, to say nothing of his government’s handling of Hurricane Katrina. There would be nothing to stop Democrats from painting Trump’s failed response to the pandemic as both a natural result of his revolting personality and incompetence, and in tune with a party propped up by the sorts of corporate monsters who would rather send you to work in a pandemic than hurt profits—other than their steadfast commitment to playing by the rules of a politics that never existed anywhere other than in Aaron Sorkin’s addled imagination.

If anyone did not already know that impeachment is a political process, the experience of this year should have clarified things for them. This means that, yes, the same problems that prevented Trump being convicted for corruption—most importantly, a Republican majority in the Senate with no interest in giving up power—would likely prevent Trump being convicted on this issue. Early as it is, the fact that Trump’s approval ratings are going up does not bode well for the prospects of marshaling the political will to remove him. Yet it is hard not to think that the political calculus could look a little different once the hundred thousand body bags that the federal government has sought start to fill up; that this would have a far greater political effect than a story in which the major practical impacts were some withheld military aid for a foreign country and lost jobs for Beltway diplomats. Over time, more and more of us will know someone who has become gravely ill or died because of this disease. It is impossible to imagine the damage this will do to an already broken country, and what that damage might do to our politics.

But perhaps the best argument against impeaching Trump for his handling of the coronavirus is simply the way the Democrats handled it last time around, and their handling so far of the current crisis. Pelosi pushed for a quick impeachment on a limited number of charges, and got what she wanted. The story came and went. It’s almost funny, now, to remember it even happened; just another one of those “Ah! Nevertheless,” moments in the long story of Democrats’ cries of protest about Trump misconduct leading to nothing; not even a dent in his approval ratings. This is a party that cannot find its way to proposing adequate measures to help poor and middle-class Americans who are about to go through the most violent economic shock in decades, perhaps in the country’s entire history, but can find their way to floating a repeal of a tax on the rich. It cannot even bring itself, as millions lose their health coverage, to acknowledge the stupidity of employer-sponsored insurance.

In a sensible world, where the actions of the president have some consequences, Trump would have been impeached a month into his term; in a less-sensible but still vaguely understandable world, there would be some feasible way to remove a president whose actions are causing thousands of preventable deaths. The plain fact that there isn’t, and that the party tasked with running this opposition is still struggling to tie its shoelaces, is just another glimpse of the truth that this crisis has revealed from the beginning: America is very, very bad at being a country.


          

The Library Voice: Winter Break Reading Bingo from Capstone! – #bingo #break #capstone #library #reading   

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The Library Voice: Winter Break Reading Bingo from Capstone! – #bingo #break #capstone #library #reading The Library Voice: Winter Break Reading Bingo from Capstone! – #bingo #break #capstone #library #reading #winter #break #snow #love #travel #usa #photography #coffee #relax #nature #photooftheday #colombia #instagood #music #beautiful #vacation #picoftheday #newyork #summer #cold #green #christmas #family #landscape #photographer […]

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Sneering While the South Is Dying    

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At a press conference Thursday morning, Georgia’s Republican Governor Brian Kemp made the astonishing claim that until the “last 24 hours,” he and his team were unaware that asymptomatic people can carry and spread the coronavirus. This, despite a White House press room warning from the country’s top medical expert issued a full two months ago and consistent mainstream news reports repeating this fact day after day after day. One would imagine that the governor has other resources at his disposal beyond CNN, but even that should have been enough.

Kemp—a man who used his power as secretary of state to delay nearly 40,000 Black voters from participating in the 2018 gubernatorial election—is either truly, dangerously ignorant, or he is lying. As the virus tore through Georgia’s rural, urban, and incarcerated communities over the past week, Kemp refused to shut down the state, saying as recently as three days ago that such action was never “on the radar.” Similarly, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, another dyed-in-the-wool Republican, recently said that he has not yet issued a stay-at-home order because the federal government hasn’t officially recommended it to him. And then there’s Mississippi’s Republican Governor Tate Reeves, who in mid-March issued an executive order to override local ordinances and block access to abortion while keeping gun shops open.

The response to this level of malice and incompetence has been easy and necessary outrage. Of the 17 states without stay-at-home orders in place, seven are in the South (eight if you count Oklahoma). And as is usually the case, the justified outrage has been accompanied in certain corners by sneering condescension about the region’s population. On the same day as Kemp’s comment, The New York Times published a report based on “anonymous cellphone data from 15 million people,” a chilling phrase I will set aside for the moment. The Times article described how, from block parties in Jacksonville to bustling hardware stores in South Carolina and out-of-towners flocking to the Gulf Coast in Alabama, local state officials were struggling to curb the spread of the virus as people continued to go about their normal lives. This information, in tandem with a graphic showing that people in the South are still traveling more than two miles per day, was quickly shared on social media by Times staffers and other high-up members of the media. The subtext in since-deleted posts by those like Times star pupil Mike Barbaro—who posted an image of one of the graphs with the caption “In a word … The South”—was crystal clear: Get a load of these dumb motherfuckers.

This is broad-brush garbage as infuriating at this point as it is predictable. Beyond the obvious snobbery at play, it’s also myopic as hell. North Carolina’s Democratic Governor Roy Cooper has been among the swiftest actors to the pandemic, not just in the South but in the entire nation—shutting down nonessential businesses, limiting access to state parks, closing schools for an extended period, and issuing a stay-at-home order for all residents. Compare that to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, the Democrat with a state budget director who served as a financial adviser to Republican legislators for two decades, who just announced a budget deal that included billions in cuts to Medicaid on Wednesday. Cuomo also waited until the last day of March to shut down playgrounds, while New York City’s parks, now more crowded in the evenings than they typically are on a summer afternoon sans pandemic, remain open. (And none of this has stopped Cuomo from shaming people for filling the public spaces he refused to close.) But thanks to a combination of his daily televised press conferences, his position as the governor in the nation’s first hotspot state, and the American political media’s long-standing devotion to family dynasties, it’s Cuomo—not Cooper or Washington state Governor Jay Inslee—who has been tentatively crowned the Great Leader We Need by the beltway press corps.

This kind of wholesale dismissal of “The South” also erases the political conditions that have hijacked these states at the expense of most residents. When this is reflected upon in the decades to come, the region’s final death count will be tethered to the legacy of post-recession Southern Republican legislatures sweeping in during the Obama years and wholly reconfiguring the region’s politics to benefit the wealthy and attack the poor. For the past decade-plus, taxes for the one percent were slashed, budgets were gutted, and voter rolls were pruned of Black voters. The system of federalism was working exactly as these Republicans intended, all the way up until an emergency of unprecedented proportions came knocking and they realized that there would be a price to pay for stonewalling federal Medicaid expansion. But now, rather than use the moment to course correct and save lives, craven politicians—like Reeves with his abortion ban, or DeSantis and his decision to make it impossible for unemployed people to access benefits—are using their bully pulpit and state power to double down on their political prerogatives. Where density was the unavoidable multiplier in places like New York City, austerity politics, racist policies like redlining, and the chronic underfunding of social services will be the Achilles’ heel for Southern communities.

The same day as the Times article, The Atlantic’s Van Newkirk II published a thoughtful piece looking at the pandemic’s forthcoming effects on the region and its people. It’s a sobering read. The numbers of people under 70 dying from the virus are far higher in Southern states than elsewhere in the country and the nation, due in large part to the fact that young people, especially in the Deep South, are at a far higher risk of developing the lung and heart conditions that expedite and multiply the lethality of the virus. Last week, in an article for Facing South, Olivia Paschal laid bare the disaster this pandemic is going to turn into very soon for the South’s rural communities. The health care infrastructure in these towns will be overwhelmed, underresourced, and understaffed.

Even beyond the lack of ventilators and local medical centers, many of these towns and communities are not built to encourage social distancing. Food deserts dot the South, as they do throughout the rest of the nation’s rural communities, especially those in Indian Country. The Times’ mined cellular data shows this reality—that Southerners are driving farther on a daily basis—devoid of that essential context. My parents’ house in North Carolina is five miles away from the nearest grocery store, and that’s likely relatively close compared to some of their neighbors. There are two Dollar Generals between their house and that Food Lion. This is what tens of millions of Southerners face: A crisis that demands they buy in bulk and stay at home lest they risk their lives, and a surrounding environment that is built for the opposite.

The dire situation that first exploded in New York City and Washington State is coming for the South. New Orleans is well on its way to becoming a new epicenter of the nation. The stories of refrigerated mobile morgues being wheeled up to Manhattan hospitals are already appearing in North Carolina. And still, convincing those who have never called the region home to extend the slightest bit of empathy for the people staring down the barrel still requires an inordinate amount of work.

To a certain extent, I get it: Punching down and crude generalizations are always easier than parsing the political history that elevated Republican death cultism at the expense of millions of regular people. But during this time of incredible stress—as many Southerners are left with a void in competent leadership and the immediate threat of a deadly and highly contagious virus—it’s crucial that the same concern reserved for New Yorkers is extended throughout the country. The pandemic is complex, but the basic rules of conduct are simple enough: Don’t be a dick.


          

San Diego   

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Watching South Park at the End of the World   

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Writing about South Park, a silly cartoon, in the middle of an eminently predictable and yet entirely unanticipated global pandemic has an uncanny quality, like meeting a time traveler and realizing that he is you. If I could travel back in time now and meet myself circa, say, 2005, just a few years out of college and struggling to figure out how to become a writer, and tell that younger me that in 15 years, nearing 40 years old, I’d be locked in the house during a plague year writing a review of the political valences of South Park, which would still be on the air, I’d have probably gone to business school sooner than I did. Oh well.

But we are all stuck in the house and watching a lot of television, so perhaps this, too, like a globalized viral outbreak in the age of near-instantaneous air travel, is inevitable. “I should have realized,” murmurs a dour Nick Stahl in Terminator 3, that “our destiny was never to stop Judgment Day; it was merely to survive it.”

South Park itself feels like a transmission from what should have been an alternate past, the one that the desperate time traveler from our time went back to, Terminator-style, in order to try to prevent our present from happening, but which, in utter failure, he only managed to cement into place. Other artifacts from that fin de millénaire epoch—the bad clothes, the last triumphant guffaws of TV laugh tracks, the popular music—have settled into the familiar patterns of cultural ephemera: first kitsch, then nostalgia, and at last fashionable revivals that are usually less ironic than they seem. But South Park, though no less affected by the hyperbalkanization of media than any other entertainment, remains influential. True, it’s far less central to mass culture than it was in the earlier 2000s, when you could still crack up a conference room with a well-timed “Respect my authorit-ah!” joke, but it retains a kind of currency. (I almost wrote relevance, but thought better of it.)

People still think this show, about a gang of vulgar fourth-grade boys, their families, and the extended, eccentric everytown of South Park, Colorado, is important. I grew up in small, semirural towns myself, albeit in Appalachian Pennsylvania and not the Mountain West. I recognize the universal appeal. I was friends with guys like Stan Marsh, the show’s generally kind, usually moral protagonist, and guys like Kenny McCormick, the self-sufficient poor kid whose riotous, unsettled home life we all made fun of, even though we knew better. I knew guys like Kyle Broflovski, the lone Jewish kid in a sea of uncomprehending gentiles, because I was that kid. We were even friends with guys like Eric Cartman, an obscene, self-pitying little anti-Semite, for reasons we could not quite articulate or explain. And beyond these, the show’s bestiary of Main Street America, its hapless parents and inept leaders, its weird small businesses and petty local politics, its moral pretensions and amoral vanities do ring true, however exaggerated. Because it resembles them and their lives, people believe that South Park matters. And, in a way, it does.


Why am I writing this? Now? With everything else that’s going on? The truth is that an editor wrote to me a month ago and asked me if I had any thoughts about the purchase that South Park seems to have gained on contemporary conservative culture, especially in the post–Tea Party, now Trumpified era in which “owning the libs”—deliberately going after the various multiculti pieties of diversity, inclusion, and other supposedly softhearted liberal pathologies—has become an end in itself. Just a few weeks ago! That was back when we could still foolishly imagine that what we were still mostly calling simply “the coronavirus” would be another near miss, a grim warning of an inevitable pandemic that would remain, always, in the near future, the probability never quite collapsing into an event.

The conservative publication National Review had just published a piece in praise of South Park by a writer named Katherine Timpf. Timpf, in turn, was responding to a Twitter thread by the writer Dana Schwartz, who had tweeted, “In retrospect, it seems impossible to overstate the cultural damage done by SOUTH PARK, the show that portrayed earnestness as the only sin and taught that mockery is the ultimate inoculation against all criticism.” Schwartz went on to say that the show taught “that it was always cooler to be reactionary and contrarian, and anyone who criticizes anything is ‘offended’ and that’s the *real* problem.” She lamented that a “generation of boys [had] internalized it into their personalities.”

This is obviously—though perhaps not deliberately—hyperbole. It is not at all “impossible to overstate” South Park’s damage to American culture; quite the opposite: It is very, very easy to do so. Educated Americans like nothing better than to identify a single piece of cultural flotsam on which to pin the decline and fall of our civilization, like a guy in an undergrad survey course who is self-convinced that lead pipes alone brought down the Roman Empire. We are usually—no, always—wrong.

This sort of theorizing is also indicative of the liberal left’s occasional impulse to adopt what is itself a deeply reactionary framework for interpreting cultural phenomena. It has the slightly musty smell of the so-called “Intellectual Dark Web,” in the much-mocked formulation of New York Times columnist Bari Weiss—a group that, before largely melting down amid the bitchy infighting and tyranny-of-small-differences schismatism of any self-styled and half-baked revolutionary movement, liked to proclaim that “politics is downstream from culture.” The idea is that varieties of cultural warfare (most of which consist of … tweets and memes, mirabile visu) are the root of the sociocultural change that will in turn drive power politics. This group, too, had aesthetic affinities for the South Park style, its envelope-pushing use of anti-Semitism, rape, disease, and violence as humor, ever-excused as we were only joking.

But politics is not downstream from culture. Quite the opposite. Art—and I am willing to admit that even South Park is a sort of art—may be a mirror, a camera, a conversation. But poets are not, alas, “the unacknowledged legislators of the world,” as Shelley had it, no matter how much we still wish that it might be true.

As a mirror, South Park has tracked the right’s various and often fleeting obsessions with of-the-moment exemplars of what it imagines as liberal excess, from racial diversity (the show’s main recurring black character is a young boy named, very on-the-nose, “Token”) to gender-inclusive bathrooms to what it presents as the invariably hyperbolic rhetoric of the environmental movement. In 2015, National Review published a piece called “South Park Shows How to Defeat the Social-Justice Warriors,” which lamented the excesses of “PC culture” while complaining about such conservative bugaboos as Whole Foods and Lena Dunham. Other less rigidly ideological writers also got in on the act. Bret Easton Ellis, a former enfant terrible novelist who has matured into the kind of two-gimlet, country-club loudmouth that South Park—by no means exclusively a liberal-bashing show—would also delight in mocking, opined in a 2015 New York Times column that the “democratization of culture and the dreaded cult of inclusivity” had ruined critical culture, taking as his prime example a South Park episode that made fun of people’s self-serving, freebie-seeking use of the then-dominant review site, Yelp. He later recycled this column in his 2019 book, White, which sought to self-diagnose the “vague yet almost overwhelming and irrational annoyance” the author felt about being made to feel badly for being white, rich, etc.

Courtesy of Comedy Central

Ironically, Timpf’s National Review article, an ostensibly conservative reaction to Schwartz’s supposedly tearful liberalism, adopts precisely the doe-eyed, softhearted, cod-therapeutic language of the self-caring left. Its title? “South Park as Healing Mechanism.” “I have struggled with ADD, anxiety, and depression since childhood,” Timpf confesses, until the liberating, take-no-prisoners, pan-directional offensiveness of the show “gave me permission to laugh at myself when it came to something that everyone around me had only ever treated painfully seriously.” The people who are “accusing South Park of ruining our culture” only “think that they’re being compassionate.” In reality, they’re selfish and self-centered; far from standing up for the targets of the show’s derision and mockery, they are trying to deny people access to the psychic healing that only broad, vulgar satire can provide.


Conservatives have been trying to claim South Park as their own since the George W. Bush administration. As early as 2001, conservative blogger (and former New Republic editor) Andrew Sullivan was talking about “South Park Republicans” as a new political alignment combining vaguely libertarian economic ideas with equally laissez-faire attitudes toward sex, homosexuality, abortion, etc. In 2005, Brian C. Anderson, who holds a post at the Manhattan Institute—one of the many conservative “think tanks” that serve as holding pens for otherwise unemployable conservative gadflies—published South Park Conservative: The Revolt Against Liberal Media Bias. The book’s introduction, subtitled “A New Era,” begins as follows: “CBS’s cancellation in late 2003 of its planned four-hour miniseries The Reagans marked a watershed in America’s culture wars.” Talk about obvious—but probably not deliberate—hyperbole! This was in the flushed triumphalism of Bush’s still-new second term, just five months before the human disaster of Hurricane Katrina, “heckuva job, Brownie,” the deadly expansion of the Iraqi insurgency, and then, two years later, the implosion of the housing market and subsequent economic collapse, which sent Bush into retirement as the least popular president in modern American history.

The book itself is a hasty, tossed-together tour d’horizon of conservative media in the early 2000s: the Drudge Report, talk radio, Fox News, the “Blogosphere.” It devotes only one chapter to “South Park Anti-Liberals,” and only half of that—about a dozen pages in this barely 150-page book—to South Park itself, before pivoting to talk about the anti-P.C. stylings of past-their-prime comedy-scene fixtures Nick Di Paolo, Colin Quinn, and Dennis Miller. These few pages are in turn padded out by synopses of episodes and long excerpts of “politically incorrect” and otherwise offense-provoking dialogue of which Anderson approves. Insofar as he locates an actual Republican ideology in the show and its creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, it’s in an old, possibly apocryphal quote from Stone: “I hate conservatives, but I really fucking hate liberals.”

Threadbare as Anderson’s book is, it does contain within it an intimation of a tendency in conservatism that Donald Trump would eventually ride into office: that the animal spirits of popular American conservatism lay not in the corporate libertarianism of the sort that the Manhattan Institute itself has long championed, but in an ethnonationalism that increasingly expressed itself in various forms of jocular oafishness. This was vulgarity deployed not as a fantasy of liberation from sexual and social strictures, as it had been in the hated 1960s, but as a cudgel against a cultural and political leftism that sought to carve out safe spaces (a term that, of course, became a great target of conservative mockery) for various minorities and historically disadvantaged people.

It’s a curious historical coincidence that, in praising his favorite offensive comedians, Anderson also praises in passing Gavin McInnes, then best known as the party-boy co-founder of Vice, later to become an avatar of the so-called alt-right, before that dark movement, too, collapsed in recrimination after one of his fellow-travelers murdered a woman in cold blood after a neo-Nazi demonstration in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Now this was, and is, the real heart of modern American conservatism, from Nixon moaning about Jews, Negroes, and fags on his secret White House recordings, to George W. Bush’s dick-first aircraft-carrier landing to pronounce “Mission Accomplished,” to Donald Trump’s, well, many personal peccadilloes.

If all this is not really funny, it is at least entertaining. Nixon shitting on the Bohemian Grove, an upper-crust Northern California retreat for politicos and captains of industry to play dress-up and indulge in mock secret ceremonies, is revealing. “The Bohemian Grove, which I attend from time to time. It is the most faggy goddamned thing you could ever imagine, with that San Francisco crowd. I can’t shake hands with anybody from San Francisco.” He and his suck-up lawyer and factotum, John Ehrlichman, then turn to speculating on women’s fashions. Ehrlichman mentions “hot pants.” “Jesus Christ,” is Nixon’s deadpan reply. Put Nixon’s lines in the adenoidal voice of Eric Cartman and Ehrlichman’s in the voice of Cartman’s perennially abused sidekick, Butters, and you have an entirely believable snippet of a lost episode of South Park.

In other words, contra Schwartz’s complaint that “a generation of boys” had “internalized” South Park’s reactionary, mockery-as-virtue ethos, South Park externalized a long-extant but little-acknowledged tendency with American culture, and particularly within American conservative political culture. It is the old “I got mine” ethic that views with contemptuous suspicion any person or group that comes along and asks for a share of the rights, privileges, and material advantages that those who already have them simply know that they deserve based on their own skills and innate merit. All these jockeying newcomers, well, they’re clearly running some kind of scam.

For example, in the eighteenth-season episode “The Cissy,” which tries to satirize the then-hot topic of so-called transgender bathrooms, Cartman transparently feigns that he is trans in order to access the girl’s bathroom for his own convenience. The girls revolt; the school, seeking to avoid a scandal, builds him a luxurious private bathroom; Wendy, a girl, then feigns being trans herself to get into the private bathroom. In the end, everyone is told to use whatever bathroom they are most comfortable with, and the private room is given over to the people who are uncomfortable potentially sharing a bathroom with an actual trans person.

In all of this, there are no actually trans characters (insofar as there could be “actual” characters in a crudely drawn cartoon), nor even the slightest intimation that there might be some legitimate claim about an iniquity that would legitimately demand accommodation or remediation. Everyone is just scamming, trying to get one over on each other. (South Park’s satirical depiction of a trans person came in a much earlier season, when the gay teacher Mr. Garrison had sex reassignment surgery, followed by a belief that he’s pregnant, followed, a few seasons later, by a bizarre de-transition that involved growing a penis on the back of a mouse. It has not aged well, to say the least.)

That isn’t to say there is nothing funny about the episode. The show generally and quite explicitly depicts Cartman as a villain—vain, stupid, and mean—and it’s often either silly or satisfying to see him reap what he sows. If the show’s largely male audience misidentifies him as a protagonist worth emulating, then that isn’t really the fault of the show’s creators and writers, just as Martin Scorcese can’t be blamed for the fact that a lot of dumb straight dudes think Joe Pesci’s psychotic, murderous Tommy in Goodfellas is some kind of hero.

Likewise, the show’s depiction of a strain of officious bureaucracy that uses an ostentatious form of well-meaning solicitude to mask various forms of self-serving malice occasionally strikes home. In this same episode, the flummoxed principal barely knows what “trans” means, and Mr. Garrison wearily advises her to just give Cartman what he wants—a cynical gambit to avoid a scandal. They then thoughtlessly fund a preposterous facility for one troublesome boy rather than even try to consider the implications or work out a fair or just solution. Are all administrators like this? No. But I have spent my career outside of writing in arts management and higher ed, and if you imagine that there is no cynicism among Americans With Disabilities Act compliance administrators or school diversity officers and H.R. departments, you may be living in a cartoon yourself.


Nevertheless, there is no avoiding the nagging feeling that the show’s sensibility represents precisely the kind of durable anachronism that has rendered us so paralyzed in the face of what used to be onrushing calamities of climate, health, and inequality that have now, very definitively, arrived. Like Donald Trump himself—surely as close to a grown-up Eric Cartman (from his gross appetites to his whiny, self-serving obscenity) as we are ever going to get—the show’s political and cultural obsessions seem beamed in from the 1980s and ’90s, despite its frequently “ripped from the headlines” plot devices. It has the sour stink of old squabbles over “political correctness.”

Political correctness is itself a fascinating term. Its elastic, capacious usage has grown to encompass just about anything conservative political culture would prefer not to talk about. Like South Park’s own essential premises, it judges the crime of bringing things up—grand injustices or just hurt feelings—to be worse than any unfairness, inequity, or simple rudeness. It is a sort of singular and universal commandment: Moses gone up the mountain to return with a single tablet that proclaims, “Stop complaining!”

This is where the show ultimately aligns with the conservative political project, for in the end, its principal quality is not offensiveness, obscenity, vulgarity, humor, satire, iconoclasm, crudeness, or topicality. Rather, it is a mawkish defeatism in the guise of childish delinquency. If the defining characteristic of left politics, even the callow, timid, technocratic liberalism of the modern Democratic Party, is a desire to answer the old, animating question, “What is to be done?” then its conservative opposite is a desire to enforce precisely that popular paralysis that renders all action futile, all improvement vanity, all solidarity fraud, all hope fantasy. Conservatives like South Park because it keeps saying that things are fine, and that even when things are getting worse, they’re as good as you ought to get. When all else fails, do nothing, and above all, do not complain.

How thoroughly has this attitude assimilated into, or been assimilated by, the American conservative movement? In response to the current epidemic, we have in effect seen the plot of any average episode of South Park play out. Our vainglorious Cartman president glibly declares that there is no problem; then, when the crisis becomes indisputable, he cries that he never said that and moans that he hasn’t been given credit for being right all along. He manages to muster an almost hilariously incompetent response, precisely the sort of discredit to the idea that people and institutions can engage in collective efforts at all, let alone in the face of crisis. Now, not three weeks into that response, he has already grown tired of it and has publicly speculated that perhaps the best response is no response. Go back to Walmart. Go back to work. It is worse to worry than to die.


Among the many absurd side-plots to the ongoing pandemic that I expect South Park, if it survives, to try to satirize, one is surely the specter of lunatic college students partying and fucking across Miami for Spring Break as the state looked on in impotent wonder, too busy rousting the homeless or continuing to arrest young people of color for rinky-dink offenses to even attempt to disperse the virological bacchanals. The show has long since exhausted any capacity to produce original material, and the episodes write themselves. The disease will be absurd and gross (South Park has always been fond of playing fluid discharge for humor). The government will be dumb and lazy, then increasingly hysterical. Everyone will dress in garbage bags or space suits, and all the businesses will go out of business. In the end, everyone will kiss, and the whole world will be infected; there will be a funny song. In the next episode, the main characters will still be in fourth grade. The dead, if they have recurring roles, will come back to life. Life will go on. It will not get better. It will probably get worse. But only in increments, and probably for someone else.


          

Coronavirus: New York forced to redistribute ventilators   

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New York state - the centre of the US outbreak - had its largest single-day jump in virus deaths.
          

Introverts are Awesome   

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Introverts are Awesome #winter #break #snow #love #travel #usa #photography #coffee #relax #nature #photooftheday #colombia #instagood #music #beautiful #vacation #picoftheday #newyork #summer #cold #green #christmas #family #landscape #photographer #lifestyle #fashion #nyc #study #naturephotography,

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Back from Winter Break: New Year’s Activities for Teens – #activities #break #teens #winter   

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Back from Winter Break: New Year’s Activities for Teens – #activities #break #teens #winter Back from Winter Break: New Year’s Activities for Teens – #activities #break #teens #winter #winter #break #snow #love #travel #usa #photography #coffee #relax #nature #photooftheday #colombia #instagood #music #beautiful #vacation #picoftheday #newyork #summer #cold #green #christmas #family #landscape #photographer #lifestyle #fashion […]

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Handicraft Making – Ideas for indoor craft hobbies to do alone at home   

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Leader of Cross Channel & Strategic Initiatives (Marketing Manager 4) | Wells Fargo   

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New York, New York, Job Description Important Note: During the application process, ensure your contact information (email and phone number) is up to date and upload your current resume when submitting your application
          

Snowmen at Night {FREEBIE}   

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Snowmen at Night {FREEBIE} If+you+love+the+book+Snowmen+at+Night,+you+are+going+to+LOVE+this+writing+activity.++ Directions ***Read+Snowmen+At+Night+by+Caralyn+Buehner+{book… #winter #break #snow #love #travel #usa #photography #coffee #relax #nature #photooftheday #colombia #instagood #music #beautiful #vacation #picoftheday #newyork #summer #cold #green #christmas #family #landscape #photographer #lifestyle #fashion #nyc #study #naturephotography,

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The Unemployment Rate Is Probably Around 13 Percent (Justin Wolfers/New York Times)   

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Justin Wolfers / New York Times : The Unemployment Rate Is Probably Around 13 Percent   —  It's almost certainly at its highest level since the Great Depression.  Here's how we es ... - Source: www.memeorandum.com
          

The Coronavirus Is the World's Only Superpower (Susan B. Glasser/New Yorker)   

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Susan B. Glasser / New Yorker : The Coronavirus Is the World's Only Superpower   —  Trump's America?  Not so much.  —  On Tuesday, the U.N. Secretary-General, Anto ... - Source: www.memeorandum.com
          

The Pandemic’s Shameless Profiteers   

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To treat the Black Death, some doctors in the Middle Ages recommended ingesting “potable gold,” a vile tonic of gold compounds dissolved in ether. One might think that we had progressed past such bogus remedies, but in the age of the coronavirus, quacks and pseudoscientists are now pushing colloidal silver, long touted in wellness circles for its antimicrobial properties. (Gwyneth Paltrow, for instance, once said she sprays a little in her mouth and around her seat on planes to fend off germs.)

One day after the World Health Organization designated the coronavirus a pandemic, New York’s attorney general sent a cease-and-desist letter to a number of vendors hawking colloidal silver as a treatment. They included the Silver Edge Company, whose Micro-Particle Colloidal Silver Generator ($250) had already sold out, and the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, whose special silver toothpaste, he promised, would obliterate “the whole SARS-corona family at point-blank range.” Other coronavirus remedies still available from various “holistic” practitioners include oil of oregano and “Spirit Dust,” an “adaptogenic” concoction of powdered mushrooms and roots from the LA cult brand Moon Juice.

The global crisis has inspired plenty of non-woo profiteering and price-gouging. In New York, a Midtown hardware store raised prices on hand sanitizer to nearly $80 a bottle before the city slapped the store with a fine. One enterprising English schoolboy was caught selling squirts of hand sanitizer to his peers for 50 pence a pump. At LAX, officials seized a shipment of fake at-home coronavirus testing kits. And email inboxes continue to flood with pandemic-pegged phishing scams that promise to show detailed maps of the virus’s spread if you’ll just click on this link and enter all your bank information. For the vaguely less craven, the pandemic has also provided some prime marketing opportunities. P.volve—a high-end fitness program that sells a proprietary ball that, when strapped between the legs, (the company claims) sculpts the buns—offered a 20 percent discount on said ball with the line, “Looking for a safer alternative to crowded gyms?” Finally, some are raking in money through dumb luck: According to the celebrity tabloid TMZ, the rapper Soulja Boy, who had fortuitously invested in a business called the Soap Shop prior to the onset of the coronavirus, has seen his profits explode due to the upsurge of handwashing.

Despite the proliferation of low-level hucksterism, when the pandemic eventually dissipates, the people sitting atop mountains of cash are more likely to be the usual suspects. Along with other pharma giants, the drug manufacturer Gilead Sciences has already received federal funding to pursue a coronavirus treatment. Oscar Health—Jared Kushner’s brother Joshua’s health care start-up—announced it was launching coronavirus testing centers, open to all, but free only for members. Then there are the industries that took a hit when the stock market tanked, but were almost immediately promised lifelines by the government. Trump has so far pledged bailouts for air and cruise lines, and while Democrats fought to include provisions in the stimulus package limiting stock buybacks, money could still end up in the pockets of wealthy shareholders.

Even international disaster relief could become a windfall for those already on top. After the 2014 Ebola crisis, the World Bank issued “pandemic bonds” to Third World countries struck by disease. Yet the guidelines concerning the payout were so byzantine that when Ebola roared back four years later, killing more than 2,200 people in the Democratic Republic of Congo, investors somehow escaped without paying a cent. Perhaps after all is said and done, we’ll know the coronavirus is truly winding down when the quack cures recede, the off-brand Purell is shelved, and the only scam left is just the one known as business as usual for get-rich-quick opportunists of all stripes. What a relief that will be.


          

Business Risk & Control Sr. Associate - Technology Control | Wells Fargo   

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New York, New York, Job Description Important Note: During the application process, ensure your contact information (email and phone number) is up to date and upload your current resume when submitting your application
          

With virus crisis raging, Pelosi and Schiff ramp up new Trump investigations (Byron York/Washington Examiner)   

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Byron York / Washington Examiner : With virus crisis raging, Pelosi and Schiff ramp up new Trump investigations   —  The team is back in action.  On Thursday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi ... - Source: www.memeorandum.com
          

The States Are Stepping Up   

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During the early days of the coronavirus crisis, President Donald Trump couldn’t make up his mind about the governors who were closing schools, banning large gatherings, and shutting down businesses across the country. He veered between admiration and resentment, praising governors for working with “urgency and speed,” while calling one a half-wit and another “a snake.”

As Trump staged elaborate stunts to goose the markets, governors made no secret of their anger. J.B. Pritzker of Illinois tweeted that “the federal government needs to get its s@#t together,” and Jay Inslee of Washington fumed at the president in a private call in late March. Still, they recognized that they had no choice but to proceed on their own.

The states are turning into real-life laboratories, conducting 50 different experiments in how to halt a pandemic. Andrew Cuomo of New York has won accolades for his on-point daily press briefings. In Kentucky, Andy Beshear has reassigned state employees to work at food banks. Pritzker has launched a state website that matches healthy residents with opportunities to help their neighbors. And David Ige of Hawaii threatened those who leave their homes before April 30 with a year in jail. (Other states have been less aggressive about social distancing; in Arizona, Republican Governor Doug Ducey stepped in to make sure golf courses could stay open during the crisis.)

In that sense, and maybe that sense alone, the coronavirus response represented political business as usual. The Trump presidency as a whole has accelerated a long-standing trend of state officials taking action while dysfunction in Washington grinds the legislative machinery of Congress to a halt.

Even before the coronavirus hit the United States, states were a liberal fail-safe in times of GOP control. Name the issue—gun safety, voting rights, marijuana legalization, data privacy—and states have taken real action. In March, Colorado abolished the death penalty. That same month, Governor Kate Brown of Oregon signed an executive order launching one of the most ambitious carbon reduction plans in the country. Virginia raised the minimum wage, ratified the Equal Rights Amendment, and repealed the intrusive requirement that women seeking abortion undergo an ultrasound first, all in 60 days. Such hyperactivity is nothing new; over the past decade, states have far surpassed Washington as policymaking venues. But many of the victories have been on the Republican side. Now, thanks to growing Democratic numbers at the state level, liberals are at last fulfilling lengthy wish lists that members of Congress can only dream of.


This may sound like a reversal. For decades, federalism was the last refuge of reactionaries. Throughout the twentieth century, Southerners claimed they fought the Civil War not to preserve slavery, but rather to uphold states’ rights. They used the same argument to justify their resistance to civil rights legislation.

During the Obama presidency, Republicans continued to take state power seriously. In 2010, Chris Jankowski and the Republican State Leadership Committee took over 20 chambers—with just $30 million. By late 2014, Democrats controlled both the governorship and the legislature in only seven states, their lowest count since the Civil War. Voters had replaced them with Republicans like Bruce Rauner of Illinois, a multimillionaire businessman who was deriding the press and insulting his enemies even before Trump entered the presidential race. They would go on to cut taxes, bust unions, pass abortion restrictions, and approve new voter ID requirements.

Democrats let this go unchallenged for many years. Barack Obama only got around to endorsing about 150 legislative candidates in 2016, his final year in office, and it wasn’t until Trump took power that donors began paying attention. In the aftermath of the 2016 election, numerous groups dedicated to electing Democrats to state offices sprouted up. Some were founded during “what do we do now?” drinking bouts on election night. Former Attorney General Eric Holder’s National Democratic Redistricting Committee alone has raised more than $50 million. (Tellingly, Republicans have now set up a copycat group, led by former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.)

That investment has paid off. Many of the Republicans elected in the 2010s struggled to deliver tangible results or even master the basics, such as paving the roads and running the schools. (Rauner couldn’t pass a budget for half his four years as Illinois governor, and Matt Bevin of Kentucky insulted teachers and fired two infection control directors during a recent hepatitis outbreak in which his state suffered a third of the nation’s fatalities.) All told, Democrats have won back nine governorships since Trump took office, and now control the governorship and legislature in 15 states.

Democrats have used this newfound power to challenge Trump—and provide protections for American workers who can’t get past the gate in a divided Congress. A dozen states now have paid sick leave. Thirty have increased the minimum wage above the federal level. And while Trump has rejected the Paris accord’s goals on climate change, more than half of all Americans live in states that have pledged to meet them anyway. Meanwhile, the 24 Democratic state attorneys general checked Trump in court on everything from immigration to the environment. The coronavirus has now rendered elections a safety hazard, and even though Congress hasn’t been able to pass legislation to allow people to vote by mail, multiple states are making the shift themselves. And although Trump has trapped many states in a bidding war for essential medical equipment, states have found creative ways to protect the public, such as designating grocery store workers emergency personnel to grant them access to free childcare.

It’s the nature of states that achievement is not uniform. Republicans still control a majority of legislatures and governorships. But even where Democrats are shut out of office, liberals have dusted off a tool from the Progressive era: Thanks to ballot initiatives, red states in recent years have raised the minimum wage, expanded Medicaid, taken redistricting out of the hands of lawmakers, and legalized marijuana.

When your party is blocked in Washington, you can still make things happen at the state level, often in a hurry. That’s a lesson liberals have taken to heart. And now, when it comes to public health, having real power in the states has helped save countless lives. Things are bad enough, but imagine how much worse off the country would be if Trump’s policy of neglect were not answered forcefully by governors and state legislatures.


          

Death Industry Predators Eye the Spoils of a Pandemic   

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It’s hard to look at Robert Waltrip, the 89-year-old founder and chairman emeritus of death-care giant Service Corp International and not see a striking resemblance to Henry Waternoose, the CEO of the fictional “Monsters, Inc.” from the Pixar movie of the same name—in terms of looks and the fact that both men’s businesses involved profiting from the wailing of the most vulnerable. Under Waltrip’s leadership, SCI snaked its tendrils from its home state of Texas to suction up family-run funeral homes across the country, transforming itself into a death-industry leviathan that owns close to a quarter of all funeral homes nationwide and that has never been in short supply of accusations of consumer malpractice.

Now, amid a global pandemic that even optimistic prognosticators believe could result in more lives lost and buried than during the Korean and Vietnam wars combined, companies like SCI could be on the verge of something truly monstrous. After nearly a half-century of regulatory oversight, the Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule is up for its 10-year review next month. That rule had traditionally served as the main bulwark of consumer protection against the outrageous business practices that are a hallmark of the funeral industry’s more predatory firms. But death-dealers like SCI have spent a tidy fortune lobbying against these consumer safeguards, and with a conservative-leaning FTC board set to decide the rule’s fate, it seems likely that the existing regulations will be defanged to their liking. And it will all go down just as America’s pain becomes a rich vein of profit for the industry to tap.

The FTC’s Funeral Rule was enacted in 1984 to prohibit the egregious price-gouging and hidden fees that funeral industry firms formulated to ambush consumers at their most vulnerable: after the death of a loved one. Before the rule, funeral homes were notorious for extorting grieving families through a host of shady practices, which included making false statements about the necessity of embalming, hiding prices in every step of the burial and cremation processes, and framing expensive caskets and urns as the most “modestly priced receptacles.”

By the mid-1980s, the need for reform had already long been apparent. In 1963, investigative journalist Jessica Mitford wrote The American Way of Death, which chronicled the unconscionable practices that she observed as commonplace in the funeral industry. In its pages, Mitford warned of how these abuses might escalate as larger, consolidated firms took over the industry.

“No matter what the eventual development of the funeral industry—whether it remains overcrowded or moves, as it seems inevitable, in the direction of the large supermarket type of operation,” Mitford wrote, “there is cold comfort for the consumer. Once having driven out their small competitors, there is no reason to believe the big volume concerns will demonstrate a more tender regard for the pocketbooks of their customers than has traditionally been the case in the Dismal Trade.”

Just as Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle aided in the passage of the Meat Inspection Act decades earlier, and Silent Spring enabled the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, Mitford’s exposé helped pave the way for the Funeral Rule by revealing the systematic abuses of the funeral industry. While the FTC continues to find plenty of violators to fine, and watchdog groups like the Funeral Consumers Alliance continue to police the industry’s malpractices, the Funeral Rule has nevertheless had a lasting and beneficial impact on consumers.

There is, perhaps, no better evidence of this truth than the vast amount of capital that firms have deployed to gut the rule. Data published by ProPublica shows that lobbyists representing the funeral industry have spent tens of thousands of dollars to exert pressure on the FTC to amend the rule, edging open the floodgates to gouge consumers on everything from casket prices to embalming fees. Should an amendment or elimination of the rule pass, it could mean the near-total deregulation of an industry that has long awaited a return to its lucrative and deceptive pre-1984 practices.

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, which could see more than a 20 percent increase in annual deaths on American soil, it’s hard to imagine a worse time to roll back consumer protections on funeral services. Conservative estimates place America’s coronavirus death toll at 200,000, which suggests that in the absence of mass burials, there is likely to be a massive uptick in business for funeral homes, cemeteries, and crematoriums. Already, increased restrictions on community gatherings due to the coronavirus pandemic have forced funeral homes to pivot to virtual funerals, in which they scrap traditional in-person viewings while maintaining their premium fees.

Despite switching over to live-streamed eulogies and teleconference interments in recent weeks, funeral homes are still not required to post their prices online under the Funeral Rule, making it easier to slip in hidden fees and take advantage of mourners struggling to make final arrangements. (A study conducted by the national Funeral Consumers Alliance found many funeral homes make it difficult or impossible to find prices online.) Of the 256 comments posted on the FTC’s open comments portal, almost all advocate not only to keep the Funeral Rule but to enhance it further with a provision mandating that funeral homes provide their pricing online. It’s a service that is becoming increasingly necessary as in-person visits to funeral homes and cemeteries carry an increased risk of contracting the coronavirus.

As one commenter, Tim Newlin, stated bluntly to the FTC, “Although a single corporation has been buying up ‘mom and pop’ funeral homes for decades—maintaining the local brand and effectively eliminating options and competition—it is still useful for consumers to make some sense out of their fee schedules. People are stressed enough when their blood relatives die, posting actual prices on their websites is a reasonable expectation to have of a business.”

Alterations to the Funeral Rule rest in the hands of the five FTC commissioners appointed by Donald Trump in 2018. According to the law, two of these commissioners must be from the opposition political party of the sitting president. The three Republican commissioners include Joseph Simons, a former Bush-appointed FTC consumer protection director; Noah Phillips, a former counsel to Senator John Cornyn of Texas with a career-long fealty to deregulation; and Christine Wilson, a former Delta Airlines executive. The two Democratic board members are Kelly Slaughter, former adviser to Senator Chuck Schumer, and Rohit Chopra, former assistant director of the (now gutted) Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

If the FTC’s last regulatory review is anything to go by, the odds for the Funeral Rule’s survival seem slim to none. In June of last year, the FTC reviewed its guides for the plant-nursery industry. That review was centered on the regulation of plant sales, with a specific focus upon deceptive marketing practices that firms in that industry deployed to mislead consumers. Ultimately, the FTC voted along party lines 3–2 to roll back its oversight of the industry.

The Funeral Rule is likely headed down the same path. Nevertheless, Commissioner Chopra is making a game attempt to use the upcoming review as an opportunity, however limited, to address the problems that the existing rule has overlooked.

In a quietly seething memo, Chopra wrote, “I am particularly interested in an examination of the Funeral Rule Offenders Program (FROP), a program launched in 1996 and operated by the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA), an industry lobbying group. When our undercover inspections find that funeral homes are not providing families with information required under the law, these funeral homes are almost always given the opportunity to pay fees to the government and to NFDA in order to enroll in the FROP and avoid a formal enforcement action by the FTC. The FTC also withholds the names of these lawbreaking funeral homes from the public when announcing the results of funeral home inspections, a privilege that no other industry under FTC jurisdiction enjoys. During this review, we will need to assess whether this arrangement is appropriate.”

While it remains to be seen whether the funeral industry will attempt to violate the oversight of the FTC by price-gouging a wave of bereaved consumers in the coming weeks, the FTC’s open comment period for the funeral rule ends on April 14, meaning that a vote on the Funeral Rule could be delivered as early as this spring, during the height of the pandemic. This could give industry profiteers the green light to stick consumers with bills far surpassing the $1,200 checks promised by the federal government. If the industry’s scandalous history—and the FTC’s current leanings—are any guide, a feeding frenzy for industry vultures may lie just ahead.


          

Disinvestment Made Our Cities a Powder Keg in a Pandemic   

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On a sunny Saturday in March, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he was horrified to find people were still gathering in city parks. “It’s insensitive, it’s arrogant, it’s self-destructive, it’s disrespectful, and it has to stop now,” he said. He was right that the packed parks defied social distancing guidelines intended to slow the outbreak of the coronavirus, but the public scolding would have benefited from a little self-awareness: Both state and city responses to the pandemic had dragged, even as it was clear that New York City would be hit especially hard. Cuomo’s stay-at-home order came a day after California’s, a state with only a fraction of New York’s confirmed coronavirus cases, and it wasn’t until this week that New York City playgrounds officially closed. To date, the rapid spread of the virus has pushed the hospital system to capacity and killed nearly 1,400 people in the city alone.

Even prior to the coronavirus outbreak, New York City—the most densely populated area in the United States at 27,000 people per square mile—often seemed to hang by a thread in terms of its ability to accommodate a population of more than 8.5 million. The disintegrating subway system, literally held together with zip ties in places, malfunctions almost daily under the strain of an average weekday ridership of 5.4 million people; rush-hour commuters know well what it’s like to let multiple packed trains go by or sardine into an overstuffed car. Manhattan sidewalks are often so crowded that it’s impossible not to brush shoulders with passing strangers. I’ve never lived in another place where I had (or even thought) to buy movie tickets in advance.

In this constant jostle, it’s sometimes tempting to view the city’s problems through the lens of overpopulation. Anti-immigration activists have explicitly tried to stoke that sentiment in the past to rally support for their agenda. “Adding more people hurts already severely suffering New Yorkers. More people mean more competition for jobs, affordable housing, public transportation, quality education, police protection and social services,” wrote one last year. Even Democratic politicians have occasionally skirted such territory: This January, Brooklyn borough president and likely mayoral contender Eric Adams came under fire for remarks that seemed to blame the lack of affordable housing on newcomers rather than public policy. “Go back to Iowa, you go back to Ohio,” Adams said in a Martin Luther King Jr. Day speech. “New York City belongs to the people that were here and made New York City what it is.”

While the city’s high density presents a number of challenges—chief among them, now, how to slow the transmission of a highly contagious disease—its fundamental shortcoming isn’t an excess of people so much as it is an infrastructure weakened by decades of disinvestment and a lopsided distribution of resources. The coronavirus has stretched medical gear, hospital beds, and even the city’s 911 system to their limits. But scarcity, even in the case of a pandemic, isn’t inevitable; it’s almost always a condition created at some point through the prioritization of profit over human life.

A harrowing report in The New York Times published earlier this week found that the current ventilator shortage—which is now forcing some New York doctors to practice “medical rationing,” the clinical term for deciding which patients live and which die—is at least partly the result of a corporation’s cost-benefit analysis. More than a decade ago, in the wake of the H1N1, or swine flu, outbreak, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services contracted a small manufacturer to produce up to 40,000 affordable and efficient ventilators for use in the event of a future outbreak. But the company was eventually bought by a much larger outfit that decided the project was not profitable enough and effectively abandoned it. The contract was canceled shortly thereafter. “The stalled efforts to create a new class of cheap, easy-to-use ventilators highlight the perils of outsourcing projects with critical public-health implications to private companies,” the Times noted. On Wednesday, government officials confirmed that the federal stockpile of emergency medical equipment (which the contracted ventilators were once meant to join) was nearly depleted.

A similar predicament underlies the New York hospital system, which is now so overwhelmed that emergency makeshift hospital annexes have taken over the Javits Center (before this year, most notably the site of Hillary Clinton’s ill-fated 2016 election-night party) and even a section of Central Park. A 1,000-bed Navy hospital ship is also currently docked on Manhattan’s West Side. The surge in demand is the result of several factors—the quick spread and deleterious effects of the virus, the difficulty of maintaining six feet of distance in such close quarters, perhaps even too many nonchalant parkgoers flouting social distancing recommendations in the early days of the outbreak (as Cuomo crankily worried, despite his own culpability). Yet it’s also the end point of a cruel calculus that dictated the closures of over a dozen hospitals in the city. Between 2003 and 2017, at least 16 hospitals in New York City shuttered, many as the result of state budget cuts to Medicaid reimbursements. As Ross Barkan wrote in The Nation, Cuomo, who’s been anointed in the press as a kind of anti-Trump pandemic hero, “presided over a decade of hospital closures and consolidations, prioritizing cost savings over keeping popular health care institutions open.”

In predictable New York spirit, a number of those hospitals were demolished and turned into luxury housing following their closures. The former St. Vincent’s Catholic Medical Center in the West Village is now Greenwich Lane, a luxe complex where Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz and Jon Bon Jovi own units. Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn, which closed in 2013 despite protests by hospital employees and neighborhood residents, was converted by real estate developers into “Brooklyn’s first beaux-arts skyscraper,” a high-end building that includes amenities like a “fitness duplex with yoga atelier” and “rooftop lounge with cabana seating.” (Bill de Blasio, who was running for mayor at the time of the LICH protests and even arrested at one demonstration, initially opposed the closure of the hospital, but ultimately abandoned the fight after taking office.)

That’s all in the context of the city’s ongoing dearth of affordable housing. As businesses and workplaces close and unemployment continues to spike, more and more of New York’s 5.4 million renters—two-thirds of the city’s residents—will be squeezed to make rent payments. Though in March, Cuomo issued a 90-day suspension of evictions, housing advocates worry that such a measure doesn’t grasp the full scope of the problem, which started well before the outbreak and will continue long after. According to a report last year from the comptroller’s office, the cost of housing, food, and transportation rose at nearly twice the rate of average incomes between 2005 and 2017; New York’s rents, currently the second-highest in the nation, are unlikely to decrease after the threat of the coronavirus has subsided.

There’s no way to retroactively undo the steps that led to our present crisis, but understanding that they happened as the result of political decisions that coddled the market at the expense of people will be critical for rebuilding city life after the pandemic. When New York one day resumes its usual pace, it will still, for example, have to contend with the fact that nearly 70,000 people in the city are homeless while an estimated 247,977 apartments remain vacant or “scarcely occupied,” and one in four luxury units remain unsold. If the city is increasingly uninhabitable, both in an outbreak and beyond, it’s not because there are too many people.


          

Grim Reapers   

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After two months of refusing to face the true proportions of the coronavirus pandemic head-on, President Donald Trump sought to reassure panicked citizens—and financial markets—in an address to the nation in early March. The president stressed, without any solid evidence, that America had been remarkably successful in containing the spread of the virus, and was making additional headway in streamlining effective and affordable treatment for infected Americans. The main new measure he touted, however, highlighted just how disastrous his administration’s response to the crisis had been since the virus first arrived in the United States back in January: Re-upping America’s prior policy of aggressive border closure, Trump announced that the United States would be suspending entry of travelers from Europe, where the coronavirus was then spreading with alarming speed.

Trump’s March 11 speech to the nation from the Oval Office showed in no uncertain terms that his administration and his senior advisers on the crisis had failed to adapt in any serious way to a mounting public health emergency. By recurring once more to the issue of border security—a key demagogic theme of his 2016 presidential campaign—Trump ignored what was by then an obvious truth of the coronavirus pandemic: National borders mean nothing to a virus seeking host organisms.

The markets Trump sought to soothe above all else responded unambiguously the following day, with one of the most dramatic single-day falls in the history of the New York Stock Exchange. Despite a frantic collateral infusion of $2 trillion from the Federal Reserve, New York markets went on to suffer the worst day in history on March 16, falling nearly 13 percent. Throughout March, the world’s financial markets dropped precipitously, recovering only after central banks engineered still greater additions of cash—and then they fell again. As major cities across America took their own measures to slow viral spread, placing millions of citizens under work-from-home orders and closing nonessential businesses, unemployment skyrocketed and small businesses collapsed. Stocks, again, descended until the end of March, when Congress passed a $2.2 trillion stimulus package.

As one leading economist put it, speaking on background, “We’re in uncharted territory. Anybody who says that they know what’s going on is wrong. Overall, we are looking at the largest shock and the largest drop in employment and output since [World War II]. Even if the virus situation resolves itself soon, dislocations in financial markets will linger.”

In the face of all these convulsions, Trump and his backers remained very much on message, and keen to place blame for the crisis elsewhere. The president’s strongest supporters labeled the Covid-19 threat a hoax, conjured by the liberal media to make Trump look bad—a claim the leader himself endorsed at a rally in South Carolina. Appearing on Fox & Friends on March 13, the Rev. Jerry Falwell Jr. said people were “overreacting” and denounced virus worries as the liberal establishment’s “next attempt to get Trump.” Falwell went on to suggest that the virus itself was manufactured in North Korea in collusion with China. Queried about specifics, Falwell simply shrugged and replied, “I don’t know, but it really is something strange going on.” Later that month, Falwell reopened Liberty University to more than 1,000 students, at a time when universities nationwide had sent their young people home, reverting to homeschooling via internet to minimize potential spread of the virus.

There’s no small irony in the now-widespread initiative on the right to blame China and other sinister Asian powers for the virus’s devastating spread across the globe: The Trump administration’s response to the virus was replicating, in all its major outlines, the way that the Communist Party leadership in China had badly bungled its own initial reaction to the coronavirus outbreak in and around the major city of Wuhan. Both Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping instinctively sought to repress news of the true danger of their countries’ outbreaks, and the reach of their infection zones, so as to minimize potential political damage to their regimes. Both leaders, displaying parallel if historically distinct brands of authoritarian rule in a crisis, sought to dismiss the counsel of suspect health professionals and other experts. In both China and the United States, this politicized deafness to elementary scientific precautions would diminish the critical early-phase adoptions of broad-based social cooperation and early quarantines to flatten the curve of newly diagnosed coronavirus cases, thereby containing the disease’s spread and potential lethality. And both leaders doubled down on their dire initial misreadings of their respective crises as evidence continued to mount that their citizens desperately needed the broader dissemination of information and public health resources in order to weather the outbreak. The larger political story of the 2020 coronavirus crisis, in other words, may well prove to be a powerful case study in the way that governments controlled by leaders prone to unilateral decision-making, and the top-down information regimes they rely on to perpetuate their rule, are all but guaranteed to create maximum conditions of public health breakdown.


This disarming parallel becomes clearer still when we revisit the history of the virus’s transmission, and its eventual westward trek toward the United States. Again defying the brute nationalist logic of border closure, the SARS-CoV-2 virus has spread as an unseen stealth agent among us, causing illness and death. By the time it first arrived on U.S. soil, carried by an unknown traveler from central China in the middle of January, the Chinese propaganda campaign denying any pending pandemic was in full swing. Chinese scientists had by then announced successful identification of the mysterious, novel virus, and government officials insisted that it had originated in the live Hua’nan animal market in central Wuhan. The government-approved data then sought to minimize the outbreak—much as Trump would later tout, in a surreal news conference, the politicized tactic of keeping passengers quarantined on a cruise line to make his own coronavirus numbers look good. Chinese officialdom then reported that just 41 people were diagnosed with the new pneumonia disease, with only one fatality. Accordingly, no particular control measures had been undertaken to contain what was then being made to appear a manageable scale of “flulike” infection.

Things had gone on like this for nearly three weeks. Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and government officials in Wuhan, population 11 million, and surrounding Hubei province, inhabited by another 48 million people, insisted everything was under control. On January 13, the Wuhan Commission on Health proudly announced that “there were no new cases of pneumonia caused by new coronavirus infection in our city, one case was cured and discharged, and no new deaths were reported.”

As late as January 14, Chinese government representatives officially reported to the World Health Organization that there was “no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus identified in Wuhan,” a point they would stress again on January 20. And on January 18, with the blessing of Wuhan authorities, 40,000 people gathered for a traditional Lunar New Year celebration in which households prepared special dishes and shared them widely, with participants dipping their chopsticks into one dish after another.

Three days earlier, a man in his thirties flew from Wuhan to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, and went to his home in Snohomish County, Washington. On January 19, he was diagnosed with a probable case of the Wuhan pneumonia. It was also true that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—where Trump had previously discharged much of the pandemic preparedness team largely on the grounds that the Obama administration had taken pains to build up its ranks—had no test to definitively prove that he was infected. But the man clearly fit the official American diagnosis of the moment: high fever, pneumonia, and recent travel from Wuhan, China. When asked about the ailing Seattle-area man in a press briefing at the World Economic Forum, President Trump insisted, “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China. We have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.”

Fortunately, the information brownout in China was at this point beginning to show signs of cracking. As the population in Wuhan fell seriously ill in greater numbers, a double-digit official count of Covid-19 victims was simply no longer credible. So Chinese President Xi Jinping threatened to fire Wuhan authorities for concealing news of the virus’s spread, and by January 22, new numbers were released, revealing a surge of 444 cases of the strange pneumonia, with 17 official deaths. Again, these numbers didn’t tally new infections, but freshly released old data. With China’s Lunar New Year holiday approaching, Beijing ordered a travel ban, beginning the lockdown of Wuhan—but not before some five million people fled the metropolis, taking the virus with them. The critical pre-holiday moment of mass incubation for the virus again underlines how crucial it is to maintain transparent flows of information in the face of a public health crisis. Even though China was gradually shifting its footing, in at least acknowledging a nationwide epidemic was in the making, the larger information lag was still pronounced, particularly as the spread of Covid-19 went global. As the world health community was starting to learn of a SARS-like new pneumonia virus spreading in China, government officials in that country were still downplaying its true severity.

By January 26, China had placed more than 50 million people under quarantines of one kind or another, as 30 provinces reported a total of 2,744 cases with 80 deaths (the eventual number of Chinese citizens placed under quarantine or restricted movement protocols would soon reach nearly 100 million). That same day, five coronavirus cases were known in the United States, spread out over four states.

With the threat of a pandemic now looming, Washington officials began formulating a response to the spread of the coronavirus in line with their overarching policy assumptions—namely, a strategy to protect Americans by screening travelers and flights to U.S. airports.

The keep-the-virus-out strategy started on Friday, January 17, as a screening procedure at three U.S. airports—San Francisco, Los Angeles, and JFK in New York. Passengers arriving from Wuhan were screened by Department of Homeland Security and some 100 CDC personnel for fevers, coughing, and breathing difficulties. If observations turned up potential symptoms of the new disease, passengers were isolated and further evaluated, based on their clinical features and their responses to a questionnaire regarding activities they had engaged in while in Wuhan. Again, following the example of Chinese leaders, U.S. federal officials instructed airports to screen aggressively for any travelers returning from China who had visited the live animal market in Wuhan, which, according to government reports there, was the source of all the known Chinese cases.

President Trump wasn’t then particularly focused on the specter of a new breed of pneumonia at our border: He had other crises on his mind. Within his administration, a feud was unfolding, chiefly between Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Seema Verma, the head of Medicare and Medicaid, over appropriate uses of health care funds and allegations of misappropriation by Verma. That dispute was adding fuel to more widespread tensions within the administration about how to scale back or eliminate the core provisions of the Affordable Care Act—an effort Trump had repeatedly tried to push through Congress with disappointing results. Far more distracting for the president, however, was his Senate impeachment trial, which started on January 16, following lengthy hearings and voting in the House.

With the White House caught up in the drama of the president’s Senate acquittal, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his staff took the lead on responses to China’s outbreak. In keeping with Pompeo’s office’s priorities and wider administration preferences, the emphasis was once more on travel and border control. Pompeo warned Americans not to visit Wuhan, and to avoid travel to China over the Lunar New Year celebrations scheduled to start on January 25—a signature event for Chinese that typically features the largest internal mass migration in the world, with hundreds of millions of people returning to their ancestral villages for days.

On January 21, however, the CDC announced that restrictions had failed to prevent at least one case from slipping through the airport-based safety net—the Snohomish County traveler’s infection was publicly acknowledged. But far from highlighting the limitations of a borders-first approach to containing the virus’s spread, the first confirmed case of international transmission within the United States prompted the Trump administration to redouble its commitment to this misguided policy. For weeks, the crux of the Trump White House’s coronavirus response was akin to pulling up the drawbridge over the castle moat, hoping the virus couldn’t swim and scale the fortress walls. Public health experts—both outside and within the administration—warned that America had better prepare for a breach of the castle walls, but such pleas mostly fell on deaf ears in Washington. In lieu of a more effective program based on early testing and social separation, Trump officials grudgingly endorsed a modest-at-best set of measures to heighten domestic preparedness for a potentially lethal pandemic.

This was, of course, Donald Trump’s comfort zone. During the global Ebola outbreak of 2014–2015, Trump had tweet-shouted a series of demands for the same basic travel restrictions to keep Ebola-infected health care workers out of the United States. Now facing a public health crisis of far greater proportions, Trump continued to insist that closing borders was the key to American infection control, and he would continue to do so for weeks. At one point, he even suggested that Covid-19 justified closing the U.S. border with Mexico; even though the southern border didn’t represent a principal avenue of transmission for the virus, it was a tried-and-true source of nationalist panic that Trump could gin up among his base. Two months later, on March 9, Trump would look back on this moment of lifting America’s drawbridge to announce on Twitter, “The BEST decision made was the toughest of them all - which saved many lives. Our VERY early decision to stop travel to and from certain parts of the world!”

Stuart Malcolm, a physician at San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury Free Clinic, makes a round of interviews among homeless people in the neighborhood amid the coronavirus crisis. Josh Edelson / AFP/Getty

In an administration notoriously organized around displays of sycophantic loyalty to the president, Trump officials duly went forth to echo the message. As late as early March, with the virus spreading nationwide and financial markets tanking in response, senior economic adviser Larry Kudlow was still insisting that the Trump border strategy had all but contained the virus’s spread in the United States. “This came unexpectedly, it came out of China, we closed it down, we stopped it, it was a very early shut down,” he told CNBC. “I would still argue to you that this thing is contained.”

This was plainly a lie. The airport safety net hadn’t worked in 2014, when Thomas Eric Duncan traveled from Monrovia, Liberia, to Dallas, Texas, to visit relatives, and received his Ebola diagnosis a few days later. His case was initially misdiagnosed as the flu, and while he was treated, the Ebola virus spread to health care workers in the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas. Worse, by January 26, Chinese authorities announced that the virus was spreading via person-to-person contact—with the spreaders often by all appearances completely well, without any observable symptoms. This development should have been a red flag about the reliability of airport screening procedures worldwide.

More to the point, the Trump border-first approach failed because the SARS-CoV-2 virus was already in America before the State Department issued its travel guidance and airport screening commenced. And it failed because China stifled news about what was really transpiring in Wuhan and across the nation.

This is why the 2020 pandemic is, at its root, the story of two deeply flawed leaders, Xi Jinping and Donald Trump, who for too long minimized the coronavirus threat—and who, because of the enormous, largely unaccountable power they wield, must share responsibility for its global scale. At key moments when their mutual transparency and collaboration might have spared the world a catastrophic pandemic, the world’s two most powerful men fought a war of words over trade policies, and charged each other with responsibility for the spread of the disease. When scientists worldwide could have benefited from details of China’s new disease, perhaps thereby preventing thousands of hospitalizations and deaths, the Chinese Communist Party’s instincts were to arrest conveyors of information, shut down social media, and prohibit visiting teams of World Health Organization and foreign disease-control experts.

For its part, the United States was uniquely positioned, thanks to the chronology of the outbreak, to learn from China’s initial mistakes, and heed the example of the Xi regime’s belated epidemic control efforts. The order of the day, as all sorts of public health experts and officials from past administrations had stressed at the time, was to kick on-the-ground prevention and containment efforts into high gear. To begin with, Trump officials should have been preparing lab tests, hospital infection control plans, supply chains of vital equipment, and implementing a chain-of-command reordering of governance on an emergency footing. They should also have been securing budget proposals for emergency funds, and overseeing fuller coordination with state and local health departments across American states and territories.

Instead, the main message of the Trump White House was stunningly oblivious to the real emergency the country was facing. Addressing a press conference at the World Economic Forum on January 22, President Trump insisted that when it came to the coronavirus threat, “We have it totally under control,” despite the Washington state case. “It’s one person coming in from China. We have it under control. It’s going to be just fine,” he said. For good measure, he added that he had a “great relationship” with Xi, who assured him China’s epidemic was also controlled.

“Control” was the shared mantra for both leaders. “The Coronavirus virus is very much under control in the USA,” Trump tweeted on February 24, adding, “CDC & World Health have been working hard and very smart. Stock Market starting to look very good to me!” Similarly, on March 5 Trump insisted via Twitter, “With approximately 100,000 CoronaVirus cases worldwide, and 3,280 deaths, the United States, because of quick action on closing our borders, has, as of now, only 129 cases (40 Americans brought in) and 11 deaths. We are working very hard to keep these numbers as low as possible!”

It wasn’t hard to hear the same sentiments echoing through the centers of power in China. “I have at every moment monitored the spread of the epidemic and progress in efforts to curtail it, constantly issuing oral orders and also instructions,” Xi asserted.


It’s unlikely the world will ever know who patient zero was in the Wuhan outbreak, or from what animal that first human being acquired the deadly virus. But genetic analysis of strains of the coronaviruses found in bats, other animals, and people offers two general insights. First, the virus that was already circulating among the human population in Wuhan in early December is 96 percent identical to a virus found in fruit bats. It’s undoubtedly an ancient virus that has inhabited some types of bats, without apparent harm to the animals, for tens of thousands of years. Somehow—possibly inside Wuhan’s Hua’nan live animal market—a bat’s urine or saliva passed to some other caged beast, infecting that animal. Genetic evidence hints—but does not prove—that the intermediary animal was a pangolin, an unusual type of burrowing mammalian anteater that is covered in scales and curls itself into a tight ball when under attack. The most trafficked mammal in the world, pangolins are at risk of extinction because their scales are coveted by practitioners of Chinese traditional medicine, who believe that in powdered form they cure arthritis and other ailments.

Regardless of the original genesis of the virus’s spread among humans, it’s now clear that unseen cases of the mysterious pneumonia were present in Wuhan at least as early as December 8, 2019, and may well date back to November, even October. According to the South China Morning Post, leaked government documents show testing of old pneumonia patient samples in Wuhan revealed infections dating back to November 17, 2019. This fateful event—the transmission of a bat virus, to an intermediary species, to a person—occurred rapidly and recently. The full analysis of viral genes shows it was a natural occurrence, meaning that (in spite of xenophobic conspiracy theories propagated by right-wing media sources and disseminated by at least one Republican lawmaker) the human virus was not concocted in a laboratory. One Chinese study suggests that the bats carrying the virus came from Zhoushan, Zhejiang province, an island archipelago that is a popular Chinese tourist destination.

All epidemics start with a single case. And the key to stopping an outbreak is recognizing that something new, and dangerous, is unfolding before that one case becomes 20, or 50, or 100. In Wuhan, the crucial inflection point for the virus’s broader transmission occurred over a six-week period, from early December to January 15. During that time, the numbers of infected people and their concentration within a fairly compact area inside Wuhan might have rendered the outbreak quickly manageable. But a sorry trail of mistakes, cover-ups, and lies from Chinese authorities led health officials and Communist Party leaders to block appropriate investigations and conceal information that would certainly have provoked an earlier, more aggressive response.

Careful analysis of the first 41 patients admitted to Wuhan’s top infectious diseases hospital, Jinyintan, disclosed that just 27 of the cases had any direct or secondary link to the blocks-long Hua’nan animal market. The earliest reported case involved a subject who experienced symptoms on December 1, though he wasn’t diagnosed with pneumonia until more than a week later. Neither he nor the other 13 patients in this first group who had not recently visited the market seemed to be linked to other known cases. This suggests that there was already widespread community transmission inside Wuhan well before the Christmas season. Another study of these and 384 other patients who took ill in Wuhan during the month-plus official cover-up in China showed that the only individuals linked to the Hua’nan market were among those diagnosed before January 1. (Nothing is known about the earliest case later discovered in Wuhan—the individual who was hospitalized on November 17—but it’s now clear that 266 Chinese were suffering from the coronavirus before the Western New Year’s Eve.)

At this point in the chronology of the outbreak, spread was entirely human-to-human. Crucially, the first known case of individual exposure involved someone who had not set foot in the Hua’nan market. In other words, that decisive moment when someone first caught the coronavirus infection might not have even occurred in Wuhan. None of the early cases involved patients under the age of 15; the median age was 59. And the virus was spreading fast—each infected person was passing contagion to, statistically speaking, 2.2 other people, meaning the epidemic was “doubling in size approximately every 7.4 days in Wuhan at this stage,” according to the study.

It’s possible, perhaps probable, that the Hua’nan was only coincidentally connected to the world’s pandemic. Chinese state media reported that 31 swabs of surfaces inside the market (out of 585 taken) tested positive for the virus on January 1, but that data was never published in any duly tested or reviewed scientific literature. (At that time, scientists who had visited Wuhan told the South China Morning Post that there was evidence of human-to-human transmission.) Nevertheless, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission, after initially suppressing all information regarding the outbreak, changed narratives on December 31, acknowledging there was a virus on the loose, 27 people were infected, and it emphatically was not the SARS virus. The report also insisted that the outbreak was connected to the Hua’nan market, which local government authorities had shut down. Everything was under control, Chinese citizens were assured by their authoritarian regime.

But doctors inside Wuhan were already sharing contrary news. Wuhan Central Hospital had a patient in December whose lungs were filled with fluids—a sign of immune system reaction to acute infection. Doctors there spread the word among colleagues that the patient did not respond to antibiotics—meaning in all likelihood that the infection was viral, not bacterial. One by one, other hospitals began sharing similar findings, and whispering that it looked like SARS. On December 30, according to a Wall Street Journal investigation, Wuhan Central physician Ai Fen passed on to colleagues the results of a lab test she ordered on one such patient, which came back reading “SARS coronavirus.” Ai would eventually be reprimanded by her bosses for publicizing her findings. A short while later, another Wuhan Central doctor, ophthalmologist Li Wenliang, went into a physician group chat room to inform his colleagues across Wuhan, “7 SARS cases confirmed at the Hua’nan Seafood Market,” noting that the patients were quarantined. He added, “Don’t leak it. Tell your family and relatives to take care.”

The following day, Li and seven other physicians were summoned before Wuhan police, and compelled to sign confessions of “spreading rumors” and disseminating false information. Their chief crime, the octet were told, was in claiming the disease looked like SARS. Ai, summoned to the Disciplinary Office of Wuhan Central Hospital, was chastised for “manufacturing rumors.” Ai would later post an online account of her work, detailing her experiences with authorities and the virus, and her army of admirers across China would use clever cyber-tactics to stay seconds ahead of government social media censors, sending the writings all over the Chinese-speaking world.

The World Health Organization accepted China’s official explanation of the disease’s limited, and theoretically containable, human genesis in the Hua’nan market in a statement released from Geneva on January 1: “The evidence is highly suggestive that the outbreak is associated with exposures in one seafood market in Wuhan. At this stage, there is no infection among health care workers, and no clear evidence of human to human transmission.”

Days later, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission announced there were 44 cases of the mysterious new disease in Wuhan. On January 5, the panel emphatically restated that the cause was not SARS, telling the World Health Organization that there were now 59 cases—all of which remained, somehow, linked to the Hua’nan market. Most of this spike in reported cases reflected reappraisal of old pneumonias that hadn’t previously been ascribed to the new coronavirus, dating back to December 12. Once again, Wuhan authorities insisted there was no expanding epidemic—just a retrospective accounting.

But there must have been some greater cause for alarm, because on January 7 President Xi Jinping personally took control of the epidemic response, and maintained control throughout, according to a speech he delivered to senior Communist Party officials. For days, presumably under Xi’s orders, Wuhan reported stagnant epidemic figures, even on one day lowering its count. The figures were lies.

Closing down Hua’nan had no impact on the spread of viral pneumonia in the city, and nearly everybody working on the front lines in Wuhan’s hospitals was convinced that the virus was passed human-to-human—a terrifying new development that the higher reaches of Chinese government were working hard to suppress. It is now known why: 86 percent of all viral transmission was undetected in Wuhan prior to January 23, and 79 percent of all transmission was coming from undocumented sources—people who either were asymptomatic, or simply had been noted by the widening safety net of disease surveillance.

In Beijing, the National Health Commission assembled a distinguished team to investigate Wuhan, including George Gao, the head of China’s CDC; retired infectious disease physician Zhong Nanshan, often described as the man who discovered SARS; and virologist Yuen Kwok-yung from Hong Kong University, one of the world’s most respected experts on the coronaviruses and influenzas. The team was appalled by what they saw in Wuhan, according to Yuen, who was already convinced a catastrophe was unfolding. On January 4, he urged Hong Kong to close its borders to the mainland: Though borders remained open for a few more days, Hong Kong did declare a state of emergency—much to Beijing’s chagrin, given months of demonstrations in the independence-minded territory.

It was obvious to the expert team that Wuhan health authorities were “putting on a show,” Yuen said—trying to prove that they had the virus contained just as it was starting to break out into new infected populations. But Wuhan had no testing kits to tell who was, or was not, infected—the first batch would arrive from Beijing on January 16. Well before then, Yuen and his colleagues at Hong Kong University invented their own test for the virus, and started administering it across southern China and Hong Kong. With it, they discovered on January 10 a Shenzhen family infected with the coronavirus—clear evidence of person-to-person transmission. But the National Health Commission in Beijing censored publication of that discovery—thereby blocking any chance to warn physicians that the virus could potentially be spread from a patient to a health worker or family member.

During their team visit, CDC Director Gao said the Hua’nan animal market was filthy and disgusting, and both he and Yuen were shocked to see that it was just a few yards away from the most important high-speed train hub in all of China, Han­kou Railway Station. This station connects not only all major cities of the nation, but the entire Belt and Road Initiative—Xi Jinping’s brainchild massive economic mission to re-create the Silk Road ancient ties between Beijing and most of Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East, and Eastern Africa. At the heart of Xi’s Belt and Road dreams sat Wuhan, whose Wuhan Tianhe International Airport was used by 27 million people a year, flying all around the world. The station accounted for well over 100 million passenger trips a year.

The team returned to Beijing, telling Xi’s office that the epidemic was out of control. There was clear evidence of person-to-person transmission, the researchers announced, and also noted that the Hua’nan market had little, if anything, to do with the crisis. Zhong went further, telling Chinese reporters that 14 health care workers had contracted the virus, and it clearly posed an epidemic threat to all of China.

By the third week of January, with the Lunar New Year holiday looming, it was time for a new official narrative: Beijing had to step in, blame local incompetence, fire Wuhan politicians, and bring in the big guns. As the crisis mounted, critics began taking the risky step of calling out China’s dishonest handling of the crisis on Chinese social media, with posts popping up faster than censors could tear them down. A new call for transparency came down from a CCP Twitter account on January 21: “Anyone who puts the face of politicians before the interests of the people will be the sinner of a millennium to the party and the people,” it read, and added that “anyone who deliberately delays and hides the reporting of [virus] cases out of his or her own self-interest will be nailed on the pillar of shame for eternity.”

Suddenly the numbers of reported cases skyrocketed, and Beijing formulated plans to lock down the entire city of Wuhan, cut travel for the Lunar holiday all over the nation, and revert to clampdown mode. Chinese officials began employing security tools, such as monitoring social media postings, deploying artificial intelligence video scanning of groups gathered in discussions, and police interrogations to control public behavior and manage public fear. Because SARS in 2003 had only been contagious from ailing individuals who were running fevers, the entire containment strategy for that disease was based on thermometer guns. At all points of transit, along barricaded highways, at building entries, and in stores, citizens were compelled to undergo fever checks, often several times a day. If they were found to be running temperatures, they were hustled off to quarantine centers and hospitals, where they remained for a minimum of two weeks.

Over the next two weeks, Wuhan came under increasingly tight control, with nearly the entire population confined to their apartments. Massive hospitals were built in a matter of days to house critically ill patients. Police arrested individuals who refused to wear masks and rounded up suspected Covid-19 cases off public streets. The tools of the security state were put to full use, censoring social media, arresting Chinese journalists, and issuing a new round of trust-the-leadership-caste propaganda.

After twice declining to do so, the World Health Organization declared China’s outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on January 30. By then, the virus had spread to 18 countries. China escalated its lockdown, mobilized military medical cadres to assist exhausted—and, in some cases, dying—doctors in Wuhan. The death toll soared, bodies were left stacked on hospital floors and in the streets. By February 3, more than 17,000 cases were officially tallied.

On February 7, the whistleblower physician Li Wenliang, who had become a social media hero across China, died of the disease at the age of 34. His death sparked a massive outpouring of rage and grief across China that spurred even timid, ordinary people to shout from quarantine and post on social media their anger at the Communist Party and Xi Jinping. It was a Chernobyl-like moment for the Chinese leaders, as a regime of autocratic social control cultivated over the course of decades suddenly appeared to snap.

By March, China’s leaders were breathing somewhat easy again. As I write this in mid-March, reported new cases in China have dramatically tapered off. And inside Wuhan the numbers fell to such low levels that all the quarantine centers and newly built disease hospitals were closed. Nurses danced in their protective suits, flashing victory finger signs. Slowly the people of China began to feel safe, returning to work.

A makeshift memorial for Dr. Li Wenliang, an early whistleblower during China’s initial coronavirus outbreak who later died of the disease, in Westwood, California. Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty

The saga of the virus’s tour through China should have put the United States on notice against the sorts of face-saving official measures that work in the larger scheme of things to compound the conditions of viral transmission rather than to contain them. And at times there were faint causes to hope that this might in fact prove to be the case. In early February, President Donald Trump tweeted a vote of confidence in Xi Jinping, writing, “Just had a long and very good conversation by phone with President Xi of China. He is strong, sharp and powerfully focused on leading the counterattack on the Coronavirus. He feels they are doing very well, even building hospitals in a matter of only days. Nothing is easy, but he will be very successful, especially as the weather starts to warm & the virus hopefully becomes weaker, and then gone. Great discipline is taking place in China, as President Xi strongly leads what will be a successful operation. We are working closely with China to help!”

But that February 7 message bore almost no substantive relation to the Trump administration’s own coronavirus response. Trump and his senior advisers remained confident that border closures and airplane shutdowns would keep Covid-19 out of America—and so the White House took almost no interest in the potential of a pandemic sweeping America. In 2018, Trump had eliminated most of the Obama-era pandemic response capacities inside federal agencies, especially the National Security Council and Department of Homeland Security—which meant that Trump was dangerously insulated from critical sources of information about America’s acute vulnerability to emerging viral threats. The Trump administration had no coordination of information and analysis in the National Security Council, no command operation inside the Department of Homeland Security, a diminished set of global health and epidemic programs at the CDC, lapsed funding for training grassroots medical personnel in infection control, and a weakened capacity to rush diagnostics, drugs, and vaccines through FDA safety checks and approval.

Despite warnings from his own national intelligence community that Covid-19 displayed “pandemic potential,” the president insisted the Chinese outbreak posed no threat to America. Some critics have labeled this call “the worst intelligence failure in U.S. history,” comparing it to past American leaders’ neglect of crucial reports of hostile activity prior to the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the 9/11 attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center.

This disconnect came into full view just days after Trump had hailed Xi’s belated initiative to contain the spread of the coronavirus in China. In one press conference after another, Trump struggled to give any coherent accounting of American plans. Meanwhile, the Dow Jones sank day by day, the numbers of ailing Americans rose, and the United States earned the distinction of being likely the only wealthy country in the world that was unable to mass produce diagnostic tests to determine just who was infected and how best to treat them and isolate them.

As viral testing finally rolled out on a minute scale in the first week of March, the American public learned of pockets of community transmission of the disease all over the country—especially near Seattle and New York City. Stock markets continued their steep slide. Some institutions, such as schools and nursing homes, shut down; the National Guard was dispatched to help enforce quarantine conditions in the viral hot spot of New Rochelle, N.Y.

It was clear that little was being done at the federal level to quell the spread of the virus—and citizens increasingly felt desperately thrown back on their own limited resources to contend with the specter of a long-term, lethal pandemic. By the time of Trump’s March 12 special address to the nation, much of the American public already knew the awful truth: that the entire Trump administration strategy for protecting them from Covid-19, which rested on airport controls to keep the virus out of the country, was a nonstarter. The virus was already all over America.

Desperate to keep “the numbers where they are,” as the president put it in a press briefing at the CDC, the White House seemed determined to draw from the Xi Jinping playbook—censoring data, and clamping down on concern and dissent within the administration.

And just as politics has largely dictated the woefully inadequate American response to the coronavirus threat, so will politics shape our reactions to this colossal governing failure. Our political system, together with the media ecosystem that relies on it, has grown notoriously polarized. The nation is facing a heated presidential election, and the coronavirus threat has supplied charged ideological fodder in political salvos from all sides. Until the first reports emerged of community-acquired Covid-19 cases within U.S. borders, America seemed satisfied to act as a collective epidemic voyeur, watching horror unfold in China and elsewhere overseas without anticipating its arrival domestically. As outbreaks exploded in South Korea, Iran, Japan, and Italy, anxiety rose in financial markets, fretting about quarantine conditions and supply-chain disruptions poised to extend well beyond the already collapsed production and distribution networks in China.

As longtime China-watcher Bill Bishop wrote for his website Sinocism, “We might be heading into [the] first global recession caused by [Chinese Communist Party] mismanagement. Previous manmade disasters in China since 1949 never really spread outside the PRC’s borders in meaningful ways. This time looks to be different, and being the proximate cause of a global recession may not be helpful to the PRC’s global image and aspirations.”

Chinese leaders clearly heeded this threat. China rolled out a propaganda campaign, accusing the United States of responsibility for the pandemic, and complaining that other world powers weren’t following its example.

Inside China, meanwhile, Xi waged a propaganda effort to shore up his damaged image as a great leader, visiting factories and hospitals. After one such visit, the state-run media issued this glowing report: “The inspection tour by Chinese President Xi Jinping to Wuhan, Central China’s Hubei province, has greatly inspired Chinese society. People interpret the visit in their own simple way, and optimism has blended with the atmosphere of spring.”

Eager to get his economy back on track, Xi ordered key factories and industrial centers reopened—only to have some efforts backfire. On March 11, as the South China Morning News described it, “At 8.30am the government of Qianjiang—which lies about 150 km (90 miles) east of Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province—said that all restrictions on the movement of people and traffic would be lifted at 10am. They were.

“Then, at 10.30am, they were reinstated.

“‘The city will continue its restrictions on the movement of traffic and residents,’ the government said, without elaborating.”

Two days previously, well-known Chinese author Fang Fang wrote a tough essay, labeling the epidemic (not the virus) “man-made” and insisting, “Now is the best time for reflecting on what happened and investigating who is responsible.” Pointedly, she rejected CCP claims that the people should thank the party for stopping Covid-19. “A word that crops up frequently in conversation these days is ‘gratitude.’ High-level officials in Wuhan demand that the people show they’re grateful to the Communist Party and the country. I find this way of thinking very strange. Our government is supposed to be a people’s government; it exists solely to serve the people. Government officials work for us, not the other way around. I don’t understand why our leaders seem to draw exactly the opposite conclusion.”

Outside the country, China waged a two-pronged effort: one showing its willingness to help the rest of the world, the other leveling accusations and blame. At the forefront of this PR offensive is the country’s United Nations Ambassador Zhang Jun. In a March 10 letter to all 192 member-states of the United Nations, Zhang wrote, “The spread of the epidemic has been basically contained in Hubei and Wuhan. We are ready to strengthen solidarity with the rest of the international community to jointly fight the epidemic.”

CCP leadership noted that the “comprehensive, thorough and rigorous” measures China took to bring its epidemic to a halt could be shared with the rest of the world. And in the process, the CCP said, the governance of the United Nations and other international institutions would be improved.

That’s the polite side of China’s campaign. Beijing has instructed its ambassadors all over the world to raise doubts about the origin of the virus, calling it “the Italian virus,” or the “Japanese virus,” suggesting that it might even have been man-made. In a perverse mirror image of xenophobic anti-China conspiracy theories on the American right, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian suggested the virus came out of an American laboratory. The White House responded with accusations about Chinese cover-ups and incompetence.

He also has tweeted and given speeches claiming that U.S. Army representatives brought the novel coronavirus to Wuhan in October 2019.

“The US has finally acknowledged that among those who had died of the influenza previously were cases of the coronavirus. The true source of the virus was the US!” one commentator said in response to Zhao’s postings. “The US owes the world, especially China, an apology,” another commentator said, and some on social media referred to the “American coronavirus.”

State-run media accused the United States of denigrating China’s fight, while castigating the many genuine failures of U.S. planning and policy execution in the face of the crisis: “They have misused the time China bought for them by blaming China for so-called ‘delays’ during the initial stage of the outbreak. A full month after the beginning of the out-break in China, the US still has not yet equipped itself with sufficient and reliable testing kits, missing the opportunity to identify cases and curbing the spread of the virus. Large public events and rallies are still being held in the US, despite the risk of mass infection.... After accusing China of providing ‘imperfect’ data, the US is being far from transparent.”

White House National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien counterpunched, charging that China’s handling of the initial outbreak in Wuhan “probably cost the world community two months to respond and those two months, if we’d had those [and] been able to sequence the virus and had the cooperation necessary from the Chinese, had a WHO team been on the ground, had a CDC team, which we had offered, been on the ground, I think we could have dramatically curtailed what happened both in China and what’s now happening across the world.”

Similarly, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo consistently refers to “the Wuhan virus,” enraging China. Pompeo also eagerly took up O’Brien’s line of attack, charging that the early cove

          

The Emerging Right-Wing Vision of Constitutional Authoritarianism    

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The Atlantic, a magazine for which I once worked, recently teamed up with the National Constitution Center for a series entitled “The Battle for the Constitution.” The project draws upon a wide range of American legal scholars to discuss the Constitution’s fate in the Trump era. Past contributors range from Michael Gerhardt, Sanford Levinson, and Leah Litman to Richard Epstein, the New York University law professor and erstwhile coronavirus expert who was vaporized from orbit by The New Yorker’s Isaac Chotiner earlier this week.

The most eyebrow-raising essay thus far comes from Adrian Vermeule, a chaired professor at Harvard Law School who specializes in administrative law. In a manifesto titled “Common-Good Constitutionalism” published on Tuesday, he called upon legal conservatives to abandon what he describes as the “defensive crouch” of originalism, the movement’s doctrinal lodestar for the last 40 years, now that they have captured the Supreme Court for at least a generation. In its place, Vermeule calls for an unabashedly authoritarian interpretation of the Constitution.

“Subjects will come to thank the ruler whose legal strictures, possibly experienced at first as coercive, encourage subjects to form more authentic desires for the individual and common goods, better habits, and beliefs that better track and promote communal well-being,” he wrote. “Common-good constitutionalism,” he explains, “will favor a powerful presidency ruling over a powerful bureaucracy,” which will be empowered to impose a particular social and moral code upon Americans. Troublesome concepts like personal liberty and individual rights are brushed aside.

On social media, Vermeule’s autocratic vision for American life received a negative reception, to say the least. Legal academics across the political spectrum veered between mockery and horror. Some observers called him a fascist. Others sharply criticized The Atlantic for publishing his arguments in the first place. I, for one, consider it a public service. Though right-wing illiberalism is in vogue these days, its adherents tend to dance around exactly what they wish to impose upon the rest of us. Vermeule’s honesty is as refreshing as it is disturbing.

Though Vermeule himself is not an originalist, he argues that this strain of legal scholarship effectively existed only to give the conservative legal movement the intellectual cachet to join mainstream American legal thinking. “This approach served legal conservatives well in the hostile environment in which originalism was first developed, and for some time afterward,” Vermeule wrote. “But originalism has now outlived its utility, and has become an obstacle to the development of a robust, substantively conservative approach to constitutional law and interpretation.”

What, then, should replace originalism? Vermeule initially offers a vision of American constitutional law “based on the principles that government helps direct persons, associations, and society generally toward the common good, and that strong rule in the interest of attaining the common good is entirely legitimate.” All of this can be achieved without amending a word of the document, as well. “The sweeping generalities and famous ambiguities of our Constitution, an old and in places obscure document, afford ample space for substantive moral readings that promote peace, justice, abundance, health, and safety, by means of just authority, hierarchy, solidarity, and subsidiarity,” he explains.

Later descriptions take on a more menacing air. At one point, he argues that the state’s power to compel vaccinations could be extended to combat “pandemics and scourges of many kinds—biological, social, and economic—even when doing so requires overriding the selfish claims of individuals to private ‘rights.’” It’s never reassuring to see the word rights set off in scare quotes, to say the least. “Thus the state will enjoy authority to curb the social and economic pretensions of the urban-gentry liberals who so often place their own satisfactions (financial and sexual) and the good of their class or social milieu above the common good,” Vermeule concludes.

It’s tempting, perhaps, for those on the left to read Vermeule as an expression of the secret desire lurking within every legal conservative’s heart. He is not, however, an originalist or even a standard American conservative. He is a proponent of integralism, an arcane strain of Catholic political thought that draws upon nineteenth-century critiques of modernism and revolution. Integralists reject liberalism as a political philosophy, preferring hierarchy over egalitarianism and autocracy to individual rights. They eschew the modern secular nation-state in favor of something more closely resembling the confessional states of early modern Europe, or perhaps the Habsburg empires.

Accordingly, when Vermeule writes about using the Constitution to promote the “common good,” he means integrating Catholic social and moral doctrine—or at least his interpretation of it—into our secular constitutional law. What sets Vermeule apart from not only most Americans, but even most American Catholics, is his eagerness to impose these views upon others by force. “Just authority in rulers can be exercised for the good of subjects, if necessary even against the subjects’ own perceptions of what is best for them—perceptions that may change over time anyway, as the law teaches, habituates, and re-forms them,” he explains.

Vermeule is something of a newcomer to all of this. By his own account, he drifted in and out of the Episcopalian tradition in which he was raised before converting to Catholicism in 2016. “I put little stock or hope or faith in law,” he said in an interview about his religious views at the time. “It is a tool that may be put to good uses or bad. In the long run it will be no better than the polity and culture in which it is embedded. If that culture sours and curdles, so will the law; indeed that process is well underway and its tempo is accelerating. Our hope lies elsewhere.” Other post-liberals on the right, such as Sohrab Ahmari, have experienced similarly galvanizing changes after conversion.

By the mid-twentieth century, the Catholic Church largely reconciled itself to liberal democracy, especially when faced with the Communist alternative to the East. For Vermeule, however, it is always 1793, and France’s ultra-revolutionaries are always at the gates. He often describes liberalism as a religion unto itself, with “its own cruel sacraments—especially the shaming and, where possible, legal punishment of the intolerant or illiberal—and its own liturgy, the Festival of Reason, the ever-repeated overcoming of the darkness of reaction.” The unsubtle implication is that liberalism and Christianity, or at least the Catholic form of it, are bitter and irreconcilable foes.

This is a familiar shtick for Vermeule: to argue that liberals are what they claim to oppose. In his eyes, liberalism’s boundaries on acceptable political views are no different from the authoritarianism that its adherents claim to oppose. Liberals’ unwillingness to tolerate what they perceive as intolerance is proof that their claims of tolerance are a sham. “Liberalism’s dilemma is that its anti-authoritarian ethos of belief, its compulsion to celebrate the overcoming of political rule, is ultimately inconsistent with its own claim to rule,” he told an audience at Notre Dame University in 2019. It is a flawed conception of liberalism that does not survive a brush with Karl Popper.

To overthrow this apparently tyrannical liberal order, Vermeule has previously called for what he described as “integralism from within.” He imagines a small coterie of integralists infiltrating elite institutions and the machinery of the liberal state so they can subtly co-opt them in favor of their ultimate goals. “The vast bureaucracy created by liberalism in pursuit of a mirage of depoliticized governance may, by the invisible hand of Providence, be turned to new ends, becoming the great instrument with which to restore a substantive politics of the good,” he wrote in a 2018 article for American Affairs.

Vermeule compared these agents to Christian saints and martyrs of a distant age: Joseph and Mordecai, Esther and Daniel. For those who don’t share his spiritual or philosophical outlook, it sounds more like The Winter Soldier, the film in which Captain America discovers that agents from HYDRA, a quintessentially illiberal organization, hold high-ranking positions throughout S.H.I.E.L.D. and the U.S. national security establishment. After decades in hiding as a deep state of sorts, they unmask themselves just before the moment of their ultimate triumph.

This strategy isn’t surprising from a man of Vermeule’s education and expertise. A legal scholar, his bread and butter is administrative law and executive power. His writings show a particular interest in Carl Schmitt, a twentieth-century German legal philosopher who criticized parliamentary democracy in the Weimar Republic before becoming a preeminent Nazi jurist, and Joseph de Maistre, an eighteenth-century Italian nobleman who argued forcefully against the Enlightenment and in favor of the divine right of kings. Echoes of their thinking can be seen in his hostility toward the Supreme Court’s current approach to free speech and individual autonomy.

“The claim, from the notorious joint opinion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, that each individual may ‘define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life’ should be not only rejected but stamped as abominable, beyond the realm of the acceptable forever after,” he wrote in The Atlantic. “So too should the libertarian assumptions central to free-speech law and free-speech ideology—that government is forbidden to judge the quality and moral worth of public speech, that ‘one man’s vulgarity is another’s lyric,’ and so on—fall under the ax.” In trying to sketch out a new constitutional order for America, Vermeule accidentally invented Saudi Arabia.

On his now-deleted Twitter account, which I followed for some months, he presented a needling, impish persona with an exceedingly dry sense of humor that occasionally bled over into his other writings. In a July 2019 blog post, he wrote that American immigration policy should “give lexical priority to confirmed Catholics,” which would result in fewer immigrants from Europe and Canada (except, he notes, for the Quebecois) in favor of “actual Catholics” from Africa, Asia, and Latin America, where the church’s membership is now strongest. “Yes, some will convert in order to gain admission; this is a feature, not a bug,” he explains.

Those measures and an open southern border, Vermeule wrote, would lead the United States “towards the eventual formation of the Empire of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and ultimately the world government required by natural law.” Whether his proposal is genuine or trollish is for the reader to decide. “I venture to say that any opposition to this proposal almost necessarily defends some alternative principle of immigration priority that allocates fewer spots to non-whites and to the poor, and is thus a troubling indicator of racism and classism infesting whoever voices that opposition,” he adds.

Will Vermeule’s approach to constitutional law, let alone his integralism, gain currency on the American right? His epistle to the American legal community drew cheers from Ahmari, who already shares his skepticism of the prevailing liberal order. But it did not seem to persuade elsewhere. “We already have a common-good Constitution; it’s called the Constitution,” National Review editor Rich Lowry opined on Twitter. “All I’ll say is that this was well-timed for a week when the leading libertarian originalist embarrassed himself playing armchair epidemiologist,” The New York Times’ Ross Douthat added. It’s doubtful that anyone to the left of them had a change of heart. But dissenting voices do not deter Vermeule. By his own admission, he will impose himself upon them all the same.


          

The Next Pandemic Could Be Hiding in the Arctic Permafrost   

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In the summer of 2016, a heatwave washed over Europe, thawing permafrost in the north. In the Arctic soil of Siberia, bacteria began stirring—anthrax, to be specific. The thawing, shifting ground exposed a reindeer carcass buried and frozen in 1941. The anthrax spores from the body found their way into the top layer of soil and the water nearby, before being picked up by thousands of migratory reindeer grazing in the area. Over two thousand reindeer soon contracted the deadly bacteria and passed it along to the nomadic Nenets peoples who travel alongside the reindeer and depend upon them for food. By the end of August, a 12-year-old boy had died, and at least 115 others had been hospitalized.

The current coronavirus pandemic, despite likely originating with an animal-to-human crossover far from the Arctic Circle, has come at a particularly weighty moment for infectious disease. As the Arctic warms twice as fast as the rest of the world, its ground is starting to thaw. With that thaw, bacteria and viruses once buried in the permafrost could increasingly emerge from a long hibernation. At the same time, the Arctic is seeing more traffic than ever, with sea routes opening up and natural resource exploitation growing in the region. As microbes begin reemerging, they have more opportunities than ever to encounter people and animals.

It’s not just bacteria like anthrax making a reappearance. The Arctic is no stranger to deadly viruses, as well. The bodies of victims of the 1918 influenza pandemic, to which many are now comparing the current coronavirus pandemic, are still buried in the Arctic permafrost. And centuries after smallpox raged through Siberian settlements in the 1890s, the bodies of those buried along the now-eroding Kolyma River have begun resurfacing.

Researchers have also discovered viruses never before recorded, like the recently christened “pandoraviruses,” lurking in the permafrost. Pandoraviruses are a type of giant virus that appear to have been more common about 30,000 years ago. In 2014, researchers successfully revived two of these ancient viruses, which were found 100 feet underground in tundra along the coast. Luckily for us, the viruses can only infect single-celled amoebas, not people. But other unknown viruses and bacteria could potentially spread to humans after being preserved for hundreds or even thousands of years within Arctic ice. Without the immunity our ancestors may have had, both humans and the intermediary animals that can spread diseases could be extremely vulnerable to the revived microbes.

So far, few of the viruses recovered from the permafrost seem to be active or contagious. In the bodies from the 1890s smallpox outbreak, for example, researchers were able to find some viral material to confirm that the people had indeed died of the virus, but they did not find completely intact viruses that would have been contagious. Attempts to cultivate other permafrost viruses in laboratories have largely failed.

Some hardy bacteria, on the other hand, seem to be just as potent as when they were buried. Not all bacteria can survive the harsh conditions of the Arctic for long periods of time, but a few—like anthrax, tetanus, and the bacteria that causes botulism—can.

These bacteria are not limited to the Arctic permafrost, of course. “Obviously, dirt everywhere is potentially a problem,” Anne Jensen, a senior scientist for Ukpeavik Iupiat Corporation Science LLC and an archaeologist based in Utqiagvik, in Alaska’s far north, told me. “I mean, it could be a problem in New York State. There’s a lot of places [where] dirt’s got botulism in it. There’s a reason why if there’s a puncture wound and it’s dirty, you go get a tetanus shot.”

Anthrax, for example, occurs naturally in the soil all over the world. In fact, it tends to thrive in warmer climates—which may be part of why it began spreading again during the heat of the 2016 Siberian summer—but it’s far from a prehistoric disease brought back to life by climate change. Rather, climate change is creating better conditions for it to continue thriving, said Jason Blackburn, an associate research professor and associate professor of geography at the University of Florida’s Emerging Pathogens Institute.

“We may see a longer growing season in the northern habitat, so we may see those anthrax seasons become longer,” Blackburn told me. “The seasons might begin earlier as the green-up begins earlier—and hotter, longer seasons. We may see more areas opening up to agriculture or livestock than we have currently.” Blackburn said it’s possible that, in a changing climate, the Siberian reindeer and their herders in 2016 were taking a different migration route—one that had once been off-limits because of a historic knowledge of the presence of anthrax but that made more sense given changes to the land during the heatwave.

But the bacteria found in Arctic permafrost aren’t just a threat for animals and those who depend upon them for subsistence. It’s also possible that miners and oil workers would come into contact with thawing soil containing unknown microbes, Jensen says. She once had a member of her team contract a “seal finger,” a bacterial infection of the hand that was acquired while digging up decades-old seal carcasses. She doesn’t think it’s a “huge risk” for most people, but “the possibility certainly exists,” she said.

“Things can be frozen for a very long time and then get out. And if somebody is in contact with them, at the right time, in the right way, it’s conceivable,” she said. An infection like seal finger, she pointed out, isn’t directly transmissible to other people, and it responds to standard antibiotics. Other bacterial infections might behave differently.

There is one relatively easy way to prevent outbreaks: vaccines. Although it is kept in highly secretive locations, a smallpox vaccine does exist, should the virus rise once more from Siberian soil. And ongoing research into the role Arctic microbes play could help protect the world from future pandemics. In 2005, researchers in Alaska were able to recover bits of 1918 flu virus from someone buried in the thawing permafrost. They sequenced the deadly flu and created a vaccine for it—an important contribution to preventing a similar epidemic from breaking out again.

As for bacteria like anthrax, “there’s a very good and very stable and relatively inexpensive vaccine” for animals, Blackburn said. “It is the number one means of reducing both livestock anthrax and human anthrax.” Since the 2016 outbreak, vaccinations of Russian reindeer resumed, with more than 600,000 reindeer vaccinated each year.

Another critical way to prevent the spread of disease, in the Arctic and elsewhere, is being able to diagnose and treat it quickly, Blackburn said, and to educate the community on what steps they can take to protect themselves and others. “For that 2016 outbreak, there was quite a large community that had no real firsthand experience with anthrax,” Blackburn said. “That can really change the dynamic, because now you’ve got to educate that population, you’ve got to determine what’s causing it, you’ve got to determine what kind of preventative measures might work to reduce the severity of the disease and getting vaccines distributed.”

Climate change isn’t just changing what we know about diseases in the north. In a warming world, many southern diseases are advancing northward—as the ranges for disease-bearing mosquitoes and ticks, for example, expand. In pandemics like the current coronavirus outbreak, diagnosing and treating an emerging or reemerging disease, as well as educating the community on how to prevent its spread, can go a long way. If there’s one thing we can learn from the virus currently ravaging communities around the globe, it’s that there are a number of steps we can take to prepare better for the next epidemic—from fighting the global warming that makes them more common to preparing and supporting our hospitals, labs, and communities before the next health disaster arises.


          

Account Director- Facilities Management   

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NY-New York, Great opportunity for a seasoned Facilities Management Account Director supporting a high-end client! Your new company Hays Facilities Management are partnered with a progressive Facilities Management provider here in NYC to hire an Account Director for one of their top clients, a prestigious leader in Higher Education Your new role The job duties for this role include the following: - Take comple
          

NY poised to forfeit 1.5M highly sought masks, company says   

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New York state is set to miss a payment deadline and forfeit the right to buy 1.5 million highly sought, specialized medical masks, according to the Capital Region firm facilitating the deal. Darn Good Yarn, which has operated in Halfmoon for more than a decade, has relationships with suppliers in China that have access to
          

EEUU y China: dos actitudes opuestas ante la pandemia en América Latina   

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Estados Unidos y China muestran diferentes capacidades de respuesta ante la pandemia delcoronavirus, tanto dentro de su país como a nivel internacional. Eso tiene su impacto en una América Latina sin respuesta regional y bajo mayor amenaza intervencionista norteamericana en Venezuela.

El coronavirus modifica el orden de las cosas ante de nuestros ojos desde hace semanas. Lo hace a una velocidad vertiginosa y global. Ya son más de un millón de contagiados en el mundo y hasta que aparezca una vacuna o una cura, los indicios marcan que esa curva será aún más rápida.
Uno de los aspectos donde más se expresan las nuevas tensiones mundiales es en el desempeño de China y de Estados Unidos frente a la pandemia de COVID-19, tanto puertas hacia dentro como hacia fuera de las fronteras.
"La manera de evaluar la respuesta de cada una de estas potencias viene dada por el número de enfermos, infectados, muertos, la capacidad organizativa de una sociedad y otra para dar respuesta, la capacidad de Estado en uno y otro modelo de sociedad", explica Sergio Rodríguez Gelfenstein, analista internacional venezolano.
China fue el primer país impactado por el virus, y el primero en implementar una cuarentena en un punto crítico, la ciudad de Wuhan, que comenzó el 23 de enero y finalizará parcialmente el 8 de abril.
Según Rodríguez Gelfenstein "se ha mostrado la superioridad infinita de China" al ver los resultados internos en relación al desempeño norteamericano "donde el propio presidente dice que si hay 200.000 muertos va a ser una gran victoria".
"China tal vez por primera vez en la historia con su modelo, que es de socialismo con peculiaridades propias, está mostrando superioridad en términos políticos, como la capacidad que tuvo el Estado para aislar ciudades de 20 millones de habitantes sin que se produjera la más mínima alteración social".
Rodríguez Gelfenstein señala la "superioridad moral, filosófica" mostrada por China ante la pandemia, "en tanto se manifestó una relación pueblo, Gobierno, autoridad, gobernado y gobernante muy superior y favorable", al igual que "una superioridad económica, científica".

Puertas afuera

Ayuda técnica humanitaria de China a Venezuela
© AFP 2020 / CRISTIAN HERNANDEZ
Ayuda técnica humanitaria de China a Venezuela
Uno de los elementos internacionales más destacados en los últimos días ha sido el despliegue de China, junto con Cuba y Rusia, ante la pandemia. La llegada de insumos y médicos a países como Italia o España, contrastó con la ausencia de una respuesta norteamericana puertas afuera de su país.
"EEUU no tiene capacidad de resolver el problema internamente, los grandes recursos que tiene son mal utilizados, en esa medida muy difícilmente pueda liderar una respuesta internacional", señala el analista.
Al contrario, Washington ha planteado "mantener su voluntad agresiva, sus deseos intervencionistas y la utilización de las sanciones para hacer rendirse países", como el caso de Irán o de Venezuela.
EEUU ha desplegado recientemente maniobras militares en Colombia, cerca de la frontera con Venezuela, "en los Emiratos Árabes Unidos, las que quisieron hacer en Europa y fracasaron porque los países europeos no estuvieron dispuestos a involucrar sus soldados en una posibilidad de contagio con el coronavirus, y las que ahora están haciendo en el mar Caribe frente a las costas de Venezuela".
En claro contraste, mientras EEUU no ha podido conducir una respuesta internacional frente a la pandemia, los movimientos de ayuda chinos se han multiplicado. "No creo que se proponen liderizar ni hegemonizar nada, están actuando en el marco de los compromisos internacionales como país miembro de las Naciones Unidas, la Organización Mundial de la Salud, a partir de sus principios de política exterior", explica Rodríguez Gelfenstein.
La cooperación china se da "con gobiernos de derecha, ultraderecha, de izquierda, de centro, confesionalmente de cualquier tipo de religión, de ubicación en el planeta", y lo hacen según la "capacidad que tienen a ayudar a otros países a solucionar un problema que es global".
"China sale mucho más fortalecida de esto que EEUU", señala el analista internacional, que subraya la dificultad de pensar a futuro con claridad en un contexto tan complejo:
"Me cuesta mucho vislumbrar el alcance de lo que pueda a ocurrir porque no sabemos ni siquiera cuánto va a durar esta pandemia, cuál va a ser la capacidad destructiva en términos de muertos, económicos, societales, de organización, de estructura".

América Latina

© REUTERS / ADRIANO MACHADO
Президент Бразилии Жаир Болсонару и Луис Энрике Мандетта во время конференции в Бразилии
"En este momento América Latina está muy dividida, no tiene ninguna capacidad de enfrentar unida esta pandemia", destaca Rodríguez Gelfenstein al abordar el cuadro continental.
El coronavirus golpea cuando los instrumentos de integración, como la Unión de Naciones Suramericanas (UNASUR) y la Comunidad de Estados Latinoamericanos y Caribeños (CELAC), fueron debilitados como parte de la política exterior de los gobiernos de derecha.
Gelfenstein señala la actuación de la Alianza Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América (ALBA) "que está cooperando", como "Cuba; Venezuela propuso ayudar a Colombia a pesar de las profundas contradicciones que hay; Nicaragua es el país que presenta los índices más bajo".
La marca de esta crisis es la desintegración continental, donde el principal instrumento en pie y fuertemente desacreditado —entre otras por su participación en el golpe de Estado en Bolivia—, la Organización de Estados Americanos (OEA), no ha aportado ninguna respuesta ante el coronavirus.
Por eso es necesario "analizar lo que pueda ocurrir país por país, que en gran medida tiene que ver con las capacidades que tengan los gobiernos para enfrentarlo", explica Gelfenstein.
En ese contexto "se ha visto la incapacidad de los gobiernos neoliberales que han desmantelado el Estado y la salud pública hoy se muestran incapaces de enfrentar esta pandemia".
La política de China ha sido la de "cooperar en la medida de las posibilidades, al igual que Rusia". Rodríguez Gelfenstein señala que esa cooperación no se ha visto detenida aún por el hecho de que políticos comenzaran a "utilizar el lenguaje de EEUU del virus chino y de echarle a China la culpa de esto".
Pero "sus diplomáticos han asumido una posición agresiva" ante esas declaraciones, como en el caso de Brasil, donde los hijos de Bolsonaro hicieron comentarios contra China, "creando un conflicto diplomático al punto que Bolsonaro intentó establecer una llamada telefónica después con Xi Jinping y el presidente no le tomó la llamada".
Sin embargo, el analista no prevé que esta asimetría entre la cooperación china y la ausencia de ayuda norteamericana tenga una traducción política más profunda más adelante.
"Dudo que esto vaya a producir una reorientación política, el nivel de control que tiene EEUU sobre los gobiernos neoliberales es muy, muy fuerte, como se demostró en la reciente elección de la OEA donde fueron capaces de quebrar a siete países manteniendo el control sobre los 16 que normalmente tienen".

Venezuela

La llegada de la ayuda humanitaria de República Popular China para combatir el virus COVID-19
© FOTO : MINISTERIO DE COMUNICACIÓN DE VENEZUELA
La llegada de la ayuda humanitaria de República Popular China para combatir el virus COVID-19
En el caso venezolano, esto "ha servido para fortalecer mucho más las relaciones con Rusia y China, que se han volcado a la ayuda en materia de salud con equipo, instrumentos, con especialistas en el caso de China que han venido a cooperar para que Venezuela pueda superar exitosamente esta situación".
La respuesta de EEUU ante la emergencia ha sido la opuesta: han intentado hacer de la pandemia una oportunidad para derrocar al gobierno presidido por Nicolás Maduro.
Así no solamente no han retirado el bloqueo económico, como ha sido pedido por numerosas voces internacionales, sino que han redoblado el ataque. "Le han puesto precio a la cabeza del presidente Maduro y otros dirigentes del país, realizan maniobras navales en las cercanías de las costas de Venezuela y también del territorio terrestre, hacen propuestas intervencionistas".
La escalada ha sido sostenida en la última semana. EEUU busca aprovechar las dificultades generadas por la pandemia, la caída de los precios petroleros, el estado de excepción global, para lograr el derrocamiento que han intentado de forma sostenida en los últimos años en Venezuela.
Ante su crisis interna cada vez más grave, su incapacidad de ofrecer ayuda internacional, Donald Trump intenta "utilizar esta crisis global para incrementar sus agresiones contra los países que tiene sentenciados".

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