Archive | April 26th, 2020

Brazil Breaks Record With Over 400 COVID-19 Deaths in One Day

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

Brazil records 407 new COVID-19 deaths in the last 24 hours on Thursday, April 23.

The South American country also has 49,492 confirmed cases of COVID-19, of which 3,735 new cases were reported in a single day. 

Brazil recorded 407 new COVID-19 deaths in the last 24 hours, a record number and an increase of 14 percent, according to the Ministry of Health.

RELATED: Brazil: Bolsonaro Refuses to Comment on COVID-19 Death Toll

The total number of COVID-19 deaths nationwide exceeded 3,000 on Thursday. In total, since March 17, when the first death from the virus occurred in the country, 3,313 deaths were recorded.

The South American country also has 49,492 confirmed cases of COVID-19, of which 3,735 new cases were reported in a single day.

The Ministry of Health had reported only one day earlier, 165 new deaths (and a total of 2,906 deaths), and more than 2,600 new confirmed cases (out of a total of 45,757 cases). However, the body itself acknowledged that reports published after holidays and weekends had lower numbers than the other days. This due in part because health teams in the states work in smaller numbers and, therefore, less testing is done, which could explain the increase in numbers.

Also, reports say the actual number of cases could be higher since only patients admitted to hospitals are evaluated, and some cases are still waiting to be confirmed.

BrianMier@BrianMteleSUR

The Brazilian Health Ministry announces over 400 covid-19 deaths in last 24 hours – nearly doubling previous record of 207. Scientists estimate official numbers are undercounted by around half. https://twitter.com/LemusteleSUR/status/1253425840806739973 …Nacho Lemus@LemusteleSURBrasil bate el récord de más de 400 muertes* por coronavirus en 24hs. El máximo anterior era de 207 en un día.

En total, más de 3 mil personas fallecieron por #covid19 en poco más de un mes.

*Los datos son del Ministerio de Salud, pero hay indicios de subnotificación.
209:58 PM – Apr 23, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacy27 people are talking about this

Of the total number of new deaths, more than half occurred in the state of Sao Paulo, which numbers 211,  which is also a new record in the state.

Brazil is the hardest-hit country in the region.

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Bolivia: Añez Regime Makes It Difficult for Citizens to Return

An elderly Bolivian man stranded in a shelter during the coronavirus outbreak in Iquique, Chile, April 12, 2020.

Over 1,000 Bolivians were asked to head to Buenos Aires to take COVID-19 tests before entering their homeland.

Over 1,000 Bolivians stranded in the border with Argentina cannot return to their country because the coup-born regime led by Jeanine Añez asked them to finance their own COVID-19 tests before entering the national territory.

RELATED: Bolivia: Evo Morales Expresses Concern About Covid-19

Only 60 of them have sufficient monetary resources to travel to Buenos Aires, cover the costs of their accommodation in this Argentine city, and pay to be tested for the coronavirus.

According to Bolivian authorities, a supplier in Buenos Aires will sell a batch of COVID-19 tests to them.

“We have not been able to find a laboratory where the test can be done,” Evelyn Daza, who is responsible for handling the return of the Bolivians, acknowledged.

EL DEBER@grupoeldeber

El grupo de 60 compatriotas pide a la Cancillería que ceda el Consulado en Buenos Aires para que se realicen la prueba de Covid-19 #YoMeQuedoEnCasa #CoronavirusEnElMundo https://bit.ly/3cHi23J Bolivia y Argentina coordinan la repatriación de bolivianos varados en Buenos Aires | EL DEBEREncontrar el lugar para realizarse las pruebas del Covid-19 es el problema al que se enfrentan al menos 60 bolivianos y que es clave para que puedan retornar al país. Consideran que el Consulado en…eldeber.com.bo59:56 PM – Apr 23, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacySee EL DEBER’s other Tweets“A group of 60 compatriots asks the Foreign Ministry to allow them to use the Buenos Aires consulate to carry out the COVID-19 test.”

“Our citizens should not attend a clinic, because of the risk of contagion. We have requested that the test be carried out at the Bolivian embassy in Buenos Aires,” she added.

If they test positive for COVID-19, they will not be able to return to Bolivia and will have to extend their stay in Buenos Aires for the length of their quarantine.

The Bolivian and Argentine Foreign Ministries have shown their willingness to coordinate the repatriation to those Andean citizens that have money to return on a private plane.​​​​​​​

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Beyond Injustice: Murderous Racism Alive on the Streets of the US

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by HOWARD LISNOFF

When W. E. B. Du Bois wrote The Souls of Black Folk (1903), he said that “the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color line.” With the 20th century now in the rearview mirror, it’s easy to see just how right and how eloquent Du Bois was over 100 years ago. I’m just a stone’s throw from Du Bois’ childhood home in Massachusetts. Making some observations about what I see when in Harlem may be useful in trying to determine how racism is still one of the most serious problems in the US today as it was during Du Bois’ lifetime.

I ride the subway frequently in Manhattan, both to and from Harlem, and it’s as if the color line that Du Bois named marks the places in the city where Black folks live and travel. Go back up to street level any day in New York and the signs of racism are found. Try to keep in mind that great souls like James Baldwin, Malcolm X, and a host of writers, artists, and musicians lived and performed on these streets during the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s. Keep in mind that there are great centers of literacy and caring in Harlem and a great spirit for the affirmation of life on these streets and a vibrant middle class. But also keep in mind that the Jim Crow US South was enforced by de facto means here and that the schools are more segregated today than during the years following Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954). Pay attention to how mass incarceration has enslaved Black people in ways that often devastates a community. Read The Shame of the Nation(2005) by Jonathan Kozol for a sweeping account and condemnation of “apartheid schooling in America.”

I meet a street vendor in the heart of Harlem and ask him how business is. He sells hats, scarves, and gloves. He says that survival depends on having enough food, water, and adequate housing, and also expresses his belief that with those essentials met, it is up to a person to maintain hope. I think of Franklin Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms: speech, worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear from his 1941 State of the Union address.

What shocks me in my trips into New York City is how the de facto line that remains the ghetto begins above Columbia University near 110th Street and continues to Washington Heights. Sometimes I am the only white face riding in a subway car in the area, or only one of a few. Those from the decade of the 1960s will recall the fight of local residents and radicals against the building of a Columbia University gym in the Morningside Heights section of the city that borders Harlem.

Of the four freedoms, freedom from want and fear seem to be most important on the streets of Harlem. The police presence is most obvious here after years of the failed Bloomberg administration policy of stop and frisk, another factor in the street to prison pipeline that devastated the Black community for years. The repression of people of color by police and the society is well documented.

Kalief Browder spent three years at the notorious New York City prison on Rikers Island after being accused, but never convicted of the charge that he stole a backpack. Kalief, at the time of his arrest, was a 16-year-old high-school sophomore and maintained his innocence and spent nearly 800 days in solitary confinement and was beaten by prison guards. Kalief, from the neighboring borough of the Bronx, committed suicide at 22 years old, in perhaps one of the most heinous examples of the gross injustice visited against Black people in New York. On Staten Island, Eric Garner is yet another Black person murdered by police brutality in New York City. With official violence targeted against Black people in the US, this shocking story of two brothers in New York City demands attention: “They Shared a Bunk Bed  Growing Up. Both Were Killed by the Police,” New York Times, January 24, 2020.

On the streets again, it is apparent that some residents of Harlem are suffering from debilitating physical conditions which makes a companion of mine observe that some people in the community using canes and walkers appear much older than both my companion and me, although we are probably older than most of the people we see. This does not mean that this observation defines the people of Harlem since most people appear healthy and confident.

Martin Luther King, Jr. highlighted the evils of racism, poverty, consumerism, and militarism in his famous “Beyond Vietnam” speech in New York City in April 1967, delivered one year before his assassination. With environmental destruction and devastation added into this lethal mix, American Exceptionalism is exposed at street level.

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When Torture Goes Uncondemned

Times Cartoon: National Torture : ukpolitics

by CHRISTOPHER BRAUCHLI

How fearful and dizzy ‘tis to cast one’s eyes so low!

– Shakespeare, King Lear

What a sad congruence.  It was a stark reminder of what has become of the United States.  It was the day the Senate began the impeachment trial of Donald J. Trump, the man who single handedly brought the institution of the presidency to its lowest level since the country was founded.  It was the day James E. Mitchell began testifying in a military courtroom at Guantánamo Bay Cuba about torture methods he and a fellow psychologist, John Bruce Jessen, devised to extract information from prisoners of war in United States custody.  The methods of which they were the fathers were a complete betrayal of everything we once thought the United States stood for.

Each of the days of the impeachment hearing were stark reminders of how far the country had fallen from the ideals that its founders had for it at its creation. With each new argument presented by the House Managers, we heard once again how ineptitude, incompetence, corruption, and self-interest motivated the Trump and how he thoroughly intimidated the members of his own party so that none of them had the courage to even hint that there was anything inappropriate in his blatantly corrupt behavior.  Self-interest, rather than the well-being of the nation, was the driving force behind the response of the Republican majority in the senate.  The political welfare and eagerness to remain on the non-existent good side of a corrupt Trump, meant not one Republican senator  was willing to place his or her loyalty to the country, if indeed a senator had such loyalty and many such as Lindsay Graham made it plain they did not, ahead of his or her loyalty to his or her own political future.  The Trump impeachment is a low point in the history of the United States.

And as those proceedings were taking place, a completely different hearing was taking place in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.  Like the one in Washington, it was focused on one of the most dismal times in American history and the nation’s willful walking away from what had been customarily accepted behavior even in times of war. That was the day that James Mitchell, who with another psychologist, John Bruce Jesssen, was the architect of a cruel, and inhuman method of torture, began describing the instruments of torture he created to try to extract information from the men accused of plotting the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City. The description took place in preliminary proceedings in the trial of the men who were accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks.

In describing the waterboarding technique that he helped design, he said it was so “gruesome” that some of those observing its imposition were brought to tears.  According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, Jessen “would pour water onto a cloth Mitchell held over the prisoner’s mouth and nose. The water pour could last up to 20 seconds, then be paused, then another 20 seconds, paused, then 40 seconds. The subject feels as though he is drowning. . . . The practice is nearly universally condemned as torture.”  During his testimony Mitchell said he would apply the method to other individuals if he thought it necessary but, demonstrating his humanity, he acknowledged that the results repulsed him.

Mitchell justified his role in the torture program explaining that because of the climate of fear that existed in the United States after the 9/11attack, extreme methods to prevent another attack were justified even if they resulted in the “temporary discomfort of terrorists who had voluntarily taken up war against us.”

Joseph Margulies, is a law professor at Cornell University who at one time represented one of the victims of the Mitchell method.  He said the brutal methods employed helped numb America to wrongdoing. In an e mail he said that

“James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen conceived, designed and executed the first officially recognized torture program in U.S. history. It is one thing that they are utterly unapologetic; that is a commentary on them.  But it is something else altogether that so much of the rest of the country is utterly indifferent; that is a commentary on us. . . . Yesterday, we tortured men in cages because we thought they had done something wrong; today, we torture children at the border knowing that they have done no wrong at all.  Do not be seduced by linguistic light footedness and ask whether this really is torture.  I refuse to play that game.”

Although Professor Margulies was speaking of torture, he could have been speaking of the Trump conduct when he said:  “A wrong that escapes public condemnation is no wrong at all.  Worse, it invites not simply repetition, but expansion.”  That is a clear statement of what the future holds for the United States because of the actions of the morally free occupant of the White House and the legacy he is leaving us.

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Absurdity and Cruelty’ of US Healthcare System, Says Sanders, ‘Should Now Be Apparent to All’

As the country faces the coronavirus pandemic and an economic crisis, the senator explains the “need to articulate a new direction for America.”

by: Jessica Corbett,

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has been a leading proponent of extending the Medicare system to all Americans—a proposal that’s gained popularity among the public in recent years as well as traction in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Former Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders took to the opinion section of the New York Times on Sunday to make the case that in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and an economic meltdown, “it’s imperative that we re-examine some of the foundations of American society, understand why they are failing us, and fight for a fairer and more just nation.”

“If there is any silver lining in the horrible pandemic and economic collapse we’re experiencing,” wrote the Independent senator from Vermont, “it is that many in our country are now beginning to rethink the basic assumptions underlying the American value system.”

A longtime advocate of transitioning the United States to a universal, single-payer healthcare system, Sanders declared Sunday, “The absurdity and cruelty of our employer-based, private health insurance system should now be apparent to all.”

DSA for Medicare for All@dsam4a

“The absurdity and cruelty of our employer-based, private health insurance system should now be apparent to all.” @BernieSandershttps://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/19/opinion/coronavirus-inequality-bernie-sanders.html …

The ongoing public health crisis has led to soaring rates of unemployment, and those layoffs have often meant workers also lose their employer-based health insurance. Noting the recent job losses, Sanders argued that “as we move forward beyond the pandemic, we need to pass legislation that finally guarantees healthcare to every man, woman, and child—available to people employed or unemployed, at every age.”

Sanders has spent years fighting for Medicare for All legislation in Congress and the proposal was a key piece of his platforms both times he ran for president.

“In the course of my presidential campaign, I sought to follow in the footsteps of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who, in the 1930s and 40s, understood that in a truly free society, economic rights must be considered human rights,” the senator explained. “That was true 80 years ago and it remains true today.”

Earlier this month, as states were deciding to delay in-person primary voting because of the pandemic, Sanders announced that he was suspending his campaign but vowed to continue advocating for progressive policies. That move made former Vice President Joe Biden the party’s presumptive nominee to face off against President Donald Trump in November. Within days, Sanders formally endorsed Biden.

On the Democrats’ effort to make Trump a one-term president, Sanders wrote Sunday:

Now I will do everything in my power to bring this country together to help Joe Biden defeat the most dangerous president in modern American history. And I will continue to make the vigorous case that we must address the inequalities that contributed to the rise of Donald Trump, whose cruelty and incompetence have cost American lives during this pandemic.

Simply opposing Mr. Trump will not be enough—we will need to articulate a new direction for America.

Specifically, Sanders called for ending “starvation wages” and guaranteeing decent-paying jobs to those who can work; ensuring all Americans receive a quality education from childcare through graduate school; and “a massive construction program that ends homelessness and allows all of our people to live in safe and affordable housing.”

“We must make certain that our communities are free of pollution in our air and water, and that we lead the world in combating the existential threat of climate change,” Sanders added. “We must love and respect our elders, and make certain that all Americans have a secure and dignified retirement.”

Dismissing persistent comments from politicians and pundits about the difficulty of forcing fundamental changes, he concluded: “Let’s get to work and get it done.”

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Strange Attractors: On Being Addicted to Trump and His Press Conferences

(Un)Reality TV, 2020-Style.

byRebecca Gordon

For him, governing is nothing but a performance. (Photo: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images)

For him, governing is nothing but a performance. (Photo: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images)

My partner and I have been fighting about politics since we met in 1965. I was 13. She was 18 and my summer camp counselor. (It was another 14 years before we became a couple.) We spent that first summer arguing about the Vietnam War. I was convinced that the U.S. never should have gotten involved there. Though she agreed, she was more concerned that the growth of an antiwar movement would distract people from what she considered far more crucial to this country: the Civil Rights movement. As it happened, we were both right.

She took off that fall for college at the University of California, Berkeley, where, as she says, she majored in history with a minor in rioting. I went back to junior high school. And we’ve been arguing about politics ever since.

So maybe it’s no surprise that, since the coronavirus pandemic exploded, we’ve been fighting about the president. Not about his character (vile and infantile, we both agree) or his job performance (beyond dismal), but about whether anyone with a conscience should watch his never-ending television performances. Since 2016, she’s done her best not to expose herself to either his voice or his image, and she’s complained regularly about the mainstream media’s willingness to broadcast his self-evident lies, to cover any misconceived or idiotic thing he might decide to say at rally after rally as if it were actual news. More recently, she’s said the media should send their interns to cover his Covid-19 “news” conferences. (Of course, MSNBC and CNN now no longer always broadcast those events, whose ratings the president so treasures, in full. In fact, by April 13th, CNN appeared to have let their chyron writer off the leash to run legends below that day’s news conference like “Angry Trump turns briefing into propaganda session” and “Breaking news: Trump refuses to acknowledge any mistakes.”)

For a couple of weeks now, I’ve been watching each live broadcast of the Trump Follies, otherwise known as the White House daily coronavirus task force briefings. Readers who, like me, remember the Vietnam War may also recall the infamous “Five O’Clock Follies,” the U.S. military’s mendacious daily briefings from the South Vietnamese capital, Saigon, during that endless conflict. There, its spokesmen regularly offered evidence, including grimly inflated “body counts” of enemy dead, that allowed them to claim they were winning a losing war. The question today, of course, is whether the present pandemic version of those follies offers at least a small glimmer of hope that the president may now be mired in his own Covid-19 version of Vietnam.

After I’ve spent a couple of irretrievable hours of my life gaping at the muddled mind of Donald Trump, I always feel a sickening sensation, as if I’d kept eating Oreo cookies long after they stopped tasting good. But it doesn’t matter. The next day, I just turn it on again. I wonder if it’s people like me who are responsible for that TV ratings bump of his?

It took my partner a while to catch on to what I’ve been doing. The reason: like an alcoholic whose bottles are stuffed away in secret corners, I’ve been hiding this perverse habit by sneaking down to the basement and watching while working on my loom. Or I would catch my Trump fix while she was out on the streets of San Francisco taking photographs for her 10-year project to both walk and record every voting precinct in the city.

But one evening, returning a little early, she walked in on me before I had time to slam the laptop cover down. “Nobody should be watching those press conferences!” she said emphatically, when she twigged to what I’d been up to. “How can you sit there and listen to lies? Why are you exposing yourself to that crap? Anything you actually need to know you can read in newspaper summaries the next day.”

What’s the Appeal?

And I have to admit that those were fair questions. Why am I exposing myself to such a pure, unmediated stream of falsehoods, ignorance, and preening self-congratulation day after day? Why, though I loathe his lies as much as she does, do I keep listening to them in real time? As he typically said at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on March 6th, “Anybody that wants a [coronavirus] test can get a test”; “The tests are all perfect. Like the letter was perfect. The transcription was perfect, right?… This was not as perfect as that, but pretty good.” (No one knows what “letter” he was referring to, though he probably meant the summary transcript of his phone call to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky.)

Why don’t I switch the press conferences off when he begins to praise and congratulate himself as he always does? (“I’ve felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic”; “Every one of these [CDC] doctors said, ‘How do you know so much about this?’ Maybe I have a natural ability. Maybe I should’ve done that instead of running for president.”)

Why am I fascinated by the way just about everyone on the podium fawns all over him, starting with Vice President Mike Pence, the titular head of “the president’s” Coronavirus Task Force (unless, this week, it’s Jared Kushner)? Why do I keep listening to Pence intoning, “The president has directed that…” or referring to “President Trump’s 15-day coronavirus guidelines,” as if Trump himself had written them and designed the oversized postcard outlining them, which arrived in people’s mail at the end of March? Why am I mesmerized as assorted business “leaders” like MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell trip over themselves outdoing each another in praising the president? Lindell, in fact, used his minute and a half of fame to tell the world that God had essentially elected Donald Trump in 2016. (I guess that explains it! I knew I hadn’t voted for him.)

I think what provides me (and so many others) with that nightly hit of dopamine is the sheer brazenness of the president’s lies on show for all to see. Not for him the mealy-mouthed half-truth, the small evasion. No, his are, like the rest of his persona, grandiose in a way that should be beyond belief, but remains stubbornly real.

Here he is, for instance, in mid-March, speaking of Americans flying back from Europe: “If an American is coming back or anybody is coming back, we’re testing. We have a tremendous testing setup where people coming in have to be tested… We’re not putting them on planes if it shows positive, but if they do come here, we’re quarantining.” Anyone who saw the photos of weary travelers crammed together in U.S. airports then knows that none of this was faintly accurate. But no matter.

Then there’s Trump’s use of those television performances and the audiences they garner as the ultimate measure of presidential achievement. By now, who isn’t familiar with his delight in the ratings the coronavirus press briefings have attracted? As he tweeted on March 29th:

“Because the ‘Ratings’ of my News Conferences etc. are so high, ‘Bachelor finale, Monday Night Football type numbers’ according to the @nytimes, the Lamestream Media is going CRAZY. ‘Trump is reaching too many people, we must stop him,’ said one lunatic. See you at 5:00 P.M.!”

So it’s no surprise that he also uses media ratings as the metric by which he judges the performance of everyone working to slow down the spread of the coronavirus. For him, governing is nothing but a performance. At his March 29th briefing, for example, he gave himself credit for the media attention being paid to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and someone he called “the General” (whose name he seemed to have forgotten). After observing that the Washington Post, like my partner, thinks Americans should shun his pressers, he pointed out that he’d inaugurated other people’s TV careers:

“We’re getting the word out. We’re getting the accurate word out. And a lot of people are happy about it, and a lot of people aren’t. But they should be happy. When I have the General, when I have Seema [Verma, head of Medicare and Medicaid Services], and when I have Tony [Fauci], and when I have our — our incred- — these are, like, people that have become big stars, okay?”

Then there’s the astonishing ignorance he’s so happy to put on display regularly, as at the April 10th task force briefing. Asked whether “reopening” the country would depend on having enough Covid-19 tests available to make it possible to do surveillance and contact tracing, he replied that such tests would be unnecessary in “vast areas of the country” because they don’t (yet) have outbreaks. Given that no state by then lacked coronavirus cases, it was yet one more display of his inability to grasp the basics of the potential for exponential growth in a highly contagious disease.

Finally, there’s the eternal assumption in just about everything he says that no one could possibly know more about any subject than he instantly grasps. In a terrifying exchange on April 10th, a reporter asked what metrics he would use in deciding when and how to reopen the country, a decision he had just falsely claimed he has “absolute authority” to enforce.

“The metrics right here,” he replied, pointing to his temple and, presumably, the brain behind it. “That’s my metrics. That’s all I can do. I can listen to 35 people. At the end, I got to make a decision.” He went on to explain that he had just figured out how big a decision it was. “And I didn’t think of it until yesterday. I said, ‘You know, this is a big decision.’” Who could possibly have known how big a decision it was until that very moment when the president claimed to have grasped that reality?

Strange Attractors

In the end, maybe what truly draws me to those news conferences and keeps me hooked is the cognitive dissonance of it all. I’ve never been a fan of reality TV, partly because I don’t like watching people be mean to one another, but mainly because what happens on such shows is anything but “real.” Mean (or “nasty”) as he may be, Trump’s press conferences are real. And isn’t that the contradiction, the eerie fascination, of it all — that the unbelievable is actually true? Donald Trump is, in fact, the president of the United States, even if watching each of those televised events is like encountering a creature from another dimension, a being who simply doesn’t conform to earthly reality. And that, in a terrifying way, is fascinating. I can’t look away.

The field of mathematics called chaos theory, which deals with extremely complex, dynamic systems like the movements of liquids or gasses, has a concept called “strange attractors.” An attractor is a point that a graph of the system keeps cycling around and returning to over time. (Not being a mathematician, that’s the best I can do.) Strange attractors are fractal, meaning that each part of one of them will display the same pattern no matter how much you magnify it, no matter how deep you go — in other words, very much like the mind of Trump.

Some strange attractors are part of chaotic systems that don’t repeat at any regular interval and will vary greatly over time. The weather is like that; a small difference in temperature or pressure at a given moment can affect whether a local change becomes a hurricane. But if a chaotic system has strange attractors, then, over many years, the same initial conditions will most often settle into one of two results, the equivalents of a clear day or a bad storm. You can’t say what will happen in any given year, but you can say what is most likely to happen over 100 years. As Wikipedia puts it, “Thus a dynamic system with a chaotic [strange] attractor is locally unstable yet globally stable.”

Should — the gods and statistics forbid — Trump win reelection this November, we’ll have a real-life example of a system that is locally unstable, but globally horribly stable for the next four years. In his case, of course, we’re talking about how a “very stable genius” will be able to spin the chaos he creates into an ever more authoritarian regime.

Oh, and as that Wikipedia article adds, “Strange attractors may also be found in the presence of noise…” Let me apologize instantly for perverting some poor mathematician’s meaning, but how can I not point out that our presidential Strange Attractor is indeed surrounded by the constant noise of the media, fake and otherwise, cycling around and feeding off the one constant point that is Trump in the chaos of his universe.

So who’s right, my girlfriend or me? Just as was true years ago, I suspect we’re both right. No one should engage with that chaotic noise and the strange attractor at its center. All of us should deprive Donald Trump of attention of every sort, which is the oxygen that sustains him. And yet, someone has to watch, because strange as it is, our lives depend on it.

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Why are Americans So Servile to a Clown President?

Titles are very important to Americans. So is paperwork.

by: Heather Mallick

I wish one of the extremely rich, white men physically close to Trump at his daily pep rally would turn to him on camera and say “No. You’re a president, not a king, you’re a crook and a phony and a moron, too mean and stupid to be allowed to destroy the nation we love.”

I wish one of the extremely rich, white men physically close to Trump at his daily pep rally would turn to him on camera and say “No. You’re a president, not a king, you’re a crook and a phony and a moron, too mean and stupid to be allowed to destroy the nation we love.” (cc/DonkeyHotey)

Why are Americans so obedient, so servile? That isn’t the image they hope to show the world but there they are, a herd of sheep in Trump’s presence, baaa-ing approvingly.

“Everybody feels the evil, but no one has courage or energy enough to seek the cure,” Alexis de Tocqueville wrote of Americans in 1830. Again, why?

Donald Trump stumps up to the podium every day and makes a fool of himself. He spouts nonsense for hours thus replicating his now-dead campaign rallies, lying, talking nonsense, insulting women, shouting at men, threatening to fire government staff for disagreeing with him, planning vengeance on Democratic governors, pronouncing words wrong and adding numbers incorrectly, sending crude racist remarks over to China, and making his terror and neediness plain.

“Look at me,” he says, the way toddlers do when they step over the kitten rather than squashing it, “I did it!”

Shakespeare knew his Trumps, devising insults that would be wildly suitable 440 years later. “He’s a most notable coward, an infinite and endless liar, an hourly promise-breaker.” “Thou cream-faced loon! Where got’st thou that goose look?” “Nut-hook, nut-hook, you lie.” “Would thou wert clean enough to spit upon”

“That trunk of humors, that bolting-hutch of beastliness, that swollen parcel of dropsies, that huge bombard of sack, that stuffed cloak-bag of guts, that roasted Manningtree ox with the pudding in his belly, that reverend Vice, that grey Iniquity, that father Ruffian, that Vanity in years?”

I think of these things as I leave the house for a 10-minute walk to escape Trump. On return, I stand outside my front window and photograph Trump on a TV screen inside, spraying venom and stupidity. It reinforces the strangeness of life right now.

Why do Americans, alleged rugged individualists, upholders of liberty, haters of king and government, put up with this grotesque man? They’re in the habit of doing so, some American observers have said. Most presidents — though not Nixon or Dubya — generally talked sense before and Americans grew used to listening.

But it’s more than habit. Americans bow down to authority just as Britons do to monarchs and aristocrats; they doff their cap. They actually play a silly song, “Hail to the Chief,” when a president enters a room and have done so since 1829.

Americans worship titles. We refer to former prime ministers, but a president is called President for the rest of his life. On political talking heads shows, a long-retired diplomat is always called “Ambassador.” Generals remain generals even after retirement, which seems hopelessly pompous. Same with PhDs calling themselves doctors, especially now when medical doctors are needed but doctors of philosophy less so.

Titles are very important to Americans. So is paperwork. Americans are meticulous about identity, paperwork proving identity, green cards, and citizenship status, always demanding endless perfect forms, especially from anyone hoping to enter their country.

Many Americans, especially in the Midwest, are of German descent and share the German love of meticulous paperwork. Germans in Germany, however, are coping with coronavirus very well, thanks to close tracking, tracing and testing. This habit offered them no honor in the Nazi era but I can see its usefulness now.

But obedient paper-loving Americans are paying with their lives because they are obediently following a Trump, not an Angela Merkel. Can’t they spot the difference?

In Canada, we don’t even want a low-key prime ministerial residence at Harrington Lake repaired, even though its foundation is sinking and the floors are getting bendy. We take our desire for equality to extremes.

Americans worship the almighty dollar and rate themselves according to their accumulation of same. They cherish inequality because they’re told everyone has an equal chance to put their head down and work on getting rich. This old myth will not die. Trump is keeping the rich seat warm. Why complain?

I wish one of the extremely rich, white men physically close to Trump at his daily pep rally would turn to him on camera and say “No. You’re a president, not a king, you’re a crook and a phony and a moron, too mean and stupid to be allowed to destroy the nation we love.”

It’s not much but it would be a start.

Posted in USAComments Off on Why are Americans So Servile to a Clown President?

Our Response to the Coronavirus Demonstrates How Far America Has Careened Off Track

We can’t make the masks we need, but we pour billions into an unnecessary military build-up.

by: Stephen Kinzer

To many around the world, we appear dangerously disoriented, eager to spend mind-boggling amounts of money to fight distant and half-imagined military threat, but not so interested in saving lives here and now.  (Photo: Shutterstock)

To many around the world, we appear dangerously disoriented, eager to spend mind-boggling amounts of money to fight distant and half-imagined military threat, but not so interested in saving lives here and now.  (Photo: Shutterstock)

Testing large numbers of Americans for a raging virus is “never going to happen,” President Trump recently asserted. The amount of money and focused energy that such a project would require is evidently beyond the capacity of the United States. Yet around the same time Trump dismissed the idea of widespread testing, his Indo-Pacific Command announced that it is seeking an extra $20 billion to build up naval forces for confrontation with China. That contrast illuminates our national moment. Our response to the pandemic shows how far the American political project has careened off track.

Generations of Americans have grown up hearing that we live in the most powerful country on earth — or, as Senator Marco Rubio likes to say, “the single greatest nation in the history of all mankind.” Yet today the United States remains unchallenged in just one field: military power. We cannot produce the face masks and ventilators that our citizens need to help stave off death, and we blithely send underpaid nurses to fight a contagious disease with little protection other than plastic garbage bags, but we still build the world’s most advanced fighter jets and aircraft carriers. Meanwhile, millions of Americans live in squalor, our infrastructure is collapsing, and our vast national wealth is sequestered in the hands of a tiny elite. Never has the distortion of our collective priorities been clearer than in the last few weeks.

The United States has long considered itself a shining “city upon a hill” that leads the world through farsighted benevolence and inspirational example. In recent decades, and especially since the end of the Cold War, our image as a defender of fairness and decency has palpably faded. Since the beginning of this year it has all but evaporated. No other developed country has responded to the current crisis with such cynicism and incompetence. Not only have we proven unable to care for our own people, but we have prevented others from effectively fighting the pandemic. The United States, accustomed to seeing itself as the pre-eminent global leader, is now devoted to cruelties as enormous as blocking a $5 billion emergency loan for Iran’s health system, and as petty as blocking the shipment of medical supplies to small countries like the Bahamas and Barbados. The world will not soon forget this.

Future historians may look back at 2020 as the year when America’s global reputation fell off a cliff. How could it not? We have failed to protect our population from deadly viral attack and have done much to assure that other governments also fail. To many around the world, we appear dangerously disoriented, eager to spend mind-boggling amounts of money to fight distant and half-imagined military threat, but not so interested in saving lives here and now.

Blaming this dire circumstance on one person, one set of leaders, or one political party is tempting but too simple. Our response to today’s health crisis reveals a deep illness that has been festering within American society and our body politic. We have sacrificed our sense of common destiny to a hyper-individualism that rejects the concept of solidarity among human beings. Governments are supposed to assure that everyone enjoys at least a basic level of security. Ours has all but abandoned that responsibility.

Can we change course? Even some who have long dismissed that possibility — or insisted that there is no reason to consider it — are now rethinking their positions. Last month analysts for the world’s largest infrastructure asset manager, Macquarie Group, issued an astonishing report concluding that the global health crisis shows “conventional capitalism is dying,” and that the world is headed for “something that will be closer to a version of communism.” Soon afterward the Financial Times, which for more than a century has been an uncompromising promoter of global capitalism, predicted in an editorial that when the acute stage of this crisis is past, “radical reforms — reversing the prevailing policy direction of the last four decades — will need to be put on the table. . . . Redistribution will be on the agenda. . . . Policies until recently considered eccentric, such as basic income and wealth taxes, will have to be in the mix.”

Countries that survive over many centuries do so by riding the tides of history — by adjusting their political and economic systems to meet evolving challenges. There is alarmingly little prospect that the United States will be able to do that. Never since the Civil War have our politics seemed so immobile in the face of so grave a challenge. Today many Americans face suffering and death. If we do not respond to this cosmic wake-up call, our political system could face the same fate.

Posted in USA, HealthComments Off on Our Response to the Coronavirus Demonstrates How Far America Has Careened Off Track

How YOU Can Dump Trump

Neither the human race, nor American democracy, nor the US economy will survive more of this. Our further existence as a species depends on you.  

by: Harvey Wasserman

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We have just 6.5 months to save our species.  (Photo: Barron Ludlum/Yahoo)

Grassroots action’s immense upset victory in Wisconsin shows we can overcome even a rigged election.

In November, you must do it again.   

When Trump tries to steal or cancel the election, our informed non-violence must rise to protect and win it. 

Neither the human race, nor American democracy, nor the US economy will survive more of this. Our further existence as a species depends on you.  

Much of the upcoming election will be through Vote by Mail (VBM). Oregon, Washington, Colorado and Hawaii already use it with great success.  

VBM is probably (as Winston Churchill said of democracy) the worst election system there is…except for all the other ones. 

Huge problems are virtually certain. We need to be prepared to deal with them.

It will take the biggest, best-coordinated local-state-national grassroots movement in history to dump the Trump Dictatorship.

Congress has approved just 1/10th of the $4 billion the Brennan Center says is needed to do VBM right.  Senators Amy Klobuchar and Jeff Merkely have proposed a bill asking for the money.  It needs our support, as well as some serious thought about alternatives.  

Sufficient voting centers need to be maintained to offset the inevitable VBM shortcomings, as Greg Palast has detailed.

The presidency will be won in the Electoral College. So every state needs a coalition dedicated to contesting every detail of the stripped voter rolls and flipped vote counts we know are coming.  (The Democratic Party can’t be counted on to get this done).

Gerrymandered GOP legislatures consider any ballot cast by someone who is not rich, white, old or Republican to be “voter fraud.”  Your finding (or founding) a local voting rights group to fight back is crucial. Progressive Democrats of America is among them.   

 Here are other ways to have a direct impact: 

  • Greg Palast says at least 17 million citizens have been stripped from the voter rolls.  That means you, your kin, someone you know or someone you (hopefully) will call or canvass needs help getting and casting a ballot.
  • Do not assume you’re registered just because you’ve lived and voted in the same place for decades.  Everyone must check the voter rolls.  
  • Make sure you get your ballot.  Absentee paper ballots are technically available in all states.  But gerrymandered legislatures don’t want you or anyone like you to get one.
  • So start fighting now!  Anyone who fails to get a ballot in advance may spend many hours in an election day line amidst the pandemic threat, only to have a “provisional” vote pitched in the trash.  
  • Help your pro-democracy family, friends, neighbors or those you choose to canvass to get their early ballots…then help get them walked or mailed in. 
  • Forget the opinion polls!  Take no chances, make no assumptions.  This work must be done.  
  • The Electoral College will swing the presidency in 12 states:  Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Florida, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and Iowa.  
  • If you live in none of those states, you can canvass by phone or go there in person.
  • West Virginia, Georgia, Texas, Louisiana, Kansas, Montana and Kentucky could also be in play. 
  • All 33 Senate races this year are critical, but especially in Colorado, Montana, Maine (Susan Collins), North Carolina, South Carolina (Lindsay Graham), Alabama, Arizona, Kentucky (Mitch McConnell). 
  • As a local poll worker you can help guard against the sabotage we know is coming.  .
  • As a local poll worker, you can stay late to guard the vote count. 
  • No candidate should concede until every vote is fairly counted and recounted, whatever the apparent initial outcome.  

Two additional points (among the many to be made):

  • Trump’s attack on the US Postal Service means to enrich his billionaire cronies, destroy the unions representing its 700,000 workers, and cripple Vote by Mail.  The USPS is a treasured American institution (dating back to Benjamin Franklin) and must be preserved. 
  • Legislatures in WI, MI, OH, PA etc. are GOP-weaponized despite statewide Democrat majorities because of gerrymandering done in 2010.  They must be uprooted.  By popular referenda, California won the fight for a fair, functional transparent non-partisan redistricting commission.  Several Wisconsin counties endorsed this vital process last week with 4 to 1 majorities. Such commissions are essential to end the gerrymandering that’s destroying us.  

We have just 6.5 months to save our species.  

Every possible outrage, corporate dollar and dictatorial dirty trick is already being thrown at us.  

It will take the biggest, best-coordinated local-state-national grassroots movement in history to dump the Trump Dictatorship.

You can make the difference.  

There are no excuses. 

 Please contact me at solartopia@gmail.com to sign up to dump Trump.

Posted in USAComments Off on How YOU Can Dump Trump

350.org Responds to Oil Prices Falling Below Zero for the First Time in the US

WASHINGTON – For the first time ever, US oil prices turned negative today, as a consequence of the Coronavirus pandemic – and further proof fossil fuels are too volatile a commodity to power our economies going forward. Without space to store the unprecedented oversupply, US companies were forced to pay to deposit the excess, and the price of crude oil fell to -$38 per barrel. 

In response to the industry’s further plunge, Brett Fleishman, Associate Director, Fossil Finance Campaigns at 350.org, said:

“The deep fall of oil prices today is another powerful example of how fossil fuels are too volatile to be the basis of a resilient economy. 

Since this crisis started, corporate lobbyists have been highly active, and oil and gas executives have been furiously asking for – and receiving – largesse from the US government. We are experiencing an unparalleled upending in our economies. And it is time for the fossil fuel industry to recognize that, from now on, the cheapest and best place to store oil is in the ground.

While this recession shows us that we desperately need sustainable, resilient, and stable economic systems, based on renewable, accessible and just energy sources, the fossil fuel industry is not only trying to profit off of the current chaos, but continues to drive us further into climate breakdown.”

Posted in USAComments Off on 350.org Responds to Oil Prices Falling Below Zero for the First Time in the US

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