Good Day Sky Dancers!
Last week, BB overwhelmed me with the art of three artists who expressed their grief and experience with the Spanish Flu of 1918. Two died from it. That and the death of Ellis Marsalis led me down a rabbit hole of finding what both performing and creative artists did at that point in time. The creative community always finds a way to express the culture as we deal with challenges as a nation and a planet. I’m trying to focus on that today as artists and performers deal with Art in the Time of Covid #19
One of the biggest expressions of our need for community is the incredible burst of mask makers providing for both the public and the front line businesses whose employees do not have the luxury or pain of staying home but must work through all of this. Fashion Designers, manufacturers, and kitchen tables with newly home schooled children are all practicing their sewing chops. CNBC has a focus on the fashion industry in New York City but I know plenty of local artists and kids doing the same thing here. Fierce Christian Siriano–who has a reputation for making fashion available to everyone–was one of the first who stepped up.
Designer Christian Siriano has started making masks for the city, and other companies have offered to help how they can.
Naeem Khan, a New York City-based fashion designer who has designed for the likes of Michelle Obama and Kate Middleton, announced on his fashion house’s Instagram page that he would start making masks.
“My team is ready to start sewing CDC approved masks from medically approved fabrics from their isolated homes,” the post read.
“I’m a designer. I know how to construct, how to design, so I decided to design my own mask,” Khan told CNBC. “I considered doing it in hemp fabric because it has antibacterial properties.”
Khan’s masks are lined with microfiber and contain a pocket into which a surgical mask can be inserted. While this offers an extra layer of protection, meaning they can be used by medical professionals, Khan noted that these masks are not meant to replace the much needed N95s used by front-line health-care workers.
“These are not designed for people in the forefront of the corona fight,” he said.
I woke up to this treat today! It’s a zoombomb for a young girl who from the original cast of Hamilton!!!
The YouTube series, which Krasinski started to shine a light on good news around the world, featured a new two-second weather report this week from none other than Robert De Niro (who’s credited as SGN’s meteorologist).
But it gets even better. After bringing in his wife Emily Blunt to say hello, which we knew he would at some point, Krasinski got the original cast of Broadway’s Hamilton, including Lin Manuel Miranda, to perform Alexander Hamilton over .
Krasinski organized the performance for a young girl named Aubrey, who was supposed to see Hamilton for her 9th birthday, but instead stayed home to watch Mary Poppins Returns due to the quarantine.
How the heck is Krasinski going to top this next episode?
So, Harper Gladow is one of the cutest little girls you could ever meet and has two of the most wonderful people for parents that I’ve ever met. Imagine being a kid and having a birthday during the stay at home orders. Mom Caitlin is super creative and here’s the result. Glad Harper had a great birthday!
Harper Gladow was excited about turning 5 on April 1. There would be sno-balls and presents, a bounce house and all her friends from school.
But then the coronavirus hit. Harper and her family — mom Caitrin, dad Dave, and siblings Olivia, 8, and Nathan, 6 — were isolated at home, like millions of other Americans.
There would be no bounce house. No sno-balls.
“We had to sit down with all three of our kids, and we had to explain you are probably not going back to school this year,” said Caitrin Gladow, communications director for a local nonprofit.
“We tried to be candid. We said this is a big scary virus, and we had to stay home. She understood that we had to move her party. She was understandably very upset. There were some tears. But I think she understands that we don’t have a choice right now.”
Still, it was hard to see the disappointment in Harper’s face. So Gladow jumped on an idea she saw on Facebook: a “Group for Parents Navigating the New Norm,” launched by the NOLA Family magazine website. Families were offering to mark those special, shut-in kids’ birthdays for each other with a costumed parade.
With just a day or two’s notice, folks found bright tutus and colored wigs. Someone made a sign. Volunteer Ann Herren climbed into an inflatable T-rex costume, and her daughter Livvy, 12, dressed up as a princess.
“These kids need it. This is their (Hurricane) Katrina,” Herren said.
The Gladows called their children out to the porch on the pretext of coloring with chalk. And then came the marchers, down the root-rolled Uptown sidewalk, singing “Happy Birthday,” blowing horns and dancing — at a safe distance from each other, of course.
“She was shocked,” Caitrin Gladow said. And when she realized everyone was there to sing to her, she got a little shy.
You’ll notice this is next level social distancing! And here are my Friends the Gladdow Family paying it forward! BTW, Cait’s birthday is coming up and she’s gathering up donations for Team Gleason as they fundraise to beat ALS. That’s another thing Cait and I share. Her father died of this horrid disease. A few years ago my closest cousin, Ruthie, lost her battle with it. Cait and another friend ran the marathon for Team Gleason and Team Ruthie that year. Please donate if you can!
It’s also an odd coincidence that my big smile from that Hamilton video also came via Cait so … anyway, Love you guys!!! I will owe you babysitting time!!!!
So, why can’t kids birthday parties be a fresh take on performance art in the time Covid #19?
As I said, I tend to go down rabbit holes once I get hold of something and Google is always there to indulge me. IT’s undoubtedly something that has to do with avoiding grading for me and what my ex used to call my incessant pencil sharpening. So, after a short search I stumbled on to this on The Conversation: “The importance of art in the time of coronavirus”. I have often told folks that after Hurricane Katrina I became obsessed with Survivor Series and Zombie and Disaster Movies. Well, I’m not the only one that retreats to books and movies with weird impossible themes.
In this time of restriction, TV, film, books and video games offer us a chance to be mobile. To move around freely in a fictional world in a way that is now impossible in reality. Art connects us to the foreign, the exotic and the impossible – but in our current context, it also connects us to a world where anything is possible. A world out of our grasp for now.
The world we wake up in is a counterfeit reality. Things look the same. Unlike those now familiar films, the descent of humanity is not apparent in the slow shuffle of moaning, glassy-eyed zombies. The threat we face feels like those clever horror movies like The Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity and more recent films like The Quiet Place where we rarely see the source of horror. The current moment is best understood as a kind of low hum of anxiety, like the buzzing of a pylon in a field.
The best thing about this is actually that the artist had an opportunity to be in Africa during a study of what a virus outbreak would do if it hit this camp/village in Mukuru and also Nairobi, Kenya. His sketches are in the article so please be sure to check them all out.
A current trending tag under Covid-19 on Twitter is this: #IKeepMyselfSaneBy. There is quite a bit of this:
I have found my writer friends are writing. My painting friends are painting. And here I am with my Steinway and the guitar I had as a teen. I may not be Lin Manuel but I still have a few chops left in me and a lot of my friends are sharing theirs on a New Orleans Face Book page called the Quarantine Canteen. So, even performance artists have venues.
The coolest thing ever is the number of museums, ballet companies, opera companies, and theatres sharing their videos of past performances. This from Forbes.: “These Galleries, Arts Organizations And Museums Are Keeping Art Accessible During Covid-19.”
With art galleries and museums around the world closing because of Covid-19, artists, galleries and museums have turned to technology and social media to keep their doors open virtually so visitors from anywhere in the world can still interact with and view art.
From large international museums to galleries and arts organizations, the arts community is getting creative with how they share their collections with the world.
America’s Virtual Museums are on line and gearing up.
Without knowing it, or certainly asking for it, we have all become part of a giant social science experiment: can digital platforms offer a satisfactory alternative to experiencing art in the real world? Museums have created points of access to collection databases—some more easily navigable than others—allowing online visitors to look at and learn about specific objects of interest, as well as read blog postings from curators about current exhibitions or about pieces in the permanent collection and follow the institution on social media platforms, using the online world and virtual reality technology to replace or reproduce the feeling of viewing art and other objects in person. This is a process that has been developing at US museums for 20 years, although it has taken on greater significance as the Covid-19 outbreak has closed these institutions to the public for an indefinite period of time.
Michael Neault, the executive creative director for experience design at the Art Institute of Chicago, says that the museum is in the process of “launching a new interactive feature for online users of highly visual narratives about objects in the collection. We will be releasing several of these each week over the coming weeks.” These features will be two to three minutes in length and include 360-degree photography. One of the first of these focuses on El Greco’s 1577-79 painting The Assumption of the Virgin, a featured work in the museum’s El Greco: Ambition and Defiance exhibition that opened on 7 March and was to continue until 21 June, but is now in limbo as the institution is closed to the public.
The Smithsonian Museum of American Art has created several digital tours of its the facility, from a standalone exhibition that can be viewed in 360-degrees via an app, to a fully immersive virtual reality experience, that includes art historical information on the works in the collection. And the Salvador Dalí Museum in St Petersburg, Florida, which is currently closed, offers a sometimes dizzying virtual tour of the entire museum, including the bookstore, exterior, fascinating staircase and the art in the collection, which is kept in a hermetically sealable third floor gallery in case of hurricane flooding.
In China, kids are selling their art as students of At Dulwich College Beijing (DCB) to help fund shipments of Medical Grade Masks. Some of the art you see here has come from their efforts. You can read more about it at the link.
If you want to delve in to the reality of it all, you can watch Into the Red Zone which documents the worst hit areas of Northern Italy. I watched it on MSBNC last night. It’s compelling and overwhelming.
So, I’m about to go do my remote teaching thing and my which box of what gets delivered when thing and my self comfort things which have always included my music, my water color paintings, and binging on escapist movies. Which is my answer to #IKeepMyselfSaneBy. What is yours?
I love you all. Be safe! Stay Home! And now, find yourself a few neato masks!
What’s on your reading, blogging and creating list today?
I have trouble sleeping at night…
This is all too…overwhelming.
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@thecreativecub has the right idea. Did you know the absolutely best thing we can do to prevent the spread of covid-19 is to stay at home! That means (if you can); working from home, getting groceries delivered or only going once a week, only travelling for essential requirements and avoiding events and public spaces like playgrounds and beaches. Let’s do our bit & stay home☀️ // art by @thecreativecub
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Video by @stephenwilkes | I’m documenting NYC from above at this moment in time. This week the Empire State Building paid tribute to the efforts by medical workers and first responders on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic. As we circled around the building, I saw empty streets below, and it was quite emotional watching the most iconic landmark begin to glow red and white, and to pulse—the heartbeat of America. Please stay safe and stay home. To see more photos from my travels near and far, follow me @stephenwilkes. #weareone #NYC #IloveNY
This is an open thread.
Is Trump deliberately letting Americans die? It certainly appears that he is directing scarce medical supplies to red states like Florida while actively trying to prevent deliveries of such equipment to blue states.
On Thursday I posted about a massive shipment of N95 masks that was delivered to Massachusetts through the intervention of the Kraft family, owners of the New England Patriots. The Krafts arranged to have the Patriots plane fly to China and back to pick up more than a million masks. Another shipment will follow later. The Krafts also donated $2 million toward the cost of the masks. From The Boston Globe:
The news, which broke early Thursday, resembled a plot pulled straight out of a summer blockbuster: The Kraft family had deployed a New England Patriots team plane to China to deliver about one million desperately needed N95 respirator masks to health care workers in Massachusetts.
Yet the story is as alarming as it is heartwarming, underscoring a harsh reality as the coronavirus pandemic spreads ever faster around the United States. Governor Charlie Baker and his counterparts throughout the country are forced to go to extraordinary lengths to secure life-saving medical equipment in the absence of a coordinated federal response.
“This is not how it is supposed to work,” said Representative Katherine Clark of Melrose, a member of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s leadership team. She described herself as “very grateful” for the Kraft family’s generosity and help getting the critical gear, but said “what we need is a coordinated federal system.”
Why was such a dramatic effort necessary? Because Trump has been actively preventing Massachusetts from purchasing medical supplies.
The journey began, in the governor’s telling, roughly two weeks ago, when the federal government confiscated a shipment of more than 3 million N95 masks at the Port of New York and New Jersey that Massachusetts had arranged to buy….
Baker’s victory in the state’s intense hunt for masks and other protective gear, or PPE, follows weeks of increasingly public frustration from the normally even-keeled governor. His administration has hit numerous roadblocks thrown up by the federal government, which has repeatedly snatched supplies from the states’ hands and directed governors to find their own source.
Even now, Baker administration officials are still waiting on the federal government to deliver promised help. Earlier this week, Baker announced that the state had ordered 1,000 ventilators from the federal government and that he expected the delivery by the end of this week. On Thursday, Baker said Massachusetts still hasn’t gotten any of the equipment and he no longer expects them by the end of the week.
Normally calm and matter-of-fact, Baker choked back tears when he spoke at Logan Airport after meeting he Patriots plane.
The Chicago Sun-Times has a story about another crazy situation in Illinois: Illinois adjusts on the fly to meet medical supply needs in a coronavirus ‘Wild West.’
About two weeks ago, Illinois officials tracked down a supply of 1.5 million potentially life-saving N95 respirator masks in China through a middleman in the Chicago area and negotiated a deal to buy them.
One day before they were expecting to complete the purchase, they got a call in the morning from the supplier informing them he had to get a check to the bank by 2 p.m. that day, or the deal was off. Other bidders had surfaced.
Realizing there was no way the supplier could get to Springfield and back by the deadline, Illinois assistant comptroller Ellen Andres jumped in her car and raced north on I-55 with a check for $3,469,600.
From the other end, Jeffrey Polen, president of The Moving Concierge in Lemont, drove south. Polen isn’t in the medical supply business, but he “knows a guy,” an old friend who specializes in working with China’s factories.
As they drove, Andres and Polen arranged to meet in the parking lot of a McDonald’s restaurant just off the interstate in Dwight. They made the handoff there.
Polen made it back to his bank with 20 minutes to spare. Illinois already has received part of the mask shipment. There’s more on the way.
That’s just a taste of the “Wild West” world of emergency procurement taking place over the past several weeks as the state fights for equipment and supplies to protect frontline workers and patients in the battle against COVID-19.
Why is this chaos necessary? Because Trump refuses to allow the federal government to organize the pandemic response.
Now Trump is angering America’s foreign allies by commandeering medical supplies their governments are trying to buy.
Kaiser Health News: Trump Administration Uses Wartime Powers To Be First In Line On Medical Supplies.
The Trump administration quietly invoked the Defense Production Act to force medical suppliers in Texas and Colorado to sell to it first — ahead of states, hospitals or foreign countries.
It took this action more than a week before it announced Thursday that it would use the little-known aspect of the law to force 3M to fill its contract to the U.S. first. Firms face fines or jail time if they don’t comply.
The Cold War-era law gives federal officials the power to edge out the competition and force contractors to provide supplies to them before filling orders for other customers.
While it’s unclear how many times the power has been used during the coronavirus pandemic, federal contracting records examined by Kaiser Health News show that federal authorities staked first rights to $137 million in medical supplies. The orders in late March flew under the radar, even as dog-eat-dog bidding wars raged among states and nations for desperately needed medical protective gear.
“It’s like ‘Lord of the Flies’ out there for states and hospitals as they bid against each other for critical medical supplies and equipment,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said in a statement to KHN. “Plus, there’s no transparency about what the federal government is doing with the equipment that they purchase when they outbid states and hospitals.”
At the Coronavirus Task Force briefing on Thursday, we learned that, instead of sending medical supplies controlled by the Pentagon (paid for by taxpayers) directly to states, the administration is handing the equipment over to private companies to resell to the highest bidder. Here’s what Lt. Katrina recovery hero Gen. Russell Honore had to say about that.
Yesterday, Dakinikat wrote about the insanity of putting failson-in-law Jared Kusher in charge of the federal pandemic response. We learned about that at the Thursday briefing too. From The Daily Beast:
President Donald Trump’s top adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner insisted on Thursday that the government had not built up a national stockpile of medical equipment for states to use during threats like the coronavirus since those states have strategic reserves of their own.
The remark drew raised eyebrows from experts, considering presidents have dispersed supplies from the national strategic stockpiles for use by states dozens of times over the last twenty years.
In fact, the Trump administration itself has dipped into the federal reserves to help states in need…
“He doesn’t know what the hell he is talking about. He has no idea,” said Gen. Russel Honore, a retired military general who helped direct the response on the ground during Hurricane Katrina. “He must have remembered something from some slide or some speech. But that’s why people created the national strategic stockpile in the first place. It’s for those days when we can’t predict what we need. What I see is a total misunderstanding by the White House that they have a responsibility to help maintain the stockpile and help states.” [….]
While state governments do possess their own stockpiles of equipment and supplies, the national strategic stockpile was originally designed in 1999 to help states fill the gaps when facing things like natural or health disasters. The role of the stockpile has expanded dramatically in recent years amid more frequent natural disasters.
But the Trump White House’s approach to filling the supply chain gaps has been slapstick at best, officials say, in part because it was unprepared for taking the lead in responding to a global pandemic. For weeks, the administration struggled to understand which agency was responsible for studying the supply chain breakdown and which was in charge of fixing not only the dwindling medical supplies in hospitals, but also the shortages of products like toilet paper and paper towels in grocery stores.
“We missed dealing with this disaster because for weeks, the White House said it was a hoax,” Honore said. “So we missed at least four weeks of anticipation and preparation on the logistics side because of our leadership.” [….]
“It shouldn’t be this complicated,” said Juliette Kayyem, a former assistant secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. “It’s supposed to happen like a light switch you flip on. And this should have happened a month ago. This is not inventing a vaccine, this is just shipping stuff. In these situations you want a light White House touch and you want the subject matter experts to take the lead.”
More important stories to check out:
The New York Times: Coronavirus in N.Y.: Toll Soars to Nearly 3,000 as State Pleads for Aid.
The Washington Post: The U.S. was beset by denial and dysfunction as the coronavirus raged.
Lucian Truscott IV at Salon (via Raw Story): Trump is preparing the ground for a totalitarian dictatorship.
Take care this weekend, Sky Dancers! Please let us know what’s happening where you are.
Good Day Sky Dancers!
It’s very difficult to think about how much the current administration is doing wrong during this crisis because it is costing lives. Nepotism in the White House is as rampant and as insidious as the virus itself. It basically puts lives and treasure in the hands of those least prepared to do the right thing. As usual, the lack of basic human decency and character at the top has once again brought us into the cursed hands of Jared Kushner.
From Today’s NYT: “Kushner Puts Himself in Middle of White House’s Chaotic Coronavirus Response. President Trump’s son-in-law has become a central player in the administration’s effort to curb the pandemic. But critics say he is part of the problem.”
At one of the most perilous moments in modern American history, Mr. Kushner is trying in a disjointed White House to marshal the forces of government for the war his father-in-law says he is waging. A real estate developer with none of the medical expertise of a public health official nor the mobilization experience of a general, Mr. Kushner has nonetheless become a key player in the response to the pandemic.
Because of his unique status, he has made himself the point of contact for many agency officials who know that he can force action and issue decisions without going to the president. But while Mr. Kushner and his allies say that he has brought more order to the process, the government’s response remains fragmented and behind the curve.
Some officials said Mr. Kushner had mainly added another layer of confusion to that response, while taking credit for changes already in progress and failing to deliver on promised improvements. He promoted a nationwide screening website and a widespread network of drive-through testing sites. Neither materialized. He claimed to have helped narrow the rift between his father-in-law and General Motors in a presidential blowup over ventilator production, one administration official said, but the White House is still struggling to procure enough ventilators and other medical equipment.
Perhaps most critical, neither Mr. Kushner nor anyone else can control a president who offers the public radically different messages depending on the day or even the hour, complicating the White House’s effort to get ahead of the crisis. One moment Mr. Trump is talking about reopening the country by Easter, the next he is warning of more than 100,000 deaths. In the afternoon, he threatens to quarantine tens of millions of people in the Northeast, then in the evening he backs down.
In an interview, Mr. Kushner would not discuss the president’s actions but said he viewed himself as an enabler of government agencies to overcome obstacles. “From the White House, you can move a lot faster,” he said. “I’ve put members of my team into a lot of components. What we’ve been able to do is get people very quick answers.”
But to some in the agencies, his team’s arrival has only exacerbated an already dysfunctional situation. In recent days, administration officials said, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which traditionally coordinates the government’s responses to disasters, has received surprise directives from the White House — including to dispatch deliveries of medical equipment to states that had not even submitted formal requests based on which governor got Mr. Trump on the telephone.
Today, CREW announced an effort to shine light on Kushner’s activities and possible profiteering.
Kushner’s deep involvement in President Trump’s re-election campaign from the White House has been widely reported. Kushner reportedly is “positioning himself now as the person officially overseeing the entire [Trump] campaign from his office in the West Wing, organizing campaign meetings and making decisions about staffing and spending.” He also reportedly oversees several elements of the campaign, including fundraising, strategy and advertising. Kushner has not shied away from touting his involvement in President Trump’s re-election campaign over the past year. admitting to working “to set goals and objectives” for his father-in-law’s presidential campaign.
As recently as March 2020, Kushner was scheduling meetings alongside President Trump, Hope Hicks and campaign staff inside the White House on polling numbers. While the coronavirus crisis derailed the meeting before the presentation began, Kushner’s inclusion in the meeting indicates he continues to overlap his official and campaign duties.
“OSC needs to investigate Kushner’s behavior to ensure that he is complying with the Hatch Act,” said Bookbinder. “There is no room in our government for top officials who deliberately violate ethics laws.”
Reporting on the White House’s herky-jerky coronavirus response, Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman has a quotation from Jared Kushner that should make all Americans, and particularly all New Yorkers, dizzy with terror.
According to Sherman, when New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, said that the state would need 30,000 ventilators at the apex of the coronavirus outbreak, Kushner decided that Cuomo was being alarmist. “I have all this data about I.C.U. capacity,” Kushner reportedly said. “I’m doing my own projections, and I’ve gotten a lot smarter about this. New York doesn’t need all the ventilators.” (Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top expert on infectious diseases, has said he trusts Cuomo’s estimate.)
Even now, it’s hard to believe that someone with as little expertise as Kushner could be so arrogant, but he said something similar on Thursday, when he made his debut at the White House’s daily coronavirus briefing: “People who have requests for different products and supplies, a lot of them are doing it based on projections which are not the realistic projections.”
Kushner has succeeded at exactly three things in his life. He was born to the right parents, married well and learned how to influence his father-in-law. Most of his other endeavors — his biggest real estate deal, his foray into newspaper ownership, his attempt to broker a peace deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians — have been failures.
Undeterred, he has now arrogated to himself a major role in fighting the epochal health crisis that’s brought America to its knees. “Behind the scenes, Kushner takes charge of coronavirus response,” said a Politico headline on Wednesday. This is dilettantism raised to the level of sociopathy.
I don’t think the Kushners are going to be able to return to NYC ever frankly. Seth Meyers even got into the pile one (Via Vanity Fair).
White House senior advisor and President Donald Trump‘s son-in-law Jared Kushner made his first appearance at the White House coronavirus briefing on Wednesday, one day after Vanity Fair reported he had taken a larger role in the government response to the health crisis—with a particular interest in the supply of ventilators available to each state, and the federal government’s role in procuring more.
“The notion of the federal stockpile was, it’s supposed to be our stockpile. It’s not supposed to be states’ stockpiles that they then use,” Kushner said on Wednesday. He later added, “Some governors you speak to or senators, and they don’t know what’s in their state.” The comments were roundly criticized on social media, but kept consistent with what Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman has reported about Kushner’s response to New York governor Andrew Cuomo, who has plead for more than 30,000 ventilators. (Dr. Anthony Fauci has confirmed that number as well). “I have all this data about ICU capacity. I’m doing my own projections, and I’ve gotten a lot smarter about this. New York doesn’t need all the ventilators,” Kushner reportedly said during a White House meeting, according to a person present.
On Thursday’s edition of Late Night, Seth Meyers provided a response to Kushner’s purported comment. “Oh, you’re doing your own projections? Did your parents just buy you a TI-84?” he asked. “You’re not qualified to do anything, let alone tell New York how many ventilators they need. You’re a nepotism case, and you only got the White House job because you married into the family, and because the security guards believed your fake ID.”
Meyers mocked Kushner relentlessly during the tail end of his latest A Closer Look segment, referring to him as the person in charge of “this shitshow” and joking that Kushner is “the guy Slenderman has nightmares about.”
And in an opinion from Lloyd Green writing for The Guardian: “Jared Kushner’s coronavirus overreach puts more American lives on the line.” No Shit Sherlock!!!
Jared Kushner is not a guy to turn to for sound political advice. Most recently, he reportedly told the president that Andrew Cuomo, New York’s governor, was being “alarmist” after he announced that his state required 30,000 ventilators to help get through the pandemic.
To add insult to injury, Kushner also bragged of his own wisdom and told those assembled that Cuomo was wrong. According to Vanity Fair, Kushner declared: “I have all this data about ICU capacity. I’m doing my own projections, and I’ve gotten a lot smarter about this. New York doesn’t need all the ventilators.”
The princeling has helped place American lives and bodies on the line. New York’s hospitals have become combat zones, its morgues and funeral homes look like abattoirs. Meanwhile, the US is locked down and the administration is projecting up to a quarter-million dead even if everything goes right.
American carnage is now. We may witness more deaths in months than its troops suffered in Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam after years of fighting.
When Mike Pence compares the US to Italy, we have a problem whose glaring scars will be felt long after Donald Trump leaves office. Coronavirus won’t be disappearing in a matter of days despite the president’s earlier assurances. Trump ignored the intelligence community and his national security staff, and now we must pay a collective price.
Unfortunately, Kushner doesn’t only suffer from intellectual overreach. Self-dealing may have made a cameo too in the middle of crisis, and we have seen this movie before. Earlier, the Kushners had attempted to attract capital from China, by touting EB-5 visas in exchange for investments and looked to Anbang, a Chinese conglomerate, to bail them out of their real estate positions.
When Kushner was boasting about data and Trump was going on about testing websites, they were probably referring to Oscar Health, an insurance company tied to the Kushner family. In turn, Oscar appears to have been involved in the government’s efforts to map the spread of the disease.
According to reports and filings, Josh Kushner, Jared’s brother, still owns a piece of Oscar, and Jared belatedly divested his interest after entering government. If the Trump Organization can bill the Secret Service when they guard the president at his personal properties, why can’t the Kushner kids make a few dimes off the taxpayer?
So, anyway, the shit show continues and we’re at the bottom of that slope it seems.
Please stay safe and check to let us know how you’re doing!!!
I’m sharing this link to Mister Roger’s Neighborhood because I’m still in shock about our city’s treasure and some one who always shared his music and talent with every one as a performer, father, and teacher. I was fortunate to hear him, known him and learn from him. You can also see part of that here in this tribute from Jazz from Lincoln Center with his very young sons that he taught very well.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
U.S. deaths from Covid-19 have now topped 5,000 with more than 126,000 confirmed cases, according John’s Hopkins University. BBC News:
There were 884 deaths in the US in 24 hours, a new record, according to Johns Hopkins University, which has tracked virus figures globally.
The latest victims include a six-week-old baby. More than 216,000 are now infected, the world’s highest figure.
Reserves of protective equipment and medical supplies are almost exhausted.
This has left the federal government and individual US states competing for safety gear, while the unprecedented demand has led to profiteering, officials in the Department for Homeland Security were quoted by the Washington Post as saying.
The Trump administration says it can acquire adequate supplies, and has $16bn (£13bn) available to do so. State and local officials have complained about insufficient protective equipment such as masks and gowns as well as ventilators, needed to help keep patients breathing….
The number of confirmed infections across the US rose by more than 25,000 in one day. The worst-hit place is New York City, where nearly 47,500 people have tested positive and more than 1,300 have died.
The response to this horror from the Trump administration is still weak and ineffectual.
Here in Massachusetts, Governor Charlie Baker got an assist from New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft. Politico: Bob Kraft sends Patriots plane to China to get equipment for Mass.
A New England Patriots plane full of much-needed personal protective equipment from China is to fly into Boston on Thursday afternoon, according to a source familiar with the plans.
Gov. Charlie Baker will greet the National Football League team’s plane when it arrives at Logan Airport with Patriots owner Bob Kraft and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito. From there, the state’s National Guard will transport the equipment to a strategic stockpile in Marlboro, Mass., according to the person familiar with the plans.
There are 7,738 confirmed coronavirus cases in Massachusetts, and more than a thousand of those cases were reported on Wednesday — the largest spike the state has seen so far. To date, 122 people have died from the virus, and the state has conducted more than 51,000 tests. The state converted an arena in Worcester, Mass., into a 250-bed field hospital Wednesday as it prepares for an influx in patients, and is eyeing a Boston convention center as another possible hospital site.
For weeks, Baker has warned that Massachusetts is in desperate need of more protective equipment including masks, sanitizing wipes and gowns for health care workers on the front lines of the coronavirus crisis, especially as cases are expected to surge sometime between April 7 and April 17 in Massachusetts.
The Republican governor has raised those concerns with Trump. He told the president the federal government was outbidding Massachusetts on equipment — even after advising states to work on getting their own supplies. A week later, the Bay State was still being outbid and had only received a fraction of what it requested from the Strategic National Stockpile.
According to my local news source The Arlington Patch, there are 1.2 million N95 masks on the plane. An additional 500,000 wouldn’t fit and will be delivered on another flight.
Team owner Robert Kraft and his family paid $2 million, about half the cost, for the masks, which are a crucial piece of personal protection equipment needed on the front lines in the fight against the coronavirus.
The National Guard will bring the masks from the plane to a Marlboro stockpile, Politico reported. Some 300,000 masks will then be sent to New York, which is being overwhelmed by the pandemic.
While I’m glad that local doctors and nurses will soon have better protection from the virus, this story highlights a serious problem with Trump’s disorganized “strategy” for dealing with the pandemic. The Los Angeles Times: As Trump lets private sector supply the coronavirus fight, the well-connected often get first dibs.
As hospitals, doctors and state and local governments race for masks, ventilators and other medical supplies with little coordination by the Trump administration, the well-connected are often getting to the front of the line.
An outpouring of corporate and philanthropic support has funneled badly needed supplies to combat the coronavirus to well-known institutions such as Cedars-Sinai and UCLA medical centers in Los Angeles and the UC San Francisco Medical Center.
But in the absence of an overall nationwide distribution plan, many smaller hospitals, nursing homes and physicians are being left behind, especially those who lack relationships with suppliers, ties to wealthy donors or the money to buy scarce equipment at a time when prices on the open market are skyrocketing.
“It’s frequently all about who knows someone who knows someone who can get hold of this or that supply,” said Dr. Alex Billioux, public health director in Louisiana, which is battling one of the nation’s most aggressive coronavirus outbreaks.
Trump “has blood on his hands,” as The Boston Globe Editorial Board wrote on Monday: A president unfit for a pandemic. Much of the suffering and death coming was preventable. The president has blood on his hands.
While the spread of the novel coronavirus has been aggressive around the world, much of the profound impact it will have here in the United States was preventable. As the American public braces itself for the worst of this crisis, it’s worth remembering that the reach of the virus here is not attributable to an act of God or a foreign invasion, but a colossal failure of leadership.
The outbreak that began in China demanded a White House that could act swiftly and competently to protect public health, informed by science and guided by compassion and public service. It required an administration that could quickly deploy reliable tests around the nation to isolate cases and trace and contain the virus’s spread, as South Korea effectively did, as well as to manufacture and distribute scarce medical supplies around the country. It begged for a president of the United States to deliver clear, consistent, scientifically sound messages on the state of the epidemic and its solutions, to reassure the public amid their fear, and to provide steady guidance to cities and states. And it demanded a leader who would put the country’s well-being first, above near-term stock market returns and his own reelection prospects, and who would work with other nations to stem the tide of COVID-19 cases around the world.
What we have instead is a president epically outmatched by a global pandemic. A president who in late January, when the first confirmed coronavirus case was announced in the United States, downplayed the risk and insisted all was under control. A president who, rather than aggressively test all those exposed to the virus, said he’d prefer not to bring ashore passengers on a contaminated cruise ship so as to keep national case numbers (artificially) low. A president who, consistent with his mistrust and undermining of scientific fact, has misled the public about unproven cures for COVID-19, and who baited-and-switched last week about whether the country ought to end social distancing to open up by Easter, and then, on Saturday, about whether he’d impose a quarantine on New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. A president who has pledged to oversee the doling out of the $500 billion in corporate bailout money in the latest stimulus package, some of which will go to the travel industry in which his family is invested. A president who spent a good chunk of a recent press conference complaining about how hard it is for a rich man to serve in the White House even as Americans had already begun to lose their jobs, their health care, and their lives. A president who has reinforced racial stigma by calling the contagion a “Chinese virus” and failed to collaborate adequately with other countries to contain their outbreaks and study the disease. A president who evades responsibility and refuses to acknowledge, let alone own, the bitter truth of National Institutes of Health scientist Dr. Anthony Fauci’s testimony: that the country’s testing rollout was “a failing.”
Read the whole thing at the Globe. It appears they have finally made their coronavirus stories free to the public.
Now Trump is making his failure look far worse by claiming he knew all along the situation with be this bad. Amber Phillips at The Washington Post: Trump now says he knew the virus ‘could be horrible’ when he was saying things like ‘it’s going to disappear.’
Let’s start with Trump downplaying the virus. Acosta asked him: “Is there any fairness to the criticism that you may have lulled Americans into a false sense of security? When you were saying things like it’s going to go away and that sort of thing?”
Trump’s answer basically came down to: He did not want to deliver the bad news about how serious the virus could be. What’s more, he said he knew ahead of time it could be this bad (or even worse, killing millions with no government intervention whatsoever), but he did not want to tell Americans that at the time.
“I want to give people a feeling of hope. I could be very negative. I could say ‘wait a minute, those numbers are terrible. This is going to be horrible,’” he said. “Well, this is really easy to be negative about, but I want to give people hope, too. You know, I’m a cheerleader for the country.”
Unbelievable. More from Jim Acosta at CNN: Source close to coronavirus task force: Despite what White House is saying, tougher measures implemented earlier ‘might have made a difference.’
Despite White House claims that President Donald Trump and the administration did everything right in response to the coronavirus, a source close to the task force said tougher social distancing measures implemented earlier in the pandemic could have blunted the severity of the current crisis.
It all depends, the source said, whether there were coronavirus infections in the US that were going undetected during the initial weeks of the outbreak, when the Trump administration was falling behind on testing for the virus nationwide.
A Trump adviser working with White House officials on messaging for the pandemic response said Trump “took a gamble” that warmer weather would cause the virus to dissipate, siding with aides who were pushing back on the dire warnings coming from doctors on the coronavirus task force.
Some important stories, links only:
The New York Times: A Ventilator Stockpile, With One Hitch: Thousands Do Not Work.
Jonathan Chait at New York Magazine: Republicans: ‘Nobody Expected’ the Coronavirus Pandemic. So Joe Biden Is Nobody?
The New York Times: Some Coronavirus Patients Show Signs of Brain Ailments.
Stay safe and healthy Sky Dancers! Please share what’s happening where you live.
Hello from Georgia, where our Covid-19 numbers jumped over 1,000 testing positive in less than 24 hours to bringing the total number up to 4117 cases…as of last night at 7pm.
And still, our Governor Kemp persists in following tRumpian plan for battle against the Corona virus. You know the plan I’m talking about, “…the mayor of shark city. ”
Exactly. The toupee sporting villain is tRump…and he wants to keep the “beaches” open no matter who or how many die.
And just a little reminder…
Call it a warning, or possibly a foreshadowing of things to come.
This shit is devastating… please take care of yourself and stay home if at all possible.
Now some tweets and updates:
Florida’s governor actually is proving how the “shark city” plan of non-attack works in his state.
And that was just a small section of beach in Ft. Lauderdale.
Here is a map showing the pattern of travel out of New York City:
Look, all personal intrusion aside…this is definitely a tool the scientist can use to predict the spread of the virus. You can see with visual clarity the overwhelming potential for massive spread of Covid -19 without a stay at home order.
Meanwhile, in India:
This is an open thread…
Good Morning Sky Dancers!
Today’s post is illustrated with paintings by two artists who died of the Spanish flu in 1918, Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele, and one who survived his terrible bout with the disease, Edvard Munch.
BBC Culture: Klimt and Schiele, the Artists Who Shocked Europe.
At first glance there is little to suggest a connection between Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele. Klimt was the archetypical sensualist who portrayed Vienna’s elite in gilded finery whilst Schiele, almost three decades his junior, was a tortured egoist whose twisted depictions of the human body shocked and scandalised contemporary audiences. And yet the two men shared a lifelong mutual appreciation and friendship, determined to follow their own artistic visions whatever the cost, until the flu epidemic of 1918 claimed both their lives.
Klimt turned his back on the conventions of academic painting. Disillusioned with the stifling restraints of the Künstlerhaus, the artists’ society which all Viennese artists felt obliged to belong to, he and a number of other artists broke away to form the art movement known as the Vienna Secession.
His new attitude was provocatively outlined in the 1899 work Nuda Veritas, which Sandra Tretter of the Klimt Foundation sums up as “the Künstlerhaus versus the Secession.” A naked woman holds up the mirror of truth while the snake of falsehood lies dead at her feet. Above her in gilded letters is a quotation from the German dramatist Schiller: “If you cannot please everyone with your deeds and your art, please a few. To please many is bad.” […..]
Klimt’s uncompromising attitude appealed to the young Schiele, who sought out the artist in 1907 when he was still a student at the Academy of Fine Arts and finding the academic discipline frustrating.
A precociously gifted artist, Schiele had revealed his talent as an adolescent by sketching his younger sister in the nude, much to his parents’ horror. For Leopold, also a trained psychotherapist, this fascination with adolescent girls was in part a reaction to his ambivalent relationship with his mother, and would go on to cause great scandal.
Schiele’s undoubted talent appealed to Klimt and he took the young man under his wing, providing models and inviting him to exhibit at the 1909 Kunstchau, although Schiele’s four paintings, all very much in the style of his master, failed to make much impact….
Seeking new means of expression Schiele turned to his own body for inspiration in a manner unprecedented in the history of art. In his first nude self portrait from 1907, based on the notorious female figure in Medicine, he had portrayed himself as helpless and fragile, isolated from the rest of humanity.
Read much more about these artists at the BBC link.
Edvard Munch (1863-1944) was another great artist who contracted influenza. He was a contemporary of Klimt and a leader of the modernist school and is best known for his painting(s), The Scream. His patron was Dr Linke, an ophthalmologist who lived in the Northern German city of Lubeck, which now has UNICEF World Heritage listing. Munch visited Lubeck on at least 17 occasions and painted pictures of the gardens of the Linke home and the Linke children, and perhaps these visits helped in Munch’s lifelong battle with depression. In 1919, Munch contracted the “Spanish Flu,” and although he was very ill, he survived. He painted a self-portrait of himself with influenza (now in Oslo) and another of himself recovering from influenza, which hangs in Lubeck in the Behnhaus Museum. As you stand in front of this portrait you see a man suffering from profound depression, perhaps due to a post viral syndrome compounding his long-standing disease. He later wrote that he was fortunate to survive the infection.
This article at Wellcome Collection provides more background on Schiele, Klimt, and Munch as well as other artists who were impacted by the 1918 flu pandemic: Spanish flu and the depiction of disease. It’s quite interesting. This bit about Schiele is heartbreaking:
In 1918, Austrian artist Egon Schiele was at work on a painting of his family. [The painting appears at the top of this post] With his unflinching attention to the human form, he completed the three figures: Schiele himself is at the far back, his sinewy nude body hunched behind his wife, Edith, who looks off to the side, while a child is curled between her feet.
Earlier that year, the rising young art star had been featured in a solo show with the Vienna Secession artists’ association, and, even better, his works had actually sold. That new financial security was particularly important, as Edith was pregnant.
The only thing that disrupts the harmony of the 1918 painting ‘The Family’ is Schiele’s melancholic gaze directed at the viewer. Its sombreness seems in contrast to this scene of domestic tranquillity.
The painting would never be finished. By the end of that autumn, both Edith and Egon were dead; their child was never born. They were two among millions who succumbed to the Spanish flu pandemic. The incomplete painting was transformed into a portrait of loss.
And on Munch:
Among the artists who caught the flu and survived was Norwegian painter Edvard Munch, whose lifelong self-portraiture found a harrowing match in the disease. While many of his early self-portraits have morbid fantasies of his mortality, including the 1895 ‘Self-portrait with Skeleton Arm’ or the 1902–3 ‘Self-portrait on the Operating Table’, his Spanish flu series plainly confronted his frailty and vulnerability.
His 1919 ‘Self-Portrait with the Spanish Flu’ has Munch wrapped in a gown and blanket, sitting in a cane chair, his tousled bed in the background. Hues of a sickly yellow surround him; his mouth gapes open like a corpse. There’s a feeling of isolation in this personal struggle. Later that year he painted its sequel, ‘Self-Portrait after the Spanish Flu’, in which he leans toward the viewer, swirls of paint creating circles around his eyes, but colour returning to his sallow face.
More than 100 years later, we are in the midst of another terrible pandemic, and we have no idea yet how many people will die. Yesterday, Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said that 100,000 to 200,000 deaths in the U.S. would be the best case scenario. CNBC: Dr. Birx predicts up to 200,000 U.S. coronavirus deaths ‘if we do things almost perfectly.’
The White House coronavirus response coordinator said Monday that she is “very worried about every city in the United States” and projects 100,000 to 200,000 American deaths as a best case scenario.
In an interview on “TODAY,” Dr. Deborah Birx painted a grim message about the expected fatalities, echoing that without doing any measures they could hit as high as 2.2 million, as coronavirus cases continue to climb throughout the U.S.
“I think everyone understands now that you can go from five to 50 to 500 to 5000 cases very quickly,” Birx said.
Somehow Birx and Anthony Fauci and advisers bearing poll results managed to convince Trump that he couldn’t loosen government recommendations without killing thousands of people. The New York Times: Behind Trump’s Reversal on Reopening the Country: 2 Sets of Numbers.
The numbers the health officials showed President Trump were overwhelming. With the peak of the coronavirus pandemic still weeks away, he was told, hundreds of thousands of Americans could face death if the country reopened too soon.
But there was another set of numbers that also helped persuade Mr. Trump to shift gears on Sunday and abandon his goal of restoring normal life by Easter. Political advisers described for him polling that showed that voters overwhelmingly preferred to keep containment measures in place over sending people back to work prematurely.
Those two realities — the dire threat to the country and the caution of the American public — proved decisive at a critical juncture in the response to the pandemic, his advisers said. The first of those two realities, the deadly arc of the virus, has been known for weeks even if disregarded by the president when he set his Easter target. But the second of the two upended Mr. Trump’s assumptions about the politics of the situation and restrained, for a moment at least, his eagerness to get back to business as usual.
The president’s reversal may prove to be an important pivot point in the effort to curb the pandemic, one that in the view of public health officials averted a greater catastrophe.
Right now Trump needs Fauci and Birx to provide some credibility to his public health policies. But how long before he turns on them? Former Assistant Director for Counterintelligence at the FBI Frank Figliuzzi has some advice for them at Vanity Fair: Hostage Survival Tips for Drs. Fauci and Birx.
Kidnappers can quickly come to regret taking hostages because, quite honestly, their care and feeding becomes almost unbearable. That’s when some hostages find themselves dumped alongside a road or come to an even worse fate. So, you must avoid upsetting the president to the point that he neutralizes you. You’ve already had success in convincing the president to back off the indefensible assertion that the nation can return to normal on Easter Sunday. Dr. Fauci, your minimizing of Trump’s nonsensical notion as simply “aspirational” was masterful in that it helped him to save face and to view you as less of a threat. Bravo. Similarly, Dr. Birx’s praise of the president as “attentive to the scientific literature and the details and the data” may have stroked the president’s planet-sized ego to buy you some time.
Second, hostage negotiators must prepare for the abductor’s initial ransom call. Maybe that’s already happened. Maybe that first demand was to reopen the economy by Easter. If so, you handled it well. But more demands are coming. In fact, expect to see that first demand repeated. That’s why successful negotiators select a primary communicator to engage the captor. Two physicians coming at the president at once won’t work. The communicator must present a previously agreed upon message but maintain limited authority. In other words, let’s say you select Dr. Birx (the president seems to view her as less of a threat). Dr. Birx should already secretly know what Dr. Fauci’s position on things is, but when negotiating with the president, should always say, “Let me make sure we have Dr. Fauci’s opinion,” or, “I’ll have to get back to you after I consult the team.” This allows for the negotiator to establish a requirement for what hostage negotiators call a reasonable delay. In life or death hostage crises, reasonable delays can make the difference between the abductor doing something rash and emotional, or doing the right thing.
Third, a real hostage communicator is never a debater but more of an influencer and persuader. Hostage communicators maintain some control by scheduling set times to speak with the abductor. This also allows them to develop their objectives and rehearse responses with their larger team. Hostage negotiators work from a quiet, tucked away negotiation operations center. They plot out anticipated demands and scripted responses on white boards around the room. They have a plan even when the captor doesn’t. Got it? Drs. Fauci and Birx, we need you to have a plan. Our survival may depend on your survival. In a sense, we’re all being held hostage, and you are negotiating for our safe release. Hostages sometimes develop Stockholm syndrome when they start identifying with their captor and his causes as a survival mechanism. Don’t let that happen to you. Don’t let that happen to us.
Links to more Reads:
Must Read at Vox: Trump is mishandling coronavirus the way Reagan botched the AIDS epidemic.
The Washington Post: The National Security Council sounded early alarms about the coronavirus.
The New York Times: The Medical News Site That Saw the Coronavirus Coming Months Ago.
The New York Times: They Survived the Spanish Flu, the Depression and the Holocaust.
Jewish Journal: 101-Year-Old Holocaust And Spanish Flu Survivor Just Beat COVID-19.
The New York Times: For Autocrats, and Others, Coronavirus Is a Chance to Grab Even More Power.