Monday Reads: School House Covid 19 Rock

Quiver School by Jeff Burton captures the degeneration of an old school building outside Havana, Illinois that once housed scores of children. The cold winter’s day and overcast skies create an atmosphere of desolation and solitude surrounding the old school. The school established in 1917, was one of the last one-room schools in operation before it closed.

Good Day Sky Dancers

The amount and content of the news right now is overwhelming.  It’s hard for me not to want to find a way to Rip Van Winkle myself to the future.  Maybe some kindle gentle version of a Dr Who will come give me a lift.  No story has stuck with me so much as the absolute chaos we’re creating by tossing children back into schools with very little resources, health care plans, and thought.  I can’t get the cartoon out of my head that BB shared when she discussed this topic this week.  Children were drawn as  the new classroom guinea pigs. They may also be the sacrificial lambs for the Trumpist Agenda.

I can’t help but wondering about all those folks involved in what it takes to run schools too.  Children are not immune from the virus. They are not immune from dying from it or suffering long term effects because of it.  This CNN article this morning held the usual shocking but not surprising given the state of affairs in our country under the most inept and destructive US federal government ever.  “More than 97,000 children tested positive for Covid-19 in the last two weeks of July, report says”. Christina Maxouris has the byline.

More than 97,000 children in the US tested positive for coronavirus in the last two weeks of July, a new report says.

The report, published by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association, said in those two weeks, there was a 40% increase in child cases across the states and cities that were studied.

The age range for children differed by state, with some defining children as only those up to age 14 and one state — Alabama — pushing the limit to 24.

The compiled data comes during back-to-school season as health officials are trying to understand the effects of the virus on children and the role young people play in its spread. Some schools have begun welcoming crowds back to class and others have had to readjust their reopening plans in response to infections.

Schools provide an amazing number of functions and services for our children besides just pouring information into them and giving them skills.  They feed children.  They monitor children for potential issues at home. They provide play and social interaction along with the guidance one needs to function in a society.  All of this is missed if children are kept in isolation or in front of a screen.  But, the massive funds and commitment it takes to return children to school safely and protect the elders who support them is just not present at the Federal level.  Every school district should not be left to itself.

You can read a variety of local papers to figure out what’s going in each of the Districts all over the country. True, some needs of kids can be geographically specific like children out in the most rural areas have slightly different challenges then kids growing up in huge city centers.  However, classroom safety for a public health issue should come with complete, detailed instructions from our Federal Resources.  First and foremost the CDC should and has taken as much of a lead as it can.  We also have a Department of Education but the Secretary of that is about as useful as a comb is to a bald person.

There’s been more planning for school athletics programs–especially at the college and high school level–than for the academic environment itself. We all have seen and read about the Georgia School opening with its crowded hallways captured by one their young students Hannah Watters.  Now this headline (via the Hill): “9 people test positive for coronavirus at Georgia school where viral photos showed packed hallways.”  (Update: the young woman is no longer suspended but now she’s getting death threats).

Nine people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus at the Georgia high school that gained national attention after photos surfaced online showing dozens of students crowding into hallways.

North Paulding High School Principal Gabe Carmona said in a letter to parents on Saturday that at least six students and three faculty members who were in school for “at least some time” last week have since contracted COVID-19, according to a copy obtained by The Atlanta Journal Constitution.

In the note, Carmona said that the Paulding County School District was working with the state’s Department of Public Health (DPH) to implement “safety precautions and response plans.” He said the custodial staff would continue to clean and disinfect the school buildings daily. However, he did not mention whether any quarantine guidance would be released for students and faculty who may have come into contact with the infected individuals.

The Paulding County School District did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.

Boys Football 1910Some backward sliding for the fall is happening.  Even the Big 10 have decided no college football.  From the Detroit Free Press: “Sources: Big Ten votes to cancel football season; no games for Michigan, Michigan State in 2020.”  Which braindead states voted to play?

See you later, college football.

The Big Ten has voted to cancel the 2020 college football season in a historic move that stems from concerns related to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, multiple people with knowledge of the decision confirmed to the Free Press.

The sources requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the decision. A formal announcement is expected to Tuesday, the sources said.

The presidents voted, 12-2, Sunday to end the fall sports in the conference. Michigan and Michigan State — which both has physicians as presidents — voted to end the season, sources said. Only Nebraska and Iowa voted to play, Dan Patrick said on his radio show Monday.

The move comes two days after the Mid-American Conference became the first in the FBS to cancel ts season, and sources told the Free Press the Big Ten is trying to coordinate its announcement with other Power Five conferences.

Maybe we should take a hint from the disaster of School Openings in Israel.

The Washington Post characterizes it as “chaos from coast to coast”.

It’s going to be screen time all the time for kindergartners and graduate students alike. Teachers are threatening strikes. And students are already coming home with covid-19, the disease that has upended American education.

The 2020-2021 school year has dawned and it’s more chaotic than any before.

Plans are changing so fast that students and parents can hardly keep up. Districts that spent all summer planning hybrid systems, in which children would be in school part of the week, ditched them as coronavirus cases surged. Universities changed their teaching models, their start dates and their rules for housing, all with scant notice.

And many districts and col­leges have yet to make final decisions, even now, with the fall term already underway in some parts of the country.

Desegregation in the 1970s

The one thing that is certain is that these responses being so varied and so underfunded will cause an even greater education gap between poor and rich school districts.  This is from Market Watch: “Inside the struggle to close the education equality gap exacerbated by COVID-19.”

Indeed, a whole industry of firms — including tutoring companies, nanny agencies and teacher placement services — has popped up across the country in the past several weeks, offering to help parents hire an educator to teach a handful of students, siblings or a child one-on-one to compensate for or even replace remote classes.

But these services are largely available only to those who can afford them. Some companies are charging five-figure placement fees, and even parents who find a tutor or nanny on their own could pay up to $100 per hour.

“It made me very upset,” Messenger said of discovering this dynamic.So instead of cashing in, she decided to try to do something about it. At Spread Tutoring, the business she launched just a few weeks ago, families who can afford it buy an hour of tutoring at competitive rates — $50 per hour for one child or $30 per hour, per child for small groups — and an hour of tutoring is provided to a low-income family.

There are a few options available from nonprofits but more are likely needed.

Still, some organizations stepping into the void have already had success, or at least interest. In Tennessee, nearly 3,000 students in kindergarten through sixth grade this summer participated in the Tennessee Tutor Corps, a program that, like Spread, took advantage of a less-than-ideal summer for college students to help serve younger students who lost out on valuable schooling in the spring.

Through the program, run by the Bill and Crissy Haslam Foundation, an organization founded by the state’s former governor and his wife, more than 600 college students like Emma Crownover tutored younger students from a masked social distance at Boys & Girls Clubs across the state.

“It just felt like the best thing for me to do with my summer that was a little bit derailed because of COVID,” Crownover said. The 20-year-old aspiring teacher wasn’t sure of her plans for this summer before the pandemic hit, but she “wasn’t exactly planning to be in Nashville,” her hometown.

“That all changed when college got cut off in the middle,” she said. For six weeks, the Scripps College student worked from 10 a.m. to noon, Monday through Friday with the same group of rising first graders for the first hour and sixth graders for the second hour.

They worked through a binder of materials provided by the program, and Crownover could set the pace — if students had progressed beyond that week’s lesson, they could move ahead. Still, she could see the impact of the time away from school, particularly with some of the sixth graders who, during the first few weeks, struggled with reading comprehension.

“When you’re that age, it’s a muscle,” she said. “Reading is something that you have to practice every single day.”

Leslie Yossarian, the membership coordinator at the branch of the Boys & Girls Club in Sevierville, Tenn., enrolled her 7- and 8-year-old daughters in the program to help ease concerns she had about them being prepared to resume school in the fall, when they’re planning to attend in person.

When her children were sent home in the spring, Yossarian worked with them on the learning packets provided by the school. But, as she puts it, “I’m not a teacher; I’m not a homeschooler. I did the best I could to try to do their assignments and turn them in and keep them on track.”

Then there’s Oklahoma: “Tulsa World editorial: Stitt uses federal COVID-19 relief to help private school students”.

Gov. Kevin Stitt’s program to underwrite private school tuition could help families earning up to 450% of the federal poverty level if they can demonstrate significant income decrease because of COVID-19. The income ceiling for a family of four increases then to $117,900. . Sue Ogrocki/AP file

So, I’m worried about this and about of thousand other things today.  And here’s some perpsective.

Unsettling as these transitions and circumstances will be, short of a complete economic collapse, none stands out as a turning point in history. But what surely does is the absolutely devastating impact that the pandemic has had on the reputation and international standing of the United States of America.

In a dark season of pestilence, COVID has reduced to tatters the illusion of American exceptionalism. At the height of the crisis, with more than 2,000 dying each day, Americans found themselves members of a failed state, ruled by a dysfunctional and incompetent government largely responsible for death rates that added a tragic coda to America’s claim to supremacy in the world.

For the first time, the international community felt compelled to send disaster relief to Washington. For more than two centuries, reported the Irish Times, “the United States has stirred a very wide range of feelings in the rest of the world: love and hatred, fear and hope, envy and contempt, awe and anger. But there is one emotion that has never been directed towards the U.S. until now: pity.” As American doctors and nurses eagerly awaited emergency airlifts of basic supplies from China, the hinge of history opened to the Asian century.

No empire long endures, even if few anticipate their demise. Every kingdom is born to die.

 What’s on your reading and blogging today?


Monday Reads: The Utter Failure that is Trump

Good Day Sky Dancers!

It’s hard to read a headline today comparing our country to just about any other and not realize that the Trumpist Regime has been a disastrous and utter failure.  This is the headline today from The Atlantic: “How the Pandemic Defeated America.  A virus has brought the world’s most powerful country to its knees.”  Well, it should have the addendum that this is a virus ignored by an American President who followed up with a botched response. His administration is a cautionary tale of how not to do anything.

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

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

It appears most of the country has had it with him and his pathetic, unqualified, and hapless cronies as well as the Republican pols that enable all of his insane policy.  But, we’ve got until January to see him gone and he can cause a lot of problems in the mean time. Politico offers some hope as state after state begins to lose all that red. The Ides of November are coming.  So is winter. Trump campaign nears point of no return.  Early voting begins in several key swing states next month, leaving a ‘dwindling window of time’ for the president to turn the race around.”

Trump’s window is smaller — and his margin for error tighter — because of an expected surge in mail voting due to the coronavirus and because the electorate this year appears more hardened than in 2016, with fewer undecided voters to peel off in the closing days of the contest.

Voters will begin receiving ballots in key swing states as early as next month. In North Carolina, elections officials will start sending ballots to voters on Sept. 4. Four more battleground states — Pennsylvania, Michigan, Florida and Minnesota — will begin mailing ballots or start early voting by the end of September.

All of that will happen before the first presidential debate, on Sept. 29. Arizona, Ohio and Iowa will start early voting right after, in the first seven days of October.

“If I were running the Trump campaign, I would want to see a marked uptick by the beginning of October,” said Charlie Gerow, a Pennsylvania-based Republican strategist.

Gerow, like many Republicans, believes the Republican president will outperform current polls on Election Day. But “clearly, with early voting,” he said, “the timeline is accelerated.”

Trump’s concern about the timing and mechanics of the election was never plainer than on Thursday, when he suggested delaying it because of unsubstantiated claims about widespread mail voting fraud.

The president has no authority to change the date. But he has good reason to be worried. While in a closer contest, the rigors of the election calendar would be felt more evenly by both campaigns, Trump has so much ground to make up in the polls that allowing Biden to lock down even a small portion of the early vote could be debilitating.

Entering August, Trump trailed Biden by 7 percentage points in national polls, according to the RealClearPolitics polling average. Biden also holds an edge in nearly every swing state.

There’s such a huge amount of dysfunction over the public health crisis that the economy is certain to fall off the proverbial cliff and stay there from some time.  Trump’s economic team is comprised of a matched set of snake oil salesmen with absolutely no credibility in their field.

Any plan to either retain the pandemic-related unemployment benefits or provide relief in the form of a stimulus check or forgivable loans to small businesses is stalled.

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The government should again impose strict coronavirus-related lockdowns for a month or longer across the U.S. in order to boost the economy, a top Federal Reserve official said Sunday via The Hill.

Neel Kashkari, president of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank, said the nation needs to control the spread of the virus, which is increasing across much of the country, to get back on a path to economic health.

“That’s the only way we’re really going to have a real robust economic recovery. Otherwise, we’re going to have flare-ups, lockdowns and a very halting recovery with many more job losses and many more bankruptcies for an extended period of time unfortunately,” Kashkari said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

To do so, he suggested strict shutdowns, which is contrary to what President Trump and many of his allies have been pushing in recent months as measures to aid the economy.

“I mean if we were to lock down really hard, I know I hate to even suggest it, people will be frustrated by it, but if we were to lock down hard for a month or six weeks, we could get the case count down so that our testing and our contact tracing was actually enough to control it the way that it’s happening in the Northeast right now,” Kashkari said. “They had a rocky start, but they’re doing a pretty good job right now.”

He warned the virus will spread throughout the country with flare-ups and local lockdowns for the “the next year or two,” causing more businesses to fail, without such measures.

“We’re going to see many, many more business bankruptcies, small businesses, big businesses, and that’s going to take a lot of time to recover from to rebuild those businesses and then to bring workers back in and re-engage them in the workforce. That’s going to be a much slower recovery for all of us,” Kashkari said.

He also said that Congress can afford large sums for coronavirus relief efforts, though Republican lawmakers are looking to lessen the amount of supplemental aid for unemployed Americans as part of the next relief bill.

Stephan Moore is out huckstering for Trump to declare an national emergency and then cut payroll taxes because nothing could be more important that starving the Social Security and Medicare programs.

“Last week Mr. Trump acknowledged that compromising with Speaker Nancy Pelosi is a fool’s errand, because the House won’t agree to anything that boosts growth and job creation,” Moore claimed in the article co-authored with Phil Kerpen, head of the free-market nonprofit advocacy group Committee to Unleash Prosperity. The duo added that the Democratic Party’s plan to address economic issues during the coronavirus pandemic “would sink the economy and imperil Mr. Trump’s reelection.”

“The president needs to pull an end run, and there’s a legal way to do that. He should declare a national economic emergency and announce that the Internal Revenue Service will immediately stop collecting the payroll tax,” Moore declared. “This is technically called a deferral of the tax payments.”

Moore went on to say that President Trump “should order Treasury to put bonds into the Social Security and Medicare trust funds,” arguing, “Since Barack Obama did that in 2011, his vice president would have a hard time explaining his opposition to it now,” and claiming that the action “would flip the political tables.”

“Democrats can’t credibly call it a tax cut for the rich,” he wrote, concluding, “Mr. Trump could cap it at, say, $75,000 of income, so the vast majority of the benefit would go to straight into the wallets of middle- and lower-income workers, almost all of whom pay more payroll than income tax.”

Republicans have repeatedly pushed a payroll tax cut as the answer to the economic woes under the coronavirus pandemic, and have generally fought against direct payouts to affected workers through stimulus packages.

Real Economists–like me–have repeatedly shown through peer evaluated studies that tax cuts are generally the weakest form of stimulus possible. They continue to be the panacea for everything some what like an economic spoonful of apple cider vinegar to Republicans who want our government and every program to fail.  Navarro does have has terminal degree but mostly appears to have a terminal case of racism when it comes to anything Chinese. He also thinks he’s a doctor which is seriously deluded

 

CNN host Jim Sciutto took on White House trade adviser Peter Navarro on Monday about his evangelism of the drug hydroxychloroquine.

During an interview with Navarro, Sciutto noted that Assistant Health and Human Services Secretary Brett Giroir had recently said that there is no benefit in taking hydroxychloroquine to prevent or treat COVID-19.

“Given your past public support for it,” Sciutto said, “is it time for the administration to focus on proven treatments for COVID rather than one that has not been proven?”

“I take exception to Giroir’s analysis,” Navarro objected. “He hasn’t looked at the data.”

“It’s his job to look at the data,” the CNN host noted.

Navarro replied by encouraging Sciutto to interview several doctors who support the use of hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19.

“Doctors opinions are a dime a dozen,” the trade adviser continued. “And you’ve got some doctors who say it doesn’t work, you’ve got some doctors who say it does.”

“But it’s not a both sides thing,” Sciutto observed. “There’s a process for approving drugs in this country. There’s a reason the FDA hasn’t approved it. And this hasn’t passed muster so why all the focus on that drug? Why not focus on things that work like remdesivir?”

Frankly, his opinion isn’t even worth a dime on either economics or medicine.  CNN should stop making platforms for these idiots.  But then, Trump loved him some doctor who is serious about “Demon Sperm”.   John Oliver–the HBO comedian--took that up this weekend.

On Sunday night, John Oliver took a break from dunking on Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson’s racist news coverage to address what was sadly one of the biggest stories of the past week: President Donald Trump’s continued spreading of misinformation surrounding the novel coronavirus, which has killed over 157,000 people in the U.S.

“Recklessness is abounding right now, heightening the need for strong leadership. And unfortunately, we’re getting the opposite of that,” said John Oliver, before pointing to Trump’s “shockingly reckless” co-sign of Dr. Stella Immanuel, aka “Dr. Demon Sperm,” whose video of her cosplaying as a “frontline doctor” racked up tens of millions of views and was shared by both the president and his son. Dr. Immanuel, who only recently acquired a license to practice medicine in the U.S., has been pushing the ineffective COVID-19 “cure” hydroxychloroquine and believes, among other things, that real-life ailments like tumors and cysts stem from the demon sperm that is accumulated after a demon has sex with you in your dreams.

It’s this and the stories about huge parties that make me wonder about exactly how smart most Americans really are.

There’s a lot more examples of these out there and just to give you a clue. Bourbon Street is still hopping with tourists as bars have started rebranding themselves as “restaurants”. One up the street from me had a huge garage sale of sorts along with its usual drug and booze wares. I can’t even imagine what it’s going to be like if they start up universities and sports this year.  I’m glad my kids are way out of school for sure because their asses would be home with mine if they weren’t adults.

So, again, hello from my desk chair where I stay firmly planted because I do not want to go out and risk getting this stuff from somebody’s stupid children.  Plus, I’m holding tight to my money because I heard enough Depression stories in my life to know that hoarding makes the economy worse but makes me feel safer on that account too.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?  

Any of this sound and look familiar?


Monday Morning Reads: Government by the Superstition instead of Acts of Faith

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“Voidness is the womb of compassion”

Good Day Sky Dancers!

The weirdest thing on the internet for me today was to find out that my Governor follows me on Twitter when I just had to sound off at him.

Oh, and I decided to use some art on spiritual leaders giving teachings just in keeping with every thing that tics me off today. Also,I included a quote that I find relevant just to show that I don’t hate individuals practicing their belief system in some nice quiet room or gathering of choice.. In fact, I find unity in that all teach some form of acting, speaking, and thinking Compassionately.

This first is from Nagarjuna who is widely considered one of the most important Buddhist philosophers after Gautama Buddha. He’s considered a second Buddha.

I suppose I should be glad he’s not quite as bad as the Governor of the supposed “Show Me State”. This is from the St Louis Dispatch.

In an interview on Friday with talk-radio host Marc Cox on KFTK (97.1 FM), Parson indicated both certainty and acceptance that the coronavirus will spread among children when they return to school this fall. The virus has killed 1,130 people in the state despite a weekslong stay-at-home order in the spring that helped slow the virus’ spread — and the state set a record on Saturday with 958 new cases.

In the same 10-minute interview, Parson said that if it came to it, he would probably pardon the Central West End couple who pointed guns at protesters marching past their home on a private street on June 28.

Parson’s comment on the coronavirus signaled that the decision to send all children back to school would be justified even in a scenario in which all of them became infected with the coronavirus.

St. Louis-area schools are expected to release their reopening plans on Monday.

“These kids have got to get back to school,” Parson told Cox. “They’re at the lowest risk possible. And if they do get COVID-19, which they will — and they will when they go to school — they’re not going to the hospitals. They’re not going to have to sit in doctor’s offices. They’re going to go home and they’re going to get over it.”

So, I spent three evenings over the weekend listening to His Holiness the Dali Lama give a speech on the middle path broadcast on Facebook so it’s not like I’m completely devoid of the ability to pray, follow some form of belief, or be influenced by a moral structure. It’s just I would never be all pious out in front of the public as a public servant. I certainly wouldn’t lead a state and suggest three days of fasting and prayer in times that call for action.

Oh, and just as a side note, HHDL thought the camera and broad cast was off and starting saying the leader of the United States could use a few of Nagarjuna’s teachings on how to be compassionate and empathetic and was hushed by one of his attendant Lamas. He immediately switched to “some world leaders” but he inkled the first bit loud enough that he seriously slammed Trump for being unable to feel any kind of higher feelings to fellow human beings. That made my Saturday night.

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Jesus of Nazareth “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.”

It’s the small things in life that matter in these wretched times.

Axios has a rather strong heading today in its Health Science section: “We blew it.” Governors and the Federal government in the majority of states have led us into a plague state.

America spent the spring building a bridge to August, spending trillions and shutting down major parts of society. The expanse was to be a bent coronavirus curve, and the other side some semblance of normal, where kids would go to school and their parents to work.

The bottom line: We blew it, building a pier instead.

There will be books written about America’s lost five months of 2020, but here’s what we know:

We blew testing. President Trump regularly brags and complains about the number of COVID-19 tests conducted in the U.S., but America hasn’t built the infrastructure necessary to process and trace the results.

  • Quest Diagnostics says its average turnaround time for a COVID-19 test has lengthened to “seven or more days” — thus decreasing the chance that asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic carriers will self-quarantine.
  • The testing delays also make it harder for public health officials to understand current conditions, let alone implement effective contact tracing.
  • Speaking of contact tracing, it remains a haphazard and uncoordinated process in many parts of the country.

We blew schools. Congress allocated $150 billion for state and local governments as part of the CARES Act, but that was aimed at maintainingstatus quoservices in the face of plummeting tax revenue.

There was no money earmarked for schools to buy new safety equipment, nor to hire additional teachers who might be needed to staff smaller class sizes and hybrid learning days.

  • U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was not among the 27 officials included in the White House Coronavirus Task Force, and rarely appeared at Task Force press conferences.
  • The administration insists that schools should reopen this fall because kids are less likely to get very sick from the virus, but it has not yet offered detailed plans to protect older teachers, at-risk family members, or students with pre-existing respiratory or immune conditions.
  • Silicon Valley provided some free services to schools, but there was no coordinated effort to create a streamlined virtual learning platform. There also continue to be millions of schoolkids without access to broadband and/or Internet-connected devices.

We blew economics. The CARES Act was bold and bipartisan, a massive stimulus to meet the moment.

  • It’s running out, without an extension plan not yet in place.
  • Expanded unemployment benefits expire in days. Many small businesses have already exhausted their Paycheck Protection Program loans, including some that reopened but have been forced to close again.
  • There has been no national effort to pause residential or commercial evictions, nor to give landlords breathing room on their mortgage payments.

We blew public health. There’s obviously a lot here, but just stick with face masks. Had we all been directed to wear them in March — and done so, even makeshift ones while manufacturing ramped up — you might not be reading this post.

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Babaylan: The Ancient Witches of Tribal Philippines ““There will always be a subtle yet vital role that only females can play within the intricate tales of myths and mysticism. Among all the creations, they are the only one who are given the power of procreation; the ability to conceive life. Such qualities are usually attributed with omnipotent gods and that is why being a woman escalates an individual to a certain degree that makes them special among the people of their society. This is quiet notable during the ancient days where the daughters of Eve are the only acclaimed mediators between the spirit world and the mortal realm.”

The Health Section of WAPO delves into the how the US response to the Pandemic has shocked the world. Failure will define us for some time.

Six months after the coronavirus appeared in America, the nation has failed spectacularly to contain it. The country’s ineffective response has shocked observers around the planet.

Many countries have rigorously driven infection rates nearly to zero. In the United States, coronavirus transmission is out of control. The national response is fragmented, shot through with political rancor and culture-war divisiveness. Testing shortcomings that revealed themselves in March have become acute in July, with week-long

waits for results leaving the country blind to real-time virus spread and rendering contact tracing nearly irrelevant.

The United States may be heading toward a new spasm of wrenching economic shutdowns or to another massive spike in preventable deaths from covid-19 — or both.

How the world’s richest country got into this dismal situation is a complicated tale that exposes the flaws and fissures in a nation long proud of its ability to meet cataclysmic challenges.

In other words, we’re in for a long period of suffering on all levels for some time which probably means most of us will have the time and the desire to seek some meaning of things beyond the reality outside our door. This is when friends and family as well our local community become more relevant than ever.

I’ve not been amazed–but have been very thankful–for the spirit of neighbors and neighborhoods here in New Orleans. We not only have little libraries now. We have little food pantries. We have facebook pages and twitter feeds asking who needs help and where to get it. We have folks doing local food gardens and openly advertising community tables where every one drops off what they have to share. At this basis of all of this, we have our community.

Yesterday, the call went out from a nurse for plasma donations. Our hospitals have run low to out on them. We must think globally and act locally more than ever. Folks can rely on their own faith as my Governor John Bel Edwards seems to drive home. But also, the works part is the most necessary which is quite stressed in the teachings of his own Catholicism. Humanity and compassion do not spring from external beings but from within all of us.

No one exemplified this more than the late Congressman Lewis. I’m seeing this in the many of the folks he mentored. As I’ve said about him frequently. he didn’t just pass a torch forward. He used his to light millions of them.

The Mayor of Atlanta and her ability to do what’s best in governing her city is under attack by the Governor of Georgia. Georgia Governor Kemp has made direct attacks on her via new York Magazine and Matt Steib. “Governor Kemp Attacks Atlanta Mayor As Georgia Outbreak Worsens.”

On Thursday Kemp filed a lawsuit that aims to overturn Bottoms’s recent order requiring masks in public — itself a rebuke of the governor’s ban on cities and counties ordering face coverings in public. Now Bottoms says Kemp’s move was “personal retaliation,” noting that the governor “did not sue the city of Atlanta, he filed suit against myself and our City Council personally.” While Kemp has claimed the sole authority for issuing rules to halt the spread of the coronavirus, Bottoms has asserted that she is following the recommendations of public-health officials, including a July 14 report from from the White House coronavirus task force, which advised Georgia to “mandate statewide wearing of cloth face coverings outside the home.”

The two had sparred earlier this month over Bottoms’s order for Atlanta to return to the first phase of its reopening plan, which Kemp called “merely guidance.” But the lawsuit regarding masks escalated the conflict, as the governor requested that a state superior-court judge stop Bottoms from issuing any public-health mandates “more or less restrictive than Governor Kemp’s executive orders” and ban her from any media appearances related to the matter.

rabbi-Judah-Ben-Samuel

>Compassion is fellow-feeling, the emotion of caring concern; in post-biblical Hebrew rahamanut, interestingly from the word rehem, ‘womb’, originating in the idea of either motherly love or sibling love (coming from the same womb); in biblical Hebrew rahamim. The Talmudic rabbis (Yevamot 79a) considered compassion to be one of the three distinguishing marks ofJews. A Talmud ic term frequently used for God, particularly in legal discussions, is the Aramaic Rahamana, ‘the Compassionate’, denoting that the Torah, the Law, is God’s compassionate gift to Israel.”

The old cliché about finding out the true character of some one during a crisis still holds. And, so we come down to this (via Wapo as reported by Marissa J Lang): “A Navy vet asked federal officers in Portland to remember their oaths. Then they broke his hand.”

He came to the protest with a question. He left with two broken bones in a confrontation with federal officers that went viral.

Christopher David had watched in horror as videos surfaced of federal officers in camouflage throwing protesters into unmarked vans in Portland. The 53-year-old Portland resident had heard the stories: protesters injured, gassed, sprayed with chemicals that tugged at their nostrils and burned their eyes.

David, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and former member of the Navy’s Civil Engineer Corps, said he wanted to know what the officers involved thought of the oath they had sworn to protect and defend the Constitution.

So, he said, on Saturday evening, he headed to downtown Portland to ask them.

That night’s protests outside the federal courthouse — the 51st day of ongoing demonstrations — began with a line of local moms linking arms and demanding the federal agents stop targeting Portland kids. David, who had never attended a protest before, hung back and watched.

He was trying to keep his distance, he said, as a host of health problems have made him especially vulnerable amid a still-raging coronavirus pandemic. He asked one woman when the feds would show up, but she said it was also her first protest since the Department of Homeland Security deployed tactical units from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection to bolster protections for federal buildings and officers in the Pacific Northwest city.

Just as he was about to leave, David said, the federal officers emerged. They rushed a line of protesters nearby, knocking them to the ground. David walked toward a gap in the line, calling out to the officers.

“Why are you not honoring your oath?” he bellowed. “Why are you not honoring your oath to the Constitution?”

So, the one thing I can say about the accomplishments of the Trumpist regime is that he has managed to tear down the rule of law, he has broken the explicit social contracts between our government and we the people, and he has spread divisiveness through hateful racism, misogyny, and bigotry of sexual preferences, gender identification, ethnic background and religion.

We are a resourceful people and many of us do have deeply held spiritual beliefs based on compassion. I am respectful that the image of Mohammed is not something to display. But, this is from HuffPo and I will share these teachings on compassion

“A good deed done to an animal is like a good deed done to a human being, while an act of cruelty to an animal is as bad as cruelty to a human being.” – (Mishkat al-Masabih)

“I never saw anyone who was more compassionate towards children than Allah’s Messenger (pbuh).” (Sahih Muslim)

“Every Muslim has to give in charity.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari)

“Stop, O people, that I may give you ten rules for your guidance in the battlefield. Do not commit treachery or deviate from the right path. You must not mutilate dead bodies. Neither kill a child, nor a woman, nor an aged man. Bring no harm to the trees, nor burn them with fire, especially those which are fruitful. Slay not any of the enemy’s flock, save for your food. You are likely to pass by people who have devoted their lives to monastic services; leave them alone.” (Prophet Muhammad’s Rules of War)

The problem seems to be in the application of all these teachings I find through various traditions of various religions and beliefs. It’s hard to find one where a main teacher does not teach–as a central tenant– compassion. It’s just really hard to find the followers that enact it.

So, I leave you on hopefully higher ground. I’m working on creating my own little library, little pantry, and community table as something always available other than something I’ve done when I’ve had the opportunity. I still am daily a neighbor among neighbors.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today? Check in and let us know how you are! We care!


Thursday Reads

Good Morning!!

If feels as if the long weekend has already begun. The Fourth of July is traditionally a time when the Boston area empties out as people head to the Cape or New Hampshire. I just hope that people will be careful about crowding the beaches. Fortunately, bars won’t be opened here until phase 4, so that is one advantage we have. Yesterday, Gov. Charlie Baker warned Massachusetts residents: ‘No Victory Laps From COVID-19′: Gov. Baker Urges Social Distancing Over July 4 Weekend. NBC10:

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker on Wednesday urged residents to practice social distancing over the Fourth of July weekend, saying people should continue to take the coronavirus pandemic seriously to prevent a resurgence of cases.

“We have a big weekend coming up, it’s the Fourth of July, and I really hope people continue to take things seriously,” Baker said during a press conference at the Greater Boston YMCA.

“There are no victory laps from COVID… It’s not going to take the summer off,” he said, urging people to continue wearing masks and practicing social distancing and hygiene….

The governor said key metrics in the state’s efforts to contain the virus were continuing to trend downward. The state on Tuesday reported no new coronavirus deaths, the first time that’s happened in months.

“The continued fight against the virus depends almost completely and exclusively on all of us maintaining our vigilance and continuing to do the things that have made such a big difference in Massachusetts.”

Yesterday, the U.S. exceeded 50,000 new cases of Covid-19 for the first time. The Washington Post:

The United States reported 52,789 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, the largest single-day total since the start of the pandemic. President Trump speculated in a Fox Business interview that the virus was “going to sort of just disappear” at some point.

Experts say that is unlikely, unless an overwhelming majority of people are infected and develop immunity, which could lead to millions of deaths, or through the successful development and deployment of a vaccine. There is a chance the coronavirus will never go away, some experts have warned.

Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease expert, attributed rising case numbers in the United States at least partially to the fact lockdown measures were more lenient than those in some European countries that have since managed to turn the tide on the virus.

More than 800,000 new coronavirus cases were detected in the United States in June. At least 125,602 deaths have been reported since the start of the pandemic.

CNBC reports on an alarming study of coronavirus deaths from Yale researchers: Official U.S. coronavirus death toll is ‘a substantial undercount’ of actual tally, Yale study finds.

The number of confirmed U.S. deaths due to the coronavirus is substantially lower than the true tally, according to a study published Wednesday in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Using National Center for Health Statistics data, researchers at Yale University compared the number of excess U.S. deaths from any causes with the reported number of weekly U.S. Covid-19 deaths from March 1 through May 30. The numbers were then compared with deaths from the same period in previous years.

Researchers found that the excess number of deaths over normal levels also exceeded those attributed to Covid-19, leading them to conclude that many of those fatalities were likely caused by the coronavirus but not confirmed. State reporting discrepancies and a sharp increase in U.S. deaths amid a pandemic suggest the number of Covid-19 fatalities is undercounted, they said.

“Our analyses suggest that the official tally of deaths due to Covid-19 represent a substantial undercount of the true burden,” Dan Weinberger, an epidemiologist at Yale School of Public Health and a lead author of the study, told CNBC. Weinberger said other factors could contribute to the increase in deaths, such as people avoiding emergency treatment for things like heart attacks. However, he doesn’t think that is the main driver….

The 781,000 total deaths in the United States in the three months through May 30 were about 122,300, or nearly 19% higher, than what would normally be expected, according to the researchers. Of the 122,300 excess deaths, 95,235 were attributed to Covid-19, they said. Most of the rest of the excess deaths, researchers said, were likely related to or directly caused by the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, Trump claimed yesterday that the virus will magically disappear. CNN: Trump’s aides debate a new virus approach as President claims it will ‘disappear.’

A divide has emerged inside President Donald Trump’s inner circle over whether he should turn his attention back to the coronavirus pandemic or continue to focus on reopening the economy, sources familiar with the matter tell CNN.

As cases surge in dozens of states, Trump has remained mostly silent on the matter, focusing instead on protecting statues and stoking racial and cultural divisions. While others in his administration — including Vice President Mike Pence — make appeals for Americans to continue socially distancing and wear masks, Trump again suggested Wednesday the virus would “disappear.”
That has led to concerns, even among some of his own aides, that Trump appears disengaged from a deadly crisis that continues to grip the nation.

Gee, no kidding.

Several of Trump’s top aides, including chief of staff Mark Meadows and son-in-law Jared Kushner, have begun to worry about the President’s chances to win reelection, advisers familiar with the matter said — fears borne out by a steady stream of public polls showing Trump trailing his election rival, Joe Biden, by double digits. Both Meadows and Kushner have urged a focus on the economy over the public health emergency.

Some of Trump’s political advisers believe he has suffered grave political damage due to the pandemic, which has caused widespread economic hurt and death. Even as Trump and others in the White House project optimism that the economy will surge closer to the election, Trump’s handling of the pandemic has drawn rebukes — particularly as cases begin to spike.

“There is a fair amount of concern,” one adviser said, describing the President as “frustrated” by recent polling indicating Biden could win the November election by a wide margin.

Trump couldn’t possibly care less about the pandemic, about Russia paying to kill American troops or about actually doing the job of POTUS. All he seems to care about is being cheered at rallies, protecting statues of racists, and playing golf. Windsor Mann at The Bulwark: Donald Trump Is All Done Caring. An excerpt:

Trump is not interested in the actual job of the presidency. He’s interested in the attention the presidency affords him.

After his election, he discovered that running for president was easier and more fun than being president. Which is why he continued to hold campaign rallies even after he was elected. He wasn’t campaigning for anything. He just liked hearing crowds screaming his name. Unlike most politicians, who campaign in order to govern, Trump campaigns as a way to avoid governing.

By the same token, his politics are an extension of his ego—which is why, at his rallies, he tells the crowds how big his crowds are and not what his policies are. Trump says he’ll hold rallies after he wins the 2020 election, too—even though he will be ineligible to run for the presidency again.

Instead of holding rallies for the purpose of getting elected, Trump wants to get elected so he can keep having rallies….

Twitter performs for Trump the same function as his rallies. Because he’s the president, he can tweet something mean, false, and/or nonsensical and, instead of cheers, get instantaneous likes and retweets—validation in milliseconds. After tweeting “CHINA!” in May, he got 236,000 retweets and 797,000 likes. Tweeting while you watch Fox & Friends, it turns out, is even more gratifying than shouting at the TV. When you tweet, the whole world listens to you, and some people even applaud….

The problem for Trump is that his presidency has no point. It is as devoid of purpose as his days are of work. He doesn’t want to make America great. He wants America to make him feel great.

Still, the bad news keeps coming for Trump. Every time he claims that the Russian bounty story is a “hoax,” someone in the intel community leaks more details. Now we have the name of a guy who received payments. The latest from The New York Times: Afghan Contractor Handed Out Russian Cash to Kill Americans, Officials Say.

KABUL, Afghanistan — He was a lowly drug smuggler, neighbors and relatives say, then ventured into contracting, seeking a slice of the billions of dollars the U.S.-led coalition was funneling into construction projects in Afghanistan.

But he really began to show off his wealth in recent years, after establishing a base in Russia, though how he earned those riches remained mysterious. On his regular trips home to northern Afghanistan, he drove the latest model cars, protected by bodyguards, and his house was recently upgraded to a four-story villa.

Now Rahmatullah Azizi stands as a central piece of a puzzle rocking Washington, named in American intelligence reports and confirmed by Afghan officials as a key middleman who for years handed out money from a Russian military intelligence unit to reward Taliban-linked fighters for targeting American troops in Afghanistan, according to American and Afghan officials.

As security agencies connected the dots of the bounty scheme and narrowed in on him, they carried out sweeping raids to arrest dozens of his relatives and associates about six months ago, but discovered that Mr. Azizi had sneaked out of Afghanistan and was likely back in Russia. What they did find in one of his homes, in Kabul, was about half a million dollars in cash.

Click the link to read the rest.

More bad news for Trump:

NBC New York: Jeffrey Epstein Confidante Ghislaine Maxwell Arrested, Sources Say.

The Washington Post: New York court sides with publisher of explosive book by President Trump’s niece.

The New York Times: Biden Outraises Trump for Second Straight Month, With $141 Million June Haul.

Stanley Greenberg at The Atlantic: Believe the Polls This Time. These aren’t Hillary Clinton’s numbers. Biden has a wide lead because the landscape has changed.

I hope all you Sky Dancers have a great Independence Day weekend. Please stay safe!