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.
Lazy Saturday Reads: Will Roger Goodell’s Handling of #DeflateGate Be the Final Straw for NFL Owners? And Other News . . .Posted: January 31, 2015
I’m so tired of being cold. The Boston area tends to get a lot of snow–especially late in winter–but we rarely experience the frigid temperatures we’ve had this year. We usually get a lot of sun and temperatures in the 20-30+ range in the winter months. This year we have had many gloomy days in the teens and nighttime temperature in the single numbers. My house isn’t particularly well-insulated, and my furnace isn’t powerful enough to keep the house at 70 degrees when it’s that cold. Fortunately we enter February tomorrow and spring is on the way, even though it doesn’t feel like it yet.
On mornings like this one, I wish I could drape myself over a radiator and sleep for 16 hours a day like a cat. Honestly, I have to admit I’ve been taking a lot of catnaps lately to deal with a cold that isn’t all that bad but just keeps hanging on. Between that and following the buildup to the Super Bowl, I’ve been kind of ignoring politics for the time being. The 2016 race will begin to heat up soon enough, and the antics of the GOP Congress are just too depressing for me to want to know the gory details.
I haven’t written anything yet about the recent attacks on my beloved New England Patriots, but since it’s the Saturday before the Super Bowl, I’m going to write a little about it today.
I understand that most people around the country hate the Pats for the same reasons everyone hated the Yankees when I was a kid. They always seemed to be winning, and we got so sick of having to watch them in the World Series. Not to mention that their fans were unbearably arrogant and obnoxious. Growing up in the 1950s and ’60s, I learned to root for the underdog.
At the beginning of the football season this year, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was in hot water over the mild 2-game suspension he handed out to Ray Rice after the league learned that the Baltimore Ravens running back had punched his then-girlfriend Janay Palmer in the face in a Las Vegas elevator in February 2014, knocking her unconscious. Rice was arrested and charged with aggravated assault.
After video surfaced of the incident, Goodell turned around and suspended Rice indefinitely (this arbitrary decision was later overturned). After that the media began calling attention to other cases of domestic violence by NFL players, and many people called for Goodell to be fired. At the time, Patriots owner Robert Kraft was one of the few team owners to publicly support the commissioner. Goodell survived and the controversy died down temporarily.
Now Goodell has made an enemy of Kraft. Will a silly controversy about deflated footballs lead to Goodell’s final downfall? I’m not going to get into the details of “Deflate Gate,” but I’ve followed the story closely, and at this point I’m convinced that whole thing is ridiculous.
At first I was stunned by the accusations and then I began to believe that the Patriots must have done something wrong. But over time, I’ve concluded that the whole thing was a tempest in a teapot, and I’ve reached the point where I’m embracing the hatred and laughing about the whole thing.
I’m not a huge fan of the Super Bowl, but to me it seems stupid that this year’s game has been overshadowed by this ludicrous controversy. I think it’s time for Roger Goodell to go, and now that he has lost the support of one of the NFL’s most powerful owners–and one of Goodell’s bosses–it might actually happen. As former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue told CQ Magazine, Goodell doesn’t seem to understand the value of treating the players like adults and working for peace and understanding rather than enraging everyone.
Tagliabue also said that Goodell hasn’t spoken to him since the former commissioner vacated Goodell’s ridiculously over-the-top punishment of another winning team–the New Orleans Saints–for supposedly paying bounties to players for big hits during games in 2011. This practice was common around the league and none of the hits by Saints players had lead to serious injuries. Tagliabue felt that it was unfair to penalize one team so harshly for behavior that was widely tolerated around the league, and he overturned the punishment after Goodell asked him to review the case.
Why would the NFL commissioner want to tear down winning teams? It doesn’t make sense unless you understand that the NFL doesn’t like dynasties. Here’s a piece from the Bleacher Report from 2009 about another scandal involving the New England Patriots.
Excellence isn’t against NFL rules—at least not yet.
But, the league punishes success anyway.
They punish success to achieve parity among the teams. In theory, when more teams have a chance to win it all, the ratings are higher. That means more advertising dollars for the networks and bigger TV contracts for the league.
Twelve games into the season and your team has four wins and eight losses?
They still have a chance, just like the 2008 Chargers.
Current rules allow scenarios where nine win teams make the playoffs and go to Super Bowls, while 11 win teams miss the playoffs….
They don’t want dominant teams. They want mediocrity. They don’t want dynasties.
They want to spread the wealth.
So, the league punishes successful teams, hoping to weaken them, and rewards bad teams, hoping to strengthen them.
Read the rest of that article to learn why the Patriots were punished with a trumped-up scandal over something every other team was doing.
So far the strategy has worked with the Saints, but maybe they can still turn it around. I hope so. After “spygate,” the Patriots refused to lie down and die. They just kept winning, and Goodell and some other team owners and coaches resented it. I think Goodell’s ham-handed strategy for promoting parity is bullshit. There have to be other ways of doing it than ruining the NFL’s most important event–the Super Bowl–and humiliating players and coaches who have worked their asses off to achieve excellence.
Rhode Island sportswriter Tom E. Curran has followed the Patriots since the late 1990s. At the beginning of “deflategate,” he thought that the Pats had cheated, but he gradually learned that the NFL had zero evidence to show any wrongdoing by the team; and yesterday after Roger Goodell gave his “state of the NFL” speech, Curran wrote a scathing response.
Congrats, Roger. You successfully debased your marquee event.
You allowed one of your marquee franchises to be devalued.
You allowed the legacies of a Hall of Fame quarterback and coach to be battered.
You watched with disinterest as one of the league’s visionary owners and most influential proponents had his influence siphoned and his investment diminished.
Your NFL has bookended the 2014 season with two perfect embarrassments.
First, the wink, wink “investigation” into Ray Rice punching his fiancee into unconsciousness which exploded on the Monday morning after the season openers.
Now, a vindictive, self-important, spare-no-expense investigation into footballs being less than 12.5 PSI during the AFC Championship.
And there you were Friday, Roger, on a rainy morning in Phoenix – two days before the best two teams in the NFL will play a game that’s been terribly overshadowed – puffing out your chest.
Read about Curran’s evolution on the deflategate issue at the link.
Here’s his conclusion:
The NFL had to know it had no numbers written down before Monday dawned. But the leaks of leaky balls flowed. The NFL had a choice. Step up and say, “Look, this is standard stuff, we frequently do a review of procedures and we are not alleging any wrongdoing by anyone. We just have to make sure our footballs aren’t defective.” Or do nothing and let the whisper campaign turn into a full-throated, planetary roar that the Patriots are cheaters.
The NFL chose the latter.
And everybody’s paying for it.
The league itself. The players. The coaches. The fans.
The revenue streams keep cascading and because of that, Goodell’s 32 bosses can go to sleep every night knowing that, no matter how bad it gets, it will never slow to a trickle.
Still, he’s got to be congratulated for finding a way to let the Super Bowl be overshadowed. Seemed impossible.
The only thing that can save the week now will be the game itself. I think it will.
What will save the reputation of Roger Goodell? Nothing.
We’ll find out about the game tomorrow night. Goodell may stick around for a little while, but I think his goose is cooked.
I’ll end this diatribe with a hilarious video that finally dissolved all my resentment over what has happened over the past two weeks of deflate gate hype.
Now that I’ve bored you stiff with my obnoxious Boston fan routine, here are some other stories you may find interesting.
Matt Taibbi at Rolling Stone: While Deflategate and Chaitgate Rage, America Quietly Robs Its Elderly.
Reihan Salam at Slate: The Upper Middle Class Is Ruining America. And I want it to stop.
Michael Moore on Facebook: The Day Clint Eastwood Said He Would “Kill” Me, 10 Years Ago This Week.
Michael Schiavo at Politico: Jeb ‘Put Me Through Hell’.
Talking Points Memo: Jeb Bush’s Former Classmates Say He Was A Hash-Smoking Bully.
Nina Burleigh at Newsweek: What Silicon Valley Thinks of Women.
Talking Points Memo: The Sounds of Solidarity: Remembering Pete Seeger at Selma.
From The New Yorker, April 10, 1965: Letter from Selma, by Renata Adler.
RedOrbit via Raw Story: ‘Horrific’ pre-historic shark makes a rare appearance in Australian waters.
Georg Gray: Rare Historic Photos You’ll Never Forget.
What else is happening? Let us know in the comment thread and have a fabulous Super Bowl weekend!
Well, the President gave another speech last night, and it frankly put me in mind of the movie Groundhog Day. I think Obama’s handlers should be told to keep him under wraps until such time as he actually has something to say. I’ve had it with this whole debt ceiling mess, and I’m not going to say anymore about it in this post.
Instead, here’s an inspiring story that Dakinikat called my attention to: German tourist rescued teens during Norwegian island massacre.
A German tourist is being hailed as a hero for rescuing at least 20 people from a gunman’s rampage on Utoya island in Norway, according to media reports.
Marcel Gleffe, 32, was with his family Friday at a campground across the water from the island when he heard gunshots, Der Spiegel reported. He and his family looked out from the shore, thinking it might be fireworks, but instead they saw a plume of smoke and a girl swimming frantically in the water and screaming.
Gleffe got into the boat he had rented and set off, Der Spiegel said. He was the first person to reach the island where Anders Behring Breivik gunned down dozens of youngsters at a summer camp….
“You don’t get scared in a situation like that, you just do what it takes. I know the difference between fireworks and gunfire. I knew what it was about, and that it wasn’t just nonsense.”
Kemp knew something was wrong when he was jogging on the Seaside promenade Saturday and saw 6-year-old Hailey’s face as she struggled to get away from Knox when having a Fantastic Race on a group of people.
“She was scared to death – terrified,” Kemp said.
He asked Hailey if she knew the woman and she shook her head in horror.
“I knew there was a problem at that point (and) that this is very, very serious. This child is terrified,” he said.
He knew he had to do something, especially when he heard what sounded like a death threat.
“She kept telling Hailey: ‘I am your queen; I am going to take you to see our king, our Lord. I am taking you with me.'”
Kemp broke the woman’s grip on the little girl, and when the kidnapper tried to get away, he chased her down and held her till police arrived. This isn’t the first time Kemp has been a hero.
In 2004 he rescued a woman who was injured by a hit-and-run driver and left lying in the road. Then he found the car which led to an arrest.
He’s also chased down and caught a shoplifter running from a store and another time he caught a robber who just held up a Hallmark shop.
Finally, there’s Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, who was instrumental in ending the four-month-long NFL owners’ lockout. At the press conference announcing the agreement yesterday, Kraft apologized to the fans.
“First of all I’d like, on behalf of both sides, to apologize to the fans that for the last five, six months we’ve been talking about the business of football and not what goes on on the field and building the teams in each market, but the end result is we’ve been able to have an agreement that I think is going to allow this sport to flourish over the next decade and we’ve done that in a way that’s unique among the major sports that every team in our league, all 32, will be competitive, we’ve improved player safety, and we’ve remembered the players who have played in the past.
During the months of the lockout, Kraft was going back and forth between labor talks and his wife Myra’s bedside. She was ending a long battle with cancer, and was buried on Friday.
It’s difficult to imagine how trying – emotionally, physically, mentally – these last few weeks have been for Patriots owner Robert Kraft, as his beloved wife, Myra, was dying of cancer and difficult negotiations dragged on between NFL owners and players over the terms of a new collective-bargaining agreement.
“He is a man who helped us save football,” Jeff Saturday, the center for the Indianapolis Colts and a member of the NFLPA’s executive committee, said Monday after the league’s players joined the owners in approving a new collective-bargaining agreement. “Without him, this deal does not get done.”
Kraft previously had made it possible for New England to keep its football team when he bought the Patriots in 1994 just as they were about to move to St. Louis. Kraft is proof that people can be wealthy and remain decent human beings.
Randy Vickers, America’s chief of cybersecurity has abruptly resigned without any explanation.
The director of the agency that protects the federal government from cyber attacks has resigned abruptly in the wake of a spate of hacks against government networks.
U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) director Randy Vickers resigned his position Friday, effective immediately, according to an e-mail to US-CERT staff sent by Bobbie Stempfley, acting assistant secretary for cybersecurity and communications, and obtained by InformationWeek. A Department of Homeland Security (DHS) spokesperson confirmed the email was authentic.
The DHS has not provided a reason for Vickers’ sudden departure and the spokesperson, who asked to remain anonymous, declined to discuss the matter further. Vickers served as director of US-CERT since April 2009; previously, he was deputy director.
Current US-CERT deputy director Lee Rock will serve as interim director until the DHS names a successor for Vickers, according to the email.
Was he forced out? Maybe we’ll learn more about this today.
David Neiwert is an expert on right wing extremist groups–he’s written two books about them–and he had a post up yesterday on Crooks and Liars about Anders Breivik, the Norwegian terrorist/mass murderer. It would be hard to choose excerpts from the story–please read the whole thing if you can find time. One important point Neiwert makes is that Breivik is not “crazy,” he’s just a right winger with connections to a group in Norway that is similar to the Tea Party here.
Scott Shane had an excellent article yesterday in the NYT on the connections between Breivik’s sick ideology and a number of American bloggers and media personalities. Of course Dakinikat has been writing about this for the past couple of days also.
The Guardian UK has an in depth article about Breivik, his appearance in court, his threats that “more will die.”
The rightwing extremist who confessed to the mass killings in Norway boasted in court on Monday that there were two more cells from his terror network still at large, prompting an international investigation for collaborators.
After Anders Behring Breivik pleaded not guilty, despite admitting that he had carried out the attacks in Oslo and on Utøya island, officials said it was possible he had not acted alone.
Prosecutor Christian Hatlo said Breivik had been calm in court and “seemed unaffected by what has happened”, adding that the suspect had told investigators during his interrogation that he never expected to be released.
“We can’t quite rule out that someone else was involved. This is partly based on the information that there are two other cells,” Hatlo said.
The prosecutor said he could not discuss whether Breivik had organised the cells or whether he was working alongside them. Police have said they have no other suspects at present.
It also emerged on Monday that Norway’s police security service had been alerted to a suspicious chemical purchase by Breivik in March, but had decided not to investigate further.
Norwegian officials have lowered the number of deaths from the attacks to 76.
At the Daily Beast, Michelle Goldberg, who wrote about about right wing Christian fundamentalism, discusses Breivik’s hatred of women.
Conservatives worried about the Islamization of Europe often blame feminism for weakening Western societies and opening them up to a Muslim demographic invasion. Mark Steyn’s bestselling America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It predicted the demise of “European races too self-absorbed to breed,” leading to the transformation of Europe into Eurabia. “In their bizarre prioritization of ‘a woman’s right to choose,’” he argued, “feminists have helped ensure that European women will end their days in a culture that doesn’t accord women the right to choose anything.”
This neat rhetorical trick—an attack on feminism coupled with purported concern about Muslim fundamentalist misogyny—is repeated again and again in Islamophobic literature. Now it’s reached its apogee in mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik’s 1,500-page manifesto, “2083: A European Declaration of Independence.” Rarely has the connection between sexual anxiety and right-wing nationalism been made quite so clear. Indeed, Breivik’s hatred of women rivals his hatred of Islam, and is intimately linked to it. Some reports have suggested that during his rampage on Utoya, he targeted the most beautiful girl first. This was about sex even more than religion.
It’s a fascinating article with lots of psychological background on Breivik’s misogyny.
That’s all I’ve got for today. What are you reading and blogging about?