zaterdag 28 maart 2020

What Happens In the Wake of the COVID-19 Lockdown?

What Happens In the Wake of the COVID-19 Lockdown? Economic Destruction, Global Poverty, Bankruptcies, Mass Unemployment. Neoliberalism to the Rescue

In the wake of the lockdown: Bankruptcies and mass unemployment, the economic destabilization of entire countries. 
Millions of people have lost their jobs, and their lifelong savings. They are unable to pay their home mortgages. 
In developing countries, poverty and despair prevail.
The political implications are far-reaching. The lockdown undermines real democracy. 
It would be naive to believe that the financial crisis was the result of spontaneous market forces. It was carefully engineered.
The coronavirus continues to provide a camouflage. Fear and panic (generated profusely by the corporate media) create “favorable conditions” for “institutional speculators”, many of whom had detailed foreknowledge of the WHO decision to launch a Global Public Health Emergency on January 30th, at a time when there were only 150 “confirmed cases” outside China.
The collapse of stock markets has resulted in the most important transfer in money wealth in modern history.
The Coronavirus is not the cause of financial collapse. What prevails is an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty which enables powerful financial interests to manipulate the stock market and consolidate their financial positions. This  crisis has led to an unprecedented concentration of money wealth.
In early February, roughly $6 trillion were wiped off the value of stock markets Worldwide. Massive losses of personal savings (e.g. of average Americans) are ongoing not to mention corporate failures and bankruptcies.
Each time Trump opens his mouth, or blames the Chinese on twitter, the stock markets respond. Those who have inside information or foreknowledge of US policy decisions will make a bundle of money.
Behind the global public health emergency, there are powerful economic interests: Wall Street, Big Pharma, the Washington Consensus, Corporate Charities and Foundations, the IMF, World Bank, et al. They met on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) on January 21-24, one week prior to the launching of the WHO global public health emergency.
The “international community” is calling for economic recovery. How will it be instrumented? So-called “corporate bailouts” i.e. “handouts” for banks, major corporations including airlines are contemplated.
One trillion promised by the US Federal Reserve, another trillion by the European Central Bank (ECB) now headed by Christine Lagarde.
“We have a responsibility to recover better” than after the financial crisis in 2008, said UN secretary general António Guterres:
“We have a framework for action – the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. We must keep our promises for people and planet.”
That so-called “promise” is meant to promote “Green Bonds”, a multibillion investment project sponsored by the Rockefellers among others, the objective of which is to “redirect pension plans and mutual funds towards green projects.”
For Big Money in America and Western Europe it’s “hand-outs”. For Big Pharma, the multibillion dollar global vaccination program will be funded by debt.
“Developing countries”
And what happens to the so-called “developing countries” most of which are indebted up to their ears.
The process of impoverishment in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa is beyond description. In large cities, informal urban sector workers are self-employed, paid on a daily basis, Others are paid on a weekly basis. What this means is that for large sectors of the urban population, household income has literally been wiped out.
In India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered a 21 days lockdown which has resulted in an immediate spiral of unemployment coupled with famine, despair and disease:
“The only way to save ourselves from coronavirus is if we don’t leave our homes, whatever happens, we stay at home…” said Modi.
This statement was accompanied with outright threats: “If we are not able to manage the next 21 days, then many families will be destroyed forever.” Diabolical statement by a “democratically elected” head of government.
At the time of Modi’s announcement (March 20), India had 482 cases of the coronavirus and 10 deaths (India’s total population: 1.37 billion). Forget COVID-19? In India, an estimated 37, 500 children under five die on a daily basis. And that figure will increase under the 21 days lockdown (2015 estimate, The Lancet)
My message to PM Modi, “You are killing India’s children”.
Third World Debt Overhang 
The debt overhang in developing countries is in the trillions.
It’s a debt driven agenda directed against developing countries which are already heavily indebted: new loans to pay back “bad debts”. It is a “safety net” for both the Western creditors and the Big Pharma conglomerates involved in the multibillion global vaccination project.
Real debt cancellation is not contemplated.
A rescue package for the heavily indebted developing countries has been announced. In early March, the IMF Managing Director together with the World Bank Group President held a joint press conference. A lot of humanitarian rhetoric.
The magic number: “We rely on $1 trillion in overall lending capacity.” (IMF M-D Georgieva)
At first sight this appears to be “generous”, a lot money. It encourages corruption at the highest levels of government. But ultimately it’s what we might call “fictitious money”, what it means is
“We will lend you the money and with the money we lend you, you will pay us back”.(paraphrase).
It is equivalent to usury.
The unspoken truth is that this one trillion dollars ++ is intended to drive up the external debt. And then the Western creditors will impose massive economic reforms including privatization of health and education, freeze on wages, etc. That’s the neoliberal solution applied at a global level: No real economic recovery, more poverty and unemployment Worldwide.
The IMF is explicit. In one of its lending windows, the Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust,which applies to pandemics, generously “provides grants for debt relief to our poorest and most vulnerable members.” Nonsensical statement, it is there to replenish the coffers of the creditors, the money is allocated to debt servicing.
“For low-income countries and for emerging middle-income countries we have … up to $50 billion that does not require a full-fledged IMF program.”
No conditions on how you spend the money. But this money increases the debt stock and requires  reimbursement. The countries are already in a straight-jacket. The more you lend, the more you squeeze the developing countries into political compliance. And ultimately that is the objective of the failing American Empire.
“the World Bank Group Board announced a $12-billion package … to provide a fast, flexible response, … to reduce the transmission of the pathogens. (supplies, equipment, medication, etc. vaccination?)”
The financing of the vaccination program is not explicitly mentioned. Most probably loans for the vaccination program will be announced at a later date.
Economically Advanced “Developed Countries”
For EU member countries, a debt driven recovery of bankrupt national economies is in the pipeline.
Without significant debt relief or cancellation, what can we expect in the wake of the lockdown?
A process of outright “Thirdworldisation” of the “advanced” European countries?
If this program is accepted by the EU member states: Real wages will plummet, the Welfare State which developed in the post war era will be scrapped. Social services will be privatized. Assets will be sold off to pay back the debt.
Millions of small and medium sized enterprises including family farms and urban services, tourism, etc are affected. The 2015 “Greek model” of brutal debt restructuring (or worse) could be applied to Italy and Spain…
We have provided a brief summary of a complex process. Negotiations with the creditors are ongoing in the course of the lockdown.
While panic and fear prevail with regard to COVID-19, these are the potential impacts of  what we might describe as “Dirty Economic Medicine”.
People across the land, nationally and internationally in solidarity must understand what is happening.
In the wake of the lockdown: what is the economic and social aftermath of this crisis?
It is crucial that this “Neoliberal Solution” to the crisis which consists in building up the debt be forcefully rejected.

The Scum Also Rises

Roaming Charges: The Scum Also Rises


EMT making an emergency COVID-19 call in Portland, Oregon. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.
+ One month ago today Trump said the US infection rate would go from 15 patients to close to zero in just a few days. Today the US passed 1,000 deaths and became the world’s leading hot spot in COVID-19 cases, surpassing Italy and China on the same day. In Trump’s own words, Congratulations America!
+ It’s hard to conceptualize the pace of the outbreak, but consider this: As of mid-day Friday, there were 100,500+ COVID-19 cases and 1,500+ COVID-related deaths in the US. Two weeks ago, there were only 1,009 “reported” cases in the entire country.
+ So, the question is: Shelter in place and then storm the palaces? Or storm the palaces and shelter in their place?
+ Here’s what a real leader sounds like in the tumult of a catastrophe, Irish health minister Simon Harris: “We must of course have equality of treatment, patients with this virus will be treated for free, and they’ll be treated as part of a single, national hospital service. For the duration of this crisis the State will take control of all private hospital facilities and manage all of the resources for the common benefit of all of our people…”
+ In a crisis, I’d take the Cubans, the Irish and the Palestinians versus the rest of the field…
+ (And a few Italian doctor/poets.) A doctor in the Lombardy hot zone holds up a sign quoting the last line of Dante’s Inferno: “When this Hell ends . . . ‘And we emerged to see the stars again.'”

+ The tradeoff Kudlow and Trump are talking about is your life for the stock portfolio of CEOs. But why is a guy who repeatedly said there was nothing to worry about because COVID-19 was “contained” being interviewed by anyone in the press (and not the FBI)? Let’s see Kudlow’s stock trades…

+ When billionaire hedge funder Bill Ackman went on CNBC last week to histrionically warn that “hell is coming” and urge the Trump to shut down the country for 30 days, he failed to inform his audience that he is neck deep in a bet against the markets that eventually reaped him $2.6 billion in profits. The scum also rises.
+ At least Agamemnon sacrificed his own flesh and blood to summon the winds at Aulis. These people want to sacrifice YOUR parents and grandparents to boost their own stock portfolios….
+ Dan Kovacevich, former CEO of Wells Fargo: “We’ll gradually bring these people back [workers younger than 55] to work late next month, if the virus is under control, and see what happens. Some of them will get sick, some may even die, I don’t know. Do you want to suffer more economically or take some risk of getting flu-like symptoms and a flu-like experience? Do you want to take an economic risk or a health risk? You get to choose.” (I hope someone is taking down names.)
+ Trump: “The country was meant to be open…(and, yet, totally walled in).”

+ Glenn Beck says older Americans should return to work: “Even if we all get sick, I would rather die than kill the country.” Lead by example, Glenn.
+ Lindsey Graham: “We have incentivized people not to go back to work.” (“The South shall rise (and die) again!”)
+ Trump’s finally found a way to cut “entitlements”, knock off the beneficiaries….
+ Will Thomas Friedman end up with a higher body count than the NYT’s current champ, Judith Miller? Stay tuned, America…

+ Viral Logic: the more cases there are today, the more cases there will be tomorrow.
+ How will Trump get rid of the meddlesome Dr Fauci, send one of Pence’s infected staffers to his office delivering the day’s lunch: Two Big Macs, a Filet-o-Fish , a supersize fries and a large Diet Coke with a used straw or order him to go take Rand Paul’s temperature every two hours? “Mr. Trump has become frustrated with Dr. Fauci’s blunt approach at the briefing lectern, which often contradicts things the president has just said, according to two people familiar with the dynamic.”
+ As Easter and the Great Culling approaches, who will Trump replace Dr. Fauci with at the daily briefings, “Pastor” Paula White or “Rev.” Jerry Falwell Jr.?
+ Falwell’s decision to re-open Liberty University is likely to give new meaning to FINAL exams…
+ American journalism in action:
Trump: “I would love to have it [the whack-granny economy] open by Easter,” April 12. “It’s an important day for other reasons, but it’s important for this too.”
FoxNews personality Bill Hemmer responds: “That would be a great American resurrection.”
+ Hang in there, Motown, Easter is Coming!

+ You too, Atlanta!

+ Before Trump called for reevaluating lockdowns, state and local governments had shuttered six of his top-earning clubs and resorts…
+ Trump: “You look at automobile accidents. Which are far greater than any numbers we’re talking about. That doesn’t mean we’re going to tell everybody no more driving of cars.” Over to you, Ralph Nader…
+ Suicide Right on the Stage: Trump says people can go to work and clean their hands five times more than usual, and not shake hands, “and things will happen,” but this situation can’t go on. “You’re going to have suicides by the thousands.”
+ Of course, Trump hasn’t actually closed anything at all, only the governors and mayors have; yet, he’s threatening–over the objections of all of his (remaining) medical advisors–to “open the country back up” in the next couple of weeks. Is that the real reason Bill Barr was on stage instead of Fauci this afternoon? Because Barr will threaten to force governors like Inslee, Newsome and Cuomo, to bend to Trump’s will or face a federal takeover of their states, a battle against largely blue states that Trump will relish?
+ Trump at his Weds press rant: “As we near the end of our historic battle with the coronavirus and that there is now light at the end of the tunnel.” His government’s own plan warns that the pandemic likely “will last 18 months or longer.”
+ $2.6 Trillion Corporate Bailout only worth 495 point bump for Dow…nothing like the 1000+ spike as news leaked of Whack-Granny-by-Easter Economic plan from Trump, Kudlow and Blankfein.
+ Amount of coronavirus aid package is $6 TRILLION in total, Larry Kudlow says. A week ago, Trump and his advisers were reviewing a plan for an $850 billion stimulus. And just over two weeks ago, Trump and aides pronounced the economy resilient enough to withstand coronavirus. Don’t let them ever again tell you that Medicare for All, free college tuition and Green New Deal are too expensive…
+ Signs you may have COVID-19: When you find yourself rooting for the Senator from Citibank to negotiate a Corona Relief bill that benefits the people…knowing its going blow up in your face.
+ Foreclosure Kingpin-cum-Treasury Steve Mnuchin declares report of record-breaking unemployment “not relevant.
+ Meanwhile, Mnuchin is huddling with his former buddies at Goldman Sachs to help him plan how to distribute his $200 billion corporate slush fund. Maybe he’ll hire HRC as a consultant?
+ Public Citizen: “One section of the Senate’s stimulus plan contains language preventing companies from using bailout money to buy back their own stock or raise CEO pay. The very next section gives Steve Mnuchin the power to COMPLETELY IGNORE THE PREVIOUS SECTION. Jaw-dropping corruption.”
+ After the closing bell on Wall Street on last Friday, Mnuchin’s pal Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon pocketed a 19% raise. It’s the biggest payday for a Goldman exec since Lloyd Blankfein took home $41 million in 2007, right before the crash…
+ Record unemployment numbers (3.6 million), stock market jumps. That’s capitalism for you…
+ Despite what Lindsey Graham may say, not everyone is eligible for Unemployment Insurance, so the real job losses are bigger, much much bigger, than 3.6 million. All in just one week.
+ We interrupt this tedium for an important Public Health message from Essie Jenkins, a criminally neglected blues singer and songwriter, who grew up in Arkansas and moved to California in the 40s, where she did most of her recording and performing.
+ A bailout at the onset of a killer pandemic without any structural change to the economy that exacerbated the crisis is the most contemptible kind of looting. What plausible excuse can Sanders, Warren & Merkley offer for lending their support to this act of corporate pillage of the sick, the jobless and the dying?
+ It’s odd that I find myself rooting for the odious Thomas Massie, as the only Member of Congress willing to throw a monkeywrench in the “bipartisan” bailout bill. (Every time you see such a mad rush under the banner of “bipartisanship,” you know nearly all of us are going to get screwed and the corporations are going to cash in.) Go Tom, go!

+ The Senate passed their corporate bailout and then adjourned for three weeks in the middle of (well, start of…) a pandemic. Maybe they won’t return. One lives in hope…
+ So the Senate passed their corporate bailout and then adjourned for three weeks in the middle of (well, start of…) a pandemic. They made no provision for voting remotely, as they have not done since 9/11. Maybe they won’t return. One lives in hope…
+ The McConnell/Schumer Slush Fund, passed by the Senate last night, is 5 times the Obama stimulus package that gave rise to the Tea Party and lead to the election of Trump. This probably means that 5 years from now the country, if it survives, will be led by someone to the right of Trump.
+ Ben Ehrenreich: “What is government for if not to make sure that rich people never have to lose their own money?”
+ Death Race 2020, Sponsored by the Federalist Society…”It is time to think outside the box and seriously consider a somewhat unconventional approach to COVID-19: controlled voluntary infection.” Buy the ticket, drink the Kool-aid, take the ride!
+ Before rushing out of town for their “spring break,” how many senators are attending the Chicken Pox Pie Party at the Federalist Society tonight?

+ How did Trump arrive at the Easter Sunday deadline? “I just thought it was a beautiful time.” Do Not Disturb: Very stable genius at work…
+ Trump wants to Open the Country for Easter…Don’t you think the Resurrected One (Osiris, Jesus, Hendrix, whatever you call him) would also Open the Borders, Open the Jails, Open the Prisons and Open the Concentration Camps?
+ Dr Fauci: “You don’t make the timeline. The virus makes the timeline.”
+ The SEC’s enforcement (so-called) division issued a stern warning this week against insider-trader on Coronavirus information, after it was dislosed that at least four US senators had dumped millions in stock after attended private briefings on the real threat posed to the global economy from COVID-19. Georgia Senator Kelly Loeffler, and her husband Jeff Sprecher (chairman of the NYSE), traded more than $3 million securities in the weeks before the market collapsed.
+ Jared Yates Sexton (Hoosier): “What we’re learning in a real hurry is that nobody in this country who actually works for a living is paid a halfway decent wage and this economy was never built to be stable or even remotely humane or fair.”
+ Pandemic Capitalism in Motion: “More than 750,000 medical-grade masks were sold at huge markups in a private auction in Texas, even after the attorney general issued a cease-and-desist.”
+ Try as they might, there’s no escaping the fact that Trump and Co. screwed up almost every aspect of dealing with the COVID-19 crisis from the very beginning in ways that were both entirely predictable and others almost unimaginable in a country as wealthy as our own.
“In late Feb, the CDC’s deputy director of infectious disease projected calm in a conference call w/ state laboratories. The labs were told they could now send samples to the CDC & receive results within 24 hours.
“‘That was a bald-faced lie,’ said Wadford.”
+ NYT: “At the Mount Sinai Health System, some hospital workers in Manhattan have posted photos on social media showing nurses using trash bags as protective gear.”
+ Trump: “Nobody in their wildest dreams would have ever thought that we’d need tens of thousands of ventilators.”
2015 CDC study: A severe flu pandemic could require 60,000 additional ventilators
+ COVID-19 patients average time on ventilator: 11 – 21 days (vs. 3 – 4 days for non-COVID-19 patients).
+ The government’s secret ventilator stockpile contains just 16,600 ventilators, according to an investigation by the Center for Public Integrity, not even close to the number needed to help people affected by a severe pandemic…
+ Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you can find the 50,000 missing ventilators…
+ How much Jeff Bezos makes, measured in ventilator costs:
1 minute: 6 ventilators
1 hour: 258 ventilators
1 day: 8,602 ventilators
1 week: 60,385 ventilators
1 month: 261,667 ventilators
1 year: 3,140,000 ventilators
Hospitals in the U.S. have only 170,000 ventilators. (Source: Public Citizen.)
+ Speaking of the world’s richest man, Bezos is $5.5 billion richertoday than he was at the start of the year.
+ Trump said Friday morning that he doesn’t “believe” New York needs “40 or 30,000 ventilators” or additional  critical medical equipment.
+ Columbia law prof Tim Wu, author of The Curse of Bigness: “Here’s another reason to abolish the electoral college: It allows the President to ignore, and even allow people in New York state to die, while knowing he will not suffer an iota of electoral consequence.”
+ Just a hunch, but I don’t think Jared and Ivanka will ever be able to eat lunch in NYC again…not in public, anyway.
+ I didn’t think it was possible to love Kim Gordon any more than I did yesterday. She keeps proving me wrong…

+ Alice Dreger, bioethicist and author of Galileo’s Middle Finger: “If you need a wake-up call, here it is: My husband was on a large conference call of American med school deans last night. One asked about legal coverage for pulling people off ventilators to give to others more likely to survive. i.e., not being charged with murder. Here we are.”
+ Will someone ask Trump what he believes an acceptable death rate for the 60+ population is? Sen. Ron Johnson at least had the guts (or hubris) to say 3.4 percent of the US population (11.6 million).
+ Germany’s fatality rate for coronavirus — 0.5% —is the lowest in the world, by a long shot. Experts say that’s because they’re testing early and often. One virologist estimates the country has been testing about 120,000 people a week…
+ Coal miners have been told to keep working during the Covid-19 outbreak despite close quarters, damaged lungs…
+ When West Virginia coal meets corona: “We have lots of folks who have occupational-related illnesses, like black lung, and all of those respiratory things put folks at higher risk.”
+ In 2013, Jared Kushner had controlling interest in a holding company which owned Oscar, a health insurance concern that is now marketing a website, promoted by Trump, that aims to direct consumers to coronavirus testing locations. Oscar was started by Kushner’s brother, Joshua.
+ Ben Carson’s daughter-in-law Merlynn Carson works for a company hustling to sell for-profit coronavirus tests to the City of Miami…
+ The contradictions of capitalism have been heightened to the breaking point. Now’s the time for that last twist of pressure to make it snap.
+ I marvel at the millions of Americans who are taking medical advice from the man who removed his protective glasses and stared directly into a total solar eclipse.
+ Dr. Ann Schuchat, deputy director of the CDC, is warning that the conditions in NYC are a sobering preview of what’s about to hit the rest of the country:
“We’re looking at our flu syndromic data, our respiratory illness that presents at emergency departments. Across the country there’s a number of areas that are escalating. The numbers in New York are so large that they show up, but we’re looking at increases over time and we’re really seeing some in a number of places. It would be surprising to me based on what I’ve seen about how this virus spreads if it were not going to increase in many other parts of the country…”
+ Now’s the time join our Death Cult. The experts agree: it’s the greatest of all the Death Cults! Special two for the price of one offer. (Deal good until Easter. Sorry, no refunds.)

+ I don’t recall Rudy placing the 3,000 who died on 9/11 in a similar kind of context…
+ The health insurance industry is one big death panel. Their entire business model depends on denying treatment and medication to people who they don’t think will live long enough to sue them….
+ More infantile babble from Trump: “I’ve been briefed on every contingency you can possibly imagine. Many contingencies. A lot of positive. Different numbers. All different numbers. Very large numbers. And some small numbers too, by the way.”
+ This vicious hack has a degree from an Ivy League institution and can’t even read her own very simple graph…

+ A child under the age of 18 has died of coronavirus in Los Angeles, public health officials announce, in what is believed to be the first child death from the virus in the US. “A devastating reminder that COVID-19 infects people of all ages,” an LA health official said. According another report, “when the teen became ill, his parents took him to an urgent care center and were turned away because he didn’t have health insurance…” American triage, in action. who will break the news to Ann Coulter?
+ Trump can try to blame China if he wants, but…..Several months before the coronavirus pandemic began, the Trump administrationeliminated a key American public health position in Beijing intended to help detect disease outbreaks in China.
+ Deep Thoughts from one of Trump’s favorite conservative “intellectuals”….

+ Demographic memo to Mitchell: Rhode Island is the state with the highest percentage of citizens with Italian heritage…
+ Buried deep in the 1,ooo-plus pages of the Senate bailout bill is a provision allowing corporations to stop paying into social security through the end of the year. What are the odds, if approved by the House, this little neutron bomb becomes a permanent fixture?
+ A Senate GOP spokesman on why D.C. (PR, Guam, et al) didn’t get full coronavirus funding relief: “Because Washington, D.C., is not a state. One can debate whether or not it should be, but that’s a separate discussion.”
+ The COVID bailout bill includes some paid sick leave benefits. But the law includes exceptions that some analysts say could exclude nearly 20 million private sector workers.
+ Share of workers at major corporations without paid sick leave:
Sonic: 94%
Applebee’s: 89%
Pizza Hut: 88%
Burger King: 86%
Subway: 86%
Domino’s: 85%
Dunkin’ Donuts: 85%
Wendy’s: 84%
McDonald’s: 78%
Chick-fil-A: 78%
Taco Bell: 77%
+ Dean Baker: “The Senate bill shows yet again that conservatives (at least those in politics) do not care at all about the market. They see the purpose of the government to give as much money to the rich as possible.”
+ Signs You May Have COVID-19: When you start to wish Carly Fiorina was running the US Treasury..
.”A $50 billion bailout for you when you spent the last eight years buying your stock back to the tune of about $46 billion, doesn’t strike me as the right way to use taxpayer money,” she said. “I think we should focus on individuals, working families and small businesses. So I’m pleased there is a focus on them in this bill. But eventually a bill will come due and I think the corporate bailout was too much, too soon. Maybe we didn’t need it ever.”
+ Mirror, mirror on the screen
Why’s the press so goddamn mean?
Every time you show my face
They’re call me a big disgrace.
Don’t they know God anointed me?
Just drink my Elixir and be virus-free…

+ Trump is, of course, deeply in love with his own image of himself. His problem is that the love is not returned.
+ Freud: “The thing you fear most has already happened.”
+ What it took to convince Oregon’s Gov. Kate Brown, who has been sheltering in place since her election five years ago, to declare a statewide lockdown order: “The residents of the coastal town of Tillamook, Oregon, awoke on Saturday to find Portlanders had emptied the shelves of their local grocery stores….”
+ The Atlantic’s Ed Yong has written a devastating indictment (“How the Pandemic Will End“) of Trump and the entire for-profit health “care” industry:
“In a crucial month when the American caseload shot into the tens of thousands, only hundreds of people were tested. That a biomedical powerhouse like the U.S. should so thoroughly fail to create a very simple diagnostic test was, quite literally, unimaginable. “I’m not aware of any simulations that I or others have run where we [considered] a failure of testing,” says Alexandra Phelan of Georgetown University, who works on legal and policy issues related to infectious diseases.”
+ Trump gets this at a gut level, which almost certainly prompted him to Tweet out one of the most brazen and deadly lies ever told by a sitting US president.

+ To the extent that Trump is conscious of anything, this clumsy attempt at ass-covering is evidence of his consciousness of guilt.
+ Iran, a nation under crippling sanctions, manages to test 33 million people, while the US has tested fewer than 200,000, nearly half of those in New York…
+ OK, class, look at the graph. Now, who can spot the failed state?

+ Matt Bruenig: “Pandemic throws people out of work. Throwing people out of work throws them off their insurance. Throwing them off their insurance makes it harder for them to get medical care needed for pandemic. Not a good system imo.”
+ We are edging closer and closer to the brink of a clampdown: The Trump campaign warned TV stations they could lose their licenses for airing an ad criticizing the president’s actions in the coronavirus crisis .
+ In 2016, the Obama’s NSC prepared a 69-page document providing a step-by-step plan for how handle a pandemic. This was about 68.5 too many pages for Trump to digest. All he needed to know was that it had been published by the Obama administration. It was shelved.
+ Ralph Nader: “Dangerous testing swab shortage in the mighty USA! Why? Because major manufacturer is in Italy, besieged by country’s coronavirus pandemic. Bitter fruit of corporate managed “free trade.” U.S. companies abandoned America and outsourced. Future is self-reliance.”
+ We may not have had a president worth a damn in decades, but since the early 1960s we’ve been fortunate to have a First Citizen: Ralph Nader, who has saved more lives than any other American and will save many thousands more if they’d follow his advice.
+ At 1,400 cases per million, Switzerland now has the highest Covid-19 infection rate in the world. If this is primarily a measure of widespread testing, then we might assume that 1400+ cases per million will become the real infection rate here in the US.
+ Alien: “Take us to your leader…Hmmm. Do you have any others ones?”

+ Trump (native of a city where this has been going on since the 50s at least) seems surprised about restaurant delivery drivers: “It’s incredible. They’re doing service where people come and they pick it up, delivery — it’s been incredible…Totally different business…other than that they cook food.”
+ C’mon, pops, don’t you know this is all just a hoax? Hey, pops. (Shakes body.) Pops? WTF, dude….?
+ I assume this proclamation by Rush is destined to be inscribed on a wall at the Smithsonian or whatever national museum collects the greatest hits of Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients.
+ Ofelia Rousseva, a Bulgarian national visiting her family in Pittsburg, refused to go to the hospital after falling ill for fear of being unable to pay her hospital bill. She later died of complications from COVID-19. “She didn’t have insurance. She thought she might not be able to pay the bills,” her son, Ludmil Velev, told the Pittsburg Post-Gazette from his hospital bed at UPMC Presbyterian, where he has been treated for COVID-19 since Monday. “And being a foreigner, she was worried even more.”
+ Pittsburg sanitation workers launch a wildcat strike for protective clothing and hazard pay. May it (the work stoppages) spread faster than virus!
+ David Orr: “Drivers at the transit agency in Texas where I work are concerned about their own safety but the union contract prohibits strikes. Paratransit drivers must come very close to passengers in wheelchairs who must be tied down to the floor. Hazard pay is not in the cards so what to do?”
+ At least three U.S. Navy sailors aboard the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt in Philippine Sea have tested positive for Covid-19, marking the first time the virus has spread to an American warship at sea. (There are more than 5,000 sailors aboard this ship.)
+ Texas is halting abortion services during the COVID-19 crisis and anyone found in violation of the order could face 180 days of jail time
+ Looks like Trump is considering militarizing the northern border to prevent Americans from fleeing to Canada to get health care…
+ Maybe Mexico will end up paying for the wall after all…to keep desperate Americans out?
+ Denmark and The Netherlands aren’t “socialist” countries, unless you’re comparing them to Texas: Denmark has promised to cover 75% – 90% of salaries for businesses that don’t lay off their employees. And in the Netherlands, the government will pay up to 90% of wages for companies hit hard by the pandemic, with additional help for restaurants…
+ Trump: GM and Ford are making ventilators “right now.”
+ When Trump placed his ventilator order with Ford, did he request the top of the line Edsel model or the Pinto?
+ I don’t know why Trump isn’t reprising his Puerto Rican schtick by touring America, Walmart to Walmart, throwing out rolls of toilet paper from the back of the presidential pick-up truck…
+ In Portland, Oregon, suicide-related 911 calls are up 41 percent from last year. “My clinicians are telling me that on almost every call somebody mentions COVID-19,” Greg Border with Lines for Life, one of Portland’s mental health crisis lines, told the Portland Mercury.
+ Whatever you do, protect the brand! The director of the Convention Center, Melvin Rodrigue, said this week that he’s hesitant to use the Convention Center to house critically ill New Orleanians because he is worried images of the Center housing sick patients would “hurt New Orleans’ tourism brand“.
+ From Daniel Wolff, producer of Right to Return: New Home Movies from the Lower 9th Ward:
As of March 25, New Orleans has the ninth largest number of confirmed cases of COVID-19, even though it’s a much smaller city than the likes of New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. New Orleans has more known cases than 36 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the US Virgin Islands.
Nearly 1 in 5 New Orleans households do not have access to a vehicle—making drive-up testing nearly impossible. Fully 22 percent of New Orleanians have no access to internet (not even smart phones).
Also, New Orleans adults suffer from high blood pressure, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and other pre-existing health conditions at rates higher than in Seattle, New Rochelle, or New York City.
Compared to other early COVID-19 hot spots such as King County, WA (which includes Seattle), Westchester County, NY (includes New Rochelle and Yonkers) and New York City, New Orleans has higher poverty rates and lower average incomes.]
+ A Louisiana judge is refusing to release low-level offenders to stop COVID-19 because “the members of this particular population are overwhelmingly drug addicts who have the worst hygiene of anyone in the community, other than the mentally ill.”
+ Number of functioning ICU units in all of Gaza after years of Israeli lockdown: 100.
+ Noura Erakat: “The siege of Gaza shouldve been lifted already- the WHO has said that it will be unlivable by 2020 (this year) & the pandemic has laid bare its immorality. 2 mil Palestinians sealed off from the world, collectively punished, subject to systemic war. Demand Israel lift the siege.”
+ The US Air Force may have to drop a MOAB bomb on these places to keep them from reopening. Of course, given the accuracy of US smart-bombs they’d probably hit the LACMA and Sloppy Joe’s in Key West instead…
+ Vijay Prashad: “Trump says US will be dependent on none. 90% of US vitamin-C is imported from China……Good luck.”
+ Kentucky Gov Andy Beshear says that one person in the state tested positive after attending a coronavirus party (COVID Party? Did the all the fine ladies wear their floppiest Kentucky Derby Day hats?)
+ When Mitch Mulvaney was at CPAC slamming the media’s coronavirus coverage as “an attempt to bring down the president” and blaming the press for the stock market stump, he’d already taking a test for COVID-19.
+ Trump is back on TV with another disinfomercial, pushing his killer cocktail again…
I’m your doctor, doctor mean
only guy with chloroquine
You know me, I’m your friend
Your main boy, thick and thin
I’m your pusherman
+ MAGAman see, MAGAman do, MAGAman die…(Wife of deceased, also hospitalized after taking chloroquine, says from her hospital bed, “Don’t trust Trump about anything.”
+ Landon Spradlin, a so-called musical evangelist, had spent a few weeks railing against the “mass hysteria” over the Coronavirus hoax. Then a week later, he became the the first Virginia resident to die of Covid-related symptoms. Apparently, he didn’t die so much as ascend in a pre-Rapture recon mission…
+ Trump “Pastor” Rick Wiles says God is spreading Covid-19 in synagogues to avenge the killing of Jesus…Really.
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Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His most recent books are Bernie and the Sandernistas: Field Notes From a Failed Revolution and The Big Heat: Earth on the Brink (with Joshua Frank) He can be reached at: or on Twitter  @JSCCounterPunch . 

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