10,000 on ignore, Book 160: The Days of Reckoning, Part 19.....

Ten Thousan Marbles

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A year after 'Bleach Day' America is getting vaccinated, but the pandemic is still getting worse
Mark Sumner

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If you felt an inexplicable urge to start the day with a Clorox cocktail, that might be because this is Bleach Day. That’s not a celebration of particularly white clothes or singed nose hairs. This is the first anniversary of the day that Donald Trump suggested Americans fight COVID-19 by taking disinfectant and using it “by injection inside” or through a “cleaning” that “gets in the lungs.” In the same press conference, Trump also pondered whether it would be possible to get sunshine inside the body.

While this anniversary might first remind us why the phrase “Let’s party like it’s 2020!” will never catch on, Dan Froomkin at Presswatchers also wants you to remember that, as Trump suggested that the cure to coronavirus lay in disinfectant injections, the reaction of the press was to bend over double in an attempt to make what Trump said seem like a reasonable opinion. There are, apparently, two sides to every issue, including whether it’s dangerous to give people a syringe full of bleach. In the days that followed, accidental poisonings went up, with April 2020 ending with a record number of people who had actually ingested bleach.

There is, sadly enough, no data on whether they were cured of COVID-19.
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Here’s something else that may seem hard to swallow: A year later, the number of new cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. each day is actually twice what it was on the day Donald Trump speculated over internal fumigation. Worldwide, new cases are almost exactly ten times higher than they were on that date. The pandemic is still definitely a pandemic.

At this point, the United States still holds the world record for the total number of cases, and for the highest number of deaths. Trump’s legacy of malignant mismanagement centered on a deliberate attempt to kill parts of the populace remains unmatched.

But that doesn’t mean that some people aren’t giving it a real try. Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, always up for an opportunity to demonstrate the maximum level of bull-headed ignorance, managed to bring that nation’s rate of daily deaths up to the U.S. peak at the beginning of this month, as the incredible tragedy of Manaus spread to other areas.

As Scientific American put it, “The city and Brazil as a whole have become an exemplar of what happens when a country pursues a strategy of denying the pandemic and embracing herd immunity by letting the virus spread unchecked.” Bolsonaro responded by saying that “death is inevitable.” Case counts are down in Brazil over the last two weeks as the fire in Manaus has dimmed, but the there are other cities where case counts are heading up. With less than 7% of the population having tested positive, and just over 8% of the population having been vaccinated, there are still many millions of people subject to Bolsonaro’s ongoing folly.

Meanwhile, India is providing a different sort of lesson. Early in the pandemic, the nation of almost 1.4 billion people maintained a low level of COVID-19 cases through strict social distancing rules, rolling lockdowns, and beating people for not wearing masks. But that didn’t mean that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi didn’t devote himself to downplaying the virus and making fun of those who issued dire warnings. Over time, mask mandates stopped being enforced, social distancing regulations were dropped, and Modi became increasingly dismissive of the whole idea that COVID-19 represented a threat to India.

As Bloomberg reported, Modi showed up at a cricket stadium last month, along with tens of thousands of largely unmasked people, to watch matches between India and England. Like Trump, Modi also held a set of election rallies, in which a total of over three million crowded together. Surprisingly, police did not show up to beat Modi or his followers. Modi and other officials didn’t just permit, but encouraged, a massive religious gathering over the last month in which millions of Hindus took part in a pilgrimage to the Ganges. Through all this, India’s health minister announced that the nation was in the “end game” of the pandemic.

But even as Modi was laughing off the pandemic and his officials were talking like the whole thing was over, cases were already on the rise. Over the last month, they’ve jetted upward in India, and for the last two days India has reported more new cases of COVID-19 than the United States did at its worst. That includes 332,000 cases on Thursday alone. That means that India is currently accounting for more than one-third of all new COVID-19 cases reported anywhere on Earth. And with just 1% of the population having tested positive, and less than 5% of the population vaccinated, India holds a tremendous pool of potential victims to Modi’s downplaying of the virus.

Looking around the world, North America currently accounts for 10% of all cases, with most of those coming from the United States. South America accounts for about 14% of cases, with Brazil topping that chart. About 20% of current cases are located in Europe, distributed across a number of countries. Just 1% of cases come from Africa, where the pandemic has been mainly restricted to South Africa and nations along the Mediterranean coast (though recent increases in a number of nations, including Tunisia and Ethiopia, are concerning).


But right now, 54% of all new COVID-19 cases are located in Asia; a number that hasn’t been seen since shortly after the virus moved beyond China. While a large percentage of those cases come from the massive surge in India, waves of cases are also hitting Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and elsewhere. Even nations like Japan, which had been so successful in keeping case counts low to this point, are experiencing a “fourth wave.” More frightening, many of these nations show no signs of slowing the rate of growth...............
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Trump may be gone, but Republicans are still objectively pro-dying from COVID-19
Mark Sumner

The United States no longer has to stand by for a daily White House downplaying of the threat, promotion of fake cures, or encouragement to get a bleach injection. That’s a good thing. So is the increased availability of vaccines that, though a long way from herd immunity, may be playing a significant role in preventing the United States from seeing a real “fourth wave” of cases.

Last November, researchers at the National Institutes of Health produced a study that now seems eerily prescient. Based on the idea that vaccines could be 95% effective in preventing COVID-19, and that these vaccines would also reduce transmission, they modeled the effect in the U.S. of achieving 40% vaccination of the total population. The researchers concluded that the rate of new cases could be almost cut in half, the burden on ICUs greatly reduced, and the number of deaths drastically cut back well in advance of hitting the kind of numbers usually associated with herd immunity.

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With 40.9% of Americans now having received at least one dose, that effect could be preventing a surge in the United States right now. We’re only now reaching the levels where that effect is significant, but as the vaccine numbers go up, the possibility of a return to normal draws ever nearer. The math and science shows that every American who gets a vaccination is taking a step that benefits the whole nation.

But what if you don’t believe in science? Or math? Or doing anything that helps someone else? In that case, look no further than the advice being offered by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-is for Russia) who is doing his best to keep vaccine hesitancy high.

While some very smart people were working out the benefits of vaccination and healthcare workers all over the nation were working to turn these numbers into reality, there has continued to be a cadre of Republicans who have undercut the vaccination effort. And with Trump reduced to sideline player, the biggest in-office source of pro-death propaganda may be the Kremlin favorite, Johnson.

As Forbes reports, Johnson has declared himself “highly suspicious” of the “big push to get everyone vaccinated.” Part of this appears to be back to that not understanding math thing. Johnson has argued that because the vaccine is 95% effective, that means “only a limited number” of people really need to be infected. How that works in Johnson’s head is unclear, and no one really wants to go in there, but however this is supposed to work, it doesn’t.

Johnson then went on to encourage young people
not to get vaccinated, and pushed back against the use of any sort of vaccine passport to protect public safety, calling it “a very freedom-robbing step.”

Johnson then turned to the ultimate basis of all Republican policy: selfishness. “If you have a vaccine quite honestly what do you care if your neighbor has one or not?” said Johnson said. “What is it to you? You’ve got a vaccine and science is telling you it’s very, very effective. So why is this big push to make sure everybody gets a vaccine?”


The Republican Party no longer has a platform beyond “Obey Trump,” but if they were adding planks, “I’ve got mine, why the hell should I care about anything else?” would certainly be high on the list. Only it shouldn’t be surprising that Johnson has this thing completely upside down.

If he, and other Republican “thought” leaders like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Tucker Carlson are really so set against getting a vaccine, what they should be doing is telling everyone else to get vaccinated.

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Right now, 43% of Republicans are saying “no” to the vaccine. All over the country, red counties are finding themselves with a vaccine surplus. Whole states like Georgia, Mississippi and Montana are pondering what to do about wasted vaccines and unfilled vaccine appointment calendars (Hint: Send them to communities of color, where demand is high). Unless that number goes down, it would take near perfect participation from every other American adult to reach the lowest threshold for herd immunity. And what herd immunity does is protect the people who did not get vaccinated.

By discouraging everyone from getting vaccinated, the people Ron Johnson is most putting at risk are his Republican followers. Which makes it tempting to adopt a Johnson-esque attitude and just sort of … snicker. However, these are human lives on the line. And in addition to Republican vaccine conspiracy theorists, in every community there are a small number of people who legitimately cannot get vaccinated. That can be due to very specific allergies, or to immune system issues. Those people are protected when the population reaches herd immunity, because the disease is no longer readily spread within the community. Efforts of bozos like Johnson also put those people at risk.


It’s important to counter the lies spread by Johnson, Greene, Carlson and others, and to encourage the maximum number of people possible to get vaccinated. That protects the people who can’t get vaccinated, and it helps to protect everyone from having millions of lingering infections that kick out new, ever more resistant, variants. More effort needs to be put into public campaigns to push or pull people to get vaccinated.

But looking at it from Vladimir Putin’s point of view, convincing people not to get vaccinated does make America weaker. So … good job, Ron.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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.....Barbara Gennaro, a stay-at-home mother of two small children in Yazoo City, Mississippi, said everybody in her homeschooling community is against getting the vaccine. Gennaro said she generally avoids vaccinations for her family in general, and the coronavirus vaccine is no different.

“All of the strong Christians that I associate with are against it,” she said. “Fear is what drives people to get the vaccine — plain and simple. The stronger someone’s trust is in the Lord, the least likely they are to want the vaccine or feel that it’s necessary.”

Another challenge for vaccinations in a rural state like Mississippi is that in many cases, doses are being shipped in large packages with one vial containing at least 10 doses......
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Judge halts the Arizona recount
Mother Mags

Today Superior Court Judge Christopher Coury ordered the Arizona Senate to halt its recount of Maricopa County’s 2.1 million ballots from the November election.

[Judge Coury said] he wants to ensure the recount fully complies with Arizona law and asked for more information by Monday morning on the audit’s policies and procedures.

You might ask what “policies and procedures” he’s talking about. Let’s review.

1. No evidence exists that Maricopa County’s tally was fraudulent. In fact, two recounts, including a hand recount, already verified the results. Republicans in the Arizona Senate, some of whom were behind the original “Stop the Steal” movement that culminated in the Jan. 6 riot, simply did not like the way both earlier recounts were conducted, mostly because they were not involved, so they sued to recount the ballots using their system (and now we know what that looks like).


2. Even the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, which is 4-1 Republican, certified the vote and refused to cooperate with Senate Republicans.

3. The Republican Senate sued the County and a judge ordered the ballots sent to the Senate (which certainly was not prepared to receive truckloads of ballots). The first company hired to conduct the recount turned out to be associated with Trump and in legal jeopardy over another project. Republicans had no audit firm to count the votes, so the ballots sat; no one had any idea where to store them or who would count them (this went on for weeks).


4. The Senate eventually contracted with the Veterans Memorial Coliseum as the site to store and count the ballots. Formerly the home of the Phoenix Suns basketball team, sitting on McDowell Road, the building was known as the “Madhouse on McDowell” during the Suns’ years. Today the name fits even better.

5. The Florida-based firm eventually hired to conduct the audit is Cyber Ninjas, whose CEO Doug Logan has promoted conspiracy theories about the election. Assisting Logan will be Jovan Pulitzer, another election conspiracy nutball.


Jovan Pulitzer, a favorite of election fraud conspiracy theorists who claims to have invented technology that can detect fraudulent ballots and whom Georgia’s Republican secretary of state recently derided as a “failed inventor and a failed treasure hunter,” will have a role in the Senate’s audit of the 2020 election in Maricopa County.

6. The Senate refuses to say who is paying for the audit; they agreed to pay Cyber Ninjas $150,000, but it’s estimated to cost much more and dark money groups are making up the difference. The far-far-right One America News Network (OANN) has launched a campaign to raise $150,000, but when asked Senate Republicans say, “It doesn’t matter who paid for it,” nor will they discuss Cyber Ninjas’ role in the “Stop the Steal” movement. (BTW, their search for private funding follows immediately after Arizona Republicans passed a bill forbidding outside money to help pay for elections.)

7. Republicans are refusing journalists access to the audit, arguing that the Coliseum doesn’t have enough space for the recount and observers (forget about the fact it’s a 15,000-seat arena that’s held monster truck shows). Rather than access, the Senate says they’ll hold a daily press conference (they estimate 20 days to finish). Several media outlets sent a letter to Senate President Karen Fann, pointing out that conducting the audit in the dark flies in the face of their stated reason for pursuing a third recount:


… if the purpose of the audit is to foster public trust in Arizona’s elections [which is what the GOP argued], it is critical that there also be public trust in the audit itself. Such can only be achieved by fair, open access to the press...”

8. That brings us to yesterday, when a lawsuit filed by the Arizona Democratic Party and Maricopa County Supervisor Steve Gallardo (the lone Dem) argued that the Senate has not established security to protect the millions of ballots, nor have the auditors received proper training; Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, said it best: “They should not be trusted with our ballots.” Most importantly, the entire procedure, which is led by election conspiracists, does not appear to be balanced and is certainly not transparent. What could go wrong?

The count has been taken and retaken and re-retaken; Biden won Arizona. This circus will result in nothing but headlines that make Arizona’s Republican Party look even more deceitful and stupid, if that’s possible.

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Rachel Maddow on Arizona Cyber Ninjas Re-Count
DeniseHa



Are the Arizona "Auditors" Cheating Already?
Dan K
 
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Ten Thousan Marbles

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Republicans seem upset that the economy hasn't collapsed
Laura Clawson

Republicans keep dropping hints about what they want to see happen to the economy under President Joe Biden’s leadership, but the economy doesn’t seem to be listening. Despite all their dire predictions, things are looking up, driven by continuing government COVID-19 relief and the prospect of widespread vaccinations changing the course of the pandemic.

Donald Trump’s big reelection pitch on the economy was that a Biden win would mean a major crash. “If he gets in, you will have a depression the likes of which you’ve never seen. Your 401(k)s will go to hell and it’ll be a very, very sad day for this country,” Trump said in an October debate. Republican voters responded, with their optimism about the economy crashing after Trump lost.
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As Democrats pushed the American Rescue Plan, Republicans warned that it was too big and would lead to problems. “There are a lot of warning signs that have not been worrisome in the past but now are certainly blinking yellow,” Sen. Pat Toomey said on Feb. 23, cautioning against “too much liquidity going into the system.”


Now, American Rescue Plan money is flowing out into the economy, things are still going well, and Republicans are … issuing the same kind of dire warnings about Biden’s next set of plans. Spending too much could set off inflation, they say, though Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell (a Trump pick) says those concerns are overblown. “We’ve averaged less than 2 percent inflation for more than the last 25 years,” Powell told the Senate Banking Committee in February. “Inflation dynamics do change over time, but they don’t change on a dime.”

Republicans are also howling about the prospect of a corporate tax increase. “Why, as this country begins to reopen and recover economically, would the Biden administration be proposing tax policy which would in the end hurt the American family and millions of struggling small businesses?” Rep. Ann Wagner asked Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen during a recent House Financial Services Committee hearing, based on the theory that raising the corporate tax rate would cause prices to go up. Except that none of the Republican claims about how the Trump-era corporate tax cut would lead to increased household income panned out, so why would anyone believe the dire warnings of what would happen if less than half of the corporate income tax break was rolled back?


That corporate tax increase back to less than the rate in 2017 is planned to fund Biden’s American Jobs Plan, focused on infrastructure. Expect another round of Republican howling as Biden proposes raising the capital gains tax on people earning more than $1 million a year and returning the top marginal income tax rate to what it was before the Trump tax cuts for the rich. These moves would pay for Biden’s American Families Plan, establishing national paid leave, cutting child care costs for most families, and establishing free

prekindergarten and community college. Cutting child care costs alone would help parents—mostly mothers—enter the paid workforce.

All of Biden’s moves are aimed at strengthening the working people’s economy and bringing U.S. infrastructure into the 21st century, and all Republicans want to do is predict doom because corporations and the very wealthiest individuals would have to pay a little more, money they’d be paying to invest in schools and roads and bridges and transit and drinkable water, as well as a workforce that was healthy and educated and not overburdened by trying to care for children and elders with no support. These are investments in the future of the U.S., but Republicans can’t see it because they think corporations will be able indefinitely to squeeze just a little more, just a little more out of a workforce already stretched to the breaking point and beyond. And most of all, Republicans want Biden and Democrats to fail, so that a weak economy will propel Republican wins in 2022 and 2024. They’re rooting against the United States’ economy for partisan gain, and all their predictions of economic doom are reminders of that.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Former President Donald Trump's backing of football great Herschel Walker to run for the Georgia Senate seat has been enough to effectively freeze the GOP field in place -- even though some Republicans privately worry the political neophyte might fizzle against Sen. Raphael Warnock in a high-stakes general election.

Warnock, who is running for a full six-year term next year after narrowly winning his seat in a special election in January, is a top target for Republicans. And with the backing of Trump and his closest allies, who believe that Walker is uniquely able to unite a party torn apart by their 2020 losses, prospective Republican candidates are signaling they are willing to sit out until the legendary athlete makes a decision.

But the prospect that Walker could have the field to himself is causing anxiety among some Republicans in Georgia and Washington, who privately are uncertain whether the first-time candidate and Texas resident could handle the enormous challenges ahead. And they're worried that Trump is propping up a candidate simply because he has been a loyal friend, rather than assessing the former NFL running back's electoral viability in a pivotal battleground that could again determine the next Senate majority.......
 

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Late last year, as a team of Minnesota state prosecutors was preparing for the trial that would ultimately convict former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin of murdering George Floyd, they received a series of videos depicting Chauvin's handling of another case three years earlier that by their own description shocked them.

The videos, from Sept. 4, 2017, allegedly showed Chauvin striking a Black teenager in the head so hard that the boy needed stitches, then allegedly holding the boy down with his knee for nearly 17 minutes, and allegedly ignoring complaints from the boy that he couldn't breathe.


"Those videos show a far more violent and forceful treatment of this child than Chauvin describes in his report [of the incident]," Matthew Frank, one of the state prosecutors, wrote in a court filing at the time.

Now, the U.S. Justice Department may do something that state prosecutors never did: charge Chauvin for the 2017 incident.

Two months ago, federal prosecutors in Minneapolis brought witnesses before a federal grand jury to provide testimony related to the incident, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported at the time. And this week, a source informed of the probe told ABC News that the investigation is still underway, with the Justice Department still weighing whether to bring federal charges against Chauvin for both the 2017 incident and George Floyd's death.

Officials at the Minneapolis Police Department were recently briefed on the federal government's interest in the 2017 incident, a move that came before the Justice Department this week launched a sweeping investigation of MPD's policing practices, ABC News was told.

"We will assist the DOJ with anything that they need, and the chief has pledged full cooperation with any investigating agency," MPD spokesman John Elder said, speaking generally of any requests made related to police conduct......
 

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New Mexico city sends Trump campaign’s $200,000 bill to collection agency
Walter Einenkel

The past five years brought unprecedented reporting on what seemed to be transparent corruption within the Trump organization and administration. Much of the clearly dubious handling of money came out of Donald Trump’s campaign apparatus. Up until the end, Trump’s campaign was run like a traveling con job, and any and all fundraising done in service of his candidacy was used to pay off everything but campaign costs. The Trump administration, like the Trump organization of the past 40+ years, tried to leave citizens holding the bag at every turn. One of the main gripes that states and localities had with Trump’s never-ending campaign was his propensity to leave the costs of enormous security bills on the shoulders of local taxpayers.

One city that has waited more than 19 months for the Trump campaign to pay its debt is Albuquerque, New Mexico. KOB4 reports that Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller sent a $200,000 bill to a collection agency in the hopes of receiving money he says the Trump campaign owes the city. "We actually treated it like any other debt, and so it goes through a somewhat process where you send a bunch of letters out. We got no response from those letters. And then automatically, it does go to an agency that helps try and collect debts, and so that's those annoying phone calls you get that say, you know, you owe money to so-and-so—like now, Trump is getting those."

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The Albuquerque mayor is not the first public official to make a statement concerning Trump’s campaign rallies, their costs, and his tendency to leave large bills for state and city budgets to reconcile themselves. The strangely coifed conman got bent out of shape while still in office when Minneapolis, Minnesota, Mayor Jacob Frey sent the Trump campaign a preemptive $500,000 estimated security bill back in October 2019.

Back in November, Newsweek reported that the loser campaign owed at least $850,000 to various local agencies for the costs of his rallies. The City of El Paso, Texas, which says the twice-impeached president owes $500,000, hired outside legal counsel in November 2020 to help with the collection of that debt. El Paso officials say that debt has been outstanding since February 2019.

The Trump campaign began making sure it could plead poverty right after Trump lost on Nov. 6. According to reports, while Trump and friends fundraised off of his attempts to overturn the election results, campaign money was quickly moved into a variety of Trump businesses and Trump-connected businesses. Besides enriching oneself, it is also a good way to stiff other people waiting for payment.

Republicans like Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota have been mum on Donald Trump’s corruption not simply because they’ve found it politically advantageous to side with Trump, but because they, too, have benefited from the same campaign financing corruptions.

When the news outlet reached out for a comment, the Trump campaign emailed KOB 4 that it was “reviewing your request.”