97 thoughts on “Daily Blog May 2020

  1. Listen to AM Quickie

    A daily podcast published after 8 a.m. EDT

    Seems like every day this podcast covers all the stories I post and more. It’s so good it has put me out of a job Mon-Fri so I’m going to suggest listening/subscribing to this podcast to get a fresh look at the days news. It’s fun and informative at the same time.

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  2. There’s No Telling What Data Facebook Will Collect If You Use Its Zoom Clone

    Illustration: Soohee Cho/The Intercept

    Earlier this month, Facebook debuted its group video chat offering, Messenger Rooms, to a world under widespread pandemic lockdown, one that’s in large part replaced face-to-face meetings with streamed conversations. The chief beneficiary of this shift, Zoom, has spent months as a punching bag for privacy advocates, so Facebook was quick to assure users that it had “built Rooms with privacy in mind” and that “we don’t watch or listen to your audio or video calls.”

    But today, well over a week after the rollout and nearly a month after Facebook announced and offered the privacy assurances about Messenger Rooms, it’s impossible to determine exactly what information will be collected about you and your life if you decide to use the product. The company’s public documentation of Messenger Rooms, including a post focused on privacy, offers very few details, although the privacy post promises, narrowly, that “audio and video from Rooms won’t be used to inform ads.” Facebook’s communications department spent weeks researching my questions about Messenger Rooms privacy, only to come back with few answers, and offering instead only links to a spate of vague policies that predate the product.
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    Those policies, and the few specifics Facebook has given publicly about Messenger Rooms, leave unanswered important questions about how the company handles the metadata around video calls — who you talk to, when you talk to them, from where, etc. — including what metadata the company retains and with whom it shares it. Even Facebook’s upfront pledge not to “watch or listen” to conversations isn’t ironclad, privacy experts said.

    The takeaway is that Facebook’s latest product, like all its previous products and those of its competitors, requires a leap of faith. For those wondering what ditching Zoom for Facebook entails in complete and precise terms, there is quite literally no definitive answer, but only another question: Well, do you trust Facebook?

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  3. Tipping

    Thomas Piketty’s new history of global inequality.

    *Illustration by Tim Robinson. *

    On a Friday night early this past winter, two of France’s left-wing intellectual heavyweights duked it out over a familiar question: What to do about private property? At the Paris Bourse du Travail, a union hall shared by the local branches of the country’s major labor confederations, the radical economist Frédéric Lordon played to the crowd. Sporting a hoodie, light blue jeans, and navy sneakers, the fire-breathing Lordon called for abolishing and collectivizing all private property. In a collared shirt and dress shoes, his opponent, who for the last several years has been sounding the alarm about skyrocketing wealth inequality, found himself in an unfamiliar position. One of the world’s foremost critics of capitalism, Thomas Piketty was making the case for moderation, or as he put it, a more lasting “radicality.” “The false radicality of saying, ‘We’ll talk about it later, after the collapse of the current economic system’ or ‘We don’t want any form of private property in the socialist or communist system we have in mind’—this is actually a very cheap radicality,” Piketty insisted. “It’s a radicality that doesn’t scare anyone. The elimination of very small types of private property doesn’t at all correspond to what’s being asked or what is desirable from the point of view of individual emancipation.”

    A socialist future that allows for small-scale bakeries and restaurants might not be so bad, Piketty argued. Rather than abolishing all forms of private property, one could achieve an egalitarian and democratic society by more heavily taxing wealth and income and transferring power from shareholders to employees. When one of the moderators asked him if he believed in the prospects of the Grand Soir—the Great Evening, or the notion of an inevitable workers’ revolution that has inspired generations of French leftists—Piketty fired back, “The Grand Soir is great, but it’s the morning after that interests me most.”

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  4. Swing-District Democrats Link With Progressives to Back Paycheck Bill Pelosi Rejected

    Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., speaks to members of the media as she arrives at a House Democratic Caucus meeting on Sept. 25, 2019 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

    After House Speaker Nancy Pelosi excluded a plan to keep unemployment down by subsidizing firms to keep workers on payrolls from her relief package last week, dozens of progressives have banded together with 10 “front-line” Democrats from swing districts to introduce it as a standalone piece of legislation.

    The Paycheck Recovery Act, authored by Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., aims to make sure that paychecks are flowing from employers to workers during the coronavirus pandemic. A previous version, the Paycheck Guarantee Act, had been a priority of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, of which Jayapal is a co-chair. The bill subsidizes struggling companies’ payrolls in order to discourage layoffs and keep unemployment down. While Pelosi had said she was open to considering the idea, she ultimately kept it out of the HEROES Act, the coronavirus relief bill passed by the House on Friday, which includes an extension of unemployment subsidies. Jayapal confronted her on a private caucus conference call over the decision, and Pelosi aides later pushed back, criticizing the measure for not having official legislative text or Republican co-sponsors.

    Jayapal ultimately voted against the legislation, along with eight other progressives, citing the exclusion of her program. They were joined by five front-liners, some of whom objected to the paycheck measure’s omission, others of whom opposed it from the right, complaining of a lack of bipartisan buy-in.

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  5. Alarm and Confusion at Fox News as Trump Says He Takes Hydroxychloroquine

    Minutes after President Donald Trump asked on Monday, “What do you have to lose?” by taking hydroxychloroquine, Fox News host Neil Cavuto answered: “Your life.” Photo: Doug Mills/The New York Times/Bloomberg via Getty Images

    Fox News viewers were warned on Monday not to take medical advice from the president, following Donald Trump’s surprise announcement that he takes the drug hydroxychloroquine, based on his belief that it could prevent him from becoming infected with Covid-19 — a belief unsupported by scientific evidence.

    Moments after the president told reporters that he began taking the medication about a week and a half ago — which is when the vice president’s press secretary, Katie Miller, tested positive for the coronavirus — Fox News host Neil Cavuto issued an urgent warning, telling the channel’s largely elderly audience that there is no evidence the drug can ward off Covid-19 but it can cause potentially fatal irregular heartbeats.

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    1. Nancy Pelosi fears for ‘morbidly obese’ Trump after hydroxychloroquine admission

      The US House Speaker says president should not be taking a drug that has not been approved to ward off coronavirus

      *Nancy Pelosi did not mince her words when she was asked on CNN about the president taking hydroxychloroquine to prevent coronavirus. Photograph: Andrew Harnik/AP *

      Nancy Pelosi has led a chorus of surprise and alarm after Donald Trump said he was taking the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine to ward off coronavirus.

      Trump’s own government has warned that the drug should only be administered for Covid-19 in a hospital or research setting due to potentially fatal side effects.

      The US House Speaker did not mince her words when she was asked on CNN about the president’s decision.

      “He’s our president, and I would rather he not be taking something that has not been approved by the scientists, especially in his age group and his, shall we say, weight group … morbidly obese, they say,” she said.

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  6. em>

    The Sound of the Coronavirus Quarantine Is an Acoustic Guitar

    Streaming data shows that bluegrass, country, and singer-songwriter classics have spiked during the pandemic, even as streams fell overall

    Baez and Dylan: Streaming data shows that during quarantine, listeners have gravitated toward folkier, more acoustic-leaning sounds. Rowland Scherman/National Archive/Newsmakers/Getty Images

    Millions of listeners have been coping with the loneliness, moral fatigue, and existential boredom of a global pandemic to the beat of Megan Thee Stallion’s “Savage,” so many that the song took the top spot on the RS 100. Yet overall, Americans have been seeking solace not in synthetic beats, but in the acoustic guitar.

    Streaming data shows that in the first two months of social distancing, American listeners largely gravitated away from electric and electronic genres and toward the acoustic — to singer-songwriter classics and country jams, from Joan Baez to the Byrds and Bob Dylan.

    According to Alpha Data, as on-demand audio streams streams in the U.S. dipped eight percent from March 13th through May 7th compared with the previous two months, streams for pop, dance, and hip-hop decreased at up to two times that rate, while genres like country, soft rock, and bluegrass have stayed steady or seen up to double-digit growth. This analysis is limited to on-demand audio streams in the U.S., which is the primary metric powering the Rolling Stone Charts.

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  7. em>

    The Deranged Civic Religion of the Lockdown Protesters

    Furious at being denied their fast food and manicures, the “reopen America” rebels have invented a slew of new constitutional rights.

    Mark Makela/Getty Images

    Over the weekend, The Washington Post published a chilling description of the first day of reopened business at a mall in an upscale suburb of Atlanta, Georgia. Bored rich people wandered the aisles of Anthropologie and Crate & Barrel, pawing at the wares, some with no masks or hand sanitizer in sight. One woman getting a manicure said, “I went to the antique mall yesterday on Highway 9 and it was just like—it was like freedom. We have to get out.” Everyone who is lucky enough not to have to work is chafing at being stuck at home, but one has to laugh at the idea that American Freedom is visiting the antique mall on Highway 9. Then again, maybe she’s right: Maybe that is American Freedom.

    The right to visit whatever business you please is not one enshrined in the Constitution. There is no constitutional right to go to Arby’s. But from the start, lockdown protesters claimed their constitutional rights were being trampled by the stay-at-home orders. Protest signs in Southern California read: “Pandemics does [sic] NOT cancel our Constitutional rights!! Freedom over fear,” and “No Liberty, No Life, Reopen California.” My colleague Matt Ford is not the only one suggesting tweaks to America’s foundational documents, it seems: The angry bourgeoisie of the “reopen America” movement has invented an entirely new category of civil rights.

    On Monday, in New Jersey, a protester at a gym that opened despite the shutdown order held a sign that said, “The constitution is essential,” and another held a sign that said, “Right to work/Right to worship/Right to free speech/Right to be free.” A protester in Washington said: “I lost my job as a bartender and now I live on way less income, and I’m upset that my constitutional rights are being trampled all over.” Advocates of a federal job guarantee will be thrilled to hear that there is a constitutional right to a job.

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  8. America’s Eternal Stockholm Syndrome

    The right-wing fixation with Sweden’s coronavirus response is the latest example of the Nordic countries’ hold on our political imagination.

    Teenagers hand out Covid-19 information flyers near Stockholm. Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images

    At some point during the pandemic (what is time anymore, anyway?), Sweden—a high-tax, welfare-loving country where citizens generally seem to like and listen to their government—found a surprising libertarian fan base in the United States. To marshal support for reopening the economy in the U.S., conservatives started touting Sweden’s coronavirus response, which has largely foregone the type of lockdown measures practiced in other countries and instead relies on people to practice social distancing measures on their own. Ben Shapiro, Tucker Carlson, and other talking heads on the right, who all seem to find mask orders more objectionable than widespread death, praised Sweden’s seemingly laissez-faire approach to virus containment. “Bottom line, Sweden accepts the concept of ‘trade-offs,’ something that many who attack President Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus do not seem to understand,” went one typical Fox News analysis.

    As it happens, the trade-off is dying. Currently, Sweden has a much higher coronavirus death rate than its Scandinavian neighbors and several other European countries that have adopted lockdown measures. What’s more, most of the claims about Sweden’s supposed miracle approach have been exaggerated or are false. Newt Gingrich’s insistence, for instance, that Sweden had “done a much better job with much less economic damage” isn’t true: Its economy is suffering. And as public health experts and Swedish officials have pointed out, Sweden’s entire approach, for better or for worse, was contingent on a level of public trust in the government that simply doesn’t exist in the U.S., and was further aided by the country’s robust public services, including universal health care, and its relatively healthy population. It should be underscored: Those on the right who have touted Sweden’s approach are not championing an increased trust in government or an enhanced social safety net.

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  9. Trump’s Son Pushes Dimwitted Rigged Election Conspiracy: Virus ‘Will Magically Go Away’ After Nov. 3

    Eric Trump says Democrats are in the midst of a concerted effort to stop America from reopening in order to derail his father’s rallies, thus hurting the president’s reelection chances

    Fox News’ Jeannine Pirro and Eric Trump. FoxNews/Screencap

    President Trump’s son Eric wants people to believe that the Democrats are in the midst of a concerted effort to stop America from reopening so his dad can’t hold arena rallies, all in an attempt to hurt his reelection chances.

    On Saturday, Eric Trump told Fox News host Jeannine Pirro that following November’s presidential election, the “coronavirus will magically… disappear and everybody will be able to reopen.” Because, you know, the Democrats will make that happen.

    “They think they are taking away Donald Trump’s greatest tool, which is being able to go into an arena and fill it with 50,000 people every single time,” he said. “You watch, they’ll milk it every single day between now and November 3. And guess what, after November 3, coronavirus will magically all of a sudden go away and disappear and everybody will be able to reopen.”

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  10. Biden Taps AOC and Jayapal to Help Shape Party Policy. Isn’t This a Win for Progressives?

    If you were to draw up a list of the most plain-spoken, passionate, and progressive women in American public life, you would have to include Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, and Sara Nelson somewhere near the top. All of them, of course, were loud and ardent advocates for Bernie Sanders during the Democratic presidential primaries.

    Imagine my surprise then — or was it disbelief? — to discover on Wednesday morning that they had been appointed as co-chairs of three of the six “joint task forces” that are meant to unify the Democratic Party on policy in the run-up to November.

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  11. Democrats feel tide turning their way in battle to flip US Senate

    The electoral map does not favor Republicans and the pandemic has helped put them on defense in states they once thought safe

    * The Republican senator Susan Collins is believed to be vulnerable in Maine. Photograph: Michael Brochstein/ZUMA Wire/REX/Shutterstock *

    Just three months ago, centrist Democrats were panicking. After strong performances in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada, the Vermont senator Bernie Sanders appeared poised to sail away with the nomination for president. Some in the party feared the self-identified democratic socialist would wreak havoc down the ballot.
    Could Susan Collins’ vote for Kavanaugh help the Democrats flip the Senate in 2020?
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    “If Bernie Sanders was at the top of the ticket, we would be in jeopardy of losing the House,” the Louisiana congressman Cedric Richmond, a co-chair of Joe Biden’s campaign, said on a February conference call. “We would not get the Senate back.”

    The world looks different now – and so does the Senate map. With Biden the presumptive nominee and Donald Trump facing widespread criticism for his handling of the coronavirus crisis, election experts say the upper chamber is up for grabs.

    Republicans hold a 53-47 advantage, meaning Democrats will have to flip at least three seats to take the majority, assuming they win the White House. If they can’t win the presidency, they will need four seats to control the Senate. Doug Jones, a Democrat, is considered an underdog for re-election in Alabama. If he loses, Democrats will need another Republican seat.

    But Jones’s race is one of only a few chances for Republicans to flip a seat themselves. Other Democrats up for re-election, such as Gary Peters in Michigan, have started to pull ahead. The map is unfavorable for Republicans, with incumbents facing difficult re-election races in presidential battleground states like Arizona, Colorado and North Carolina.

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  12. Faced with an appalling US coronavirus death toll, the right denies the figures

    Fox News is foremost in promoting the idea that official figures are inflated, whereas experts believe more people have died

    *Drone pictures show bodies being buried on New York’s Hart Island amid a surge burials during the Covid-19 outbreak on 9 April. Photograph: Lucas Jackson/Reuters *

    As Donald Trump agitates for the US to reopen, the American right appears to have found a novel way to deal with the rising coronavirus death toll: deny it altogether.
    ‘Obamagate’: Fox News focuses on conspiracy theory rather than Covid-19
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    Top Trump officials, huddled in the White House, itself the subject of a coronavirus outbreak, have according to reports begun questioning the number of deaths – and the president is among the skeptics.

    It’s a handy thought process for an administration desperate to send Americans back to work even as deaths from the virus rise each day, with marked surges in some traditionally Republican states.

    Trump is said to be coming round to the idea, pushed in the rightwing media for weeks, that hospitals, coroners and medical professionals across the US have been mislabelling deaths.

    As far back as early April, Fox News personalities were casting doubt on the number of people who had succumbed to Covid-19. Senior political analyst Brit Hume led the charge, suggesting fatalities in New York City – the worst-hit area in the country – were “inflated” because the city did not “distinguish between those who die with the disease and those who die from it”. Hume retweeted a chart showing that many people who died had pre-existing conditions.

    Hume repeated the claim on Tucker Carlson’s show. He appeared to convince Carlson, who suggested “there may be reasons that people seek an inaccurate death count” and added: “When journalists work with numbers, there sometimes is an agenda, unfortunately.”

    Trump is said to be questioning whether the death toll is lower than officially stated. He has stopped short of saying so in public, but in April he retweeted a man who mused of Democrats: “Do you really think these lunatics wouldn’t inflate the mortality rates by underreporting the infection rates in an attempt to steal the election?”

    Trump has consistently under-predicted how many people will die from the virus. In February he said there would soon be “close to zero” cases. On 20 April, he suggested “50 to 60,000” could die. The US passed that figure nine days later. More than 85,000 have now died.

    In fact, epidemiologists including Dr Anthony Fauci, the government’s top public health expert, say more people have died from coronavirus than has been reported.

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  13. The end of plastic? New plant-based bottles will degrade in a year

    Carlsberg and Coca-Cola back pioneering project to make ‘all-plant’ drinks bottles

    *A mound of plastic bottles at a recycling plant near Bangkok in Thailand. Around 300 million tonnes of plastic is made every year and most of it is not recycled. Photograph: Diego Azubel/EPA *

    Beer and soft drinks could soon be sipped from “all-plant” bottles under new plans to turn sustainably grown crops into plastic in partnership with major beverage makers.

    A biochemicals company in the Netherlands hopes to kickstart investment in a pioneering project that hopes to make plastics from plant sugars rather than fossil fuels.

    The plans, devised by renewable chemicals company Avantium, have already won the support of beer-maker Carlsberg, which hopes to sell its pilsner in a cardboard bottle lined with an inner layer of plant plastic.

    Avantium’s chief executive, Tom van Aken, says he hopes to greenlight a major investment in the world-leading bioplastics plant in the Netherlands by the end of the year. The project, which remains on track despite the coronavirus lockdown, is set to reveal partnerships with other food and drink companies later in the summer.

    The project has the backing of Coca-Cola and Danone, which hope to secure the future of their bottled products by tackling the environmental damage caused by plastic pollution and a reliance on fossil fuels.

    Globally around 300 million tonnes of plastic is made from fossil fuels every year, which is a major contributor to the climate crisis. Most of this is not recycled and contributes to the scourge of microplastics in the world’s oceans. Microplastics can take hundreds of years to decompose completely.

    “This plastic has very attractive sustainability credentials because it uses no fossil fuels, and can be recycled – but would also degrade in nature much faster than normal plastics do,” says Van Aken.

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  14. Baseball’s Plan to Reopen Is All Risk for the Players

    The media and the owners are pressuring the players to take a lousy deal and return to the field during a pandemic.

    Guaranteed Rate Field, home of the Chicago White Sox, in May 2020. (Jonathan Daniel / Getty)

    A League of Their Own told us there was no crying in baseball. But no spitting? This is just one of the proposed rules Major League Baseball is putting forward in its plan to restart the season in July amid the coronavirus pandemic.

    Spitting is to baseball as Gatorade is to basketball: whether masticating tobacco, sunflower seeds, or Big League Chew (for that bubble gum/tobacco feel), when you play baseball, you spit. The barring of expectoration is just one of the cultural changes the league is proposing to keep the spread of the virus at a minimum while still somehow playing an 82-game season. Other ideas being put forward include no more high-fiving anyone on your team, and no more autographs for fans hanging around outside the park. Outside would be the only place a fan could possibly get an autograph, because games would be played in empty stadiums.

    The minor league games will almost certainly be canceled, but teams can carry 50 people on a roster, so the top minor leaguers will see action. With all these extra players practicing social distancing, players will be sitting in the stands instead of the dugout, which will be an odd sight indeed. For those 82 games, teams will only play opponents in their division or inter-league opponents within, pardon the expression, spitting distance.

    If this plan sounds like a sclerotic facsimile of a legitimate baseball season, it is. If it sounds like a possible health catastrophe waiting to happen, it is. But the fans, desperate for some kind of sports, are ready to see the players risk the virus while franchise owners collect checks a safe distance away. The owners, desperate for their television broadcast payola, are ready to see the players risk the virus. Members of the media, desperate for something to broadcast and hot topics to discuss other than the career of Michael Jordan, are in a full-scale pressure campaign to see the players risk the virus. Many of the players, not willing to burn off a year of their careers, are also ready to risk it all.

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  15. Obamagate Is the Ultimate Republican Non-Scandal

    Donald Trump says his predecessor committed the “greatest crime in American political history.” So why can’t he explain what it is?

    What is “Obamagate” anyway? No one seems to really know, least of all Donald Trump, even though he has tweeted about it dozens of times over the last week. Asked by The Washington Post’s Philip Rucker on Monday what crimes he was accusing Barack Obama of committing, Trump kept it vague: “You know what the crime is. The crime is very obvious to everybody.”

    Obamagate began more than three years ago, with a tweet in which Trump accused Obama of having his “wires tapped” during the 2016 election. Since then, the various threads that make up Obamagate have failed to come together in any way that makes much sense. Former Obama adviser David Plouffe has called it a “sideshow to distract from a shitshow,” Trump’s attempt to pull the public’s attention away from his administration’s disastrous handling of the coronavirus.

    There’s some truth to that, but it may be more useful to think of Obamagate as the culmination of Trump’s various obsessions: with his predecessor; with his own ineptitude; and, above all, with the sense of grievance that has guided his political project from its inception.

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  16. Jared Kushner Is a National Disaster

    The popular perception of Trump’s son-in-law is that he’s a foppish nepotism hire, but he has a plan to enrich himself at your expense.

    Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

    Trump administration villains flit in and out of the limelight depending on what particular disaster is most visibly unfolding at any moment. Sometimes these are members of his Cabinet, receiving more coverage because of their corruption or because they’re suddenly in charge of baby jails; many fade away because they end up resigning, once Trump gets sick of the bad press or feels they’re insufficiently loyal. Others stick around permanently, like Stephen Miller, absorbing (or perhaps feeding off) wave after wave of criticism. Perhaps the most stubbornly stuck-on piece of chewed gum on the White House walls has been Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, who, it is always necessary to point out, had no experience in anything like government before being catapulted to one of the most important roles in the administration.

    Kushner may resemble the kind of overgrown intern who arrives at the office on the insistence of his powerful Daddy (in-law) and sticks around far too long. He is instantly recognizable to anyone who has worked with a nepotism hire as the insufferable product of the fake meritocracy, which rewards only rich people and their dull children (and those who flatter them). Yet it’s long past time to recognize that the worst thing about Kushner is not how he stumbled headlong into this powerful position, but the damage he’s done since arriving. The role he has played during the coronavirus pandemic demonstrates how he’s no mere hapless victim of nepotistic circumstance, but an active villain in his own right.

    Much attention has been focused on Kushner’s status as a kind of pretender to the throne of Trump’s right-hand man, for good reason. He is easily mocked as a J. Crew mannequin brought to life, or perhaps as a vain prince about to be cursed by a wizard in a forest, or just as a dickhead in a flak jacket. He has Big Draco Malfoy Energy. But this kind of criticism can accidentally imply that had Trump chosen a close adviser for the “right” reasons, that adviser would necessarily be better for the country. We know this is not true. Trump, after all, picked Stephen Miller. He has picked countless corrupt and self-serving aides whose goal in government, if it isn’t entirely to enrich themselves, is to make life harder for various classes of oppressed people while making it easier and more profitable for the uberwealthy. Kushner may have gotten there through marriage, but he’s not so different from the rest of the office.

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  17. How the House Progressives’ Plan to #PutPeopleFirst Fell Short

    Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., speaks on the floor of the House of Representatives at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on April 23, 2020. Photo: House Television via AP

    For a moment last month, it looked like the broader left, both inside Congress and out of it, might be about to get its act together. Since the dawning of the pandemic, the national response to it had been written in a series of sweeping pieces of legislation with virtually no input from progressives, who had hardly organized themselves enough to even make coherent demands.

    Instead of organizing as a bloc to make coordinated demands or threatening to withhold votes, the progressive approach has been to meet with leadership individually with legislative wish lists, with the hope that working behind the scenes will influence the legislation. “I think a lot of members are trying to squeeze in one-on-one conversations here or having their priority known there,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said in an interview with The Intercept last week.

    That began to change when the Congressional Progressive Caucus had released, in late March, a list of “bold” legislative priorities for the next coronavirus rescue package. By April 9, they’d narrowed that down to key proposals, including a federal paycheck guarantee program, monthly payments of $2,000 to every household for the duration of the crisis, and a nationwide moratorium on evictions and foreclosures — provisions that would apply to everyone, regardless of immigration status.

    Despite the public display of unity, there was never agreement on a real strategy between those on the inside and those on the outside.

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  18. Truckers’ noisy protest expressed frustration with Trump – not support

    Air horns blasts in support of pandemic relief interrupted Trump’s briefing but he claimed ‘They love their president’

    *A sign is placed on a semi-trailer truck as truckers protest about low rates and lack of broker transparency during the coronavirus pandemic in Washington on Friday. Photograph: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images *

    As Donald Trump spoke to the press in his Rose Garden on Friday, a low hum could be heard from outside the White House grounds.

    The president said the sound was truckers “showing support” and insisted: “They love their president.”
    Trump says US will beat out Russia and China with ‘super duper missile’
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    In fact, the noise, which grew to include the honking of airhorns, was a protest.

    According to a long-haul trucking industry website, the Trucker, the protest has been active for 15 days.

    The drivers involved say they have not received targeted support in any coronavirus stimulus package and do not have adequate access to protective equipment and healthcare.

    They have also voiced serious concerns about the rates they are getting through brokers who connect them with people needing to ship goods.

    According to the Washington Post, “Just two weeks ago, President Trump personally extended his gratitude to truckers, welcoming representatives of the industry to the White House and calling truckers ‘the foot soldiers’ in the war against the novel coronavirus.”

    But the paper quoted Santiago, “a 21-year veteran of the industry from New Jersey”, as saying: “The American truck driver needs help, and we need it now. This is our distress call to our commander in chief to address the problems we are facing. He has called us heroes – his heroes need his help now.”

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  19. Can Dogs Screen People for COVID-19?

    Researchers are trying to determine if dogs could be used in airports, workplaces, and nursing homes to detect the illness

    Video at the link below

    Dogs have very strong noses.

    “Their entire noses are just built for this kind of work,” says Dr. Cynthia Otto, director of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, who is leading a study to determine if dogs can in fact smell COVID-19. “The anatomy of their nose is set up to bring in a lot of air, and a lot of that goes right to the sensing area in their nasal passages.”

    Once the scent gets there, dogs can remember it. “Dogs have many more receptors, and that allows them to process these odors really incredibly fast, and maintain this library of what this odor is, and what it means,” says Otto.

    Otto’s team, who has previously used dogs in researching ovarian cancer, hopes they can develop a method for their dogs to be able to identify the novel coronavirus and alert their human trainers if someone is infected.

    “Our study is trying to determine if there is an odor unique to COVID-19,” explains Otto. “And whether or not our dogs can help us differentiate samples from patients with COVID-19 and patients without COVID-19.”

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