By Robert A. Vella
U.S. COVID-19 deaths have now exceeded China’s and the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Rising unemployment from the pandemic is expected to affect nearly one-third of the U.S. labor force, a rate which would surpass that reached during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Some world leaders who have been stating falsehoods about coronavirus are being disciplined by social media organizations such as Twitter and Facebook (see: World leaders’ posts deleted over false virus info). It is long past the time for the American news media to take similar actions against President Trump who is using his daily White House press conferences as a political propaganda tool. The stress mounting among frontline doctors and nurses in U.S. hospitals is becoming critical, and employees in other still-active industries are resorting to strikes and sickouts in protest against unsafe working conditions. A new wave of mass migrations is occurring in America as rich people are fleeing hard hit urban areas. A mega-church pastor and coronavirus conspiracy nutjob has been arrested in Florida for holding large congregational gatherings. The full, un-redacted Mueller report has been released by the Department of Justice, under court orders, to a federal judge. A federal appeals court has blocked the release of grand jury evidence pertaining to a 1946 mass lynching crime in Georgia. Another federal court has ordered Texas to stop banning abortions in the state under the guise of responding to the current health care crisis. The EPA is ready to implement Trump’s plan to reverse vehicle emission standards enacted by the Obama administration. Inspectors general have been appointed to oversee the Trump administration’s distribution of $500 billion to big business allocated by the recently passed $2 trillion financial aid bill, a government transparency provision Trump has publicly declared that he wouldn’t obey. Trump is also railing against another item in that bill (which he signed into law) – that is, financial aid to states intended to help citizens vote under difficult conditions resulting from the pandemic. Like many other Republicans before him, Trump admitted that high voter turnout poses a threat to GOP election hopes. In other words, he and his political party are opposed to a fully functioning democracy.
Millions of Americans already have lost their jobs amid the coronavirus and the worst of the damage is yet to come, according to a Federal Reserve estimate.
Economists at the Fed’s St. Louis district project total employment reductions of 47 million, which would translate to a 32.1% unemployment rate, according to a recent analysis of how bad things could get.
That would bring the U.S. unemployment rolls to 52.8 million, or more than three times worse than the peak of the Great Recession. The 30% unemployment rate would top the Great Depression peak of 24.9%.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, a Republican, said Tuesday on NPR’s Morning Edition that President Donald Trump was incorrect in saying coronavirus testing problems had been resolved.
“Yeah, that’s just not true. I mean I know that they’ve taken some steps to create new tests, but they’re not actually produced and distributed out to the states.” Hogan said, when host Rachel Martin asked him about Trump’s assertions. “No state has enough testing.”
In a coronavirus task force briefing Monday, Trump said America’s coronavirus testing was better “than any country in the world.”
After a month of frenzied shopping, stay-at-home measures and the escalation of the coronavirus crisis, the pressure cooker of the workplace appears ready to boil over.
Workers at an Amazon warehouse on Staten Island, New York, walked out during lunch Monday, over concerns about safety at the job site.
Co-workers there feared for their own health because workers weren’t always physically distanced and the site was not closed to be sanitized.
Fears of contamination and risk also led to as many as 150,000 workers for grocery delivery service Instacart to execute a nationwide strike on Monday.
Amazon faces another potential workplace disruption Tuesday as some employees have planned a “sick out” over demands for better conditions including double pay because of the hazards of working during the pandemic.
While the majority of the world’s population is biding time at home until the threat of the virus has passed, some wealthier people are seeking solace by buying out small hotels, renting homes in remote locales or fleeing to vacation homes with extended family members. – CNN
But they also bring fears that they will spread the virus to regions with few hospitals to handle a surge in the sick. – The New York Times
Some affluent Americans might abandon city life, urbanist Richard Florida said: Rich New Yorkers, for example, “are going back to the Hamptons, and older people who are scared of things like viruses are less likely to have that Fifth Avenue apartment.” – The Washington Post
TAMPA, Fla. — Megachurch Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne and the River at Tampa Bay Church had been warned.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office received an anonymous tip that the pastor planned to hold services Sunday in violation of county orders asking residents to stay home and limit gatherings to slow the coronavirus. Sheriff’s officials said they warned church lawyers on Friday and Sunday about the “dangerous environment they were creating for their members and the community.”
But Howard-Browne, the self-proclaimed “Holy Ghost bartender” and COVID-19 conspiracy theorist, ignored those warnings. He held two large services on Sunday, deputies said, and even bused people in to the church.
That’s why Howard-Browne was arrested Monday on misdemeanor charges of unlawful assembly and violating quarantine orders during a public health emergency, said Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronsiter.
A federal judge obtained the full and unredacted report on election interference and obstruction of justice prepared by former special counsel Robert Mueller on Monday.
A two-page filing submitted by U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) attorneys with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia notified Judge Reggie Walton of the delivery of the documents in question. The filing also noted DOJ’s compliance with two court orders issued by Walton earlier this month demanding the law enforcement agency supply the full report.
Judge Walton issued a minute order explaining his postponement:
Consistent with the [DOJ’s] Notice of Submission of Documents for In Camera Review, the Court has received the unredacted version of the report regarding Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 United Stats presidential election (the “Mueller Report”). However, in light of the Chief Judge Howell’s March 16, 2020 Order Regard Court Operations in Exigent Circumstances Created by the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Court’s review of the unredacted version of the Mueller Report is unable to occur until the Court resumes its normal operations on April 20, 2020, unless the Court’s normal operations are further suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite the historical significance of the case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta ruled Friday that federal judges do not have the authority to unseal federal grand jury records, except for a limited set of circumstances governing grand jury rules of secrecy.
The 8-to-4 decision reversed a lower court’s ruling in 2017 that the evidence should be unsealed. That ruling, which had been viewed as a breakthrough in the unsolved murders of two black couples in 1946 by a mob of white men in Walton County, Ga., was also affirmed in 2019 by a three-judge panel made up of members of the circuit court, which heard the case after the Justice Department appealed the lower court’s decision. Last June, the full court voted to rehear the case, which led to Friday’s ruling.
The victims in the lynchings, Roger and Dorothy Malcom and George and Mae Murray Dorsey, were dragged from their car at gunpoint on July 25, 1946, tied up and shot about 60 times at close range in the attack, which was widely considered to be one of the last mass lynchings in American history. It came to be known as the Moore’s Ford lynchings.
(Bloomberg) — A federal judge ordered Texas to temporarily stop enforcing its ban on abortions, which state leaders had declared medically unnecessary procedures that wasted scarce medical resources needed to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
Texas’s Republican governor and attorney general last week threatened doctors with steep fines and jail time for performing even medication abortions that don’t require the use of personal protective equipment, such as surgical masks and sterile gloves and gowns. Only abortions needed to save the life of the mother were allowed under the governor’s order.
“The executive order, as written, does not exceed the governor’s power to deal with the emergency,” U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel ruled Monday. “But the attorney general’s interpretation of that order constitutes the threat of criminal penalties against those whose interpretations differs.”
“Before fetal viability outside the womb, a state has no interest sufficient to justify an outright ban on abortions,” Yeakel said.
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is expected on Tuesday to announce its final rule to roll back Obama-era automobile fuel efficiency standards, relaxing efforts to limit climate-warming tailpipe pollution and virtually undoing the government’s biggest effort to combat climate change.
The new rule, written by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation, would allow vehicles on American roads to emit nearly a billion tons more carbon dioxide over the lifetime of the cars than they would have under the Obama standards and hundreds of millions of tons more than will be emitted under standards being implemented in Europe and Asia.
The nation’s top government watchdogs on Monday appointed Glenn Fine, the acting inspector general for the Pentagon, to lead the newly created committee that oversees implementation of $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill signed by President Donald Trump last week.
Fine will lead a panel of fellow inspectors general, dubbed the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, and command an $80 million budget meant to “promote transparency and support oversight” of the massive disaster response legislation. His appointment was made by a fellow committee of inspectors general, assigned by the new law to pick a chairman of the committee.
WASHINGTON – President Trump on Monday criticized attempts by Democrats in Congress to expand voting access for the presidential election in the fall, saying increased voter turnout would keep Republicans from getting elected.
Trump said that Democrat-proposed voting reforms to the $2.2 trillion rescue package passed last week by Congress — which were largely cut from the deal — would have led to “levels of voting, that if you ever agreed to it you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”
Democrats have pushed to mandate that states make plans to expand early voting and mail-in balloting for the fall election, in the event that the coronavirus pandemic makes in-person voting unsafe.