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 91 
 on: April 13, 2020, 03:43:47 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

Excellent news … a real estate agent who is a close friend of Donald J. Trump has karked it as a result of the convid-19 virus.

Good job … I hope plenty more of Trump's mates and associates catch the virus and die.

Ditto Trump's stupid, deplorable supporters who were silly enough to believe their “fake president” when he claimed it was all a hoax.


 92 
 on: April 13, 2020, 02:43:59 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Im2Sexy4MyPants
soon AI robots will take over all the jobs and be controlled by the ultra-wealthy,

then our money won't be worth shit and everyone will be on the dole lol

by that time people like Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and Jeff Bezos will own the world and everything in it including your crappy life

won't that be just wonderful

 93 
 on: April 12, 2020, 10:03:37 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey



 94 
 on: April 12, 2020, 09:55:38 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

The following major article is appearing on page one and page two of the Sunday print edition of The New York Times.

It should be just starting to roll off the printing presses about now.




from The New York Times…

He Could Have Seen What Was Coming: Behind Trump's Failure on the Virus

An examination reveals the president was warned about the potential for a pandemic but that
internal divisions, lack of planning and his faith in his own instincts led to a halting response.


By ERIC LIPTON, DAVID E. SANGER, MAGGIE HABERMAN, MICHAEL D. SHEAR, MARK MAZZETTI and JULIAN E. BARNES | 5:57PM EDT — Saturday, April 11, 2020

“Nobody knew there would be a pandemic or epidemic of this proportion,” President Trump said last month. He has repeatedly said that no one could have seen the effects of the coronavirus coming. — Photograph: Erin Schaff/The New York Times.
“Nobody knew there would be a pandemic or epidemic of this proportion,” President Trump said last month. He has repeatedly said that no one could have seen
the effects of the coronavirus coming. — Photograph: Erin Schaff/The New York Times.


WASHINGTON D.C. — “Any way you cut it, this is going to be bad,” a senior medical adviser at the Department of Veterans Affairs, Dr. Carter Mecher, wrote on the night of January 28, in an email to a group of public health experts scattered around the government and universities. “The projected size of the outbreak already seems hard to believe.”

A week after the first coronavirus case had been identified in the United States, and six long weeks before President Trump finally took aggressive action to confront the danger the nation was facing — a pandemic that is now forecast to take tens of thousands of American lives — Dr. Mecher was urging the upper ranks of the nation's public health bureaucracy to wake up and prepare for the possibility of far more drastic action.

“You guys made fun of me screaming to close the schools,” he wrote to the group which called itself “Red Dawn”, which called itself “Red Dawn,” an inside joke based on the 1984 movie about a band of Americans trying to save the country after a foreign invasion. “Now I'm screaming, close the colleges and universities.”

His was hardly a lone voice. Throughout January, as Mr. Trump repeatedly played down the seriousness of the virus and focused on other issues, an array of figures inside his government — from top White House advisers to experts deep in the cabinet departments and intelligence agencies — identified the threat, sounded alarms and made clear the need for aggressive action.

The president, though, was slow to absorb the scale of the risk and to act accordingly, focusing instead on controlling the message, protecting gains in the economy and batting away warnings from senior officials. It was a problem, he said, that had come out of nowhere and could not have been foreseen.

Even after Mr. Trump took his first concrete action at the end of January — limiting travel from China — public health often had to compete with economic and political considerations in internal debates, slowing the path toward belated decisions to seek more money from Congress, obtain necessary supplies, address shortfalls in testing and ultimately move to keep much of the nation at home.

Unfolding as it did in the wake of his impeachment by the House and in the midst of his Senate trial, Mr. Trump's response was colored by his suspicion of and disdain for what he viewed as the “Deep State” — the very people in his government whose expertise and long experience might have guided him more quickly toward steps that would slow the virus, and likely save lives.

Decision-making was also complicated by a long-running dispute inside the administration over how to deal with China. The virus at first took a back seat to a desire not to upset Beijing during trade talks, but later the impulse to score points against Beijing left the world's two leading powers further divided as they confronted one of the first truly global threats of the 21st century.

The shortcomings of Mr. Trump's performance have played out with remarkable transparency as part of his daily effort to dominate television screens and the national conversation.

But dozens of interviews with current and former officials and a review of emails and other records revealed many previously unreported details and a fuller picture of the roots and extent of his halting response as the deadly virus spread:


  • The National Security Council office responsible for tracking pandemics received intelligence reports in early January predicting the spread of the virus to the United States, and within weeks was raising options like keeping Americans home from work and shutting down cities the size of Chicago. Mr. Trump would avoid such steps until March.

  • Despite Mr. Trump's denial weeks later, he was told at the time about a January 29 memo produced by his trade adviser, Peter Navarro, laying out in striking detail the potential risks of a coronavirus pandemic: as many as half a million deaths and trillions of dollars in economic losses.

  • The health and human services secretary, Alex M. Azar II, directly warned Mr. Trump of the possibility of a pandemic during a call on January 30, the second warning he delivered to the president about the virus in two weeks. The president, who was on Air Force One while traveling for appearances in the Midwest, responded that Mr. Azar was being alarmist.

  • Mr. Azar publicly announced in February that the government was establishing a “surveillance” system in five American cities to measure the spread of the virus and enable experts to project the next hot spots. It was delayed for weeks. The slow start of that plan, on top of the well-documented failures to develop the nation's testing capacity, left administration officials with almost no insight into how rapidly the virus was spreading. “We were flying the plane with no instruments,” one official said.

  • By the third week in February, the administration's top public health experts concluded they should recommend to Mr. Trump a new approach that would include warning the American people of the risks and urging steps like social distancing and staying home from work. But the White House focused instead on messaging and crucial additional weeks went by before their views were reluctantly accepted by the president — time when the virus spread largely unimpeded.

When Mr. Trump finally agreed in mid-March to recommend social distancing across the country, effectively bringing much of the economy to a halt, he seemed shell-shocked and deflated to some of his closest associates. One described him as “subdued” and “baffled” by how the crisis had played out. An economy that he had wagered his re-election on was suddenly in shambles.

He only regained his swagger, the associate said, from conducting his daily White House briefings, at which he often seeks to rewrite the history of the past several months. He declared at one point that he “felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic”, and insisted at another that he had to be a “cheerleader for the country”, as if that explained why he failed to prepare the public for what was coming.

Mr. Trump's allies and some administration officials say the criticism has been unfair. The Chinese government misled other governments, they say. And they insist that the president was either not getting proper information, or the people around him weren't conveying the urgency of the threat. In some cases, they argue, the specific officials he was hearing from had been discredited in his eyes, but once the right information got to him through other channels, he made the right calls.

“While the media and Democrats refused to seriously acknowledge this virus in January and February, President Trump took bold action to protect Americans and unleash the full power of the federal government to curb the spread of the virus, expand testing capacities and expedite vaccine development even when we had no true idea the level of transmission or asymptomatic spread,” said Judd Deere, a White House spokesman.

There were key turning points along the way, opportunities for Mr. Trump to get ahead of the virus rather than just chase it. There were internal debates that presented him with stark choices, and moments when he could have chosen to ask deeper questions and learn more. How he handled them may shape his re-election campaign. They will certainly shape his legacy.


The Containment Illusion

By the last week of February, it was clear to the administration's public health team that schools and businesses in hot spots would have to close. But in the turbulence of the Trump White House, it took three more weeks to persuade the president that failure to act quickly to control the spread of the virus would have dire consequences.

When Dr. Robert Kadlec, the top disaster response official at the Health and Human Services Department, convened the White House coronavirus task force on February 21, his agenda was urgent. There were deep cracks in the administration's strategy for keeping the virus out of the United States. They were going to have to lock down the country to prevent it from spreading. The question was: When?


Dr. Robert Kadlec with the Department of Health and Human Services ran an exercise with the White House Task Force in February that helped convince some in the administration to push for taking more urgent action against the virus. — Photograph: T.J. Kirkpatrick/for The New York Times.
Dr. Robert Kadlec with the Department of Health and Human Services ran an exercise with the White House Task Force in February that helped
convince some in the administration to push for taking more urgent action against the virus.
 — Photograph: T.J. Kirkpatrick/for The New York Times.


There had already been an alarming spike in new cases around the world and the virus was spreading across the Middle East. It was becoming apparent that the administration had botched the rollout of testing to track the virus at home, and a smaller-scale surveillance program intended to piggyback on a federal flu tracking system had also been stillborn.

In Washington, the president was not worried, predicting that by April, “when it gets a little warmer, it miraculously goes away.” His White House had yet to ask Congress for additional funding to prepare for the potential cost of wide-scale infection across the country, and health care providers were growing increasingly nervous about the availability of masks, ventilators and other equipment.

What Mr. Trump decided to do next could dramatically shape the course of the pandemic — and how many people would get sick and die.

With that in mind, the task force had gathered for a tabletop exercise — a real-time version of a full-scale war gaming of a flu pandemic the administration had run the previous year. That earlier exercise, also conducted by Mr. Kadlec and called “Crimson Contagion”, predicted 110 million infections, 7.7 million hospitalizations and 586,000 deaths following a hypothetical outbreak that started in China.

Facing the likelihood of a real pandemic, the group needed to decide when to abandon “containment” — the effort to keep the virus outside the U.S. and to isolate anyone who gets infected — and embrace “mitigation” to thwart the spread of the virus inside the country until a vaccine becomes available.

Among the questions on the agenda, which was reviewed by The New York Times, was when the department's secretary, Mr. Azar, should recommend that Mr. Trump take textbook mitigation measures “such as school dismissals and cancellations of mass gatherings,” which had been identified as the next appropriate step in a Bush-era pandemic plan.

The exercise was sobering. The group — including Dr. Anthony S. Fauci of the National Institutes of Health; Dr. Robert R. Redfield of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Mr. Azar, who at that stage was leading the White House Task Force — concluded they would soon need to move toward aggressive social distancing, even at the risk of severe disruption to the nation's economy and the daily lives of millions of Americans.


The president urged social distancing in mid-March but almost immediately began talking about reopening the economy. — Photograph: Andrew Seng/for The New York Times.
The president urged social distancing in mid-March but almost immediately began talking about reopening the economy.
 — Photograph: Andrew Seng/for The New York Times.


If Dr. Kadlec had any doubts, they were erased two days later, when he stumbled upon an email from a researcher at the Georgia Institute of Technology, who was among the group of academics, government physicians and infectious diseases doctors who had spent weeks tracking the outbreak in the Red Dawn email chain.

A 20-year-old Chinese woman had infected five relatives with the virus even though she never displayed any symptoms herself. The implication was grave — apparently healthy people could be unknowingly spreading the virus — and supported the need to move quickly to mitigation.

“Is this true?!” Dr. Kadlec wrote back to the researcher. “If so we have a huge whole on our screening and quarantine effort,” including a typo where he meant hole. Her response was blunt: “People are carrying the virus everywhere.”




The following day, Dr. Kadlec and the others decided to present Mr. Trump with a plan titled “Four Steps to Mitigation,” telling the president that they needed to begin preparing Americans for a step rarely taken in United States history.

But over the next several days, a presidential blowup and internal turf fights would sidetrack such a move. The focus would shift to messaging and confident predictions of success rather than publicly calling for a shift to mitigation.

These final days of February, perhaps more than any other moment during his tenure in the White House, illustrated Mr. Trump's inability or unwillingness to absorb warnings coming at him. He instead reverted to his traditional political playbook in the midst of a public health calamity, squandering vital time as the coronavirus spread silently across the country.

Dr. Kadlec's group wanted to meet with the president right away, but Mr. Trump was on a trip to India, so they agreed to make the case to him in person as soon as he returned two days later. If they could convince him of the need to shift strategy, they could immediately begin a national education campaign aimed at preparing the public for the new reality.

A memo dated Februarly 14, prepared in coordination with the National Security Council and titled “U.S. Government Response to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus,” documented what more drastic measures would look like, including: “significantly limiting public gatherings and cancellation of almost all sporting events, performances, and public and private meetings that cannot be convened by phone. Consider school closures. Widespread ‘stay at home’ directives from public and private organizations with nearly 100% telework for some.”

The memo did not advocate an immediate national shutdown, but said the targeted use of “quarantine and isolation measures” could be used to slow the spread in places where “sustained human-to-human transmission” is evident.

Within 24 hours, before they got a chance to make their presentation to the president, the plan went awry.

Mr. Trump was walking up the steps of Air Force One to head home from India on February 25 when Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, publicly issued the blunt warning they had all agreed was necessary.

But Dr. Messonnier had jumped the gun. They had not told the president yet, much less gotten his consent.

On the 18-hour plane ride home, Mr. Trump fumed as he watched the stock market crash after Dr. Messonnier's comments. Furious, he called Mr. Azar when he landed at around 6 a.m. on February 26, raging that Dr. Messonnier had scared people unnecessarily. Already on thin ice with the president over a variety of issues and having overseen the failure to quickly produce an effective and widely available test, Mr. Azar would soon find his authority reduced.

The meeting that evening with Mr. Trump to advocate social distancing was canceled, replaced by a news conference in which the president announced that the White House response would be put under the command of Vice President Mike Pence.


Vice President Mike Pence visiting a Walmart distribution center in Gordonsville, Virginia this month. He was put in charge of the coronavirus task force after Mr. Trump clashed with Alex M. Azar II, the health and human services secretary. — Photograph: Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times.
Vice President Mike Pence visiting a Walmart distribution center in Gordonsville, Virginia this month. He was put in charge of the coronavirus
task force after Mr. Trump clashed with Alex M. Azar II, the health and human services secretary.
 — Photograph: Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times.


The push to convince Mr. Trump of the need for more assertive action stalled. With Mr. Pence and his staff in charge, the focus was clear: no more alarmist messages. Statements and media appearances by health officials like Dr. Fauci and Dr. Redfield would be coordinated through Mr. Pence's office. It would be more than three weeks before Mr. Trump would announce serious social distancing efforts, a lost period during which the spread of the virus accelerated rapidly.

Over nearly three weeks from February 26 to March 16, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States grew from 15 to 4,226. Since then, nearly half a million Americans have tested positive for the virus and authorities say hundreds of thousands more are likely infected.


The China Factor

The earliest warnings about coronavirus got caught in the cross-currents of the administration's internal disputes over China. It was the China hawks who pushed earliest for a travel ban. But their animosity toward China also undercut hopes for a more cooperative approach by the world's two leading powers to a global crisis.

It was early January, and the call with a Hong Kong epidemiologist left Matthew Pottinger rattled.

Mr. Pottinger, the deputy national security adviser and a hawk on China, took a blunt warning away from the call with the doctor, a long-time friend: A ferocious, new outbreak that on the surface appeared similar to the SARS epidemic of 2003 had emerged in China. It had spread far more quickly than the government was admitting to, and it wouldn't be long before it reached other parts of the world.


Matthew Pottinger, left, the deputy national security adviser, was among those in the administration who pushed for imposing limits on travel from China. — Photograph: Andrew Harnik/Associated Press.
Matthew Pottinger, left, the deputy national security adviser, was among those in the administration who pushed for imposing limits
on travel from China. — Photograph: Andrew Harnik/Associated Press.


Mr. Pottinger had worked as a Wall Street Journal correspondent in Hong Kong during the SARS epidemic, and was still scarred by his experience documenting the death spread by that highly contagious virus.

Now, seventeen years later, his friend had a blunt message: You need to be ready. The virus, he warned, which originated in the city of Wuhan, was being transmitted by people who were showing no symptoms — an insight that American health officials had not yet accepted. Mr. Pottinger declined through a spokesman to comment.

It was one of the earliest warnings to the White House, and it echoed the intelligence reports making their way to the National Security Council. While most of the early assessments from the C.I.A. had little more information than was available publicly, some of the more specialized corners of the intelligence world were producing sophisticated and chilling warnings.

In a report to the director of national intelligence, the State Department's epidemiologist wrote in early January that the virus was likely to spread across the globe, and warned that the coronavirus could develop into a pandemic. Working independently, a small outpost of the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Center for Medical Intelligence, came to the same conclusion. Within weeks after getting initial information about the virus early in the year, bio-defense experts inside the National Security Council, looking at what was happening in Wuhan, started urging officials to think about what would be needed to quarantine a city the size of Chicago.


An I.C.U. ward at Papa Giovanni XXIII hospital in Bergamo, Italy last month where critical Covid-19 patients were hospitalized. — Photograph: Fabio Bucciarelli/for The New York Times.
An I.C.U. ward at Papa Giovanni XXIII hospital in Bergamo, Italy last month where critical Covid-19 patients were hospitalized.
 — Photograph: Fabio Bucciarelli/for The New York Times.


By mid-January there was growing evidence of the virus spreading outside China. Mr. Pottinger began convening daily meetings about the coronavirus. He alerted his boss, Robert C. O’Brien, the national security adviser.

The early alarms sounded by Mr. Pottinger and other China hawks were freighted with ideology — including a push to publicly blame China that critics in the administration say was a distraction as the coronavirus spread to Western Europe and eventually the United States.

And they ran into opposition from Mr. Trump's economic advisers, who worried a tough approach toward China could scuttle a trade deal that was a pillar of Mr. Trump's re-election campaign.

With his skeptical — some might even say conspiratorial — view of China's ruling Communist Party, Mr. Pottinger initially suspected that President Xi Jinping's government was keeping a dark secret: that the virus may have originated in one of the laboratories in Wuhan studying deadly pathogens. In his view, it might have even been a deadly accident unleashed on an unsuspecting Chinese population.

During meetings and telephone calls, Mr. Pottinger asked intelligence agencies — including officers at the C.I.A. working on Asia and on weapons of mass destruction — to search for evidence that might bolster his theory.

They didn't have any evidence. Intelligence agencies did not detect any alarm inside the Chinese government that analysts presumed would accompany the accidental leak of a deadly virus from a government laboratory. But Mr. Pottinger continued to believe the coronavirus problem was far worse than the Chinese were acknowledging. Inside the West Wing, the director of the Domestic Policy Council, Joe Grogan, also tried to sound alarms that the threat from China was growing.

Mr. Pottinger, backed by Mr. O’Brien, became one of the driving forces of a campaign in the final weeks of January to convince Mr. Trump to impose limits on travel from China — the first substantive step taken to impede the spread of the virus and one that the president has repeatedly cited as evidence that he was on top of the problem.

In addition to the opposition from the economic team, Mr. Pottinger and his allies among the China hawks had to overcome initial skepticism from the administration's public health experts.


Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Robert Redfield, two leading members of the administration's public health team, were ready to back a shift in administration strategy by late February. — Photograph: Pete Marovich/for The New York Times.
Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Robert Redfield, two leading members of the administration's public health team, were ready to back a shift
in administration strategy by late February. — Photograph: Pete Marovich/for The New York Times.


Travel restrictions were usually counter-productive to managing biological outbreaks because they prevented doctors and other much-needed medical help from easily getting to the affected areas, the health officials said. And such bans often cause infected people to flee, spreading the disease further.

But on the morning of January 30, Mr. Azar got a call from Dr. Fauci, Dr. Redfield and others saying they had changed their minds. The World Health Organization had declared a global public health emergency and American officials had discovered the first confirmed case of person-to-person transmission inside the United States.

The economic team, led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, continued to argue that there were big risks in taking a provocative step toward China and moving to curb global travel. After a debate, Mr. Trump came down on the side of the hawks and the public health team. The limits on travel from China were publicly announced on January 31.


An email sent among federal government physicians and former senior pandemic advisers by Dr. James Lawler, an infectious diseases specialist and public health expert at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
An email sent among federal government physicians and former senior pandemic advisers by Dr. James Lawler,
an infectious diseases specialist and public health expert at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.


Still, Mr. Trump and other senior officials were wary of further upsetting Beijing. Besides the concerns about the impact on the trade deal, they knew that an escalating confrontation was risky because the United States relies heavily on China for pharmaceuticals and the kinds of protective equipment most needed to combat the coronavirus.

But the hawks kept pushing in February to take a critical stance toward China amid the growing crisis. Mr. Pottinger and others — including aides to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — pressed for government statements to use the term “Wuhan Virus.”

Mr. Pompeo tried to hammer the anti-China message at every turn, eventually even urging leaders of the Group of 7 industrialized countries to use “Wuhan virus” in a joint statement.

Others, including aides to Mr. Pence, resisted taking a hard public line, believing that angering Beijing might lead the Chinese government to withhold medical supplies, pharmaceuticals and any scientific research that might ultimately lead to a vaccine.


A temporary hospital for Covid-19 patients in Wuhan, China, where the virus originated. Cross-currents in the administration's China policy complicated its response to the outbreak. — Photograph: Chinatopix/via Associated Press.
A temporary hospital for Covid-19 patients in Wuhan, China, where the virus originated. Cross-currents in the administration's China policy
complicated its response to the outbreak. — Photograph: Chinatopix/via Associated Press.


Mr. Trump took a conciliatory approach through the middle of March, praising the job Mr. Xi was doing.

That changed abruptly, when aides informed Mr. Trump that a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman had publicly spun a new conspiracy about the origins of Covid-19: that it was brought to China by U.S. Army personnel who visited the country last October.

Mr. Trump was furious, and he took to his favorite platform to broadcast a new message. On March 16, he wrote on Twitter that “the United States will be powerfully supporting those industries, like Airlines and others, that are particularly affected by the Chinese Virus.”

Mr. Trump's decision to escalate the war of words undercut any remaining possibility of broad cooperation between the governments to address a global threat. It remains to be seen whether that mutual suspicion will spill over into efforts to develop treatments or vaccines, both areas where the two nations are now competing.

One immediate result was a free-for-all across the United States, with state and local governments and hospitals bidding on the open market for scarce but essential Chinese-made products. When the state of Massachusetts managed to procure 1.2 million masks, it fell to the owner of the New England Patriots, Robert K. Kraft, a Trump ally, to cut through extensive red tape on both sides of the Pacific to send his own plane to pick them up.


The Consequences of Chaos

The chaotic culture of the Trump White House contributed to the crisis. A lack of planning and a failure to execute, combined with the president’s focus on the news cycle and his preference for following his gut rather than the data cost time, and perhaps lives.

Inside the West Wing, Mr. Navarro, Mr. Trump's trade adviser, was widely seen as quick-tempered, self-important and prone to butting in. He is among the most outspoken of China hawks and in late January was clashing with the administration's health experts over limiting travel from China.


Peter Navarro, Mr. Trump’s trade adviser, warned that a pandemic could cost the United States trillions of dollars and put millions of Americans at risk of illness or death. — Photograph: Doug Mills/The New York Times.
Peter Navarro, Mr. Trump’s trade adviser, warned that a pandemic could cost the United States trillions of dollars and put millions
of Americans at risk of illness or death. — Photograph: Doug Mills/The New York Times.


So it elicited eye rolls when, after initially being prevented from joining the coronavirus task force, he circulated a memo on January 29 urging Mr. Trump to impose the travel limits, arguing that failing to confront the outbreak aggressively could be catastrophic, leading to hundreds of thousands of deaths and trillions of dollars in economic losses.

The uninvited message could not have conflicted more with the president's approach at the time of playing down the severity of the threat. And when aides raised it with Mr. Trump, he responded that he was unhappy that Mr. Navarro had put his warning in writing.

From the time the virus was first identified as a concern, the administration's response was plagued by the rivalries and factionalism that routinely swirl around Mr. Trump and, along with the president's impulsiveness, undercut decision making and policy development.

Faced with the relentless march of a deadly pathogen, the disagreements and a lack of long-term planning had significant consequences. They slowed the president's response and resulted in problems with execution and planning, including delays in seeking money from Capitol Hill and a failure to begin broad surveillance testing.

The efforts to shape Mr. Trump's view of the virus began early in January, when his focus was elsewhere: the fallout from his decision to kill Major General Qassim Suleimani, Iran's security mastermind; his push for an initial trade deal with China; and his Senate impeachment trial, which was about to begin.

Even after Mr. Azar first briefed him about the potential seriousness of the virus during a phone call on January 18 while the president was at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, Mr. Trump projected confidence that it would be a passing problem.

“We have it totally under control,” he told an interviewer a few days later while attending the World Economic Forum in Switzerland. “It's going to be just fine.”

Back in Washington, voices outside of the White House peppered Mr. Trump with competing assessments about what he should do and how quickly he should act.


Traders at the New York Stock Exchange on March 9, when stocks suffered their worst single-day decline in more than a decade. Two days later, Mr. Trump announced restrictions on travel from Europe. — Photograph: Ashley Gilbertson/for The New York Times.
Traders at the New York Stock Exchange on March 9, when stocks suffered their worst single-day decline in more than a decade.
Two days later, Mr. Trump announced restrictions on travel from Europe. — Photograph: Ashley Gilbertson/for The New York Times.


The efforts to sort out policy behind closed doors were contentious and sometimes only loosely organized.

That was the case when the National Security Council convened a meeting on short notice on the afternoon of January 27. The Situation Room was standing room only, packed with top White House advisers, low-level staffers, Mr. Trump's social media guru, and several cabinet secretaries. There was no checklist about the preparations for a possible pandemic, which would require intensive testing, rapid acquisition of protective gear, and perhaps serious limitations on Americans' movements.

Instead, after a 20-minute description by Mr. Azar of his department's capabilities, the meeting was jolted when Stephen E. Biegun, the newly installed deputy secretary of state, announced plans to issue a “level four” travel warning, strongly discouraging Americans from traveling to China. The room erupted into bickering.

A few days later, on the evening of January 30, Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff at the time, and Mr. Azar called Air Force One as the president was making the final decision to go ahead with the restrictions on China travel. Mr. Azar was blunt, warning that the virus could develop into a pandemic and arguing that China should be criticized for failing to be transparent.

Mr. Trump rejected the idea of criticizing China, saying the country had enough to deal with. And if the president's decision on the travel restrictions suggested that he fully grasped the seriousness of the situation, his response to Mr. Azar indicated otherwise.

Stop panicking, Mr. Trump told him.

That sentiment was present throughout February, as the president's top aides reached for a consistent message but took few concrete steps to prepare for the possibility of a major public health crisis.


A worker at a Starbucks at an airport in Beijing in January checks a customer's temperature. — Photograph: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images.
A worker at a Starbucks at an airport in Beijing in January checks a customer's temperature. — Photograph: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images.

During a briefing on Capitol Hill on February 5, senators urged administration officials to take the threat more seriously. Several asked if the administration needed additional money to help local and state health departments prepare.

Derek Kan, a senior official from the Office of Management and Budget, replied that the administration had all the money it needed, at least at that point, to stop the virus, two senators who attended the briefing said.

“Just left the Administration briefing on Coronavirus,” Senator Christopher S. Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, wrote in a tweet shortly after. “Bottom line: they aren't taking this seriously enough.”

The administration also struggled to carry out plans it did agree on. In mid-February, with the effort to roll out widespread testing stalled, Mr. Azar announced a plan to repurpose a flu-surveillance system in five major cities to help track the virus among the general population. The effort all but collapsed even before it got started as Mr. Azar struggled to win approval for $100 million in funding and the C.D.C. failed to make reliable tests available.

The number of infections in the United States started to surge through February and early March, but the Trump administration did not move to place large-scale orders for masks and other protective equipment, or critical hospital equipment, such as ventilators. The Pentagon sat on standby, awaiting any orders to help provide temporary hospitals or other assistance.


Dr. Carter Mecher with the Department of Veterans Affairs argued to colleagues in late February for so-called targeted layered containment (TLC) and non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs), which are measures like closing schools and businesses, to limit the spread of the virus. Mr. Azar and other public health officials came to the same conclusion around that time.
Dr. Carter Mecher with the Department of Veterans Affairs argued to colleagues in late February for so-called
targeted layered containment (TLC) and non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs), which are measures like
closing schools and businesses, to limit the spread of the virus. Mr. Azar and other public health officials
came to the same conclusion around that time.


As February gave way to March, the president continued to be surrounded by divided factions even as it became clearer that avoiding more aggressive steps was not tenable.

Mr. Trump had agreed to give an Oval Office address on the evening of March 11 announcing restrictions on travel from Europe, where the virus was ravaging Italy. But responding to the views of his business friends and others, he continued to resist calls for social distancing, school closures and other steps that would imperil the economy.


Pandemic experts, including Mr. Trump's own former homeland security adviser, Thomas Bossert, compare notes via the Red Dawn email group, after Mr. Trump's March 11 announcement that he is limiting travel from Europe.
Pandemic experts, including Mr. Trump's own former homeland security adviser, Thomas Bossert, compare notes
via the Red Dawn email group, after Mr. Trump's March 11 announcement that he is limiting travel from Europe.


But the virus was already multiplying across the country — and hospitals were at risk of buckling under the looming wave of severely ill people, lacking masks and other protective equipment, ventilators and sufficient intensive care beds. The question loomed over the president and his aides after weeks of stalling and inaction: What were they going to do?

The approach that Mr. Azar and others had planned to bring to him weeks earlier moved to the top of the agenda. Even then, and even by Trump White House standards, the debate over whether to shut down much of the country to slow the spread was especially fierce.

Always attuned to anything that could trigger a stock market decline or an economic slowdown that could hamper his re-election effort, Mr. Trump also reached out to prominent investors like Stephen A. Schwarzman, the chief executive of Blackstone Group, a private equity firm.

“Everybody questioned it for a while, not everybody, but a good portion questioned it,” Mr. Trump said earlier this month. “They said, let's keep it open. Let's ride it.”

In a tense Oval Office meeting, when Mr. Mnuchin again stressed that the economy would be ravaged, Mr. O'Brien, the national security adviser, who had been worried about the virus for weeks, sounded exasperated as he told Mr. Mnuchin that the economy would be destroyed regardless if officials did nothing.

Soon after the Oval Office address, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration and a trusted sounding board inside the White House, visited Mr. Trump, partly at the urging of Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law. Dr. Gottlieb's role was to impress upon the president how serious the crisis could become. Mr. Pence, by then in charge of the task force, also played a key role at that point in getting through to the president about the seriousness of the moment in a way that Mr. Azar had not.


Dr. Deborah Birx eventually helped convince Mr. Trump that stricter measures needed to be taken. — Photograph: Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times.
Dr. Deborah Birx eventually helped convince Mr. Trump that stricter measures needed to be taken.
 — Photograph: Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times.


But in the end, aides said, it was Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the veteran AIDS researcher who had joined the task force, who helped to persuade Mr. Trump. Soft-spoken and fond of the kind of charts and graphs Mr. Trump prefers, Dr. Birx did not have the rough edges that could irritate the president. He often told people he thought she was elegant.

On Monday, March 16, Mr. Trump announced new social distancing guidelines, saying they would be in place for two weeks. The subsequent economic disruptions were so severe that the president repeatedly suggested that he wanted to lift even those temporary restrictions. He frequently asked aides why his administration was still being blamed in news coverage for the widespread failures involving testing, insisting the responsibility had shifted to the states.

During the last week in March, Kellyanne Conway, a senior White House adviser involved in task force meetings, gave voice to concerns other aides had. She warned Mr. Trump that his wished-for date of Easter to reopen the country likely couldn't be accomplished. Among other things, she told him, he would end up being blamed by critics for every subsequent death caused by the virus.

Within days, he watched images on television of a calamitous situation at Elmhurst Hospital Center, miles from his childhood home in Queens, New York, where 13 people had died from the coronavirus in 24 hours.

He left the restrictions in place.


__________________________________________________________________________

Mark Walker contributed reporting from Washington D.C., and Mike Baker from Seattle. Kitty Bennett contributed research.

Eric Lipton is an investigative reporter for The New York Times, based in Washington. He started at The Times in 1999 covering Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and then the September 11, 2001, attacks. He is a three-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting, investigative reporting and as part of team for foreign reporting. He previously worked at The Washington Post and The Hartford Courant.

David E. Sanger is a national security correspondent and a senior writer. In a 36-year reporting career for The New York Times, he has been on three teams that have won Pulitzer Prizes, most recently in 2017 for international reporting. His newest book, The Perfect Weapon: War, Sabotage and Fear in the Cyber Age,’ examines the emergence of cyberconflict as the primary way large and small states are competing and undercutting each other, changing the nature of global power. He is also the author of two New York Times best sellers on foreign policy and national security: The Inheritance: The World Obama Confronts and the Challenges to American Power, published in 2009, and Confront and Conceal: Obama's Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power, published in 2012. For The N.Y. Times, Mr. Sanger has served as Tokyo bureau chief, Washington economic correspondent, White House correspondent during the Clinton and Bush administrations, and chief Washington correspondent. Mr. Sanger spent six years in Tokyo, writing about the emergence of Japan as a major American competitor, and then the country's humbling recession. He wrote many of the first articles about North Korea's emerging nuclear weapons program. Returning to Washington, Mr. Sanger turned to a wide range of diplomatic and national security issues, especially issues of nuclear proliferation and the rise of cyberconflict among nations. In reporting for The Times and Confront and Conceal, he revealed the story of Olympic Games, the code name for the most sophisticated cyberattack in history, the American-Israeli effort to sabotage Iran's nuclear program with the Stuxnet worm. His journalistic pursuit of the origins of Stuxnet became the subject of the documentary “Zero Days” which made the short list of Academy Award documentaries in 2016. With his Times colleague Bill Broad, he also described, in early 2017, a parallel cybereffort against North Korea. Mr. Sanger was a leading member of the team that investigated the causes of the Challenger disaster in 1986, which was awarded a Pulitzer in national reporting the following year. A second Pulitzer, in 1999, was awarded to a team that investigated the struggles within the Clinton administration over controlling technology exports to China. He has also won the Weintal Prize for diplomatic reporting for his coverage of the Iraq and Korea crises, the Aldo Beckman prize for coverage of the presidency, and, in two separate years, the Merriman Smith Memorial Award, for coverage of national security issues. “Nuclear Jihad” the documentary that Mr. Sanger reported for Discovery/Times Television, won the duPont-Columbia Award for its explanation of the workings of the A. Q. Khan nuclear proliferation network. That coverage was also a finalist for a Pulitzer. A 1982 graduate of Harvard College, Mr. Sanger was the first senior fellow in The Press and National Security at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard. With Graham T. Allison Jr., he co-teaches Central Challenges in American National Security, Strategy and the Press at the Kennedy School of Government.

Maggie Haberman is a White House correspondent. She joined The New York Times in February 2015 as a campaign correspondent. Previously, Ms. Haberman worked as a political reporter at Politico from 2010 to 2015 and at other publications including the New York Post and New York Daily News. She was a finalist for the Mirror Awards, with Glenn Thrush, for What is Hillary Clinton Afraid of? which was published in 2014. Her hobbies include singing, and she is married with three children.

Michael D. Shear is a White House correspondent in the Washington bureau of The New York Times, where he covers President Trump, with a focus on domestic policy, the regulatory state and life at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. A veteran political correspondent, he covered Barack Obama's presidency, including the 2012 re-election campaign. Before coming to The N.Y. Times in 2010, he spent 18 years at The Washington Post, writing about local communities, school districts, state politics, the 2008 presidential campaign and the White House. A member of the Pulitzer Prize-winning team that covered the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007, Mr. Shear is a 1990 graduate of Claremont McKenna College and has a masters in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He lives in Virginia with his wife and two teenage children.

Mark Mazzetti is Washington Investigations Editor, a job he assumed after covering national security from The New York Times's Washington bureau for 10 years. In 2009, he shared a Pulitzer Prize for reporting on the intensifying violence in Pakistan and Afghanistan and Washington's response. The previous year, he was a Pulitzer finalist for revelations about the C.I.A.'s detention and interrogation program.  He is the author of The Way of the Knife, a New York Times best-selling account of the secret wars waged by the C.I.A. and Pentagon since the September 11 attacks. He is a two-time recipient of the George Polk award.

Julian E. Barnes is a national security reporter for The New York Times covering the intelligence agencies. Before joining The N.Y. Times' Washington bureau in 2018, he wrote about security matters for The Wall Street Journal, based in Brussels and Washington. He has more than 17 years experience covering U.S. national security, the military and related matters for The Journal, the Los Angles Times and U.S. News & World Report.

• A version of this article appears in The New York Times on Sunday April 12, 2020, on page A1 of the New York print edition with the headline: “Despite Timely Alerts, Trump Was Slow to Act”.

__________________________________________________________________________

Related to this topic:

 • Coronavirus in the U.S.: Latest Map and Case Count

 • Five Takeaways on What Trump Knew as the Virus Spread (April 11, 2020).

 • Torn Over Reopening Economy, Trump Says He Faces ‘Biggest Decision I've Ever Had to Make’ (April 10, 2020).

 • Restarting America Means People Will Die. So When Do We Do It? (April 10, 2020).


https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/11/us/politics/coronavirus-trump-response.html

 95 
 on: April 11, 2020, 10:00:17 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey



 96 
 on: April 11, 2020, 09:06:50 am 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from The New York Times…

Why the Wealthy Fear Pandemics

The coronavirus, like other plagues before it,
could shift the balance between rich and poor.


By WALTER SCHEIDEL | Thursday, April 09, 2020

A representation of The Black Death from Germany in the 1600s. The Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history. — Illustration: Bridgeman Images.
A representation of The Black Death from Germany in the 1600s. The Black Death was one
of the most devastating pandemics in human history. — Illustration: Bridgeman Images.


IN THE fall of 1347, rat fleas carrying bubonic plague entered Italy on a few ships from the Black Sea. Over the next four years, a pandemic tore through Europe and the Middle East. Panic spread, as the lymph nodes in victims' armpits and groins swelled into buboes, black blisters covered their bodies, fevers soared and organs failed. Perhaps a third of Europe's people perished.

Giovanni Boccaccio's The Decameron offers an eyewitness account: “When all the graves were full, huge trenches were excavated in the churchyards, into which new arrivals were placed in their hundreds, stowed tier upon tier like ships' cargo.” According to Agnolo di Tura of Siena, “so many died that all believed it was the end of the world.”

And yet this was only the beginning. The plague returned a mere decade later and periodic flare-ups continued for a century and a half, thinning out several generations in a row. Because of this “destructive plague which devastated nations and caused populations to vanish,” the Arab historian Ibn Khaldun wrote, “the entire inhabited world changed.”

The wealthy found some of these changes alarming. In the words of an anonymous English chronicler, “Such a shortage of laborers ensued that the humble turned up their noses at employment, and could scarcely be persuaded to serve the eminent for triple wages.” Influential employers, such as large landowners, lobbied the English crown to pass the Ordinance of Laborers, which informed workers that they were “obliged to accept the employment offered” for the same measly wages as before.

But as successive waves of plague shrunk the work force, hired hands and tenants “took no notice of the King's command,” as the Augustinian clergyman Henry Knighton complained. “If anyone wanted to hire them he had to submit to their demands, for either his fruit and standing corn would be lost or he had to pander to the arrogance and greed of the workers.”

As a result of this shift in the balance between labor and capital, we now know, thanks to painstaking research by economic historians, that real incomes of unskilled workers doubled across much of Europe within a few decades. According to tax records that have survived in the archives of many Italian towns, wealth inequality in most of these places plummeted. In England, workers ate and drank better than they did before the plague and even wore fancy furs that used to be reserved for their betters. At the same time, higher wages and lower rents squeezed landlords, many of whom failed to hold on to their inherited privilege. Before long, there were fewer lords and knights, endowed with smaller fortunes, than there had been when the plague first struck.

But these outcomes were not a given. For centuries and indeed millenniums, great plagues and other severe shocks have shaped political preferences and decision-making by those in charge. The policy choices that result determine whether inequality rises or falls in response to such calamities. And history teaches us that these choices can change societies in very different ways.

Looking at the historical record across Europe during the late Middle Ages, we see that elites did not readily cede ground, even under extreme pressure after a pandemic. During the Great Rising of England's peasants in 1381, workers demanded, among other things, the right to freely negotiate labor contracts. Nobles and their armed levies put down the revolt by force, in an attempt to coerce people to defer to the old order. But the last vestiges of feudal obligations soon faded. Workers could hold out for better wages, and landlords and employers broke ranks with each other to compete for scarce labor.

Elsewhere, however, repression carried the day. In late medieval Eastern Europe, from Prussia and Poland to Russia, nobles colluded to impose serfdom on their peasantries to lock down a depleted labor force. This altered the long-term economic outcomes for the entire region: Free labor and thriving cities drove modernization in western Europe, but in the eastern periphery, development fell behind.

Farther south, the Mamluks of Egypt, a regime of foreign conquerors of Turkic origin, maintained a united front to keep their tight control over the land and continue exploiting the peasantry. The Mamluks forced the dwindling subject population to hand over the same rent payments, in cash and kind, as before the plague. This strategy sent the economy into a tailspin as farmers revolted or abandoned their fields.

But more often than not, repression failed. The first known plague pandemic in Europe and the Middle East, which started in 541, provides the earliest example. Anticipating the English Ordinance of Laborers by 800 years, the Byzantine emperor Justinian railed against scarce workers who “demand double and triple wages and salaries, in violation of ancient customs” and forbade them “to yield to the detestable passion of avarice” — to charge market wages for their labor. The doubling or tripling of real incomes reported on papyrus documents from the Byzantine province of Egypt leaves no doubt that his decree fell on deaf ears.

In the Americas, Spain's conquistadores faced similar challenges. In what was the most horrific pandemic in all of history, unleashed as soon as Columbus made landfall in the Caribbean, smallpox and measles decimated Indigenous societies across the Western Hemisphere. The conquistadores' advance was expedited by this devastation, and the invaders swiftly rewarded themselves with enormous estates and whole villages of peons. For a while, heavy-handed enforcement of wage controls set by the Viceroyalty of New Spain kept the surviving workers from reaping any benefits from the growing labor shortage. But when labor markets were finally opened up after 1600, real wages in central Mexico tripled.

None of these stories had a happy ending for the masses. When population numbers recovered after the plague of Justinian, the Black Death and the American pandemics, wages slid downward and elites were firmly back in control. Colonial Latin America went on to produce some of the most extreme inequalities on record. In most European societies, disparities in income and wealth rose for four centuries all the way up to the eve of World War I. It was only then that a new great wave of catastrophic upheavals undermined the established order, and economic inequality dropped to lows not witnessed since the Black Death, if not the fall of the Roman Empire.

In looking for illumination from the past on our current pandemic, we must be wary of superficial analogies. Even in the worst-case scenario, Covid-19 will kill a far smaller share of the world's population than any of these earlier disasters did, and it will touch the active work force and the next generation even more lightly. Labor won't become scarce enough to drive up wages, nor will the value of real estate plummet. And our economies no longer rely on farmland and manual labor.

Yet the most important lesson of history endures. The impact of any pandemic goes well beyond lives lost and commerce curtailed. Today, America faces a fundamental choice between defending the status quo and embracing progressive change. The current crisis could prompt redistributive reforms akin to those triggered by the Great Depression and World War II, unless entrenched interests prove too powerful to overcome.


__________________________________________________________________________

• Walter Scheidel, a professor of classics and history at Stanford University, is the author of The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality From the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century.

• This article is part of “The America We Need”, a New York Times Opinion series exploring how the nation can emerge from this crisis stronger, fairer and more free. Read the introductory editorial and the editor's letter.

__________________________________________________________________________

Related to this topic:

 • American Democracy May Be Dying — Authoritarian rule may be just around the corner. (April 09, 2020).


https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/09/opinion/coronavirus-economy-history.html

 97 
 on: April 10, 2020, 09:08:35 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey



 98 
 on: April 10, 2020, 03:36:14 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from The Washington Post…

Gen Z was fed up with the status quo.
Coronavirus could affirm their beliefs.


The pandemic is grim validation of their support for the government-run programs
and social-welfare policies less popular with their parents and grandparents.


By HANNAH KNOWLES | 12:04PM EDT — Wednesday, April 08, 2020

High school student Emma Rehac speaks at a “Retire Segregation” rally last year as part of the youth-led education equity group IntegrateNYC. — Photograph: Yazmany Arboleda.
High school student Emma Rehac speaks at a “Retire Segregation” rally last year as part of the youth-led education equity group IntegrateNYC.
 — Photograph: Yazmany Arboleda.


HIGH SCHOOL senior Emma Rehac can't help but feel resentful as leaders across the country scramble to keep families afloat through mounting unemployment and an unprecedented public health crisis.

She hears politicians looking for emergency cures to problems she and other activists were talking about long before anyone had heard of covid-19: affordable housing, utility shut-offs and health-care access among them. Now Rehac, 18, is trying to get unemployment benefits after losing her part-time teaching job at a school closed during the novel coronavirus outbreak. She's part of a historic wave of layoffs, coming of age at a hot spot of the pandemic in New York City, where drastic moves to blunt the fallout seem to Rehac to be too little, too late.

“There's so much anger and frustration that these are things that have been impacting us for so long, and it took a pandemic?” Rehac said. “Here's all of this attention and, all of a sudden, all of these resources that everyone said didn't exist.”

Generation Z was already politically liberal, increasingly activist and fed up with the status quo. The oldest members of the generation — which includes those born from 1997 to 2012, according to the Pew Research Center — grew up amid soaring inequality and overwhelmingly backed Senator Bernie Sanders (Independent-Vermont) in the Democratic primaries. Sanders withdrew from the presidential race on Wednesday.

Now the coronavirus crisis may solidify their political identity, experts say. As the pandemic and its economic havoc exacerbate disparities, some Gen Zers see grim validation of their support for the government-run programs and social-welfare policies less popular with their parents and grandparents. Seventy percent of them believe the government should be doing more to solve problems, compared with 53 percent of Gen Xers and 49 percent of baby boomers, according to Pew.

Gen Z cares “really deeply about inequalities and addressing that directly,” said Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg, who directs the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University. “And that's part of the reason big government appeals to them … universal health care, universal income and all that. And I think this pandemic, if anything, would really kind of affirm their position.”

Images of carefree spring breakers, who traveled to beach towns last month as concerns mounted about the virus's spread, have dominated popular views of the generation. The nation erupted with fury at Miami Beach revelers who griped about bar shutdowns. They fed the worst stereotypes of young people as self-absorbed and thoughtless about the elderly — those most likely to die if they didn't help “flatten the curve” to slow the spread of infection so that the health-care system isn't overwhelmed.

But for another segment of the generation — which turned the trauma of school shootings and grim forecasts about the climate into millions-strong movements — the virus has energized their political activism. They see this crisis as inextricably linked to other problems that plague them and wonder whether the coronavirus pandemic could bring more people around to their calls for radical change.

As the seriousness of the crisis settled in for 17-year-old Xiye Bastida, she canceled a trip to Mexico and drew up a strict “quarantine schedule” for her weekdays holed up indoors, limiting herself to one hour of Netflix.

Sacrifice is a driving philosophy of Bastida's politics. The climate activist, whom news outlets have dubbed “America's Greta Thunberg”, has begged others to make big, uncomfortable changes to avert disaster.

“It's for the greater good,” she says of the societal shutdown that put her senior year of high school in limbo.

She and other young activists have been using some of their time in self-quarantine to organize protests and grow the movements behind their own causes. They have incorporated the pandemic into their messaging about health care, climate change and income inequality.

Written into Bastida's Friday schedule: “Strike for Climate and an appropriate government response to COVID-19.”

“They will see this as a life-changing moment in many ways,” Kawashima-Ginsberg predicted, “whereas older adults may see this as a really major disruption in our lives, hopefully going back.”


Xiye Bastida speaks at a climate strike outside of the United Nations building. — Photograph: Felix Kunze.
Xiye Bastida speaks at a climate strike outside of the United Nations building. — Photograph: Felix Kunze.

Xiye Bastida has had to go digital with her climate protests amid the coronavirus pandemic. — Photograph: Courtesy of Xiye Bastida.
Xiye Bastida has had to go digital with her climate protests amid the coronavirus pandemic. — Photograph: Courtesy of Xiye Bastida.

The crisis generation

Bastida doesn't want the world to go back to normal, even as her life in New York City is upended. Yes, prom was canceled; her parents' jobs and work visas are newly uncertain; her family has fled their apartment for a friend's home in Massachusetts, worried about staying in the building where young and old share the same elevator.

But for Bastida, back to normal would mean returning to a society in which individual interest reigns and each generation fends for its own well-being.

“Emotionally, a lot of people are very unsettled … feeling like this is a crisis,” Bastida said of the pandemic. “And this is how we feel every day.”

In a Pew poll conducted in late March, the majority of adult Gen Zers said the virus is a “major threat” to the country's economy and the health of the population. While only 22 percent saw it as a threat to their own health, a majority believe the pandemic put their personal financial situation at risk.

Recent data from the center found workers ages 16 to 24 — half of whom work in the hard-hit service sector — will be disproportionately affected by layoffs due to the virus, although most high school and college students won't get checks from the government’s massive stimulus plan. Researchers are wondering whether the coronavirus pandemic will become to Gen Z what the Great Recession was to millennials.

Millennials “came into adulthood in a really difficult economic time, and they really struggled to get their footing,” said Kim Parker, director of social trends research at the Pew Research Center. “We thought it was going to be different for Gen Z. But now this sort of turns that all upside down.”

Rather than be sidelined by that turmoil, many young activists are finding ways to push their political efforts forward.

Normally, Bastida would march out after AP calculus and set up at city hall for a climate change protest. But in these strange new times, it was a digital strike, with video chats and tweeted pictures of cardboard signs. Savvy with social media and already serving as tech support for work-from-home parents, Gen Z was perfectly fine moving online.

Joe Hobbs, a 17-year-old volunteer for Fridays for Future, the youth climate movement that Thunberg founded, said the pandemic has only intensified many young people's commitments to their causes.

“We're finding that across the globe, Fridays for Future activists and organizers are doing even more because they have nothing else to do,” Hobbs said from Columbia, Maryland, where he's under a stay-at-home order. “They don't have school to distract them.”

March for Our Lives, the student-led group that mobilized for gun control after the Parkland, Florida, school shooting in 2018, has been tweeting about two public health emergencies: “Denial isn't a policy: not for #COVID19, and not for the gun violence epidemic.”

“We need our leaders to ACT to save lives,” the group wrote. “We need REAL policy solutions.”

In Harlem last week, Rehac was talking about rent cancellation at a pro-Sanders town hall held by video. New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo (Democrat) has halted evictions for 90 days, but Housing Justice for All, a coalition Rehac belongs to, is pushing him to completely wipe out those months of rent. Rehac argues it's necessary as people stare down weeks and maybe months of unemployment.

She thinks the cancel-rent campaign is gaining steam. And maybe, she added, the pain of shutting down New York City could get more people to listen about the bigger ideas: more stringent rent control, more money for affordable housing.

“If we had a #HomesGuarantee millions of people wouldn't be worried about paying rent tomorrow,” Housing Justice for All tweeted as the April 1 rent due date loomed. “Or on May 1. Or on June 1. Imagine that.”

Other young devotees of Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, also say the virus has underscored vast gaps in wealth and a broken health-care system. Voters age 24 and younger favored Sanders by huge margins in this year's Democratic primaries, with three-quarters choosing him in California and Michigan exit polling.

While their turnout lags behind their elders, Gen Z will comprise 1 in 10 eligible voters at the time of the November presidential election, according to Pew.

The coronavirus crisis “really does expose all the inequities that people knew existed but maybe couldn't see as clearly until this point,” said Roxie Richner. Her high school in Michigan has turned to non-graded “enrichment” activities, she said, unsure how to handle the fact that not everyone has laptops and Internet access.

For years, Richner has been a fervent Sanders supporter — holding a campaign kickoff party in her living room, volunteering ahead of the March 10 Michigan primary and feeling crushed when her candidate lost every county. But maybe, she thought, this moment of upheaval could shift politics in the United States for good. The senator from Vermont has been tweeting about the millions of Americans laid off with “nothing in the bank,” the big companies that said they couldn't afford paid sick leave, and the people who would die because they waited too long to go to the hospital, anxious about the bill.

A day after celebrating her 18th birthday on March 26 with friends over FaceTime — someone tried to light a toothpick because no one had candles — she was feeling stir-crazy and scared, but also wondering if the country might emerge from all this a bit more open to her generation's demands.

“I think it does give people some insight into what it's like experiencing a time of crisis,” Richner said, “and that realization that a lot of America lives in crisis mode 24-7, whether there's a pandemic or not.”


Roxie Richner, a high school student in Michigan, speaks at an Ann Arbor rally organized by climate activists and One University, which advocates equity among University of Michigan campuses. — Photograph: Rachi Willard.
Roxie Richner, a high school student in Michigan, speaks at an Ann Arbor rally organized by climate activists and One University,
which advocates equity among University of Michigan campuses. — Photograph: Rachi Willard.


The greater good

Bastida is wondering whether the needle could move on climate change, the issue she says became personal for her when her Mexican hometown flooded. She spent the last Friday night in March tuning in from her family friends' kitchen to a “Zoom party,” which was really a planning meeting for the Earth Day demonstration that would now have to take place fully online.

“Every crisis needs to be treated like a crisis,” her fellow activist Thunberg had said on a public Zoom call last month, not long before announcing she was recovering after exhibiting symptoms of covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Bastida ran down to-dos with 11 high school and college students calling in from various time zones, some of them wearing pajamas. They wondered who they could get to appear in an Earth Day video. Willow and Jaden Smith? What about Miley Cyrus? TikTok star Charli D'Amelio?

Someone had reached out to about 50 social media influencers and gotten encouraging responses, although one had asked whether the video would be a “paid gig.”

Bastida and her friends laughed: No.

Back in the city she left, her 22-year-old friend Daphne Frias is fighting the coronavirus and pneumonia, isolated in a hotel room that ambulances wail past a dozen times a day.

Immunocompromised with cerebral palsy, Frias spent so much time in hospitals growing up that she calls herself a “professional patient.” She has gotten pneumonia in almost each of the last seven years. She didn't wait for a stay-at-home order, retreating indoors before a single case of the coronavirus was confirmed in New York.

But March 9 was a beautiful, warm day, she said, and she allowed herself a trip outside. Four days later, she was coughing and tired, then dizzy and feverish. She tested positive for the coronavirus.

Her mother and sister quarantined with her at home, donning masks and gloves to throw out the garbage. Friends dropped off groceries outside their apartment. But after making a slow recovery, Frias's fever came roaring back last week, and she decided she needed to separate from her family.

Some of Frias's health-care costs were covered, she said, but other bills — the hotel room, the medications, the four-times-a-day inhalation treatments that clear her already-weak lungs — are adding up to the point that her bank sends fraud alerts. She needs savings to move to Baltimore in a few months for graduate school, where she'll work toward a medical degree and master's in public health. While she found financial relief in a friend's GoFundMe campaign, she knows others are less fortunate.

Like Bastida, her friend and fellow activist, Frias sees an opening. The usual election-year politics seem distant to her as the ups and downs of campaigns gave way to headlines about the struggles of average Americans amid the pandemic.

“We're able to listen in a way that we haven't been able to before,” Frias said. “And I hope that when things go back to normal and it gets noisy again, we can remember to still listen and help people the way that we have now.”


__________________________________________________________________________

Hannah Knowles is a reporter on The Washington Post's General Assignment team. Before joining The Post in June 2019 as an intern, she worked at CBS News, the Sacramento Bee and her hometown paper, the Mercury News.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/04/08/gen-z-was-fed-up-with-status-quo-coronavirus-could-reinforce-their-liberal-politics

 99 
 on: April 10, 2020, 03:34:54 pm 
Started by Im2Sexy4MyPants - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

You wouldn't have even the slightest idea of the colour of any hats I wear.

 100 
 on: April 10, 2020, 02:26:15 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

I'm alright, Jack Woodville's Village Idiot.

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