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Wednesday, May 27, 2020

I’m a public defender in Manhattan. The Central Park video is all too familiar. - The Washington Post





"That viral video circulating of a white woman calling the police on a black man in New York’s Central Park on Monday was sadly all too familiar. The privilege that the woman in the video sought to weaponize with her 911 call is real — and the system that enables it is overdue for reform.

The incident began when Christian Cooper, in the park to birdwatch on Memorial Day, asked a woman to leash her dog in an area where that’s required, and things escalated from there. In the clip that Cooper recorded on his cellphone, the woman warns Cooper — threatens him, in fact — that she’s going to call the police to falsely report that “there’s an African American man threatening my life,” which she then does: “Please send the cops immediately,” she pleads into the phone.
As a public defender in Manhattan for more than a decade, I have represented many people in similar situations. Most of their stories have followed a similar pattern:
A white person calls the police on a black man. The police arrive and take the side of his white accuser, refusing to believe his version of events. He is arrested and arraigned. An outrageous bail amount is set. His family can’t afford to buy his freedom. He gets sent to Rikers Island, where he sits for days, months or sometimes years.
Eventually, his case is resolved in some way — either because the charges are dismissed or because he decides to plead guilty to a lesser charge. In the meantime, he may have lost his job, his home, his children or some combination of the three.
Nothing like that happened to Cooper, thankfully. But the elements of the problem are plain to see.
In cases I’ve taken to trial, the district attorney has offered recordings of “hysterical 911 calls” as evidence of my clients’ guilt, urging the jury to “just listen to the fear in her voice,” saying, “You can tell she can sense a threat,” and asking questions such as, “Why would she lie?” All too often, it works.
Usually, there’s no video. On Monday, there was. You can hear “the fear” in the voice of the woman who called the police on Cooper, too.
Under normal circumstances, these stories from our criminal punishment bureaucracy can be devastating. But consider how the added risk to anyone sent to jail right now — Rikers Island has had one of the highest covid-19 infection rates in the world — increases the potential damage. Worse, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) has suspended time limits for speedy trials during the pandemic, as well as a requirement that cases be presented to a grand jury within six days of an arrest. Hundreds of New Yorkers sit in jail without even having been charged by indictment. A spurious accusation in a park could mean a death sentence.
Of course, all of this assumes the police don’t show up and deliver the death sentence on the spot. By now anyone who chooses to needlessly report a person of color to police has heard the litany of names such as George Floyd, the African American man who died just Monday after a Minneapolis police officer was filmed pinning Floyd’s neck to the ground with his knee.
Some might say the Central Park video is evidence of a criminal legal system that’s “broken.” But after years spent representing thousands of New Yorkers in court, I can attest that the reality is worse: The system is working the way it was designed to work — protecting the wealthy, connected, powerful and white, while disenfranchising already-marginalized communities of color.
What can be done? Certainly, end cash bail. We cannot allow people to sit in jail for months on end on the basis of an accusation — not when we can see with our own eyes how easy it is for this to happen.
But that only deals with one consequence of privilege. The privilege itself will be far harder to address.
There are two different sets of rules in our criminal legal system. White Americans live every day with the privilege of knowing that they can call 911 and get help. For poor people and people of color, calling for help when in danger presents a new set of risks — including the risk that they won’t be believed by police or that they’ll be charged with falsely reporting a crime.
What if false-reporting charges were brought in cases like this one? That would send a very different message. To tip the scales, there needs to be accountability for playing the privilege card.
But we can’t stop there. Our real duty is to renew our commitment to creating a very different system of justice — where a black man, falsely accused, can feel safe even without a viral video."
I’m a public defender in Manhattan. The Central Park video is all too familiar. - The Washington Post

Opinion | There Are 3 Things We Have to Do to Get People Wearing Masks - The New York Times





"Persuasion works better than compulsion.



Hong Kong has so far reported a grand total of four coronavirus-related deaths, while New York City has reported over 20,000.



Here’s another striking comparison: Close to 99 percent of Hong Kong residents have been wearing masks, to prevent the wearer from spreading the virus, since early February. According to a mid-April Gallup poll, only a third of Americans say they always wear a mask or cloth face covering outside the home. Another third of us sometimes wear a mask in public, and a third never do.



Universal face mask adoption isn’t the only difference between Hong Kong and the United States, and it’s not a substitute for physical-distancing, hand-washing and other preventive practices. But masks — even just a scarf, bandanna or an old T-shirt and two rubber bands — are widely viewed as critical to stopping the transmission of the novel coronavirus.



Nevertheless, face-mask compliance on this side of the Pacific has been uneven. This is especially worrisome in closed, crowded spaces like subways and buses, grocery stores and offices where it’s not easy to maintain a distance of six feet from other people and avoid spontaneous coughs and sneezes.



The most obvious path to universal masking is to pass laws and punish infractions. But enforcing legal edicts to wear masks in public can be difficult and costly, and amid widespread ambivalence can lead to backlash and even violence. So edicts are not a complete solution.



As experts in public health and human behavior, we propose a complementary approach: Make wearing a mask easy, understood and expected.



From effortful to easy: Where can you get face masks? You can search for them online, you can now buy them in drugstores and yes, you can make them yourself. But none of these options are effortless.



Imagine if every city and town in this country had an Adrian Cheng, the real estate developer in Hong Kong who had a manufacturing line set up in one of his empty properties and made the masks available free to the needy in vending machines devised specifically for the purpose. Not long after, the Hong Kong government set up a website where any household can register to have reusable masks delivered free. Or consider Utah, where residents can likewise register online and receive a free fabric face mask by mail. The cheaper and more ubiquitous face masks are, the easier it will be for Americans to get our hands on them, and the more likely we’ll do so and wear them.



From unclear to understood: Not long ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the surgeon general were lecturing the American public on why they shouldn’t wear face masks. That recommendation flipped once it became clear that people infected with the coronavirus can spread it before they know they have it and, therefore, everyone should wear a mask to reduce the chances of infecting others. Since it’s hard for people to update their beliefs once a message has been received, it’s no surprise that misinformation and outdated news continue to ricochet in the echo chambers of social media.



Unfortunately, it is often easier to dig our heels in than to change our minds, defending our original position and discounting new information to justify our behavior. Therefore, it can be helpful to supply people with a rationale to change their behavior without looking like a hypocrite. For example, officials can emphasize that at the start of this crisis, nobody could have known how important it is to wear a mask when you have no symptoms, and that day by day, new scientific evidence is demonstrating the efficacy of masks in the fight against the coronavirus.



From unconventional to expected: It is human nature to adhere to social norms. When uncertain about what to do, people tend to look around and copy what other people are doing. For instance, if you were in Hong Kong right now, even if you weren’t up to date on the public health imperative, you’d very likely follow the lead of everyone around you and put one on.



How do we create a social norm of mask-wearing when, in fact, so many Americans are doing exactly the opposite? One common mistake is drawing attention to the lack of compliance. For instance, highlighting littering as a commonplace problem can inadvertently lead to more littering because it strengthens the perception that littering is the norm. Instead, in press releases and public service announcements, officials should emphasize that the clear trend in this country is toward universal mask-wearing.



According to a recent Qualtrics study, a majority of surveyed Americans now say they won’t return to the office unless their company makes wearing face masks mandatory. And in just one week in April, the percentage of Americans who said they wore a mask outside the home increased by more than half.



Norms are also established by high-status role models. Celebrities and professional athletes can do their part by posting photos about wearing face masks in public. And to counter the politicized nature of the issue, let’s all applaud mask-wearing leaders on both the right and the left. Hurrah for Melania Trump posting a photo of herself in a mask, and hurrah, too, for Nancy Pelosi wearing a scarf on the House floor.



The story of face masks in this country is still being written. We may lack the wisdom Hong Kong earned weathering prior epidemics, but it’s not too late to apply three basic principles from behavioral science: make it easy, understood and expected, and we’ll soon see face masks everywhere, saving lives.



Angela Duckworth, founder and chief executive of Character Lab, is the Rosa Lee and Egbert Chang professor at the University of Pennsylvania, where Lyle Ungar is a professor of computer and information science, and Ezekiel J. Emanuel, author of the forthcoming “Which Country Has the World’s Best Health Care?”, is a professor of health care management, medical ethics and health policy.

Imagine if every city and town in this country had an Adrian Cheng, the real estate developer in Hong Kong who had a manufacturing line set up in one of his empty properties and made the masks available free to the needy in vending machines devised specifically for the purpose. Not long after, the Hong Kong government set up a website where any household can register to have reusable masks delivered free. Or consider Utah, where residents can likewise register online and receive a free fabric face mask by mail. The cheaper and more ubiquitous face masks are, the easier it will be for Americans to get our hands on them, and the more likely we’ll do so and wear them.



From unclear to understood: Not long ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the surgeon general were lecturing the American public on why they shouldn’t wear face masks. That recommendation flipped once it became clear that people infected with the coronavirus can spread it before they know they have it and, therefore, everyone should wear a mask to reduce the chances of infecting others. Since it’s hard for people to update their beliefs once a message has been received, it’s no surprise that misinformation and outdated news continue to ricochet in the echo chambers of social media.



Unfortunately, it is often easier to dig our heels in than to change our minds, defending our original position and discounting new information to justify our behavior. Therefore, it can be helpful to supply people with a rationale to change their behavior without looking like a hypocrite. For example, officials can emphasize that at the start of this crisis, nobody could have known how important it is to wear a mask when you have no symptoms, and that day by day, new scientific evidence is demonstrating the efficacy of masks in the fight against the coronavirus.



From unconventional to expected: It is human nature to adhere to social norms. When uncertain about what to do, people tend to look around and copy what other people are doing. For instance, if you were in Hong Kong right now, even if you weren’t up to date on the public health imperative, you’d very likely follow the lead of everyone around you and put one on.



How do we create a social norm of mask-wearing when, in fact, so many Americans are doing exactly the opposite? One common mistake is drawing attention to the lack of compliance. For instance, highlighting littering as a commonplace problem can inadvertently lead to more littering because it strengthens the perception that littering is the norm. Instead, in press releases and public service announcements, officials should emphasize that the clear trend in this country is toward universal mask-wearing.



According to a recent Qualtrics study, a majority of surveyed Americans now say they won’t return to the office unless their company makes wearing face masks mandatory. And in just one week in April, the percentage of Americans who said they wore a mask outside the home increased by more than half.



Norms are also established by high-status role models. Celebrities and professional athletes can do their part by posting photos about wearing face masks in public. And to counter the politicized nature of the issue, let’s all applaud mask-wearing leaders on both the right and the left. Hurrah for Melania Trump posting a photo of herself in a mask, and hurrah, too, for Nancy Pelosi wearing a scarf on the House floor.



The story of face masks in this country is still being written. We may lack the wisdom Hong Kong earned weathering prior epidemics, but it’s not too late to apply three basic principles from behavioral science: make it easy, understood and expected, and we’ll soon see face masks everywhere, saving lives.



Angela Duckworth, founder and chief executive of Character Lab, is the Rosa Lee and Egbert Chang professor at the University of Pennsylvania, where Lyle Ungar is a professor of computer and information science, and Ezekiel J. Emanuel, author of the forthcoming “Which Country Has the World’s Best Health Care?”, is a professor of health care management, medical ethics and health policy."



Opinion | There Are 3 Things We Have to Do to Get People Wearing Masks - The New York Times

Monday, May 25, 2020

"YOU SAID THIS!!!" Cory Booker CONFRONTS Trump Nominee on His Shady Poli...

Documentary reveals Norma McCorvey, 'Jane Roe', was paid to reverse abortion stance

Biden Can Beat Trump … if He Doesn’t Blow It Joe being stuck at home during an election year may turn out to be a good thing.

Biden Can Beat Trump … if He Doesn’t Blow It

“Joe being stuck at home during an election year may turn out to be a good thing.

As the United States’ death toll raced toward 100,000, Donald Trump went golfing.

The number of deaths never had to reach such a staggering figure — and it will surely climb far beyond it — but it did because in the early days, Trump made excuses for the Chinese response, dragged his feet on an American response, and repeatedly made statements that defied truth and science.

Trump put politics, his own political fortunes, over the lives of the American people, and the result has been catastrophic.

As CNN has reported, researchers at Columbia University created a model gauging transmission rates from March 15 to May 3, and found that if the United States had started social distancing just two weeks earlier, it could have prevented 84 percent of deaths and 82 percent of cases.

But Trump had spent the previous week downplaying the severity of the virus and blaming growing coverage of it and alarm over it on the media.

On March 10, when there were 959 confirmed cases and 28 deaths, Trump said to reporters after a meeting with Republican senators: “We’re prepared, and we’re doing a great job with it. And it will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away.”

The very next day the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a pandemic, but it wasn’t until March 13 that Trump declared the virus a national emergency, and it wasn’t until March 16 that he announced social distancing guidelines.

But, that may well have been too late. The virus wasn’t aware of the politics of the moment. The virus wasn’t aware that he had been lying and deflecting. The virus wasn’t aware that it should wait until the American president was cowed into correct action. It was doing what viruses do: It was spreading and it was killing.

Trump dragged his feet, trying to con his way through a pandemic, to rewrite reality, to pacify the public until the virus passed, and that has led to untold numbers of people dead who never had to die.

There is not only blood on Trump’s hands, he is drenched in it like the penultimate scene from the movie “Carrie.”

No amount of deflecting blame to China or Obama or the governors can change this. No amount of playing to people’s impatience about reopening and optimistic desires that the worst is behind us can change this.

In America, this is Donald Trump’s plague, and he is yoked with that going into the election in November.

Joe Biden needs to do little, despite what many pundits may think. He doesn’t need a daily presence in the news. He doesn’t need to “own the internet.” He doesn’t need large rallies or even that much sizzle.

In fact, his being stuck in his house and giving limited interviews from his basement may be the best thing to ever happen to his campaign.

Biden is a well-known gaffe machine. Every time he speaks, there is the very real chance that he will do more damage than good. America doesn’t need that. We just need a person to replace Trump who is, for one thing, not so cavalier about deaths connected to his poor response or poor policy — whether they be hurricane victims in Puerto Rico, children separated from their parents at the border or victims of a virus.

But, Biden continues to commit unforced error, like the hubbub he created and later apologized for when he said at the end of an interview with The Breakfast Club’s Charlamagne tha God: “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.”

It was so cavalier and comfortable that it was shocking. Biden doesn’t get to define blackness nor excommunicate anyone from it.

But that wasn’t the only problem in the interview. He said just seconds after that statement that “The NAACP has endorsed me every time I’ve run.” That never happened, and the NAACP had to release a statement to clarify that it “is a nonpartisan organization and does not endorse candidates for political office.”

This is not the first time Biden has lied about his relationship to the black community. He has repeatedly lied over the years about marching in the civil rights movement, even though advisers warned him to stop it. And, he repeatedly saidthat he was arrested in South Africa trying to see imprisoned anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela.

None of this ever happened. What gives? None of this is necessary. Compared to Trump’s avalanche of lies, these may seem small, but for black voters, particularly younger, more leery ones, they are baffling and off-putting.

Black voters rescued the Biden campaign and likely delivered him the nomination. These kinds of Breakfast Club flubs have the potential to dampen enthusiasm among “the one that brung you,” as we say in the South.“

Trump golfs and attacks opponents as death toll nears 100,000

Wealthiest Hospitals Got Billions in Bailout for Struggling Health Providers Twenty large chains received more than $5 billion in federal grants even while sitting on more than $100 billion in cash.

Wealthiest Hospitals Got Billions in Bailout for Struggling Health Providers

“Twenty large chains received more than $5 billion in federal grants even while sitting on more than $100 billion in cash.

A multibillion-dollar institution in the Seattle area invests in hedge funds, runs a pair of venture capital funds and works with elite private equity firms like the Carlyle Group.

But it is not just another deep-pocketed investor hunting for high returns. It is the Providence Health System, one of the country’s largest and richest hospital chains. It is sitting on nearly $12 billion in cash, which it invests, Wall Street-style, in a good year generating more than $1 billion in profits.

And this spring, Providence received at least $509 million in government funds, one of many wealthy beneficiaries of a federal program that is supposed to prevent health care providers from capsizing during the coronavirus pandemic.

With states restricting hospitals from performing elective surgery and other nonessential services, their revenue has shriveled. The Department of Health and Human Services has disbursed $72 billion in grants since April to hospitals and other health care providers through the bailout program, which was part of the CARES Act economic stimulus package. The department plans to eventually distribute more than $100 billion more.

So far, the riches are flowing in large part to hospitals that had already built up deep financial reserves to help them withstand an economic storm. Smaller, poorer hospitals are receiving tiny amounts of federal aid by comparison.

Twenty large recipients, including Providence, have received a total of more than $5 billion in recent weeks, according to an analysis of federal data by Good Jobs First, a research group. Those hospital chains were already sitting on more than $108 billion in cash, according to regulatory filings and the bond-rating firms S&P Global and Fitch. A Providence spokeswoman said the grants helped make up for losses from the coronavirus.

Those cash piles come from a mix of sources: no-strings-attached private donations, income from investments with hedge funds and private equity firms, and any profits from treating patients. Some chains, like Providence, also run their own venture-capital firms to invest their cash in cutting-edge start-ups. The investment portfolios often generate billions of dollars in annual profits, dwarfing what the hospitals earn from serving patients.

Many of these hospital groups, including Providence, are set up as nonprofits, which generally don’t have to pay federal taxes on their billions of dollars of income.

By contrast, hospitals that serve low-income patients often have only enough cash on hand to finance a few weeks of their operations.

After the CARES Act was passed in March, hospital industry lobbyists reached out to senior Health and Human Services officials to discuss how the money would be distributed.

Representatives of the American Hospital Association, a lobbying group for the country’s largest hospitals, communicated with Alex M. Azar II, the department secretary, and Eric Hargan, the deputy secretary overseeing the funds, said Tom Nickels, a lobbyist for the group. Chip Kahn, president of the Federation of American Hospitals, which lobbies on behalf of for-profit hospitals, said he, too, had frequent discussions with the agency.

The department then devised formulas to quickly dispense tens of billions of dollars to thousands of hospitals — and those formulas favored large, wealthy institutions.

Samuel Corum for The New York Times

One formula based allotments on how much money a hospital collected from Medicare last year. Another was based on a hospital’s revenue. While Health and Human Services also created separate pots of funding for rural hospitals and those hit especially hard by the coronavirus, the department did not take into account each hospital’s existing financial resources.

“This simple formula used the data we had on hand at that time to get relief funds to the largest number of health care facilities and providers as quickly as possible,” said Caitlin B. Oakley, a spokeswoman for the department. “While other approaches were considered, these would have taken much longer to implement.”

Hospitals that serve a greater proportion of wealthier, privately insured patients got twice as much relief as those focused on low-income patients with Medicaid or no coverage at all, according to a study this month by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

“If you ever hear a hospital complaining they don’t have enough money, see if they have a venture fund,” said Niall Brennan, president of the nonprofit Health Care Cost Institute and a former senior Medicare official. “If you’ve got play money, you’re fine.”

In a letter this month to the Department of Health and Human Services, two House committee chairmen said the Trump administration appeared to be disregarding Congress’s intent in how it was distributing the aid.

“The level of funding appears to be completely disconnected from need,” wrote the two Democrats, Representatives Frank Pallone Jr. of New Jersey and Richard E. Neal of Massachusetts.

It is the latest instance in which enormous and hastily enacted federal bailout programs have benefited those who don’t appear to need the money. A package of $170 billion in federal tax breaks, for example, will go overwhelmingly to many of the country’s richest people and biggest companies. A program to rescue small businesses initially directed hundreds of millions of dollars in loans to publicly traded companies while many smaller firms were frozen out.

That pattern is repeating in the hospital rescue program.

For example, HCA Healthcare and Tenet Healthcare — publicly traded chains with billions of dollars in reserves and large credit lines from banks — together received more than $1.5 billion in federal funds.

An HCA spokesman said the aid didn’t cover the expected lost revenue and higher expenses caused by the coronavirus, while a Tenet spokeswoman said the pandemic had suppressed the company’s profits.

Dustin Franz for The New York Times

The Cleveland Clinic got $199 million. Last year it had so much money on hand — its $7 billion in cash helped generate $1.2 billion in investment profits — that it paid investment advisers $28 million to manage the fortune.

Angela Kiska, a Cleveland Clinic spokeswoman, said the federal grants had “helped to partially offset the significant losses in operating revenue due to Covid-19, while we continue to provide care to patients in our communities.” The Cleveland Clinic sent caregivers to hospitals in Detroit and New York as they were flooded with coronavirus patients, she added.

The St. Louis-based Ascension Health, which operates 150 hospitals nationwide, has received at least $211 million from Health and Human Services. The company, with $15.5 billion in cash, operates a venture capital fund and an investment advisory firm that helps other companies manage their money.

Even if Ascension stopped generating any revenue whatsoever — a doomsday scenario — it would have enough cash to fully operate for nearly eight months.“

Friday, May 22, 2020

Pompeo asked to explain why he wanted inspector general fired

'You ain't black': Biden calls out black Trump supporters. Biden is dumb, ignorant and racially incentive but he is a heck of a lot better than Trump. I can't stand him personally but he is our only choice.



'You ain't black': Biden calls out black Trump supporters

Ignorant, dumb and dangerous.. Drug touted by Trump is linked to increase risk of death in virus patients: WaPo





Drug touted by Trump is linked to increase risk of death in virus patients: WaPo

Drug touted by Trump is linked to increase risk of death in virus patients: WaPo



Drug touted by Trump is linked to increase risk of death in virus patients: WaPo

Opinion | Bill Gates Is the Right Tycoon for a Coronavirus Age - The New York Times

"He’s everywhere, this lavender-sweatered Mister Rogers for the curious and quarantined.

Contributing Opinion Writer
Bill Gates.
Bill Gates.
“It tires me to talk to rich men,” said Teddy Roosevelt, himself a product of wealth. “You expect a man of millions, the head of a great industry, to be a man worth hearing. But as a rule, they don’t know anything outside their own businesses.”
Had T.R. spent time with Bill Gates, the polymath who predicted the pandemic in a TED Talk, he likely would have made an exception.
Gates is everywhere these days, a lavender-sweatered Mister Rogers for the curious and quarantined. With the United States surrendering in the global war against a disease without borders, Gates has filled the void. The U.S. is isolated, pitied, scorned. Gates, by one measure, is the most admired man in the world.
Beyond the $300 million that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has given to blunt the spread of the virus, Gates has made himself a spokesman for science. It needs one. While President Trump spouts life-threatening nonsense, Gates calmly explains how a spike protein of coronavirus fits into the urgent hunt for a vaccine.
He’s the prophet who warned in 2015 that a pandemic was a greater risk to humankind than nuclear war. Five years before that, he challenged the world health community to commit to a decade of vaccines, and anted up $10 billion to get it started.
In 2018, he took the stage in Beijing with a jar of human poop. This, at the Reinvented Toilet Expo, was his way of stressing that about 500,000 young children die every year from diseases linked to poor sanitation — a problem his foundation has tackled.
He appears on both Fox News and MSNBC. He talks regularly with Dr. Anthony Fauci and peddles pandemic notes to Stephen Colbert. He recommends “A Gentleman in Moscow,” the Amor Towles novel about a hotel prisoner in Soviet Russia, on his personal blog, where he also praises the honesty of “These Truths,” Jill Lepore’s magisterial telling of our nation’s history.
Do I need to know that he and Melinda enjoy “This is Us,” the sap-heavy television series? No. But as they’ve already given away more than $50 billion as self-described “impatient optimists working to reduce inequality,” I’ll take their gloss on pop culture over an update on Kim Kardashian’s lip gloss.
Big Philanthropy can be about diplomatic power and muscle under the guise of charity. But there’s an inescapable truth about the world’s second-richest man’s decision to give away his fortune: The Gates Foundation has helped save millions of lives.
With the coronavirus, which Gates has called “the most dramatic thing ever in my lifetime by a lot,” his approach is to inject a turbocharger of money at many different levels. The foundation calls it “catalytic philanthropy.” To speed up the steps needed to get a vaccine to the world, for example, he’s funding the construction of factories to manufacture seven possible coronavirus vaccines, even if most of them fail.
Many tycoons tend to get miserly and coldhearted as they age. Gates has evolved in the opposite direction. Early on, the co-founder of Microsoft was arrogant, insufferable, whiny and socially distant when that was considered offensive — a monopoly capitalist without the imagination of his rival and friend Steve Jobs.
His initial efforts at philanthropy — giving computers away to underserved libraries and schools — opened him up to criticism (largely unfair) that the donations were part of a scheme to expand the market for Microsoft products. Gates soldiered on, making himself an expert in infectious diseases. He helped to create a market for lifesaving drugs that are often ignored by Big Pharma.
It’s uncanny how spot on he was in that 2015 speech. The greatest threat to the world was “not missiles but microbes,” he said. “You have a virus where people feel well enough while they’re infected so they get on a plane,” he said.
The first major American outbreak, in a nursing home just 11 miles from Gates’s house near Seattle, made him regret that he had not spoken out even more. He had warned Trump, just before he took office, of the seismic dangers of a pandemic.
Now, of course, Gates is the boogeyman in the fevered minds of many a delusional Trumper. The global lunacy community — anti-vaxxers, science-deniers, Russian agents — has spread so many conspiracy theories regarding Gates that misinformation about him is now among the most widespread of all coronavirus falsehoods.
The crackpots who have targeted Gates include Roger Stone, Laura Ingraham and the anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Would you get in a lifeboat with that trio?
The world needs a strong American response precisely because the disease has become a huge American problem. With less than 5 percent of the world’s population, the United States accounts for more than 30 percent of the planet’s coronavirus cases. When Trump snubs the World Health Organization, he hurts American citizens.
The safer route for a billionaire trying to avoid social media predators is idle-rich vacuity. But Gates, who had urged nations to simulate “germ games not war games,” will not sit this one out from the safety of a yacht. He’s smart enough to see that this virus does not pick sides.
The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips. And here’s our email: letters@nytimes.com.
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Timothy Egan (@nytegan) is a contributing opinion writer who covers the environment, the American West and politics. He is a winner of the National Book Award and author, most recently, of “A Pilgrimage to Eternity.”
Opinion | Bill Gates Is the Right Tycoon for a Coronavirus Age - The New York Times

Opinion | How Many Will Die for the Dow? - The New York Times



In a pandemic, Trump is reverting to type.
Opinion Columnist
The New York Stock Exchange last month.
The New York Stock Exchange last month.
In mid-March, after weeks in denial, Donald Trump finally admitted that Covid-19 was a serious threat and called on Americans to practice social distancing.
The delayed acknowledgment of reality — reportedly driven by concerns that admitting that the coronavirus posed a threat would hurt the stock market — had deadly consequences. Epidemiological modelers believe that tens of thousands of deaths might have been avoided if America had started lockdowns even a week earlier.
Still, better late than never. And for a little while it seemed as if we were finally settling on a strategy for containing the virus while also limiting the economic hardship caused by the lockdown.
But Trump and the Republican Party as a whole have now given up on that strategy. They won’t say this explicitly, and they’re throwing up various disingenuous explanations for what they’re doing, but their basic position is that thousands of Americans must die for the Dow.
What was the strategy Trump abandoned? It was the same strategy that has worked in other countries, from South Korea to New Zealand. First, use a lockdown to “crush the curve”: reduce the number of infected Americans to a relatively low level. Then combine gradual reopening with widespread testing, tracing of contacts after an infected individual is identified, and isolation of those who might spread the disease.
Now, an extended lockdown means a large loss of income for many workers and businesses; indeed, almost half of the adult population lives in households that have lost employment income since early March. So it has to be accompanied by disaster relief, especially generous unemployment benefits and aid to small businesses, to make the lockdown tolerable. And the fact is that disaster relief has been more effective than is widely recognized.
At first, overwhelmed unemployment offices were unable to process the flood of applications. But they have been gradually catching up, and at this point most unemployed Americans appear to be receiving benefits that replace a large share of their lost wages.
Aid to small businesses, via loans that turn into grants if the money is used to maintain payrolls, has been much more of a mess. Still, many small businesses have received loans and are indeed using the money to maintain payrolls.
In short, the hastily constructed Covid-19 safety net, while full of holes, has nonetheless protected many Americans from extreme hardship.
But that safety net will be snatched away over the next few months unless Congress and the White House act to maintain it. Small businesses have only an eight-week window to convert loans into grants, which means that many will start laying off workers within a month or so. Expanded unemployment benefits will expire on July 31.
And unless state and local governments get large aid from Washington, we will soon see huge layoffs of schoolteachers, firefighters and police officers.
Yet Trump and his party have come out against further aid to the unemployed and against helping beleaguered state and local governments. Instead, the party is increasingly putting all its hopes on a rapid reopening of the economy, even though that prospect terrifies health experts, who warn that it could lead to a second wave of infections and many more deaths.
Where is this push to reopen coming from? Some Republicans claim that we can’t afford to keep providing a safety net, because we’re incurring too much debt. But that’s both bad economics and disingenuous. After all, soaring budget deficits haven’t stopped Trump officials from considering, yes, more tax cuts.
There’s also a pretense that the push for reopening is coming from ordinary working Americans, that it’s a populist, grass-roots demand. But the public is much more worried that we’ll reopen too quickly than that we’ll open too slowly, and those who have lost wages as a result of the lockdown are no more likely to favor quick reopening than those who haven’t.
No, the push to ignore the health experts is a top-down thing; it’s coming from Trump and his allies, and whatever limited public support they’re getting is driven by partisanship, not populism.
So why are Trump and friends so eager to run the risk of a much higher death toll? The answer, surely, is that they’re reverting to type. In the early stages of this pandemic, Trump and the right in general downplayed the threat because they didn’t want to hurt stock prices. Now they’re pushing for a premature end to containment because they imagine that it will boost stocks again.
It didn’t have to go this way. Another leader might have told Americans that they’re in a tough fight but will win in the end. Governors like Andrew Cuomo who have taken that stance have seen their approval soar.
But Trump can’t get beyond boosterism, insisting that everything is great on his watch. And he’s clearly still obsessed with the stock market as the measure of his presidency.
So Trump and his party want to go full speed ahead with reopening no matter how many people it kills. As I said, their de facto position is that Americans must die for the Dow."


Opinion | How Many Will Die for the Dow? - The New York Times