Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for May 2nd, 2020

Trump Casually Doubles the Number of Americans He’d Be Okay Losing to the Coronavirus

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Bess Levin writes in Vanity Fair:

f your sense of time has become a flat circle these last couple of months, it might be hard to remember what was going on in February 2020. But as a reminder, that was when Donald Trump declared that there would be no more than 15 coronavirus cases total in the U.S. Shortly thereafter, he nudged that number up just slightly, claiming that the disease would prove nowhere near as bad as the 2009 H1N1 flu outbreak, which killed roughly 12,500 Americans. At the end of March, he shifted expectations a tad, saying that if the U.S. death toll clocked in between 100,000 and 200,000, it would mean his administration had “done a very good job.” Later, when strict social distancing measures began to flatten the curve, he opined that 60,000 dead Americans would be a win. Now, as the U.S. has surpassed that figure, the president has adjusted his yardstick for success once again, casually declaring that, actually, maybe 100,000 people will die.

Speaking to reporters before departing for a weekend at Camp David, Trump shared that “hopefully we’re going to come in under 100,000 lives lost,” and if that’s the case, it’ll mean he saved something like 1 millions lives, or 1.5 million or hey, let’s just call it 2.5 million lives.

The president did not take questions but if he had, . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

2 May 2020 at 2:18 pm

How Trump Gutted Obama’s Pandemic-Preparedness Systems

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Abigal Tracy writes in Vanity Fair:

When the first reported cases of Ebola in Guinea came to light in March 2014, it set off a mad scramble inside the Obama White House to track and contain the spread of the virus, which killed around 50% of the people it infected. Though not nearly as contagious as the current coronavirus, an epidemic, or even a pandemic, seemed possible if the disease weren’t confined to its West African redoubts. The Obama White House had clear protocols and chains of command for these kinds of threats. “The way to stop the forest fire is to isolate the embers,” Beth Cameron, a former civil servant who ran the White House’s National Security Council Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense, told me. Cameron and her colleagues quickly drew up a memo to Susan Rice, the national-security adviser, and Lisa Monaco, the homeland-security adviser, outlining what was known about the outbreak, setting off a chain of action that went up through the Oval Office, then spread through the government.

In the summer of 2018, on John Bolton’s watch, the team Cameron once ran was one of three directorates merged into one amid an overhaul and streamlining of Donald Trump’s National Security Council. And the position Monaco previously held, homeland-security adviser, was downgraded, stripped of its authority to convene the cabinet.

Obama’s team never faced a crisis as serious as the novel coronavirus, a truly unprecedented challenge. But officials who worked on past crises and experts on pandemic response believe that Trump’s dismissal—and in some aspects, wholesale discarding—of the Obama administration’s preparedness structures and principles, and the current administration’s ideas about government—that states could and should take take responsibility, that business could be more effective than government at solving problems at this scale—have left them dangerously unprepared.

“What the administration lacked in February, and still lacks today is articulating an overall strategy for managing this crisis,” a former administration official told me. “There’s a framework in place, we understand what authorities and roles and responsibilities everybody across government has at their disposal to be able to address an emergency. But when you walk through crisis management at a presidential level, the job of the president, first and foremost, is to develop and articulate the end state that we are trying to get to.”

Trump has yet to do this. “President Trump has, throughout this, seemed a little schizophrenic about his role,” Jeremy Konyndyk, a senior policy fellow at the Center for Global Development who ran USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance in the Obama administration, told me. “On the one hand, he clearly wants all the credit for it when things go right. On the other hand, he has furiously attempted to avoid having to take ownership for the success of the effort…he wants the credit without the accountability.”

The biggest difference between Obama’s approach and Trump has to do with science. “Traditionally, we have had a situation where the response is always scientifically, technically proven,” says a former government official. “Of course there are political considerations. But the options that are presented are fundamentally sound from a scientific perspective.”

In the current situation, the president decides which scientists and governmental organizations are listened to. “We’re seeing that institutions like the FDA and the CDC have been curtailed; their ability to do the right thing has been curtailed,” this person added, noting Food and Drug Administration commissioner Stephen Hahn’s subtle hedge when asked on CNN about Trump’s suggestion that people inject themselves with disinfectants to fight COVID-19. “I certainly wouldn’t recommend the internal ingestion of a disinfectant,” Hahn, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, said.

Trump critics are quick to draw contrast between the COVID-19 and Ebola crises. Obama, they assert, was guided by objective facts. “One of the principles [that] President Obama was very clear on when it came to public health crises is you have to be guided by science and facts and speak clearly and consistently and credibly on those issues,” Monaco told me. “That meant, frankly, having public health and medical experts do the communicating.” . . .

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Written by Leisureguy

2 May 2020 at 2:13 pm

Current greens batch

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First, I peeled and minced one head of garlic cloves. The Spanish garlic is back on the shelves, which I hope is a sign that things are better there.

Then into my 6-qt All-Clad stainless pot I put:

4 bunches thick scallions, chopped
2 large jalapeños, chopped including core and seeds
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
12 or so domestic white mushrooms, chopped
1 bunch of lacinato kale, chopped
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
about 1/3 cup Shiro miso (white miso)
about 2 teaspoons ground black pepper

I simmered that until it wilted a bit, then added:

minced garlic
1 large bunch rapini, chopped

I might add a little tamari or Worcestershire sauce or Red Boat fish sauce. I’ll let it simmer 20-30 minutes. — I went with Red Boat fish sauce, and added some at the end.

No olive oil this time. I thought about including 1/4 or 1/2 head red cabbage, chopped small, but decided to eat that as a salad for a while.

This will provide my daily two servings of greens for a few days.

This afternoon, I will cook a vegetable melange, since I also finished off the last batch of vegetables.

Written by Leisureguy

2 May 2020 at 11:59 am

Why All of Upstate New York Grew Up Eating the Same Barbecue Chicken

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The creation of a tradition is always an interesting story, and this one is worth reading. From the article, this recipe — and the article notes that nowadays, people use much less salt than called for in this recipe from 1950:

Written by Leisureguy

2 May 2020 at 9:51 am

They were told not to take sick days — then six workers at the warehouse died of Covid-19

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Gabriel Thompson reports in the Intercept:

AT LEAST SIX people who worked in a Long Island, New York, warehouse leased by Broadridge Financial Solutions have died of Covid-19, according to their family members and news reports.

Earlier this month, The Intercept and Type Investigations reported that employees of TMG Mail Solutions, a Broadridge contractor that prints and mails financial documents, had been pressured to work during the Covid-19 pandemic even as some of their co-workers tested positive for the virus. The workers also expressed concerns that delays in the provision of personal protective equipment like masks and gloves made an outbreak inevitable.

Broadridge Financial Solutions is a global financial services company that made nearly $4.4 billion in revenue last year. The production floor of the warehouse is staffed by Broadridge employees and TMG employees, along with employees of Randstad, a multinational staffing firm that has an office inside the building.

Four of the deceased workers were Broadridge employees, according to their families, and two were employees of Randstad.

Randstad declined to answer questions, noting that “personal employee information is considered confidential.” Broadridge declined to provide the number of employees who have contracted Covid-19 or the number who have died from the virus, citing privacy concerns.

“Our thoughts are with the families and co-workers at this difficult time,” Broadridge spokesperson Gregg Rosenberg wrote in an email. “This is a terrible loss for the Broadridge community. The health and safety of our employees, their families, and our community are our highest priority, and we have implemented extraordinary safety measures to keep workers safe in advance of public health guidelines.”

A representative of TMG said that fewer than 10 of its employees at the Broadridge warehouse had tested positive for the virus and that none had died.

ONE OF THE Randstad employees, Jose Bonilla Flores, had worked at the company for more than a decade, according to his wife, Ana Menjivar, who works for TMG. She described him as a diligent and tireless worker, someone who didn’t mind the 12-hour shifts, seven days a week that they both worked during the busy spring season when proxy statements were printed and shipped. The couple, from El Salvador, had met at the warehouse four years ago and have a 3-year-old son, Jonathan.

Like many warehouse workers, Flores and Menjivar were anxious about the coronavirus and had heard rumors that it was spreading among workers. “We were scared — that’s all we talked about,” Menjivar said. “At the same time, we didn’t want to lose work.”

Menjivar said she had been among the TMG workers to receive a flyer on the warehouse floor. As The Intercept and Type Investigations previously reported, the flyer warned, “If you don’t show up for work you will not be paid and after two days you will be considered to have abandoned your job.” The flyer also discouraged TMG employees from wearing masks or gloves unless they were sick or had compromised immune systems.

Flores, 53, had a slight cough and lost his sense of smell and taste but continued to work until April 2, when he developed a fever. The following day, he visited Brentwood Medical Center, where he was diagnosed with suspected Covid-19. A test determined he was positive. By then, Menjivar had also come down with symptoms of Covid-19 and was instructed by the same doctor to quarantine at home.

Over the next two weeks, Menjivar, whose symptoms were less severe, cared for her husband. He was weak and bedridden, she said, but his condition appeared to be stable until April 17, when . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

2 May 2020 at 9:26 am

Honeysuckle: Unusual, but not a novelty

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Although honeysuckle is an uncommon fragrance for a shaving soap, I don’t see that it can be termed anything other than a floral. If honeysuckle is a novelty fragrance, then so must be rose, which is about as standard a floral fragrance as can be found.

My Simpson Emperor Super 2 is turned shyly away, but it’s an awesome little brush whose handle design I greatly like. Three passes with the inimitable iKon 101, and then a splash of honeysuckle aftershave, and the weekend begins, just filled with stay-at-home possibilities, among which are cooking a batch of vegetables and a batch of greens and, of course, Esperanto study — training the old neural network.

Written by Leisureguy

2 May 2020 at 9:20 am

Posted in Shaving

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