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May 28, 2020, 02:31 AM
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 on: May 27, 2020, 09:17 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Joe Biden says this is what he'd do if he were president during pandemic


Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojkVRb7kdJ4

 on: May 27, 2020, 05:28 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
'What a little man,' Anderson Cooper reacts to Trump's conspiracy

May 27, 2020

CNN's Anderson Cooper excoriates President Donald Trump and calls him a "little man" for spreading falsehoods about a deceased woman

PLEASE WATCH: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iAYH-KfUKzU


Trump ‘frustrated and angry’ that Americans care more about COVID-19 than his Biden smears: White House reporter

May 27, 2020
Raw Story
By Travis Gettys

President Donald Trump sees himself as the real victim of the coronavirus pandemic, and a White House correspondent says that’s why he can’t show sympathy for the 100,000 dead.

The president just can’t bring himself to act as “consoler-in-chief,” Associated Press reporter Jonathan Lemire told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” because he’s frustrated over COVID-19’s damage to his re-election campaign strategy.

“This is a president who has been from the very beginning of this crisis has been frustrated and angry this has happened to him, and ill-prepared,” Lemire said. “He was going into this year expecting to run for re-election on the back of a strong economy against what he thought would be a weak Democratic foe, and that all went away.”

Lemire confirmed reports that Trump spent Memorial Day weekend moping around the White House, whining about himself being a victim of the pandemic.

“There has been that for a while now, sort of this frustration from the president for exactly that reason,” Lemire said, “that he felt like he was on the glide path to re-election. We can debate whether that was true or not, but that was his perception. He was ahead.”

Before the pandemic wrecked the economy and started killing thousands of Americans every day, Trump felt strong — and how he doesn’t.

“He felt that he was in strong position — this is back to January or so, February, that to win another four years,” Lemire said. “There is an anger there that he’s been deprived of that. That’s partially why we’re seeing its campaign flailing as much as it is, trying to revive the playbook that he had planned to use all along — hearing about Hunter Biden, hearing about Joe Biden’s Washington ties, revisiting the Russia probe with the ‘Obamagate’ moniker now. Those are the things he hoped to use to revive the strategy that he did in 2016.”

But a global pandemic that’s showing no signs of letting up have largely erased those concerns.

“Most of that now Americans don’t care about at this moment,” Lemire said. “They care about the pandemic, they care about their jobs lost, they care about the health and save the of their loved ones, including themselves. That’s their focus, and the president has not been able to adapt.”

“What he’s done is worked against himself,” he added. “If some of these guidelines have had been stricter earlier, then the country would be in better shape. If he were wearing masks, he would be setting a better example allowing businesses to open safely. He’s worked against his best interest time and time again out of the frustration that this is the situation he’s in.”

Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=31tn21rkOvA&feature=emb_title


White House insider says Trump spent Memorial Day weekend ‘in a rage’ – and sees himself as COVID-19’s biggest victim

on May 27, 2020
Raw Story
By Sky Palma

An inside source speaking to Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman says President Trump spent his Memorial Day weekend “in a f*cking rage” over what he sees is his unfair treatment over his response to the coronavirus outbreak. Even as the death toll neared 100,000 and unemployment swelled to over 38 million, Trump still sees himself as the victim, Sherman writes.

“Trump’s outburst reflected his growing frustration that, at this stage of the race, he is losing to Joe Biden,” writes Sherman. “According to a Republican briefed on the campaign’s internal polls, Trump is trailing Biden by double digits among women over 50 in six swing states. ‘Trump knows the numbers are bad. It’s why he’s thrashing about,’ the Republican said.”

“Even those closest to Trump have been privately worried the election is slipping away,” Sherman continues. “According to a source, Melania Trump warned the president during their trip to India in February to take the virus response seriously. ‘He totally blew her off,’ the source said. Melania later told people that Trump ‘only hears what he wants to hear and surrounds himself with yes-people and family,’ the source added.”

When it comes to the White House’s plan to get things back in track, Trump himself is the biggest obstacle.

“Trump is doing it to himself by tweeting idiotic conspiracy theories about Joe Scarborough. Women are tired of this shit,” a former West Wing official told Sherman.

Read the full report over at Vanity Fair: https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2020/05/trump-whines-about-his-covid-19-victimhood-as-campaign-flails


‘We have them outnumbered’: Morning Joe explains why Trump’s ‘vile’ tweets don’t work on most people

on May 27, 2020
By Travis Gettys

MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough explained why most Americans could not be dragged down to President Donald Trump’s level, hurling angry attacks and ignoring scientific advice.

The “Morning Joe” host said the president’s refusal to wear a mask and his murder allegations against him would fall flat with most Americans, because they didn’t spend all day stoking their own anger on social media.

“Most Americans don’t live in the gutters of Twitter,” Scarborough said. “Most Americans don’t live posting hateful things about people on Facebook. They talk about their loved ones, they talk about their faith in God, they talk about their children, their grandchildren. We have them outnumbered.”

“That old Paul McCartney quote that he probably doesn’t remember saying, but it stuck with me 30 years ago when they asked Paul why he was such an optimist,” he added. “He sed says, ‘You know what? I think we’ve got them outnumbered.’ Everywhere I go I look around and see good people. That’s what I see in this pandemic. I see good Americans who want to take care of their families, who want to act responsibly, who shelter in place even when politicians were bumbling around making political calculations.”

Scarborough said the president’s repeated murder accusations were just a distraction from his failures of leadership.

“He wants to distract you, he wants to distract the press, he wants to distract everybody from the fact that the United States of America is moving up to 100,000 dead Americans from a pandemic that he said was hyped up as a hoax by the media to bring him down, and predicted time and again that nobody would die, that it was 15 cases would be down zero,” Scarborough said.

“He doesn’t want anyone to remember what he’s said, so his charges become more vile, they’ve become more cruel, they’ve become more callous, and he only wants one thing to happen, he wants you to take your eye off the ball,” Scarborough added, “and it’s the responsibility of all Americans to stay focused, to understand where we are in the middle of this pandemic, and to act responsibly and not listen to the president but listen to the president’s doctors, listen to the president’s health officials. Listen to Dr. Fauci, listen to Dr. Birx, wear masks, take care of senior citizens, take care of people with underlying conditions, and be responsible. Follow science, not hate.”

Watch:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZD_tVJB_RE&feature=emb_title


Trump threatens to ‘close down’ social media companies if they don’t stop fact-checking his tweets

on May 27, 2020
By Brad Reed

President Donald Trump on Wednesday threatened to “close down” social media companies such as Facebook and Twitter if they didn’t stop fact-checking his tweets about mail-in voting.

“Republicans feel that Social Media Platforms totally silence conservatives voices,” the president wrote on Twitter. “We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen.”

Trump’s angry tirade was sparked when Twitter added a link at the end of one of the president’s tweets that offered users additional facts about mail-in voting, which the president has falsely claimed is rife with fraud.

Trump continued to attack mail-in voting in his tweet, and falsely labeled it a conspiracy to bring down Republicans.

“Just like we can’t let large scale Mail-In Ballots take root in our Country,” Trump fumed. “It would be a free for all on cheating, forgery and the theft of Ballots. Whoever cheated the most would win. Likewise, Social Media. Clean up your act, NOW!!!!”

    ….happen again. Just like we can’t let large scale Mail-In Ballots take root in our Country. It would be a free for all on cheating, forgery and the theft of Ballots. Whoever cheated the most would win. Likewise, Social Media. Clean up your act, NOW!!!!

    — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 27, 2020


100,000 body bags highlight Trump coronavirus failures in new Lincoln Project ad

on May 27, 2020
Raw Story
By Sky Palma

The Lincoln Project is an American political action committee formed by several prominent former Republicans — all with the stated goal of making sure President Trump doesn’t win reelection. This Tuesday, they released an ad designed to highlight the death toll of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., and Trump’s bungled response.

Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hitGT3TkP9s&feature=emb_title

 on: May 27, 2020, 04:26 AM 
Started by PatriciaW - Last post by Rav
Hello all,

I came across this old post and it really did make me chuckle. How true it is! Just thought it would be nice to re-share with everyone at this time.



 on: May 27, 2020, 04:16 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
Twitter labels Trump's false claims with warning for first time

President rails against decision after his tweets on mail-in voting are marked with message: ‘Get the facts’

Julia Carrie Wong in San Francisco and Sam Levine in New York
Wed 27 May 2020 01.02 BST

Twitter for the first time took action against a series of tweets by Donald Trump, labeling them with a warning sign and providing a link to further information.

Since ascending to the US presidency, Trump has used his Twitter account to threaten a world leader with war, amplify racist misinformation by British hate figures and, as recently as Tuesday morning, spread a lie about the 2001 death of a congressional aide in order to smear a cable news pundit. Throughout it all, Twitter has remained steadfast in its refusal to censor the head of state, even going so far as to write a new policy to allow itself to leave up tweets by “world leaders” that violate its rules.

The company’s decision on Tuesday afternoon to affix labels to a series of Trump tweets about California’s election planning is the result of a new policy debuted on 11 May. They were applied – hours after the tweets initially went out – because Trump’s tweets violated Twitter’s “civic integrity policy”, a company spokeswoman confirmed, which bars users from “manipulating or interfering in elections or other civic processes”, such as by posting misleading information that could dissuade people from participating in an election.

Trump responded on Tuesday evening with a pair of tweets that repeated his false claims about voting and accused Twitter of “interfering in the 2020 Presidential Election”. “Twitter is completely stifling FREE SPEECH, and I, as President, will not allow it to happen!” he wrote. Federal law protects the rights of internet platforms to moderate the third-party speech they publish.

Trump’s tweets include numerous false statements about California’s plan to expand access to voting by mail in November due to the coronavirus outbreak. The tweets now feature a light blue exclamation point icon, with the message “Get the facts about mail-in ballots”. The alert label may not be visible when the tweets are embedded in another web page, such as below.

    Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)

    ....living in the state, no matter who they are or how they got there, will get one. That will be followed up with professionals telling all of these people, many of whom have never even thought of voting before, how, and for whom, to vote. This will be a Rigged Election. No way!
    May 26, 2020

Clicking on the alert will link users to a “Twitter-curated page” that variously describes Trump’s claims as “unsubstantiated” and false. The Twitter page also aggregates tweets from a number of journalists and publications explaining why Trump’s statements are false.

Trump’s claims about California on Tuesday were blatantly wrong. The state is not sending a ballot to anyone who lives in the state but rather those registered there. Sam Mahood, a spokesman for the secretary of state, Alex Padilla, said in an email only active voters in the state would be mailed ballots.

As states prepare for an unprecedented surge in mail-in voting because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Trump has repeatedly made baseless claims that this will lead to fraud. Voter fraud is extremely rare and one analysis found just 143 convictions involving mail-in ballot fraud since 2000, representing 0.00006% of the ballots cast during that time period.

Trump, who voted by mail in Florida in March, has made it clear that he opposes any effort to make it easier to vote by mail for all eligible voters, including sending an absentee ballot application to all voters, a measure the Republican National Committee does not oppose. In March, he said Democratic efforts in Congress to expand mail-in voting would make it so “you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again”. Studies have shown neither Democrats nor Republicans benefit from a switch to a vote-by-mail system.

Trump also attacked efforts to increase mail-in voting in Michigan and Nevada last week. He falsely said Michigan was sending absentee ballots to all registered voters; in fact the state was only sending an absentee ballot application. Trump later deleted his tweet and reposted a new one accusing the secretary of state of unlawfully sending the applications, something the secretary of state says is well within her authority.

Trump’s campaign manager, Brad Parscale, lambasted Twitter’s decision in a statement, framing it as an attempt by “Silicon Valley” to “obstruct and interfere with President Trump getting his message through to voters”. Parscale also asserted that Twitter’s “clear political bias” was a reason that the Trump campaign pulled its advertising from Twitter “months ago”.

Twitter banned all political advertising in November 2019, more than six months ago. At the time, Parscale decried the global policy change as “another attempt by the left to silence Trump and conservatives”.

Experts on misinformation raised questions about whether Twitter’s measure would be effective. Mike Caulfield, head of the Digital Polarization Initiative of the American Democracy Project, noted that the “Get the facts” phrasing could further entrench misinformation with its “legitimizing tone”.

“Get the facts implies there is a debate where facts are being marshalled in evidence,” he wrote on Twitter. “It elevates the claim.”

Claire Wardle, the director of First Draft News, also questioned whether Twitter’s information page would be effective in changing any minds.

“If we are to consider the reasoning behind this, it’s not a belief that this will change anyone’s minds, it’s to provide necessary context to a tweet that should be taken down, but if they did that would lead to more conspiratorial thinking,” she said. “They’re stuck between a rock and hard place.”


WSJ rips Trump for ‘hurting the country’ by ‘debasing’ the presidency: ‘Ugly even for him’

Raw Story
By Bob Brigham

President Donald Trump was slammed by the editorial board of the conservative Wall Street Journal on Tuesday evening.

“Donald Trump sometimes traffics in conspiracy theories—recall his innuendo in 2016 about Ted Cruz’s father and the JFK assassination—but his latest accusation against MSNBC host Joe Scarborough is ugly even for him,” the newspaper noted. “Mr. Trump has been tweeting the suggestion that Mr. Scarborough might have had something to do with the death in 2001 of a young woman who worked in his Florida office when Mr. Scarborough was a GOP Congressman.”

    A lot of interest in this story about Psycho Joe Scarborough. So a young marathon runner just happened to faint in his office, hit her head on his desk, & die? I would think there is a lot more to this story than that? An affair? What about the so-called investigator? Read story! https://t.co/CjBXBXxoNS

    — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 24, 2020

    ….about whether or not Joe could have done such a horrible thing? Maybe or maybe not, but I find Joe to be a total Nut Job, and I knew him well, far better than most. So many unanswered & obvious questions, but I won’t bring them up now! Law enforcement eventually will?

    — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 26, 2020

“There’s no evidence of foul play, or an affair with the woman, and the local coroner ruled that the woman fainted from an undiagnosed heart condition and died of head trauma,” The Journal noted.

“Mr. Trump always hits back at critics, and Mr. Scarborough has called the President mentally ill, among other things. But suggesting that the talk-show host is implicated in the woman’s death isn’t political hardball. It’s a smear,” the newspaper noted. “We don’t write this with any expectation that Mr. Trump will stop. Perhaps he even thinks this helps him politically, though we can’t imagine how. But Mr. Trump is debasing his office, and he’s hurting the country in doing so.”


‘Captain Crazy Pants’ starts new conspiracy theory against the NYT in late-night Twitter ‘meltdown’

Raw Story
By Bob Brigham

The leader of the free world started a new conspiracy on Tuesday evening.

At 10:31 in Washington, DC, Trump offered a new conspiracy theory about The New York Times‘ coverage of his administration, for which the newspaper has won a Pulitzer Prize.

“The Failing [New York Times], winner of Pulitzer Prizes for its totally flawed coverage of the illegal Russia Witch Hunt, does its research as follows: Think of the absolute worst things you can say about Donald J. Trump, pretend there are sources, and just say it,” Trump argued, without any evidence.

He urged the newspaper to “return the Pulitzers” — in all capital letters.

    The Failing @nytimes, winner of @PulitzerPrizes for its totally flawed coverage of the illegal Russia Witch Hunt, does its research as follows: Think of the absolute worst things you can say about Donald J. Trump, pretend there are sources, and just say it. RETURN THE PULITZERS!

    — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 27, 2020

Trump received harsh criticism for his tweet, here’s some of the commentary:

    A pandemic, hate crimes, millions out of work, 100 thousand dead with more to come, and Captain Crazy Pants is playing the victim card. This is not normal. https://t.co/oZVfLsortJ

    — Joshua Gale (@joshuafett75) May 27, 2020

    Why make it up when they can just quote you. https://t.co/2pIAijdDuw

    — Hemant Mehta (@hemantmehta) May 27, 2020

    Look who took another bump after 10pm https://t.co/Qbzm2RDqIM

    — Hot Weather Takes (@HotWxTakes) May 27, 2020

    Another Epic @realDonaldTrump temper tantrum. Our Impeached @POTUS is tweet stomping his feet for hours now because he can't get his way.
    This is quite a way for a leader in the free world to behave. Or maybe misbehave is a better term.#TrumpMeltdown #TakeTrumpOffTwitter https://t.co/1rxJsWdSIn

    — MCHuntley (@mchuntley) May 27, 2020

    Never a source of your assertions.

    Just blabbering idiocy.

    People are dying because of you, imbecile.

    Wake the fuck up! https://t.co/n8gQBk1iRV

    — Paul Ybarra (@ybarrap) May 27, 2020

    Opinion | Hey, Trump! You're really jealous about not winning a Nobel Peace Prize aren't you—since @BarackObama did!

    The @PulitzerPrizes are for journalism, and they check #FACTS before they award prizes to the world's top Journalists.

    Can you process and accept those #facts? https://t.co/iDMcNgJMGR

    — 🔥 2020ResistBot 😷 (@2020ResistBotU1) May 27, 2020


CNN’s Acosta breaks down history of Trump’s lies about voter fraud: ‘He has a problem accepting the truth’

Raw Story
By Matthew Chapman

On Tuesday’s edition of CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360,” chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta walked through the history of President Donald Trump’s false claims about voter fraud, leading up to the one that got him fact-checked by Twitter.

“The president was lashing out on Twitter just a few moments ago, saying he is not going to stand for Twitter, as he describes it, ‘interfering in the 2020 election,'” said Acosta. “This has been going on for some time now. This is one of the president’s oldest lies,” said Acosta. “It goes all the way back to the 2016 campaign. He explained that the reason why he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton was because of undocumented immigrants voting in the 2016 election.”

“We should point out he established a voter fraud commission to find widespread voter fraud. That commission produced no evidence of widespread voter fraud,” said Acosta. “And so the president is going back to … essentially a social media trick that he has pulled before and he’s trying to do it again. And now Twitter and other social media platforms, perhaps others, will follow, are starting to do something about it.”

“The question is whether or not the president can really do anything about this at this point,” continued Acosta. “He’s threatening to do something about it, but that’s all we have tonight from the president, an empty threat he’ll do something about it. Anderson, we should point out. You and I both know this is a problem going on with this president, this administration for four years now. Not only does the president have a problem with telling the truth, he has a problem with accepting the truth. And all the studies have shown on this subject there is no widespread voter fraud in the U.S. and there is no proven link between mail-in balloting and voter fraud. Republican-led states have been doing it for years.”

Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fpVFSM3oU7I&feature=emb_title


Trump is an ‘insecure coward’ growing ‘more erratic’: Conservative warns ‘he’s not thinking clearly’

Raw Story
By Matthew Chapman

On Tuesday, writing for the New York Daily News, conservative television host S. E. Cupp laid into President Donald Trump for his repeated disrespect for the memory of dead Americans.

“‘Punch up, not down.’ Whether in comedy or politics, the consensus precept has provided helpful parameters in which to acceptably swing at rivals or targets. The idea is, pick on someone your own size,” wrote Cupp. “I can think of no better — meaning worse — example of punching down than one of the most powerful men on the planet picking on the dead and harassing their surviving family members in the process. Even someone with just a modicum of decency and awareness of social mores would know better than to drag the deceased and their relatives through the muck for no good reason at all.”

“The president of the United States has neither decency nor awareness, quite obviously,” wrote Cupp. “In the midst of a global pandemic that has nearly claimed 100,000 American lives, and over Memorial Day weekend, when we’re meant to soberly honor our fallen soldiers, Donald Trump was tweeting deranged conspiracy theories about a cable news host and his former staffer.”

“Her widow, Timothy, wrote a heart-wrenching letter to Twitter head Jack Dorsey, begging him to remove Trump’s disgusting tweets,” wrote Cupp. ‘I’m asking you to intervene in this instance because the President of the United States has taken something that does not belong to him — the memory of my dead wife — and perverted it for perceived political gain.’ It’s hard to imagine why Trump thinks his impolitic conspiracy theories would gain him anything politically or otherwise, or who would think this was a good idea. Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger, took to Twitter to discourage the attacks: ‘Completely unfounded conspiracy. Just stop. Stop spreading it, stop creating paranoia. It will destroy us.'”

“As we’ve seen in the past few months, Trump’s behavior has become more and more erratic, unbalanced, unhinged and self-sabotaging. This is just the latest evidence that he’s not thinking clearly,” wrote Cupp. However, she added, this is not the first time he has gone after the dead — from his posthumous attacks on Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) to his retweet of conspiracy theories about murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich.

“Punching down — even at the dead — isn’t the mark of a strong, secure, courageous man,” concluded Cupp. “It’s the mark of a small, weak, insecure coward with no impulse control, compassion or common decency. That’s our president.”


Trump tells a reporter to take off coronavirus mask and stop being ‘politically correct’

Raw Story
By Matthew Chapman

At Tuesday’s White House coronavirus press briefing, President Donald Trump got into an argument with Reuters correspondent Jeff Mason, when he commanded him to take off his protective face mask.

Mason refused to do so, at which point Trump mocked him, saying “You want to be politically correct.”

Trump also repeated a line previously made by his press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, asking why former Vice President Joe Biden wore a mask when he was in public but not standing close to anyone, when he wasn’t wearing a mask at home with his wife right next to him.

Watch below:

    "You want to be politically correct" — Trump asks @jeffmason1 to take his mask off then disses him when he refuses to do so pic.twitter.com/ALhIY9n5e2

    — Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 26, 2020


Masks take center stage in presidential race as Biden slams Trump for ‘costing people’s lives’

Raw Story
By Matthew Chapman

In an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash on Tuesday, former Vice President Joe Biden laid into President Donald Trump for his comments belittling his decision to wear a mask at the Memorial Day events at the beginning of the week.

“He’s a fool, an absolute fool to talk that way,” said Biden. He added that “This macho stuff … It’s costing people’s lives.”

Trump has frequently refused to don a mask while speaking to the media, even when he is in public places where masks are required.

Watch below:

    “He’s a fool, an absolute fool to talk that way,” Biden to @DanaBashCNN about Trump belittling his wearing of a mask. “This macho stuff … It’s costing people’s lives.”

    — Manu Raju (@mkraju) May 26, 2020


How a Trump order led to a huge coronavirus outbreak among workers

on May 27, 2020
By Nicole Karlis, Salon

On April 26, a blog post written by John Tyson, chairman of Tyson Foods, caused a flurry of headlines that speculated a meat shortage was on the horizon due to stay-at-home orders across the country to flatten the curve.

This article originally appeared at Salon.

“As pork, beef and chicken plants are being forced to close, even for short periods of time, millions of pounds of meat will disappear from the supply chain,” Tyson wrote. “As a result, there will be limited supply of our products available in grocery stores until we are able to reopen our facilities that are currently closed.”

Two days later, an April 28 executive order by the Trump administration — by way of Trump invoking the Defense Production Act (DPA) — encouraged meat plants to reopen. Nearly a month later, and more than half of the 30 meat processing plants that were closed have reopened. Yet all has not gone well: according to a Washington Post analysis, the number of coronaviruses cases among Tyson workers has gone from under 1,600 a month ago to more than 7,000.

This scenario highlights the potentially fatal cost of reopening the economy, and emphasizes how difficult it will be to go back to “normal” at busy workplaces like these. According to the Washington Post, Tyson has taken steps to protect workers: on-site medical clinics, temperature checks before shifts, required the use of face coverings — but employees are still being infected. Data from the nonprofit group Food & Environment Reporting Network (FERN) shows that reported COVID-19 cases among meatpacking, food-processing, and farmworkers from April 22 to May 19, 2020, were on a steady incline.

According to a new report by the New York Times, the data from FERN also shows more cases than what is being reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at these facilities. The report by the New York Times suggests there are conflicting reports and confusing signals between state leaders and meatpacking companies about how much information to release to the public. The New York Times reported this by viewing internal emails obtained through a public records request.

One example The Times highlighted:

    The emails also reveal the deference some county officials have shown toward the giant meatpacking companies and how little power they have in pushing the companies to stem outbreaks.

    ‘Bad news spreads way faster than the truth,” said a county health official in Colorado of an outbreak at a Cargill plant, according to notes from a conference call last month. “At this point, we are not doing anything to cast them in a bad light. Will not throw them to the Press.”

Transparency issues are one of many issues on the radar of the United Food & Commercial Workers union, which represents many meatpacking factory workers.

“When a plant hits several hundred cases, they get more tight-lipped, and that makes it difficult for workers to protect themselves and their families,” Eric Reeder, president of the United Food & Commercial Workers union local 293 in Nebraska, told The New York Times.

Indeed, over the last month there have been multiple reports of fearful workers. After Trump’s April Executive Order was given, one worker at a Georgia Tyson plant told The Guardian she was “devastated.”

“Because now, to be truthful – and excuse my language – Tyson really aren’t going to give a f–k about us at all,” she said. “For us employees that work in production, we are treated like modern-day slaves.”

Tyson Foods has been announcing updates in piecemeal news releases about testing results at specific plants. Most recently, the company stated in its latest release that of the 1,282 workers and contractors tested who work at a poultry facility in Temperanceville, Virginia, 257 tested positive. The company said a majority of those who did test positive did not show any symptoms. According to the release, Tyson has “increased short-term disability coverage to 90% of normal pay until June 30 to encourage team members to stay home when they are sick.”

“At Tyson, our team members come first, and we are focused on ensuring they feel safe and secure when they come to work,” Tom Brower, Senior Vice President of Health and Safety for Tyson Foods said in a statement. “We are working closely with local health departments and using the latest information and resources to protect our team members, their families and our communities.”


Trump’s ‘transition to greatness’ 2020 slogan is ‘like a surrender’: GOP campaign vet

Raw Story
By Matthew Chapman

On Tuesday, former Republican strategist and anti-Trump conservative Steve Schmidt dissected the Trump campaign’s “transition to greatness” slogan — and what it reveals about his presidency.

    “Transition to Greatness”. I think not. Trump’s new slogan signals big problems in the campaign. First, It’s a meaningless jumble of nonsense words that could only be produced by a campaign that’s worried, losing and on defense. It’s the best they can do. It’s like a surrender

    — Steve Schmidt (@SteveSchmidtSES) May 26, 2020

Defend democracy. Click to invest in courageous progressive journalism today.

    Banner that submits to the awful reality of Trump’s failure. Make America Great Again has been a deadly experiment that led to disaster for America. It’s legacy is death and economic collapse. The pollsters have studied and analyzed the numbers. There is no market for Trump’s (2)

    — Steve Schmidt (@SteveSchmidtSES) May 26, 2020

    Delusions. The American people understand he is a failure and lacking the stability, intelligence and morality to lead the country. The promise of greatness was simply another lie. Thunderous declarations about winning are no more. This new slogan is a remnant, a whisp of smoke 3

    — Steve Schmidt (@SteveSchmidtSES) May 26, 2020

    from faded fantasies. Reality has stripped Trump naked and all he has left are contrived slogans, square pegs hammered into round holes by the assemblage of advisors who must navigate his tormented ego and titanic vanities. Transition to Greatness is an empty shell. It’s all (4)

    — Steve Schmidt (@SteveSchmidtSES) May 26, 2020

    that is left of the MAGA promise. America has never been weaker. America has never been more broken or badly led. Transition to Greatness is just one last con.This time though the words are as empty as Trump’s hollow and vile character. It’s time for him to go. He failed America

    — Steve Schmidt (@SteveSchmidtSES) May 26, 2020


‘Scared of what will happen if he lets people vote’: Rights groups know why Trump panicked by mail-in ballots

on May 27, 2020
By Common Dreams

President Donald Trump on Tuesday alarmed pro-democracy advocates once again by elevating his attacks on voting rights by falsely claiming that mail-in ballots are inherently “rigged” and suggested the results of the November general election would be illegitimate if a vote-by-mail system is used.

The president—who has long railed against supposed “voter fraud” despite multiple studies showing cases of fraudulent voting are “vanishingly rare” and nowhere near common enough to swing election results—took aim in his tweets at California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who issued an executive order earlier this month to send mail-in ballots to every registered voter in the state for the November election.

Trump tweeted that the order is unjust as it will allow “anyone living in the state,” including people who “have never even thought of voting before” to cast ballots in the presidential election, suggesting that mobilizing first-time voters is a suspicious activity.

    There is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent. Mail boxes will be robbed, ballots will be forged & even illegally printed out & fraudulently signed. The Governor of California is sending Ballots to millions of people, anyone…..

    — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 26, 2020

    ….living in the state, no matter who they are or how they got there, will get one. That will be followed up with professionals telling all of these people, many of whom have never even thought of voting before, how, and for whom, to vote. This will be a Rigged Election. No way!

    — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 26, 2020

“The degree Trump hates mail-in voting should tell you there’s something he’s scared of,” tweeted the grassroots advocacy group Stand Up America. “He’s scared of what will happen if he lets people vote.”

Stand Up America was joined by pro-democracy groups Indivisible and Let America Vote on Tuesday in a press call Tuesday in which the organizations condemned the president’s tweets. Sean Eldridge, president of Stand Up America, called Trump’s protests against mail-in voting—which he himself has used in past elections—”the height of hypocrisy.”

“Despite the president’s lies, you are far more likely to be struck by lightning than to commit vote-by-mail fraud in the United States of America,” Eldridge told the press. “Donald Trump votes by mail, Mike Pence votes by mail, the American people should be able to vote by mail too.”

The groups called on the Senate to pass $4 billion in election assistance funding to help expand vote-by-mail systems across the country.

“Election assistance must be a non-negotiable part of the next relief package, and we need Democrats in both chambers to use their leverage and ensure that it is included,” Eldridge said. “They cannot take no for an answer. Because the vast majority of Americans want vote by mail and no-excuse absentee ballots as an option for every voter this year.”

On social media, Indivisible co-founder Ezra Levin was among those who warned voters that the president is preparing to claim the general election is a “sham” if he loses.

“He’s telling us his game plan,” Levin tweeted. “Be prepared.”

    This is VERY scary. Here’s the reality:

    1) We’re going to have massive vote by mail in November.
    2) Trump will lose.
    3) Trump will claim it was a sham election.

    He’s telling us his game plan. Be prepared. https://t.co/0fqXFKaYHg

    — Ezra Levin (@ezralevin) May 26, 2020

    Trump’s intensifying attacks on “mail-in ballots” are fundamentally abt delegitimizing the Nov election should he lose. GOP election officials are moving regardless to ensure elections amid a pandemic. 100K people have died but these lies are all he can tweet abt-he’s panicking. https://t.co/AegiZ5R3Iz

    — Vanita Gupta (@vanitaguptaCR) May 26, 2020

    this is very worrying https://t.co/uPlBZl9pZw

    — Rachel Cohen (@rmc031) May 26, 2020

    If Trump loses he will still be president for 2.5 months and will be claiming it was a fraudulent election every day of that. And his party and Fox News personalities will amplify those claims. Reporters should be preparing for this now. https://t.co/B3GhmUI5LW

    — Seth Masket (@smotus) May 26, 2020

Trump’s tweets followed a lawsuit filed by the Republican National Committee and other GOP groups challenging California’s plan to send mail-in ballots to every voter in the state.

Since before the coronavirus pandemic, Colorado, Washington, Hawaii, Oregon, and Utah all conduct elections via mail-in voting. In recent weeks other states including Michigan, Maryland, and Ohio have arranged to send paper ballots to voters for upcoming elections, following last month’s in-person primary election in Wisconsin which was linked to dozens of Covid-19 infections.

“Mail-in ballots are not some kind of new technology,” activist Delilah Asterales tweeted. “They’ve been used for decades. The Military uses them. Entire states use them. YOU used one. Get a grip. The reality is that you are scared that if it is easier to vote, more people vote…and they vote against YOU.”

 on: May 27, 2020, 03:58 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja

Hong Kong crisis: riot police flood city as China protests build

Pro-democracy groups gather to protest against national anthem bill

Helen Davidson, and Verna Yu in Hong Kong
Wed 27 May 2020 06.19 BST

Thousands of armed police have flooded the streets of Hong Kong in a show of force to prevent protests against a law criminalising ridicule of China’s national anthem.

At lunchtime rallies, police fired pepper bullets into crowds, and arrested at least 180 protesters.

Protests have also been fuelled by growing anger at Beijing’s increasing interference in the semi-autonomous city, with the National People’s Congress expected to rubber-stamp national security laws on Thursday.

Roads around the Legislative Council building (LegCo), where lawmakers have begun a second reading debate on the anthem law, had been blocked off since at least Tuesday, and pedestrian walkways were cordoned off to all except those with work passes. Shops near LegCo were closed.

In the morning rush hour police in riot gear stopped and searched mainly young people outside Hong Kong’s MTR railway stations, and lined walkways as commuters shuffled past, prompting accusations on social media that the city had become “a police state”.

On social media, protest organisers urged people to “be water” and keep moving throughout the city, but acknowledged it would be difficult to stop the anthem debate without high risk of arrest. “But you can at least make a statement,” said one post.

Crowds regrouped from lunchtime in Mong Kok, where people including schoolchildren were detained; in Causeway Bay, where police arrested at least 180 people for unauthorised gatherings; and Central, where officers fired pepper ball rounds to disperse crowds, and repeatedly charged at protesters.

Police said people had put rubbish on the roads and thrown objects at officers.

“Police had no other option and needed to employ minimal force, including pepper balls to prevent the relevant illegal and violent behaviour,” the force said.

The crowds remained, swearing at police and chanting: “Hong Hong independence, it’s the only way.”

“I’ve come for something I care deeply about – ultimately it’s freedom,” said a 40-year-old lawyer who wished to remain anonymous, citing the national security laws, Beijing encroachment, and a recent report clearing police of wrongdoing.

“If we keep quiet, they can get away with it. I don’t think we can change things but need to make sure our voices are heard.”

    Xinqi Su 蘇昕琪 (@XinqiSu)

    Rounds of pepper ball were fired at protesters on D’Aguilar St in Central. pic.twitter.com/NCmgspwI0T
    May 27, 2020

Shortly before midday, crowds led by thee former legislator Leung Kwok-hung gathered at Admiralty station, near LegCo, where they were told by police to leave or they would be prosecuted. Shouting back, protesters told the police to “be Hongkongers”.

They chanted: “Human rights are higher than the regime” and “Five demands, not one less”, and demanded the government withdraw the national anthem bill and national security legislation.

    Pak Yiu (@pakwayne)

    Protesters have now gathered in Hysan Place chanting slogans instead of surrounding legco due to heavy security pic.twitter.com/udjzq7hiT4
    May 27, 2020

“Of course I need to make my voice heard. They’re forcing this upon us and we can’t fight against them,” said Mrs Lam, a 74-year-old woman.

A 73-year-old woman who gave the surname Cheung said she swam to Hong Kong from China to “escape the dictatorial rule of the CCP [Chinese Communist party]” when she was 15.

“The Communist party is not trustworthy,” she said. “When they say you’re guilty then you’re guilty. Is there still ‘one country, two systems’? Of course we need to fight.”

A district councillor, Roy Tam, said police had pointed pepper spray at him. “Police use force to intimidate people to disperse gatherings,” he said. “Freedom of assembly has gone.”

Elsewhere, protesters gathered in Hysan Place shopping centre shouting slogans, including some calling for independence – a demand previously on the fringe but now growing in popularity.

Police said they had arrested several young people and teenagers for possession of weapons, including petrol bombs. On Facebook police said protesters had thrown barriers on to rail lines, driven slowly to hold up traffic and set fire to rubbish bins.

Opponents say the anthem bill is another step towards authoritarianism, and could be weaponised against pro-democracy activists and legislators.

Under the proposed law, a person commits an offence if they take various actions with “intent to insult” the anthem, such as changing lyrics or music or singing in a “disrespectful way”. It carries financial penalties and jail time of up to three years.

March of the Volunteers is the national anthem of the People’s Republic of China, as well as Hong Kong and Macau, but booing of the anthem at Hong Kong football marches has previously embarrassed Beijing.

Macau enacted laws in January 2019, but Hong Kong’s stalled amid political gridlock which later descended to violence. The government said it had a constitutional responsibility to enact the law quickly, and has declared it a priority.

It has denied the bill would suppress freedom of speech, and said an offence would occur only if someone expressed their views by publicly and intentionally insulting the national anthem.

Several days have been set aside for debate, and the vote is scheduled for 4 June – the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre and another source of controversy given Hong Kong’s vigil this year won’t be allowed.

On Sunday thousands joined an unauthorised protest against both the anthem bill and Beijing’s plan to impose national security laws, which was quickly cracked down on by police.

Trump ‘displeased’ with proposed national security law

Hong Kong media reported on Wednesday that Beijing had expanded the scope of the draft security law legislation. “Mainland lawyers who have handled national security cases in the past say this change could bring not just individuals, but also organisations under the scope of the law,” RTHK said.

On Tuesday, the US president, Donald Trump, warned he would take action against China if it imposed the laws. Trump didn’t say if it involved sanctions or changes to the city’s special trading status but his press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, said the president was “displeased”, and it was “hard to see how Hong Kong can remain a financial hub if China takes over”.

The president’s vague warning came hours after his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, said China’s military must increase its preparations for armed confrontations.

“It is necessary to step up preparations for armed combat, to flexibly carry out actual combat military training, and to improve our military’s ability to perform military missions,” he told military officers on the sidelines of the country’s annual Two Sessions political gathering.

The comments, which did not refer to Hong Kong directly, came just a day after the commander of the People’s Liberation Army garrison stationed in Hong Kong said his troops – estimated to number around 10,000 – stood ready to “safeguard” Chinese sovereignty in the city and support national security laws.

 on: May 27, 2020, 03:56 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja

From Kenya to Bangladesh mask-making has become a thriving cottage industry

Charities, NGOs and garment factories are adapting to provide protective gear, generating income and keeping communities safe

Kate Hodal
27 May 2020 09.15 BST

From crowded informal settlements to conservation areas teeming with wildlife, cottage industries have popped up around the globe producing and distributing face masks for frontline workers, taxi drivers, market sellers and more. Usually comprised of two fabric layers with a disposable filter, mask-making enterprises are stoking local economies and helping communities.

In Bangladesh, where there have been over 25,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19, shopping malls are once again open, and garment factories – which provide 84% of the country’s total exports – have resumed operations despite worker claims that mask-wearing and social distancing are not enforced.

One humanitarian group has sought to address the countrywide shortage of personal protection equipment by converting its workshop intended to manufacture water safety equipment. In the small fishing village of Shamlapur, the factory has been transformed to make masks to supply Cox’s Bazar and the surrounding refugee camps, where 1 million Rohingya live in dismally overcrowded conditions. The first Covid case in the camps was confirmed last week, sparking fears among aid workers that a rapid spread of infection could ensue.

“When we saw in other countries how fast the pandemic was spreading, we thought about how we could use our resources to help prevent the spread in Bangladesh. We did some studies and decided to make masks instead, and had our [prototype] given the go-ahead by the Cox’s Bazar civil surgeon,” says Regina Catrambone, co-founder of Migrant Offshore Aid Station (Moas), which has worked in Bangladesh since 2017.

“We then composed a team of 70 tailors to sew together the cotton masks, which we sterilise and get distributed by the International Organization for Migration (IOM). They’re cotton masks – they’re not surgical masks or N95 or N3 masks – but in a situation where there is no other way to protect yourself, they can help.”

Since operations began 25 March, the tailors have made 80,900 masks and to date have provided the largest distribution in the area, says Catrambone. Along with its local social development partner Nongor, Moas plans to open a second workshop in Cox’s Bazar and over the next three months make another 200,000 masks, all of which the IOM will distribute for free to frontline workers such as nurses and firefighters, as well as refugees.

“This work is important for us, because in a situation where people have no other means of income, mask-making allows tailors to continue to support their families and put food on the table every day,” says Catrambone.

In Samburu county in northern Kenya, a wildlife conservation trust that protects endangered zebras has shifted its operations from producing reusable sanitary pads for local girls to zebra-patterned cloth face masks for the whole community.

Grevy’s Zebra Trust normally employs girls and women in the Wamba region to monitor zebra populations. It also runs an income-generating programme for women and girls to make sanitary pads, which they sell at school or in their communities. But as soon as Kenya went into lockdown, the trust shifted towards producing face masks as a means of protecting local populations, said co-founder Belinda Low Mackey.

“Physical distancing is very difficult in rural communities who live in communal set-ups,” she said. “We had a good stock of sanitary pads and our distribution stopped because the schools closed. We wanted to keep our [local] team employed so this seemed like a win-win for the women and for public health.”

Kenya has one of the strictest face-mask wearing policies in the world, with citizens required to wear one in public or face six months’ imprisonment. The trust’s masks contain two layers of the same zebra-print cotton that makes up the sanitary pads, with an additional layer of filter material in between.

The pattern raises awareness for the endangered Grevy’s zebra, whose populations are in rapid decline – just 3,000 remain, mostly in northern and central Kenya.

As there is no iron at the trust’s camp in Westgate Community Conservancy, project manager Damaris Lekiluai presses folds into the fabric in Wamba, a town nearby. Lekiluai’s three colleagues can create 300 masks a week with their treadle-powered sewing machines. They have made 500 so far, enough for the entire Grevy’s Zebra Trust team and their families.

The focus now is to get masks out to the community, says Low Mackey. “There’s a huge demand because there aren’t enough face masks in Kenya generally, even for health professionals,” she said. “It’s a real gap that we’re serving.”

To ensure the trust’s community teams stay safe whilst protecting wildlife, the team members wear their masks and stay 2m (6ft) apart, a concept translated into Samburu as “one large cow’s length between you”.

In five countries across Africa, where an estimated quarter of a billion people are expected to catch the virus over the next year, volunteers have been distributing thousands of locally-made masks through a venture supported entirely by crowdfunding.

Set up by humanitarian aid worker Emilie Serralta, who has worked in Africa for the past 20 years, since April the project has produced and distributed for free more than 7,000 masks in Benin, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Nigeria and Senegal. Another 3,000 are currently planned.

African Masks, as they are dubbed, rely on networks of local tailors and volunteers working to an approved pattern. Each mask has two layers of bright African textiles and a pocket for a disposable filter. In Kenya, the masks are made by fashion house Tenge Vuli; in Nigeria, Senegal and the DRC by local tailors.

Serralta had a number of contacts to call on when trying to find local partners for the venture, she says, from women’s groups to human rights defenders.

The venture has contributed to the local economies at a time of major upheaval. “The tailors have been very grateful for the work because at the moment with the lockdown it’s really challenging,” says Serralta.

“In Kenya, the project has helped employ people for nearly a month when otherwise they’d have had very little or no work. For anyone who’s been in one of Africa’s big cities or even the informal settlements, the social distancing is a big challenge. Making masks was an attempt to protect people and their communities.”

Distribution has been left entirely up to the local partners, says Serralta, who chose the recipients on a needs basis. In Kenya, the masks were given to stallholders at a market which had seen two cases; in the DRC, volunteers handed out masks to minibus and taxi drivers.

“This really is a project of international solidarity,” she says.

“The initiative in terms of fundraising came from me, but the initiative to do something about Covid came from all the people on the ground. They didn’t wait for the government to act, they stepped in and stepped up right from the start. The masks were just an add-on to some programmes they already had in place, such as food distribution or help for vulnerable women.”

In India, where the northeast border meets Myanmar, an organisation training women from the marginalised Chandel district in weaving and tailoring has moved to masks instead of the usual export-ready shawls, sarongs and table runners.

The Weaker Sections Development Council employs about 20 weavers and 15 tailors. Using organic cotton fibres naturally dyed with turmeric at the WSDC centre and then delivered to the weavers’ homes, the threads are woven into masks on looms.

Sold locally for 50 rupees (50p) and more widely for 100 rupees, WSDC’s Angdawnsaang Khaling says the pandemic has not yet reached Chandel, but has affected the nearest city, Imphal, 50km (31 miles) away.

“From an outsider’s perspective, 50km may seem very close, but considering it’s lockdown, we feel safe,” he said. “There are no masks provided by authorities to the public, but people are informed. So far we have made 2,000 masks and the central government [in Delhi] is interested and has asked us to send over samples [for a large tender].

“There aren’t many other [organisations] making organic masks with eco-friendly dyes, so fingers crossed the tender goes through. It would be amazing for the weavers.”

 on: May 27, 2020, 03:46 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja

Coronavirus latest: at a glance

A summary of the biggest developments in the global coronavirus outbreak
Helen Sullivan
Wed 27 May 2020 06.07 BST

Key developments in the global coronavirus outbreak today include:

Known global deaths pass 350,000

More than 350,000 people have now lost their lives in the coronavirus pandemic worldwide, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker. The current toll stands at 350,456. The number of confirmed cases is 5,589,932, after the number of declared cases doubled in a month, with more than one million new cases registered in the last 11 days. There were 500,000 cases registered in just 48 hours, between Sunday, when cases passed 5 million, and Tuesday, when cases passed 5.5 million. True death tolls and cases are likely to be significantly higher due to differing definitions and testing rates, delays and suspected underreporting. The US alone accounts for less than a third of the global toll, with 98,916 deaths.

Tory unrest increases pressure on PM to sack Dominic Cummings

There is growing revolt within Boris Johnson’s party over his refusal to fire Dominic Cummings, his chief adviser, over his lockdown breach. A junior minister has resigned, and 30 other Conservative MPs have called for Cummings to go. Eight more Tory MPs were publicly critical of Cummings’ actions and three said privately that he should be forced out, according to the Guardian’s Heather Stewart, Rowena Mason and Kate Proctor.

The WHO says the Americas are the new epicentre of the disease

The World Health Organization’s regional director Dr Carissa Etienne said outbreaks were accelerating in countries such as Brazil, where the number of deaths reported in the last week was the highest in the world for a seven-day period since the coronavirus pandemic began. The number of coronavirus infections to accelerate in Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua, she said.

New Zealand expects plan for safe travel with Australia in June

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Wednesday that a draft blueprint on safely starting travel between New Zealand and Australia will be presented to both governments in early June, Reuters reports. The neighbours have been discussing the possibility of a travel bubble between them as both have slowed the spread of the novel coronavirus to levels well below those in United States, Britain and some other European countries. New Zealand has also reported a fifth consecutive day of no new cases of Covid-19.

South Korea reports biggest daily jump in almost 50 days

South Korea South Korea has reported 40 new coronavirus cases for its biggest daily jump in nearly 50 days, causing alarm in a country where millions of children are returning to school. All but four of the new cases came from the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, where officials have been scrambling to stem transmissions linked to nightclubs, karaoke rooms and an e-commerce warehouse. Three cases were linked to international arrivals. South Korea has also jailed a man for four months for breaking quarantine rules, in the country’s first such prison sentence.

Vietnam to readmit foreigners

Vietnam will resume issuing e-visas to citizens from 80 countries from 1 July, the government said, though it was unclear whether quarantine measures would be lifted. The country imposed a blanket ban on foreigners entering the country in March as part of its aggressive response to the pandemic, which has also involved mass quarantines and expansive contact tracing.So far, Vietnam has not reported any coronavirus deaths.

Macron unveils €8bn French auto rescue, champions electric cars

President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday announced an €8bn (US$8.8bn) plan to revive France’s auto industry by making it the European leader in electric cars, boosting a sector brought to its knees by the coronavirus. Macron said the package would include one billion euros in subsidies to encourage purchases of electric and hybrid cars and set a target of France producing a million green cars annually by 2025.The “historic” intervention will aim to turn France’s rechargeable car industry into Europe’s biggest, the president said.

Germany extends distancing rules to end of June

Germany has extended social distancing rules aimed at containing the spread of the coronavirus epidemic to 29 June, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government said on Tuesday. Merkel’s government had been embroiled in disagreements with the least-affected states, some of which wanted to ditch the measures and open up entirely. Germany’s virus caseload now tops 181,200 with just over 8,372 deaths - much lower than European counterparts such as Britain, France, Spain and Italy.

India backs hydroxychloroquine for virus prevention

India’s top biomedical research body has backed the use of the anti-malarial hydroxychloroquine as a preventive against coronavirus, after the WHO suspended clinical trials of the drug over safety concerns. The endorsement from the Indian Council of Medical Research came a week after US President Donald Trump said he was taking the drug as a preventative measure. India - which accounts for 70% of global production of hydroxychloroquine - on Tuesday reported 145,380 cases of the virus including 4,167 deaths.

Spain begins 10 days of mourning

Starting on Wednesday, the country will mourn for the nearly 27,000 people who have died from coronavirus in the country. Flags will be hoisted to half-staff in more than 14,000 public buildings across the country and on Spanish naval vessels until 5 June. It marks the longest official mourning period in Spain’s four-decade-old democracy.

 on: May 27, 2020, 03:43 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
Astronomers spot a galaxy shaped like a donut, and it looks delicious

By Mike Wehner

    Scientists found a donut-shaped galaxy hiding out 11 billion light-years from Earth.
    The galaxy is making stars at an incredibly fast pace.
    Researchers believe it got its shape due to a collision with another galaxy.

Well, it looks like astronomers have finally found the absolute best possible thing they could ever hope to find when gazing deep into the cosmos. No, I’m not talking about alien life or the fountain of youth. Both of those things pale in comparison to the discovery recently revealed in a paper published in Nature Astronomy. Scientists found… a donut galaxy.

Okay, so maybe it’s just a big “cosmic ring of fire,” but it sure looks like a donut. And if it were a donut, I bet it would be absolutely delicious, especially if you dipped it in the Milky Way. (Get it?)

Seriously though, the discovery is pretty cool. The galaxy, named R5519, sits a whopping 11 billion light-years from Earth. That means that what we see when we’re looking at it is how the galaxy looked 11 billion years ago. It’s absolutely ancient to our eyes, and it’s a real weirdo as far as galaxies go.

“It is a very curious object that we’ve never seen before,” Dr. Tiantian Yuan, lead author of the study, said in a statement. “It looks strange and familiar at the same time.” Yeah, it looks familiar because it’s what I ate for breakfast this morning.

And what exactly is this bizarre galaxy doing right now? Or, should I say, what was it doing 11 billion years ago? Churning out stars like some kind of overstaffed factory. “It is making stars at a rate 50 times greater than the Milky Way,” Yuan says. “Most of that activity is taking place on its ring – so it truly is a ring of fire.”

As for how it formed, the researchers believe it didn’t initially form as a ring at all. Some ring galaxies appear to have formed on their own without outside influence, but not R5519. The researchers believe this is one rare example of a “collisional ring galaxy.”

The name sort of gives it away, but a collisional ring galaxy forms due to dust-ups with other galaxies. It’s incredibly rare to see one like this, and it’s even rarer to see one that is so old. It’s cool to look at, but it’s also helping astronomers better understand the intricacies of galaxy formation.

“In the case of this ring galaxy, we are looking back into the early universe by 11 billion years, into a time when thin disks were only just assembling,” study co-author Kenneth Freeman said in a statement. “For comparison, the thin disk of our Milky Way began to come together only about nine billion years ago. This discovery is an indication that disk assembly in spiral galaxies occurred over a more extended period than previously thought.”

It still looks pretty tasty to me.

 on: May 27, 2020, 03:41 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja

Country diary: the tale of a tit with supreme agility

Sandy, Bedfordshire: The dainty bird moves round the hazel as though it were a piano keyboard

Derek Niemann
Wed 27 May 2020 05.30 BST

As a climbing frame with incentives, the hazel in our garden had drawn visitors all through the day. Every time I glanced over, there was a bird in the bush – a robin, a dunnock, six sparrows. They dived in, using it for shelter, as a song post, a meeting place, a launching pad for the pond. And, most of all, as a feeding station, a thousand green plates offering takeaway dinners.

Here was incontrovertible proof that suckers grow on trees: a myriad of bugs, walking, crawling, puncturing the soft greenery of May to drink of its goodness. More bugs eating those bugs, and birds eating them all up, yesterday, today, every day since those leaves first burst forth. And now, late in the afternoon, the sun lit up the leaves’ bleeding wounds, the glinting stickiness of aphid honeydew.

I thought by then that the birds would have exhausted the bush’s bounty, but I reckoned without its habitual fringe player. The afternoon before, I had seen a blue tit scale to the top tip of a rosemary bush, as if it were auditioning for the role of herb fairy, while the bigger birds footered about among the branches below. Now a blue tit once more took to the edges, stepping beyond the bounds of other birds’ possibilities, reaching where only it could go.

It touched down on the hem of the hazel’s skirt, the first giant outermost leaves suspended on twiglets thinner than a shoelace. This would have been a quivering, buckling gangplank for a sparrow twice its 11g weight, but the leaf just sagged gently beneath the blue tit’s featherweight bulk.

The tiny beak swiped and stabbed, three times in a second, then the bird hopped to the farthest leaf. The bough bowed but held, the tit pecked, then sidestepped to the next terminal twig, and then the next, depressing each in turn as if it were walking along a piano keyboard.

Springing to a last twig, the blue tit flipped upside down as it landed, claws locked on its high wire, its throat stretching to jab at something on the underside of a leaf. It hung and flew, and I was left with a shaken leaf and a memory of supreme agility.

 on: May 27, 2020, 03:39 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
Wild Cockatoos Are Just as Smart as Lab-Raised Ones

Previous research suggested that spending a lot of time with humans might make animals more innovative. These birds had another idea.

By James Gorman
May 27, 2020

When it comes to cognitive testing, the Goffin’s cockatoos at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna are pros.

Researchers have tested them on toolmaking, shape-matching and other tasks, and found that a cockatoo can learn how to solve a problem from watching another cockatoo do it just once.

Now, researchers in Alice M. I. Auersperg’s lab, the home of the Austrian cockatoo colony, have created an experimental setup they call an “innovation arena.” It’s a new way to test the ability of animals to innovate, and might be used for a variety of species, in principle. And they compared the performance of laboratory-raised cockatoos and wild-caught birds, to see if the lab-raised birds had acquired an edge by hanging out with human beings.

It might seem like pure human arrogance to think that we make animals smarter, but previous research efforts have found a “captivity effect” in animals, including chimpanzees, that have been in long-term human custody. Their cognitive performance was better than that of their wild relatives on human-devised tests. Therefore, the humans hypothesized, exposure to human environments and interaction with humans might improve animals’ ability to innovate.

The hypothesis did not hold up in this experiment. As the researchers reported Tuesday in the journal Scientific Reports, the wild birds were just as smart as the captive birds — but a good deal less interested in bothering with the experiment at all.

Perhaps the birds did not appreciate that the “innovation arena” was like the set of an avian TV game show: a semicircular area with 20 doors, each with a different task behind it to solve for a food reward. It certainly looks like fun from a human point of view. And perhaps birds that have spent a lot of time around humans and their experiments get the idea that a weird-looking apparatus indicates that humans are going to offer food for otherwise nonsensical tasks like moving a lever or pushing a button.

Among the 20 tasks revealed by the doors were ones the researchers called the seesaw, the swish, the shovel, the swing, the mill and the twig. Each task required a different solution to earn the treat. The bird might have to push a platform down or a lever sideways. Or it might have to press a knob, nudge a bowl, rotate a wheel or bend a wire. Each time the birds were set in the arena, the tasks were shuffled, hidden behind different doors.

Innovation in animals is defined in different ways, but it more or less means coming up with new ways to solve problems. The researchers wanted to test the rate of innovation: how many solutions a bird could come up with in a given amount of time. And they wanted an experimental setup that, in principle, might be adapted to different species. Thus, the arena.

The experiment was designed both to show that the arena was workable and to test the captivity effect. The researchers set up a kind of competition between the major-league, lab-raised team in Vienna and a pickup squad of temporarily captive cockatoos. (The latter had been caught in the wild in Indonesia and kept long enough that they were comfortable around people and the experimental apparatus.)

The A-team performed in Vienna; the scrubs were in a field station lab in Indonesia. The competitions were often run more or less simultaneously, according to Theresa Rössler, who conducted the experiments in Vienna while Berenika Mioduszewska ran them in Indonesia.

As anticipated, the apparatus worked out. The Vienna birds, familiar with experiments and their rewards, dove right in when placed at the starting point. “They very quickly approach the tasks and wander around and try to open the boxes and get out the rewards,” Ms. Rössler said.

But they didn’t always follow the game plan — no surprise to a cockatoo researcher. Sometimes the birds, both lab-raised and wild, had their own idea of how a problem might be solved. For instance, some “opened the Wire task in several instances by removing the window hinges (which were closer to the reward) instead of unbending the wire,” the researchers wrote. Ms. Rössler said, “In many of the experiments they seemed to outsmart us at some point.”

The big difference between the two groups was in their interest in doing the tests at all. The researchers classified 10 of 11 lab birds as motivated, meaning they began right away to open doors and look for food. Only three of the eight wild birds were motivated.

The unmotivated birds “rarely approached the setup or interacted with the tasks,” the researchers reported. But the motivated birds — both wild-caught and lab-raised — performed at the same level in solving the tasks.

Ms. Rössler said that if the wild birds “decide they want to interact with the apparatus, they are just as skillful problem solvers.”

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