Usher’s News & Analysis for May 3, 2020

There’s a dangerously ignorant libertarian-capitalist way of viewing COVID-19 (C19) making the rounds (the same anarchists who for decades and for the same reasons have been spreading global-warming denial). It’s even swayed some otherwise progressive minds. There are many things I could say on this, but I’ll focus here on the easiest point that should reach and penetrate the greatest number for maximum and immediate positive impact.

Using the percentage of the global population that has died from C19 is a misleading risk-management indicator at this point when taken in isolation, which is what the libertarian capitalists are doing. They are citing figures such as 0.003% of the global population having died, which misses the following points.

The first thing to do is look at the percentage of those who contract the virus who die. Keep in mind the lag time between contracting and possibly dying. Also keep in mind the incubation and contagious periods. Knowing right now exactly how many have caught the virus and how many have died for having caught it is even difficult to estimate, but based upon most reputable sources, the death rate appears to have a modal average of approximately 3 to 9% and has been leaning to the higher side. Regardless, it’s very early in the disease’s history, so the numbers could change significantly as testing and counting methods improve.

Second, compare this virus’s contagiousness to previous plagues, and that is what this virus is: a plague.

Lastly, factor in the positive impact of quarantines and “social-distancing” and the like.

So far, the death rate for those who get C19 is not low. Only time will tell just how contagious it is, but it appears highly contagious.

When the global-warming causing industries suffer, there are those who attempt to shame those who celebrate. The polluters and Earth destroyers point to all the workers in the polluting industries, as if keeping those workers working at polluting for the sake of those workers is even a goal of the top executives and shareholders in those depraved industries.

The answer to those executives and shareholders is that the government can, and should, fund without borrowing all those workers while they move into cleaner industries. Nothing could be clearer or simpler to save the planet from the greedy.

So, hallelujah! If it were only permanent: a stake through the cold, small, hard heart of those sick and sickening industries.

Good risk-management: Save the planet. Kill the greed.

Bone-Chilling [speak for yourself] WTF Charts of the Collapse in US Demand for Gasoline, Jet Fuel, and Diesel

You have to take the good with the bad, and this is the good.

… carbon emissions should likely see an 8 percent reduction, reaching levels last seen a decade ago.

These 5 Charts Show How the Coronavirus Is Affecting Global Energy Demand and Emissions

This would be the largest annual drop the world has ever seen—and it’s exactly the type of drop needed every year this decade if we’re going to succeed at limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Celsius).

Dean Baker, a supposedly progressive-leaning economist, never promotes that the government should simply issue the money without issuing bonds (without creating governmental debt). This is an extremely common and unfortunate tendency of supposedly progressive-leaning economists. They are politically covering for the commercial-banking industry, which literally owns the Federal Reserve System. The mainstream media goes right along with it too. The People are deliberately held down by this entirely anti-democratic setup!

US Coronavirus Bailouts Exposed: Tax Cuts for the Rich, States Could Go BANKRUPT! (Dean Baker)

We speak to Dean Baker, the co-founder of the Center for Economic and Policy Research and one of the first economists to predict the property market crash in 2008. He discusses the bailouts passed in the United States by Congress, how they have many giveaways to the richest in society, how the giveaways have nothing to do with the pandemic, why the Coronavirus bailouts are worse than TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program), how state and local governments have been left out of the bailout and why this will cause economic crises in the United States, the pointlessness of austerity for the last decade in the US and U.K and why high public debt is not as dangerous as commonly thought.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is dead wrong.

Current Workers Compensation should handle reopening businesses. Owners and managers who deliberately harm employees won’t be protected by that, but that’s a good thing. Employers should not be given a pass on providing PPE, etc. If they can’t reopen because of that. That too is a good thing. If McConnell wants to do the right thing, he’ll give businesses the funds they need to provide the equipment and to meet, and exceed, OSHA and other necessary guidelines. Mitch needs to stop with the laissez-faire advocating.

‘Red line’: McConnell won’t pass additional state aid without new legal liability protections

Ah, just what the doctor ordered:

To clean masks …, Kates built a frame in his home workshop that can hold dozens of masks at the proper angle to expose them to the light. They tested angles and light intensities to find a combination that can clean each mask as many as 20 times without distorting the fit.

Nationwide decontamination sites can recycle millions of N95 masks each day

We live in a mixed economy: a mix of capitalism and socialism. Anarcho-capitalists want to do away with that mix.

For the sake of masking the power of government and socialism, the President is clearly willing to risk the health and lives of millions of workers.

He’s doing the bidding of anarcho-capitalists, many of whom are actually closet crony capitalists who use the government for their own sake against everyone else.

… the president was asked about the possibility of Americans receiving another stimulus check.

He answered that he would “love to see” payroll tax cuts versus a “big distribution,” referring to the massive stimulus checks that have been doled out to citizens the last couple of weeks.

“It would really be an incentive for people to come back to work and for employers to hire,” Trump said. “That’s what I like…Something like that could happen.”

White House studying another stimulus package

Hopefully, this reflects what’s really happening.

The widely-used “PCR” tests are designed to detect even tiny quantities of virus in a patient’s nose or throat, but they can’t differentiate between dead virus and live, infectious virus particles.

“The virus can be detected (even in discharged patients) but this does not mean it is an infectious level,” Dr. Jeffri Choi, Division Chief of Infectious Disease at Seoul Medical Center, told CBS News recently.

Choi added that some recovered patients may even continue to show some respiratory symptoms and test positive for the disease, but that “does not mean reactivation” of the virus: “We think it is a reconfirmed case, not reinfection or reactivation.”

Why experts aren’t too worried about COVID-19 patients retesting positive for the coronavirus

… I would not move the embassy back to Tel Aviv,” Biden said ….

Why not?

Biden Says He Wouldn’t Move U.S. Embassy From Jerusalem

The cascading damage could spell trouble for an industry that includes everything from mom-and-pop owners with a few properties to large companies with national portfolios. Whether or not the money comes in, mortgages, utilities and property taxes still have to be paid.

Many factors will influence if or when people are able to make rent in May — from the timing of job losses to whether tenants have gotten stimulus checks from the federal government or state unemployment benefits.

Rent Is Due Again and Missing Payments Have Landlords Worrying [cache: AGi-z17HQRQJ]

This next article is complete libertarian-capitalist nonsense. It’s as if the US oil sector hasn’t even seen a hit itself. What does the author expect, that Venezuela could be selling its oil at $100 a barrel if only the capitalists were in charge rather than the current mixed-economy democrats?

Bankrupt Venezuelan Oil Firm PDVSA Proposes Selling Oil Assets To Private Sector

Virus exclusions have been part of various insurance plans since the SARS epidemic. Government regulators – mostly on the state level – have knowingly approved such exclusions for years.

“If you made the insurance companies cover pandemics, they would all go bankrupt or the premiums would skyrocket,” McCloskey said. “Insurance never works when everybody has a claim. It only works when only a few have it, and we all share it.”

Pandemic Exposes Gaps in Travel Insurance Coverage

U.S. insurers say they would not have the financial means to help every insured business affected by coronavirus, even if required to.

“The industry doesn’t have as much money available for new claims as people would tend to think,” said Steven Weisbart, chief economist for the Insurance Information Institute.

Insurers have a lot more money for potential claims than regulators require, but they need the funds for other types of claims, such as hurricanes and wildfires, he said.

Insurers want the pandemic policies to be backed by the U.S. government, similar [to] the government-supported commercial terrorism products after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Insurers Want Taxpayers to Back Pandemic Coverage For Businesses

“Taxpayers” is the wrong word. It should be “US government.”

Remember the farce that was Russiagate?

EXCLUSIVE: Dossier Author Christopher Steele Had Previously Undisclosed Meetings With Lawyers For DNC, Clinton Campaign

The Palestinians have no rights?

As a legacy of the Holocaust, Germany feels a special responsibility towards protecting Israel.

Even if one totally believes every story every Zionist has ever told about the Nazis, it doesn’t excuse anything.

Neither Hezbollah nor Hamas can rightly be viewed in a historical vacuum. The Zionists engaged in horrific acts of outright terrorism in order to drive the British and enough Arabs from the land so they, the Zionists, could claim it militarily. The only reason the UN General Assembly went along with those Zionists declaring independence was because of the stories Zionists and some other anti-Nazis told about the Nazis. The powers that be turned a blind eye because they weren’t willing to stand up and say that two wrongs do not make a right.

I do not agree with or support Hezbollah or Hamas, but that doesn’t mean I side with the Zionists taking Palestinian Arab lands either.

Germany bans Hezbollah, conducts raids to find suspected members

… one hailstone measured between 7.4 and 9.3 inches across ….

‘Gargantuan’ hail from thunderstorm in Argentina may have shattered world record

Because the minimum size of the loan will be $1 million, some small businesses may not be attracted to the program, which may prevent the pot from running dry like the Payroll Protection Program did in the first run-through before being refunded.

Unlike the PPP, the Main Street lending facility is a pure low-interest loan that will not be forgivable.

Fed Chair Powell ready to toss small businesses another lifeline

Don’t listen to fools. The government must spend and spend and spend or else.

Hopefully, the Trump Administration and Congress will recognize the limits that the Federal Reserve faces today to get the U.S. economy moving again. In a world of falling prices and with interest rates already at their zero bounds, the Fed’s interest rate instrument has lost much of its potency. Meanwhile, if the Fed finds that companies and households are facing solvency as opposed to liquidity problems, there is not much that the Federal Reserve can do to prevent them from falling by increasing its lending.

All of this suggests that if in the months ahead a faltering U.S. economic recovery finds that it needs more policy support, such support must necessarily come from budget policy rather than from the Federal Reserve.

America’s Coronavirus Nightmare: Debt, Deflation and Mass Unemployment

The government has its checkbook out, but it needs to make a huge deposit so it can write checks to bail out everything.

If the landlord is an individual with a federally-backed mortgage, and rental income is for their normal payments, the landlord can request forbearance through a program under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Forbearance, which does not require proof of hardship from the Covid-19 shutdown and can reduce or pause mortgage payments for up to a year. Homeowners who are not landlords can also apply.

If forbearance is granted to a homeowner or landlord, the new payment schedule won’t negatively affect the borrower’s credit score or result in additional late fees or penalties. On April 27, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) issued a statement emphasizing that borrowers will not have to repay the missed payments in a lump sum. …

The most recent report from the MBA says the number of mortgages in forbearance is now at 3.5 million or 7%, and the share of FHH and VA loans in forbearance is even higher, at 10%.

… loan modifications might result in the reduction of the mortgage principal to help avoid a default.

Ultimately, Swehla’s concern is for rental tenants who are in properties underwritten by commercial mortgages without government support. “We will see distress coming down the pipeline in the commercial market,” he said. “We will absolutely see more defaults and with that, more properties going through some stage of distress. That’s why we’re at the tip of the iceberg because that has not played out yet. But it’s on the horizon.”

Missed rent and mortgage payments are rippling across the economy

The average rate on the benchmark 30-year home loan fell to 3.23%, the lowest level since mortgage buyer Freddie Mac started tracking rates in 1971.

US mortgage rates at all-time lows; 30-year loan at 3.23%

Wells Fargo will no longer accept applications for home equity lines of credit

If the federal government, if the Trump administration, won’t bail out the local governments, then the local governments will have to soak the rich.

“As long as our city depends on regressive taxes and we have a recession, expect the budget to plummet, because the budget depends on working people going to work,” she detailed. “If working people are losing jobs in huge numbers, then you’re not going to have any money, and you have to cover that money somewhere. That has to come from where the money exists, and that is at the top — it is as simple as that.”

Kshama Sawant: Amazon tax ‘only thing’ that can rescue Seattle economy

As Kshama was saying …

“Without federal help, many cities may be forced to make big cuts to their budgets, to the detriment of education, recreational programs and other important services that take a backseat to immediate health concerns.”

Report: Seattle has biggest year-to-year increase in unemployment rate of any US city

This is extremely important work. Instead of a death rate from C19 of say 7%, it might really be 13% or more.

The Washington Post reported earlier this week on around 15,000 “excess deaths” — “the number beyond what would normally be expected for that time of year” — that occurred in March through April 4th. 8,128 deaths were attributed to COVID-19 during the same period.

Washington investigating state totals after COVID-19 ‘excess deaths’ report


The mail you steal just might be bugged: Over the last week, Burien PD detectives have been working with Postal Inspectors to identify those stealing mail in Burien.

We embedded mail and packages with a GPS trackers and left them in mailboxes around the city.

Burien Police Detectives use GPS trackers to find, arrest mail theft suspects

… the SBA has decided, in consultation with the Department of the Treasury, that it will review all loans in excess of $2 million ….

Trump Administration Issues Additional PPP Guidance

Reagan is rolling over in his grave, and that’s a good thing.

To labor activists and historians, the often-spontaneous job actions echo other moments in the labor movement when alarm about worker safety and public health spurred organizing and reforms in meatpacking plants, New York’s garment factories or coal mines.

“People’s fears of sickness and death are finally stronger than people’s fears of their employer,” said Daniel Graff, a labor historian at Notre Dame University. “It might be a sort of cataclysmic opening.”

… Republican presidents stocked the National Labor Relations Board with members unsympathetic to labor ….

… nearly two-thirds of Americans had a favorable view of unions last year, the highest since 1999. MIT researchers in 2017 found that 48% of non-unionized workers would join a union if they could.

Pandemic Job Actions May Push Renewed Labor Movement

According to the Chamber’s poll of 500 small business owners, when given a list of six possible small business relief or programs from the federal government, the fewest number of respondents picked “enacting liability protection legislation.” Less than 10 percent of small business owners across all industries chose liability protection, versus 56 percent choosing “direct cash payment” as their top priority.

Consumer Groups Oppose Immunity for Businesses From Coronavirus Lawsuits

Nationwide said it plans to permanently transition to a hybrid operating model that comprises primarily working-from-office in four main corporate campuses and working-from-home in most other locations.

Nationwide’s Left the Building. Insurer Makes Remote Work Permanent in 5 States.

This is headed in the right direction: the death of the coal industry.

Stringer stated in his letters that coal accounts for approximately 40 percent of global carbon emissions, making it a risky business venture with at least seven major coal companies filing for bankruptcy in the past year.

To date, 19 insurance and reinsurance companies have begun limiting their underwriting of coal and 35 others have committed to some form of divestment, including Swiss Re, Zurich, Chubb and AXIS Capital, according to Stringer’s letters.

NYC Comptroller Urges Major Insurance Companies to Cut Ties with Coal Industry

The Wisconsin Supreme Court on April 28 refused a request by several labor unions to help defend Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ stay-at-home order from a Republican effort to overturn it.

The order, which was issued by state Department of Health Secretary Andrea Palm at Evers’ direction, required people to stay home except for going out to buy groceries or for other important reasons, and required most nonessential businesses to close.

The order is designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus, but Republicans and business leaders contend that the order has crippled the economy.

The “crippled” economy is very temporary, and nobody needs to be left behind. Death, on the other hand, may be rather long by comparison.

Wisconsin High Court Won’t Let Unions Join Suit Against Stay-at-Home Order

As I said many times before:

“We explained that Glenn Simpson/GPS Fusion was our commissioner but the ultimate client were the leadership of the Clinton presidential campaign and that we understood the candidate herself was aware of the reporting at least, if not us.”

The lawyers prodded: “It’s your note, so we assume it’s accurate?”

“Yes,” Steele answered during the March 17 testimony.

Steele reveals he believes Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice knew about his anti-Trump research

The CFAA is both a criminal and a civil statute. That means that it permits parties aggrieved by certain portions of the statute to sue in federal court for violations. Frequently, this is used when an employee of a company accesses information (such as trade secrets, customer lists, etc.) that they are allowed to access but does so in anticipation of leaving the company and taking the data with them. In the past, the old employer could sue the employee for theft (misappropriation) of trade secrets, unfair competition or breach of a non-compete or non-disclosure agreement—or could sue the new employer for misuse of the trade secret or conspiring with the old employee. But the CFAA’s “exceeding authorized use” provisions have been used in both civil and criminal cases to go after such rogue employees in federal court. The Supreme Court’s decision in the Van Buren case may dictate whether such civil or criminal cases can proceed.

Supreme Court Looks at Computer Trespass Meaning

The U.S. economy will likely need additional stimulus this year as the coronavirus-induced lockdowns trigger a “historic” contraction in the second quarter of this year, according to Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Robert Kaplan.

“This is a historic contraction, very severe,” Kaplan told FOX Business’ Maria Bartiromo on Friday. “We’re going to need stimulus going into the rest of the year and into next year so we can grow faster, so we can work down this unemployment rate. That’s not so much the Fed’s role.”

Fed’s Kaplan warns of ‘historic’ economic contraction, sees need for more stimulus


Successive antibody surveys will gradually paint a more reliable picture of our predicament. But it’s likely too soon to rely on an antibody test result as the basis for any personal health decision.

Coronavirus antibody tests aren’t as accurate as they seem

“If customers don’t already have their own face covering, they will be able to pick up a mask at the entrance of the Whole Foods Market store,” ….

Whole Foods to give free masks to all customers

Do they say “Whole Foods” on them?

This goes to the heart of the question as to whether Amazon is becoming, or already is, a natural monopoly and should be nationalized like the US Postal Service of old was a full-blown governmental department.

Powerful House committee demands Jeff Bezos testify after ‘misleading’ statements

… 3% more than the LIBOR rate; loan amounts will range from $500,000 ….

Why is the interest rate so high? How much would the rate have to be for the Fed to breakeven?

PPP Problems? The Fed Just Expanded Its Main Street Lending Program, Here’s What Businesses Should Know

Trudeau: assault-style weapons banned ‘effective immediately’

Canadian PM Justin Trudeau announced that assault-style weapons will be banned after the murder of 22 people in the worst mass shooting in the country’s history,
After the Nova Scotia shooting last week, the government gun control campaign had initially been derailed by the coronavirus pandemic

April 27By the end of Monday, McConnell had conceded, saying he had only made a “suggestion” and was now open to additional federal aid to state governments, but also warned, “we’re not writing a check to send down to states to allow them to, in effect, finance mistakes they’ve made unrelated to the coronavirus.”

April 28Democratic leaders doubled down on their demand for $500 billion in aid to states in the next stimulus bill from Congress, with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on Tuesday warning that McConnell’s idea would lead to “hundreds of thousands of vital state and local government employees” being fired or furloughed.

Crucial statistic

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) forecasts that states will lose $650 billion over the next three years from budget shortfalls due to coronavirus.

Mitch McConnell’s Idea To Let States Go Bankrupt Set Off A Debate That Engulfed Washington

Where are the Americans? How many of our “leaders” have taken this stand?

Nearly 130 parliamentarians, including former Conservative cabinet ministers, have written to Boris Johnson urging him to impose economic sanctions against Israel if Benjamin Netanyahu’s new coalition government goes ahead with its threat to annex parts of the West Bank.

Let me state emphatically that there is zero parallel between Russia and Crimea on one hand and Israel and the West Bank on the other. The Crimean people voted overwhelmingly in a free and fair referendum to rejoin Russia. Let the people of the West Bank, less the occupiers, have a free and fair vote as to whether to join Israel.

MPs press for sanctions against Israel over West Bank annexations

What a filthy business.

Trump reportedly warned Saudis to cut oil supply or lose US military support

What are we doing giving military support to a totalitarian dictatorship that still imprisons people for 10 years just for disagreeing with the tyrants?

Good argument for free college:

Angry Undergrads Are Suing Colleges for Billions in Refunds