Usher's News & Analysis for May 14, 2020

In their majority opinion on Wednesday, the justices ruled that Ms. Palm did not follow the proper procedure for setting stay-at-home limits, and should have followed a rule-making process that permits members of the Legislature to provide input.

“We do not conclude that Palm was without any power to act in the face of this pandemic,” the justices wrote. “However, Palm must follow the law that is applicable to state-wide emergencies.”

Is "input" defined in the case or the law? If it was only a matter of asking for input but not having to obtain consent, the order could be reintroduced after asking for input, being open to it, receiving any input, and waiting whatever time is required.

“Isn’t it the very definition of tyranny for one person to order people to be imprisoned for going to work, among other ordinarily lawful activities?” Justice Rebecca Bradley asked.

What was the response? I would have keyed in on "ordinarily lawful." Regardless of actions or inactions by the state's executive branch, these are not ordinary times.

What are the exact powers of the executive branch in the face of what would otherwise devolve into pure anarchy ("chaos," as the Governor put it)?

“We do not conclude that Palm was without any power to act in the face of this pandemic,” the justices wrote.

From the report, the ruling appears to be weasel-worded.

Civil liberties are always to be weighed against the rights of others. No civil liberties and unbridled civil liberties are equally tyrannical.

I don't think stopping the virus in its tracks by total, swift lockdowns of pockets that pop up and then having to distance or quarantine and wear masks and so forth is draconian or tyrannical. I think it's a blessing compared to people getting sick and dying. It's the conflation of people around the correct spirit, which is unselfishness and love, frankly.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Strikes Down Stay-at-Home Order

"Additional fiscal support could be costly, but worth it if it helps avoid long-term economic damage and leaves us with a stronger recovery. This tradeoff is one for our elected representatives, who wield powers of taxation and spending," he said.

The only stupid reason additional fiscal support could be costly is the government borrowing to issue new money. The government could, and should, simply issue the new money without borrowing. I've been publishing it since long before the Great Recession, yet here we are with the same old nonsense coming from the Fed.

Powell says more policy help may be needed to pull the US out of economic downturn

... as more states get a handle on March and April tax collections and the size of the declines start hitting home, even some die-hard Republicans are beginning to change their tune.

In Georgia, for example, the chairs of both the House and Senate appropriations committees have asked the federal government to approve $500 billion in state shortfall aid, according to a letter they sent to members of the state's congressional delegation on May 4.

"We are formally requesting your support for the timely approval and disbursement of these funds to close the unprecedented gap in dollars required to maintain a conservative and lean government framework of services for the state of Georgia and our constituents,” Rep. Terry England, R-Auburn, and Sen. Blake Tillery, R-Vidalia, wrote.

There's nothing good about a "lean government framework of services." The only thing that matters is the quality of life of all the people. Good government, not lean government, is what matters.

State budget hits due to coronavirus are trickling in and it's not pretty

There’s a growing consensus that the virus won’t just go away, unlike its close cousin that caused the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome outbreak in 2003 that infected some 8,000 people in Asia.

People who contracted SARS were immediately and visibly ill, and once they were quarantined for treatment, transmission was halted. But the new coronavirus manifests in many people with few, no, or uncommon symptoms, thus ensuring that hidden chains of transmission endure and cases will likely spike seasonally, like with the flu.

Moreover, people infected with SARS were not contagious during the virus’s incubation period or even in their early days of being sick. In contrast, the new virus doesn’t necessarily make people sick but can easily transmit while it is still incubating, making early detection and containment difficult.

“We have to find ways to live with the virus for now, and this is the new normal,” said Takeshi Kasai, the World Health Organization’s regional director for the western pacific in a briefing on Thursday. “As long as the virus is circulating in this inter-connected world, and until we have a safe and effective vaccine, everybody remains at risk.”

Second Waves Are Plaguing Asia’s Virus Recovery

The French foreign ministry issued a statement on Wednesday saying it followed a "one China" policy as agreed with Beijing in 1994 and continued to urge both sides to hold dialogue.

That was a bad idea.

China describes Taiwan as its most sensitive and important territorial issue, and has never renounced the use of force to bring the island under its control. Taiwan has shown no interest in being ruled by autocratic China.

Down with the dictatorship.

Focus on Covid-19, France tells China after Taiwan arms deal threat

There was no invasion of Crimea. Russia had a base there already. The Crimeans voted in a free and fair referendum to rejoin (that's right, rejoin) Russia.

This linked article is by neocons always more interested in spewing false propaganda against Russia than in telling the truth. They covet Russia. It's that simple.

Russian deterrence funds to Europe slashed to pay for border wall

The Trump administration is lawless.

Unveiled in January, the controversial plan gives a green light from Washington for Israel to annex Jewish settlements and other strategic occupied West Bank territory.
"The Trump administration is collaborating with Israel in its annexation plan in what is both an attempt at burying the rights of the Palestinian people as well as a blatant attack on a rules-based international system," he said.
According to several United Nations Security Council resolutions, Israeli settlements are illegal under international law, as they violate the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits an occupying power from transferring its population to the area it occupies.

The Trump administration has repeatedly sided with Israel and against stances taken by the Palestinians and Arab states, including recognising Jerusalem as Israel's capital and moving the US embassy there.

Last year, the US government said it would no longer abide by a 1978 State Department legal opinion that the settlements were "inconsistent with international law".

US to Israel: Be circumspect on annexation of occupied West Bank | Israel News | Al Jazeera

Wearing face masks does not cause hypercapnia or affect the immune system

Well, it would seem it depends. Isn't it safer to say that generally, if worn for short enough periods of time, they don't enough to merit simply risking viral exposure by going without in a crowd right now?

The Guardian is so anti-Russia, so covetous of Russia, it's been the UK's Russiagate central. They're scrambling and panicking.

There's no merit to their take whatsoever. Their "report" completely ignores the documents clearly stating how the FBI agents were out to get Flynn and Trump through Flynn just for starters. It's clear Obama didn't demand evidence before his administration moves against Trump on nearly every front. The report also only mentions Clinton this way: "The president’s allies have struggled to explain why the FBI reopened a damaging investigation into his opponent Hillary Clinton just before the election." Honestly, are they kidding? Comey was still looking out for his own skin. He was hedging his bet. He would have been slaughtered had it come out he did nothing. He had already let Hillary Clinton slide and slide and slide.

There was and remains zero evidence of Russian collusion or hacking or interference. Every last bit of it was made up out of whole cloth: all lies. It was all a concerted effort by a cabal within the Obama White House and the Hillary Clinton campaign, clearly supported by a compliant anti-Trump mainstream media to hamstring Trump's Presidency even before it started. Publicly, they were all claiming there was known evidence for all of it. In closed testimony, they were unable to provide such evidence and admitted it. The full power of government was turn to illegal purposes designed to nullify the democracy: that Trump won the election. Obama and Biden did nothing to stop it even though they were both duty bound to stop it.

'Obamagate': Trump seeks to draw Biden into conspiracy theory

I hope Rick Bright will be proved wrong; but, the fact is, hope is no substitute for proper risk management, which dictates continuing the lockdowns until the virus dies (if it will). Some viruses live in the body for decades.

Whistle-blower: US faces 'darkest winter in modern history'

... renters and landlords are getting crushed, with little relief in sight.

Real Estate Outlook: The Rental Housing Crisis Has Arrived

... forbearance is not forgiveness, therefore borrowers in forbearance have to repay their missed mortgage payments one way or another.

The GSEs’ new payment deferral allows borrowers who took forbearance to shift as many as 12 months of mortgage payments to the end of their loan.

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac: Borrowers in forbearance can defer all missed payments until the end of their loan

Under a default schedule in the bill, tenants would pay overdue rent in consecutive and equal monthly installments. Up to one month of overdue rent would be paid in three installments; over one month and up to two months of overdue rent would be paid in five installments; and over two months of rent would be paid in six installments. Tenants would have the right to propose alternative payment plans that landlords could accept or reject.

The bill would prohibit late fees and interest from accruing until a year after the termination of Seattle’s coronavirus emergency.

Seattle council bill, if signed by Durkan, would allow for rental payment plans after coronavirus crisis

The correct way to evaluate this bill is not by gaping at its total price tag, or by admiring its various provisions that make sense, but by looking at the historic scale of the economic crisis we are facing, and asking “What will it take to overcome this?” That is not how the Democratic Party’s leaders govern. They govern by asking, “What will it take to overcome this?” and then proposing half of that, to appear reasonable to Republicans, who will then cut that proposal in half again. This style of baby steps politics is only enabled by a progressive wing that allows it to happen. It is also why the Democrats are consistently steamrolled by the Republicans, who are far more ruthless in pursuit of their own ideological goals. If you don’t believe this, just wait a few weeks and marvel as Republicans agree that we have already spent too much money and that perhaps it is time to start talking about entitlement cuts—even as inflation dries up and unemployment grows.

Republicans do not care what the facts on the ground say, because the Republican Party is, in essence, a machine to serve the interests of the rich by any means necessary. It is not an ideological foe that can be reasonably negotiated with. As soon as Pelosi’s bill was announced, Republicans called it “dead on arrival.” The Democrats knew this would happen. Their bill is meant to send a message about what needs to be done. Or that is what it should have been. Instead, they have already started negotiating against themselves, before the real negotiations have even begun. This losing dynamic will continue until the progressive faction of the party forces its leaders to be just as ruthless as the Republicans are—not in the interests of donors, but in the interests of the 300 million other Americans. Unfortunately, we are a long, long way from there now. And those 300 million other Americans will continue to suffer in the meantime.

Time for Progressives to Seize the Means of Production of House Relief Bills

What are human rights? All of the basic necessities of life are included for starters.

She's totally right.

... Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman warned that companies that ignore the shutdown order could be putting themselves at risk of having their claims denied.

She said many policies have provisions that exclude coverage stemming from “illegal acts or conduct,” and could result in denied claims for property damage, protection from liability and other hazards should a business decide to reopen in violation of Wolf’s order.

Pa. Gov. Cites Denied Insurance Claims as Reason Not to Defy Shut-Down Orders

He's headed in the right direction.

Congressional Republicans have made liability protection for employers a nonnegotiable demand in any new coronavirus stimulus, but Senator Lindsey Graham, an ally of President Donald Trump, says that regulators have a role to play in the workplace.

The government must “tell the employers what they need to do to protect the workers and hold them accountable if they don’t,” Graham, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said at a hearing of his panel on Tuesday afternoon.

I've never seen the need for protecting employers from these suits. "I caught COVID-19 on the job." "Prove it." It's not a Workers Comp issue on its face. Negligence/fault must be established. So, then comes whether workplace protections were up to standard. That's were Graham's thinking correctly enters. I've been pressing for those standards the whole time on this blog.

Debate Over Business Liability in Pandemic Turns to OSHA Regulation, CDC Guidelines

This is essentially the same message I've been preaching.

Don't let governors fool you about reopening

Well, at least somebody was on the ball.

Kent had long feared the Bidens had created the appearance of a conflict of interest with the Burisma relationship and testified during impeachment he tried to warn the vice president about his concerns in 2015 but got rebuffed.

Impeachment Boomerang: Contacts exposed between US embassy, Hunter Biden-connected Ukraine firm

Google Play Store Removes 813 Apps That Qualified as 'Creepware', Research Claims

Remembering the Nakba, 72 years on

It has been 72 years since the Nakba, or catastrophe, when 800,000 Palestinians were expelled by Zionist militias or fled their towns and villages, in a massive ethnic cleansing campaign to make way for Israel.

Harba Abu Zakri is a survivor.

The 105-year-old woman says she was born during the locust outbreak of 1915. She vividly remembers how Zionist paramilitary forces killed her father, brother, sister and nephew.

“We were on our land. We left to escape the gunfire,” Harba told The Electronic Intifada.

“My God, people witnessed so much suffering. They killed many people.”

Harba recalls life before Zionist colonialism.

“In our old life, we lived off our land. We would sow and study seeds, harvest and eat.”

She was 2 years old when the British Empire issued the Balfour Declaration, expressing support for the Zionist movement to take over Palestine.

“The British left and they came immediately because of the Balfour Declaration. They left and the others arrived,” she told The Electronic Intifada.

“People thought victory was coming to Palestine, but we saw Israeli tanks come towards people.”

Harba now lives in Nuseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, still remembering Palestine vividly.