Sunday, May 31, 2020

There Was No Doomsday Plan For The Worst Catastrophe To Have Hit America In A Century


"Trump," wrote Harvey Wasserman, "is no accident. He is our Imperial Vulture come home to roost. Our Exceptional Karma. The ultimate incineration of a City on a Hill defined by arrogance, brutality, and greed. Trump’s willful negligence has killed more Americans in three months than did the Vietnam War in ten years. He’s saturated our lives with dictatorship, disease, dementia, depression. But we have no claim to self-pity."
Pinochet (Chile), Mobutu (Congo/Zaire), the Greek Junta, the Shah (Iran), Somoza (Nicaragua), Diem/Thieu/Ky (Vietnam), Yeltsin/Putin (Russia), Pol Pot (Cambodia), Lord Jeffrey Amherst (Indigenous America), Salazar (Portugal), Marcos (the Philippines), Alvarado (Honduras), the Duvaliers (Haiti) … murderers, thieves, despots, liars, bigots, buffoons, puppets, thugs, butchers, hypocrites, clowns, torturers, mobsters, devils incarnate … all installed to serve American corporate interests.

They are Trump and he is them.

The butchery we’ve imposed on humankind and the planet has at last come home to roost. Trump is Earth’s retaliatory demon, here to ravage the remnants of a cruel, hypocritical, dying empire.

China will soon eclipse America’s once insurmountable economic dominance. Our military is an ornate, obsolete, obscene husk. We’re a downbound #2, a failing state. Trump has left us gutted, poisoned, betrayed, mocked, abused, leveled, trashed, choking in the dust (we can’t breathe!!!).

He is history’s inevitable payback.

We can’t get him gone until we fully face our nation’s stake in his epic evil.

So let’s pick a moment before November 3rd. A Trump Exorcism Day, to excoriate the pain our empire has imposed. The arrogance of our “exceptionalism.” The burden of our slave-based misogyny. The injustices of our racism, sexism, ecological destruction, multi-layered bigotries. The wages of our greed. The uselessness of our wars. The absurdity of our military. The blood-sucking death grip of our global corporations.

Wrap them all in one big irreverence. Look deep into the ghastly mirror of our merciless inflictions … then face who we really have been, and what we must become.

The Donald is no random event. He demands we confront where he really came from and all he embodies.

Only then do we get truly woke. 
Trump and Elon Musk launched a rocket yesterday. I suppose the wealthy are going to want them operable after the rest of us are left behind on the sterile planet the Green New Deal was too expensive for. Is that the Doomsday Scenario planners are working on. The Atlantic commentator Marc Ambinder says it's time to listen to those doomsday planners. He had something else in mind though: "What’s the plan if the whole White House becomes infected?" After the worldwide celebrations end?

"The answer," he wrote, "typically lies with the government’s so-called doomsday planners-- the officials at every major agency who are tasked with preparing and rehearsing the nation’s classified continuity-of-government plans. For decades, doomsday planners’ presence has been tolerated, their recommendations have been stashed in policy documents, and their warnings about dark tidings have been for the most part unheeded. The Trump administration has taken an actively hostile approach, though, decimating the institutional engines of catastrophe planning, including at the National Security Council. As a consequence, the U.S. government was not only ill-prepared for the pandemic, but willfully blinded to its potential size and shape, leaving federal agencies in the position of having to confront a fast-moving hurricane without radar to determine where it was headed or a plan to quickly restore essential functions."
The coronavirus has pushed the country’s national-security bureaucracy to figure out how to adapt in a severely restricted work environment, and forced a reexamination of how the government prepares for crises. COVID-19 hasn’t brought the United States to the precipice of doomsday, per se, but it has exposed how much citizens and states rely on a functioning federal government. It’s also revealed the consequences of what happens when the government appears unprepared to reckon with a challenge as significant as the pandemic and hasn’t listened to the people whose jobs require them to churn through permutations and contingencies. Government agencies as crucial as the CIA have had to develop COVID-19 response plans on the fly. Telework practices are patchy and decided by each agency. And it is unclear, even to employees at the highest levels of the national-security bureaucracy, what they ought to be doing.

If you work in continuity planning, a lot of your time is spent ensuring that alternate facilities can function if needed. You try to exercise scenarios, begging senior policy officials to spend a day in a bunker or room and forcing them to make choices under pressure. Then you imagine the worst-case scenarios and try to write plans that adhere to complicated government rules. Year after year, resources for continuity planning tend not to be priorities. Executive-branch departments also have to consider near-term foreseeable challenges, such as infrastructure and technology upgrades. The apocalypse doesn’t rise to top of mind.

Vic Erevia, who served as the special agent in charge of Barack Obama’s protective detail for the Secret Service, was privy to the most developed and well-rehearsed continuity preparations-- those involving the presidency itself, and the preservation of communication among the three branches of government. He spent a lot of time in the weeds with the plans and their planners. “These guys, they were kind of treated like the crazy people in the corner doing their own thing,” he told me. “It’s time for them to be given their due.”

Doomsday planners can’t conjure up every possible future calamity. But their warnings can prompt the government to react quickly, to adapt to ambiguity, and to treat uncertainty as a feature of good social science, not an excuse to avoid prudent precautions. Nicholas Rasmussen, who participated in national-security continuity planning as a senior counterterrorism adviser to George W. Bush and Obama, told me that, at the moment, the U.S. government doesn’t “really have a plan for a scenario where we are down 50 percent of our workforce.” The national-security agencies, including the CIA, have predesignated employees as “essential” and cross-trained thousands to perform essential jobs should those employees become sick. But a pandemic doesn’t distinguish among people, and therefore doesn’t avoid those deemed essential, said Rasmussen, who was also the head of the National Counterterrorism Center until 2017.

The Trump administration has hollowed out the very bureaucracy that’s in charge of the planners. The president has cycled through five homeland-security secretaries and five homeland-security advisers (who also serve as national continuity coordinators) in three years, and has dismantled the apparatus that was expressly designed to inform his response and allow the government to function efficiently during emergencies. Through a succession of national security advisers, the NSC staff was dramatically reduced, culminating in John Bolton’s decision to close a dedicated pandemic-response cell inside the NSC’s global-health security and biodefense directorate. Bolton also pushed out a key official who had both the title and institutional knowledge to shape policy on contingency and continuity, Thomas Bossert, who was a senior member of Bush’s national-security staff and one of the few remaining links between the NSC and federal-preparedness officials. (Bossert did not return calls or emails asking for comment.) Soon after Bossert’s departure as homeland-security adviser, Trump downgraded the position, and it no longer reports directly to the president.

The current homeland-security adviser (and national continuity coordinator) is Julia Nesheiwat. She was appointed on February 21-- two full weeks after the previous occupant, Coast Guard Rear Admiral Peter Brown, left the post. During those two weeks, the pandemic spread rapidly in the United States, and the Trump administration temporized, vamped, and struggled to figure out how to respond.

Agencies are largely left to their own devices. Since its birth more than 70 years ago, the CIA has developed an intuitive flexibility for how to function in emergencies. What happens if multiple case officers get sick in a country where the CIA isn’t supposed to be operating? There’s a plan to evacuate them without the host country knowing. What happens if local food supplies become contaminated? There’s a plan to get food stores to the CIA base.

“A lot of our stations are in places where the food supply is insecure and where you can’t trust local doctors,” said a current agency officer who, like other sources cited in this story, spoke with me on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak with the media. “We’ve had cases where the entire station gets sick and we’ve had to get our own doctors into a country. It’s just something we know how to do.”

But even the CIA could not account for a scenario like the pandemic-- where almost no physical space on Earth is safe to gather in for months at a time. Four current and former agency officials, some of whom asked not to be identified, acknowledged that the coronavirus had not left the agency unscathed, with employees in the Langley, Virginia, headquarters and across the globe falling ill.

So the agency adapted its crisis planning on the fly. In this case, it did not activate its main continuity-of-operations site-- an enormous, anonymous, secure facility in the mid-Atlantic region where up to 10 percent of the headquarters’ staff could run the agency’s worldwide covert operations and communications system if Langley had to be closed or was destroyed, one former agency official and a current government official told me. Instead, the agency is rotating key staff into work in cadres and has implemented social-distancing measures, they said. (The CIA spokesperson Nicole de Haay declined to provide specifics but said that in response to the pandemic, “our officers are exercising tremendous creativity and flexibility.”) It works, for now. It can’t work forever. Will it work if a terrorist engineers a pathogen to be even more virulent and transmissible than the coronavirus?

...According to a Defense Department official, who declined to be identified in order to speak about a sensitive subject, the Defense Information Systems Agency is nearing the end of a pilot program that would allow employees to do limited, classified-level work from home. And some officials are rethinking their long-standing opposition to commercial end-to-end encryption. Of course, this debate could have been hashed out earlier, with guidelines at the ready, if the NSC had had the staff and sense to heed the lessons of doomsday planning.

Dab Kern, another longtime resilience and continuity planner, who was the director of the White House Military Office until the end of 2017, wants the executive branch to shift the focus of its continuity planning to secure communications and dynamic responses that would allow senior officials to work from almost anywhere. “We need to stop doing continuity the way we have done it,” he told me. “This is our opportunity to shift gears and leverage technology.” Kern noted that many private businesses, large and small, incorporating the advice of resilience experts, had plans to rapidly shift gears. “The rest of the industry does it this way. Why doesn’t the government?”

...According to conversations with more than a dozen people who have seen them, worked on them, or written them, virtually all government continuity plans since 9/11 have been centered around two plots: nuclear terrorism (either all-out war or an explosion in the Washington, D.C., region) or a bioweapons release (limited in scale and scope, with victims easily tested and identified). After the anthrax attacks of 2001, the U.S. focused on intelligence suggesting that al-Qaeda (and later Iraq, under the government of Saddam Hussein) had explored the most effective ways to disperse a biological agent. “That’s why we immediately turned to smallpox,” a current government official told me. “The R0”-- the rate of person-to-person transmission based on a pathogen’s contagiousness-- “was so high and smallpox was available, at least to some of the nation-state enemies.” Russia, for example, had an active bioweapons program, run by a network of labs called Biopreparat, into the 1990s, and it experimented with weaponizing smallpox. A former Russian intelligence officer, who declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the issue and who now lives in the United States, confirmed to me that the program was operational after 9/11. (Russia denies that it is experimenting with pathogenic weapons, but its recent use of chemical and radiological poisons to kill former agents is well documented.) The U.S. intelligence community worries that adversaries could weaponize COVID-19 before there’s a vaccine, taking advantage of the gaps in preparedness exposed by the current response.

After 9/11, Cheney spent many nights at the Raven Rock facility in the Blue Ridge Mountains. But bunkers like Raven Rock are not designed to accommodate an entire bureaucracy. Most of the government’s top-secret disaster plans, buttressed by tens of billions of dollars in “black budget” spending, call for officials to break into groups, with some retreating to a secure facility outside of D.C. where they could communicate with colleagues over classified government networks. In a pandemic, the bunkers would be all but useless if you couldn’t ensure that the workers were virus-free before entering. That would require rapid and reliable tests available at the beginning of the emergency, which is hard enough with a new pathogen, but which the U.S. government did not prioritize until too many people were infected this time around. The White House itself did not develop such testing capacity for COVID-19 until early April, months after being warned that the disease could be a major threat.

One of Ambinder's colleagues at The Atlantic, David Frum, noted that where Ambinder finds Trump "mercurial," what he really is is a looter. And we have no doomsday plan for that, do we? The bloated orangutan in the Oval Office doesn't just steal the odd banana now and again; he "has helped himself to money from the U.S. Treasury," wrote Frum, "using political power to direct public money to his personal businesses. It’s not as visual as a riot, but until 2017 it would have been regarded as equally criminal... The Trump years have confronted all Americans with stark contrasts in the treatment of crime depending on the status of the criminal. The day before the police killing of Floyd, the president and his supporters were voicing passionate concerns for the alleged maltreatment of Michael Flynn by the justice system. Then a helpless man is choked to death on a public street in full public view and-- well, he was no choirboy, the president’s supporters explain.
Threats of armed violence by pro-Trump demonstrators forced the shutdown of the Michigan legislature in mid-May. But about that militancy, Trump was indulgent. He tweeted May 1: “The Governor of Michigan should give a little, and put out the fire. These are very good people, but they are angry. They want their lives back again, safely! See them, talk to them, make a deal.”

An armed intruder is not a peaceful protester. If the targets yield before the intruder discharges his weapon at them, they have still been coerced. The threat of violence works only to the extent that the imminence of violence is credible. And it was imminent violence that pro-Trump protesters displayed in Minnesota, in Michigan, in the state of Washington. But no federalizing of the National Guard there, no threats of indiscriminate shooting, only gentle understanding of people who gridlocked state capitals in service of their abject lunatic theory that Bill Gates wanted to inject microchips into their bums.

The Trump presidency has shown America aspects of itself that few of us wished to see. Even having been forced to watch them up close through three shameful years of presidential corruption, those aspects are still hard for many of us to accept. But along with the monuments of law, along with the rhetoric of liberty, along with the proud achievements of American history, there also exists the realities that Trump daily exposes: impunity for some forms of looting, impunity for some forms of violence, impunity for some forms of lawbreaking.

Labels: , , , ,

How Badly Are Republican States Underreporting Their COVID Death Rates To Please Trump?


The Second Spike by Nancy Ohanian

Although the official stats show that the U.S. reached 100,000 COVID deaths on Memorial Day, a report in yesterday's Washington Post by Andrew Ba Tran, Leslie Shapiro and Emma Brown-- Pandemic's Overall Death Toll Likely Surpassed 100,000 Weeks Ago, indicates that the U.S. probably reached that "terrible milestone three weeks ago." It's all about so-called "excess deaths," defined as "deaths beyond the number that would normally be expected for that time of year." Between March 1 and May 9, there were over 100,000 of them according to a study by the Yale School of Public Health. "That figure reflects about 26,000 more fatalities than were attributed to covid-19 on death certificates during that period, according to federal data. Those 26,000 fatalities were not necessarily caused directly by the virus. They could also include people who died as a result of the epidemic but not from the disease itself, such as those who were afraid to seek medical help for unrelated illnesses. Increases or decreases in other categories of deaths, such as motor vehicle accidents, also affect the count."
The covid-19 death toll, a key data point in shaping the public-health response to the pandemic, has become a political flash point. Allies of President Trump have claimed that the government tally is inflated, contending that it includes people with other medical conditions who would have died with or without an infection.

The Yale-led analysis, however, suggests that the actual number of people who have died because of the pandemic is far greater than the official government death tallies. The researchers estimated that the number of excess deaths between March 1 and May 9 was most likely between 97,500 and 105,500.

“It’s clear that the burden is quite a bit higher than reported totals,” said Daniel Weinberger, the Yale professor of epidemiology who led the analysis.

At the same time, an examination of excess deaths by state paints a portrait of two Americas, one pummeled by the pandemic and the other only lightly scathed.

Many Republican strongholds, including Alaska, South Dakota and Utah, did not have an unusual number of overall deaths during the period covered by the analysis. The numbers of deaths in those states rarely rose above the expected ranges and sometimes were slightly below them, the researchers found.

In contrast, some of the nation’s most populous blue and purple states-- including New York and New Jersey but also Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan and Illinois-- experienced staggering surges in deaths. In every one of those states, the spike surpassed the number of deaths attributed to covid-19 in official tallies. New York City had an estimated 6,500 excess deaths beyond those attributed to the virus, according to the analysis.

The state-by-state analysis indicates that, as testing has become more widely available, covid-19 deaths have accounted for larger and larger percentages of the excess deaths. It also suggests that the gap between excess deaths and official covid-19 tallies has been particularly pronounced in several states that currently have the least restrictive social distancing rules in place.

...On April 11, for example, federal data indicated that 27,300 people had died overall during the previous week. But a month later, as states reported more deaths, the figure for that week had been revised upward to 71,800.

...For the most part, the states that continue to maintain especially restrictive social distancing rules are those that suffered the largest numbers of excess deaths. In many of those places, most nonessential businesses remain closed, bars and restaurants may not seat customers, and public gatherings are limited to 10 people or fewer, according to a Post review of state policies through Friday.

In states that have begun to lift restrictions, the picture of excess deaths through May 9 is more mixed. Deaths were within the normal range in many of those states, but they spiked in a handful of others, including Massachusetts, Colorado, Louisiana and Virginia, the analysis shows.

The states with the loosest restrictions are generally those in which the death toll through May 9 was not unusually high, according to the analysis.

But a handful of those states saw spikes in deaths and significant numbers of excess deaths beyond those officially attributed to covid-19, though their overall numbers were small relative to the harder-hit states.

For example, South Carolina had an estimated 1,100 excess deaths. Only 326-- or about 30 percent-- were recorded as covid-19 deaths, according to death certificate data published by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A contributing factor to the discrepancy could be that South Carolina is testing relatively few people for the coronavirus, making it less likely that such cases will be diagnosed, said Farzad Mostashari, a doctor and technologist based in Bethesda, Md., who is part of the research team that conducted the analysis for The Post. South Carolina ranks 41st in the nation in prevalence of testing, according to data compiled by the Covid Tracking Project.

South Carolina public health officials have said they are committed to ensuring that every resident who dies of covid-19 is counted.

In Arizona, another state that has only minor restrictions in place, the number of deaths attributed to covid-19 was 40 percent of the estimated 1,400 excess deaths. Arizona ranks 51st in testing rates among the nation’s states and territories. In Texas, which ranks 47th for testing, 39 percent of the estimated 2,900 excess deaths were attributed to the virus.

Nationally, between March 1 and May 9, covid-19 deaths accounted for about 74 percent of excess deaths. The gap between excess deaths and those attributed to covid-19 has narrowed significantly since the early weeks of the outbreak. In the week ending March 28, only about half of the excess deaths were attributed to covid-19. In the week ending May 2, the proportion had risen to 81 percent.

That is a common pattern in an epidemic, said Robert N. Anderson, chief of mortality statistics at the NCHS.

“In the early stages, when physicians are less familiar with the disease and not looking or testing for it, cases are more likely to be misdiagnosed and attributed to other causes,” Anderson said. “As the epidemic progresses and physicians see more and more cases, they are increasingly likely to correctly diagnose the disease and report it accordingly.”

The NCHS is conducting its own analyses of excess deaths during the pandemic and has also reported numbers well beyond the government’s official covid-19 death toll, but with a wider range of estimates. The agency estimates there were between 89,257 and 119,706 excess deaths from Feb. 1 to May 9.

The NCHS analysis differs from the Yale estimates in several ways: The government analysis does not account for the intensity of flu epidemics, and it seeks to account for the lag in death reporting by estimating the number of deaths that will eventually be tallied when data is complete.

The Yale-led team found with 95 percent confidence that the number of excess deaths during the period under study falls within the range of 97,500 and 105,500. The 101,600 figure is the midpoint of that range.

The NCHS model also calculates a range of excess deaths with 95 percent confidence. The agency publishes only the midpoint and low numbers from that range. It does not publish the higher end.

Anderson said the higher number could be misleading. It would include many deaths that could be due to normal variation, he said.

Steven H. Woolf, a professor at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, said it is unusual to for scientists to publish only the lower and middle points of a range. “The customary thing in most scientific publications, including most results that come from CDC and NCHS, is to present the full 95 percent confidence interval,” said Woolf, who is not part of the Yale-led effort.
click to read

On Friday, The Post reported that "Public health experts warn that this increased activity is likely to cause a surge of new infections. 'There is a real risk that you will trigger an outbreak that you may not be able to control' by reopening too quickly, said infectious-disease expert Anthony S. Fauci in Senate testimony May 12, 'leading to some suffering and death that could be avoided.' Cases continue to rise in some of the states where governors have been most aggressive in opening public spaces and businesses that rely on close personal contact, such as salons and gyms. None have met the federal government’s core recommendation of a two-week decline in reported cases."

I've paired the Post's description of how strict restrictions are in each state, with the number of cases per million in the population as of yesterday (states in red have Republican governors and states in blue have Democratic governors):
Alabama- minor restrictions-- 3,651 cases per million
Alaska- no restrictions-- 629
Arizona- minor restrictions-- 2,739
Arkansas- minor restrictions-- 2,403
California- major restrictions vary by region-- 2,846
Colorado- moderate restrictions-- 4,581
Connecticut- major restrictions-- 11,837
Delaware- major restrictions-- 9,754
Florida- minor restrictions-- 2,615 (Florida data is known to be fake and politically manipulated-- cases per million could be closer to 4,500)
Georgia- minor restrictions-- 4,433
Hawaii- moderate restrictions-- 460
Idaho- minor restrictions-- 1,589
Illinois- moderate restrictions vary by region-- 9,490
Indiana- moderate restrictions vary by region-- 5,136
Iowa- minor restrictions-- 6,197


Kansas- moderate restrictions-- 3,373
Kentucky- moderate restrictions-- 2,172
Louisiana- moderate restrictions vary by region-- 8,587
Maine- moderate restrictions vary by region-- 1,730
Maryland- major restrictions vary by region-- 8,730
Massachusetts- moderate restrictions-- 14,068
Michigan- major restrictions vary by region-- 5,747
Minnesota- major restrictions-- 4,406
Mississippi- minor restrictions-- 5,208
Missouri- minor restrictions-- 2,196
Montana- minor restrictions-- 482
Nebraska- moderate restrictions-- 7,290
Nevada- minor restrictions-- 2,790
New Hampshire- moderate restrictions-- 3,421
New Jersey- major restrictions-- 18,212
New Mexico- major restrictions-- 3,667
New York- major restrictions-- 19,529
North Carolina- moderate restrictions-- 2,744
North Dakota- minor restrictions-- 3,382
Ohio- moderate restrictions-- 3,042
Oklahoma- minor restrictions-- 1,644
Oregon- moderate restrictions vary by region-- 1,006
Pennsylvania- moderate restrictions vary by region-- 5,954
Rhode Island- moderate restrictions-- 14,092
South Carolina- minor restrictions-- 2,304
South Dakota- minor restrictions-- 5,644
Tennessee- minor restrictions vary by region-- 3,369
Texas- minor restrictions vary by region-- 2,238
Utah- minor restrictions vary by region-- 3,056
Vermont- moderate restrictions-- 1,572
Virginia- moderate restrictions-- 5,226
Washington- moderate restrictions vary by region-- 2,951
West Virginia- minor restrictions-- 1,122
Wisconsin- minor restrictions vary by region-- 3,161
Wyoming- minor restrictions-- 1,560


Anger Turns To Violence Against Oppressive, Brutal, Overly-Entitled Police Across America


Just over 4 decades ago-- May 1979-- a conservative court decided to let ex-policeman, ex-County Supervisor Dan White off the hook (the Twinkie defense) after he assassinated Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone. The ensuing violent riot wasn't about Moscone. The organizers intended to lead a peaceful protest march of a couple of hundred people up Market Street to City Hill. That didn't last and when the infuriated crowd reached City Hall, there were over 5,000 people-- mostly gay not absolutely not entirely so-- under no one's control and united more in anger than in grief... anger towards Dan White, towards Dianne Feinstein and, mostly, towards the police and their systematic abuse of the gay community.

That anger turned to violence very rapidly. I can't say I started it, but my gang-- punk rockers-- turned over the first police car and set it on fire. And the second and third. I think there were 6 or 7 police cars burned before the police who had barricaded themselves in City Hall-- along with the police chief-- were reenforced by a large continent of police looking to get even. They used tear gas and indiscriminately attacked everyone with night sticks. Just like yesterday, the police prepared for the battle by coving their badge numbers with black masking tape. The police were shocked that "the gays fought back" and several dozen police suffered the righteous indignation of decades of abuse from the department towards the community. Far more protestors/rioters were injured, but the official count of injured police was over 50. (None died... until October 1985 when Dan White was taken into custody by a small citizens' vigilante group and "committed suicide" in his garage.)

After the rioting petered out at City Hall, gangs of police headed to the Castro for revenge. The went to the most bourgeois gay bar in San Francisco, the Elephant Walk, the least likely place to find someone who had been to the City Hall riot. The clientele was... old fashioned drinkers of martinis and tropical drinks with fruit and paper umbrellas. The police went inside and beat everyone up brutally and smashed everything smashable, then spilled out onto the street and and beat up everyone they came across. The chief of police, Charlie Gain, rushed down to Castro Street and ordered the vicious cops off the street.

The cops celebrated their riot (and the deaths of Moscone and Milk and the tap on the wrist for White) but that was the beginning of the end of systemic police brutality towards the gay community in San Francisco. 100 of us were injured but that's what it costs for that kind of change. The following year, the police department started a campaign to heavily recruit-- successfully-- gays and lesbians to the force.

This morning, a team of reporters from L.A., Miami, Minneapolis, DC and Oakland wrote up last night's demonstrations and police reaction for The Guardian. "Tense protests," they began, "over the death of George Floyd and other police killings of black men spread across the US on Saturday night as mayors around the country imposed curfews and several governors called in the national guard amid scenes of violence, injuries and unrest. After a Friday night that saw anger at police brutality erupt into rioting and unrest in cities across the country, authorities appeared intent on re-establishing order through increased shows of force. Governors of six states, including Minnesota, where Floyd died on Monday, called out national guard troops. Many cities including Atlanta, Los Angeles, Louisville, Columbia, Denver, Portland, Milwaukee and Columbus, imposed curfews in anticipation of a restless night ahead... The violence happened across America from coast to coast and from big cities to small ones. Beyond the major metropolitan areas, protesters clashed with police in cities including Tulsa, Oklahoma; Little Rock, Arkansas; Albany, New York; Fargo, North Dakota; and Raleigh, North Carolina."

Where's Psycho?

The police seemed top prefer attacking peaceful demonstrators than confronting gangs of rioters. "Numerous media outlets, including CNN, Reuters and MSNBC," they wrote, "reported that their staff covering protests in the city had been hit by rubber bullets fired at them. Media outlets and journalists in numerous cities reported being targeted by police with chemical agents or less-lethal rounds, and several reporters were arrested."
Meanwhile, Donald Trump ignited tensions, lashing out at “anarchists” he blamed for stoking the deadly unrest and urging the Minneapolis mayor to act more forcefully against demonstrators there.

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden struck a different tone, calling protests against police brutality “right and necessary” but urging an end to violence. “The act of protesting should never be allowed to overshadow the reason we protest,” he said in a statement.

Then and now

In Los Angeles, a protest started out peacefully in Pan Pacific Park before small groups of protesters set police cars on fire, and police fired rubber bullets in return. After the 8pm curfew, but before darkness had fallen, Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles asked the governor to send up to 700 members of the national guard, according to the AP.

In New York, bottles were hurled at police officers attempting to push back marchers in Times Square, while hundreds more protesters gathered in the East Village. Protests had broken out in different neighborhoods across New York, fires were set on streets and police were seen beating protesters with batons.

“We will not tolerate actions like these against New York City police officers,” the city’s police department said in a tweet announcing the arrest of “multiple people” for throwing molotov cocktails at police vehicles. The US attorney’s office subsequently announced that it had filed federal charges against three people over the incidents.

Elsewhere in the city, a video of two police vehicles driving through protesters blocking a road quickly went viral. Mayor Bill de Blasio defended the action of the police driving the cars, further angering New Yorkers. “If those protesters had just gotten out of the way we wouldn’t be talking about this situation,” he said. “I’m not going to blame officers who were trying to deal with an absolutely impossible situation.”

In Atlanta, where three officers were injured and 71 people arrested in violence early Saturday, up to 1,500 national guard troops were deployed throughout the city at the order of the [Trumpist] governor, Brian Kemp.

...In Detroit, Michigan, a 21-year-man was shot and killed during protests on Friday night when an unknown person fired into a crowd from a vehicle.

Nonetheless, expect the mass media to paint a basically one-sided picture, featuring the valiant police protecting "us" and, especially, our property from the unruly, dangerous mob. But there are two sides to this story. That side and the real side. The battle against oppression was also being waged online-- and very effectively so.

They-- presumably Anonymous-- crashed the Minneapolis Police Department website Saturday and today "users were asked to complete a captcha to ensure they were not automated bots orchestrating a DDoS attack."

Where's Psycho II?

Meanwhile, how much coronavirus was spread from these protests this weekend? Plenty of masks, thank God, but not much social distancing. In a related article-- Social Distancing Strictures Fall Away As Crowds Gather To Party And Protest-- Karen DeYoung, Chelsea Janes, Greg Schneider and Scott Farwell wrote that "Crowds of another sort gathered in a number of cities, where thousands took to the streets, at times amid violence, in protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd, a black man, by white police in Minneapolis."
“We are still in the middle of a pandemic,” Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) reminded demonstrators in a news conference where he announced the full mobilization of the state National Guard to control the violent unrest.

Warning that hospitals were “on the verge of being overrun,” Walz said “demonstrators should wear masks and try to practice social distancing.”

One of my favorite pandemic binge-worthy tv series so far has been Bosch, a Los Angeles police-friendly detective production... but I was the very proud executive producer of this track by Ice-T's metal band, Bodycount. Have you listened to "Cop Killer?" Lately?

And I'll close with a few hopeful words from Forbes' Lisette Voytko. "Some [police] some squads joined in with Saturday protesters to express their stance against police brutality, and to show solidarity with the anti-racism movement.
“We want to be with y’all, for real. I took my helmet off, laid the batons down. I want to make this a parade, not a protest,” Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson was seen telling protesters in Flint, Michigan, before he joined the assembled crowd to march, eliciting cheers.
Officers in Camden, New Jersey, helped carry a banner reading “Standing in Solidarity,” and seemed to join in with the crowd chanting “no justice, no peace.”
In Santa Cruz, California, Police Chief Andy Mills took a knee with protesters in the pose made famous by Colin Kaepernick, with the department tweeting it was “in memory of George Floyd & bringing attention to police violence against Black people.”
Two Kansas City, Missouri, police officers-- one white man, one black man-- were photographed holding aloft a sign reading “end police brutality.”
In Fargo, North Dakota, an officer was seen clasping hands with protest organizers while holding up a sign reading “We are one race... The HUMAN race.”
Officers in Ferguson, Missouri, participated in a nine and-a-half minute kneel in Floyd’s memory, with cheers erupting from the crowd.
Despite the moments of solidarity, conflict broke out between protesters and police in Kansas City, Fargo and Ferguson.

Labels: , , , ,

New Blue America Congressional Endorsement-- In Nashville, Tennessee


People seem surprised when they find out that Nashville is a Democratic city and that Tennessee's 5th congressional district is safely blue. Obama won the district both times he ran. In 2016 Trump took just 38.2% of the vote- and in Davidson County (Nashville), he only got 34.3%). In 2018, Davidson County backed Democrats in both the gubernatorial race and the U.S. Senate race-- and performed at a D+43 level to reelect longtime incumbent Jim Cooper 177,923 (67.8%) to 84,317 (32.2%). Virtually all of Nashville's elected officials are Democrats including the mayor (John Cooper-- Jim Cooper's brother and their father was a former Tennessee governor) and the 10 state Reps.

TN-05 has a solid PVI of D+7, but Cooper is a Blue Dog, best known for his conservative politics. When he was first elected, in 1982, Nashville wasn't part of his rural district but he gave up that district to run, unsuccessfully, for the U.S. Senate and when the Nashville district opened up, he spent nearly a million dollars of his family's money to buy the seat. He's never had a serious challenger since then. Republicans are happy with his conservative politics and Democrats have been afraid to challenge him in a primary.

Goal Thermometer
Until now! Meet Keeda Haynes, a top-notch progressive reformer who vigorously backs Medicare-For-All, the Green New Deal, a $15 living wage, a national cap on rent and home price increases, top to bottom student loan reform, H.R. 40 (Sheila Jackson Lee's bill to set up a reparations commission), marijuana legalization, a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented individuals currently living in the U.S., competitive prescription drug costs and a whole platform built on solid progressive positions. This week, Blue America has endorsed Keeda and I asked her to introduce herself with a guest post-- and the brand new video directly below-- in the hope that everyone else would be as impressed as I was when I've been speaking with her by phone over the last couple of weeks. Please consider contributing to her campaign by clicking on the 2020 Blue America Primary-A-Blue-Dog thermometer on the right. This is a very special candidate who would make an extraordinary member of Congress. Please dig as deep as you feel comfortable digging!

I Am That Change
-by Keeda Haynes

Many Americans recently have recoiled in horror at the filmed slaying of 25-year-old, African-American Ahmaud Arbery by two vigilantes in Glynn County, Georgia. Another tragedy of epic proportions also occurred in Louisville when police officers-- without knocking and announcing their presence-- fatally shot 26-year-old Breonna Taylor, an emergency room tech, to death. Sadly, the cases of Ahmaud Armery and Breonna Taylor are not isolated incidents in the United States of America. They are pristine examples of a criminal justice system that too often disrespects and devalues the lives of African-Americans and other persons of color.

But, beyond these high-profile killings of African-Americans, countless millions languish away in prison, shackled by a criminal justice system that locks them away and throws away the key. It’s what Michelle Alexander has called the New Jim Crow-- the systematic oppression of entire groups of people. The human toll of mass incarceration takes on many shapes and forms and no longer can we turn a blind eye to it.

Many care little for our prisoners, assuming a person is in prison because of their criminal conduct. But a prison sentence should not be a death sentence…but that is what it has turned into for the hundreds of inmates that have died in custody due to the coronavirus. They were someone’s father, mother, sister, brother, daughter or son and their lives had value. Our prison population is one of the most vulnerable and they deserve to be protected.

When I sat on the top bunk of my 3x8 prison cubicle in Alderson, West Virginia, looking back over the range at 100 other women, recently sentenced to seven years in prison for a crime I didn’t commit, I thought to myself” what if I die here.” The possibility of that happened back in 2003 wasn’t nearly as possible as it is today. Having served nearly four years in federal prison for a crime I did not commit, I know that fear, confusion and frustration that many incarcerated individuals are feeling right now. Only through my faith did I persevere and emerge from prison an even stronger individual, hell-bent on devoting my life to public service and fighting for those in need.

After my release in 2006, I went to law school, passed the bar exam, and became a public defender in Nashville, Tennessee. I advocated in the trenches for those society has considered the least of these amongst us. Every day in the courtroom, I knew the difficulties my clients faced because I had sat in their shoes and felt those same feelings of desperation.

Now, my public service has taken a different direction after working as a public defender for the past six and a half years, but my fight, passion and determination remain. I am running for Congress in TN-05 and I will take the same level of passion and determination to Washington to advocate on behalf of the community of District 5. I will stand alongside the community, fighting daily for access to quality health care, affordable housing and criminal justice reform. I will provide them with equitable access in government decision making and will make sure their voices are heard.

Armaud Arbery shouldn’t have been killed while jogging. Breonna Stewart shouldn’t have been killed in her sleep. Hundreds should not have died in jails and prisons. I shouldn’t have served nearly four years in prison for a crime I did not commit.

It is time that we in TN-05 have someone in Congress that understands that the United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world; that mass incarceration disproportionally affects black, brown and low- income communities; and, that we need to address the racist policies and procedures that have caused this large disparity.

It is time for change in Congress. I am that change.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Trump Is A Severe Public Health Danger


Badge of Honor by Nancy Ohanian

The Washington Post's Josh Dawson and Lena Sun reported that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suddenly and inexplicably removed specifics on choirs in its guidelines for houses of worship to reopen. Trump had been pestering them to do so for two weeks. After thousands of church-goers around the world contracted COVID-19 during services, the CDC had included "The act of singing may contribute to transmission of Covid-19, possibly through emission of aerosols" in their guidelines and Trump got that removed. That's just one of many examples of how the Republican Party Death Cult is trying every which way to politicize the pandemic and continue spiking the death rates.

Yesterday, Bob Egelko reported for the San Francisco Chronicle on the surprise Supreme Court ruling against Trump and others rushing to open everything up too soon and without precautions. "With a deciding vote from Chief Justice John Roberts," wrote Egelko, "the Supreme Court late Friday allowed Gov. Gavin Newsom to restrict attendance at religious services in California to 25% of the capacity of a house of worship because of the coronavirus. The justices voted 5-4 to reject a challenge by a Pentecostal church in Chula Vista (San Diego County) and its bishop, who claimed the state was discriminating against religious institutions by setting undue limits on attendance."
In his first round of reopenings in early May, Newsom allowed some previously closed businesses to resume limited operations, such as curbside pickups, but refused to allow in-person religious services. After a divided federal appeals court upheld his decision on May 22, the governor announced new rules three days later allowing congregations to meet in person but limiting attendance to 25% of the building’s capacity, with a maximum gathering of 100.

The standards, in effect for 21 days, discourage such activities as sharing prayer books and ritual items as well as personal contact and congregational singing, all of which can spread the coronavirus.

President Trump has denounced such restrictions in California and elsewhere and ordered governors to rescind them, though he has not cited any federal law authorizing him to overrule state officials’ decisions on which institutions to reopen.

Roberts joined the court’s more liberal justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, in denying an injunction sought by the South Bay United Pentecostal Church. Writing only for himself, the chief justice said detailed decisions on health-related issues should generally be left to “politically accountable” state officials unless they clearly violate a constitutional right such as religious freedom.

“Similar or more severe restrictions apply to comparable secular gatherings, including lectures, concerts, movie showings, spectator sports, and theatrical performances, where large groups of people gather in close proximity for extended periods of time,” Roberts said. He said Newsom’s order “exempts or treats more leniently only dissimilar activities, such as operating grocery stores, banks, and laundromats, in which people neither congregate in large groups nor remain in close proximity for extended periods.”

Dissenting Justice Brett Kavanaugh rejected Roberts’ comparison and said Newsom was restricting houses of worship more severely than businesses, in violation of religious freedom.

“Comparable secular businesses are not subject to a 25% occupancy cap, including factories, offices, supermarkets, restaurants, retail stores, pharmacies, shopping malls, pet grooming shops, bookstores, florists, hair salons, and cannabis dispensaries,” Kavanaugh said.

Noting that the church had agreed to require social distancing and hygiene measures if allowed to fully open its doors, Kavanaugh asked, “Why can someone safely walk down a grocery store aisle but not a pew?” Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch joined his dissent, while Justice Samuel Alito dissented for unstated reasons.
Congressman Will Hurd (R-TX) was one of many people begging Trumpanzee to reverse his insane decision Friday to severe U.S. ties with the World Health Organization-- one of the scapegoats for his own incompetence and the dysfunction of his regime. Hurd wrote that "leaving the WHO sends the message that the world cannot count on the United States" and that while WHO made mistakes in its response to the coronavirus spread, walking away from the organization will make it much harder to prevent the spread of future disease across the globe. Hurd, who is leaving Congress primarily because he can't stand dealing with Trump any longer: "International coalitions are essential to fighting global challenges; we should be strengthening our alliances, not dismantling them... President Trump's recent decision to terminate America's role in the World Health Organization will have devastating effects on global health, and it will benefit the Chinese Communist Party."

Meanwhile, the European Union also called on the swinish, pig-headed orange monstrosity to reconsider. Yesterday, in a joint statement, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and EU Foreign Minister Josep Borrell made it clear that, once again, the psychotic Trump is on his own:
As the world continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, the main task for everyone is to save lives and contain and mitigate this pandemic. The European Union continues to support the WHO in this regard and has already provided additional funding.

In an EU-led resolution adopted by consensus on 19 May at the World Health Assembly, all WHO Member States agreed to initiate, at the earliest appropriate moment, an impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation to review lessons learnt from the international health response to the coronavirus, notably with the objective of strengthening future global health security preparedness.

Evaluating our global response is necessary as there are lessons to be learnt from this pandemic, its outbreak and response to it. The evaluation of our collective performance at international level is only a necessary process, aiming at strengthening health security.

Global cooperation and solidarity through multilateral efforts are the only effective and viable avenues to win this battle the world is facing. The WHO needs to continue being able to lead the international response to pandemics, current and future. For this, the participation and support of all is required and very much needed. In the face of this global threat, now is the time for enhanced cooperation and common solutions. Actions that weaken international results must be avoided. In this context, we urge the US to reconsider its announced decision.
The Cure by Nancy Ohanian

American public health officials have also reacted with alarm to Pig-Man's horrific decision-- another in a long list of wrong and catastrophic decisions he has made in regard to national security and the health of the American people. Dr. Thomas Frieden, the former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "We helped create the W.H.O. Turning our back on the W.H.O. makes us and the world less safe." That's a Trump specialty-- making us and the world less safe... and he's been doing it for decades, as if Satan had sent him up to do exactly that. CNN reported yesterday that the monster "has spent decades spreading and sowing dangerous misinformation about disease outbreaks-- from falsely suggesting AIDS can be transmitted through kissing to warning Americans not to get vaccinated and falsely suggesting vaccines can cause autism. Long before advising Americans to ingest disinfectant to treat the coronavirus as President, Trump demonstrated a pattern of spreading unsupported medical claims that preyed on the public's fears of getting sick, a CNN KFile review of the President's statements on past epidemics and pandemics found."

On a Howard Stern radio show in 1993 Trump told the audience that "The problem is people that get the [HIV] test, that test positive, they go out on a rampage on purpose. There's anger, there's hatred. I know and what's happening is true. There's anger, there's hatred and it's really dangerous."
In 1993, Trump promoted the widely-debunked claims that AIDS could be spread by kissing and that AIDS patients intentionally spread the virus. As the swine flu pandemic began in 2009, he warned Americans against taking flu vaccines. When the Ebola virus outbreak devastated West Africa in 2014, he disputed guidance by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on how it spreads.

Today as the nation's chief executive overseeing his own public health crisis, Trump continues to comprehensively misinform the public about the coronavirus, offering remarks riddled with false, misleading or scientifically questionable claims.
And malevolent lies. They forgot to mention Trump's trademark.

Labels: , , ,

Midnight Meme Of The Day!


by Noah

Sunday Thoughts from the apocryphal, heretofore undiscovered Book Of Some Other Noah:

And it came to pass, that one day human kind's dark future had arrived. The avian descendants of the dinosaurs assumed their long-planned and long-awaited position at the top on planet Earth.

They played it smartly. They acted with sense. Their patience had won the day as had their wisdom that the flightless and featherless bipeds would one day destroy themselves.

There had been no asteroid this time. There was no need. And no humans were around anymore to deride the avians as bird brained either. The avians laughed last.

The red-hatted had rejoiced and celebrated their deliverance from sanity. They had spat at the warnings. They had embraced the pestilence to spread it as their leader decreed. Humanity was done.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Do You Want To Go Out To Eat Again? I'm Wary


We've been eating well during the pandemic, actually better than we have for the preceding couple of decades. That's because we ate out a lot and even the very best restaurant food is never as healthy as home-cooking. Also because I was a chef for almost 4 years-- and in a vegan/health food restaurant-- when I lived in Amsterdam. No need to hear the whole saga but but, as I've said before, cooking is more or less like riding a bike; you don't forget the techniques and food combinations and after a while you start recalling all the old recipes.

So, virtually nothing but the best oils, best organic produce, best everything... and well-prepared. I enjoy it because I learned cooking in a meditation center and cooking puts me in the zone. And because I'm also cognizant of how healthy homemade food is. I feel healthier than I have in decades! And it helps that Roland loves the food and compliments it everyday. He flipped out over the rhubarb-berry pie I made yesterday... with homemade "ice-cream" (from frozen bananas) on top.

Anyway, that said... we were both talking about how we are eager to get back to Avra, a Greek restaurant in Beverly Hills that is not doing delivery and pick up and the chef-iest restaurant in town-- Auburn in Hollywood, which isn't doing pick up or delivery either. So it interested me to read the report in the Washington Post by Bonnie Berkowitz and Kevin Schaul, As states start to reopen, here's where people are going. Americans are "venturing out with varying degrees of caution."

In and around the nation’s densest cities, people are spending almost as much time at home as they were at the height of the stay-home peak around April 7, according to a Washington Post analysis of data provided by SafeGraph, a company that aggregates cellphone location information.

Elsewhere, particularly in pockets of the Upper Midwest and the South, people are spending less time at home now than they did before the arrival of widespread restrictions (and, for many, before the arrival of spring weather). These also tend to be areas where officials were early to roll back stay-home restrictions.

People in most areas fall somewhere in between the extremes, going out more than they did in early April but not nearly as much as they did before the novel coronavirus emerged.

To determine when people are home, SafeGraph obtains GPS data through regular pings from smartphones that are running one or more apps from an undisclosed list. The company defines “home” as a common location from which a phone pings between 6 p.m. and 7 a.m.

And by detecting pings that come from phones that are within the footprints of buildings, the company can estimate foot traffic in a place of business or worship.

The data is not perfect, but it is a good indicator of where people are going.

At the height of the lockdown, all types of restaurants lost customers as people hunkered down in their homes with stashes of fresh groceries. But fast-food joints took less of a sales hit than full-service restaurants, according to NPD Group, and their visitation appears to be rebounding faster.

In many states, especially in the South and Midwest, traffic at fast-food restaurants is now higher than it was before the restrictions, and the U.S. average has crept close to March 1 levels.

That not the case for full-service, sit-down restaurants.

Customers clearly are warier of sitting in a room with strangers than waiting in drive-through lines. Seventy-eight percent of respondents in a Washington Post/University of Maryland poll published May 5 said they would be uncomfortable eating in a sit-down restaurant.

In addition, so many people are out of work-- more than 40 million unemployment claims were filed in the past 10 weeks-- that fine dining is likely not in the budget for people who previously may have been willing to splurge. Full-service eateries have been hit especially hard because they tend to operate at lower profit margins than fast-food franchises, and most states are restricting their capacity to maintain social distancing.

But sit-down restaurants in states that allowed them to reopen got a Mother’s Day bump, and full-service chains such as Applebee’s and Olive Garden report that they are beginning to make up lost ground, according to NPD’s data.

You may notice that one non-state, the District of Columbia, stands alone on these charts. One reason is that the city has only begun to reopen today. Another is that it is completely urban, unlike the 50 states, which are all a mix of cities and non-cities. If New York City or San Francisco were measured separately, their data probably would look about the same.

In addition to restaurants, other industries are looking up-- and a few are not.

If you’re peering at this story through overgrown bangs, you won’t be surprised customers in many states surged to barber shops and hair salons as soon as they reopened.

Unfortunately, data for hair establishments is uniquely muddied by salons tucked into locations such as private homes, apartment buildings, grocery stores, senior centers and hospitals. Customer cellphone pings in those sites can be impossible to distinguish from people who are in the building for other reasons. But while individual state data can be sketchy, the overall trend is clearly upward, and we removed a few major outliers when possible.

Foot traffic for many of these categories varies quite a bit among states, in part because of staggered dates of reopening.

Bar traffic, for instance, varies wildly, with Montana and Alabama showing large recent spikes. That’s because SafeGraph’s data contains a relatively small sampling of bars, but also because the definition of a bar is somewhat loose. For instance, the spike in Alabama is heavily skewed by one giant beach bar/restaurant/entertainment complex that hosted, among other events, a May 22 high school graduation.

Grocery-store traffic peaked right before widespread shutdowns and then dipped when most Americans were staying home. Since then, it has settled into a traffic pattern that is as busy-- and often busier-- than in early March. (A similar trend is playing out at general merchandise retailers such as Walmart and dollar stores, many of which also sell groceries.)

Supermarkets were always counted as essential businesses, so as the pandemic unfolded, management at many stores scrambled to come up with sanitizing and social distancing measures to try to protect customers and employees, who suddenly became front-line workers.

At least 100 grocery workers nationwide have died of complications from the virus since late March, and at least 5,500 others have tested positive, according to a Post review of data from the nation’s largest grocery workers union, other workers’ rights coalitions and media reports.

Flocks have not flocked back to churches and other religious organizations in most of the country, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are wandering without shepherds.

Pastors, priests, rabbis and other religious leaders have been creative. Many streamed sermons and prayers online during the lockdown, and some are resuming services in person but outdoors, where the coronavirus is thought to be less likely to spread.

Some have even resurrected a quirky remnant of the 1950s and 1960s: drive-in church.

When it comes to gyms and fitness centers, states are clearly split. Many have not allowed them to reopen at all; others, such as Oklahoma and Georgia, allowed them to open weeks ago.

Experts in virus transmission are extremely leery of indoor gyms, where people pant and grunt for extended periods of time close to one another, sometimes in rooms with questionable ventilation and sanitization. A growing number of studies indicate that the coronavirus may be spread through expelled droplets that hang in the air for minutes.

U.S. residents seem less wary of outdoor recreation. Spikes in both Oklahoma, where indoor gyms are open, and Rhode Island, where they are closed, are skewed by visits to a few large, outdoor sports parks with grassy fields and walking trails. Kids’ baseball leagues and tournaments have resumed in some states, including Oklahoma. Some studios have moved classes outside so customers can exercise in fresh air.

Movie theater chains

Even in states that have allowed theaters to reopen, most owners have kept their projectors dark. That includes AMC Theatres, the country’s largest chain.

Hollywood studios have held back new releases that had been planned for spring and early summer, so theaters would have little to screen even if they did open. The first major studio to test the waters is expected to be Warner Bros., which plans to release Christopher Nolan’s new thriller, Tenet, on July 17. The next week, Disney plans to debut its live-action version of Mulan.

A huge majority of respondents in The Post’s early May poll-- 82 percent-- said they opposed the reopening of movie theaters more than any other category of business (with gyms not far behind). Another mid-May survey found that even if the cost was the same, only 13 percent of respondents would prefer to watch a first-run movie in a theater as opposed to their living rooms.

With most indoor theaters closed, however, some of the country’s roughly 300 drive-in theaters are stealing the show. The retro but social-distance-friendly activity is experiencing such a resurgence that at least one indoor theater, in Utah, has temporarily converted its parking lot to a drive-in.

The takeaway? Americans seem to be eager-- or at least willing-- to venture out of their homes a bit more. But when it comes to indoor spaces with groups of strangers, most of us are still staying away.

Labels: , ,