Monday, May 11, 2020

Some Political Leaders Are Taking The Pandemic Seriously And Some Are Definitely NOT


Albania was one of the most overtly corrupt cesspools of a country I have ever visited. And I've been to every corrupt cesspool on earth. There is no reason, or almost no reason, to believe their pandemic numbers. They report 868 confirmed cases and 31 COVID-19 deaths. They report that there are just 302 cases per million people. That's one of the mildest pandemics in Europe. Albania has about 2.9 million people, similar to Lithuania and Armenia. Lithuania is reporting 1,479 confirmed cases and 50 deaths (543 cases per million) and Armenia is reporting 3,313 confirmed cases, 45 deaths (1,118 cases per million).

Albanians seemed to me like unruly people with minimal respect for social mores and laws. So maybe the numbers are bullshit. Or... maybe the strong punishment for violating social distancing is working. Reuters reported that Albania amended its penal code... to punish anyone breaking coronavirus quarantine and self-isolation rules and infecting others with up to eight years in jail as it slowly prepares to restart sections of its economy. Critics of the tougher measure said fines were proving effective but Prime Minister Edi Rama defended the new penalty as necessary for successfully relaxing the lockdown. Rama said the government believed about 2,800 people would have died if lockdown rules had not been imposed... Police have fined more than 7,000 people and suspended 1,800 driving licenses. According to the new law, anyone infected with the coronavirus who broke self-isolation or quarantine rules and infected others, wilfully or not, would face from two to eight years in jail if his or her action caused grave harm, including death.
“These measures are being taken because we are going to relax (lockdown rules). We are winning the battle on the health front. And we shall win it on the economy front,” Rama said.

In asking parliamentarians to vote for the tougher law, Rama described quarantine rule-breakers as similar to carrying a bomb, in this case the new coronavirus.

“A bomb does nothing else but kill people,” Rama said.

Poorer than most in Europe, Albania enforced a tough isolation soon after its first case was detected on March 9 in a man coming from Italy, one of the worst-hit countries, because it feared its spread might overwhelm its weak health system.

Since Monday, Albania has enforced a weekday lockdown from 5:30 p.m. until 5 a.m. the next day and allows one person per family to shop for 90 minutes. Some industries keep working.
Until recently, Singapore had kept its rates of infection very low and looked like it had vanquished the pandemic. People in Singapore who do not observe physical distancing rules can be fined up to $6,985 or jailed up to six months, or face both penalties.

For the most part, California had also been having a relatively easy pandemic-- 67,986 confirmed cases, 2,719 deaths and 1,721 cases per million, number that have been steadily creeping up as more and more people have started ignoring the social distancing rules. Yolo County in northern California has only 173 confirmed cases and 20 deaths. Although endorsement has been very lax, on paper "egregious violators face arrest or citation, which carries a punishment of up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine between $50 and $1,000. No one has gone to jail and how many people care about a $50 fine?
“We’re receiving more complaints about people using playground equipment, tennis courts, basketball courts, and not adequately spacing when riding or walking on greenbelts,” creating potential coronavirus breeding grounds, Police Chief Darren Pytel said.

In some cases, people have ripped down yellow caution tape in order to use the blocked-off facilities, while more middle- and high-school aged kids are grouping up in parks.

Between emails and calls to dispatchers, the complaints have numbered a dozen or more per day, with some demanding stronger enforcement action for the rule breakers, Pytel said.

This week’s springlike weather was the likely culprit, and “we know that it will be much more difficult to stay inside,” Pytel said. But with COVID-19 still causing deaths in Yolo County and beyond, “we are asking people to dig deep now, and hopefully we can turn this around much sooner.”

...“Although we have seen substantial compliance with the orders, law enforcement has seen an increase in the number of complaints regarding large gatherings and businesses failing to follow the rules established by the Public Health Officer,” said the Davis police message, blasted out on social media late Friday afternoon.

Complaints also have come in regarding nonessential businesses still trying to operate, with a local massage parlor and a private school that attempted to work with students on campus among the most recent examples, Pytel said.

Pytel said his agency also is seeing an increase in house-party reports, some gatherings having as many as 40 people in relatively close quarters. Even if the festivities are outside, “people are too close, and that’s how this spreads.”

So far, Davis police haven’t had to arrest or cite anyone for flouting the county order, though “we’ve come close a couple of times” at party scenes, Pytel said. Instead, officers issued noise-violation tickets, which carry a $280 fine.
A local paper in Upstate New York reported that Steuben County officials announced enhanced enforcement of social distancing practices prescribed by New York State on PAUSE, under the authority of Public Health Law Section 12-B. First violations will receive a warning, but any further willful violations are an unclassified misdemeanor. Penalties include up to 1 year in jail, a $2,000 fine, or both. There is no exemption in the law for religious gatherings. Most people obey the rules and some flout them. District Attorney Baker: "Our goals here are simple-- to enforce the law and most importantly to keep people safe. My hope is that through written warnings we can educate, eliminate ignorance, and help people keep themselves safe-- and should they refuse, with this law, we have the tools to deal with those who have the arrogance to willfully put others at risk."

Last month Business Insider reported that "Canada has so far avoided the United States' coronavirus fate, and is taking drastic measures to ensure it stays that way. The country... announced that all travelers entering the country would be required to quarantine themselves for 14 days, even if they aren't showing symptoms of COVID-19... The rules are punishable by a fine of up to $750,000 or a month in jail, and the government will be conducting spot checks to ensure compliance."

Yesterday Boris Johnson announced an increase in fines to £3,200 (almost $4,000) for "lockdown flouters. Fines would gradually increase each time someone was caught. Police would issue penalties of £100, £200, £400, £800, £1600 and then finally £3,200 for the sixth offence... People could also be sent to jail if they did not pay."

This isn't the direction much of the U.S. is taking. Osceola County in central Florida has ended the whole idea of serious enforcement. No more fines for people refusing to wear masks, even though masks are still mandatory. Texas politicians, of course, persist in making everything worse-- which helps explain why the caseload has been rising.
Several prominent Texas conservatives on Wednesday rallied to the defense of Shelley Luther, the Dallas salon owner who was fined and sentenced to seven days in jail for intentionally violating an order to shutter her business during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Gov. Greg Abbott, who’s reopening hair salons on Friday after deeming them nonessential for weeks, said Shelley’s sentence was “excessive,” adding that “jailing Texans for non-compliance with executive orders should always be the last available option.”

“Compliance with executive orders during this pandemic is important to ensure public safety,” said Abbott, a Republican who issued one of the orders defied by Luther. "However, surely there are less restrictive means to achieving that goal than jailing a Texas mother.”

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, also a Republican, called Luther’s sentence “outrageous” and demanded that she be released from jail, while Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, another Republican, offered to pay Luther’s $7,000 fine or even serve out Luther’s sentence under house arrest.

Those views were echoed by the likes of U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, a Republican, U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Houston, and U.S. Rep. Chip Roy, R-Austin, along with a group of conservative activists who on Wednesday gathered in Dallas to protest Luther’s punishment.

That feedback appeared to do little to deter state District Judge Eric Moyé, the Democrat who sentenced Luther.

He released a letter late Wednesday to Paxton from him and 11 other state district judges serving in Dallas County, accusing the attorney general of “most inappropriate and equally unwelcome” conduct for urging Luther’s release.

“It is contrary to the concept of an independent Judiciary and offends the tradition of separation of powers for any member of the Executive Branch of Texas government to interject itself into the proceedings of the judicial branch,” the judges wrote.

They continued: “For the sake of ALL of the citizens of Texas, please let the Judicial process play out without any further interference."

...Moyé said he would consider levying only a fine if Luther apologized and promised to not reopen her salon until she was permitted to do so. But she declined that offer, explaining that it was a matter of survival to keep open the business.

“Feeding my kids is not selfish,” she said at her hearing, which was broadcast on YouTube. “If you think the law is more important than kids getting fed, then please go ahead with your decision, but I am not going to shut the salon.”

Moyé told Luther he didn’t doubt her sincerity but said the “rule of law cannot and does not operate when individuals take it upon themselves to decide” what they can and cannot do.

Her case had already prompted outrage in some conservative quarters, particularly those pushing for Texas to reopen more quickly. That criticism intensified after she was taken into custody.

“We shouldn’t be coming down with a seven-day jail, no bail sentence for her wanting to keep her hair salon open because she’s wanting to take care of her family,” Roy said Wednesday in a live-streamed interview with the Texas Tribune.

He has been among the most vocal critics, calling Luther’s punishment “terrible” and “straight up wrong."

“This is so insane," Roy wrote on Twitter, encouraging Luther to tell Moyé to “pound sand” and sharing a link to a GoFundMe account that has already raised more than $325,000 by Wednesday afternoon for the salon owner. “I have no words for what is happening to my state and nation.”

Roy, a former federal prosecutor, acknowledged in his interview with The Tribune that Luther has been violating orders issued by Abbott and Jenkins. He added that he has a “strong concern about the rule of law.”

But the first-term congressman defended the owner of Salon à la Mode by saying “she is acting civilly disobedient in the face of the something she thinks is wrong.”

Asked later on Wednesday by the Dallas Morning News what kind of punishment should be issued to those who violate such an edict in order to deter others from also ignoring them, Roy asked, “What’s the appropriate punishment for speeding 68 in a 65 in the middle of nowhere?”

“Good judges and local leaders find ways to not escalate situations when common sense should prevail,” he said in an emailed statement. “7 days in jail with no bail is clearly out of line. She should be allowed to work.”

Cruz offered a similar sentiment.

“7 days in jail for cutting hair??” he wrote on Twitter. “This is NUTS. And government officials don’t get to order citizens to apologize to them for daring to earn a living.”

So did Crenshaw, a freshman Republican in Congress.

“These punishments are NOT just,” he wrote on Twitter. “They are not reasonable. Small-minded “leaders” across the country have become drunk with power. This must end.”

Paxton on Wednesday wrote to Moyé to urge him to reconsider the sentence and to release Luther. He called the decision " outrageous," “out of touch,” a “shameful abuse of judicial discretion” and a “political stunt.”

Patrick, meanwhile, said Moyé “overreached."

“We want people to follow executive orders, but she said, ‘hey, I am going to feed my kids’ and we understand that,” he said, adding that if Moyé “wants to substitute me for her, and sentence me to 7 days of house arrest, so she can go back to work, that’s fine.”

Conservative activists rallied on Wednesday in downtown Dallas in Luther’s defense. Among them was Michael Quinn Sullivan, the CEO of Empower Texans, a group that’s criticized Abbott and others for restrictions they’ve put into place.

Even Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate, on Wednesday visited Salon à la Mode to offer support for Luther.

Goal ThermometerMike Siegel, the progressive taking on Trump ass-kisser Michael McCaul in the gerrymandered congressional district that snakes from north Austin into the suburbs west of Houston, told me this morning that "This is how Jim Crow works in modern-day Texas. These folks can’t be bothered to get an innocent Black man like Rodney Reed off Death Row, but they will make a big show about how their people can operate with impunity." Julie Oliver, like Mike, is a progressive Democrat running in a gerrymandered district that starts in Austin and wiggles through red counties, but up towards Ft. Worth. This morning she noted that "Texas put a Black woman in prison for 5 years when she accidentally voted while on parole, so I don't think these guys are upset about 'prosecutorial discretion.' We should recognize this for what it is-- a political opportunity for career politicians to distract from their failure to adequately prepare for and respond to a pandemic that has killed 80,000 of our fellow Americans and that has crippled our economy." Time to get serious about driving these Republican crackpots out of office? That's what the thermometer on the right is all about. Please click on it and contribute to Mike and Julie what you can.

Cases in Texas are steadily climbing-- 1,248 more conformed cases on Sunday and 1,376 cases per million. My guess is that that will double before the election.

Labels: , , , , ,


At 4:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I begin to question whether the Republicans are out to kill off as many of the working class as possible before the Democrats regain sanity and remember who constituted their power base.

Not that I'm holding my breath that those losers ever will remember, for they are too far gone to recover.

At 5:49 AM, Blogger sink dish washing said...

یخچال دیپوینت

ست شیرالات شودر

تلویزیون الیویا

فر آلتون

At 2:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The democraps have known who their base is. It's the money. They sold themselves in the early '80s and have only increased their fidelity since then.


Post a Comment

<< Home