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marmar's Journal
marmar's Journal
April 15, 2020

Governors have confined 45 to the kids' table

Whitmer's office in talks with Midwest governors on plans to reopen economy

(Detroit News) Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's office is in talks with governors in the Great Lakes region to form a coalition about reopening the economy in Midwest states.

Whitmer's office confirmed those talks were taking place but had no other details to add.

It's a topic that's come up in discussions among the legislative quadrant leaders and the governor, Michigan Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich said in a telephone town hall Tuesday. ..........(more)


April 15, 2020

Trump denies saying another thing he said and makes more false claims at coronavirus briefing

(CNN)Another coronavirus briefing. Another series of false claims.

Speaking Tuesday in the Rose Garden of the White House, President Donald Trump denied making a comment he did make. He criticized the World Health Organization for the same thing he has done before. He wrongly suggested he was the only national leader to impose travel restrictions on China. He claimed he was "authorizing" governors to lift coronavirus restrictions even though this power always belonged to governors. He falsely claimed, again, that "nobody ever thought" there would be a crisis like this. And he repeated some of his favorite false claims about his tariffs on China. ......(more)


April 15, 2020

Our Pandemic Summer

from the Atlantic:

Our Pandemic Summer
The fight against the coronavirus won’t be over when the U.S. reopens. Here’s how the nation must prepare itself.

What a difference a few months can make.

In January, the United States watched as the new coronavirus blazed through China and reached American shores. In February, hindered by an unexpected failure to roll out diagnostic tests and an administration that had denuded itself of scientific expertise, the nation sat largely idle while the pandemic spread within its borders. In March, as the virus launched several simultaneous assaults on a perilously stretched-thin health-care system, America finally sputtered into action, frantically closing offices, schools, and public spaces in a bid to cut off chains of transmission. Now, in April, as viral fevers surge through American hospitals and cabin fever grows in American homes, the U.S. has cemented itself as the new center of the pandemic—the country that should have been more prepared than any other, but that now has the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the world.

What will May bring? Or June? What happens as this seemingly interminable spring rolls into a precarious summer? When will things go back to normal?

The options are limited. Early inaction left the U.S. with too many new cases, and just one recourse: Press a societal pause button to buy enough time for beleaguered hospitals to steel themselves for a sharp influx in patients. This physical-distancing strategy is working, but at such an economic cost that it can’t be sustained indefinitely. When restrictions relax, as they are set to do on April 30, the coronavirus will likely surge back, as it is now doing in Singapore, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and other Asian states that had briefly restrained it.

As I wrote last month, the only viable endgame is to play whack-a-mole with the coronavirus, suppressing it until a vaccine can be produced. With luck, that will take 18 to 24 months. During that time, new outbreaks will probably arise. Much about that period is unclear, but the dozens of experts whom I have interviewed agree that life as most people knew it cannot fully return. “I think people haven’t understood that this isn’t about the next couple of weeks,” said Michael Osterholm, an infectious-disease epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota. “This is about the next two years.” ...........(more)


April 11, 2020

Prepare for the Ultimate Gaslighting*

Prepare for the Ultimate Gaslighting*
You are not crazy, my friends

Julio Vincent Gambuto
Apr 10 · 9 min read

*Gaslighting, if you don’t know the word, is defined as manipulation into doubting your own sanity; as in, Carl made Mary think she was crazy, even though she clearly caught him cheating. He gaslit her.

Pretty soon, as the country begins to figure out how we “open back up” and move forward, very powerful forces will try to convince us all to get back to normal. (That never happened. What are you talking about?) Billions of dollars will be spent in advertising, messaging, and television and media content to make you feel comfortable again. It will come in the traditional forms — a billboard here, a hundred commercials there — and in new-media forms; a 2020–2021 generation of memes to remind you that what you want again is normalcy. In truth, you want the feeling of normalcy, and we all want it. We want desperately to feel good again, to get back to the routines of life, to not lie in bed at night wondering how we’re going to afford our rent and bills, to not wake to an endless scroll of human tragedy on our phones, to have a cup of perfectly brewed coffee, and simply leave the house for work. The need for comfort will be real, and it will be strong. And every brand in America will come to your rescue, dear consumer, to help take away that darkness and get life back to the way it was before the crisis. I urge you to be well aware of what is coming.

For the last hundred years, the multibillion-dollar advertising business has operated based on this cardinal principle: Find the consumer’s problem and fix it with your product. When the problem is practical and tactical, the solution is “as seen on TV” and available at Home Depot. Command strips will save me from having to repaint. So will Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser. Elfa shelving will get rid of the mess in my closet. The Ring doorbell will let me see who’s on the porch if I can’t take my eyes off Netflix. But when the problem is emotional, the fix becomes a new staple in your life, and you become a lifelong loyalist. Coca-Cola makes you: happy. A Mercedes makes you: successful. Taking your kids to Disneyland makes you: proud. Smart marketers know how to highlight what brands can do for you to make your life easier. But brilliant marketers know how to rewire your heart. And, make no mistake, the heart is what has been most traumatized this last month. We are, as a society, now vulnerable in a whole new way.

What the trauma has shown us, though, cannot be unseen. A carless Los Angeles has clear blue skies as pollution has simply stopped. In a quiet New York, you can hear the birds chirp in the middle of Madison Avenue. Coyotes have been spotted on the Golden Gate Bridge. These are the postcard images of what the world might be like if we could find a way to have a less deadly daily effect on the planet. What’s not fit for a postcard are the other scenes we have witnessed: a health care system that cannot provide basic protective equipment for its frontline; small businesses — and very large ones — that do not have enough cash to pay their rent or workers, sending over 16 million people to seek unemployment benefits; a government that has so severely damaged the credibility of our media that 300 million people don’t know who to listen to for basic facts that can save their lives.

The cat is out of the bag. We, as a nation, have deeply disturbing problems. You’re right. That’s not news. They are problems we ignore every day, not because we’re terrible people or because we don’t care about fixing them, but because we don’t have time. Sorry, we have other shit to do. The plain truth is that no matter our ethnicity, religion, gender, political party (the list goes on), nor even our socioeconomic status, as Americans we share this: We are busy. We’re out and about hustling to make our own lives work. We have goals to meet and meetings to attend and mortgages to pay — all while the phone is ringing and the laptop is pinging. And when we get home, Crate and Barrel and 3M and Andy Cohen make us feel just good enough to get up the next day and do it all over again. It is very easy to close your eyes to a problem when you barely have enough time to close them to sleep. The greatest misconception among us, which causes deep and painful social and political tension every day in this country, is that we somehow don’t care about each other. White people don’t care about the problems of black America. Men don’t care about women’s rights. Cops don’t care about the communities they serve. Humans don’t care about the environment. These couldn’t be further from the truth. We do care. We just don’t have the time to do anything about it. Maybe that’s just me. But maybe it’s you, too. .....................(more)


April 11, 2020

Donald Trump has tested positive -- for the bulls**t virus

(Salon) APRIL 11, 2020 12:00PM (UTC)
There was a brief moment, back in the late '70s and early '80s, when I was on fire in New York City. I had a novel on the New York Times bestseller list. I had a new wife, and we had been dubbed a "literary power couple" in the tabloids. I had a movie deal in Hollywood, and Gore Vidal had been signed to adapt my novel for the big screen. I was invited to Upper East Side dinner parties, at one of which I found myself seated next to Henry Kissinger and across the table from Norman Mailer. But I knew I had really reached the top when my phone rang one morning, and the famous New York Post gossip columnist Steve Dunleavy was on the line, asking if it would be all right to publish on Page Six in the next day's newspaper that Donald Trump's latest starlet girlfriend had been my date the night before at Elizabeth Taylor's birthday party at Studio 54.

See all the star power in that sentence? And most of it was true! I had been at Elizabeth Taylor's birthday party at Studio 54, the night when she rode into the place on a white stallion with the famous Studio image of the man in the moon sniffing from a teaspoon of cocaine behind her. But I hadn't been with Trump's new girlfriend, although I had spotted him at the party, standing in a gaggle that included the infamous red-baiting lawyer Roy Cohn and the designer Halston. It seemed that Trump's then wife, Ivana, had learned he had been at the party with the starlet, and Trump had called Dunleavy with a favor to ask. Could he print a rumor that the girlfriend was with someone else, to get Ivana off his back? Dunleavy had seen me at the party, and for some reason selected me as the beard for Trump's girlfriend.


Trump was everywhere in those days in New York. You couldn't avoid him if you dug a cave under one of those gigantic rocks in Central Park and buried yourself. Somehow you knew he would find you there in your underground hiding place, dig you up and force you to get back out there on the sidewalks and walk past another mirrored masterpiece with his name emblazoned in gigantic ugly letters. TRUMP. You couldn't avoid him. He was like … what was he anyway? Oh, I've got it! He was like a plague! And New York City had caught it!

It's kind of funny looking back at those days in New York, when he was so ubiquitous that even my phone rang with cheapo-Aussie gossip-mongers asking favors for Trump. Except it wasn't funny when you think of the fact, and it is a fact, that those were the days when Trump honed his entire shtick, the same shtick he went on to ride all the way into the White House. ......(more)


April 8, 2020

Americans struggle to delay mortgage payments as lenders 'can't handle' 1,896% spike amid coronaviru

(Yahoo Money) While loan servicers can allow homeowners and landlords with mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to delay payments for up to a year due to the coronavirus, they haven’t been able to keep up with the demand from borrowers.

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported Tuesday morning that mortgage forbearance requests had increased by 1,896% between March 16 and March 30. This is an uptick from the week before when forbearance requests jumped by 1,270%.

Hold times for calls jumped to 17.5 minutes from under 2 minutes just three weeks ago, while the percentage of callers who hung up hit 25% from 5%, according to the MBA. ......(more)


April 8, 2020

Coronavirus, anxiety, and the profound failure of rugged individualism

From Vox:

Coronavirus, anxiety, and the profound failure of rugged individualism
The coronavirus is making us all more anxious and depressed. Here’s what we can do about it.

By Roge Karma on March 28, 2020 9:30 am

I never had serious problems with my mental health before the coronavirus hit. But over the past few weeks, I’ve found myself struggling: the constant sinking feeling in my stomach, difficulty falling asleep at night, crippling mental and physical fatigue out of nowhere. I had heard all of these symptoms described to me by depressed and anxious friends before, but this is the first time in my life I’ve truly felt them for extended periods of time. And I’m not the only one. Usage of mental health apps and chatbots has gone up in recent weeks, as have mental health-related social media posts — and dozens of friends and colleagues have relayed similar experiences.

Through it all, the book that’s been at the front of my mind is Lost Connections: Why You’re Depressed and How to Find Hope (audiobook) by Johann Hari. Drawing on interviews with dozens of neuroscientists, biologists, and social scientists, the book advances an argument that is both radical and obvious: Depression and anxiety are more than just chemical imbalances in the brain; they are also products of our distinct social environments — social environments that have left our core psychological needs unmet.

Over the last few weeks, there have been — and will continue to be — some fundamental shifts in the social landscape within which we live our lives. Unemployment applications have reached record highs. Small businesses are shuttering by the day. Entire cities are being told to “shelter in place.” Social distancing has become the new normal. And there’s no telling when any of it will end. ........(more)


April 6, 2020

Stock market is headed for choppy waters amid worries that a return to normal will elude the U.S. ec

(Market Watch) In some corners of Wall Street, investors are casting doubt on the notion that the economy will switch back to high gear after the coronavirus pandemic passes.

The worry is that the battle with COVID-19 could leave a more cautious consumer even after the pandemic is brought under control. If changes in human behavior stemming from efforts to contain the disease persist, it could portend a more gradual economic recovery and a more bumpy road for stock-markets this year.

“It’s too soon to tell, but I think it’s going to be a slow grind higher for markets. I’m trying not to stay fixated on the economic path, all I can say with confidence is markets will be very volatile in the short term,” said Anwiti Bahuguna, head of multiasset strategy at Columbia Threadneedle, in an interview. .......(more)


April 5, 2020

This hard truth about the mortgage markets isn't being told

(Market Watch) Everyone wants to know what impact the coronavirus and the government response to it will have on housing markets. While it is too early to hazard a guess, some things are becoming increasingly clear.

Already, it looks as if the U.S. is moving towards a temporary moratorium on mortgage payments. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac unveiled an emergency program which provides a two-month deferral of mortgage payments for any homeowner who claims to be facing a hardship because of the virus. The payments will be tacked on at the end of the mortgage term.


It is not much of a stretch to say that this virus has changed everything. Many of you may sense that the virus has undermined what you thought was still a fairly strong housing market around the country.

In truth, the so-called housing recovery since 2010 has been little more than a carefully constructed illusion. The belief in a strong housing recovery was carefully devised using a strategy of misleading information, withheld data and false impressions. .......(more)


April 3, 2020

RESTAURANT APOCALYPSE: More than 110,000 restaurants expect to close up forever in the coming weeks,

(Business Insider) The fate of the restaurant industry is uncertain as the coronavirus outbreak keeps customers home and forces the closure of thousands of locations.

The impact has already been devastating across the industry.

11% of the more than 4,000 restaurant owners and operators surveyed by the National Restaurant Association (NRA) last week said that they anticipate they will permanently close within the next 30 days. 3% said that they had already permanently closed their doors.

If these figures are applied to the more than one million restaurants that the NRA estimates exist across America, that would mean 30,000 restaurants are already gone. Roughly 110,000 more are expected to go the same way within the month, based on these calculations. ........(more)


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