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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 74,624

Journal Archives

'We're going to have a catastrophe': US faces November election fiasco

‘We’re going to have a catastrophe’: US faces November election fiasco
The chaotic scenes in Georgia’s primary this week could be a foretaste as states fail to take urgent action to secure the vote

(Guardian UK) The alarm bells have been going off for months, but the election fiasco in Georgia on Tuesday made it clear: America is ill-prepared to hold a fair presidential vote in November, and is dangerously close to having an election disaster.

The Georgia contest offered the most alarming preview to date of what could happen in November without major overhauls, training and planning. Voters stood in line to vote for upwards for four hours, saying they never received mail-in ballots requested weeks ago. Local officials, forced to consolidate polling locations because of Covid-19, were unable to manage the influx of voters and struggled to operate new voting equipment.

Experts worry that poll worker shortages, long lines and other delays in processing requests for absentee ballots will only get worse in November, when there will be more voters. Since March, voting advocates have been calling on states to prepare for an election like no other, and quickly implement plans that accommodate a surge in voters casting their ballots by mail for the first time as well as robust turnout at the polls.

One estimate places the cost of upgrading vote-by-mail systems across the country at $4bn.

“We’re just going to have a catastrophe in November,” said Michael McDonald, a professor at the University of Florida who studies elections. “We’ve already passed the point of catastrophic failure. It doesn’t get any better if we have two to three times the number of people who are trying to vote in these polling locations.” ............(more)


Houston Weighs Reimposing Lockdown, Sees 'Precipice of Disaster'

(Bloomberg) Houston-area officials are “getting close” to reimposing stay-at-home orders and are prepared to reopen a Covid-19 hospital established but never used at a football stadium as virus cases expand in the fourth-largest U.S. city.

The announcement by Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner on Thursday came a day after the Lone Star state recorded its highest one-day tally of new cases since the pandemic emerged.

The warnings of a worsening outbreak reinforced alarms sounded by national health officials over the risk of a second wave of infections beyond the initial U.S. hot spots led by New York and New Jersey. Texas has been among the states pushing hardest to ease lockdowns imposed during the first wave of a disease that has killed more than 113,000 Americans. ..........(more)


A Word About the Chaos in the Unemployment Data: Week 12 of the U.S. Labor Market Collapse

A Word About the Chaos in the Unemployment Data: Week 12 of the U.S. Labor Market Collapse
by Wolf Richter • Jun 11, 2020 •

No one was prepared for a collapse like this. The data are all over the place. Two government agencies differ by 9 million unemployed. The jobs crisis bottomed in May. But “over 30 million” people remain without work. Making sense of the chaos.
By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.

Even Fed chairman Jerome Powell, in his FOMC-meeting news conference yesterday, expressed his bafflement with the chaos in the unemployment data being reported by two government agencies that differ by give-or-take 9 million unemployed, which is huge:

• The Department of Labor reported this morning that 29.5 million people were receiving state or federal unemployment insurance benefits (not seasonally adjusted).

• The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last Friday in a shock-and-awe data set that only 21 million people were unemployed based on household surveys, though it acknowledged a shock-and-awe systematic error and that without this error, it would have reported 25 million as unemployed.

These are huge differences! I believe the main issue isn’t political meddling but that this collapse of the labor market was so massive and so fast with such huge numbers under such extraordinary circumstances, that the normal procedures for tracking unemployment essentially malfunctioned.


So there are three points I want to conclude with:

This unemployment crisis appears to have bottomed out in May. While many more people are still losing their jobs, and will continue to lose their jobs, others are being rehired, and the net total in terms of numbers of UI beneficiaries is now declining. This is the second week in a row that we have seen this overall decline.

It’s even worse than it looks. The total number of people who have lost their work – employees and gig workers – and who are still out of work must be above the 29.5 million insured unemployed because many people don’t qualify for any benefits. I don’t know where this final number is, but it is likely well above 30 million. ..............(more)


Get Ready for Janus 2.0, Which Could Devastate Labor More Than the First

from In These Times:

Get Ready for Janus 2.0, Which Could Devastate Labor More Than the First

On June 27, 2018, the Supreme Court issued its ruling in Janus v. AFSCME, which radically changed established constitutional interpretation to make it a violation of the First Amendment for public-sector unions to collect fair-share fees. These fees are equivalent to the portion of union dues that are germane to collective bargaining. The plaintiff in the case was Mark Janus, a child support specialist with the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, who objected to paying $23.48 in fair-share fees per pay period to AFSCME, the union that represented him and his coworkers. Backing Janus was a coterie of anti-union groups, headed by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, which has spent decades attacking labor.

Despite this stinging loss before the Supreme Court, many unions had prepared for this possibility, and laid the groundwork to help mitigate the damages. The result was that—at least in the short term—the case that was intended to serve as a major body blow to labor appears to have had a rejuvenating effect.

For many, it seemed like the Janus case was over. Mark Janus, the lead plaintiff, had left his state job and went to work for the anti-union Liberty Justice Center, which helped represent Janus before the Supreme Court and whose entire “Workers’ Rights” platform consists of workers suing unions to recover fair-share fees. Janus was gone, fair-share fees in the public sector were gone, and unions became better at membership engagement such that they didn’t see the “free-rider” tidal wave that many had feared.

Now, Mark Janus is back before the Supreme Court, asking to make their 2018 decision retroactive, and force public sector unions to refund much of the fair-share fees they collected in recent years. If the Court agrees to hear the case and sides with Janus again, it could cost organized labor many millions of dollars. .............(more)


The Chilling Things Delta Said about the Airline Business.......

and this is Delta, the strongest of the Big 3.....

The Chilling Things Delta Said about the Airline Business, the 90% Collapse in Q2 Revenues, and Why Some Demand Destruction May Be “Permanent”
by Wolf Richter • Jun 10, 2020 •

Shares go to heck after the mother of all revenue-warnings, plunge 20% in two days, including 7% after hours. Its disclosure confirms Buffett’s decision to dump his airlines in mid-crash.
By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.

Delta Airlines came out with the mother of all revenue-warnings when it said in an SEC filing this morning that its revenues in the second quarter, ending June 30, would collapse by 90% compared to the second quarter last year.

In addition to the collapse of demand, it has “experienced significant ticket cancellations” (refunds are counted as negative revenues), and it has waved change fees, which used to be a big profit center, and it is giving out “other refunds,” and they all “have negatively affected our revenues and liquidity, and we expect such negative effects to continue.”

And it cannot predict the effects of this unpredictable future, not even the near-term effects. “The longer the pandemic persists, the more material the ultimate effects are likely to be,” Delta said. “It is likely that there will be future negative effects that we cannot presently predict, including near term effects.”

It added a slew of dismal data points and warnings, along with the hoops it has already jumped through and still needs to jump through to stay in business, including billions of dollars in help from the taxpayer. It was a doom-and-gloom report that not even a sworn doom-and-gloomer would have been able to imagine not too long ago. ............(more)


'Fascism' might be too strong. But this doesn't feel like a healthy democracy.

‘Fascism’ might be too strong. But this doesn’t feel like a healthy democracy.
By Jeffrey C. Billman

(Detroit Metro Times) Despite the recent proliferation of memes, the early 20th-century novelist Sinclair Lewis probably never said, "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."

But he would have endorsed the sentiment.

Watching Hitler's rise to power in Europe while the antisemitic Father Charles Coughlin and the swaggering, dictatorial populist Louisiana Senator Huey "The Kingfish" Long ascended in the U.S., Lewis cobbled together a dystopian near-future for his novel It Can't Happen Here, which envisioned a Kingfish-like politician winning the presidency on promises to lift up the Forgotten Men — the white working class — and installing a totalitarian regime wrapped in Americana, including a Gestapo-type force called the Minute Men.


Amid the constant chaos of the Trump administration — the Mueller probe, the Twitter bellicosity, the impeachment and Trump's recriminations — we became inured to these encroachments on the rule of law and numb to statements and deeds that would've generated weeks of outrage in any prior administration but barely register now. (The president has been relentlessly pushing a baseless conspiracy theory that a media critic is a murderer, and it's little more than background noise.)

Throughout history, the political scientists Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt have written, authoritarians try to do three things: capture the referees, sideline key players, and change the rules. Trump has done all three: He's tried to capture the referees by purging his administration of the disloyal, most recently inspectors general who conducted investigations he didn't like. He's sought to sideline key players by intimidating the media, including by bullying the Post Office to charge Amazon more because he has a grudge against the Jeff Bezos-owned Washington Post. And he's tried to change the rules by claiming that efforts to expand voter access are rigged against him and having Attorney General William Barr game the justice system for his allies. ................(more)


He won the presidency with open appeals to white nationalism. Perhaps this time it'll take him out.

(Raw Story) On CNN Wednesday, New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman said it was unlikely President Donald Trump would move forward with his planned speech on racial unity, reportedly being written by White House adviser Stephen Miller, in the wake of criticism over his rhetoric around George Floyd’s death and his refusal to rename military bases named for Confederate officers.

“These are all self-inflicted wounds. These are all errors of his own making,” said Haberman. “Whether they end up mattering in the fall, we don’t know. But you look at the current polling across the board, it is hurting him right now.”

“There seems to be some debate over at the White House, Maggie, over whether the president will in fact address this moment with the speech on race and unity,” said anchor Wolf Blitzer. “What are you hearing about his advisers? What are they recommending? They can recommend anything they want, but in the end the president has to make the final decision.” ........(more)


#LadyGraham went viral -- and not just because of Lindsey Graham's politics

from the Washington Post:

#LadyGraham went viral — and not just because of Lindsey Graham’s politics
The long history behind sexual rumors about political bachelors.

By Thomas Balcerski
Thomas Balcerski teaches history at Eastern Connecticut State University and is author of “Bosom Friends: The Intimate World of James Buchanan and William Rufus King.”

June 10, 2020 at 6:00 a.m. EDT

Last week, the hashtag #LadyGraham exploded on social media in response to allegations made on Twitter by gay adult-film star Sean Harding against Sen. Lindsey O. Graham of South Carolina (the hashtag, along with the abbreviated form “Lady G,” purportedly refers to Graham’s nickname among male sex workers). What followed has been a mixed bag of political commentary, wanton speculation and downright trolling.

While the #LadyGraham hashtag is a reflection of the coarseness of our politics and fury toward Graham for his embrace of President Trump and his policies, rumors about politicians’ sex lives are nothing new in American history.

From George Washington to Trump, illicit sexual liaisons have spanned more than two centuries of American politics. Of the 44 men elected president, the historian Robert P. Watson has estimated, seven engaged in sexual affairs during their time in office, while many more were mired in scandal before their election. Though the nature of these affairs differ, they share one factor in common: Gossip has swirled about them.


Today, as long ago, lifelong bachelorhood continues to be a liability for politicians like Graham regardless of party. Even as the institution of marriage evolves, suspicions about bachelorhood largely have not. Behind the gossip about Graham and others lay the remnants of a stubbornly pernicious idea: the presumption of heterosexuality for those in positions of power. When combined with the tradition of sexual gossip embedded in American political culture, the sex lives of elected officials, and especially the unmarried, will continue to be grist for the rumor mill. ...........(more)


'Are you immune?' The new class system that could shape the Covid-19 world

‘Are you immune?’ The new class system that could shape the Covid-19 world
Experts suspect – but there is no proof – that antibodies will confer immunity. The implications could be wide-ranging

(Guardian UK) Scrolling through Airbnbs in Brooklyn, one listing stands out. “IMMUNE HOST,” claims the heading in caps. Among photos of rooftop sunsets and interiors, lies something else unexpected – a picture of a positive antibody test.

Host Martin Eaton says he got tested a few weeks after getting sick with what he suspected was Covid-19 in March. When the results came back positive, he decided to include it in his profile to attract reservations.

“If I was having to travel to New York I’d prefer staying with somebody who had the antibodies versus somebody who didn’t,” says the 48-year-old writer. So far, he adds, “it’s proved pretty successful”.

In the absence of a vaccine, immunity is emerging as a potential key to resuming normal life after the pandemic – leading some to believe that testing positive may not be such a bad thing. Providing they survive, they will at least - they hope - be immune. But as states and countries slowly reopen businesses to the public, how important will it be? ...........(more)


San Francisco: Central Subway projected to open for service by end of 2021

SFMTA says Central Subway projected to open for service by end of 2021
Once operational, the Central Subway will provide key connections to some of the city’s most densely populated and growing areas.

San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA)

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) has continued work on the Central Subway Project throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, with workers from the contractor and project staff taking precautions and following best practices for physical distancing.

SFMTA says important progress was made over the past few months, but there were also challenges resulting in revisions to target dates for the completion of construction. Heavy construction on stations was scheduled to finish this summer, but now will continue into the fall and finish by the end of the year. The date for revenue service when SFMTA can welcome its first customers is now the end of 2021, which is slightly later than the summer timeframe given last year.

Although construction will continue a little longer into the year than expected, most of the impactful work is complete. All but one street or sidewalk adjacent to worksite is now open. The remaining closed block of Washington Street in Chinatown will reopen once construction is complete later this year as it is a key access point for materials.

Lastly, SFMTA completed an important milestone: finishing an emergency exit for the Chinatown Rose Pak Station on Stockton near Jackson Street. This new exit was a massive endeavor that began in 2015 by excavating down more than 95 feet. Once the soil was removed, the equivalent of a nine-story building was constructed underground -- surrounded by reinforced concrete, waterproofed and then capped with a pneumatic roof hatch. .....(more)


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