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Daily Archives: April 9th, 2020


Another deflection of Blame by the administration, if implemented could cause more health issues for us all .MA

Kristen Welker and Carol E. Lee and Abigail Williams and Andrea Mitchell

NBC News•April 9, 2020

WASHINGTON — The White House’s Office of Management and Budget is working on a possible plan to cut U.S. aid to the World Health Organization, administration officials said Wednesday, as President Donald Trump tries to deflect blame for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Administration officials said they also plan to look into the timeline of the WHO’s reaction to the coronavirus after it first appeared in China, as well as “links” to China.

“What the WHO knew and how it reacted to that knowledge is relevant to the U.S. government’s response to the crisis,” a senior administration official said.

Trump’s focus on the WHO comes as he continues to face questions about his early statements playing down the virus and how unprepared his administration has been. The president’s embrace of a broadside against the WHO echoes similar criticism from hosts on Fox News Channel, including Tucker Carlson, and some Republican lawmakers.

Trump said Tuesday that he was putting U.S. aid to the WHO “on hold.”

“We’re going to put a very powerful hold on it,” he said, although he said later that his administration would review it.

He also accused the WHO of being “China-centric” and slow to sound alarms about the coronavirus.

“They could have called it months earlier,” the president said.

The director of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, responded Wednesday by essentially accusing Trump of politicizing the virus.

“The focus of all political parties should be to save their people. Please don’t politicize this virus,” Ghebreyesus said. “If you don’t want many more body bags, then you refrain from politicizing it.”

But the president doesn’t appear poised to back down.

On Wednesday, he said again that the WHO “got it wrong.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who appeared alongside Trump at the daily coronavirus briefing at the White House, said the administration was reevaluating its funding for the WHO, but he said it isn’t the time for a change of leadership at the organization as it fights a pandemic, as some Republicans have advocated.

Asked about the notion that a period of global pandemic isn’t the most opportune time to cut funding, a second senior administration official shot back: “Now is not the time to be misleading the world about how China covered up the pandemic.”

Dr. Amesh Adalja of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security said the U.S. should be supporting the WHO.

“This is our premier public health agency in the world, and it is important that it be supported,” Adalja said Wednesday on MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports.”

Emmanuel Macron also offered his support to the world health body, a French presidency official told Reuters.

In a call with its director, the French president “reaffirmed his trust, his support for the institution and refuses to see it locked into a war between China and the USA,” the official said.

The U.S. is the largest funder of the WHO, contributing $14.7 million for the international group’s coronavirus fund. But Trump recently proposed cutting the U.S. contribution. So the president’s attacks in some ways advance two of his goals: They could cut back on international aid and minimize blame for his administration’s handling of the pandemic.

“There is a lot in the WHO that does not jibe with the president’s agenda,” a senior administration official said.

Cutting U.S. financial support for the WHO would also remove a key talking point for American diplomats promoting the image of U.S. leadership during the pandemic.

China, working to rehabilitate its image as the country of origin of the coronavirus, has tried to usurp the title of global humanitarian savior by providing medical equipment, protective gear and even medical professionals to several countries in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. The U.S., still in the middle of its own fight against the outbreak, is keeping all critical medical supplies at home until demand is met, and it is instead pointing to its financial assistance.

“We’ve long maintained an unsurpassed commitment to global health and humanitarian assistance,” Pompeo told reporters at the end of last month. “The United States remains by far the largest contributor to the World Health Organization, as we’ve been since 1948. Our contribution exceeded $400 million last year, 10 times that of China.”

Still, earlier this year — just as the extent of the coronavirus outbreak was starting to be understood — the Trump administration proposed a budget that would slash funding to the WHO by more than half what it had been the previous year.

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Another round of stimulus will be needed to restore consumer spending

Bloomberg News
 

The global economy is in the grips of an economic crisis of unknown depth and duration. The coronavirus has laid bare the unintended consequences of globalization — the vulnerability of just-in-time global supply chains lacking suitable redundancies and the pauperacy of conventional monetary and fiscal policies.

As COVID-19 extended the New Year holiday for Chinese manufacturing and the virus spread to the industrialized north of Italy, production was selectively disrupted by shortages of components made by only one supplier or in one region.

As the virus spread to America and businesses dialed down or shut altogether, investors panicked and stocks slid into bear-market territory, because they could not gauge the arch of the pandemic, how effectively the president, governors and leaders elsewhere could address it, and how long the economy would operate at reduced speed.

Federal Reserve interest-rate cuts could do nothing to ensure imports from China and other places resumed or halt the spread of COVID-19 in America.

With many restaurants, schools, factories and retailers closed and heathy folks working from home and not traveling, what began as a supply-side crisis — a shortage of parts and components from China, Italy and other sources — morphed into a Keynesian recession — consumers are not spending. Not necessarily because they don’t want to spend but often because they can’t.

While some businesses are experiencing surges — medical supply manufacturers and Walmart WMT, -0.12% from panic buying for household supplies — many more are laying off workers.

Unite Here represents 300,000 employees in hospitality, restaurants, airports and other industries. It estimates 80% to 90% of those will be laid off. State unemployment offices have seen overwhelming surges in new claims.

Businesses facing declining sales and losses became desperate to fortify cash balances and ran down lines of credit. They sold Treasuries and other securities usually held for liquidity. That cratered stocks SPX, +3.40%, bond TMUBMUSD10Y, 0.757% and commodity markets CL00, 5.26% — and pressured lending limits of banks and threatened money-market funds, which also provide short-term credit to businesses.

The Fed and Treasury moved quickly to shore up banks and money-market funds, and support markets for state and municipal bonds and consumer credit. And the Fed rolled out new tools to create facilities that will offer loans directly to corporations and small businesses with new capital supplied by Treasury.

Fed and Treasury credits cannot replace lost sales to business, and whatever loans they extend will add to debt burdens in thin-margin industries. Massive fiscal stimulus is needed to save the real economy.

With the arch of the pandemic uncertain, economists are challenged to estimate the impact on the economy. Morgan Stanley expects unemployment to jump to 13% in the second quarter and the St. Louis Federal Reserve estimates 30%. Coupled with lost productivity from reduced hours and awkward work at home situations, a jump in unemployment to 20% by this summer could cost $4 trillion to $5 trillion.

Seen in this context, the recently passed $2 trillion stimulus package — including direct payments to individuals, enhanced unemployment benefits, and assistance to small businesses and heavily impacted industries like airlines — may prove hardly enough. If the virus does not peak by May, the economic contraction will deepen to levels not seen since the Great Depression.

Loans that become grants if businesses maintain employment near pre-crisis levels are helpful but as the virus subsides and stores reopen, consumer habits will have changed. And it is impossible to target aid in the amounts needed and to those who need it in sufficient amounts to avert bankruptcies and millions of permanently lost jobs.

Treasury foresees mailing out checks to individuals starting late in April. That will challenge the IRS and be much delayed, because Congress is scaling payments according to family incomes and size. Much of the aid to businesses is subject to time-consuming, uncertain and unrealistic conditions to maintain employment and cap salaries.

Expanded unemployment benefits, though attractive on equity grounds, will be paid out over several months but will not give the economy the large, quick jolt that loading all the aid to individuals into quicker direct payments could provide.

Congress should consider another round of stimulus — checks for $1,200 to virtually every American every month through September. Otherwise, another Great Depression is in the offing because of the lack of a large enough immediate action.

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A fraud alert from Kathy Stokes, AARP Fraud Watch Network | View email online

 

There’s no current cure for coronavirus. That won’t stop scammers from trying to take advantage of your stress during the coronavirus pandemic.

 

Dear Michael,
As the novel coronavirus spreads, so too have coronavirus scams. The most obvious are companies touting colloidal silver as a defense against the outbreak or selling access to nonexistent vaccines. Others include peddling illegal prescription drugs, impersonating health agency officials, and spoofing or phishing attempts.
These deceptions don’t only raise false hopes and lighten victims’ wallets. Medications that have not been proven to treat, prevent or cure diseases can cause real harm, leading people to delay or stop proven courses of treatment. Read on for an array of scam tactics seeking to take advantage of our coronavirus fears.

 

   

 

 

Types of Scams
Scammers use ads, bogus websites, direct mail, email and social media to push herbs, oils, pills, powders, supplements and teas with supposed properties to cure chronic diseases, ease pain, melt away pounds, ward off infection — and now to prevent, treat or cure coronavirus.
Along with peddling snake oil, shady companies or outright scammers offer actual medications without a prescription.
Scammers are impersonating federal health agencies in phishing emails designed to get your personal data.
A map of the outbreak online offered by Johns Hopkins University is being spoofed, and if you click on an ad or email link to a fake map, it will deploy malicious software on your device that will steal your login credentials or your bank account information.
The internet is replete with fake websites with “coronavirus” or “COVID-19” in their web addresses. Avoid doing searches on these terms and instead go to websites of authorities that you personally trust.

 

 

 

 

What You Should Do
Be skeptical. If a claim for an untested or little-known product sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Carefully check the email addresses for messages supposedly coming from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the World Health Organization. Best practice is to visit their actual websites by typing cdc.gov or who.int into your web browser to get reliable, up-to-date information.
Don’t open attachments or click on links in unsolicited emails or texts about medical products or global health crises.
Make sure you are up to date with your security software, browser and operating system, and run antivirus software regularly.
Report scams to the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov/complaint or to your state Attorney General.

 

 

 

When it comes to fraud, vigilance is our number one weapon. You have the power to protect yourself and your loved ones from scams. Please share this alert with friends and family and visit the Fraud Watch Network.
Sincerely,
Kathy Stokes
AARP Fraud Watch Network

 

P.S. Are you active on social media? Do you enjoy sharing information that can help prevent friends and family from falling victim to scams? Become a volunteer AARP Fraud Watch Network (FWN) Digital Fraud Fighter! In exchange for simply sharing the same type of content with your friends and family that you already do, Digital Fraud Fighters will receive access to exclusive scam briefings, plus a Welcome Packet that includes a T-shirt, a copy of the FWN Con Artist’s Playbook, the FWN Watchdog Alert Handbook and more. Interested? Send us a note at FWN@aarp.org for more information!

Opinion by Jill Filipovic
Donald Trump et al. sitting at a table: WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 07: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters following a meeting of the coronavirus task force in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on April 7, 2020 in Washington, DC. The president today removed the independent chairman of a committee tasked with overseeing the roll out of the $2 trillion coronavirus bailout package. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)© Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 07: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters following a meeting of the coronavirus task force in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on April 7, 2020 in Washington, DC. The president today removed the independent chairman of a committee tasked with overseeing the roll out of the $2 trillion coronavirus bailout package. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not necessarily represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

President Donald Trump has royally screwed up the federal government’s coronavirus response, and he knows it. And he’s doing what he always does: Instead of fixing any of the many problems he’s caused, he’s trying to weasel his way out of blame and doing all he can to dodge oversight and responsibility.

On Tuesday, Trump demoted Glenn Fine, the man tapped last month to independently oversee spending on the $2 trillion federal coronavirus stimulus package. Because Fine, who was the acting inspector general from the Defense Department, was removed from that role, he also lost his chairmanship of the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee (only inspectors general are eligible to be on that committee). No explanation was offered.

This isn’t just about the specter of the President potentially attempting to assert free rein over the outlay of taxpayer-funded relief. American lives are at stake. The health of our economy — not just Wall Street winnings, but the livelihoods of tens of millions of Americans, and our basic ability to put food on our tables and care for our families — is at risk.

Fine’s role — the one that will now be assumed in an “acting” capacity by Sean W. O’Donnell, who will do this along with his other job as Environmental Protection Agency Inspector General — was to make sure that an enormous stimulus package was being spent as allocated, with minimal waste and no abuse or corruption.

It’s disturbing that Americans now may have to worry that our President and his cronies could turn a relief package into a vehicle for self-dealing and a sweetheart deal for the rich, but here we are.

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Fine had been picked by a group of independent federal inspectors general who determined he would do the best job. According to The New York Times, the former Justice Department inspector general “earned a reputation for aggression and independence in scrutinizing the FBI’s use of surveillance and other law enforcement powers in the years after the September 11, 2001, attacks.”

But in Trumpland, such competence and expertise aren’t a requirement but a barrier, especially when it comes to oversight duties. The incompetent man at the top is desperate not to have his inadequacy revealed.

Fine’s head is just the latest to roll as the President has been systematically guillotining watchdogs across the federal government. In a transparently vindictive move, he also removed Michael Atkinson last Friday as the Intelligence Community inspector general. Atkinson had done his job in informing Congress about the whistleblower complaint that led to Trump’s impeachment. Trump doesn’t like being held responsible for his actions, so Atkinson was out.

On Monday Trump also attacked Health and Human Services Inspector General Christi Grimm for doing her job. Grimm’s office had reported what Americans already know: That there are widespread delays in testing for coronavirus, and serious supply shortages at the nation’s hospitals. None of this is news to anyone. But Trump nonetheless tweeted that the report was “Another Fake Dossier!”

Trump seems to fancy himself more of a king than a President. The same man who once pledged to “drain the swamp” seems to love mucking around in it, and attacks anyone who tries to clean it up.

No administration is perfect — remember the Obamacare rollout debacle? Nobody expects error-free governance, but good leaders are able to deal with mistakes, swiftly correct them, and accept independent oversight. Anything else isn’t democracy, it’s dictatorship. Americans in urgent need of relief during and after the pandemic need to see this stimulus plan wisely and efficiently dispatched.

There are about 400,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 12,800 dead — and those numbers may be significant underestimates. Without effective oversight — and there is no reason to believe that Glenn Fine would not have provided it — it will be impossible to tell if the stimulus package is being used efficiently to help as many people as possible. Without immediate, unflinching feedback on how Health and Human Services is managing this crisis, it will be harder to know the ways to improve the stimulus in real time and stem the tide of disease, death and financial ruin.

Donald Trump could not care less about the health and well-being of the American people. He has no attachment to good governance, professional ethics, or public service. He doesn’t like independent watchdogs because they’re inconvenient for him; he prefers lapdogs. And so he is exploiting the pandemic to sack anyone who might point out just how terribly he has mangled the response.

The result won’t just be a swampier and more corrupt White House. We Americans may pay with our lives.

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