Anti-Maskers are taking away our freedoms

In February and March of 2020, we had a chance to crush the novel coronavirus and prevent mass death and suffering from COVID-19. Donald Trump, then President of the United States, had been briefed on the horrific transmissibility and lethality of the virus. He told Bob Woodward weeks later he knew it could kill millions. 

On February 5, 2020, Sen. Chris Murphy shared his grave concern that the White House was not taking the pandemic seriously enough. 

Trump’s pathological obsession with denying the severity of the pandemic led millions to side with Trump against science. Even as tens of thousands lost their lives in the worst viral hotspots, politicians aligned with Trump fought against many or sometimes all public health protections. 

In New Zealand, Australia, South Korea, and Japan, public health standards were clear and universal. Everyone needed to wear masks in public, respect social distancing guidelines, and avoid indoor gatherings, including restaurants and office spaces. A short but decisive nationally coordinated action, with people acting in solidarity, would crush the curve, stop the spread, contain the virus, and effectively end the outbreak.

In the US, Trump and his anti-science allies worked to confuse the public, conceal science-based public health guidance, and sabotage virus containment measures. Even as deaths skyrocketed, Trump and his allies lied about the data, lied about the known efficacy of containment measures, and “played down” the transmissibility and lethality of the virus. 

One year after Sen. Murphy warned the Trumpadministration was not readying the nation to face the known threat, 459,361 Americans have lost their lives to COVID-19. We have been losing more than 2,000 people per day for over two months—sometimes more than 4,000 per day. By contrast, the total deaths in four countries that quicklyacted to contain the virus, using masks, social distancing, and temporary shutdowns, are:

  • Australia: 909 deaths. 
  • Japan: 6,372 deaths. 
  • New Zealand: 25 deaths.
  • South Korea: 1,464 deaths. 

The combined population of these four countries is 208 million people, just under 2/3 the population of the US. Combined, they have lost 8,770 lives to COVID-19. If the US response had been as effective, 13,914 would have died, not 459,361. 

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Tens of Thousands Protest across Russia, Demand Navalny’s Release

The regime of Vladimir Putin ordered the jailing of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, in a rushed jailhouse hearing after his return to Russia, then “found” it had the right to hold him for at least 30 days. The political crackdown against an anti-corruption campaigner Putin’s security forces attempted to assassinate has sparked outrage across Russia and around the world.

In a defiant show of resistance and independence, more than 100,00 have joined protests in more than 70 cities across Russia, demanding Navalny’s immediate release. Candidates supported by Navalny’s movement have been among the only non-loyalist candidates to win elected office in Russia in recent years. Putin is reportedly so afraid of the influence Navalny has built with the Russian people that he refuses to mention his name.

Navalny has reached people across Russia with his anti-corruption campaign. Anger at his detention is so deep there was even a sizable protest in Yakutsk, where temperatures were -50°C (yes, 50 degrees below zero).

The Washington Post is reporting today that:

Saturday’s demonstrations came after a sweeping national crackdown in which police detained opposition activists and courts locked up Navalny’s press secretary, Kira Yarmysh, and another team member, Georgy Alburov, co-author of a bombshell viral YouTube video “Putin’s Palace — History of the World’s Largest Bribe.”

The video, posted Tuesday, alleging colossal corruption in the construction of a vast Black Sea palace for Putin, has been viewed more than 68 million times. The Kremlin denies any relationship between Putin and the palace.

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Biden orders economic aid to families, businesses

In emotional, forthright remarks today, President Biden noted the millions of Americans waiting in long lines at food banks, unable to afford to buy food to feed their kids, the millions losing jobs, the 900,000 who have filed for unemployment insurance this week alone. Defiantly, he added:

We cannot, will not let people go hungry.  We cannot let people be evicted because of nothing they did themselves.  They cannot watch people lose their jobs.  And we have to act.  We have to act now. 

Biden noted the importance of not allowing people to suffer grievous economic damage from events they did not cause and cannot change.

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Unify through Service

There is no “radical leftist agenda” under consideration anywhere in American politics. This is another variant of the Big Lie that incited terrorists to insurrection.

Tens of millions of people are hungry and out of work. Unity begins with honoring the responsibility to help.

The roots of sustained unity will grow as national policy realigns incentives toward healthy, sustainable, non-polluting innovation and diversification of local economies.

The climate-smart, science-based clean future is how we secure prosperity and prevent future pandemics.

Biden brings US back to Paris

Shortly after arriving at the Oval Office, President Joe Biden signed a number of executive orders. The third of these restored the United States to the Paris Agreement. This recommitment to global climate action leadership is historic, necessary, and a great benefit to the US and the world.

The climate crisis is complex, operates across many different interacting natural systems, spans the ocean, atmosphere, glaciers, watersheds, and ecosystems everywhere, and affects everything human societies aspire to.

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The Poetry of Public Service

President Biden lays out the stakes & calls for a grieving, divided nation to work together, saying “My whole soul is in this.”

After four years of chaos, corruption, lies, and ultimately an armed insurrection, people across the United States and around the world have been counting down the hours and minutes until the powers of the US Presidency pass to Joseph R. Biden, Jr., as they did today at 12:00 pm EST.

Joseph R. Biden, Jr., comes to the Presidency at a moment of historic calamity. Multiple converging crises threaten the everyday, health, wellbeing, and security of the American people. During the turbulent and uncertain period of the transition—while the outgoing President fanned the flames of insurrection and refused to acknowledge defeat, and as daily COVID deaths soared above 4,000 per day in the United States—Biden effectively began his presidency by setting a tone of sobriety, care, and faithful service in hard times.

Today, President Biden reminded a divided country that “we celebrate the triumph not of a candidate but of a cause, the cause of democracy,” adding “We’ve learned again that democracy is precious, democracy is fragile, and at this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed.”

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The Tyrant is Gone

Three hours before his term officially ends, Donald Trump has departed the White House for the last time, spoke briefly to a small crowd at Joint Base Andrews, and now has boarded Air Force One for a final trip as President to his home in Florida.

While he did wish the incoming administration “good luck”, he never mentioned President-elect Biden by name. Trump said he would be back “in some form” and ended his remarks with the famously dismissive phrase “Have a nice life.”

At the same hour, Vice President Mike Pence, along with leaders of both parties in the United States Congress, join President-elect Joe Biden for mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew, a few blocks from the White House. 

As Trump the political vandal leaves behind his time in public office, a prayerful lifelong public servant who reads poetry brings solemnity back to the office, at a time of unprecedented national crisis—with more than 400,000 dead in one year, widespread economic hardship and food insecurity. 

This transfer of power takes place as we are still coming to grips with the hateful gravity of the terrorist insurrection Trump and his allies orchestrated (to use his own Attorney General’s word). 

Democracy has held. The people choose their leaders; their leaders don’t get to determine the outcome of elections. The Constitution provides the structure and sets the boundaries, and at 12:00 pm EST on January 20, all powers of the office pass to the person chosen by the people.

Obituary for a Failed Presidency

In her last Trump-era letter from Washington, Susan B. Glasser writes in The New Yorker:

Precisely at noon on Wednesday, Donald Trump’s disastrous Presidency will end, two weeks to the day after he unleashed a mob of his supporters to storm the Capitol, seeking to overturn the election results, and one week to the day after he was impeached for so doing. He leaves behind a city and a country reeling from four hundred thousand Americans dead, as of Tuesday, from a pandemic whose gravity he downplayed and denied; an economic crisis; and an internal political rift so great that it invites comparisons to the Civil War.

In the end, Trump was everything his haters feared—a chaos candidate, in the prescient words of one of his 2016 rivals, who became a chaos President.

Read the full article here.

400,000 American lives lost to COVID in 1 year

The first case of COVID-19 in the United States was confirmed on January 21, 2020. Just 2 days shy of one year later, the virus has now killed 400,000 Americans.

While the development of multiple vaccines in less than one year is a major scientific achievement, the pandemic is still getting worse. 

  • Multiple variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus are actively spreading around the world, with one as much as 70% more transmissible—meaning many times more infections and deaths.
  • Health care systems are reaching capacity, or over capacity. The entire city of Los Angeles has had to begin a triage system for emergency cases.
  • Vaccine distribution is not moving quickly enough to reach population-wide immunity in the first half of 2021, which means lockdowns are expected to continue and economic hardship will deepen.
  • Poverty and hunger are spreading worldwide, with acute hunger (near starvation) doubling to more than 250 million. In the US, food banks are projected to be billions of meals short by mid-year.
  • There are projections the US will see 3,000 and even 4,000 deaths per day in coming weeks, possibly losing 92,000 people in just 3 weeks.

Tonight, on the eve of his inauguration and swearing in as the 46th President of the United States, Joe Biden spoke to the nation from the Lincoln Memorial, looking out over the reflecting pool, lined with 400 lights, one for every 1,000 lives lost over the last year. He was joined by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, as well as the First Lady and the nation’s first Second Gentleman.

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Feds File Conspiracy Charges against Militia Leader

Federal prosecutors have filed the first conspiracy charges, relating to coordinated paramilitary involvement in the planning and execution of the attack on the US Capitol. According to CNN:

Prosecutors have levied the first significant conspiracy charge against an apparent leader in the extremist Oath Keepers movement, alleging the Virginia man was involved in “planning and coordinating” the breach of the Capitol earlier this month, according to court documents.

The filing details pre-planned, coordinated actions carried out by members of the armed militant group calling itself the Oath Keepers. The conspiracy charge suggests efforts are underway to detail the tangled web of propaganda, funding, and logistical support for the attack, and to charge all who participated in the coordinated seditious conspiracy.

Given the investigation includes experts in public corruption prosecutions, the long prison sentences that could face anyone involved in that conspiracy could be used as leverage to uncover further details of the involvement of powerful enablers of Trump or the insurrectionists.

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