What Now?! – May 29, 2020

“President Trump on Thursday signed an executive order that could open the door for federal regulators to punish Facebook, Google and Twitter for the way they police content online, issuing a major broadside against Silicon Valley that quickly triggered wide-ranging political opposition and threats of a legal challenge,” the Washington Post reports.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg called out Twitter for attaching a fact check to a tweet from President Trump, telling Fox News that privately-owned digital platforms should not act as the “arbiter of truth.”

Said Zuckerberg: “We have a different policy than, I think, Twitter on this. I just believe strongly that Facebook shouldn’t be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online. Private companies probably shouldn’t be, especially these platform companies, shouldn’t be in the position of doing that.”

President Trump promoted a video on Twitter late Wednesday night that opens with Cowboys for Trump founder Couy Griffin declaring that “the only good Democrat is a dead Democrat,” Mediaite reports.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) ripped Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg for saying he didn’t believe social media platforms should be the “arbiters of truth” and fact-check political speech, the Daily Beast reports.

Said Pelsoi: “I think Mark Zuckerberg’s statement was a disgrace.”

And she didn’t spare Twitter: “They’re not taking off any accusations the president is making about Joe Scarborough. They know that’s not true. They do a token thing and think it’s okay. Again, I don’t know if there’s honor among thieves but they only have a business model to make money, not to convey facts. That’s what they’re about.”

“We are not prepared for a pandemic. Trump has rolled back progress President Obama and I made to strengthen global health security. We need leadership that builds public trust, focuses on real threats, and mobilizes the world to stop outbreaks before they reach our shores.” — Joe Biden, on Twitter, October 25, 2019.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell “made an extensive pitch for Americans to don face masks as a means to begin returning the country to normalcy while the coronavirus remains a threat,” Politico reports.

Said McConnell: “There’s no stigma attached to wearing a mask. There’s no stigma attached to staying six feet apart.”

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed an executive order authorizing businesses to deny entry to those who do not wear masks or face-coverings.

“A Republican state lawmaker from Central Pennsylvania confirmed Wednesday that he tested positive for the coronavirus earlier this month, leading at least one of his House colleagues to self-quarantine,” the  Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

“The admission immediately ignited outrage among Democrats in the chamber, who said they were recklessly left in the dark for nearly a week about the lawmaker’s condition.”

Pennsylvania state Rep. Brian Sims (D) went on a 12-minute profanity-laced tirade against Republican House members who had tested positive for the coronavirus or came in contact with someone who had, and yet remained silent, the York Daily Record reports.

“The Trump administration plans to cancel the visas of thousands of Chinese graduate students and researchers in the United States who have direct ties to universities affiliated with the People’s Liberation Army,” the New York Times reports.

“The plan would be the first designed to bar the access of a category of Chinese students, who, over all, form the single largest foreign student population in the United States.”

“For President Trump, it was a chance to rewrite the story line from tragedy to triumph. Even as the United States reached the grim milestone on Wednesday of 100,000 dead from the coronavirus pandemic, he would help mark the nation’s trailblazing return to human spaceflight from American soil,” the New York Times reports.

“But Mr. Trump’s hopes of demonstrating that America was back with the verve of a rocket’s red glare were doused by lightning-filled storm clouds that forced flight controllers to scrub the long-awaited launch of the SpaceX rocket even as the president watched helplessly from the Kennedy Space Center.”

“Only minutes after heralding what was to be the first launch of NASA astronauts into orbit from the United States in nearly a decade, a disappointed Mr. Trump scrapped planned remarks and made a hasty retreat to Air Force One to fly back to Washington and the misery of the health crisis. Still, just as the country’s reopening after months of lockdown proceeds with fits and starts, Mr. Trump vowed not to give up, promising to return this weekend when the launch will be tried again.”

U.S. workers filed 2.1 million jobless claims last week, the New York Times reports. More than 40 million people — the equivalent of 1 in 4 U.S. workers — have now filed for unemployment benefits since the pandemic took hold.

“White House officials have decided not to release updated economic projections this summer, opting against publishing forecasts that would almost certainly codify an administration assessment that the coronavirus pandemic has led to a severe economic downturn,” the Washington Post reports.

“The White House is supposed to unveil a federal budget proposal every February and then typically provides a ‘mid-session review’ in July or August with updated projections on economic trends such as unemployment, inflation and economic growth.”

“Budget experts said they were not aware of any previous White House opting against providing forecasts in this ‘mid-session review’ document in any other year since at least the 1970s.”

Washington Post: “There’s a good chance the coronavirus will never go away. Even after a vaccine is discovered and deployed, the coronavirus will likely remain for decades to come, circulating among the world’s population.”

“Experts call such diseases endemic — stubbornly resisting efforts to stamp them out. Think measles, HIV, chickenpox. It is a daunting proposition — a coronavirus-tinged world without a foreseeable end. But experts in epidemiology, disaster planning and vaccine development say embracing that reality is crucial to the next phase of America’s pandemic response.”

“Marc Short, the chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, owns between $506,043 and $1.64 million worth of individual stocks in companies doing work related to the Trump administration’s pandemic response — holdings that could run afoul of conflict-of-interest laws,” NPR reports.

Washington Post: “Trump and the White House often say they turn to social media because a hostile, left-leaning news media does not depict Trump’s achievements accurately. The Fact Checker video team analyzed thousands of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube posts and ads from Trump, his campaign and a long list of surrogates. The data revealed the backbone of a five-point strategy to tell their version of the coronavirus story: rewriting mistakes, highlighting achievements, deflecting blame, declaring victory and creating distraction.”

“All presidential campaigns try to portray their candidate in the best possible light, but what is notable about the Trump campaign is that its social media reach allows the campaign to rewrite even the most recent history.”

James Hohmann: “Doing so paints a picture of the alternative reality that the president’s reelection effort is trying to create for low-information voters who don’t follow traditional news organizations.”

“An effort to pass a significant surveillance overhaul package collapsed Wednesday evening, falling victim to presidential tweets, opposition from the Justice Department and the fracturing of a fragile coalition among liberals, moderates and conservatives,” the Washington Post reports.

“House Democratic leaders decided to abandon a scheduled vote a few hours after President Trump issued a veto threat on Twitter. They have not determined when — or whether — the legislation might be revived.

“Federal and state officials across the country have altered or hidden public health data crucial to tracking the coronavirus’ spread, hindering the ability to detect a surge of infections as President Trump pushes the nation to reopen rapidly,” Politico reports.

“In at least a dozen states, health departments have inflated testing numbers or deflated death tallies by changing criteria for who counts as a coronavirus victim and what counts as a coronavirus test.”

“North Korean and Chinese nationals are operating a multibillion-dollar money laundering scheme to help fund North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, the Justice Department said in an indictment unsealedThursday, a case that underscores the Trump administration’s inability to halt Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program through diplomacy,” the New York Times reports.

Washington Post: “It is one of the many mysteries of the coronavirus pandemic: Why has the death toll from covid-19 apparently been lower in Asia than in Western Europe and North America?”

“Even allowing for different testing policies and counting methods, and questions over full disclosure of cases, stark differences in mortality across the world have caught the attention of researchers trying to crack the coronavirus code. Parts of Asia reacted quickly to the threat and largely started social distancing earlier on. But researchers are also examining other factors, including differences in genetics and immune system responses, separate virus strains and regional contrasts in obesity levels and general health.”

There is an easy answer to this question: Americans are in much more poorer health due to our lifestyle and our healthcare system. Also, institutional racism going back four centuries.

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

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