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  • April 2, 2020: Trump Ignored Pandemic Warnings
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    07:40

    Welcome to Majority.FM's AM QUICKIE! Brought to you by justcoffee.coop

    TODAY'S HEADLINES:

    Military and intelligence agencies warned three years ago about the dangers of a new viral pandemic, and guess what the White House did? The answer starts with N and ends with O_t-A-Goddamn-Thing_.

    Meanwhile, it seems like the Democratic National Convention won’t happen as scheduled. But party officials haven’t yet come up with a Plan B, and people are getting agitated.

    And lastly, the record unemployment claims don’t capture how bad the economic picture really is. As for those $1,200 stimulus checks: turns out there’s some fine print there, too.

    THESE ARE THE STORIES YOU NEED TO KNOW:

    Donald Trump keeps saying nobody could have known how bad it would be. That’s a lie. A classified 2017 report given to The Nation magazine by a Pentagon official warned that new, highly contagious respiratory diseases were among the most likely and significant threats the country could face. Military planners and intelligence agencies have been warning White House officials about coronaviruses, specifically, for at least five years. The 103-page plan anticipated a shortage of hospital beds and medical ventilators, along with protective gear – all of which is now in desperately short supply. The Pentagon report was not the first clear warning that Trump ignored. But of course he is blaming everyone else for the consequences of his own catastrophic negligence. In short, the problem was not that Trump and his people weren’t warned about this pandemic – it’s that they didn’t listen.

    Let it not be said that the ruling Republicans have done nothing. They’ve done a lot worse than nothing. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who has be acting as a de facto White House chief of staff, was apparently the one who decided to punish New York state for disloyalty. New York is so far the hardest-hit place in the country for COVID-19 cases. Vanity Fair reported yesterday that Kushner believed New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was being alarmist when he requested thirty thousand additional ventilators. Kushner said, according tothe magazine, QUOTE I have all this data about I.C.U. capacity. I’m doing my own projections, and I’ve gotten a lot smarter about this. New York doesn’t need all the ventilators

    ENDQUOTE. Days later, Trump made similar comments in an interview with his advisor and booster Sean Hannity on Fox News.

    Separately, Congressman Adam Schiff of California, who led the House impeachment, wants to set up a special commission to investigate the coronavirus response. No details yet other than it would be bipartisan. Certainly there’s plenty to investigate.

    Democratic Party officials are grappling with a big problem: when, where, and how to hold the party’s national convention.

    Currently scheduled for mid-July in Milwaukie, Wisconsin, more delegates and party leaders – including the presidential front-runner, Joe Biden -- are saying the event should be canceled, because restrictions on travel and large public gatherings will make holding a traditional convention impossible. This is a big deal because the convention is where the party will pick its nominee for president. Although former Vice President Biden holds a sizable delegate lead over his opponen, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, nothing is a done deal until the convention. But as CBS News reported yesterday, delegates are growing frustrated that contingency plans are not being made quickly enough. Many have already canceled flghts. All are waiting on guidance from top party officials like DNC chairman Tom Perez. Patience is wearing thin.

    Yesterday the Sanders campaign requested that the upcoming Wisconsin primary, scheduled for April 7, should be postponed. The campaign’s statement called on Wisconsin to join fifteen other states in delaying their primary elections, and joined with growing calls for a complete transition to a vote-by-mail system on account of the coronavirus pandemic. A national new survey of nearly two thousand respondents showed support for Sanders’ signature policy, Medicare for All, at a nine-month high. The new Morning Consult poll showed support for single-payer healthcare growing fastest among independents.

    Also yesterday, Sanders said Trump’s inaction has cost the lives of many, many Americans. And Biden, who has said he would wait and see how Trump performed in the crisis, responded to a demand by Trump spokeswoman Kellyanne Conway that he call the WhiteHouse and offer his support. How did Biden respond? By offering to call the White House and give Trump his advice. The White House did not respond publicly to Biden’s offer.

    Americans are acting out on their pandemic fears in the same way they tend to grapple with many other anxieties: by loading up on guns. The Guardian reported that over 3.7 million background checks for firearm sales were conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation last month. It was the highest number on record – and up by one million in March over February. Unemployment claims are hitting record levels, too. And according to Politico, the hodgepodge of state systems for processing benefits is overwhelmed. The computer systems in Michigan crashed this week. California is experiencing major delays. And some in New York have been forced to call hundreds of times before getting through to a human being. What this means: last week’s record numbers, of nearly 3.3 million new unemployment claims, were too low. States are actually receving more claims than the US Labor Department was able to record and report. So much like coronavirus cases and casualties, the official numbers don’t reflect reality. The reality is worse.

    Also yesterday the Washington Post reported that at least 15 million Americans on Social Security will not receive $1,200 stimulus checks they were promised, because like many people, they didn’t make enough money to file a tax return. Most high school seniors and college students won’t get money either, because children over age sixteen were specifically excluded from the bill passed by Congress.

    Elsewhere: Italy is extending its national lockdown. Spain reported a new spike in cases. Russia is declaring an emergency, and officials in Moscow want to introduce a mandatory surveillance app for infected people.

    Turkmenistan banned the word coronavirus. People who talk about it, or who wear face masks, could be arrested. Bosnia is forcing thousands of refugees into camps. India is undergoing the largest internal migration since the end of British rule, with millions of hungry people fleeing cities on foot. In the United Kingdom, only thirty ventilators were delivered as promised by manufacturers this week. The government promised eight thousand.

    AND NOW FOR SOME QUICKER QUICKIES:

    Donald Trump threatened Iran, Venezuela, and Mexico yesterday, possibly to distract from his other failures. But Iran, at least, isn’t taking chances. A top Iranian general, and the successor to Qassim Soleimani – assassinated on Trump’s orders this year – visited Baghdad to try to build alliances among the ruling factions. Reports indicate that if Trump’s act of war accomplished anything, it was to increase Iranian influence in Iraq.

    With a few exceptions, yesterday’s annual online April Fools’ Day festivites were canceled, according to the Washington Post. Major brands like Google and T-Mobile canceled their promotional pranks. Did anyone miss them? It’s true, there’s no going back to normal.

    A new study in the journal Nature by German and British researchers confirmed that the icy continent of Antartica used to be covered in a great rainforest. Granted, this was when dinosaurs roamed the earth. The new findings come from core samples drilled out of Antarctic glaciers that are now rapidly melting due to human-caused climate change. They found roots and pollen down there. Maybe a few missing socks, too.

    The US Census began yesterday. The sooner you fill it out, the less likely it is that a worker will be dispatched to knock on your door during the pandemic. There are no questions about immigration status. The population count is used to decide how many members of Congress each state gets. It’s important! Go to My 2020 Census dot gov if you didn’t get a form.

    That’s all for the AM Quickie. Join us this afternoon on the Majority Report.

    HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner

    WRITER - Corey Pein

    PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw

    EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Brendan Finn

  • April 1, 2020: Hungary Imposes Fascist Dictatorship
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    07:54

    Welcome to Majority.FM's AM QUICKIE! Brought to you by justcoffee.coop

    TODAY'S HEADLINES:

    Donald Trump says maybe one or two hundred thousand Americans will die from COVID-19 in the weeks ahead. And for this, you should thank him.

    Meanwhile, New York institutions are struggling to cope with pandemic casualties, and those yet to come. Elsewhere, corporations are imposing censorship on front-line workers.

    And lastly, a Trump ally in Europe seizes absolute power with the blessing of a captive opposition. But will neighboring countries go along with the fascist power grab in Hungary?

    THESE ARE THE STORIES YOU NEED TO KNOW:

    The US government expects up to a quarter million will die of COVID-19 in the weeks and months ahead – and that’s the goal. Depending on what states and cities do, the death toll could rise into the millions. This is according to the federal government, which under Trump has all but completely abrogated its responsibility to coordinate a pandemic response.

    In another briefing yesterday evening with Vice President Mike Pence and public health officials, Trump tried to portray himself as the last reasonable Republican. He now says coronavirus is a grave threat, and he alone has been pushing for concerted action. But one month ago he was calling the pandemic a Democratic hoax – fake news. A week ago he was saying he wanted to have this whole thing wrapped and people going back to work by Easter. Now he says he expects hundreds of thousands to perish, and more if they don’t do what he says. So it’s a safe bet that the official casualty counts will rise further.

    In reality, Trump is still denying aid to states based on how nice their governors play with his insane demands. Florida, and its Trump-friendly governor, Ron DeSantis, reportedly received one-hundred percent of its first two requests for federal aid. DeSantis has still failed to announce a stay-home order. State officials from around the country reported disastrous interactions with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other agencies run by

    Trump appointees. By Trump’s own admission, politics and his own whim influence who gets aid. But states also reported chaos and general disarray. For instance, North Carolina requestsed five hundred thousand medical coveralls and recieved just over three hundred. Oklahoma asked for sixteen thousand face shields and for some reason was sent one- hundred and twenty thousand. New York wants thirty thousand ventilators and got fewer than five thousand. Governor Andrew Cuomo compared the process of states acquiring emergency medical gear to bidding against each other on eBay. And, he said, FEMA is outbidding states on the private market. Massachussetts Senator Elizabeth Warren confirmed her state is having the same problem and called the federal actions inexplicable and unacceptable. Last night, Trump himself said he decided some states don’t need as much medical equipment as they say they do. Also yesterday, the White House decided not to re- open Obamacare enrollment to millions of uninsured Americans during the pandemic. So when the new official death estimates turn out to be far too low, everyone should know who to blame: Trump, and every one of his supporters.

    STORY TWO

    There’s more grim news from New York, especially Rikers Island – which may have one of the highest concentration of COVID-19 cases in the world. The Intercept reported that city officials are offering inmates $6 an hour to dig mass graves for victims of the pandemic. Elsewhere around the city, residents reported freezer trucks parked near hospitals taking and storing bodies until they can be taken away to funerary rites. Similar scenes will no doubt be coming to other parts of the country soon.

    The Pentagon ordered commanders of military bases to stop reporting coronavirus case numbers. The captain of a nuclear aircraft carrier, the Theodore Roosevelt, docked in Guam, sent a letter to superiors in Washington begging for assistance, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Coronavirus has been spreading among the crew of four thousand sailors, and the outbreak is worsening as the government has failed to provide quarantine facilities on shore. Captain Brett Crozier wrote QUOTE We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die ENDQUOTE. Yesterday Trump’s Defense Secretary, Mark Esper, said he had not read the letter.

    Hospitals around the United States are threatening to fire doctors, nurses, and other front-line workers who speak up about their working conditions and what they are witnessing during the pandemic. Some who’ve shared their stories on social media or with news reporters have already faced reprisals, others say they are being warned by management on a daily basis not to tell the truth. And people are still complaining about China’s authoritarian response!

    STORY THREE

    One day after the fascist Hungarian Prime Minister and Trump ally Viktor Orban seized total dictatorial power under the guise of an emergency decree, there were stirrings of discontent in European institutions. Luxemboug representatives said Hungary needed to be, in their words, politically quarantined from European Union meetings. But it is unclear whether the EU as a body will take any formal action against Hungary. The new dictatorship is also a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a mutual defense pact that includes the US – for now. Both NATO and the EU consider democratic governance and respect for human rights as an entrance requirement. We’ll see how that holds up.

    On Monday, Hungary’s parliament passed a law giving Orban the right to rule by decree for the duration of an indefinite state of emergency, already declared in response to coronavirus earlier last month. The law allows the new fascist dictator to put people in prison for up to five years for spreading what they deem to be fake news. And for encouraging people to ignore curfews, Orban’s flunkies may impose prison terms of eight years. The groundwork for this power grab was laid years ago, with dissidents attacked and independent media organizations suppressed. When the vote was taken this week, even the so-called opposition parties supported the imposition of dictatorship. Whatever this is, let’s hope it isn’t contagious.

    AND NOW FOR SOME QUICKER QUICKIES:

    Vermont Senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders yesterday demanded answers from Trump’s Postmaster General, Megan Brennan, over reports of dangerous conditions for postal workers during the pandemic. Another report indicated that the US Postal Service could run out of cash and cease operations by June without federal action. Sanders is scheduled to appear on ABC’s The View today, but who knows what they’ll talk about.

    Former employees of the Mike Bloomberg for President campaign told reporters their final paychecks came yesterday and had been docked by as much as $800. The reason? The campaign the deductions went to cover taxes on company-issued laptops and smartphones. More inspiring leadership from the billionaire former Republican mayor of New York City.

    Last week, Trump pal, the South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsay Graham, threatened to sink a stimulus bill because he didn’t want workers to get unemployment benefits. Yesterday it emerged that the interfered in a State Department funding bill to ensure that Egypt was not held accountable for the medical bills of April Corley, an American tourist critically wounded by a military helicopter that strafed her bus by mistake. The US had sold the helicopter to Egypt. Graham’s office said he wants to preserve that relationship.

    Exerpts are hitting the news from a new book by one of the lawyers in a twelve-year legal battle against the late sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein. The laywer, Brad Edwards, represented one of Epstein’s many victims, and his book contains new details about the career criminal’s associates with Trump, Bill Clinton, and others. Most intriguing: when Epstein in jail in Florida, he sent his Russian bodyguard to a week-long training course at Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Virginia. Probably just normal stuff!

    That’s all for the AM Quickie. Join us this afternoon on the Majority Report.

    HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner

    WRITER - Corey Pein

    PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw

    EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Brendan Finn

  • Mar 31, 2020: Workers Walk Out All Over
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    06:14

    Welcome to Majority.FM's AM QUICKIE! Brought to you by justcoffee.coop

    TODAY'S HEADLINES:

    The working people of America have enough of the craven corporate response to the coronavirus panic. Machinists at GM demand to make ventilators, Amazon workers walk out on the job, and gig workers quit delivering groceries until their bosses show them some respect.

    Meanwhile, new data suggests that the social restrictions recommended by experts and derided by Trump are working. Who would have thought? Besides nearly every expert, that is.

    And lastly, social networks may finally be growing a spine when it comes to banning conspiracies and lies, even when they come from top government officials. But will Trump ever get the block he deserves?

    THESE ARE THE STORIES YOU NEED TO KNOW:

    Something is happening in America, and it’s starting in warehouse aisles, customer service cubicles and factory floors.

    Workers at Amazon, Instacart, General Motors and more all staged strikes, protests, sick-outs or work-stoppages on Monday to fight back against their corporate bosses’ negligent response to the coronavirus.

    On Monday, many of Instacart’s nationwide network of grocery delivery drivers, who are classified as contractors for the company and not employees, walked off the job. They’re asking for hazard pay on deliveries and free safety equipment.

    The same day, workers at Staten Island’s Amazon Fulfillment center joined them, walking out of their warehouse into the rain to protest the lack of protective measures for workers.

    In a despicable turn of corporate evil, Amazon fired the worker who organized the impromptu walkout, Chris Smalls, alleging that he repeatedly violated social distancing guidelines. They couldn’t even bother to make up a good excuse for giving him the boot!

    Elsewhere in the Bezos empire, workers at Whole Foods are planning a sick-out on Tuesday, calling out of work en masse to pressure the company for better sick leave, hazard pay, and more.

    In Pittsburgh last week, a group of mostly black garbage workers went on a wildcat strike to protest unsafe working conditions.

    Workers at General Motors’s aviation facility in Massachusettes staged a silent protest on Monday, asking the company to let them convert their machines to produce ventilators, not jet engines, and distributing a list of other GM facilities that could be converted to do the same. General Motors has signed on with Ford to produce at least 50,000 ventilators over the next 100 days, but for some employees, that’s not good enough.

    What this says is clear: working people are trying to save the country. If the CEOs at the top don’t let it happen, they’ve got blood on their hands.

    Well after all that, it turns out the experts might have known what they were talking about.

    According to data collected by medical technology company Kinsa Health, harsh containment measures like social distancing, business closures, and stay-at-home orders are contributing to a rapid drop in the number of fevers

    The results aren’t exactly hard science -- Kinsa makes online-compatible thermometers that it tracks data for, so it’s basically just saying fewer people have fevers in areas where these measures have been enacted. But the company uses similar models to track the spread of the flu every year, and experts told the New York Times that Kinsa’s research is pretty solid.

    The Times also reports that public health data from New York and Washington State, the two biggest epicenters of the virus in the U.S., seems to support the conclusion that containment measures are working.

    Some of this data may have influenced Trump’s decision to put off relaxing the federal guidelines on social distancing until the end of April. It’s clear at this point that at least some people in the room with him are making sense.

    We can only hope that they last a long time.

    Twitter, Instagram and Facebook have cracked down on false, misleading, and medically dangerous content in the past few days, even if it’s coming from heads of state.

    For the past week or so, Twitter has been cracking down on tweets from Rudy Giuliani and other conservative fever-swamp denizens as they attempt to flog the president’s pet theory that the coronavirus can be stopped by a drug called hydroxychloroquine.

    But on Monday, the platform took it even further -- banning Brazilian President Jair [JAI-EER] Bolsonaro for posting similar content, saying that his live video violated new global standards on contradicting public health information.

    Facebook and Instagram also took down the video shortly after. Last week, Twitter also deleted a post by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who claimed that a quote “brew” unquote could cure coronavirus.

    The elephant in the room, of course, is that Trump is basically promoting the same kind of stuff. And yet, his account’s still up! Funny how that works out.

    AND NOW FOR SOME QUICKER QUICKIES:

    A new FBI analysis reported by ABC News warns that a surge in hate crimes against Asian Americans is possible due to the spread of the coronavirus. Gee, I wonder where the violent racists are getting their cues from?

    The Massachusetts Democratic Party announced that it will cancel its statewide convention this summer due to the risk of the coronavirus, which is big news for a key Senate primary race. Incumbent Senator Ed Markey, a loyal progressive, will be considered the winner of the convention and get the party’s endorsement, although his rival, Rep. Joe Kennedy III will still get on the Democratic ballot.

    A pentacostal megachurch pastor was arrested in Tampa, Florida on Monday for holding regular services on Sunday despite the statewide rulings against large gatherings. Rev. Rodney Howard-Browne has encouraged his parish to flaunt social distancing and shake hands anway, because quote: “we are raising revivalists, not pansies.” Yikes.

    Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Ayanna Pressley petitioned Trump’s Health and Human Services department to collect and release further demographic data on coronavirus infection, arguing that without it, the government could not adequately protect communities of color or low-income citizens who may be hit harder by the disease.

    That’s it for the Majority Report’s AM Quickie. Stay tuned for the full show later today!

    #AMQuickie March 31, 2020

    HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner

    WRITER - Jack Crosbie

    PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw

    EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Brendan Finn

  • Mar 30, 2020: Coronavirus Shutdown Extended Through April
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    07:11

    Welcome to Majority.FM's AM QUICKIE! Brought to you by justcoffee.coop

    TODAY'S HEADLINES:

    Donald Trump says he will extend the federal government’s social distancing guidelines until at least the end of April, as total U.S. cases top 140,000. He still might let thousands die for a stock market bump, but not for another month at least.

    Meanwhile, Joe Biden is facing a sexual assault allegation by a former Senate Staffer, and reporting by the Intercept finds that sex-crime justice organization Times Up refused to take on the victim’s case, citing Biden’s presidential run and its own nonprofit status.

    And lastly, gig workers at Instacart are planning a nationwide strike today, pressuring the company to give them hazard pay for the risks they’re taking during the epidemic and provide free safety equipment like gloves, masks and sanitizer.

    THESE ARE THE STORIES YOU NEED TO KNOW:

    We can all expect to stay inside for at least another month, as Donald Trump says the federal government's social distance guidelines will remain in place until at least April 30.

    In reality, we should all be prepared to self-isolate for a lot longer than that, as nearly every scientist with an actual brain says that restrictions are extremely important for the foreseeable future until the virus’s spread is slowed.

    But in Trump-world, April 30 is at least an improvement on the alternative: ditching the federal restrictions by Easter and risking hundreds of thousands of lives if cases of the disease spike.

    Over the weekend, the U.S. topped 140,000 confirmed cases of the virus this far, with 2,469 deaths. During a wave of TV appearances, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the highest-ranking infectious disease expert in the country, predicted that the U.S. could see 200,000 deaths before the epidemic is controlled.

    There is some good news, however: The Times reports that early data out of Seattle, the first epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, shows that the social restrictions and harsh containment methods may be working.

    In Washington, Congress is reportedly mulling a second potential aid bill, just in case the corporations out there are going hungry with only $500 billion in slush money to much on. Maybe there’ll be more for actual Americans in this one.

    And it’s very likely that even after Trump relaxes national restrictions, cities and states will continue shelter-in-place or social-distancing orders, so those of us in major metropolitan areas probably won’t be getting things back to normal anytime soon.

    Joe Biden faces a sexual assault accusation, but his accuser is having trouble getting her voice heard.

    A woman named Tara Reade claims that in 1993, when she was working as a Senate aide, Biden held her against a wall and penetrated her with his fingers.

    Reade has mentioned the incident in the past, first to a local news outlet in California, but gave what she says is a fuller account of her experience to the podcast host Katie Halper.

    According to new reporting by the Intercept, Reade has been trying to make her allegations heard for quite some time.

    In January, she contacted representatives at Times Up, the nonprofit organization which has advocated for and provided legal defense funding for prominent sexual assault victims like Harvey Weinstein’s accusers.

    Reade was seeking extra help because of backlash she faced after the local news story, when critics attempted to discredit her based on social media posts she made that were complimentary toward Russian President Vladimir Putin, all of which made her reluctant to share any more of her story.

    Times Up, however, turned her down. The Intercept reports that the organization decided not to take the case as it could have meant risking the 501(c)(3) status of their parent organization, the National Women’s Law Center.

    Biden’s status as a presidential candidate could mean that Times Up backing Reade’s case could be ruled as electioneering.

    Workers on the front lines of the coronavirus epidemic -- specifically, the ones delivering much of our food -- are fighting back against their corporate bosses. Today, a nationwide group of contract workers at Instacart plan to walk out on the job, refusing to make deliveries for the grocery shopping app until the company provides them with a $5 hazard pay fee for each delivery that goes directly to the driver, as well as free safety gear like hand sanitizer, gloves, and masks.

    They’re also fighting for paid sick leave benefits, a vital contingency for people whose livelihoods do not allow them to self-isolate.

    Instacart worker and strike organizer Vanessa Bain noted as well that Instacart’s full time employees -- the techies working in San Francisco and the company’s 16 other offices around the country -- get sick leave, life insurance, and many other benefits.

    The gig workers get nothing, and it’s putting them at risk.

    Baid told Vice quote: "We deserve and demand better. Without [us], Instacart will grind to a halt.” endquote.

    The company’s current policy allows workers to take two weeks paid sick leave -- but only if they actually test positive for the virus. Considering the U.S. still has a massive shortage of tests, this doesn’t seem like a particularly efficient plan.

    So if you were planning to order groceries from Instacart today, know that you’re crossing a picket line, even if you don’t see it from the comfort of your home.

    AND NOW FOR SOME QUICKER QUICKIES:

    Two major health insurance providers, Cigna and Humana, have agreed to shield their patients from out-of-pocket costs if they require treatment for COVID-19, most likely attempting to score some good PR while they charge life-threatening amounts for every other shred of non-corona coverage they provide.

    Charles Koch’s pro-corporation political advocacy group really, really wants businesses to open back up. That’s funny, because the Intercept reports that the group also lobbied for a $1 billion cut to the CDC in 2018. It’s almost like they don’t have Americans’ best interests at heart!

    Two more Congressmen have tested positive for coronavirus -- Democratic Rep. Joe Cunningham of South Carolina and Republican Rep. Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania, bringing the total to 4 Representatives and 1 Senator who are confirmed to have the disease.

    The coronavirus infection rate in New York City’s Riker’s Island jail is 77 times higher than the rest of the U.S., on average, according to new numbers released by the Legal Aid Society. That makes even the lowest-level crimes in the city a potential death sentence, and it’s certainly not the only prison where this will play out.

    HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner

    WRITER - Jack Crosbie

    PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw

    EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Brendan Finn

  • Mar 27, 2020: Record US Unemployment Claims
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    08:54

    Welcome to Majority.FM's AM QUICKIE! Brought to you by justcoffee.coop

    TODAY'S HEADLINES:

    Record numbers of Americans are filing unemployment claims. But the stock market seems unconcerned – optimistic, even – after the Senate’s big corporate giveaway.

    Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden address the $2.2 trillion stimulus bill now facing a House vote. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin says the millions of Americans who’ve found themselves suddenly out of work don’t matter.

    And lastly, the coronavirus death toll in America passes one thousand – officially. China closes its borders to foreigners, and US forces may be deployed to prevent Americans from fleeing to Canada – certainly, no one is running the other direction.

    THESE ARE THE STORIES YOU NEED TO KNOW:

    New Labor Department figures released yesterday showed that some 3.3 million Americans filed unemployment benefit claims last week. It was a new record. Before the coronavirus pandemic and the oil price shock, only some 200,000 people had filed for benefits. The previous one-week record was set nearly four decades ago, in 1982. But back then fewer than 700,000 people filed unemployment claims. What’s happening now is much bigger. Analysts were using dire words like collapse, catastrophe, and Greater Depression to describe the US economy.

    But the high-rolling gamblers on Wall Street don’t necessarily see it that way. The stock markets gained back some of their losses, led by higher prices for shares in companies that will receieve a chunk of the $2 trillion-plus Congressional bailout package passed unanimously by the Senate this week. It would be hard to find a more stark example than of how disconnected the economy of the elite is from the economy that most Americans inhabit. While tens of millions of people are suddenly afraid of being thrown out on the street, and wondering if help will ever come, corporate executives and financiers are thrilled that their hired help in Washington, DC, so quickly came to the rescue.

    Action on the Congressional bailout -- or stimulis bill, as they prefer to call it – now moves to the House of Representatives. Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she wants to bring the bill to a voice vote on the floor today, without requiring all four-hundred and twenty-nine

    members to fly back to Washington. Some are under quarantine. But a Kentucky Republican, Thomas Massie, opposes the bill and threatened to delay the vote on procedural grounds. Outside Congress, many raised more substantive concerns about the bill passed by the Senate, particularly the aspects amounting to a blank check for lucky corporations, signed by taxpayers. Among the provisions it has emerged are buried in the 880-page legislation: a tax break worth $170 billion for America’s richest real estate investors. As The New York Times pointed out, Donald Trump, his family, and his inner circle, stand to directly benefit from the provision. The bailout tax break temporarily removes restrictions on how much wealthy individuals and corporations can write down as losses due to depreciation – although experts said these often amount to theoretical losses that exist only on paper. It sure pays to have money!

    Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders drew both criticism and praise for his actions leading up to the vote on the coronavirus spending bill. Many praised his actions to defend expanded unemployment insurance against Republican threats, but even some supporters said Sanders, along with Elizabeth Warren and other Senate progressives, should have held up the bill and demanded more aid for workers and less giveaways for corporations. Former Vice President Joe Biden, who currently holds a delegate lead over Sanders for the Democratic Party presidential nomination, had the luxury of not having to cast a vote on the bill. In a video statement yesterday, he called the Senate bill an important step and said the key would be in the execution – essentially letting Congress off the hook for the contents of the bill, and trusting that the public won’t bother to learn the details.

    Sanders, by contrast, went through specific provisions he opposed, as well as what he favored, although he acknowledged the benefits for ordinary Americans did not come close to what he would have liked to see. Ultimately, he said, it is what it is – an answer that may or may not satisfy voters in the remaining future Democratic primary states, especially as the pandemic and its consequences unfold in the weeks and months to come. Sanders had proposed monthly payments of $2,000 for every American affected by the crisis, for however long it lasts. Instead what Congress is getting ready to pass will offer a one-time payment of $1,200 to a smaller group of Americans.

    Trump’s Treasury Secretary, former Goldman Sachs executive and tax-avoidant hedge fund manager Steve Mnuchin, said he expects most Americans to receieve that money via direct bank deposit within three weeks. He also told CNBC that the record jobless claims just announced by the Labor Department simply did not matter. Mnuchin said, QUOTE I just think these numbers right now are not relevant ENDQUOTE. Which should come as news to 3.3 million Americans – and counting.

    It’s getting uglier out there. The United States yesterday officially reported more confirmed coronavirus cases than any other country: over eighty-two thousand. Deaths in the US attributable to COVID-19 also passed the one thousand mark yesterday. But some doctors told reporters at BuzzFeed News that the official numbers from the federal Centers for Disease Control do not reflect what they are seeing on the front lines. In short, deaths are being underreported. In some cases, that is due to a lag in reporting. But often, doctors say, it is because people they see who are clearly sick with COVID-19 symptoms are not being tested either before or after they die.

    What’s worse, Trump is also engaged in a new kind of direct meddling in states and localities responding to the crisis. He sent a letter to the fifty state governors announcing a plan to designate counties as either high, medium, or low risk, based on unspecified criteria. The implication was that higher-risk areas will be targeted for more aggressive testing. But the full meaning of the designation was unclear, as are Trump’s intentions and authorities in saying what specific places may operate as normal or under some kind of lockdown.

    Elsewhere, the picture was mixed. China closed its borders to foreigners, even those already living legally in the country. The World Health Organization said it saw encouraging signs that European countries were beginning to get the pandemic under control. Britain’s Prince Charles, was seen on video for the first time since announcing he had COVID-19. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was in talks with Trump to prevent the deployment of US troops to their shared border. A White House official told the CBC that they are considering new ways to QUOTE limit unauthorized travel ENDQUOTE. The planned domestic deployment was reported in Canada but not the US. Which is somewhat concerning!

    AND NOW FOR SOME QUICKER QUICKIES:

    Venezuelan officials ridiculued drug trafficking charges against President Nicolas Maduro announced by the US Department of Justice yesterday. The Venezuelan Foreign Minister said the charges – and $15 million bounty for information -- reflected desperation and obsession of the Washington elite. US Attorney General William Barr has, in prior government roles, covered up at least one major drug trafficking scandal involving US intelligence agencies.

    The Washington Post reported a new way in which Johnson & Johnson, the US-based multinational pharmaceutical firm, sought to profit from the opioid crisis that has savaged America. The company engineered a new variety of super poppy that produced vastly increased quantities of an opiate substance, while producing less of another kind of chemical. This allowed for much simpler purification and refinement into oxycodone and hydrocodone. Science marches on!

    The main political rival of far-right Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Benny Gantz of the Blue and White Party, reversed his previous promises and took a new position that set him up to form a government with Netanyahu’s Likud party. Remaining opposition leaders called it a dark day. A member of the Knesset from the Meretz party predicted that Gantz would QUOTE end up a rug ENDQUOTE under the feet of racist crook Netanyahu.

    Not to be outdone by the singer Britney Spears, the comic actor Fran Drescher became the latest celebrity to condemn capitalism and call for nationwide work stoppages and protests. Drescher, best known for her role as TV’s The Nanny, attacked the wealthy owners of capital for hoarding coronavirus testing and treatment. She said labor was being treated as a sacrificial lamb, and concluded it was time for a general strike.

    That’s all for the AM Quickie. Join us this afternoon on the Majority Report.

    HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner

    WRITER - Corey Pein

    PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw

    EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Brendan Finn

  • Mar 26, 2020: Senate Passes Coronavirus Stimulus
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    09:00

    Welcome to Majority.FM's AM QUICKIE! Brought to you by justcoffee.coop

    TODAY'S HEADLINES:

    The Senate unanimously passed a $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill late last night after Bernie Sanders stood up to preserve unemployment benefits. And Joe Biden dodges new MeToo accusations by a former staffer.

    Meanwhile, the pandemic exacerbates social divides within the United States and around the world. Ireland nationalizes its health sector so fast, you’d think it was easy.

    And lastly, some news networks will stop running Donald Trump’s coronavirus briefings because they’re too full of lies. Naturally, Trump once again blames the media for his failures.

    THESE ARE THE STORIES YOU NEED TO KNOW:

    The United States Congress was not ready to vote last night on a $2.2 trillion so-called stimulus bill prepared in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Various factions of both parties had their reasons for delaying the measure – some valid, others less so.

    A few Republican Senators, including Lindsay Graham of South Carolina, objected to provisions in the bill that would provide unemployment benefits to displaced workers. Others, like New York Governor Governor Andrew Cuomo, demanded more aid for certain of their constitutents. Vermont Senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders placed a hold on the bill over those Republican objections, calling their opposition to benefits for workers morally objectionable. Sanders also said he was concerned by a part of the plan that would create a $500 billion slush fund to be doled out to corporations at the discretion of Donald Trump. Provided Republicans compromised, Sanders indicated he would favor the bill provided it put cash into the hands of working families, hospitals, and states and localities that desperately needed it.

    Former Vice President and supposed Democratic Party presidential front-runner Joe Biden was accused of sexual assault by a former staffer, Tara Reade. Part of Reade’s story came out in The Intercept earlier this week, but more details emerged in an interview yesterday with Rolling Stone’s Katie Halper. Reade said in 1993 Biden put her against a wall, and without consent QUOTE penetrated me with his fingers. When I pulled away, he pointed at me and said, 'You're nothing to me' ENDQUOTE. The Biden campaign offered no response. The

    candidate did however hold an online soiree targeting younger Americans, who have so far, by overwhelming margins, rejected his candidacy. It attracted fewer than three thousand viewers online -- and, judging by online commentary, many of those were waiting for him to say something they could make fun of on social media.

    America is the new epicenter of the global coronavirus pandemic, with New York emerging as the nation’s own hotspot. Hospitals are overwhelmed and crucial medical supplies are still unavailable in the quantities they’re needed. The state’s morgues are full. By this weekend, officials expect they will be over capacity. (North Carolina and Hawaii also reported too many dead bodies to handle.)

    Although Governor Cuomo has been receiving plaudits in some quarters for his handling of the crisis, many widely touted measures crumble under scrutiny. For instance, prisoners upstate who are supposedly making hand sanitizer on Cuomo’s orders told Vice News they were not manufacturing anything, but rather putting a commercial product in new bottles labeled N.Y.S. Clean.

    Officials in San Francisco said yesterday they expect a crisis on par with New York’s. California Governor Gavin Newsom placed a moratorium on mortagage payments. It emerged that half the state’s infections are among people between 18 and 49 years of age. Colorado will be ordering residents to stay home. Idaho already has. In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, garbage collectors refused to pick up trash until they recieve hazard pay and protective gear. The Pentagon said it would halt all overseas travel for US service members and their families for sixty days, with a few exceptions, including troops leaving Afghanistan.

    Mexico’s left-wing president promised to bail out the poor in his country, rather than banks and big companies. Brazil’s fascist ruler said coronavirus is not a problem – he called it the little flu. But drug gangs in the favelas are taking the pandemic more seriously, and have reportedly imposed strict curfews. A resident of the so-called City of God, a favela made famous by the movie of the same name, told The Guardian QUOTE The traffickers are doing this because the government is absent. The authorities are blind to us ENDQUOTE. I guess the drug gangs want to have some living, breathing customers when this is all over.

    One in three canadians expects to miss mortgage or rent payments in coming months, and two-thirds either have lost work or expect to, according to a new survey reported by the

    national broadcaster. But even conservative provinces are taking measures to aid workers and tenants. In Ireland, the government nationalized the entire healthcare sector for the first time. It was necessary, in the words of the country’s public health commissioner, because competition between the public and private sectors have created problems in delivering care.

    The G-7 group of major industrialized nations was supposed to issue a joint statement yesterday. It did not. The reason? Trump’s Secretary of State -- the thoroughly unqualified fundamentalist Christian zealot Mike Pompeo – insisted that two specific words be included. Those words? In the following order: Wuhan virus.

    That’s right, the White House prevented international action on the number one most urgent crisis facing humanity because representatives of six other countries – including three former Axis Powers – thought the language Trump’s henchman demanded was racist, unfair, and needlessly divisive.

    The president himself seems to be losing it, though this hasn’t yet been reflected in his approval ratings. Yesterday he called reports that he was isolated in the White House fake news – and you know what that means. (They’re true.) He also said that the LameStream Media were trying to hurt his reelection prospects by keeping businesses closed and that who he called the Real People were just itching to get back to work. During a global pandemic. Right. Without me, Trump said, QUOTE you wouldn’t even have a country left ENDQUOTE. Also yesterday, his campaign sent out cease and desist letters to television stations that aired an ad criticizing his handling of the pandemic. CNN, NBC, and some NPR affiliates announced they would stop airing his live press briefings because they contained too many lies. And Americans around the country began receiving mailers from the federal Centers for Disease Control that promoted President Trump in big bold black type. One of the benefits of incumbency!

    AND NOW FOR SOME QUICKER QUICKIES:

    The terrorist who killed fifty-one Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand last year, reversed himself yesterday and pleaded guilty to all charges. Brenton Tarrant, aged twenty-nine, from Australia, sent written instructions to his lawyers to change his plea. His reasons remain unclear. Victims families were relieved by the news. Sentencing hearings will follow.

    Two years ago, a group of federal prosecutors were ready to charge Walmart over its role in the prescription opioid abuse crisis. But then Trump’s political appointees got wind of the charges and killed the indictments. The story finally came out yesterday thanks to ProPublica. Rod Rosenstein played a special role in derailing the case to save Walmart, saying, QUOTE We are all capitalists here ENDQUOTE.

    A retired Federal Bureau of Investigation agent, Robert Levinson, held in Iran since 2007, is dead. This comes according to his family, which made the announcement yesterday. Reportedly working undercover for the Central Intelligence Agency, Levinson was the longest- held hostage in US history. Details remain vague. The CIA long denied his employment.

    The Turkish government charged twenty Saudi citizens in the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Two of the men charged reported directly to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. All were alleged to be directly involved in Khashoggi’s 2018 murder in the Saudi embassy in Istanbul, reportedly on MBS’s orders. Arrest warrants were issued but the trials will be held in absentia. So it goes.

    That’s all for the AM Quickie. Join us this afternoon on the Majority Report.

    HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner

    WRITER - Corey Pein

    PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw

    EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Brendan Finn

  • Mar 25, 2020: Worker Sacrifice Lifts Stocks
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    07:45

    Welcome to Majority.FM's AM QUICKIE! Brought to you by justcoffee.coop

    TODAY'S HEADLINES:

    Wall Street rallies after Donald Trump promises to sacrifice the lives of workers and their families to protect corporate profits. And so, of course, stocks rebound!

    Meanwhile, Joe Biden says he will refrain from criticizing Trump for his coronavirus pandemic response. But Bernie Sanders is taking the opposite approach.

    And lastly, the head of Italy’s coronavirus respone says there could be ten unreported cases for every confirmed case of COVID-19. Which would mean half a million cases in the United States, as opposed to the fifty thousand just reported.

    THESE ARE THE STORIES YOU NEED TO KNOW:

    Defying the express wishes of every public health expert – including the ones that still work for him -- Donald Trump said yesterday that he wants America back to business as usual by Easter. That’s in a couple of weeks – April 12 to be exact. Why that particular Sunday? He just thought it sounded beautiful. That’s what he said anyway. No doctors told Trump this was reasonable or realistic. In fact, they’ve been telling him the opposite. If lawmakers and employers follow Trump’s prescription, millions of people could die unnecessarily because workers were forced to return to their offices and job sites, thus spreading COVID-19 and overwhelming hospitals.

    Just in case it wasn’t obvious, Trump’s advise is intended to benefit the top one percent of people who own the economy at the expense of everyone else. And for the capitalist elite, at least, the message was received. The stock markets gained back some of their coronavirus- related losses after Trump came out for blood sacrifice. His fellow Republicans quickly fell in line and are giving up on all talk of aiding affected workers. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pushed forward with a $2 trillion so-called stimulus bill – though Trump economic adviser and designated bottle-opener Larry Kudlow said the total cost could total $6 trillion. I say so-called stimulus because none of the proposed measures in the latest Republican bailout come close to doing what other countries are doing to take care of their people during this pandemic. European countries including Britain, for instance, are covering up to eighty percent of people’s wages during the crisis.

    If further proof were needed that the people of the United States are being systematically misinformed on a crucial life-or-death matter -- the reality of a deadly pandemic -- consider the following: Trump’s approval rating is higher than ever, according to a new poll by Gallup. Forty-nine percent of adults now approve of the job he’s doing as president. Sixty percent approve of how he’s handling the coronavirus pandemic – which, until recently, he refused to acknowledge was even a problem.

    Despite what some corporate media talking heads would have you believe, the Democratic Party presidential primary continues.

    Joe Biden appeared via video link on The View and said he had no intention to criticize Donald Trump, and wanted to avoid politicizing the coronavirus response – as though it hasn’t been already. Biden also garbled his ideas a few times, with statements that trailed off into gibberish. This happened again several times in interviews later in the day. The New York Times said the Democratic front-runner is struggling to be heard. The Intercept reported new details in the story of a Nevada politician who accused Biden of sniffing her hair and kissing her before a rally in 2014. The politician, Tara Reade, sought assistance from a prominent feminist organization in the wake of the MeToo scandals. But the group, the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, told Reade they would not take her case because Biden was a candidate for president. A spokesperson for Time’s Up said their decision to withhold support from Reade should not be interpreted as a statement of doubt about the truthfulness of her claims.

    Bernie Sanders held another online panel discussion about the coronavirus response and spoke for the better part of two hours about what needed to be done to support displaced workers and overworked, under-supplied medical professionals through the crisis. The event featured Washington State Representative Pramila Jayapal, whose constituents were among the first Americans to face the brunt of the pandemic. A Centers for Disease Control viral outbreak specialist interviewed by Sanders told several truths that Trump refuses to: For instance, he said the US is now leading the world in new coronavirus cases. Heckuva job, Donnie! By this weekend, the CDC expert told Sanders, the US will have more cases than China -- and Trump’s incompetence and inaction are directly to blame.

    Global confirmed coronavirus cases surprassed the four-hundred thousand mark yesterday. More than fifty thousand of those cases were in the US, with New York state alone accounting for half of the total. But there is growing reason to think that the official figures from various countries vastly understate the actual scale of the problem.

    The chief of civil defense in Italy, one of the hardest-hit countries, is one official who is willing to come out and say as much. Career civil servant and Extraordinary Commissioner for the COVID-19 Emergency Angelo Borrelli said a more credible estimate was ten actual cases for every one confirmed case. Borrelli’s remarks were first reported in the Italian press and later publicized by Reuters news service. This knowledge has yet to filter in to the public conversation in the US, where denialism still rules at the top, as hospitalizations and fatalities mount. Atlanta, Georgia, hospitals yesterday reportedly ran out of space in their intensive care units.

    As Republicans in the US ease up on public health measures, other countries are growing more stringent to save lives. India, home to over one billion people, went on national lockdown. People there have been ordered to stay in their homes for three weeks, although poverty and density will make that impossible or meaningless for many. Also, after much dithering by the organizers and the Japanese government, the Tokyo Olympics has been officially postponed until 2021. Easter Island reported its first coronavirus case, and the Washington Post called Antarctica, with zero cases as yet reported, possibly the safest place in the world. Hubei province in China, where the pandemic was first noted, is getting ready to start running trains again, after a long period of lockdown that helped slow the spread of the virus in that country.

    QUICKER QUICKIES

    A special commission mandated by Congress is recommending that women be made eligible for military conscription. The eleven-member commission set up in 2017 produced a final report that was presented to the White House yesterday, and may inspire new legislation. The report says registering women for the draft is both necessary and fair in times of national emergency. Is it though?

    A German court convicted and sentenced eight members of a revolutionary neo-Nazi skinhead organization yesterday after a six month trial. The accused men, all between twenty-

    two and thirty-two years of age, were sentenced to a little over two years in prison, with the ringleader getting five and a half years. The group systematically attacked minorities and were allegedly planning massacres with firearms.

    The publishers of three major US news organizations – The New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal – are publishing a rare joint declaration asking the government of China to let their reporters back in the country. The Chinese government last month decided to deny visas to reporters for those papers. The Trump administration has also been taking actions against Chinese news organizations in the US. The letter called on both countries’ leaders to let journalists do their important work in this time of crisis.

    Britney Spears is making news again. The pop star posted took to Instagram to share demands for wealth redistribution and a general strike, which is a thing that’s never really happened in America when nobody goes to work until everyone gets what they need. Comrade Britney signed off with rose emojis, as often deployed by members of the Democratic Socialists of America. She’s a not a slave for you, or for anyone!

    That’s all for the AM Quickie. Join us this afternoon on the Majority Report, home edition.

    HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner

    WRITER - Corey Pein

    PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw

    EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Brendan Finn

  • Mar 24, 2020: Republicans Pivot to Mass Death
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    06:15

    Welcome to Majority.FM's AM QUICKIE! Brought to you by justcoffee.coop

    TODAY'S HEADLINES:

    The Republican party pivoted toward death today, as President Donald Trump openly considered easing preventative restrictions that slow the spread of the virus and allowing hundreds of thousands to die in order to prevent an economic recession.

    Meanwhile, New York City has emerged as the dire center of the coronavirus epidemic in America, as its high population density means the virus is spreading like wildfire.

    And lastly, an Arizona man died after ingesting chloroquine phosphate, a toxic chemical that he thought would protect him from the coronavirus, something that his grieving wife says was inspired by Donald Trump’s ill-informed tweets about the substance.

    THESE ARE THE STORIES YOU NEED TO KNOW:

    The Republican party made it clear that it is willing to kill as many Americans as it takes to save its precious free-market economy.

    I wish that were an exaggeration, but the actions of President Donald Trump and other Republican leaders on Monday have made their position clear.

    During a press briefing on Monday, the president started openly floating the idea of re-opening the economy and easing social restrictions that have crippled business and destroyed jobs, an idea that horrifies pretty much every public health official who understands the crisis we’re in.

    He said QUOTE:

    “If it were up to the doctors, they’d say let’s shut down the entire world. This could create a much bigger problem than the problem that you started out with.”

    ENDQUOTE.

    Buddy, it should be up to the doctors!

    The economic effects of these restrictions are real, but the public health risk without them is so much greater. And there’s always another option: pass a stimulus package that actual helps American workers, not the corporations trying to save their bottom line.

    The New York Times reports that even if we relax the restrictions now, experts say the economy will still crash as new virus cases overwhelm the U.S.’s pitiful healthcare system and make the recession that we’re already in that much worse.

    In an appearance on Tucker Carlson’s sociopath hour on Monday, Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick claimed that there were quote “lots of grandparents out there” endquote who would be willing to take the risk of dying in order to save capitalism.

    Sure sounds like a death cult to me.

    New York City is now the center of the coronavirus in America, and the infection rates in the nation’s biggest city are starting to look truly dire.

    The problem, of course, is New York’s population density. Since the state finally got its act together and began testing aggressively, there have been 13,000 confirmed cases in New York City, and 125 deaths. By comparison, Los Angeles, America’s second-biggest city, has only 500 confirmed cases and seven deaths, although it is far behind on widespread testing.

    The virus’s quote “attack rate” in NYC is nearly one in one thousand, which the Times reports is over five times higher than anywhere else in the country.

    On Monday, the New York Board of Corrections urged the city’s jails to start releasing vulnerable inmates and those being held on low-level offenses in order to curb the spread and protect them from the virus, which is spreading across the prison system.

    So far, Mayor De Blasio has only released 23 inmates. New York also has roughly 400,000 people in crowded public housing buildings, which will surely be devastated by the disease.

    As always, it’s the most vulnerable people that this is going to hurt.

    An Arizona man died on Monday after ingesting chloroquine phosphate, a toxic substance that he mistakenly thought would prevent the coronavirus. His wife also took the substance and is in critical care.

    Chloroquine does have medical uses, largely as an anti-malarial drug, and has been floated as a possible treatment for coronavirus - claims which have not been evaluated or approved by the FDA.

    They have, however, been spread by the president, who has spoken and tweeted about the positive benefits of the drug, dangerously spreading unproven and incomplete information.

    The couple didn’t take the medical version of the substance. Per NBC News, they ingested a small amount of an ingredient listed on a parasite treatment for pet fish, because they were quote “scared of getting sick.”

    The wife told NBC news that they decided to take the substance because they thought it was what they had seen President Trump talking about on TV.

    Within 20 minutes they both became extremely ill. Her husband died shortly after arriving at the hospital, one of the first direct casualties of Trump’s fast-and-loose response to the disease.

    AND NOW FOR SOME QUICKER QUICKIES:

    Michael Bloomberg’s laid-off staff members in Texas are suing his campaign, alleging that the former mayor of New York City promised them jobs and health care coverage through the November general election, but then laid them off when he dropped out of the race. The workers are suing for the pay and benefits that were promised to them.

    Amazon workers in Chicago, Sacramento, and New York united to fight for paid time off and sick leave across the company, and recently succeeded in getting Amazon to change its policies and offer paid time off to all regular and seasonal employees. The company’s wider sick leave and time off policy is still miserable, however, so the fight continues.

    In China, there are signs of recovery from the virus. Chinese officials lifted the total lockdown over Hubei [HOO-BEY] province on Tuesday. The city of Wuhan, where the original epidemic appears to have started, will remain on lockdown until April 8.

    Lawmakers and activists in New York City and other major cities continue to call for a widespread rent freeze, freeing the millions of recently-laid off Americans from the burden of paying rent come April. Evictions in many states have been halted, but as of now, rent is still due and the fight continues.

    That’s all for the Majority Report’s AM Quickie today. Stay well and stay inside. Sam will be with you this afternoon with the full show.

    _ _ _

    #AMQuickie: March 24, 2020

    HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner

    WRITER - Jack Crosbie

    PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw

    EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Brendan Finn

  • Mar 23, 2020: McConnell's Senate Stimulus Shenanigans
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    00:00
    06:14

    Welcome to Majority.FM's AM QUICKIE! Brought to you by justcoffee.coop

    TODAY'S HEADLINES:

    The Senate will vote today on a new stimulus package to help the American people cope with the coronavirus, but Mitch McConnell is up to his usual tricks -- largely trying to push through a bill that mostly helps big corporations.

    Meanwhile, the Department of Justice is quietly asking for new, draconian powers in the middle of the crisis, including the ability to indefinitely detain people without a trial.

    And lastly, our wise president fired off an all-caps tweet late on Sunday night that appears to be catering to a new right-wing theory that saving the lives of millions isn’t worth tanking the economy through quarantines and lockdowns.

    THESE ARE THE STORIES YOU NEED TO KNOW:

    The Senate is currently in open conflict over a bill to provide much-needed emergency relief to American people and businesses during the coronavirus crisis.

    The bill, introduced by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, is currently set up to heavily favor the classic GOP side.

    It does include some Democratic concessions, however, including direct payments of $1,200 to most Americans and $500 to children. But Democrats aren’t happy with the rest of the bill, which includes hefty bailouts for corporations, including a massive $500 billion loan program that’s basically left up to the Trump-controlled Treasury department’s discretion.

    Considering how the big industry CEO’s running airlines, cruise ships, casinos and oil have already been barking up Trump’s tree for bailout cash, the bill in its current state probably wouldn’t be a great deal for, you know, actual American people.

    Late on Sunday night, however, McConnell tried to ram it through anyway, calling a procedural vote to advance the bill, knowing that he could blame Democrats when they voted it down. And guess what? Both of those things happened.

    The blocked vote gives Democrats a bit more time to try to hammer out more concessions from the GOP that might actually help ordinary Americans, but the Senate is expected to see more procedural action later today.

    We’ll have to wait and see how that shakes out, and what the bill’s final form looks like.

    Amidst all the Washington infighting, Trump’s Department of Justice is quietly trying to do a little bit more fascism on the side.

    Per Politico, the DOJ is asking Congress for the ability to ask judges to indefinitely detain people without trial quote “during emergencies,” endquote.

    The justification for these powers, of course, is the current coronavirus crisis.

    The bill essentially asks for the power to pause court proceedings, the statute of limitations on crimes, and basically any procedure the government wants until the end of whatever emergency is happening.

    While it’s pretty unlikely that a bill like this would make it through the Democrats in the House, it’s still a troubling sign that the Trump Administration is continuing to use the crisis to expand its own power.

    It doesn’t take a particularly active imagination to see how a bill allowing indefinite detentions and postponement of a fair trial could very quickly be abused by authoritarians in government. And as we know from everything after 9/11, there’s nothing like a national crisis to get our elected representatives to hand over civil rights in the name of collective safety.

    The president was up late Tweeting last night, which is a relatable experience, except in this case he decided to fire off an all-caps screaming message that appears to fall right in line with a prominent far-right theory.

    At 11:50 on Sunday night, Trump tweeted quote:

    WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF. AT THE END OF THE 15 DAY PERIOD, WE WILL MAKE A DECISION AS TO WHICH WAY WE WANT TO GO!

    Endquote.

    While that may be at first glance the ramblings of delusional egomaniac, the message behind the tweet is distressing.

    The language about the cure being worse than the problem seems to imply support for a common far-right position, which largely boils down the argument that saving American lives from the disease is not enough to justify the crippling economic blow of mandatory lockdowns and quarantines.

    Trump knows that a scientifically sound response to the disease, even with a stimulus package from Congress, is going to tank the economy. There’s almost no way around it now, although some progressive options could help spare everyday Americans from some of the pain.

    So instead, it sounds like he might lean in to the truly inhuman option, which would be to half-ass the quarantine response and then relax restrictions to try to bump the stock market up before the general election.

    Great Britain under Boris Johnson briefly tried this, before having to backpedal wildly once they realized it was a terrible idea.

    We’ll see if Trump gives it a shot! After all, the only thing at stake is millions of American lives.

    AND NOW FOR SOME QUICKER QUICKIES:

    A 42-year-old Mexican man died while in ICE custody on Saturday, the tenth death in the 2020 fiscal year. In 2019, there were only eight deaths total -- and we still have more than six months to go this time.

    Harvey Weinstein tested positive for the coronavirus while behind bars in the New York State prison system, and has been placed in isolation pending his treatment.

    Save for a few audio-only phone calls with the press, Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden has been completely absent from the national conversation since last Tuesday’s primaries, the last time he was seen on video.

    Rep. Rashida Tlaib on Saturday proposed a groundbreaking plan to boost the economy during coronavirus which included at least $3000 in payments to every American and also, the minting of two $1 trillion dollar platinum coins. Sounds pretty sweet.

    That’s all for the Majority Report’s AM Quickie. Stay tuned for the full show under lockdown later this afternoon.

    #AMQuickie: March 23, 2020

    HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner

    WRITER - Jack Crosbie

    PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw

    EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Brendan Finn

  • Mar 20, 2020: Senators Profited From Coronavirus
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    09:07

    Welcome to Majority.FM's AM QUICKIE! Brought to you by justcoffee.coop

    TODAY'S HEADLINES:

    Californians are ordered to shelter in place to combat the coronavirus. US citizens are advised against all international travel.

    Meanwhile, Tulsi Gabbard ends her Democratic presidential campaign and endorses Joe Biden. Bernie Sanders calls on Amazon to step up for its workers during the pandemic.

    And lastly, at least two Republican Senators have been caught profiteering from the pandemic while lying to constituents. Will the disclosures increase scrutiny of how government officials have botched and exploited the pandemic response for personal gain?

    THESE ARE THE STORIES YOU NEED TO KNOW:

    The US State Department issued an unprecedented global travel warning yesterday. American citizens are being told not to travel overseas. If they are already abroad, the State Department says citizens should either come back to the US now or prepare to hunker down wherever they are indefinitely. The level four travel advisory, the most severe type of warning the department issues, says Americans abroad may be on their own. Specifically, QUOTE have a travel plan that does not rely on the US government for assistance ENDQUOTE. The department ignored at least some press queries after making the announcememt.

    California governor Gavin Newsom last night told nonessential businesses to close their doors and the forty million residents of America’s largest state to stay home.

    Earlier in the day he said the state expected more than half of residents to fall ill with COVID- 19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus now pandemic to the globe. That would mean the state would need nearly twenty thousand more hospital beds than it currently has. The curfew measures are intended to slow the spread of the virus and keep hospitals from getting overwhelmed. Essential activities include buying groceries and taking neighborhood walks but close contact with others is discouraged and most stores will be closed.

    A homeless shelter resident in California told the Guardian newspaper he expects to die if he catches the coronavirus. A man who died after a visit to Disney World in Florida before it

    closed was only thirty four years old, so please do take this seriously. Even Wyoming, where police cannot stop drivers failing to wear seat belts, has ordered bars and restaurants closed.

    Senate Republicans pushed forward a pandemic stimulus plan that includes one-time cash payments to many Americans, including $1,200 per adult in many families, but only $600 for poorer families. An analysis cited by the Washington Post said twenty two million Americans who make less than $40,000 per year would see no benefit under the Republican plan.

    President Donald Trump spouted more lies at a pandemic response briefing. He claimed that an old malaria drug could be used to treat coronavirus, but medical experts said otherwise, and the Food and Drug Administration clarified that the drug was not approved for such treatment. White House press briefings are getting truly ridiculous as Trump seeks to pin all the blame on China and relies on Republican operatives in the press pool to bail him out.

    The number of confirmed cases in the US doubled between Tuesday and Thursday, with more than 11,500 as of yesterday. Doctors say they still urgently need ventilators and masks. Some are being asked to reuse masks against the manufacturer’s advise.

    More governments overseas are closing borders, including Australia, New Zealand, and Brazil. Chile is postponing a constitutional referendum. The G7 meeting of world leaders in June will be held via teleconference. In The Netherlands, a minister in charge of coronavirus response resigned after collapsing in parliament from exhaustion. We feel you.

    Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard dropped out of the Democratic presidential primary race yesterday. To the suprise of many, including her supporters, she endorsed the front-runner and establishment favorite, former Vice President Joe Biden. Gabbard said she was confided Biden would be QUOTE guided by the spirit of aloha respect and compassion ENDQUOTE. Biden said he was grateful for Gabbard’s support and said he looked forward to QUOTE working with her to restore honor and decency to the White House ENDQUOTE. Gabbard’s brother posted then deleted a claim that Sanders had refused her support.

    Press speculation turned to who Biden might name as a running mate, though the campaign made no announcements. Sanders, for his part, yesterday demanded Amazon do more to take care of its workers, as the company hires up to expand its delivery business with more of

    the world going on lockdown. Sanders said QUOTE The majority of Amazon's 800,000 workers are working in warehouses and are worried about their safety. We should ask Jeff Bezos, the world's richest man, if he can afford to guarantee paid sick leave, hazard pay and safe conditions to all of his workers ENDQUOTE.

    More than one million Americans may lose their jobs by the end of the month. Many are already having trouble claiming unemployment benefits. Gig workers are finding they aren’t eligible and have no choice but to keep working. Trump has asked states to stop releasing new unemployment numbers. Gee, he really became president this week, didn’t he?

    A new scandal is brewing related to the US government’s coronavirus response. Some members of Congress have been saying one thing to the public about the crisis while doing quite another behind the scenes, and finding ways to profit from the pandemic.

    As of last night at least two Republican Senators, Richard Burr of North Carolina and Kelly Loeffler of Georgia, were caught making big stock market trades based on information they received in an official briefing on the crisis. The trades took place after the Senators heard non-public information about the coronavirus, but before news got out -- and before the markets tanked.

    Burr chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee. NPR reported he shared inside info on the coronavirus with a select group of wealthy donors, who in turn sought to profit from the bad news. Ethics watchdogs called the trades uncoscionable, especially at a time when Republicans from Trump on down were denying coronavirus would be a problem. Now even Fox News’s Tucker Carlson is calling for Burr’s head. Burr, who worked as a corporate salesman for seventeen years before seeking office, voted against a bill to ban insider trading by members of Congress in 2012. Go figure!

    Last night, scrutiny was growing on other members of Congress who recieved the coronavirus briefing. Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein was among those reported to have made suspicious trades. Expect to hear more about this in the days to come. Hopefully we’ll also learn more about whatever angles Trump’s son-in-law and designated messenger Jared Kushner has been working with his shadow task force on the coronavirus.

    AND NOW FOR SOME QUICKER QUICKIES:

    One-third of the US faces risk of flooding this spring, the National Weather Service said yesterday. The areas affected by the forecast cover twenty-three states and are home to 128 million people. It’s not supposed to be quite so bad as last year, but farmland soils are saturated and this means problems for harvests, which means higher food prices. So more of a Mud Bowl than a Dust Bowl with Great Depression Two.

    Residents of a West Virginia tourist town at odds with a white nationalist non-profit group, V-DARE, which recently took the unusual step of buying a large castle overlooking their homes. A report by the Southern Poverty Law Center says the residents of Berkeley Springs are asking how and why the group, a favorite of Trump adviser Stephen Miller, paid $1.4 million cash for the nineteenth-century landmark castle. No word on whether any local maidens have been found drained of blood.

    Ghislaine Maxwell, the former girlfriend and alleged accomplice of the late sex trafficker to the elite, Jeffrey Epstein, is apparently alive. Maxwell has been hard to find since Epstein’s death last year. But she has reportedly filed a court complaint in the US Virgin Islands aginst Epstein’s estate, demanding payment for security and legal costs, and disclaiming knowledge of his crimes. One Epstein victims, Virginia Giuffre, responded QUOTE how dare you... I hope the judge ruling over this laughs you out of court and into jail. ENDQUOTE. Fair!

    That’s all for the AM Quickie. Join us this afternoon on the Majority Report, home edition.

    #AMQuickie: March 20, 2020

    HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner

    WRITER - Corey Pein

    PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw

    EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Brendan Finn