Desperation is growing in the failed states of America. Reports show millions of families in the richest country in the world aren’t getting enough food and clean water.
Meanwhile, as hospitals were scrambling for supplies, the Transportation Security Administration hoarded well over a million N-95 masks. And TSA officials still won’t explain why they aren’t sharing their stockpile where it’s needed – which is not at the airport.
And lastly, I guess we’re lucky that rich people also use the US Postal Service. A few companies with a lot of money on the line have joined the fight to save the Constitutionally protected US Mail from Donald Trump’s plan to destroy it.
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The European Union’s top economists are predicting the worst economic recession there since the end of the Second World War. The worst effects will be felt in countries that depend on tourism – Europe, Spain, Greece, and Italy. But even though many EU countries will fare worse than the United States on paper, economists say they will still do better in terms of saving jobs. The US unemployment rate is already worse than what’s predicted for the EU. Most European governments have chosen to cover the cost of people’s salaries during the pandemic. America is now the place where rulers say let them eat cake.
A new survey by the Brookings Institution shows that childhood hunger in the US has tripled from its worst point during the 2008 recession. One in five American mothers today say their children aren’t getting enough to eat. Families are skipping meals and reducing portions. Democrats in Congress want to increase food stamp benefits by fifteen percent, as they did in that prior recession. Republicans say nah.
Access to clean water is also an urgent problem for more and more people. More than two million Americans lack indoor plumbing. Millions more don’t trust their water. The Washington Post says stores are restricting purchases for rural people who rely on bottled water for cooking and drinking – not to mention hand-washing. Prices are going up, and some say the rationed amount isn’t enough. It’s a real bad scene out there.
As always, some are facing greater risks. New research by the Associated Press confirms that people of color are faring worse, not only from COVID-19 but from the economic fallout. Black and Hispanic Americans were twice as likely as whites to have lost work, or to report trouble making rent and paying bills, since the pandemic. All of this is fixable, but we need people in power who care.
TSA hoarding deprives hospitals
Air travel is down ninety-five percent at US airports since the pandemic. So it doesn’t make a lot of sense why the Transportation Security Administration has decided to hoard more than 1.3 million N-95 respirator masks. This is at a time when doctors around the country were literally begging for donations of that exact piece of equipment. ProPublica broke this story yesterday, but there aren’t good answers as to how and why it happened.
A TSA attorney, Charles Kielkopf (KYLE-COUGH), filed a whistleblower complaint over the stockpiling this week. Kielkopf first raised the matter last month after TSA got the masks from Customs and Border Patrol, which found them in a warehouse in Indiana. The whistleblower and other officials repeatedly told higher-ups that the masks should be given to hospitals, where they were – and are – desperately needed. Instead, management decided to hold on to their hoard, even as it cut the schedules for most of its workers – because, remember, the airports are like ghost towns. Then TSA field offices started getting thousands of masks for workers who weren’t there. As state governors started pleading for donations, TSA management refused suggestions to give the masks to hospitals. Bad call!
Separately, the Department of Justice has opened an investigation into a fake medical supply company founded by two Republican political operatives that conned its way into hundreds of millions of dollars in public contracts. The company, called Blue Flame Medical, was founded just six weeks ago. But as the Washington Post reported, its founders used their connections with former federal officials to land government contracts – including a $457 million contract with California for 100 million masks. The consultants, Michael Gula and John Thomas, claimed to have a solid connection with a Chinese government supplier. Guess who they blamed when they couldn’t deliver? China, of course.
Retailers demand USPS rescue
A few big corporations are doing something useful with their money for a change, and asking the government to save the US Postal Service. Last night a group of online retailers including Amazon and CVS launched a multimillion-dollar ad campaign to pressure Republican lawmakers to reject Donald Trump’s plan to jack up postal rates. Democrats have a different proposal to make up for stretched budgets at the Postal Service as a result of the pandemic: give it more money in the budget.
According to the New York Times, Democrats want to allocate $25 billion to make up the Postal Service shortfall. No, no. Definitely not. That would be too simple. Trump is reportedly refusing to sign off on any USPS funding that doesn’t quadruple rates for packages. So wherever you see Shipping and Handling charges, multiply that by four. The retailers hired a former Army secretary, John McHugh, to make the case for the Democrats’ plan. McHugh says Trump’s plan is dangerous, especially with people relying more and more on deliveries.
The pressure ads by the retail lobby started airing last night on Sean Hannity’s show on Fox News – so Trump definitely saw it. They’re calling themselves the Package Coalition. And they say Trump’s plan is QUOTE a massive package tax ENDQUOTE. Listen. They’re spending $2 million on this ad campaign. You’d think they could come up a way to avoid making everyone say the word package so much_._
AND NOW FOR SOME QUICKER QUICKIES:
Guess what, some of the people at the pro-Trump “re-opening” rallies have been stockpiling explosives as well as guns. In at least one case, a white supremacist involved in recent open-carry rallies prompted Homeland Security to issue an alert over threats to law enforcement. The subject, Bradley Bunn of Loveland, Colorado, was arrested before a May 1 lockdown protest. Bunn bragged to an undercover about killing FBI agents with the pipe bombs he’d built. At least they are stupid terrorists...
One in seven humans live in a place that will endure unbearable, Sahara-like temperatures within fifty years. That’s the most optimistic scenario in a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The authors examined migration patterns and found that 1.2 billion people live outside the so-called climate niche of our species. The pessimistic scenario has one in three people dealing with unbearable heat in the pretty-near future. Either way, these scientists say we should expect more change in the next fifty years than in the previous six thousand. Fingers crossed!
The ignorant billionaire Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, laid out new rules yesterday for how schools deal with allegations of sexual assault and harassment. The new rules narrow the definition of harrassment, and require that it be severe and pervasive. They also give abusers the right to cross-examine accusers in campus hearings. DeVos claimed it’s about due process, but feminist critics said the changes are really about silencing survivors.
US military recruiters say the coronavirus is changing the way they do business. Instead of stalking campuses and high school hangouts, the main focus of their efforts is moving to online games like Call of Duty and Fortnite. The McClatchy news service says the Army and Navy are sponsoring gaming tournaments and e-sports teams to engage in what they call prospecting activity. We call it getting paid to play video games with high school kids.
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