Trump Administration, Week 164: Friday, 6 March – Thursday, 12 March 2020 (Days 1,141-1,147)

 

One chart explains why slowing the spread of the infection is nearly as important as stopping it.

 

 

Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are usually my emphasis, though not always. This is an ongoing project, and I update the site frequently during the day. Because I try to stay focused on what has actually happened, I usually let the news ‘settle’ for a day or so before posting. I hope readers will peruse the articles in full for a better understanding of the issues and their context; our democracy and our future depend on citizens who can distinguish between facts and falsehoods and who are engaged in the political process.

 

For independent global news, visit Democracy Now!

 

Friday, 6 March 2020, Day 1,141:

 

Exclusive: The Strongest Evidence Yet That the U.S. Is Botching Coronavirus Testing, The Atlantic, Robinson Meyer and Alexis C. Madrigal, Friday, 6 March 2020: “It’s one of the most urgent questions in the United States right now: How many people have actually been tested for the coronavirus? This number would give a sense of how widespread the disease is, and how forceful a response to it the United States is mustering. But for days, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has refused to publish such a count, despite public anxiety and criticism from Congress. On Monday, Stephen Hahn, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, estimated that ‘by the end of this week, close to a million tests will be able to be performed’ in the United States. On Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence promised that ‘roughly 1.5 million tests’ would be available this week. But the number of tests performed across the country has fallen far short of those projections, despite extraordinarily high demand, The Atlantic has found. ‘The CDC got this right with H1N1 and Zika, and produced huge quantities of test kits that went around the country,’ Thomas Frieden, the director of the CDC from 2009 to 2017, told us. ‘I don’t know what went wrong this time.’ Through interviews with dozens of public-health officials and a survey of local data from across the country, The Atlantic could only verify that 1,895 people have been tested for the coronavirus in the United States, about 10 percent of whom have tested positive. And while the American capacity to test for the coronavirus has ramped up significantly over the past few days, local officials can still test only several thousand people a day, not the tens or hundreds of thousands indicated by the White House’s promises.” See also, Chaos at hospitals due to shortage of coronavirus testing, Los Angeles Times, Emily Baumgaertner and Soumya Karlamangla, Friday, 6 March 2020: “As COVID-19 cases spike, the testing needed to help stem the spread of the disease remains below what is needed to address the growing crisis, with healthcare workers across the state reporting widespread failings in the response by local and federal government officials. Federal officials said nearly 1 million tests were expected to be available by the end of this week. But in California, one of the country’s hardest-hit regions with 60 cases, the total testing capacity is limited to only 7,400 through the weekend, according to the California Department of Public Health. The inability to test widely and swiftly for the novel coronavirus has impeded the country’s ability to beat back the spread of the virus, experts say. Without testing, public health officials don’t know where the virus is spreading and where to target efforts to contain it. Twelve Americans have been killed so far by the disease. The shortage of test kits as well as lab staffing to screen for the virus are creating chaos for doctors and nurses as their triage efforts are complicated by testing restrictions and shortfalls.” See also, How testing failures allowed coronavirus to sweep the United States, Politico, Joanne Kenen, Friday, 6 March 2020: “On Saturday Jan. 11 — a month and a half before the first Covid-19 case not linked to travel was diagnosed in the United States — Chinese scientists posted the genome of the mysterious new virus, and within a week virologists in Berlin had produced the first diagnostic test for the disease. Soon after, researchers in other nations rolled out their own tests, too, sometimes with different genetic targets. By the end of February, the World Health Organization had shipped tests to nearly 60 countries. The United States was not among them. Why the United States declined to use the WHO test, even temporarily as a bridge until the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention could produce its own test, remains a perplexing question and the key to the Trump administration’s failure to provide enough tests to identify the coronavirus infections before they could be passed on, according to POLITICO interviews with dozens of viral-disease experts, former officials and some officials within the administration’s health agencies.” See also, In the U.S., More Than 300 Coronavirus Cases Are Confirmed, The New York Times, published on Saturday, 7 March 2020. See also, 21 people test positive for coronavirus on California cruise ship, out of 46 tested so far, The Washington Post, Brady Dennis, Mark Berman, and Hannah Sampson, published on Saturday, 7 March 2020: “Nearly half of the people initially tested aboard a cruise ship being held in waters off San Francisco have been infected with coronavirus, Vice President Pence said Friday. Results for 21 of the 46 people officials tested Thursday came back positive, raising fears that the virus could be spreading widely among the more than 3,500 people aboard the Grand Princess. Pence said those infected include 19 crew members and two passengers. The vice president said authorities plan to bring the cruise ship to a ‘non-commercial port’ over the weekend, where all passengers and crew will be tested for the disease and quarantined as necessary.” See also, During a Visit to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Trump Sought to Play Down the Risk From the Coronavirus, The New York Times, Peter Baker, Friday, 6 March 2020. See also, Trump signs $8.3B emergency coronavirus package, Politico, Caitlin Emma, Friday, 6 March 2020: “President Donald Trump today signed the $8.3 billion emergency funding package Congress swiftly cleared, triggering the flow of cash to federal agencies and states working to combat a rising number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. The bill provides a total of $7.7 billion in new discretionary spending and authorizes an additional $490 million in mandatory spending through a Medicare change.” See also, Trump calls Washington Governor Jay Inslee ‘a snake’ for criticizing his administration’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, Politico, Matthew Choi, Friday, 6 March 2020: “President Donald Trump on Friday called Washington Gov. Jay Inslee ‘a snake’ for criticizing his administration’s response to the coronavirus outbreak. Speaking in Atlanta at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Trump went off on Inslee for saying that he wanted Trump to stick to the science when discussing the outbreak. Trump has repeatedly tried to downplay the gravity of the outbreak and floated his own hunches on matters of science.”

Live updates on some significant developments in the coronavirus outbreak: U.S. coronavirus death toll reaches 17; at least half of U.S. states confirm cases, The Washington Post, Derek Hawkins, Hannah Knowles, Michael Brice-Saddler, Siobhán O’Grady, Alex Horton, and Reis Thebault, Friday, 6 March 2020: “The coronavirus death toll in the United States reached 17 late Friday when Florida health officials reported two fatalities, the first in the state. Earlier in the day, the Seattle-area hospital caring for most of the coronavirus patients who have died in the United States reported three more deaths. Several states reported their first cases, and 21 people on a cruise ship off the coast of California have tested positive for the virus. As more cases were identified, concerns also rose about who else could have been inadvertently exposed to the respiratory virus. In Maryland, health officials launched a search for other potentially infected people after three Montgomery County residents who had traveled overseas were found to have the virus. Worldwide, the number of cases has surpassed 100,000. In the United States, there are more than 300, and at least half of all U.S. states have confirmed cases. President Trump signed legislation Friday that provides $8.3 billion of emergency funding to tackle the coronavirus outbreak, enacting into law a measure passed swiftly and with broad bipartisan support.” This article covers many more significant developments that happened today.

First U.S. Colleges Close Classrooms as Virus Spreads. More Could Follow. The New York Times, Mike Baker, Anemona Hartocollis, and Karen Weise, Friday, 6 March 2020: “The University of Washington said on Friday that it would cancel in-person classes and have students take courses and finals remotely while the Seattle area grapples with a growing coronavirus outbreak, in a move that other colleges around the country are preparing to follow if the virus becomes more widespread. Over the last few days, a growing number of universities have mobilized emergency planning teams to envision what a shutdown would look like, especially if students bring the virus back with them from spring break, which starts Friday on many campuses. Already, some students have been warned that they should be prepared to learn online, as many students studying abroad in Europe and Asia have been forced to do. At Stanford University, officials announced late Friday that classes would not meet in person as of Monday, and that any looming exams would be changed to a take-home format. The level of concern rose on Thursday with the announcement that a junior at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee who had been studying in Italy had tested positive for the virus after his study abroad program was canceled and he returned to his hometown, Chicago. The University of California, Los Angeles, also said three of its students were being tested and self-isolating off campus.” See also, Democrats introduce bill to guarantee paid sick leave in response to coronavirus, The Hill, Cristina Marcos, Friday, 6 March 2020: “Democrats in the House and Senate introduced legislation Friday that would require all employers to grant workers paid sick days in light of the global coronavirus spread. The bill unveiled by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) would mandate all employers to let workers accrue seven days of paid sick leave and immediately provide 14 additional days when there is a public health emergency. Health authorities have been encouraging Americans to stay home if they feel sick to help prevent potential spread of the coronavirus, but the lack of a federal guarantee for paid leave has raised concerns that some workers — especially in the service and restaurant industries — might not be able to follow those guidelines.”

House Democrats request appeal asking court to enforce subpoena for former Trump White House counsel Donald McGahn, The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu and Ann E. Marimow, Friday, 6 March 2020: “House Democrats asked a federal appeals court in Washington on Friday to reconsider enforcing a congressional subpoena for President Trump’s former White House counsel Donald McGahn. The request comes after a divided panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit found that the courts have no authority to resolve the separation-of-powers dispute between the White House and Democrats in Congress. Lawyers for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) want a full complement of judges on the appeals court to overturn the ruling from a three-judge panel of the same court. If last week’s ruling stands, it means McGahn can defy the subpoena from the House Judiciary Committee. Even if the full D.C. Circuit agrees to take a second look, the case is likely to be appealed to the Supreme Court.” See also, Lawyers for the House Judiciary Committee say the federal appeals court ruling on former White House Counsel Don McGahn leaves only extreme options, such as arrests, to get information from the White House, Politico, Kyle Cheney, Friday, 6 March 2020: “House lawyers argued Friday that an appeals court ruling blocking lawmakers from suing to obtain information from the executive branch would leave Congress with little choice but to exercise extreme options — such as arresting ‘current and former high-level’ officials to get answers to its subpoenas. ‘The House could direct its sergeant at arms to arrest current and former high-level executive branch officials for failing to respond to subpoenas, after which the legal issues dividing the branches would then be litigated through habeas actions,’ House lawyers wrote in a filing seeking a rehearing of the matter by the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. ‘But arrest and detention should not be a prerequisite to obtaining judicial resolution of the enforceability of a congressional subpoena.'”

Continue reading Week 164, Friday, 6 March – Thursday, 12 March 2020 (Days 1,141-1,147)

Attorney General William Barr Increasingly Appears Focused on Undermining Mueller Inquiry, The New York Times, Sharon LaFraniere, Friday, 6 March 2020: “Attorney General William P. Barr testified before Congress last spring that ‘it’s time for everybody to move on’ from the special counsel investigation into whether Trump associates conspired with Russia’s 2016 election interference. Nearly a year later, however, it is clear that Mr. Barr has not moved on from the investigation at all. Rather, he increasingly appears to be chiseling away at it. The attorney general’s handling of the results of the Russia inquiry came under fire when a federal judge questioned this week whether Mr. Barr had sought to create a ‘one-sided narrative’ clearing Mr. Trump of misconduct. The judge said Mr. Barr displayed a ‘lack of candor’ in remarks that helped shape the public view of the special counsel’s report before it was released in April. In fact, Mr. Barr’s comments then were but the first in a series of actions in which he cast doubt not just on the findings of the inquiry by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, and some of the resulting prosecutions, but on its very premise. In the process, Mr. Barr demoralized some of the department’s rank and file and lent credence to Republican politicians who seek to elevate the Mueller investigation into an election-year political issue — including Mr. Trump.”

Trump Administration to Collect DNA From Immigrants Taken Into Custody, The Wall Street Journal, Michelle Hackman, Friday, 6 March 2020: “The Trump administration plans to begin taking DNA samples from migrants crossing the border or held in detention for use in a federal criminal database, a significant expansion of immigration laws that is certain to raise privacy concerns. The new rule, posted by the Justice Department on Friday and set to take effect in April, will require immigration officers to collect cheek swabs from what could amount to hundreds of thousands of unauthorized immigrants taken into federal custody each year, including migrants at the border and people asking for asylum. The move, which is sure to face court challenges, injects a new civil-rights issue into the debate about immigration policy. It will amount to a significant expansion of the government’s DNA database, operated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, that primarily contains samples from people accused of committing serious crimes.” See also, U.S. to begin taking DNA samples from immigrants who enter the country illegally, NBC News, Pete Williams, Friday, 6 March 2020.

The Trump Administration Will Deploy 160 Troops to the Border Before the Supreme Court’s ‘Remain in Mexico’ Ruling, The New York Times, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Friday, 6 March 2020: “The Trump administration will deploy 160 troops to two ports of entry along the southwestern border before a Supreme Court decision that officials fear could prompt large crowds of migrants to seek entry into the United States. Under authority that President Trump granted in 2018, Customs and Border Protection will send two teams of 80 military police, engineers and aviation units to San Ysidro, Calif., and El Paso, as the Supreme Court considers the legality of an administration policy that forces asylum seekers to remain in Mexico as their cases are adjudicated.” See also, The Trump Administration Is Sending 160 Troops to the Border, BuzzFeed News, Adolfo Flores, Friday, 6 March 2020: “The Trump administration is sending 160 active-duty personnel to the southern border in light of a recent court ruling preventing the government from making immigrants wait in Mexico. Senior Customs and Border Protection officials said they are sending 80 soldiers to El Paso, Texas, and another 80 to San Diego to support officers at official border crossings there. Officials also said they were sending soldiers there due to increasing coronavirus concerns.”

Senate Republicans, Egged On by Trump, Scrutinize Hunter Biden as His Father Re-emerges as Trump’s Chief Rival for the Presidency, The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Friday, 6 March 2020: “Republicans are wielding the power of their Senate majority to intensify an election-year investigation of Hunter Biden’s work for a Ukrainian energy firm, putting new scrutiny on the son of Joseph R. Biden Jr. as the former vice president re-emerges as President Trump’s chief rival for the presidency. In elevating questions about the younger Mr. Biden’s work in Ukraine, Senate Republicans are effectively picking up where the president left off last year when he pressed the country’s leaders to investigate the Bidens, an effort that led to his impeachment in the House on charges that he abused his power by seeking foreign help in the 2020 election. It is part of a broader attempt by his allies on Capitol Hill to breathe fresh life into politically charged inquiries into issues that have preoccupied Mr. Trump.” See also, Trump and his allies resume attacks on Biden’s son Hunter as Joe Biden surges, The Washington Post, Philip Rucker, Matt Viser, and Mike DeBonis, Friday, 6 March 2020: “President Trump and his Republican allies are rapidly shifting their focus to former vice president Joe Biden’s son Hunter, reviving attacks that led to Trump’s impeachment, in an effort to broadly define as corrupt the potential Democratic presidential nominee. As Biden surged this week in the Democratic nominating contest — and with exit polls from Super Tuesday’s primaries showing he has captured at least some of the white working-class voters that propelled Trump’s 2016 victory — the president vowed to make Hunter Biden’s work in Ukraine a ‘major issue’ in the general election, should Joe Biden win the nomination.”

Trump Names Mark Meadows Chief of Staff, Ousting Mick Mulvaney, The New York Times, Peter Baker, Friday, 6 March 2020: “President Trump on Friday pushed out Mick Mulvaney, his acting White House chief of staff, and replaced him with Representative Mark Meadows, a stalwart conservative ally, shaking up his team in the middle of one of the biggest crises of his presidency. Mr. Trump announced the change on Twitter after arriving in Florida for a weekend at his Mar-a-Lago estate, choosing to make one of the most significant switches he can make in his White House on a Friday night when most of the country had tuned out news for the weekend. As a consolation prize, the president named Mr. Mulvaney a special envoy for Northern Ireland.” See also, Trump picks Mark Meadows to be new White House chief of staff, The Washington Post, Seung Min Kim and Josh Dawsey, Friday, 6 March 2020: “President Trump announced Friday that he has selected outgoing Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) as his next White House chief of staff, tapping one of his most stalwart congressional allies to run the White House as he navigates a global health crisis in a reelection year.”

A Man Unfurled a Nazi Flag and Shouted Anti-Jewish Slurs at a Bernie Sanders Rally, BuzzFeed News, Ruby Cramer and Miriam Elder, Friday, 6 March 2020: “A man waving a Nazi flag and shouting ‘Heil Hitler’ was kicked out of a rally for Bernie Sanders on Thursday, a shocking incident targeting the man running to be the first Jewish president. The flag, styled professionally in the actual designs of Nazi Germany, hung prominently over a banister at the 7,000-person Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum at the start of Sanders’ speech. The person stationed himself in the upper deck of the arena, behind where Sanders was speaking. The man was shouting anti-Jewish slurs at Sanders and performing the Nazi salute, said Ron Mack, 40, an attendee at the rally who was sitting nearby. ‘He never put his arm down,’ Mack said. ‘Everybody was in disbelief.’ Security removed the man from the event several seconds after he unfurled the flag. Mack, who spoke to BuzzFeed News the day after the rally, followed him outside to make sure he was removed, and the man shouted racial slurs at him, an incident that was captured on video.”

‘America Needs Her’: Readers React to Elizabeth Warren’s Exit From the Democratic Presidential Primary, The New York Times, Isabella Grullón Paz, Friday, 6 March 2020: “The news that Senator Elizabeth Warren was exiting the Democratic presidential primary led to an outpouring of reactions across the country. Many of her supporters described how meaningful it had been to see her rise to the top of the presidential field, and praised the policies she had brought to the table. Others said they were disillusioned to see that the narrative that women are less electable than men persists and the glass ceiling above the White House remains intact. Some wondered about what she would do next. Tributes for Ms. Warren blanketed social media, with people using the hashtag #ThankYouElizabeth to express their gratitude. Others honored her in a more tangible way, writing messages on Post-it notes and surrounding her portrait in a hallway at Harvard Law School. Our readers left thousands of comments on our website about Ms. Warren’s importance to them and what they would like to see from her going forward. Here is a selection of comments; they were edited for clarity.”

 

Saturday, 7 March 2020, Day 1,142:

 

Trump’s mismanagement helped fuel the coronavirus crisis. Current and former administration officials blame Trump for creating a no-bad-news atmosphere that stifled attempts to combat the outbreak. Politico, Dan Diamond, Saturday, 7 March 2020: “On Friday, as coronavirus infections rapidly multiplied aboard a cruise ship marooned off the coast of California, health department officials and Vice President Mike Pence came up with a plan to evacuate thousands of passengers, avoiding the fate of a similar cruise ship, the Diamond Princess, which became a petri dish of coronavirus infections. Quickly removing passengers was the safest outcome, health officials and Pence reasoned. But President Donald Trump had a different idea: Leave the infected passengers on board — which would help keep the number of U.S. coronavirus cases as low as possible. ‘Do I want to bring all those people off? People would like me to do it,’ Trump admitted at a press conference at the CDC later on Friday. ‘I would rather have them stay on, personally. I don’t need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasn’t our fault,’ Trump added, saying that he ultimately empowered Pence to decide whether to evacuate the passengers. For six weeks behind the scenes, and now increasingly in public, Trump has undermined his administration’s own efforts to fight the coronavirus outbreak — resisting attempts to plan for worst-case scenarios, overturning a public-health plan upon request from political allies and repeating only the warnings that he chose to hear. Members of Congress have grilled top officials like Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Centers for Disease Control Director Robert Redfield over the government’s biggest mistake: failing to secure enough testing to head off a coronavirus outbreak in the United States. But many current and former Trump administration officials say the true management failure was Trump’s. Interviews with 13 current and former officials, as well as individuals close to the White House, painted a picture of a president who rewards those underlings who tell him what he wants to hear while shunning those who deliver bad news.” See also, Trump Weekends in Florida as Fear of the Coronavirus Rises, The New Yorker, John Cassidy, Saturday, 7 March 2020: “Public concern about the spread of the coronavirus is rising, with officials from New York and other cities complaining about a chronic lack of test kits from the federal government. On Saturday, the governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, said that the state had been running its own tests ‘around the clock.’ He announced that the total of confirmed cases in the state had risen to seventy-six and declared a state of emergency. Trump, meanwhile, evidently decided that the situation isn’t serious enough to keep him in Washington. From the beginning, he has sought to minimize the seriousness of the emerging epidemic, and he is still at it. That’s when he’s not praising himself for how he and the U.S. government have responded to the crisis or offering himself as an expert. During a remarkable press conference at the Atlanta headquarters of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on Friday, Trump mentioned an uncle who had taught science at M.I.T. and said, ‘I like this stuff. I really get it. People are surprised that I understand it. Every one of these doctors said, “How do you know so much about this?” Maybe I have a natural ability. Maybe I should have done this instead of running for President.’ Later on Friday, Vice-President Mike Pence, whom Trump has placed in charge of the emergency response, announced that twenty-one people had tested positive for the virus aboard a cruise ship, the Grand Princess, which has been anchored off the coast of Northern California while the authorities decide what to do with its thirty-five hundred passengers. The President, who has repeatedly boasted about the relatively small number of confirmed cases (three hundred and seventy-six so far) and fatalities (seventeen) in the U.S., compared to some other countries, openly admitted during his press conference that he would prefer to keep the sick passengers offshore. ‘I like the numbers being where they are,’ he said. ‘I don’t need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasn’t our fault.’ Referring to the officials dealing with the cruise ship, he went on, saying, ‘I’d rather have them stay on, personally, but I fully understand if they want to take them off. I gave them the authority to make the decision.’ That was big of him. ” See also, Squandered time: How the Trump administration lost control of the coronavirus crisis, The Washington Post, Ashley Parker, Yasmeen Abutaleb, and Lena H. Sun, Saturday, 7 March 2020.

Virus update for Saturday, 7 March 2020: Coronavirus cases in South Korea top 2,000; Nigeria Confirms Infection, The Washington Post/Bloomberg News, Saturday, 7 March 2020: “The number of coronavirus cases in South Korea crossed 2,000. Japan is closing schools to limit the spread of the outbreak. New cases continue to appear outside of China with New Zealand and Lithuania reporting their first infections. Nigeria confirmed its first case, the first reported in sub-Saharan Africa. Equity markets in Hong Kong, Japan and Australia all tumbled. U.S. health authorities moved to greatly expand the number of people who will be tested, adding travelers from several new countries and people with unexplained, severe respiratory illnesses. California is monitoring 8,400 people for signs of the virus after they traveled to Asia. The virus has spread ‘very slowly’ in the U.S., President Donald Trump said in a tweet.” This article covers many more significant developments that happened today.

Trump Says Anyone Who Wants a Coronavirus Test Can Have One. Not So, Says His Administration. The New York Times, Noah Weiland, Saturday, 7 March 2020: “The Trump administration on Saturday continued sending contradictory signals about its response to the coronavirus, as a top federal health official appeared to walk back President Trump’s claim that ‘anyone who wants a test can get a test.’ The health and human services secretary, Alex M. Azar II, cautioned that only those who have gone through a doctor or medical professional can be approved for a test, a message that appeared to undercut Mr. Trump, who delivered his promise on Friday as he toured the Atlanta headquarters of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.” See also, With Test Kits in Short Supply, Health Officials Sound Alarms, The New York Times, Katie Thomas, Sarah Kliff, and Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Saturday, 7 March 2020: “President Trump claimed again on Friday that anyone who needed a coronavirus test ‘gets a test.’ But from Washington State to Florida to New York, doctors and patients are clamoring for tests that they say are in woefully short supply, and their frustration is mounting alongside the growing number of cases around the country. In California, where thousands are being monitored for the virus, only 516 tests had been conducted by the state as of Thursday. Washington health officials have more cases than they can currently process. And in New York, where cases have quadrupled this week, a New York City official pleaded for more test kits from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

21 Coronavirus Cases on Cruise Ship Near California, The New York Times, Thomas Fuller, Sarah Mervosh, Tim Arango, and Jenny Gross, Saturday, 7 March 2020: “Twenty-one people on board a cruise ship off the coast of California have tested positive for the coronavirus, Vice President Mike Pence announced on Friday evening, a significant escalation in the spread of the virus on the West Coast. Of the 21 people who tested positive, 19 were crew members and two were passengers, the vice president said, announcing that the ship, with more than 3,500 people on board, would be taken to a noncommercial port this weekend.”

Florida Republican Representative Matt Gaetz made light of the coronavirus by wearing a gas mask. Now one of his constituents has died. The Washington Post, Kim Bellware, Saturday, 7 March 2020: “Days after Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) wore an enormous gas mask during a House floor vote on an emergency funding package for the coronavirus response, the congressman announced that a resident in his northwestern Florida district had died of covid-19.”

Erik Prince Recruits Ex-Spies to Help Infiltrate Liberal Groups. Mr Prince, a contractor close to the Trump administration, contacted veteran spies for operations by Project Veritas, the conservative group known for conducting stings on news organizations and other groups. The New York Times, Mark Mazzetti and Adam Goldman, Saturday, 7 March 2020: “Erik Prince, the security contractor with close ties to the Trump administration, has in recent years helped recruit former American and British spies for secretive intelligence-gathering operations that included infiltrating Democratic congressional campaigns, labor organizations and other groups considered hostile to the Trump agenda, according to interviews and documents.”

 

Sunday, 8 March 2020, Day 1,143:

 

Inside the Trump Administration, Debate Raged Over What to Tell the Public About the Coronavirus. The administration’s respones to the coronavirus has repeatedly set public health experts against a hesitant White House, where worry of panic dominates. The New York Times, Michael D. Shear, Sheri Fink, and Noah Weiland, Sunday, 8 March 2020: “After weeks of conflicting signals from the Trump administration about the coronavirus, the government’s top health officials decided late last month that when President Trump returned from a trip to India, they would tell him they had to be more blunt about the dangers of the outbreak. If he approved, they would level with the public. But Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, got a day ahead of the plan. At noon on Feb. 25, just as Mr. Trump was boarding Air Force One in New Delhi for his flight home, she told reporters on a conference call that life in the United States was about to change. ‘The disruption to everyday life might be severe,’ she said. Schools might have to close, conferences could be canceled, businesses might make employees work from home. She had told her own children, she said, to prepare for ‘significant disruption to our lives.’ The stock market plummeted, cable news blared apocalyptic headlines and by the time Mr. Trump landed at Joint Base Andrews early the next morning, his critics were accusing him of sowing confusion on an issue of life or death.”

Italy Locks Down Much of the Country’s North Over the Coronavirus, The New York Times, Jason Horowitz, Sunday, 8 March 2020: “Italy’s government early Sunday took the extraordinary step of locking down much of the country’s north, restricting movement for about a quarter of the Italian population in regions that serve as the country’s economic engine. The move represents the most sweeping effort outside China to stop the spread of the coronavirus, and is tantamount to sacrificing the Italian economy in the short term to save it from the ravages of the virus in the long term. By taking such tough measures, Italy, which is suffering the worst outbreak in Europe, sent a signal that restrictive clampdowns at odds with some of the core values of Western democracies may be necessary to contain and defeat the virus.”

Coronavirus in New York: Governor Andrew Cuomo Declares State of Emergency, The New York Times, Jesse McKinley and Edgar Sandoval, Sunday, 8 March 2020: “Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo declared a state of emergency on Saturday as the number of coronavirus cases in New York rose to 89, which include a Queens driver who worked for Uber and two unexplained positive tests of patients 200 miles to the north. Moving on multiple fronts to curb the spread of the virus, Mr. Cuomo said the state of emergency would allow New York’s government to respond faster by lifting regulations.”

Trump Administration overruled health officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who wanted to recommend that elderly and physically fragile Americans be advised not to fly on commercial airlines because of the new coronavirus, Associated Press, Mike Stobbe, Sunday, 8 March 2020: “The White House overruled health officials who wanted to recommend that elderly and physically fragile Americans be advised not to fly on commercial airlines because of the new coronavirus, a federal official told The Associated Press. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention submitted the plan as a way of trying to control the virus, but White House officials ordered the air travel recommendation be removed, said the official who had direct knowledge of the plan. Trump administration officials have since suggested certain people should consider not traveling, but have stopped short of the stronger guidance sought by the CDC.”

Washington State Nursing Home Hit by Coronavirus Says 70 Workers Are Sick, The New York Times, Mike Baker, Sunday, 8 March 2020: “A week after a deadly coronavirus outbreak was reported inside a nursing home in the Seattle suburbs, officials from the long term care center said on Saturday that 70 staff members were out sick with symptoms resembling coronavirus and six residents were also ill. A federal strike team of nurses and doctors arrived Saturday to support the staff at the long-term nursing home, Life Care Center of Kirkland, Wash., where officials have announced the deaths of 13 residents and a visitor who were infected with the virus. Tim Killian, a spokesman for the care center, praised the workers who continued to show up even as 70 of the nursing home’s 180 employees have developed symptoms.”

Governments step up coronavirus response, and U.S. cases top 500, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, Juliet Eilperin, and Kim Bellware, Sunday, 8 March 2020: “Governments intensified their efforts Sunday to combat the global spread of the novel coronavirus, as Saudi Arabia followed Italy in enacting new travel restrictions, Iran suspended flights to Europe, and the United States, where the number of cases topped 500, warned citizens against cruise travel. Uncertainty continued to permeate the response effort, however, amid muddled directives from the Trump administration and reports of some patients unable to access testing. A virus-stricken cruise ship made its way to California to dock — only for Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson to decline to discuss the details of the federal response plan during a national television interview. The Department of Health and Human Services said later Sunday that the Grand Princess cruise ship’s more than 3,500 passengers, at least 21 of whom have tested positive for the coronavirus, will be quarantined in California, Texas and Georgia.”

Live updates on some significant developments in the coronavirus outbreak on Sunday, 8 March 2020: State Department warned against cruise travel; Texas Senator Ted Cruz shook hands with attendee at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) who has COVID-19, The Washington Post, Lateshia Beachum, Kim Bellware, Hannah Knowles, Brittany Shammas, and Teo Armus, Sunday, 8 March 2020: “The coronavirus epidemic continued to prompt new travel restrictions and emergency declarations around the world, with the U.S. State Department on Sunday warning citizens against cruise travel and Italy resorting to a massive lockdown affecting millions of people…. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Rep. Paul A. Gosar (R-Ariz.) said Sunday that they interacted with an attendee at last month’s Conservative Political Action Conference who has tested positive for covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Cruz said that he shared a brief conversation and handshake with the attendee 10 days ago and that he is not experiencing any symptoms. I feel fine and healthy,’ he said. According to his statement, Cruz was not required to self-quarantine but will stay at his Texas home ‘until a full 14 days have passed since the CPAC interaction.’… In the United States, the death toll rose to 21 on Sunday to include two more residents of an infection-stricken nursing home. U.S. cases have surpassed 500 and affected more than 30 states, as well as the District of Columbia, where a church rector had the city’s first confirmed infection. Maryland announced two more cases on Sunday, while Virginia reported one more…. In China, where the outbreak has begun to subside, a hotel in the southeast that served as a quarantine facility for 71 people collapsed late Saturday, killing at least 10 people and trapping scores in the rubble.” This article covers many more significant developments that happened today. See also, State Department Tells Americans to Avoid Cruise Ships, Despite Trump’s Misgivings, The New York Times, Noah Weiland and Maggie Haberman, Sunday, 8 March 2020: “The State Department on Sunday advised Americans against traveling on cruise ships, warning that they presented a higher risk of coronavirus infection and made U.S. citizens vulnerable to possible international travel restrictions, including quarantines. The decision came after President Trump resisted requests from administration officials to publicly urge older travelers to avoid cruise ships and plane travel, saying he thought it would harm those industries, according to two people familiar with the discussions.” See also, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, recommended that elderly and vulnerable Americans limit their exposure to travel and to large crowds, NBC News, Ben Kamisar, Sunday, 8 March 2020: “Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, recommended Sunday that elderly and vulnerable Americans limit their exposure to travel and large crowds as the world fights the coronavirus outbreak. In an interview on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press,’ Fauci said the elderly and those with ‘underlying conditions’ are ‘overwhelmingly’ more likely to have complications if they catch the coronavirus. ‘If you are an elderly person with an underlying condition, if you get infected, the risk of getting into trouble is considerable. So it’s our responsibility to protect the vulnerable,’ he said. ‘When I say “protect,” I mean right now. Not wait until things get worse. Say no large crowds, no long trips. And above all, don’t get on a cruise ship.'” See also, Not His First Epidemic: Dr. Anthony Fauci Sticks to the Facts, The New York Times, Denise Grady, Sunday, 8 March 2020.

Officials Say an Attendee at the Annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Has the Coronavirus. Trump and Pence and Other Administration Officials Attended the Conference Last Week. The New York Times, Michael Levenson, Sunday, 8 March 2020: “An attendee of a conservative conference where President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence spoke last week has tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the event’s organizer. The organizer, the American Conservative Union, which hosts the annual Conservative Political Action Conference outside Washington, D.C., said the attendee was exposed to the virus before the four-day event and tested positive for it on Saturday. See also, Coronavirus case at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) brings outbreak closer to Trump, threatening to upend his routine amid reelection bid, The Washington Post, Toluse Olorunnipa, Josh Dawsey, and Juliet Eilperin, Sunday, 8 March 2020: “A growing sense of concern and uncertainty about the reach of the novel coronavirus has begun to take hold in the White House, after an attendee at a recent political conference where President Trump spoke tested positive for covid-19, the disease caused by the virus. Trump was photographed shaking hands with Matt Schlapp, the chairman of the American Conservative Union, who confirmed that he had been in direct contact with the infected man during the Conservative Political Action Conference last month. The handshake at CPAC put Trump just two degrees of separation away from the virus that he has sought to minimize as it has rocked financial markets and tested his leadership skills. While the White House has maintained that Trump was never in direct contact with the infected person and does not have any symptoms, the potential close call at a political event underscores how the outbreak threatens to upend the president’s routine as he campaigns for reelection.”

The media is blowing its chance to head off an Election Day debacle, The Washington Post, Margaret Sullivan, Sunday, 8 March 2020: “[T]here are precious few voting-beat specialists.  Prominent among that rarefied group are Pam Fessler at NPR and Ari Berman at Mother Jones. Some major news companies, including The Washington Post, are also beefing up their coverage. Berman often focuses on what has happened since 2013, when the Supreme Court struck at the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He reported that the long lines on Super Tuesday trace directly back to the high court’s ruling that states no longer need federal approval to close polling places. That empowered Texas alone to close more than 600 polling places in recent years. ‘It disproportionately hurt Democratic and minority voters, because 70 percent of the polling places were closed in the 50 counties in the state with the largest growth of black and Latino voters,’ Berman said in a recent Democracy Now interview. The New York Times’s Nikole Hannah-Jones suggested that this trend amounts to a ‘poll tax’ because such voters may have to give up a day’s pay to cast their ballots.”

Jesse Jackson Endorses Bernie Sanders for President, The New York Times, Lisa Lerer, Sunday, 8 March 2020: “The Rev. Jesse Jackson endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont for president on Sunday, offering support that the senator and his team hope will rally black voters to their side ahead of a make-or-break Democratic primary race in Michigan. ‘With the exception of Native Americans, African-Americans are the people who are most behind socially and economically in the United States, and our needs are not moderate,’ Mr. Jackson, a longtime civil rights activist and presidential candidate in 1984 and 1988, said in a statement. ‘A people far behind cannot catch up choosing the most moderate path. The Biden campaign has not reached out to me or asked for my support,’ he added. ‘The Sanders campaign has, and they responded to the issues I raised.'” See also, Jesse Jackson endorses Bernie Sanders for president, CNN Politics, Annie Grayer and Devan Cole, Sunday, 8 March 2020. See also, Rainbow Coalition Comes Full Circle as Jesse Jackson Endorses Bernie Sanders, The Intercept, Ryan Grim, Sunday, 8 March 2020.

Kamala Harris Endorses Joe Biden for President, The New York Times, Thomas Kaplan and Jonathan Martin, Sunday, 8 March 2020: “Senator Kamala Harris of California endorsed former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. for president on Sunday, becoming the latest of his formal rivals for the Democratic nomination to get behind his presidential bid. ‘I have decided that I am with great enthusiasm going to endorse Joe Biden for president of the United States,’ Ms. Harris said in a video posted on Twitter. ‘I believe in Joe. I really believe in him, and I have known him for a long time.'”

 

Monday, 9 March 2020, Day 1,144:

 

Italy Announces Restrictions Over Entire Country in Attempt to Halt Coronavirus, The New York Times, Jason Horowitz, Monday, 9 March 2020: “Italy on Monday became the first European country to announce severe nationwide limits on travel as the government struggled to stem the spread of a coronavirus outbreak that has hobbled the economy, threatened to overwhelm public health care and killed more people than anywhere outside China. The measures, announced in a prime time news conference by the country’s prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, sought to adopt the kind of drastic limits that may be working to control the virus in China, an authoritarian regime. But the scope of the clampdown in Italy, applied to roughly 60 million people — from islands in the south to the Alps in the north — immediately raised the question of whether an entire modern European nation protective of its individual freedoms would make the necessary sacrifices.” See also, Italy Expands Quarantine Measures Nationwide to Stem Spread of Coronavirus, NPR, Vanessa Romo and Sylvia Poggioli, Monday, 9 March 2020: “The Italian government has announced extraordinary measures to contain the coronavirus. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Monday declared the entire country a ‘red zone,’ meaning people should stay home except for work and emergencies. The move expands the emergency measures already in place in northern Italy, which is where most of the more than 9,000 confirmed cases are. As of Monday, 463 coronavirus-related deaths have been reported through the country.”

U.S Health Experts Say Stricter Measures Are Required to Limit Coronavirus’s Spread, The New York Times, Denise Grady, Monday, 9 March 2020: “As the coronavirus gained a foothold in the United States, thousands of employees from Seattle to Silicon Valley were told to work from home. Public school districts in several states have shut down, universities are moving classes to online only, and even churches are limiting services or prayer meetings. A global health conference in Orlando, Fla., planned for Monday, which President Trump was supposed to address, will no longer happen…. In Washington State, with the epicenter in the Seattle area, Gov. Jay Inslee said on Sunday that he was considering mandatory measures to help keep people apart. Federal public health officials also signaled that the degree of community spread — new cases popping up with no known link to foreign travel — indicated that the virus was beyond so-called containment in some areas and that new, stricter measures should be considered. It’s a concept in public health known as shifting from containment of an outbreak to ‘mitigation,’ which means acknowledging that the tried-and-true public health measures of isolating the sick and quarantining their contacts are no longer enough. So steps must be taken to minimize deaths from the disease and to slow its spread so that hospitals are not overwhelmed.”

Live updates on some significant developments in the coronavirus outbreak on Monday, 9 March 2020: Trump and Congress to discuss economic relief package amid coronavirus panic in stock market, The Washington Post, Brittany Shammas, Kim Bellware, Derek Hawkins, Meryl Kornfield, and Teo Armus, Monday, 9 March 2020: “President Trump said the White House would discuss a possible economic relief package with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republicans. The announcement followed a day of stunning declines in the stock market, fueled by fear about the spread of the coronavirus. Among the options Trump mentioned in a Monday evening news conference were payroll tax cuts with ‘very substantial relief,’ as well as ways to help hourly wage workers who cannot get paid when they stay home sick ‘so they don’t get penalized for something that’s not their fault.’ Italy plans to restrict movement throughout the entire country, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said Monday, effectively locking down some 60 million people in an unprecedented move to contain the coronavirus. The announcement came a day after Italy imposed similar restrictions on one-quarter of the country. Global markets tanked on Monday, fueled by coronavirus fears and a possible oil-price war. Oil prices fell harder than they have since the 1991 Gulf War, down 25 percent. Stocks tumbled around the world as more countries implemented measures to contain the outbreak, and the United States’ tally of known infections passed 600.” This article covers many more significant developments that happened today.

Trump Floats Economic Stimulus in Response to Coronavirus, The New York Times, Peter Baker, Maggie Haberman, and Annie Karni, Monday, 9 March 2020: “President Trump moved on Monday to address the economic effects of the widening coronavirus crisis by announcing that he would work with Congress on tax cuts and other measures after the worst stock market drop in more than a decade. The president, who played down the virus threat earlier in the day, made an unscheduled evening appearance in the White House briefing room after two Republican members of Congress who have spent time with him in recent days, including one who just rode with him on Air Force One, put themselves into quarantine following exposure to the virus. Also putting himself into isolation was Mark Meadows, the president’s newly designated White House chief of staff. Mr. Meadows, who was named to the role only on Friday and is stepping down from his House seat representing North Carolina, came into contact with the same infected attendee as the other two congressmen at a recent conservative political conference. While he tested negative for the coronavirus, his office said, he would remain quarantined until Wednesday out of caution…. [C]learly unsettled by the plunging markets and the potential effect on his re-election prospects, Mr. Trump offered an economic response without any new health measures.” See also, Trump Says Payroll Tax Cuts and Hourly Worker Relief Are Possible in Coronavirus Response, NPR, Bobby Allyn, Monday, 9 March 2020: “President Trump said on Monday that the White House is planning on asking Congress to pass a payroll tax cut and relief for hourly wage earners in order to assist workers who may be feeling the financial pinch amid the coronavirus outbreak. Trump said that top administration officials will be meeting with Republican members of the House and Senate on Tuesday to discuss the possible payroll tax cuts and help for hourly workers.”

Fissures widen between the White House and health agencies over response to the coronavirus, CNN Politics, Kevin Liptak, Monday, 9 March 2020: “Fissures between the White House and national health agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have begun to expand as the coronavirus pandemic spreads to more American states, creating dissonance between President Donald Trump and the professionals tasked with containing the virus further. The two sides have grown increasingly distrustful of one another, people inside both the CDC and the White House say, as officials on each side question decisions that either appear designed to downplay the growing crisis or to generate further concern. The cracks are falling along predictable lines. While health officials have sought to present a realistic and cautious picture of the national situation, Trump and his political allies are hoping to relay an altogether different message: that the virus is contained, Americans face little risk, and life should proceed as normal.”

Florida Republican Representative Matt Gaetz made light of coronavirus by wearing a gas mask. Now he is in quarantine. The Washington Post, Kim Bellware and Donna Cassata, Monday, 9 March 2020: “Days after Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) wore an enormous gas mask during a House floor vote on an emergency funding package for the coronavirus response, the congressman announced that he would self-quarantine for … after coming into contact with a Conservative Political Action Conference participant who tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Gaetz said on Twitter that he has not experienced any symptoms but was tested Monday and expects results soon. ‘Under doctor’s usual precautionary recommendations, he’ll remain self-quarantined until the 14-day period expires this week,’ his Twitter account announced, hours after Gaetz traveled on Air Force One with President Trump.” See also, 5 congressmen, including Trump’s future chief of staff Mark Meadows, will self-quarantine after coming into contact with an individual at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference who has been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, CNN Politics, Haley Byrd, Paul LeBlanc, Lauren Fox, and Kaitlan Collins, Monday, 9 March 2020. See also, Trump’s incoming chief of staff Mark Meadows is among lawmakers sidelined by contact with someone who has the coronavirus, The Washington Post, Mike De Bonis, Monday, 9 March 2020.

Trump in the Time of the Coronavirus, The New Yorker, David Remnick, Monday, 9 March 2020: “The first official act of the Trump Administration was the Inauguration—and, within hours, a lie delivered from the White House press room about how this had been ‘the largest audience to ever witness an Inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe.’ That episode seems so long ago, and many thousands of lies ago. But as the world now faces a pandemic, it has never been more essential to recall that norm-setting performance and to admit what has been demonstrated on a daily basis about the public official who carries ultimate responsibility for the public safety of American citizens: Donald Trump is incapable of truth, heedless of science, and hostage to the demands of his insatiable ego. Recall, since the start of the coronavirus crisis, the litany of bogus assurances, ‘hunches,’ misinformation, magical thinking, drive-by political shootings, and self-stroking: ‘We have it under control. It’s going to be just fine…. By April, you know, in theory, when it gets a little warmer, it miraculously goes away…. The Obama Administration made a decision on testing that turned out to be detrimental to what we’re doing…. We’re going very substantially down, not up…. We have it so well under control. I mean, we really have done a very good job…. As of right now and yesterday, anybody that needs a test [can have one], that’s the thing, and the tests are all perfect, like the letter was perfect—the transcription was perfect…. They would like to have the people come off [the Grand Princess cruise ship, off the coast of California]. I would like to have the people stay…. Because I like the numbers being where they are..’ Physicians and public-health officials told me, as they have told many other journalists, that they are dispirited by the President’s public pronouncements, saying that he has added to the danger of the crisis by minimizing its scale and the need for rigorous precautions.”

The Trump Administration Is Stalling an Intelligence Report That Warns the U.S. Isn’t Ready for a Global Pandemic, Time, John Walcott, Monday, 9 March 2020: “An annual intelligence report that has been postponed without explanation by President Donald Trump’s administration warns that the U.S. remains unprepared for a global pandemic, two senior government officials who have reviewed a draft of the report tell TIME. The office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) was scheduled to deliver the Worldwide Threat Assessment to the House Intelligence Committee on Feb. 12 and the hearing has not been rescheduled, according to staffers and members of the House and Senate intelligence committees. The DNI’s office declined requests for a comment on the status of the report. Democratic staffers say they do not expect the report to be released any time soon. The final draft of the report remains classified but the two officials who have read it say it contains warnings similar to those in the last installment, which was published on January 29, 2019. The 2019 report warns on page 29 that, ‘The United States will remain vulnerable to the next flu pandemic or large-scale outbreak of a contagious disease that could lead to massive rates of death and disability, severely affect the world economy, strain international resources, and increase calls on the United States for support.'”

Stocks Fall More Than 7% in Dow’s Worst Day Since 2008, The Wall Street Journal, Paul Vigna, Avantika Chilkoti, and David Winning, Monday, 9 March 2020: “U.S. stocks careened lower Monday, with major indexes swinging perilously close to the first bear market in more than a decade as a price war for oil and fallout from the coronavirus frightened investors.” See also, Wall Street Plunges in Worst Drop Since 2008, The New York Times, Monday, 9 March 2020. See also, Wall Street Plunges as Trump Fiddles in Response to the Coronavirus, The New Yorker, John Cassidy, Monday, 9 March 2020: “Having spent the weekend at his Palm Beach resort, where he hosted Jair Bolsonaro, the authoritarian President of Brazil, Donald Trump was still in Florida on Monday morning when the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged about two thousand points, triggering a temporary halt to trading. ‘So much FAKE NEWS,’ he tweeted, just before trading began on Wall Street. An hour or so later, he tweeted again, ‘Saudi Arabia and Russia are arguing over the price and flow of oil. That, and the Fake News, is the reason for the market drop!’ If you translate ‘Fake News’ as ‘the coronavirus outbreak,’ Trump’s analysis of what was driving the plunge in stocks was partially correct, but he had omitted another key factor: a chronic lack of leadership on his, and his Administration’s, part. By downplaying the covid-19 outbreak from the beginning, and by failing to prepare for its spread to the United States, which was inevitable, Trump and his colleagues have created an environment of fear and uncertainty that is crushing the markets. And now Wall Street has another problem to deal with. A bitter dispute over crude-oil production levels has broken out between two more authoritarian leaders whom Trump greatly admires, Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia, and Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.”

Priorities USA, the main Democratic super PAC focused on the presidential race, says it will back Biden with ads, Politico, Maggie Severns, Monday, 9 March 2020: “Democrats’ flagship 2020 super PAC plans to launch ads aiding Joe Biden in the presidential race, arguing that as the party’s likely nominee for president, Biden needs to be defended from attacks being waged by President Donald Trump and his allies. ‘Donald Trump and his Republican allies in Congress have made it clear that they view Joe Biden as the likely Democratic nominee, and are beginning to attack him in an effort to define the race before our primary is officially over and the nominee can defend himself. We will not allow that to go unanswered,’ Guy Cecil, chairman of the outside group Priorities USA, said in a statement provided to POLITICO.”

Senator Cory Booker Endorses Joe Biden as Candidates Race Toward More Primaries, The New York Times, Nick Corasaniti, Monday, 9 March 2020: “Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey endorsed former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. for president on Monday, adding to what has become a nearly complete consolidation of support from Mr. Biden’s former top rivals to push him to the Democratic nomination. Mr. Booker’s endorsement came one day after Senator Kamala Harris of California endorsed Mr. Biden, and the two senators appeared with him at a rally in Detroit on Monday night. Mr. Booker also campaigned alongside Mr. Biden in Flint, Mich., earlier in the day and attended a fund-raiser with him…. The event in Michigan, which holds its delegate-heavy primary on Tuesday, was yet another public show of moderate Democratic support for the former vice president on the eve of a major vote in the presidential race.” See also, Senator Cory Booker endorses Joe Biden, CNN Politics, Chandelis Duster, Monday, 9 March 2020. See also, Senator Cory Booker endorses Joe Biden for President, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, Monday, 9 March 2020.

Governor Steve Bullock just made the Montana Senate race competitive for Democrats, The Washington Post, Ella Nilsen and LiZhou, Monday, 9 March 2020: “After spending many months insisting he would not run for the US Senate under any circumstances, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock is doing just that. Bullock, a popular Democratic governor in conservative Montana and a long-shot candidate for president last year, announced Monday he will challenge incumbent Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) in the fall. In doing so, he could give Democrats a huge boost in their gambit of taking back the US Senate. Bullock’s announcement comes just before the March 9 deadline to file his candidacy.” See also, With Montana Governor Steve Bullock announcing he will run for the Senate, Democrats’ map gets easier, but by no means is taking back the majority a given in November, The Washington Post, Amber Phillips, Monday, 9 March 2020.

Manipulated Video of Biden Escalates Online Speech War With Trump. For the first time, Twitter applied its policy against fake and misleading videos and labeled one. The New York Times, Cecilia Kang, Monday, 9 March 2020: “A manipulated video featuring Joseph R. Biden Jr. and spread by President Trump over the weekend has ratcheted up an online war that has put Twitter and Facebook in the middle of a debate over political speech. The campaigns have fought for months over misinformation targeting Mr. Biden, and the latest salvo has taken on greater import with his surge in the Democratic primaries. In response to such misinformation, the tech platforms have written new and diverging rules on political speech. On Sunday, Twitter tagged the video in question as manipulated content, while Facebook left the video intact without any flags about the false content.” See also, Twitter flags video retweeted by Trump as ‘manipulated media,’ The Washington Post, Cat Zakrzewski, Monday, 9 March 2020.

How the Trump Campaign Took Over the Republican Party, The New York Times, Danny Hakim and Glenn Thrush, Monday, 9 March 2020: “President Trump’s campaign manager [Brad Parscale] and a circle of allies have seized control of the Republican Party’s voter data and fund-raising apparatus, using a network of private businesses whose operations and ownership are cloaked in secrecy, largely exempt from federal disclosure. Working under the aegis of Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, with the cooperation of Trump appointees at the Republican National Committee, the operatives have consolidated power — and made money — in a way not possible in an earlier, more transparent analog era. Since 2017, businesses associated with the group have billed roughly $75 million to the Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee and a range of other Republican clients. The takeover of the Republican Party’s under-the-hood political machinery parallels the president’s domination of a party that once shunned him, reflected in his speedy impeachment trial and summary acquittal. Elected Republicans have learned the political peril of insufficient fealty. Now, by commanding the party’s repository of voter data and creating a powerful pipeline for small donations, the Trump campaign and key party officials have made it increasingly difficult for Republicans to mount modern, digital campaigns without the president’s support.”

Texas Democrats announce largest-ever voter drive in a bid to flip the state from red to blue this November, NBC News, Lauren Egan, Monday, 9 March 2020: “The Texas Democratic Party announced Monday that it is launching the largest voter registration campaign in its history, building up a team of organizers to try to bring millions of new voters into the party ahead of the November election. Texas Democrats say they have identified nearly 2.6 million people who would vote Democratic if they were registered. The state party says they are using money from the Democratic National Committee to launch an organizing team focused on registering minorities in rural and suburban areas, groups that have often been underrepresented in Texas’ electorate.”

 

Tuesday, 10 March 2020, Day 1,145:

 

Joe Biden Takes Command of the Democratic Primary Race, Winning Four States Including Michigan, The New York Times, Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin, Tuesday, 10 March 2020: “Joseph R. Biden Jr. took command of the Democratic presidential race in decisive fashion on Tuesday, marshaling a powerful multiracial coalition in the South and the Midwest that swept aside Senator Bernie Sanders and completed Mr. Biden’s rapid transformation from a sometimes-fumbling underdog into his party’s likely nominee. Replicating the combination of voters that delivered him broad victories a week ago on Super Tuesday, Mr. Biden won Michigan, Missouri and Mississippi with overwhelming support from African-Americans and with large margins among suburban and rural white voters. Mr. Biden was also named the winner in Idaho, leaving little doubt by the end of the night that Mr. Sanders had lost his recent status as the progressive front-runner in a race defined for months by feuding and factionalism in the moderate wing of the Democratic Party. North Dakota and Washington remained too close to call early Wednesday morning.” See also, 5 Takeaways From Tuesday’s Democratic Primaries, The New York Times, Shane Goldmacher, published on Wednesday, 11 March 2020. See also, Joe Biden rolls up victories as Bernie Sanders struggles for a foothold in the Democratic race, The Washington Post, Sean Sullivan, Matt Viser, and Michael Scherer, published on Wednesday, 11 March 2020: “Former vice president Joe Biden seized control of the Democratic presidential contest Tuesday with four victories, including a decisive win in Michigan that struck a devastating blow to Bernie Sanders’s ambitions after the senator from Vermont committed his campaign to winning the key Midwestern swing state. Biden also scored resounding wins Tuesday in Mississippi, Missouri and Idaho while two other states — North Dakota and Washington — continued to count ballots.” See also, 5 takeaways from Tuesday’s primaries, The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, published on Wednesday, 11 March 2020.

Live updates on some significant developments in the coronavirus outbreak on Tuesday, 10 March 2020: New York creates coronavirus containment zone as number of cases in the U.S. surpasses 1,000, The Washington Post, Michael Brice-Saddler, Meryl Kornfield, Derek Hawkins, Kim Bellware, Alex Horton, Brittany Shammas, and Teo Armus, Tuesday, 10 March 2020: “New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) on Tuesday announced that schools, places of worship and other large gathering spots within a one-mile zone of the city of New Rochelle will close their doors for 14 days, and National Guard troops will help deliver food and disinfect common areas inside the zone. One person each in South Dakota, California and New Jersey and another two people in Washington state have died from the novel coronavirus, health officials said, bringing the total number of fatalities in the United States to 31. Nationwide, there are more than 1000 reported cases of covid-19, the disease caused by the virus. It has been detected in more than 30 states, prompting many to declare states of emergency. Globally, Italy saw its highest single-day increase in deaths related to the virus. After a shocking start to the week, U.S. stocks on Tuesday rallied on reports of a government stimulus that would help cushion the country from the economic effects of the outbreak.” This article covers many more significant developments that happened today.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Creates ‘Containment Zone’ Limiting Large Gatherings in New Rochelle, The New York Times, Tuesday, 10 March 2020: “With New Rochelle, a small city just north of New York City in Westchester County, emerging as the epicenter of the state’s outbreak, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Tuesday announced a targeted containment strategy to halt the spread of the virus…. The state’s plan focuses on a ‘containment area’ in New Rochelle, where it would deploy the National Guard to clean schools and deliver food to quarantined residents, Mr. Cuomo said.” See also, Stocks Climb as Investors Look to Washington, The New York Times, Tuesday, 10 March 2020. See also, Stocks soar to a big finish on a day of big swings, The Washington Post, Taylor Telford and Thomas Heath, Tuesday, 10 March 2020. See also, Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, breaks with Trump on claim that border wall will help stop coronavirus, Politico, Quint Forgey, Tuesday, 10 March 2020: “Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Tuesday he was unaware of any indication from his agency that physical barriers along America’s borders would help halt the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S. — contradicting an assertion President Donald Trump made earlier in the day. Appearing before House lawmakers to testify about the public health crisis and the White House’s budget request for his agency, Redfield was asked by Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) whether the CDC’s recommendations for combating the coronavirus addressed whether ‘structural barriers’ at the borders ‘would be of any use in mitigating’ the growing outbreak. ‘Not that I’ve seen,’ Redfield replied.” See also, CDC director Robert Redfield rejects the label ‘chinese virus’ after Trump and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and other Republicans use the phrase for the coronovirus, The Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz, Tuesday, 10 March 2020: “The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday that attaching Chinese to a description of the coronavirus was wrong after both President Trump and the top House Republican were accused of racism for labeling it. ‘It’s absolutely wrong and inappropriate to call this the Chinese coronavirus, I assume you would agree with that,’ Rep. Lois Frankel (D-Fla.) said to CDC chief Robert Redfield, who testified in the House on Tuesday morning. Redfield said ‘yes,’ noting the virus is also widespread in South Korea, Iran and Italy. Some Republicans, including members of Congress, administration officials and Trump himself, have taken to labeling the coronavirus by the country or ethnicity where it was first detected. Democrats have called them out for race-baiting and xenophobia. Trump on Tuesday shared a tweet advocating for his U.S.-Mexico border wall as a way to protect America against the ‘China Virus.’ Adding his own commentary, Trump wrote, ‘Going up fast. We need the Wall more than ever!’ That prompted Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden to slam the president’s comments as racist. ‘A wall won’t stop a virus. Racism won’t stop a virus. Do your job,’ the former vice president tweeted. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) referred to the coronavirus on Twitter as the ‘Chinese coronavirus.'” See also, U.S. coronavirus testing is threatened by shortage of critical lab materials, Politico, David Lim and Brianna Ehley, Tuesday, 10 March 2020: “A looming shortage in lab materials is threatening to delay coronavirus test results and cause officials to undercount the number of Americans with the virus. The slow pace of coronavirus testing has created a major gap in the U.S. public health response. The latest problem involves an inability to prepare samples for testing, creating uncertainties in how long it will take to get results. CDC Director Robert Redfield told POLITICO on Tuesday that he is not confident that U.S. labs have an adequate stock of the supplies used to extract genetic material from any virus in a patient’s sample — a critical step in coronavirus testing.” See also, Trump allies Matt Gaetz and Mark Meadows got coronavirus tests despite lack of symptoms and a shortage of tests, The Washington Post, Mike DeBonis and Carolyn Y. Johnson, Tuesday, 10 March 2020: “Two close congressional allies of President Trump underwent coronavirus testing in recent days in apparent defiance of federal recommendations reserving those tests for patients exhibiting symptoms of infection — and amid growing concerns about the availability of testing for Americans who are sick. Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the latter of whom Trump named last week as the next White House chief of staff, both said in statements that the tests showed no infection after exposure to a coronavirus carrier at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference last month in suburban Washington. The two lawmakers also said they were exhibiting no symptoms of respiratory illness, raising questions of why they were tested at all.” See also, ‘It’s Just Everywhere Already’: How Delays in Testing Set Back the U.S. Coronavirus Response. A series of missed chances by the federal government to ensure more widespread testing came during the early days of the outbreak, when containment would have been easier. The New York Times, Sheri Fink and Mike Baker, Tuesday, 10 March 2020: “Dr. Helen Y. Chu, an infectious disease expert in Seattle, knew that the United States did not have much time. In late January, the first confirmed American case of the coronavirus had landed in her area. Critical questions needed answers: Had the man infected anyone else? Was the deadly virus already lurking in other communities and spreading? As luck would have it, Dr. Chu had a way to monitor the region. For months, as part of a research project into the flu, she and a team of researchers had been collecting nasal swabs from residents experiencing symptoms throughout the Puget Sound region. To repurpose the tests for monitoring the coronavirus, they would need the support of state and federal officials. But nearly everywhere Dr. Chu turned, officials repeatedly rejected the idea, interviews and emails show, even as weeks crawled by and outbreaks emerged in countries outside of China, where the infection began. By Feb. 25, Dr. Chu and her colleagues could not bear to wait any longer. They began performing coronavirus tests, without government approval. What came back confirmed their worst fear. They quickly had a positive test from a local teenager with no recent travel history. The coronavirus had already established itself on American soil without anybody realizing it.” See also, Sanders and Biden Cancel Events as Coronavirus Fears Upend Primary, The New York Times, Sydney Ember, Annie Karni, and Maggie Haberman, Tuesday, 10 March 2020: “The nation’s presidential race entered an unpredictable new phase on Tuesday after the two leading Democratic candidates canceled big primary-night campaign events because of worries about the coronavirus, and Vice President Mike Pence said that the future of President Trump’s signature rallies would be decided on a ‘a day-to-day basis.'” See also, The Novel Coronavirus Has Northern Italy’s Hospitals on the Brink of Collapse, Vice, Tim Hume, Tuesday, 10 March 2020: “Doctors in northern Italy struggling with the explosion of COVID-19 cases are warning their hospitals are on the brink of collapse and telling other countries to prepare for a fierce battle. At the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in Europe, the sudden surge to more than 10,000 cases in the region in just three weeks has overwhelmed intensive care units, with a shortage of beds and staff and ventilators potentially pushing the death toll higher. The overflow means patients are being treated in operating rooms, hospital corridors, or recovery rooms. Only a small portion of patients are being housed in negative-pressure isolation rooms, designed to stop airborne contaminants from infecting healthcare workers. Doctors are being forced to make tough decisions on which patients will get ventilation machines or respirators.”

Coronavirus Brings a New Legislative Push for Paid Sick Leave, The New York Times, Claire Cain Miller, Tuesday, 10 March 2020: “The United States is one of the only rich countries not requiring employers to give their workers paid time off when they’re sick. It has become an urgent issue for more Americans because of the coronavirus outbreak. Citing the crisis, Democrats in Congress are trying to pass a new version of a sick leave bill that has been stalled in Congress since 2004 — and expand it to add 14 days of immediately accessible paid sick leave in the case of a public health emergency. An economics study released Monday offers an idea of what might happen if the bill passed. It’s the biggest study of the effects of state sick leave laws in the United States. In states that mandated sick leave, it found, fewer employees worked when sick. On average, they took two additional sick days a year. And the cost to employers who began offering sick leave after the laws passed was relatively small.”

United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Rules the House Can See Mueller’s Secret Grand Jury Evidence in the Russia Investigation, The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Tuesday, 10 March 2020: “The House has a right to see secret grand-jury evidence gathered in the Russia investigation, an appeals court ruled on Tuesday in a victory for Congress’s power to gather information for an impeachment inquiry. In a 2-to-1 decision, a panel on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld a lower-court ruling that the House had a right to gain access to the information, which was gathered by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, using a grand jury and blacked out in the report on his investigation released last year. The Trump administration had appealed that ruling. Usually, Congress has no right to view grand jury evidence. But in 1974, the courts permitted lawmakers to see such materials as they weighed whether to impeach President Richard M. Nixon. Last summer, as the House Judiciary Committee weighed whether to impeach Mr. Trump, the panel sought a judicial order to see certain Mueller grand jury materials, too.” See also, Appeals court rules the Justice Department must disclose secret Mueller grand jury evidence to Congress, The Washington Post, Ann E. Marimow, Tuesday, 10 March 2020: “The Justice Department must release to congressional Democrats secret grand jury evidence lawmakers are seeking in ongoing investigations into President Trump, a federal appeals court in Washington ruled Tuesday. The divided ruling, which can be appealed, is a victory for Democratic lawmakers in one of a set of separation-of-powers lawsuits filed before the House voted to impeach President Trump in December and before the Senate acquitted him in February. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld a lower court order that gives Congress access to certain secret material from Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The 2-to-1 decision is unlikely to be the final word and does not mean the redacted material from Mueller’s final report will be immediately turned over to Congress. The ruling can be appealed to the full court or to the Supreme Court.” See also, Appeals Court Rules Congress Can Have Access to Mueller Grand-Jury Materials, The Wall Street Journal, Brent Kendall and Byron Tau, Tuesday, 10 March 2020: ” See also, Democrats should get Mueller evidence, judges rule, Politico, Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney, Tuesday, 10 March 2020.

Trump Files Third Defamation Lawsuit, Targeting CNN This Time, First Amendment Watch at New York University, Tuesday, 10 March 2020: “President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign filed a libel suit against CNN for an opinion piece published in June 2019 that argued that former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Robert Mueller should have charged the Trump campaign with obstruction of justice. Filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia Atlanta Division, the lawsuit claims that Larry Noble, a law professor and campaign finance expert, falsely claimed in a CNN op-ed that Trump’s campaign had ‘assessed the potential risks and benefits of again seeking Russia’s help in 2020.’ The lawsuit marks the president’s third defamation complaint against a media company in just ten days. The president’s re-election campaign sued The New York Times on February 26th and The Washington Post on March 2nd…. In a post on Twitter, Jameel Jaffer, the Director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, posited the lawsuits were not designed to make it to trial, rather to erode public trust in the press. ‘These suits will likely fail in court but in the meantime they’ll gratify Trump’s base, distract the press and public, and deter speech and journalism that are vital to our democracy. That’s presumably the point,’ he wrote on March 6th.” See also, The True Danger of the Trump Campaign’s Defamation Lawsuits, The Atlantic, Joshua A. Geltzer and Neal K. Katyal, published on Wednesday, 11 March 2020: “Donald Trump’s reelection campaign is launching a legal war against the free press. In the past two weeks, while Americans worried about the coronavirus, the Trump campaign has sued The New York TimesThe Washington Post, and CNN. These suits are, legally speaking, frivolous. They pose no danger in court, where they’re all but certain to fizzle and fail. But don’t let that disguise their import. Outside of court, these lawsuits are a real danger to democracy. They abuse the American justice system to attack and intimidate America’s journalists.”

U.S. Intelligence Officials Say Russian Intelligence Services Are Trying to Stoke U.S. Racial Tensions Before Election, The New York Times, Julian E. Barnes and Adam Goldman, Tuesday, 10 March 2020: “The Russian government has stepped up efforts to inflame racial tensions in the United States as part of its bid to influence November’s presidential election, including trying to incite violence by white supremacist groups and to stoke anger among African-Americans, according to seven American officials briefed on recent intelligence. Russia’s lead intelligence agency, the S.V.R., has apparently gone beyond 2016 methods of interference, when operatives tried to stoke racial animosity by creating fake Black Lives Matter groups and spreading disinformation to depress black voter turnout. Now, Russia is also trying to influence white supremacist groups, the officials said; they gave few details, but one official said federal investigators are examining how at least one neo-Nazi organization with ties to Russia is funded.” See also, Intelligence Officials Temper Russia Warnings, Prompting Accusations of Political Influence, The New York Times, Julian E. Barnes, Nicholas Fandos, and Adam Goldman, Tuesday, 10 March 2020: “Intelligence officials told lawmakers behind closed doors on Tuesday that Russia was not directly supporting any candidates as it tried to interfere in the presidential race, an assertion that contradicted an earlier briefing and prompted accusations from Democrats that the Trump administration was politicizing intelligence. ‘The I.C. has not concluded that the Kremlin is directly aiding any candidate’s re-election or any other candidates’ election,’ an unclassified summary given to lawmakers said, using shorthand for the intelligence community. ‘Nor have we concluded that the Russians will definitely choose to try to do so in 2020.’ Speaker Nancy Pelosi challenged the officials during the first of two briefings on Tuesday, saying their assertions differed from a classified hearing last month where a top election security official discussed Russia’s preference for President Trump’s re-election, according to three people present for Tuesday’s session. The previous briefing drew angry responses from House Republicans.” See also, Tempering an assessment delivered to House lawmakers last month, William Evanina, the head of national counterintelligence, says there is no evidence yet that Russia has taken steps to help any candidate in 2020, The Washington Post, Ellen Nakashima and Seung Min Kim, Tuesday, 10 March 2020: “In the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), the Intelligence Committee chairman, challenged the briefer on what struck them as an effort to play down the assessment given last month by Shelby Pierson, the intelligence community’s point person on foreign election threats.”

Dick’s Sporting Goods is pulling guns from another 440 stores this year, and shares jump, CNBC, Lauren Thomas, Tuesday, 10 March 2020: “Dick’s Sporting Goods said Tuesday it will remove guns from another 440 stores this year, building on its efforts after the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida, in 2018. It made the announcement as it reported holiday-quarter earnings and sales that surpassed analysts’ estimates and showed that more people flocked to its stores for athletic footwear and apparel. The company has benefited from being one of the last bricks-and-mortar businesses left operating in its segment, with rivals Sports Authority and Sport Chalet having gone bankrupt. Its shares surged over 12% in premarket trading on the news.”

Michael Bloomberg’s Job Security Promises Are Falling Through, Campaign Workers Say, The New York Times, Rebecca R. Ruiz, Tuesday, 10 March 2020: “When the multibillionaire Michael R. Bloomberg hired an army of staff members for his presidential campaign, he lavished them with salaries that were nearly double what other candidates were paying. His campaign also promised something rivals could not match: job security through the general election, even if he dropped out of the race. But now, less than a week after Mr. Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York, left the Democratic presidential race — endorsing former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and pledging to put his vast resources behind him — hundreds of Mr. Bloomberg’s field organizers and regional organizing directors around the country are suddenly without jobs, having received emails on Monday that encouraged them to keep their campaign-issued electronics as a sort of severance payment.”

 

Wednesday, 11 March 2020, Day 1,146:

 

World Health Organization (W.H.O.) Says Coronavirus Has Become a Global Pandemic, The New York Times, Donald G. McNeil Jr., Wednesday, 11 March 2020: “The spread of the coronavirus is now a pandemic, officials at the World Health Organization said on Wednesday. ‘We have rung the alarm bell loud and clear,’ said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the W.H.O.’s director-general. Dr. Tedros called for countries to learn from one another’s successes, act in unison and help protect one another against a common threat. ‘Find, isolate, test and treat every case, and trace every contact,’ Dr. Tedros said. ‘Ready your hospitals. Protect and train your health care workers. Let’s all look out for each other, because we’re in this together to do the right things with calm and to protect the citizens of the world.’… The W.H.O. is emphatically not suggesting that the world should give up on containment, Dr. Tedros said. ‘We are suggesting a blended strategy,’ he said, referring to a blend of containment and mitigation. ‘We should double down. We should be more aggressive.'” See also, World Health Organization declares the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic, CNBC, Dawn Kopecki, Berkeley Lovelace Jr., William Feuer, Naoh Higgins-Dunn, Wednesday, 11 March 2020: “The World Health Organization declared a global pandemic as the coronavirus rapidly spreads across the world. ‘We’re deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity and by the alarming levels of inaction,’ the WHO’s chief said. WHO officials had been reluctant to make such a declaration. Declaring a pandemic is charged with major political and economic ramifications, global health experts say.” See also, World Health Organization declares coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic. The organization previously resisted the classification. Politico, Susannah Luthi, Wednesday, 11 March 2020: “The World Health Organization today declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, after resisting the classification for months as the number of worldwide cases soared well past 100,000. WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus noted the group’s deep concern about the ‘alarming levels of spread’ as well as ‘alarming levels of inaction’ in addressing the coronavirus.” See also, WHO declares a pandemic of coronavirus disease covid-19, The Washington Post, William Wan, Wednesday, 11 March 2020.

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Told members of the House Oversight Committee that ‘we will see more cases, and things will get worse,’ Politico, Quint Forgey, Nolan D. McCaskill, and Brianna Ehley, Wednesday, 11 March 2020: “The nation’s top health officials cautioned Wednesday that the U.S. will see more coronavirus cases as the domestic outbreak spreads, a stark warning that comes as Congress looks to head off the outbreak’s economic impact and global health organizations declare it a full-blown pandemic. More than 1,000 people in the U.S. have already been diagnosed with the coronavirus in 38 states, leaving at least 29 people dead. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told members of the House Oversight Committee that ‘we will see more cases, and things will get worse. How much worse … will depend on our ability to do two things: to contain the influx in people who are infected coming from the outside and the ability to contain and mitigate within our own country,’ Fauci said. ‘Bottom line: It’s going to get worse.’ Hours after Fauci’s testimony, the World Health Organization declared coronavirus to be a global pandemic, a classification it had previously resisted…. Fauci stressed that the coronavirus ‘is a really serious problem that we have to take seriously,’ noting that it’s 10 times more lethal than influenza, which kills nearly 0.1 percent of Americans who get it each year. He declined, however, to estimate how many Americans may become infected with coronavirus, reasoning that it would depend on the response.” See also, Coronavirus forecasts are grim: Anthony Fauci testified ‘It’s going to get worse,’ The Washington Post, Joel Achenbach, William Wan, and Lena H. Sun, Wednesday, 11 March 2020: “A rash of alarming forecasts about the coronavirus pandemic emerged Wednesday. The viral outbreak officially became a pandemic in the eyes of the World Health Organization, which cited the alarming spread of the disease called covid-19 and the slow response of many nations to try to contain it. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said 70 percent of Germany’s population could become infected. On Capitol Hill, at a tense House of Representatives hearing, the nation’s leading doctors did nothing to dispel the atmosphere of gloom and anxiety. ‘Bottom line, it’s going to get worse,’ Anthony Fauci, the long-standing director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testified.” See also, Coronavirus: Over 1,000 Cases Now in U.S., and ‘It’s Going to Get Worse,’ Fauci Says, NPR, Bill Chappel, Wednesday, 11 March 2020. See also, Flattening the Coronavirus Curve, The New York Times, Siobhan Roberts, Wednesday, 11 March 2020. See also, First, China. Then, Italy. What the U.S. can learn from extreme coronavirus lockdowns. The Washington Post, Emily Rauhala, William Wan, and Gerry Shih, Wednesday, 11 March 2020.

Exclusive: White House ordered federal health officials at the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) to clasify coronavirus deliberations, Reuters, Aram Roston and Mreisa Taylor, Wednesday, 11 March 2020: “The White House has ordered federal health officials to treat top-level coronavirus meetings as classified, an unusual step that has restricted information and hampered the U.S. government’s response to the contagion, according to four Trump administration officials. The officials said that dozens of classified discussions about such topics as the scope of infections, quarantines and travel restrictions have been held since mid-January in a high-security meeting room at the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), a key player in the fight against the coronavirus. Staffers without security clearances, including government experts, were excluded from the interagency meetings, which included video conference calls, the sources said. ‘We had some very critical people who did not have security clearances who could not go,’ one official said. ‘These should not be classified meetings. It was unnecessary.’ The sources said the National Security Council (NSC), which advises the president on security issues, ordered the classification. ‘This came directly from the White House,’ one official said. The White House insistence on secrecy at the nation’s premier public health organization, which has not been previously disclosed, has put a lid on certain information – and potentially delayed the response to the crisis. COVID19, the disease caused by the virus, has killed about 30 people in the United States and infected more than 1,000 people.”

U.S. to Suspend Most Travel From Europe as World Scrambles to Fight Pandemic, The New York Times, Peter Baker, Wednesday, 11 March 2020: “President Trump on Wednesday night blocked most visitors from continental Europe to the United States and vowed emergency aid to workers and small businesses as the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic, stock markets plunged further and millions of people cut themselves off from their regular lives. In a prime-time address from the Oval Office, Mr. Trump outlined a series of measures intended to tackle the virus and its economic impact as he sought to reassure Americans that he was taking the crisis seriously after previously playing down the scope of the outbreak. He said he would halt travelers from Europe other than Britain for 30 days and asked Congress to support measures like a payroll tax cut.”

Live updates on some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic on Wednesday, 11 March 2020: Trump announces travel ban from most of Europe: NBA suspends season, The Washington Post, Alex Horton Miriam Berger, Lateshia Beachum, Hannah Knowles, Michael Brice-Saddler, and Teo Armus, published on Thursday, 12 March 2020: “President Trump announced a ban on travel from most of Europe to the United States for 30 days Wednesday, marking one of the federal government’s most sweeping measures yet to contain the rapidly spreading coronavirus. The ban will begin Friday at midnight and will not include travel from the United Kingdom, Trump said in a national address late Wednesday, in which he also announced a series of economic relief plans, including low-interest loans for affected small businesses, and called on Congress to provide ‘immediate payroll tax relief.’ He will also instruct the Treasury Department to defer tax payments for impacted individuals and businesses, he said. In another drastic move, the National Basketball Association suspended its entire season after a player tested positive for coronavirus Wednesday night, another sign of the virus’s wide spread and deep impact across the country. As the number of known novel cases surpassed 120,000 worldwide, the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus a pandemic. ‘We are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity,’ WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, ‘and by the alarming levels of inaction.'” This article covers many more significant developments that happened today.

Fact-checking Trump’s address to the nation on the coronavirus, The Washington Post, Glenn Kessler and Salvador Rizzo, published on Thursday, 12 March 2020: “Trump on Wednesday night delivered a brief address to the nation, but his speech was filled with misleading and wrong information. Here is a sampling, in the order in which he made the statements.” See also, ‘It will go away’: A timeline of Trump playing down the coronavirus threat, The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, published on Thursday, 12 March 2020: “Trump gambled very early and very often on the idea that the coronavirus wouldn’t turn out to be nearly as severe as some health officials have warned it could get. The thrust of Trump’s statements about the virus has been almost relentlessly optimistic, which is a marked contrast to those of some health officials who prefer that people be overly prepared rather than underestimate the threat. Trump has frequently suggested that the United States is winning the battle against the virus, and he has regularly promoted the idea that it could suddenly disappear. Today, cases are rising quickly, major institutions such as the NBA are shutting down and there are increasing complaints about the availability of testing. [Here] is a timeline of Trump’s comments playing down the threat posed by the virus.” See also, Besieged Trump announces Europe travel ban in effort to stem coronavirus pandemic, The Washington Post, Philip Rucker and Anne Gearan, Wednesday, 11 March 2020: “A besieged President Trump, who was slow to treat the coronavirus as a serious threat as it has spread across the United States, announced a drastic emergency measure Wednesday night designed to save American lives from the pandemic. Trump said the United States would ban all travel from Europe, where the virus has spread uncontrollably, for 30 days beginning Friday at midnight, although the president said the United Kingdom, which is an island yet still has reported hundreds of its own cases, would be exempt. The White House also later clarified that the travel restrictions do not apply to U.S. citizens and can be waived in multiple circumstances. Although he read from a prepared script as he delivered a rare prime-time televised address to the nation from the Oval Office, Trump incorrectly described his own policy. The president said in his speech that the travel restriction from Europe would apply to cargo and trade as well as passengers. But the text of the order, later released by the White House, stated that the ban would not include cargo, allowing for continued trade between the continents to maintain the free flow of commerce. Trump also urged all Americans to follow the guidelines of federal health experts — whose instructions he has contradicted or ignored in recent weeks. He said the government was moving ‘very quickly’ to fix what has proved a chronic shortage of coronavirus test kits, yet he provided no specific information about how many Americans would be able to be tested, and when and where those tests could occur.” See also, Trump’s address to the nation on coronavirus, annotated, The Washington Post, Amber Phillips, Wednesday, 11 March 2020. See also, Read President Trump’s Speech on Coronavirus Pandemic: Full Transcript, The New York Times, Wednesday, 11 March 2020. See also, Trump ratchets up coronavirus battle with European travel ban, Politico, Gabby Orr, Wednesday, 11 March 2020. See also, Trump Mistakenly Announces Ban on All Travel and Imports From Europe, Then Backtracks, The Intercept, Robert Mackey, published on Thursday, 12 March 2020.

Italy Hardens Nationwide Quarantine, The Wall Street Journal, Eric Sylvers and Giovanni Legorano, Wednesday, 11 March 2020: “Italy ordered the nationwide closure of all restaurants and bars along with most stores, as it raced to contain the worst novel coronavirus outbreak outside China. From Thursday, all retail outlets except for food stores and pharmacies must stay shut, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said. The announcement tightens a nationwide quarantine in place since Tuesday morning, aimed at cutting social interactions to a minimum.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel warns that up to 70% of the country’s population, some 58 million people, could contract the coronavirus, BBC, Wednesday, 11 March 2020: “Mrs Merkel made the stark prediction at a news conference on Wednesday alongside Health Minister Jens Spahn. She said since there was no known cure, the focus would fall on slowing the spread of the virus. ‘It’s about winning time,’ she explained. Her remarks came as Italy entered its second day of a national lockdown.” See also, German Chancellor Angela Merkel Gives Germans a Hard Truth About the Coronavirus, The New York Times, Katrin Bennhold and Melissa Eddy, Wednesday, 11 March 2020: “Chancellor Angela Merkel is on her way out and her power is waning, but in her typically low-key, no-nonsense manner, the German leader on Wednesday laid out some cold, hard facts on the coronavirus in a way that few other leaders have. Two in three Germans may become infected, Ms. Merkel said at a news conference that reverberated far beyond her country. There is no immunity now against the virus and no vaccine yet. It spreads exponentially, and the world now faces a pandemic. The most important thing, the chancellor said, is to slow down the spread of the coronavirus to win time for people to develop immunity, and to prevent the health care system from becoming overwhelmed.”

Dow Jones Industrial Average’s 11-Year Bull Run Ends, The Wall Street Journal, Akane Otani and Karen Langley, Wednesday, 11 March 2020: “The longest-ever bull market for U.S. stocks ended Wednesday. The downturn, marked by a 20% decline from the most recent high for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, heightens fears that the economic expansion that began following the financial crisis could also be on its last legs. Stocks have crumbled, oil prices have tanked and U.S. government bond yields have plumbed record lows in the face of the rapidly spreading coronavirus.” See also, Dow Ends 11-Year Bull Market as Coronavirus Defies Economic Remedies, The New York Times, Ben Casselman, Wednesday, 11 March 2020: “The coronavirus outbreak ended one of the longest winning streaks in market history on Wednesday as the Dow Jones industrial average plunged and global policymakers grappled with the growing economic crisis. The Dow closed with a loss of nearly 6 percent. That brought the decline from its most recent peak to more than 20 percent, the threshold that defines a bear market, after the Dow’s 11-year run in bull-market territory.” See also, Dow enters bear market after coronavirus declared a global pandemic, The Washington Post, Taylor Telford and Thomas Heath, Wednesday, 11 March 2020.

How Right-Wing Pundits Are Covering Coronavirus, The New York Times, Jeremy W. Peters and Michael M. Grynbaum, Wednesday, 11 March 2020: “Sean Hannity used his syndicated talk-radio program on Wednesday to share a prediction he had found on Twitter about what is really happening with the coronavirus: It’s a ‘fraud’ by the deep state to spread panic in the populace, manipulate the economy and suppress dissent. ‘May be true,’ Mr. Hannity declared to millions of listeners around the country. As the coronavirus spreads around the globe, denial and disinformation about the risks are proliferating on media outlets popular with conservatives. ‘This coronavirus?’ Rush Limbaugh asked skeptically during his Wednesday program, suggesting it was all a plot hatched by the Chinese. ‘Nothing like wiping out the entire U.S. economy with a biothreat from China, is there?’ he said…. Where doctors and scientists see a public health crisis, President Trump and his media allies have seen a political coup afoot.” See also, How Fox News misled viewers about the novel coronavirus, CNN Business, Oliver Darcy, Thursday, 12 March 2020: “As the coronavirus pandemic gripped the country over the last several weeks, television viewers — especially those supportive of President Donald Trump —- had one place they could go to for some sense of solace: Fox News. ‘If you are over the mass hysteria, if you’re over politicizing and weaponizing of the coronavirus, you are not alone,’ Sean Hannity, the highest-rated host on Fox News, assured the network’s prime time audience this week. Indeed, over the past several weeks, top hosts and personalities on the conservative cable news network downplayed concerns about the virus, baselessly accusing credible news organizations of overhyping the crisis to hurt Trump politically. At other times, Fox News hosts and personalities pointed to the death toll of the seasonal flu, misleading the network’s audience into thinking that the coronavirus was receiving more attention because it is novel, while the flu in fact kills more Americans and was, thus, more dangerous and cause for alarm…. [A] significant part of Fox News’ coverage had been aimed toward framing the response to coronavirus as unwarranted hysteria. The often-dismissive messaging from Fox News hosts was particularly notable, given that, like other cable news channels, the viewers who make up the network’s audience skew older and are, thus, the most vulnerable to the disease. The remarks from the hosts also raise concern given how much influence figures like Hannity wield over Trump, especially since Trump recycled some of those very talking points on Twitter and when speaking with the press to initially dismiss the public health crisis.”

Supreme Court Revives ‘Remain in Mexico,’ Policy for Asylum Seekers, The New York Times, Adam Liptak and Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Wednesday, 11 March 2020: “The Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed the Trump administration to maintain a program that has forced about 60,000 asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their requests are heard. An appeals court had blocked the program, saying it was at odds with both federal law and international treaties and was causing ‘extreme and irreversible harm.’ The Supreme Court’s order was brief and unsigned, and it gave no reasons for staying the appeals court’s ruling while the case moved forward. Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote that she would have denied the administration’s request for a stay.” See also, Supreme Court says Trump administration may continue ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy for asylum seekers, The Washington Post, Robert Barnes, Wednesday, 11 March 2020: “The Supreme Court on Wednesday said the Trump administration may continue its ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy for asylum seekers while lower-court challenges continue, after the federal government warned that tens of thousands of immigrants amassed at the southern border could overwhelm the immigration system. The justices reversed a decision of a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit that had ordered the policy be suspended Thursday along parts of the border. As is usual in emergency rulings, the court’s unsigned, one-paragraph order did not provide the majority’s reasoning. Only Justice Sonia Sotomayor noted her dissent.”

Behind Bernie Sanders’s Decision to Stay in the Race, The New York Times, Sydney Ember, Reid J. Epstein, and Glenn Thrush, Wednesday, 11 March 2020: “Senator Bernie Sanders on Wednesday made a defiant case for his liberal policy agenda despite suffering big losses in the Democratic primaries this week, saying he planned to continue his bid for the presidency. But he acknowledged that he was “losing the debate over electability” to his rival, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. Mr. Sanders vowed to participate in the scheduled debate on Sunday, and asserted that ‘a strong majority’ of Democrats supported his progressive causes, even as his path to the nomination looks increasingly narrow. Still, as he addressed reporters at an afternoon news conference in Burlington, he did not directly attack Mr. Biden or vow to carry his fight to the end, instead signaling he was ready for a de-escalation in their rivalry. In one striking sequence that highlighted his ideological resolve, Mr. Sanders ticked off a list of policy issues and challenged Mr. Biden to explain to the American people how he would address them — a series of questions that could be seen as an opening gambit for a list of concessions he would seek from Mr. Biden if he were to drop out of the race.” See also, Read Bernie Sanders’s Full Speech About Staying in the Race, The New York Times, Isabella Grullón Paz, Wednesday, 11 March 2020: Bernie Sanders: “On Sunday, I very much look forward to the debate in Arizona with my friend, Joe Biden. And let me be very frank as to the questions that I will be asking Joe. Joe, what are you going to do for the 500,000 people who will go bankrupt in our country because of medically related debt? And what are you going to do for the working people of this country and small businesspeople who are paying on average 20 percent of their incomes for health care? Joe, what are you going to do to end the absurdity of the United States of America being the only major country on earth where health care is not a human right? Are you really going to veto a Medicare for all bill, if it is passed in Congress? Joe, how are you going to respond to the scientists who tell us we have seven or eight years remaining to transform our energy system before irreparable harm takes place to this planet because of the ravages of climate change? Joe, at a time when most young people need a higher education to make it into the middle class, what are you going to do to make sure that all of our people can go to college or trade school, regardless of their income? And what are you going to do about the millions of people who are struggling with outrageous levels of student debt? Joe, at a time when we have more people in jail than communist China, a nation four times our size, what are you going to do to end mass incarceration and a racist criminal justice system? And what are you going to do to end the terror that millions of undocumented people experience right now because of our broken and inhumane immigration system? Joe, what are you going to do about the fact that we have the highest rate of childhood poverty of almost any major country on Earth and are living with the fact that 500,000 people tonight are homeless and 18 million families are spending half of their income to put a roof over their heads? Joe, importantly, what are you going to do to end the absurdity of billionaires buying elections and the three wealthiest people in America owning more wealth than the bottom half of our people? So, let me conclude the way I began. Donald Trump must be defeated, and I will do everything in my power to make that happen.” See also, Sanders doesn’t drop out, but it’s not full speed ahead, either, The Washington Post, Sean Sullivan, Wednesday, 11 March 2020.

Joe Biden Will Host ‘Virtual Events’ as Coronavirus Fears Heat Up, The New York Times, Katie Glueck, Wednesday, 11 March 2020: “Joseph R. Biden Jr. is drastically modifying his campaign schedule in the coming days in response to mounting anxieties about the coronavirus, trading traditional get-out-the-vote-style gatherings for ‘virtual events,’ his campaign announced Wednesday. The move marked the beginning of an extraordinary new chapter in an already tumultuous presidential race: campaigning amid a pandemic.”

House Passes Bill Preserving F.B.I. Surveillance Powers, The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos and Charlie Savage, Wednesday, 11 March 2020: “The House passed a bipartisan adjustment of key surveillance laws on Wednesday, cobbling together an unusual coalition of lawmakers to approve some new privacy protections for Americans and extend three expiring F.B.I. tools for investigating terrorism and espionage. The vote appeared to be a breakthrough after weeks of negotiations in both the House and the Senate to prevent the surveillance tools from expiring this weekend and to address abuses identified in F.B.I. applications to wiretap a former Trump campaign adviser. Though civil libertarians in both parties opposed it as a half-measure that fell short of the kind of sweeping protections they favor, the bill passed with strong Democratic and Republican support, 278 to 136.”

Senate Rejects Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ Rule Restricting Debt Relief for Bilked Students, The New York Times, Erica L. Green and Stacy Cowley, Wednesday, 11 March 2020: “In a bipartisan rebuke, the Senate voted on Wednesday to overturn a major Trump administration rule that would sharply limit debt relief for students misled by schools that lured them in with false claims about their graduates’ career and earning prospects. In a 53-to-42 vote that included 10 Republicans, the Senate struck down a revised Education Department rule completed in September by the department’s secretary, Betsy DeVos. The House passed a companion resolution in January. The legislation will now go to President Trump, who will decide whether to uphold the rule with a veto or side with Congress over his own education secretary. He has told Senate Republicans he is ‘neutral’ on repealing the rule, though he has yet to comment on his veto intentions.”

House Sends Trump Bill to Restrict War Powers on Iran, Setting Up Veto, The New York Times, Catie Edmondson, Wednesday, 11 March 2020: “The House gave final approval on Wednesday to a bipartisan resolution aimed at forcing President Trump to get explicit approval from Congress before taking further military action against Iran, in a bid by lawmakers to reassert congressional war powers that is all but certain to be thwarted by a presidential veto. The vote, 227 to 186, amounted to a rare move by Congress to claw back its authority over matters of war and peace from a president who has a penchant for unilateral action and little patience for consulting with lawmakers. It lands a jab at Mr. Trump as he attempts to confront the growing outbreak of coronavirus, more than two months after he moved without congressional authorization to kill Iran’s most important commander.”

Trump’s Company (The Trump Organization) Used Middlemen to Pay New York City Tax Assessors to Lower Building Assessments In Order to Pay Less in Property Taxes in the 1980s and 1990s, ProPublica, Heather Vogell of ProPublica and Katherine Sullivan of WNYC, Wednesday, 11 March 2020: “The Trump Organization paid bribes, through middlemen, to New York City tax assessors to lower its property tax bills for several Manhattan buildings in the 1980s and 1990s, according to five former tax assessors and city employees as well as a former Trump Organization employee. Two of the five city employees said they personally took bribes to lower the assessment on a Trump property; the other three said they had indirect knowledge of the payments. The city employees were among 18 indicted in 2002 for taking bribes in exchange for lowering the valuations of properties, which in turn reduced the taxes owed for the buildings. All of the 18 eventually pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Manhattan except for one, who died before his case was resolved.”

Harvey Weinstein’s Stunning Downfall: 23 Years in Prison, The New York Times, Jan Ransom, Wednesday, 11 March 2020: “Harvey Weinstein, the movie producer who dominated Hollywood for decades, was sentenced on Wednesday to 23 years in prison for sex crimes, as the six women who had testified against him watched from the courtroom’s front row, holding one another, some in tears. The long sentence meant that Mr. Weinstein, who is 67 and in poor health, could very well spend the rest of his life in prison.”

 

Thursday, 12 March 2020, Day 1,147:

 

School Superintendents, Sports Commissioners, College Presidents, Governors, and Business Owners Have Taken It Upon Themselves to Shut Down Much of Life in the U.S. Without Clear Guidance From Trump and His Administration, The New York Times, Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman, Thursday, 12 March 2020: “As he confronts the most serious crisis of his tenure, President Trump has been assertive in closing borders to many outsiders, one of his favorite policies. But within the United States, as the coronavirus spreads from one community to another, he has been more follower than leader…. For weeks, he resisted telling Americans to cancel or stay away from large gatherings, reluctant even on Thursday to call off his own campaign rallies even as he grudgingly acknowledged he would probably have to. Instead, it fell to Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the government’s most famous scientist, to say publicly what the president would not, leading the nation’s basketball, hockey, soccer and baseball leagues in just 24 hours to suspend play and call off tournaments. Mayors and county executives, hospital executives and factory owners received no further direction from the president as he talked about the virus in the Oval Office on Thursday than they did during his prime-time address to the nation the night before. Beyond travel limits and wash-your-hands reminders, Mr. Trump has left it to others to set the course in combating the pandemic and has indicated he was in no rush to take further action.” See also, Ten minutes at the teleprompter: Inside Trump’s failed attempt to calm coronavirus fears, The Washington Post, Philip Rucker, Ashley Parker, and Josh Dawsey, Thursday, 12 March 2020: “In the most scripted of presidential settings, a prime-time televised address to the nation, President Trump decided to ad-lib — and his errors triggered a market meltdown, panicked travelers overseas and crystallized for his critics just how dangerously he has fumbled his management of the coronavirus. Even Trump — a man practically allergic to admitting mistakes — knew he’d screwed up by declaring Wednesday night that his ban on travel from Europe would include cargo and trade, and acknowledged as much to aides in the Oval Office as soon as he’d finished speaking, according to one senior administration official and a second person, both with knowledge of the episode. Jared Kushner, his son-in-law and senior adviser who has seized control over some aspects of the government’s coronavirus response, reassured Trump that aides would correct his misstatement, four administration officials said, and they scrambled to do just that. The president also told staffers to make sure other countries did not believe trade would be affected, and even sent a cleanup tweet of his own: ‘The restriction stops people not goods,’ he wrote. Other administration officials rushed to alert the public that U.S. citizens would be exempt from the travel ban, after scores of Americans, upon digesting Trump’s speech, phoned government offices and raced to airports in Europe out of concern that they would not be able to fly home. Trump’s 10-minute Oval Office address Wednesday night reflected not only his handling of the coronavirus crisis but, in some ways, much of his presidency. It was riddled with errors, nationalist and xenophobic in tone, limited in its empathy, and boastful of both his own decisions and the supremacy of the nation he leads.” See also, In Rare Oval Office Speech, Trump Voices New Concerns and Old Themes, The New York Times, Annie Karni and Maggie Haberman, Thursday, 12 March 2020: “Sitting somberly behind the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office, framed by his custom gold curtains, President Trump for the first time on Wednesday night acknowledged the seriousness of the coronavirus. The president who until now has tried to project a ‘business as usual’ demeanor, even comparing the coronavirus to the everyday flu, confronted the fact that he faces a global pandemic that required a new set of rules, referred to the virus not as a workaday cold but as a ‘horrible infection’ and announced new travel restrictions that he said would stop its spread. But his rare evening address to the nation also contained accusatory language and a defensive tone that were vintage Trump. He blamed European and Chinese people for bringing the outbreak to the United States, describing it ominously as a ‘foreign virus,’ language that reflected the isolationist views of his chief speechwriter, Stephen Miller, who alongside Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, helped draft the address. He also appeared to minimize the damage the virus has already wreaked across the country, where there are now more than 1,200 active cases. Instead, he heaped praise on his administration’s response when in reality, his attempts to play down the health crisis have been under fierce criticism for weeks.”  See also, For Trump, a New Crisis and a Familiar Response: It’s China’s Fault, and Europe’s, The New York Times, David E. Sanger, Thursday, 12 March 2020: “President Trump’s 30-day suspension of all entry into the United States for most Europeans, his most significant step yet in the halting effort to combat the coronavirus, accelerates his long-brewing divorce from many of America’s traditional allies. His White House address on Wednesday night was cast in distinctly ‘America First’ terms, seeming to suggest that the United States — acting alone — could halt a scourge that started in China, is ravaging Italy and knows no borders. But perhaps most tellingly, it was announced with no consultation with America’s closest allies, following the same pattern of unilateral action he favored when he announced in 2017 that the United States would pull out of the Paris climate accord and then the Iran nuclear deal the following year. And it opened yet another wound — one likely to impair cooperation as the virus surges — as the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, made clear in a chilly statement. ‘The coronavirus is a global crisis, not limited to any continent, and it requires cooperation rather than unilateral action,’ she said in a joint statement with Charles Michel, who heads the European Council. ‘The European Union disapproves of the fact that the U.S. decision to impose a travel ban was taken unilaterally and without consultation.'” See also, European Union leaders condemn Trump’s travel ban. Bloc ‘disapproves’ of measure ‘taken unilaterally and without consultation.’ Politico, Hans Von Der Burchard, Thursday, 13 March 2020: “The European Union on Thursday condemned U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to ban travelers from most of Europe visiting the United States. ‘The Coronavirus is a global crisis, not limited to any continent and it requires cooperation rather than unilateral action,’ European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel said in a joint statement. ‘The European Union disapproves of the fact that the U.S. decision to impose a travel ban was taken unilaterally and without consultation,’ they said, adding that the bloc was ‘taking strong action to limit the spread of the virus.'” See also, Trump’s coronavirus travel ban excludes the UK and Ireland, the countries where he has golf courses struggling for business, Business Insider, John Haltiwanger, Thursday, 12 March 2020: “President Donald Trump’s new coronavirus-related travel restrictions on Europe do not extend to the two European countries where he has golf courses: the UK and Ireland. The 30-day travel ban targets 26 countries that are part of a visa-free travel area known as the Schengen Area. The UK and Ireland are not part of that zone. Trump has two properties in the UK — Trump Turnberry and Trump International Golf Links in Scotland — as well as one in Doonbeg, Ireland. All are struggling financially.” See also, ‘We are flying blind’: Lawmakers fume amid lack of coronavirus testing and answers, CNN Politics, Haley Byrd, Lauren Fox, Manu Raju, and Ted Barrett, Thursday, 12 March 2020: “Lawmakers in Congress are expressing outrage and confusion as to why the United States is not testing individuals for the COVID-19 coronavirus at as fast a pace as other countries, following closed-door briefings with administration officials who failed to explain the discrepancy. Several members emerged from an all-members House briefing Thursday morning saying they were told the government is working around the clock to make tests, but the US system is trying to catch up to other countries like South Korea. Members were exasperated with what they said was a lack of clarity in the officials’ answers, as lawmakers struggle to understand how the US has been so far outpaced by other countries grappling with the pandemic.” See also, Many experts fault Trump’s latest solutions for coping with coronavirus, The Washington Post, David Nakamura, Lena H. Sun, and William Wan, Thursday, 12 March 2020. See also, Trump’s go-it-alone approach put to the test by global coronavirus pandemic, The Washington Post, Toluse Olorunnipa and Anne Gearan, Thursday, 12 March 2020: “As a viral pandemic has spread across continents with a severity and deadliness that world leaders say demands a global response, President Trump has increasingly turned inward. He has imposed travel restrictions on one-fourth of the world’s population while criticizing other nations’ response efforts, refused to meet with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, attacked his handpicked Federal Reserve chairman and defied the warnings of his own public health experts. His handling of the crisis, including a surprise decision to restrict travel from Europe, is drawing criticism at home and abroad, with leaders warning that Trump’s go-it-alone approach is doing harm to an already fraught situation.” See also, After Trump promised ‘anybody’ can get coronavirus testing, many patients and doctors continue to be denied the test, The Washington Post, Shawn Boburg, Emma Brown, Derek Hawkins, and Amy Goldstein, Thursday, 12 March 2020. See also, Sick People Across the U.S. Say They Are Being Denied the Coronavirus Test, The New York Times, Farah Stockman, Thursday, 12 March 2020: “Many who fear they have the coronavirus have faced one roadblock after another as they try to get tested, according to interviews with dozens of people across the country. Some have been rejected because they had no symptoms, even though they had been in proximity to someone who tested positive. Others were told no because they had not traveled to a hot spot abroad, even though they had fevers and hacking coughs and lived in cities with growing outbreaks. Still others were told a bitter truth: There simply were not enough tests to go around. See also, 7 important things we learned from the coronavirus hearings in Congress, The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Thursday, 12 March 2020. See also, Ashish Jha, Director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, Says Trump’s Response to the Novel Coronavirus Is an ‘Unmitigated Disaster that the Administration Has Brought Upon the U.S. Population,’ Bloomberg Businessweek, Margaret Newkirk and Paula Dwyer, Thursday, 12 March 2020: “As the new coronavirus spread around the world, sickening tens of thousands of people, President Donald Trump suggested that warm weather would kill the virus and said the number of U.S. cases of Covid-19 was ‘going very substantially down, not up.’ He predicted the imminent availability of a vaccine and blamed the Obama administration for the slow rollout of test kits. With the number of cases in the U.S. now in four figures, public-health experts have harsh criticism for how the White House has responded. ‘This is an unmitigated disaster that the administration has brought upon the population, and I don’t say this lightly,’ says Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute. ‘We have had a much worse response than Iran, than Italy, than China and South Korea.'” See also, A President Unequal to the Moment, The New Yorker, Susan B. Glasser, Thursday, 12 March 2020: “In a prime-time address to the nation on Wednesday night, Trump declared war on the ‘foreign virus,’ blaming first China and then the European Union for spreading it, and insisting that it carried ‘very, very low risk’ for Americans. The starkly militaristic and nationalistic tone of the address sounded scary and ignorant and utterly inadequate at a time when the country is being radically upended, with travel halting, workplaces and schools shuttering, and hospitals bracing for impact. The ‘foreign virus’ will not be contained or shut out by a European travel ban, which the President announced, any more than it was by a China travel ban, which he had previously decreed. It is already here in states across the nation, and experts warn that it could infect millions and kill hundreds of thousands in a worst-case scenario.”

Some of the many cancellations and closures in the US: Broadway, Symbol of New York Resilience, Shuts Down Amid Virus Threat, The New York Times, Michael Paulson, Thursday, 12 March 2020: “Facing restrictions on audience size and concern from actors and audiences about health risks during the coronavirus pandemic, the industry announced that shows will be shuttered through April 12.” New York’s Major Cultural Institutions Close in Response to Coronavirus, The New York Times, Robin Pogrebin and Michael Cooper, Thursday, 12 March 2020: “The Metropolitan Museum, Whitney Museum, Guggenheim, Museum of Modern Art, Metropolitan Opera, Carnegie Hall and New York Philharmonic announced temporary closures.” Disney Parks and Cruise Line Will Close in Response to Coronavirus, The New York Times, Brooks Barnes, Thursday, 12 March 2020. Twenty-Four Hours When Sports Hit the Halt Button, The New York Times, Andrew Keh, Thursday, 12 March 2020.

Live updates on some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic on Thursday, 12 March 2020: NCAA cancels March Madness because of coronavirus; states begin to close all schools, The Washington Post, Teo Armus, Michael Brice-Saddler, Hannah Knowles, Marisa Iati, Alex Horton, Miriam Berger, Katie Mettler, and Anna Fifield, Thursday, 12 March 2020: “It was a day of cancellations and closures as the coronavirus spread to more states in the United States and the number of cases passed 1,600. Disneyland and Walt Disney World are closing. Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Mexico and Ohio announced statewide school closures to slow the rate of infections. And the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced it is indefinitely suspending all public gatherings, including worship services, worldwide. In sports, major announcements have poured out over the past 24 hours. The NCAA basketball tournaments are off. The National Hockey League and Major League Soccer suspended their seasons, following the National Basketball Association’s lead. Major League Baseball canceled the rest of spring training and postponed Opening Day by at least two weeks.” This article covers many more significant developments that happened today.

Trump and Pence Won’t Be Tested After Meeting With Brazilian Official Who Tested Positive for the Coronavirus, The New York Times, Annie Karni, Thursday, 12 March 2020: “President Trump will not be tested for the coronavirus after coming into contact with a Brazilian official who tested positive for the virus just days after participating in meetings with him in Florida, the White House said on Thursday. Fabio Wajngarten, a top communications aide to President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, tested positive days after accompanying him to Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort and posing for a photo with the president and Vice President Mike Pence. In the photo, which he posted on social media, Mr. Wajngarten is standing shoulder to shoulder with Mr. Trump, who is clutching a brown ‘Make Brazil Great Again’ baseball cap. A video from the event also showed Mr. Wajngarten standing directly behind Mr. Trump and Mr. Bolsonaro as they spoke to a crowd.” See also, Trump met with Brazilian official who tested positive for coronavirus, The Guardian, Martin Pengelly and Dom Phillips, Thursday, 12 March 2020. See also, Trump had photo taken with infected Brazilian official, but he does not plan to get tested for coronavirus, The Washington Post, Anne Gearan, Josh Dawsey, and Terrence McCoy, Thursday, 12 March 2020: “A senior Brazilian official who dined and was photographed with President Trump and Vice President Pence last weekend in Florida is infected with the coronavirus, marking the closest known contact between Trump and someone carrying the highly communicable illness that has shuttered many aspects of daily life across the globe and cratered financial markets.” See also, Trump Attacks Democrats Hours After Calling for Bipartisanship, The New York Times, Peter Baker, Thursday, 12 March 2020: “On Wednesday night, President Trump implored the nation’s political leadership to ‘stop the partisanship’ and come together to confront the coronavirus pandemic. On Thursday morning, he woke up and immediately issued partisan attacks on Democratic congressional leaders. Mr. Trump’s call for a suspension of partisanship lasted just nine hours, at least some of which he was presumably asleep. While some of Mr. Trump’s allies and advisers have urged him to stop fighting and assert more national leadership, the president made clear that it does not suit him.”

Stocks Plunge 10% in Dow’s Worst Day Since 1987, The Wall Street Journal, Caitlin McCabe and Caitlin Ostroff, Thursday, 12 March 2020: “U.S. stocks plunged Thursday in their worst day since the 1987 crash. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 10%, and the S&P 500 and Nasdaq tumbled nearly as much to join the Dow in a bear market. The furious falls in share prices on rising fears of a global slowdown due to the rapid spread of coronavirus occurred despite a $1.5 trillion intervention in short-term funding markets by the Federal Reserve.” See also, Travel Limits and Economic Fears Stoke Market Plunge, The New York Times, Thursday, 12 March 2020. See also, Dow plunges 10 percent despite the Federal Reserve lifeline as coronavirus panic grips investors, The Washington Post, Thomas Heath, Taylor Telford, and Heather Long, Thursday, 12 March 2020: “Wall Street losses snowballed Thursday, with the Dow Jones industrial average plummeting 10 percent, even after the Federal Reserve took the highly unusual step of injecting more money into the bond market to stabilize the financial systems amid growing panic about the coronavirus and its stranglehold on the economy. The Dow skidded 2,352.60 points for its worst finish since 1987. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index plunged 9.5 percent as stocks spiraled further into a bear market — which signifies a 20 percent decline from an all-time high. The New York Fed will pump $1.5 trillion into the short-term lending markets that banks use to lend to each other on Thursday and Friday. The central bank also announced it will buy $60 billion worth of Treasury bonds for the next month (March 13 through April 13) to help keep that market functioning appropriately. Earlier this week, investors reported problems trading in U.S. government bonds. These irregularities echoed the types of freezes seen during the 2008 financial crisis, and the Fed appeared to want to act quickly to stop them.” See also, Federal Reserve to Inject $1.5 Trillion in Bid to Prevent ‘Unusual Disruptions’ in Markets, The Wall Street Journal, Nick Timiraos and Julia-Ambra Verlaine, Thursday, 12 March 2020: “The Federal Reserve said it would make vast sums of short-term loans available on Wall Street and purchase Treasury securities in a coronavirus-related response aimed at preventing ominous trading conditions from creating a sharper economic contraction. The Fed’s promise to intervene substantially in short-term money markets, together with a move that opens the door to a resumption of bond-buying stimulus known as quantitative easing, followed two days of trading in which market functioning appeared to have degraded. That is a concern for the Fed because the Treasury market is the most liquid and actively traded bond market in the world, providing a backbone for everything from hedging trades to conducting monetary policy.”

Senate Cancels Recess as Democrats and White House Seek Virus Relief Deal, The New York Times, Emily Cochrane, Thursday, 12 March 2020: “Under mounting pressure to remain in Washington as Democrats and the White House hammer out a relief package to address a fast-moving pandemic, Senator Mitch McConnell reversed course on Thursday and canceled a planned one-week recess, saying the Senate would meet next week and be ready to consider a compromise coronavirus relief bill.” See also, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are closing in on a deal on coronavirus aid package, Politico, John Bresnahan, Sarah Ferris, and Heather Caygle, Thursday, 12 March 2020.

Florida Republican Senator Rick Scott announces he will self-quarantine after having possible contact with Brazialian President Jair Bolsonaro’s press secretary, Fabio Wajngarten, Miami Herald, Alex Daugherty, Thursday, 12 March 2020: “Florida Republican Sen. Rick Scott announced Thursday he will self-quarantine after having possible contact with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s press secretary, Fabio Wajngarten, during a meeting in Florida this week. Wajngarten also posed for a photo with President Donald Trump during his visit to Florida. ‘My office was alerted today by the Brazilian Embassy that a member of President Bolsonaro’s delegation tested positive for coronavirus,’ Scott said in a statement. ‘On Monday, I met with the president in Miami, and while I do not believe I interacted with the infected person, that individual was in the same room as me. The embassy said the person had no symptoms leading up to or on the day of the conference.'”

Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders Rebuke Trump Over His Response to the Coronavirus Crisis: ‘The Clock Is Ticking,’ The New York Times, Katie Glueck and Sydney Ember, Thursday, 12 March 2020: “Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Thursday delivered a forceful rebuke of President Trump’s leadership amid the coronavirus crisis, seeking to project steadiness and resolve from his perch as the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination. In his own speech about the pandemic, Senator Bernie Sanders, Mr. Biden’s main rival, also flamed the president’s response. He provided a long list of policy proposals aimed in particular at helping low-income and working-class families, providing a glimpse of the extraordinary measures he might take if he were president.”

Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson Have Tested Positive for the Novel Coronavirus, Wired, Angela Watercutter, Thursday, 12 March 2020: “Late last night, Tom Hanks shared some surprising news on Instagram and Twitter: He and his wife Rita Wilson have tested positive for the coronavirus. Currently, the couple is in Australia, where Hanks is filming Baz Luhrmann’s upcoming Elvis Presley movie, and both got tested after they began feeling slightly ill. ‘We felt a bit tired, like we had colds, and some body aches,’ Hanks posted. ‘Rita had some chills that came and went. Slight fevers too. To play things right, as is needed in the world right now, we were tested for the coronavirus, and were found to be positive.’ Hanks went on to say that he and Wilson ‘will be tested, observed, and isolated for as long as public health and safety requires.'”

NBA player Rudy Gobert, who touched every microphone at Jazz media availability on Monday, now has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, CBS Sports, Sam Quinn, Thursday, 12 March 2020: “Rudy Gobert became the first NBA player to test positive for coronavirus on Wednesday, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, and while the league moved swiftly to suspend the season afterward, Gobert’s actions before any decisions were made has caused some alarm in the basketball world. With the NBA recently banning media from accessing locker rooms, players have begun fulfilling their media obligations at the podium. Gobert did so at Monday’s Utah Jazz shootaround. Afterward, he proceeded to touch every microphone on the stage, seemingly sending a message about his fearlessness in regards to the disease. It is unknown just how many people came into contact with those microphones after Gobert.” See also, NBA suspends season after Jazz’s Rudy Gobert tests positive for coronavirus, The Washington Post, Ben Golliver, Thursday, 12 March 2020. See also, Rudy Gobert, first NBA player found to have the novel coronavirus, apologizes: ‘I was careless and have no excuse,’ The Washington Post, Cindy Boren and Des Bieler, published on Friday, 13 March 2020: “Rudy Gobert, the first NBA player found to have coronavirus, posted an apology Thursday for his ‘careless’ behavior. ‘I hope my story serves as a warning and causes everyone to take this seriously,’ the Utah Jazz’s all-star center said in a message posted to Instagram. On Monday, Gobert had joked with members of the media by making sure to touch all the microphones and recording devices reporters had placed on the table in front of him as he left a news conference. He tested positive for the virus Wednesday evening, halting the Jazz’s scheduled game against the Thunder in Oklahoma City and, shortly after that surreal scene, precipitating the NBA’s decision to suspend the season indefinitely.”

A Very Hot Year, The New York Review of Books, Bill McKibben, Thursday, 12 March 2020: “This year began with huge bushfires in southeastern Australia that drove one community after another into temporary exile, killed an estimated billion animals, and turned Canberra’s air into the dirtiest on the planet. The temperatures across the continent broke records—one day, the average high was above 107 degrees, and the humidity so low that forests simply exploded into flames. The photos of the disaster were like something out of Hieronymus Bosch, with crowds gathered on beaches under blood-red skies, wading into the water as their only refuge from the flames licking nearby. But such scenes are only a chaotic reminder of what is now happening every hour of every day. This year wouldn’t have begun in such a conflagration if 2019 hadn’t been an extremely hot year on our planet—the second-hottest on record, and the hottest without a big El Niño event to help boost temperatures. And we can expect those numbers to be eclipsed as the decade goes on. Indeed, in mid-February the temperature at the Argentine research station on the Antarctic Peninsula hit 65 degrees Fahrenheit, crushing the old record for the entire continent. It is far too late to stop global warming, but these next ten years seem as if they may be our last chance to limit the chaos. If there’s good news, it’s that 2019 was also a hot year politically, with the largest mass demonstrations about climate change taking place around the world.”

U.S. launches strikes in Iraq against Iranian-backed militias after attack that killed coalition troops, The Washington Post, Dan Lamothe and Louisa Loveluck, Thursday, 12 March 2020: “The United States launched airstrikes against an Iranian-backed militia in Iraq early Friday, responding to a rocket attack on a military base that killed one British and two U.S. service members in a new round of escalating tensions. The Pentagon said in a statement that U.S. forces hit facilities ‘across Iraq’ linked to Kataib Hezbollah, including storage facilities that housed weapons used in attacks on American and coalition troops.” See also, U.S. Carries Out Retaliatory Strikes on Iranian-Backed Militia in Iraq, The New York Times, Eric Schmitt and Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Thursday, 12 March 2020: “United States warplanes struck five targets in southern Iraq on Thursday night, hitting back at an Iraqi militia with ties to Iran that is believed to have been part of a rocket attack on Wednesday that killed two Americans and a British soldier, American officials said. The airstrikes, which were supported by the British military, targeted the militia Kataib Hezbollah and facilities that were believed to store the type of rockets used in the attack on coalition forces on Wednesday. It is not known how many militia members, if any, were killed, a military official said.”

Joe Biden appoints Jen O’Malley Dillon as new campaign manager, The Washington Post, Michael Scherer, Thursday, 12 March 2020: “Former vice president Joe Biden named Jen O’Malley Dillon as his new campaign manager Thursday, a major shake-up that comes as the party’s leading candidate plans an organizational expansion to prepare for the general election. The move is intended to quell concerns raised in recent weeks by senior Democratic strategists about the leadership structure of the Biden campaign, which has been beset by underwhelming fundraising, scant staffing resources and organizational miscues during the early nominating contests.”

Chelsea Manning Is Ordered Released From Jail, The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Thursday, 12 March 2020: “A federal judge on Thursday ordered the release of Chelsea Manning, the former Army intelligence analyst who in 2010 leaked archives of military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks, and who was jailed last year for refusing to testify before a grand jury that is investigating the organization and its founder, Julian Assange. The release came one day after Ms. Manning tried to kill herself and was hospitalized, according to her lawyers. In a brief opinion, a Federal District Court judge overseeing the matter, Anthony J. Trenga, said that he also dismissed on Thursday the grand jury that Ms. Manning was refusing to testify before after finding that its business had concluded. ‘The court finds that Ms. Manning’s appearance before the grand jury is no longer needed, in light of which her detention no longer serves any coercive purpose,’ Judge Trenga wrote.”

The Defense Department Will Reconsider the Awarding of a $10 Billion Cloud Computing Contract to Microsoft After Sustained Protest from Amazon, The New York Times, Kate Conger and David E. Sanger, Thursday, 12 March 2020: “The Defense Department said on Thursday that it would re-evaluate the awarding of a $10 billion cloud computing contract to Microsoft after sustained protest from Amazon, which had contended that it lost the deal because of potential interference from President Trump. In a legal brief filed to the Court of Federal Claims, the Justice Department requested the reconsideration after Amazon argued in federal court that its offerings and pricing had been incorrectly assessed by the Pentagon. The Defense Department requested 120 days to reassess the award. The judge in the case, Patricia E. Campbell-Smith, is expected to allow the re-evaluation to go forward, though she has not yet made an official ruling. The reconsideration is the latest twist in the enormous contract, known as the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI, which was considered to be a prize for technology companies.”

American Civil Liberties Union sues for records on facial recognition at the border, The Verge, Adi Robertson, Thursday, 12 March 2020: “The American Civil Liberties Union has sued for information about the Trump administration’s controversial facial recognition programs. The ACLU’s suit demands more detail on how border control agents scan travelers’ faces at the US border as well as plans to expand face recognition capabilities, which enable ‘undetectable, persistent government surveillance on a massive scale.’ The ACLU has filed public records requests with US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), all part of the Department of Homeland Security. It’s looking for communications around the Traveler Verification Service, a system that matches photographs of travelers’ faces against a database of images. The request also covers a broad range of concerns around facial recognition. It includes agreements with private companies like airlines as well as formal and informal policies about who can access and store data. It wants detail on some nebulous future plans to expand facial recognition capabilities, potentially making it tough for American citizens to enter or exit the country without having their faces scanned and logged. And it wants information about the pitfalls that these biometric systems face, including potential bias that makes them less accurate at identifying certain faces.”

Judge rules South Carolina law banning LGBTQ sex education is unconstitutional, NBC News, Liam Knox, Thursday, 12 March 2020: “A U.S. district judge in South Carolina overturned a decades-old state law Wednesday that prohibited discussion of LGBTQ issues in public school sex education classes. According to the ruling, the law violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. The decision was prompted by a lawsuit filed just two weeks earlier by student members of the Gender and Sexuality Alliance at the School of the Arts in Charleston County, as well as several legal and LGBTQ advocacy groups. The law, passed in 1988, made it illegal for public school teachers to discuss ‘alternate sexual lifestyles from heterosexual relationships’ except in the context of sexually transmitted diseases. Teachers who disobeyed the law — whether by including LGBTQ issues in their curriculum, answering a student’s question or allowing classroom discussion — could be fired.”