|8 Reasons â€˜Vanderpump Rulesâ€™ Needs to Be Rebooted|
Tuesday, 07 April 2020 17:50
Housebound viewers hiding from coronavirus need â€œVanderpump Rulesâ€� more than ever â€” but instead, this eighth season is when the Bravo reality show has completely fallen apart. When the show premiered in January 2013 as an offshoot of â€œThe Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,â€� it was a gift. A reality show about the depthless, dramatic […]
|Almost all of San Francisco's public transit will be shut down as the city gears up for an expected surge in coronavirus cases|
Publisher: business insider
Tuesday, 07 April 2020 17:50
Much of San Francisco's public transit system is being shut down as the city gears up for an expected surge in cases of the coronavirus disease, known as COVID-19.
Of the 68 bus routes that are part of the city's Muni system, only 17 will be kept open. The decision to shutter 51 public transportation lines is necessary as more than 40% of bus operators will stop coming into work to instead stay at home to help in curbing the spread of the virus, according to a post on the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency website. Many of the operators have underlying conditions and are considered high-risk of contracting the virus.
The 17 bus routes will focus on continuing to serve essential workers, such as healthcare workers and grocery workers, who cannot stay at home during the shelter-in-place order as others can.
"As a lifelong advocate of transit and director of the SFMTA, I never thought I'd say this, but please, if you have any other option getting around, please do not ride Muni," the agency's transportation director Jeffrey Tumlin said in a Monday news conference. The changes will go into full effect on Wednesday.
Public transit has remained open during the shelter-in-place order for those providing essential services. But since the coronavirus and its impact reached San Francisco in late February and early March, ridership on Muni as well as other transit systems, such as BART, have plummeted as workers have migrated to working remotely in their homes.
Muni has reported an estimated weekly loss of $1 million since residents have been directed to stay in their homes to inhibit the spread of the coronavirus disease, known as COVID-19. On March 26, Muni announced it was shuttering its train and light rail lines and replacing them with buses.
BART, the Bay Area's largest transit operator, has seen ridership drop and is losing an estimated $57 million a month in sales taxes, fares, advertising revenue, and parking fees.
The SFMTA has taken other precautions amid the outbreak, like replacing the city's beloved cable cars with buses to provide operators with a closed cab. The open-air vehicles didn't have any such partition protecting operators from riders. Operators can also use their discretion and skip bus stops if they deem their vehicles too full of passengers to allow social distancing.
Public transit ridership across the country has dropped, as The New York Times reports. Some transit stations in Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia have shuttered due to staff shortages, according to WTOP. Transit service in Boston has also been limited in response to the spread of the virus.
|How Wisconsinâ€™s election disenfranchised voters|
Tuesday, 07 April 2020 17:50
A polling official instructs voters waiting in line outside of a polling place at Riverside University High School on April 7 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. | Scott Olson / Getty Images
Wisconsinâ€™s election sends a message about much-needed voting reforms for November.
Wisconsin held the first in-person election on Tuesday in the middle of the US coronavirus outbreak. In some precincts, it was an event plagued by hours-long waits and a tremendous shortage of both polling workers and stations, prompting civil- and voting-rights activists to call the legitimacy of the election into question before polls even closed.
State Republicans on Monday won a recent and bitter back-and-forth with Wisconsinâ€™s Democratic Gov. Tony Evers on whether to postpone the election and further expand absentee ballot access. The Republican-majority state Supreme Court ruled the election would go ahead on April 7 as planned, and a separate US Supreme Court ruling late Monday night meant no extension for absentee ballots â€” effectively cutting many voters out of the process. Election results are expected to come in by next Monday.
This pileup of last-minute changes meant many voters had to make a choice: risk getting sick while exercising their constitutional right to vote in person, or stay home and safe without voting.
Where you live determined how your Election Day experience went. The epicenter of the long lines and lack of polling stations appeared to be in Milwaukee, Wisconsinâ€™s largest city, which is located in a county thatâ€™s home to nearly 70 percent of the stateâ€™s African American residents.
â€œFor black people in Milwaukee, the fear is significant,â€� said Rashad Robinson, a spokesperson for Color of Change, of the calculus voters were making. â€œThe black community in Milwaukee is facing the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic â€” accounting for over half of coronavirus cases and 81 percent of related deaths.â€�
The lack of available poll workers on Election Day meant the number of polling places in Milwaukee shrank from 180 to just five for a city of about 592,000, according to Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reporter Molly Beck. In the state capitol of Madison â€” which has less than half Milwaukeeâ€™s population â€” there were 66 polling places open, Beck pointed out. Madison and other areas also had more locations with drive-through voting.
â€œThe WI legislature, the state Supreme Court & the U.S. Supreme Court consigned these U.S. citizens to risking their lives to exercise their right to vote today,â€� tweeted Sherrilyn Ifill, the president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. â€œTodayâ€™s election is now legal, but it is democratically & morally illegitimate.â€�
Wisconsinâ€™s decision to hold an election in the midst of a deadly pandemic could have profound consequences on American elections, far more than the stateâ€™s results. Especially if voters get sick from in-person voting, it raises the question of how states should be preparing for Novemberâ€™s general election, where turnout will likely be much higher.
â€œThe aftermath of what Wisconsin Republicans just made happen might change the politics of continuing with this kind of insanity,â€� said Ben Wikler, the chair of the Wisconsin Democratic Party.
Wisconsinâ€™s on-again, off-again, on-again Election Day, briefly explained
Wisconsin is the lone state so far to proceed with a scheduled election since the coronavirus outbreak got serious in the US. Many other governors, Republican and Democrat alike, have postponed their elections to not put voters or poll workers in imminent danger of getting the virus.
A few weeks ago, Evers and Republican leadership in the state legislature actually agreed they would continue to hold an in-person election on April 7 and encourage more people to sign up for absentee ballots. But as the weeks progressed and local election officials told state leaders they couldnâ€™t hold an in-person election under social distancing orders, Evers wanted to postpone. Republican leaders did not.
â€œAs the weeks wore on, the legislature dug into that position, allowing no accommodations, no flexibility for voters, and the governor slowly moved to the opposite side,â€� University of Wisconsin-Madison political science professor Barry Burden told Vox.
Evers tried to move the date to June 9, first by calling a special legislative session this weekend and then through executive order on Monday night. Both times, he was overruled by Wisconsin Republicans in the state legislature and the state Supreme Court.
Republican leaders in the state legislature gaveled out of the weekend special session almost immediately after it was convened. Then on Monday night, Republicans appealed Eversâ€™s executive order, saying the governor was â€œdefying numerous state-election statutes and his countless previous statements that he clearly lacks legal authority to cancel tomorrowâ€™s election,â€� and the Republican majority on the state Supreme Court agreed with them.
Evers and Wisconsin Democrats were dealt another blow by the US Supreme Court on Monday. The courtâ€™s conservative majority handed down a 5-4 decision that required mail-in ballots in Wisconsin to be postmarked by April 7, overruling a lower federal court ruling that had allowed those ballots to be postmarked and received by April 13.
â€œI think Democrats are going to wash their memories and not recall Evers and Republicans were on the same page a few weeks ago,â€� Burden said.
The practical effect of this back-and-forth is the election went forward with far fewer polling places and poll workers in some cities. In addition to Milwaukeeâ€™s number of polling places being reduced from 180 to five, the nearby city of Waukesha (home to 72,000 people) had just one polling place open. There were numerous reports of long lines as voters tried to social distance, and some people waiting in line for hours to cast their ballot.
Notably, one of the most closely watched races taking place Tuesday is also one that Republicans have been eyeing for some time. The statewide race is for a seat on the state Supreme Court, which both Trump-endorsed Republican Daniel Kelly and Democrat Jill Karofsky are currently competing for. Whoever wins will secure a 10-year term in the stateâ€™s highest court, which is also poised to review a voting rights case that could lead to the removal of 200,000 people from the statesâ€™ voter rolls.
Voters who are sick â€” or afraid of becoming sick â€” will be unable to vote unless they received mail-in ballots and get them sent by April 7. And numerous people who requested an absentee ballot did not receive one, the New York Times reports.
â€œIf youâ€™re in line before the polls close you get to vote. Well, how about you have your request in for your absentee ballot and you donâ€™t get it?â€� Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), co-author of vote-by-mail legislation, told Vox in an interview Tuesday. â€œThat is just wrong.â€�
The Wisconsin election was not equal for all voters; those with access to cars and transportation could drive to the polls and in some instances safely vote from their vehicles. And information about such options wasnâ€™t exactly clear. Places like Milwaukee offered curbside voting, but this effort wasnâ€™t effectively communicated to voters, according to Dakota Hall, the executive director of Leaders Igniting Transformation, an advocacy group aimed at promoting voting rights.
The lack of information and the last-minute nature of the election changes had a concrete effect on votersâ€™ decisions to go to the polls. Shavonda, a Wisconsin voter who declined to share her last name, said that she was worried about the risk of physically going to a crowded location given the fact that she has asthma. â€œItâ€™s too high-risk for me to go out to go to polling places,â€� she told Vox.
What this means for the legitimacy of the election
The haphazard implementation of this election means that thousands of voters who were interested in participating will effectively be disenfranchised.
As Voxâ€™s Ian Millhiser reported, many voters who had requested absentee ballots had yet to receive them as of Monday evening, meaning that people probably wouldnâ€™t be able to postmark them by the required Tuesday, April 7, deadline. According to the Wisconsin Elections Commission, roughly 408,000 absentee ballots still hadnâ€™t been returned across the state as of Tuesday morning.
This dynamic suggests that those who werenâ€™t able to get and mail in their ballots, and those who couldnâ€™t physically participate out of concerns for their health, simply wouldnâ€™t be able to engage in this election at all. Absentee ballots in Wisconsin also require a witness to sign the ballot, a requirement thatâ€™s incredibly limiting during the current public health crisis, where people are being advised to stay away from others.
â€œVoters are forced to make an impossible decision today: They are choosing between their health and losing their right to vote,â€� Kristin Clarke, the executive director of the Lawyersâ€™ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, told reporters on a conference call.
The handling of Tuesdayâ€™s primary is expected to hurt specific subsets of voters disproportionately, including black voters, older voters, and voters with disabilities.
â€œSuppressing, limiting, and outright denying the vote to black citizens is a dark American tradition, but this is sadly one of the most egregious examples weâ€™ve seen so far this century,â€� said Robinson.
ACLU voting rights campaign strategist Molly McGrath notes that the effects of the pandemic have only further exacerbated existing voter suppression efforts in the state.
â€œLetâ€™s be totally clear: Voter suppression was happening in Wisconsin before Covid-19, through onerous voter ID requirements, gerrymandering, and attempted cuts to early voting,â€� she told Vox. â€œDue to the pandemic, the disparities of voter suppression have reared their ugly heads right in our faces.â€�
What it means for vote-by-mail efforts in the future
Democrats in Congress say Wisconsinâ€™s elections are a perfect demonstration of the need for expanded voting by mail in every state â€” at the very least in time for the November general election.
â€œWisconsin is a messy dress rehearsal for what will happen in November if we donâ€™t act,â€� said McGrath.
This effort is being spearheaded in the Senate by Sens. Klobuchar and Ron Wyden (D-OR), and House Democrats are also eager to enact reforms. Klobuchar and Wyden helped secure $400 million in Congressâ€™s recent coronavirus emergency funding package to help states start or expand their vote-by-mail capacity. Each state will get at least $3 million.
But the two senators want to take that much further by requiring that states set up contingency plans for voting by mail before the fall election, giving voters more choice and flexibility, and recruiting younger poll workers to protect older folks who volunteer at the polls. That could take each state anywhere from $2 billion to $4 billion to do well, experts estimate.
Wisconsin could be a critical moment for the senators to make their case for voting-by-mail reforms a matter of serious urgency, Klobuchar told Vox. With multiple governors of both parties looking for an alternative, she hopes it will convince congressional Republicans to make changes.
â€œI think this could be a game changer for reforming some of our election systems,â€� she said. â€œItâ€™s not the game changer we wanted.â€�
Despite the backing of officials from both parties on the state level, congressional Republicans â€” and President Donald Trump â€” have staunchly opposed the effort. Theyâ€™ve argued that it could open the door to election fraud and weaken Republicansâ€™ ability to win. â€œYouâ€™d never have a Republican elected in this country again,â€� Trump said recently of a Democratic effort that pushed voting by mail.
â€œSome have made very clear that they are concerned that increased voting affects their candidacies, which says a lot,â€� says Vanita Gupta, the president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.
Klobuchar and Wyden are pushing that more money to expand voting by mail be put into the next coronavirus funding package Congress will consider in the coming weeks. But Burden says Wisconsin shows they need buy-in from state lawmakers of both parties for it to really work.
â€œRepublicans generally donâ€™t want the federal government to get involved at all,â€� Burden said. â€œThereâ€™s a huge set of things that have to happen behind the scenes to make it possible. States are going in that direction, thereâ€™s just going to be a lot of variability in how far they go and how successful they are in pulling it off.â€�
|3 ways to pay off growing national debt â€“ all of them bad|
Tuesday, 07 April 2020 17:49
Two weeks ago, President Donald Trump signed the largest stimulus bill in U.S. history: more than $2 trillion.
For once, both Republicans and Democrats agreed. The Senate voted 96-0. The House didn't even bother with a formal vote.
At the White House, a reporter asked the president, pointing out that the bill includes $25 million for the Kennedy Center, "Shouldn't that money be going to masks?"
"The Kennedy Center has suffered greatly because nobody can go there," Trump responded. "They do need some funding. And look â€“ that was a Democrat request. That was not my request. But you got to give them something."
"Something" they got. The bill includes $25 million for congressional salaries, $50 million for an Institute of Museum and Library Services and lots of other wasteful things.
Only a few politicians were wary. Rep. Thomas Massie complained that he wasn't even allowed to speak against the bill.
Rep. Alex Mooney asked: "How do you pay for it? Borrow it from China, borrow it from Russia? Are we going to print the money?"
Those are good questions.
Our national debt is already $24 trillion. Now it will jump, percentage-wise, to where Greece's debt was shortly before unemployment there hit 27%.
Greece was bailed out by the European Union. But the United States can't be bailed out by others.
How will we pay off our debt? That's the topic of my new video.
There are really three options:
1. Raise taxes.
Let's consider each:
1. Raising taxes on rich people is popular. Even Michael Bloomberg wants "higher taxes on billionaires" like him.
But raising taxes on the rich often kills the wealth and jobs some rich people create. And it won't solve our debt problem. Even if we took all the billionaires' wealth â€“ reducing their net worth to zero â€“ it would cover only an eighth of our debt.
2. Some on the left now say, "Don't worry about debt, just print money!"
This belief, called Modern Monetary Theory, destroys lives.
Zimbabwe's dictator tried it. Eager to spend more money on wars, higher salaries for government officials and luxury for himself, he had his government print more money. But that meant more money pursued the same goods. That caused explosive inflation. Soon, a $2 bag of onions cost $30 million Zimbabwean dollars.
The more money the government printed, the more inflation there was. They eventually even issued 100 trillion dollar bills. Today those 100 trillion bills are worth about 40 cents.
Inflation wrecked lives in 1920s Germany, Argentina and Russia, and in modern-day Venezuela, too.
3. America could simply refuse to pay our debt. But that would betray everyone who invested in America, and bankrupt Americans who bought Treasury Bonds.
Defaulting on your debt wrecks economies, too. When Argentina defaulted, unemployment rose to 21%.
Once you're deep in debt, no option is good.
How did we get to this point?
Presidents have talked about the dangers of debt for decades. But they didn't deal with it; they just talked about it.
"We have piled deficit upon deficit, mortgaging our future and our children's future," warned Ronald Reagan. "We must act today to preserve tomorrow."
Bill Clinton said, "We've got to deal with this big long-term debt problem."
Barack Obama called driving up the national debt "irresponsible" and then proceeded to do exactly that.
Donald Trump complained that Obama "doubled" the nation's debt. But now, under Trump's presidency and the new CARES Act, our debt will grow even faster.
This will not end well.
So far, the deficit spending hasn't done enormous harm. But it will. You can stretch a rubber band only so far, until it breaks.
Our debt will wreck our children's lives.
Yet, today politicians mostly talk about spending more.
The post 3 ways to pay off growing national debt â€“ all of them bad appeared first on WND.
|â€˜The Young And The Restlessâ€™ Spoilers For Wednesday: Jack Drops A Bombshell On Jabot|
Tuesday, 07 April 2020 17:48
The Young and the Restless spoilers for Wednesday, April 8, tease a significant change for Jabot and a massive announcement from Jack that could leave either Kyle or Theo’s life changed forever, so now they’re scrambling. Plus, Jill makes some surprising overtures — one to somebody nobody would ever expect and another to an old flame.
Jack (Peter Bergman) challenges Kyle (Michael Mealor) and Theo (Tyler Johnson), according to SheKnows Soaps. After catching Kyle and Theo arguing in front of Dina (Marla Adams) at the Abbott mansion, Jack has had it. He is not going to allow his son and his nephew to upset their grandmother ever again. Dina is already struggling enough with the end stages of Alzheimer’s, and their getting her riled up only made things worse. Jack needs to ensure that the household is a calm and comforting place for his mother.
|New study exposes â€˜folly of tying health coverage to jobsâ€™: 7.3 million more uninsured in US by June|
Publisher: Raw Story
Tuesday, 07 April 2020 17:48
A new study out Tuesday estimates that worker layoffs unleashed by the coronavirus pandemic in the United States have already caused more than 1.5 million people to lose their employer-provided health insurance in recent weeks, with another 5.7 million likely to become uninsured by the end of June. “The COVID-19 epidemic highlights the folly of […]
|Trump is using the coronavirus as a cover to bully the government's watchdogs into submission. It's shameful and dangerous.|
Publisher: business insider
Tuesday, 07 April 2020 17:48
Donald Trump isn't about to let a good crisis go to waste. The president is using the fog of the coronavirus pandemic to wage an all-out assault on oversight, consolidate his own power, and send a message to his base that they're right to believe he's infallible.
Trump on Monday fired Glenn Fine from his role as the Defense Department's acting inspector general, sending him back to his previous role as principal deputy inspector general.
Fine had just last week been selected by a group of fellow IGs to lead the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee.
The committee was created as part of the recently-passed CARES Act — better known as the coronavirus aid bill — and will oversee where $2 trillion in federal money designated to contain the healthcare and economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic ends up.
By stripping him of his IG title, Trump made it impossible for him to serve on — much less lead — the important oversight panel.
Trump's meddling with the newly-created committee comes after it already took a pitched fight by Democrats to even get the administration to agree that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin shouldn't be the sole watchdog on the historic aid package.
With Fine out, the panel will have to select another leader.
We don't know why Trump did it, he hasn't given a reason. But according to The New York Times, Fine had a "a reputation for aggression and independence in scrutinizing the F.B.I.'s use of surveillance and other law-enforcement powers."
That sends a message to the panel: Make sure your top watchdog isn't too much of a bulldog. The boss doesn't like it.
Or, as Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island put it to The Times: "This appears to be part of an alarming trend by the Trump Administration to remove independent inspector generals and replace them with the president's loyalists."
Trump is trying to take out oversight itself
Last Friday, the president fired Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community's inspector general. Atkinson had informed Congress last September of a whistleblower's complaint accusing Trump of soliciting the president of Ukraine's help in digging up dirt on a political rival.
Trump was impeached for that phone call. When he survived his Senate trial, Atkinson's fate was sealed.
As Atkinson wrote in his resignation letter, "it is hard not to think that the President's loss of confidence in me derives from my having faithfully discharged my legal obligations as an independent and impartial Inspector General."
It's hard not to think Atkinson hit the nail on the head.
Trump reportedly was talking about firing Atkinson as far back as last November. And this is, after all, a president who has publicly talked of putting conditions on governors to act sufficiently nice to him if they want their states to receive desperately-needed federal assistance to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
Also this week, Trump has gone on the attack against Christi Grimm, the Department of Human Health and Services inspector general.
She had gotten under Trump's famously thin skin for releasing a report detailing what's painfully obvious to everyone but the most myopic of Trump loyalists: that hospitals are experiencing "severe shortages of testing supplies and extended waits for test results limited (their) ability to monitor the health of patients and staff."
True to character, Trump immediately suggested a political motive because Grimm had worked in the inspector general's office during the Obama administration.
This ignored the fact that Grimm had also worked in the IG's office during the George W. Bush administration and started there during the Clinton administration. Grimm is the definition of a career non-partisan government watchdog.
Trump, for his part, tweeted Tuesday that her report was "Another Fake Dossier" — an apparent reference to the Steele dossier, the document produced by a former British spy which contained both salacious and unverified stories about Trump's involvement with the Russian government, but also a substantial amount of verified, damaging information about the dealings of people in Trump's inner orbit.
The two reports, obviously, have nothing in common. But Trump knows how to play the hits to his audience.
By smearing Grimm's reports "Another Fake Dossier," he's undermining public confidence in the watchdogs who are vital to the public during every administration to keep tabs on what the government is doing. And he's sending a message to his base: inspectors generals are just Deep State leftists out to take down all that is MAGA.
The inspectors general of these semi-independent entities serve at the pleasure of the president. He has every right to fire any of them for pretty much any reason.
Trump has encouraged his base to believe he's infallible. He wants them to accept the premise that everything from the phone call that got him impeached to his administration's botched reaction to the coming pandemic was "perfect." And his base has largely bought-in.
So it's not surprising to see Trump go headlong at the institutions that exist precisely because no one is infallible, and those who hold tremendous power should never go without vigorous scrutiny.
In attacking the people tasked with calling balls and strikes during a pandemic when much of the public is worrying about literal life-and-death issues, Trump is exploiting the crisis for his personal ends. He shouldn't be allowed to get away with it.
Trump can't fire all the IGs, and he can't dismantle their offices. But he can sow enough chaos to render them impotent, and he can instill enough fear to keep them cowed when selecting leaders among their ranks.
It's a shameful and dangerous game the president is playing. No president should be able to bully the watchdogs into submission. And the public — however much they're overwhelmed with the terror of the current moment — shouldn't stand for it.
|NYC’s coronavirus death toll keeps growing as pandemic claims 3,500|
Publisher: New York Post
Tuesday, 07 April 2020 17:47
The coronavirus pandemic has now claimed more than 3,500 people in New York City alone as the Big Apple clocked its worst day in the month-long calamity. An additional 806 New Yorkers lost their lives to the deadly disease between Monday evening and Tuesday evening, new statistics from the city’s Health Department show. That brings...
|When Coronavirus Pivots Education Plans: How To Set Up A Homeschooling Space Anywhere|
Publisher: Forbes Real Time
Tuesday, 07 April 2020 17:47
Parents who have never considered homeschooling are now left without a choice. From education and design experts to how one parent with coronavirus is doing itâ€” taking control of your child's education may mean re-designing your living space.
|Rare 'Pink Moon' linked to 'end of world' omen|
Tuesday, 07 April 2020 17:47
(THE SUN) -- A RARE "Pink Moon" will grace skies the world over tonight as our rocky neighbour makes a close pass with Earth.
Some peoples think the cosmic show is linked to the appearance of beautiful flowers in the US, while others say it signifies the end of the world as we know it.
A Pink Moon is the rare result of several space phenomena occurring at once.