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April 30, 2020

The [Thursday] Papers

"800 Sickened, 7 Dead: Inmates And Guards Describe Life Inside Cook County Jail," WBEZ reports. "The sprawling facility is battling one of the largest COVID-19 outbreaks in the country."

Wherefore art thou, Tom Dart? What happened to you?

"Dart has repeatedly defended his handling of the health crisis. While citing unique challenges - like weighing if a detainee might use hygiene supplies as a weapon, as one allegedly did this month by using soap inside a sock in an attack - he has maintained that his office has 'been in front of this pandemic every step of the way,' from screening new admissions for the virus to supplying staff and detainees with hand sanitizer to educating detainees about social distancing.

"But people who live and work inside the jail say otherwise. WBEZ and ProPublica interviewed a dozen correctional officers, health care staff and inmates about how authorities responded to the crisis. They described a lack of personal protective equipment, inadequate testing and a spillover to community hospitals, as confusion and terror spread along with the virus. Taken together, their accounts offer potential lessons for other institutions that are now facing their own outbreaks."

Go read it.

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Rent Is Too Damn . . . Renty
"Rent is due again on Friday, the first day of yet another month in the coronavirus crisis, and thousands of Chicagoans won't be able to pay it. Meanwhile outbreaks of the infection are occurring in homeless shelters," Curtis Black writes for the Chicago Reporter.

"The city and state are taking first steps to address this crisis, but advocates are working to make housing and homelessness issues a much higher priority - particularly at the Chicago Housing Authority. And they are starting from behind, because at every level, programs and policies have lagged far behind the need for many years."

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Black also notes:

"Mayor Lori Lightfoot has rebuffed a proposal by 47th Ward Ald. Matt Martin to require landlords to give tenants 12 months to catch up on unpaid rent accumulated during the state's stay-at-home order. [City Housing Department spokesperson Don]Terry told me the city maintains that the proposal is illegal under state legislation banning rent control - though experts say that position is debatable, and the actual statute only bars local legislation regulating 'the amount of rent.'

"On Wednesday, Lightfoot joined housing lenders and landlord associations to announce the Chicago Housing Solidarity Pledge, under which 'lenders and landlords may offer eligible renters and mortgage holders deferred payment agreements and other financial relief.'"

The same argument about the legality of mandatory rent relief is going on at the state level; Gov. J.B. Pritzker insists that he has no authority to suspend rent without action by the General Assembly.

I don't know whose legal argument is correct, but a voluntary pledge is wholly insufficient to protect renters - and mortgage-holders. It seems like all these smart folks could come up with a creative solution. What are people supposed to do?

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Pritzker has issued an Executive Order banning eviction filings, but according to the Autonomous Tenants Union, speaking for itself and a coalition of 20 other community organizations, "The grim reality is that hundreds of evictions have been filed since Gov. Pritzker's stay-at-home order was put in place, and without universal rent relief, the end of the COVID-19 crisis will see the beginning of an unprecedented eviction crisis."

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Back to Black:

"At the state level, Rep. Delia Ramirez has been pushing to make the growing housing crisis a priority, prompting Pritzker to establish a task force of state agencies and the House of Representatives to form a housing working group. She plans to unveil an emergency housing package in coming days, which will include a provision cancelling rent for tenants with demonstrated financial hardship, coupled with a program offering landlords relief on mortgages, property taxes and utilities.

"She hopes some version of the legislation will be included in an omnibus emergency bill when the General Assembly meets at the end of May."

Go read the rest, there's lots more there.

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More Bad News

* UIC Nurse On Front Line Of Virus Loses Husband To COVID-19.

* CTA Announces 4th Employee Death Related To COVID-19.

* Illinois Latinos Catch Up To African Americans In Coronavirus Cases.

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New on the Beachwood . . .

Low-Wage Workers Forced To Risk Lives For Wealthy
"The nation's low-wage workers face a particular kind of bind."

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Climate Change Threatens Great Lakes Drinking Water
'Despite a half-century of advances, in many ways Great Lakes water quality is back to where it was in 1970, but with the added influence of a rapidly changing climate.'

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ChicagoReddit

Has anyone actually gotten their COVID Ventra pass refund? from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

"Little Joe from Chicago" / Mary Lou Williams

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BeachBook

A Michigan Family Makes Everyone Passing Their House Do Monty Python Silly Walks, And Then Puts Recordings on Instagram.

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TweetWood
A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport.

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The Beachwood Q-Tip Line: Don't look now.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:33 AM | Permalink

Climate Change Threatens Drinking Water Across The Great Lakes

This story is part of the Pulitzer Center's nationwide Connected Coastlines reporting initiative.

"Do Not Drink/Do Not Boil" is not what anyone wants to hear about their city's tap water. But the combined effects of climate change and degraded water quality could make such warnings more frequent across the Great Lakes region.

Screen Shot 2020-04-30 at 8.33.10 AM.png

A preview occurred on July 31, 2014, when a nasty green slime - properly known as a harmful algal bloom, or HAB - developed in the western basin of Lake Erie. Before long it had overwhelmed the Toledo Water Intake Crib, which provides drinking water to nearly 500,000 people in and around the city.

Tests revealed that the algae was producing microcystin, a sometimes deadly liver toxin and suspected carcinogen. Unlike some other toxins, microcystin can't be rendered harmless by boiling. So the city issued a "Do Not Drink/Do Not Boil" order that set off a three-day crisis.

Local stores soon ran out of bottled water. Ohio's governor declared a state of emergency, and the National Guard was called in to provide safe drinking water until the system could be flushed and treatment facilities brought back on line.

Screen Shot 2020-04-30 at 8.34.36 AM.pngThe City of Toledo water intake crib surrounded by algae in Lake Erie, about 2.5 miles offshore/Haraz N. Ghanbari, AP

The culprit was a combination of high nutrient pollution - nitrogen and phosphorus, which stimulate the growth of algae - from sewage, agriculture and suburban runoff, and high water temperatures linked to climate change. This event showed that even in regions with resources as vast as the Great Lakes, water supplies are vulnerable to these kinds of man-made threats.

As Midwesterners working in the fields of urban environmental health and climate and environmental science, we believe more crises like Toledo's could lie ahead if the region doesn't address looming threats to drinking water quality.

Vast And Abused

The Great Lakes together hold 20% of the world's surface freshwater - more than enough to provide drinking water to over 48 million people from Duluth to Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland and Toronto. But human impacts have severely harmed this precious and vital resource.

In 1970, after a century of urbanization and industrialization around the Great Lakes, water quality was severely degraded. Factories were allowed to dump waste into waterways rather than treating it. Inadequate sewer systems often sent raw sewage into rivers and lakes, fouling the water and causing algal blooms.

Problems like these helped spur two major steps in 1972: passage of the U.S. Clean Water Act, and adoption of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement between the United States and Canada. Since then, many industries have been cleaned up or shut down. Sewer systems are being redesigned, albeit slowly and at great cost.

The resulting cuts in nutrient and wastewater pollution have brought a quick decline in HABs - especially in Lake Erie, the Great Lake with the most densely populated shoreline. But new problems have emerged, due partly to shortcomings in those laws and agreements, combined with the growing effects of climate change.

Warmer And Wetter

Climate change is profoundly altering many factors that affect life in the Great Lakes region. The most immediate impacts of recent climate change have been on precipitation, lake levels and water temperatures.

Annual precipitation in the region has increased by about 5 inches over the past century. Changes in the past five years alone - the hottest five years in recorded history - have been particularly dramatic, with a series of extreme rainfall events bringing extremely high and rapidly varying water levels to the Great Lakes.

Record high precipitation in 2019 caused flooding, property damage and beachfront losses in a number of coastal communities. Precipitation in 2020 is projected to be equally high, if not higher. Some of this is due to natural variability, but certainly some is due to climate change.

Another clear impact of climate change is a general warming of all five Great Lakes, particularly in the springtime. The temperature increase is modest and varies from year to year and place to place, but is consistent overall with records of warming throughout the region.

More Polluted Runoff

Some of these climate-related changes have converged with more direct human impacts to influence water quality in the Great Lakes.

Cleanup measures adopted back in the 1970s imposed stringent limits on large point sources of nutrient pollution, like wastewater and factories. But smaller "nonpoint" sources, such as fertilizer and other nutrients washing off farm fields and suburban lawns, were addressed through weaker, voluntary controls. These have since become major pollution sources.

Since the mid-1990s, climate-driven increases in precipitation have carried growing quantities of nutrient runoff into Lake Erie. This rising load has triggered increasingly severe algal blooms, comparable in some ways to the events of the 1970s. Toledo's 2014 crisis was not an anomaly.

These blooms can make lake water smell and taste bad, and sometimes make it dangerous to drink. They also have long-term impacts on the lakes' ecosystems. They deplete oxygen, killing fish and spurring chemical processes that prime the waters of Lake Erie for larger future blooms. Low-oxygen water is more corrosive and can damage water pipes, causing poor taste or foul odors, and helps release trace metals that may also cause health problems.

So despite a half-century of advances, in many ways Great Lakes water quality is back to where it was in 1970, but with the added influence of a rapidly changing climate.

Screen Shot 2020-04-30 at 8.39.27 AM.pngFigure showing total phosphorus (TP) tributary loading to Lake St. Clair and the western Lake Erie in 2018 in metric tons per annum (MTA). Runoff from agricultural areas is the major source of nutrient loadings with about 70% from commercial fertilizer application and 30% from animal manure/IJC

Filtering Runoff

How can the region change course and build resilience into Great Lakes coastal communities? Thanks to a number of recent studies, including an intensive modeling analysis of future climate change in Indiana, which serves as a proxy for most of the region, we have a pretty good picture of what the future could look like.

As one might guess, warming will continue. Summertime water temperatures are projected to rise by about another 5 degrees Fahrenheit by midcentury, even if nations significantly reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. This will cause further declines in water quality and negatively impact coastal ecosystems.

The analysis also projects an increase in extreme precipitation and runoff, particularly in the winter and spring. These shifts will likely bring still more nutrient runoff, sediment contaminants and sewage overflows into coastal zones, even if surrounding states hold the actual quantities of these nutrients steady. More contaminants, coupled with higher temperatures, can trigger algal blooms that threaten water supplies.

But recent success stories point to strategies for tackling these problems, at least at the local and regional levels.

A number of large infrastructure projects are currently underway to improve stormwater management and municipal sewer systems, so that they can capture and process sewage and associated nutrients before they are transported to the Great Lakes. These initiatives will help control flooding and increase the supply of "gray water," or used water from bathroom sinks, washing machines, tubs and showers, for uses such as landscaping.

Cities are coupling this "gray infrastructure" with green infrastructure projects, such as green roofs, infiltration gardens and reclaimed wetlands. These systems can filter water to help remove excess nutrients. They also will slow runoff during extreme precipitation events, thus recharging natural reservoirs.

Municipal water managers are also using smart technologies and improved remote sensing methods to create near-real-time warning systems for HABs that might help avert crises. Groups like the Cleveland Water Alliance, an association of industry, government and academic partners, are working to implement smart lake technologies in Lake Erie and other freshwater environments around the globe. Finally, states including Ohio and Indiana are moving to cut total nutrient inputs into the Great Lakes from all sources, and using advanced modeling to pinpoint those sources.

Together these developments could help reduce the size of HABs, and perhaps even reach the roughly 50% reduction in nutrient runoff that government studies suggest is needed to bring them back to their minimum extent in the mid-1990s.

Short of curbing global greenhouse gas emissions, keeping communities that rely so heavily on the Great Lakes livable will require all of these actions and more.

Gabriel Filippelli is an earth sciences professor and the director of the Center for Urban Health at IUPUI. Joseph D. Ortiz is a geology professor at Kent State. This post is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:27 AM | Permalink

Millions Of Low-Wage "Heroes" Forced To Risk Lives For The Benefit Of Corporate America

The nation's low-wage workers face a particular kind of bind.

They tend to work in service industries - such as the restaurant, hospitality and retail sectors - that are especially at risk for loss of income during the COVID-19 pandemic, or in jobs such as health care workers, grocery store workers and delivery drivers, where they may continue to work but face a higher risk of contracting the disease.

According to a new KFF analysis, over 25 million nonelderly adults worked in low-wage jobs in 2018, putting them among the bottom 20 percent of earners. Such workers will have limited ability to absorb income declines or afford health care costs, finds the analysis, which examines the characteristics of such workers and the implications of the pandemic for their jobs, health, and financial security.

TWITTER-Low-Wage-Worker-Occupations_1_hannah_paint.png(ENLARGE)

Key findings of the analysis include:

* Most recent unemployment claim filings are for people who worked in service industries. Workers in these industries are disproportionately likely to be low-wage, with about a fifth of low-wage workers employed in each of the entertainment/accommodation/food services (20%) and retail (19%) industries, and another tenth in service (5%) or construction (5%).

* Many low-wage workers are engaged in positions that are likely involved with delivery of goods and services to people who remain at home under stay-at-home orders (e.g., laborers/freight, stock and material movers, stockers/order fillers, and drivers/truck drivers).

* Five million low-wage workers are in the health and social services industry, with the greatest number of those (1.3 million) working as aides or personal care workers (e.g., nursing assistants or personal care aides) whose jobs will bring them into frequent, close contact with patients.

* A majority of low-wage workers are female (58% vs 47% of all workers), 57 percent are between the ages of 19 and 34, and a disproportionate share are Black and Hispanic.

* One in five low-wage workers lacked health coverage in 2018, and the share likely is higher now amid the economic downturn. Even before the pandemic, many low-wage workers reported problems affording needed health care. Nearly one in 10 (9%) low-wage workers reports that they are in fair or poor health, possibly putting them at increased risk for serious illness if they contract COVID-19.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:34 AM | Permalink

April 29, 2020

Authentic Bulls Fan

It is not possible for folks who lived it in Chicago to look back at the almost decade of basketball success capped off by The Last Dance and not feel a wave of nostalgia. Of course, it was easy to be a sports fan in Chicago in the '90s. For one thing, we didn't have dimwitted cable/satellite/streaming channels making proclamations about who was an "authentic" sports fan. More on that later.

It was not easy to be a Bulls backer in the late '80s and the spring of 1990. And then when the winning started the next year, it was hard not to believe that too many of the people you were celebrating with hadn't suffered enough in the five years prior to call themselves Bulls fans. There were times you felt practically surrounded by bandwagoneers (if that isn't a word, it should be, shouldn't it?).

But if you were going to enjoy the ride, you had to suppress those thoughts, i.e., it wasn't going to enhance your viewing experience if you spent half the night quizzing the guy sitting next to you at the bar on Bulls trivia. Better to just surf the wave of championship season after championship season. And I've never been great at trivia - my brain just doesn't work that way. I've always been able to tell you a decent amount about what's going on in a decent-sized array of sports right now, and what has been going on for the past year or so but further back than that, the details blur quickly.

And anyway, who needs to know trivia in the Google Era?

You may have surmised by that reference to sitting at the bar that I still wasn't getting to many games in person at that point. That would be correct. 1989 and '90 were my first years out in the working world. I had a job until 1991 working for the City News Bureau in Chicago, and that place paid virtually nothing and you absolutely had to have a car if you were going to be a reporter there.

Either you had to have at least two roommates and be really good at making pasta from scratch (the needed eggs and flour were just about always nice and cheap) or you had to have help from your parents.

I had a good friend and co-worker at that time who was out on his own and I swear he sometimes went a full week at the end of a given month eating very little other than pasta. I was lucky enough that my parents owned a two-flat and I rented the one-bedroom garden apartment. I had a roommate for the first couple years to help make it work and he was an even better friend and thank goodness for that.

Perhaps the first thing I think about when I get nostalgic is that when I was still in college, at the end of 1987, my brother and I received our favorite Christmas gift ever. I recently checked in with him about this memory and he is absolutely with me on this. And no, it wasn't a surprise visit from grandma and grandpa or any other emotional crap. It was an actual present.

And it ensured our Bulls fanaticism was locked in forever. Not that it wasn't beforehand, but this cemented it like the foundation of a skyscraper.

The gift from our mom was tickets, in the second balcony, to a Bulls game. First we just thought it was for a generic game but then we realized it was the game that day.

Oh by the way, this is when you know you are an actual authentic fan, when tickets near the rafters to see the team you love is the ultimate gift. It has nothing to do with all the garbage the local sports channel puts out there as it tries to promote itself.

There are many reasons to hate NBC Sports Chicago's "Authentic Fan" crap (I know I am getting redundant with that word but sometimes only one word works in a sentence and this is that time). But perhaps the biggest is the insinuation that runs through it all that the biggest fan is the one who buys the most gear. There hasn't been a supposed "Most Authentic Fan" yet who wasn't covered head to toe in team memorabilia.

Authentic fandom is passion. It isn't some jersey or hat, which of course are a big part of the team in question's bottom line and therefore are what NBC Sports never fails to pump up.

My first impression of the "Most Authentic Fan" promotion happened a couple years ago at what was then The Cell. The White Sox were playing the Yankees and we had some nice seats about 30 rows back well down the left field line.

There was a Sox employee at a table not far from us in the main concourse. He was handing out "Authentic Fan" merchandise. And I watched as not one, not two but three straight people wearing either a Yankees shirt or hat checked in with the guy and accepted the free swag he was distributing. I hope one thing we can all agree on is that an authentic Sox fan is not wearing a Yankee hat.

Authentic sports fandom was painful when the Bulls lost to the Pistons in '89 and '90, losses that were a focal point of the flashback portion of the third and fourth episodes of The Last Dance. Those weren't just losses, they were bitter defeats against a bunch of assholes.

So how about Jordan not mincing words after the filmmakers showed him a video of Isiah (who I can't stand but who still stands as the absolute best basketball player to ever come out of Chicago) trying to justify the Pistons walking off the floor without shaking the Bulls' hands after they were swept in the Eastern Conference finals in 1991? Jordan is 57 but his furious competitiveness still burns. It's the stuff of authentic fandom.

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Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

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1. From Tom Chambers:

There were some fun times with the likes of Artis Gilmore (who Norm Van Lier described to me as "no heart"), John Mengelt. Alas, David Greenwood and Scott May were great college players, even when they were in the pros.

Reggie Theus was one of the most selfish ballplayers ever, the UNLV star runnin' and gunnin' and the Johnstown Dam hole on defense. It was said that when Jordan got there, he deferred to Theus to a degree out of respect to the veteran. That probably lasted 30 games.

Although the United Center is nice, the old Stadium will never be replaced. Sometimes that place got so loud it would obviously shake, and it would throw off the balance of your inner ear. Seriously. We usually sat free throw line in the second balcony.

Just for fun once, we went and were literally second row from the top in the very corner, against the Bucks. Gilmore had just signed a $1 million a year contract extension. A guy behind us proudly announced he was from Milwaukee.

"The dummy. The million dolla dummy! Give da ball to da million dolla dummy." This went on all through the first half, when Gilmore only had about five or six points. "SEE? Da dummy can't even score!"

Second half starts and Gilmore starts rolling. That spin move when he would get up just high enough to deposit the ball in the basket. Needless to say, the guy from Milwaukee shut his trap. It was in fun, not a confrontation in the stands like today. Every once in awhile, a Bulls fan would say "THAT'S the million dolla dummy." He ended up with about 33 points and 12 rebounds just in the second half. Bulls win.

We still tell that story.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:17 AM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

"Eighteen employees at a Tootsie Roll manufacturing plant on the Southwest Side have tested positive for COVID-19 since the end of March, the company confirmed Tuesday," the Sun-Times reports.

The paper only managed to get a statement out of the company assuring us that the health and safety of its workers is their "highest concern."

Fuck you, Tootsie Roll.

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"El Milagro, a Chicago-based tortilla maker, told employees over the weekend it will close its facility on Western Avenue for two weeks to sanitize the plant after one worker died and others tested positive for the new coronavirus," the Tribune reports.

"Last week, the company was notified that a longtime sanitation employee died due to complications from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, El Milagro said. The employee had not been at work since April 9.

"Two workers at the facility have been diagnosed with COVID-19, and four workers have shown symptoms, El Milagro said."

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"After a worker at a [Voyant Beauty] supply factory near Chicago died of COVID-19, her former co-workers staged a protest. But they didn't seek help from OSHA. They sought help from a new advocate: the state attorney general's office," ProPublica Illinois reports.

Why?

"The office is filling a void left by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which has taken a largely hands-off approach to investigating coronavirus-related complaints from workers outside the health care industry, leaving employers to mostly police themselves."

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"Chicago police announced Tuesday seven more cases of COVID-19, bringing the number of cases in the department to 421," NBC5 Chicago reports.

"Of the confirmed cases, 401 are officers and 20 are civilian employees, police said."

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"Downstate Jasper County has seen only three residents die of COVID-19, and Monroe County only 10," the Sun-Times reports.

"But the two southern Illinois counties have the highest per capita death rates from coronavirus of all the state's 102 counties, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Monday.

"That means you're more likely to die of COVID-19 if you live in either of those two counties than if you live in Chicago or in Cook County," the governor said.

Sure does. But you city folk nevermind.

"You know, I read the obituaries every day, and there's somebody's name in there every day, and they didn't die from the virus," said Bob Elmore, chairman of the Monroe County Board of Commissioners. "So, it's kind of an overreach as far as I'm concerned."

Bless your heart, Bob Elmore, an active member of the Immanuel Lutheran Church. Jesus loves you way more than you love His people.

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"Government leaders in Jasper and Monroe counties point to outbreaks at nursing homes in their respective areas, saying the majority of deaths come from one source.

"I mean, I'm not trying to say that they're not concerned about what's going on at the nursing home, because they are," said Brian Leffler, a member of the Jasper County Board. "That's a bad deal, and everybody's very sorry for it, but as far as keeping the whole county shut down because of it, I don't know if that's the answer."

Oh, aren't you just a lovely man, Brian Leffler. Care for a Tootsie Roll?

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Just for flavor, here's more from the always thoughtful Jasper County Board: "Some board members . . . questioned whether this shift away from coal [to solar] as an energy source will continue because not everyday is sunny in Illinois."

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Back to the Sun-Times:

"Newton Care Center nursing home accounts for 36 of 42 reported cases and two of the three deaths from the coronavirus in Jasper County, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. In Monroe County, Garden Place Independent & Assisted Living accounts for 29 of the county's 64 reported cases and eight of the county's 10 deaths from the virus.

Darrel Hickox, a member of the Jasper County Board, disputed the numbers from state public health officials, contending that "nobody" in Jasper County has died from the coronavirus.

He said that members of the media who report on the pandemic are "socialists, liberals and communists."

"There has been some coronavirus here, but they was dying anyway," Hickox said.

They was?

Darrel, you are just a delight!

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"On Monday, the City of Chicago says they received a complaint that Asia Nails was still open amid the coronavirus pandemic," Fox32 Chicago reports.

On Tuesday, FOX 32 was able to swing the door of the business open with no problem. In a chair was a client getting her nails done and to top it off, there was no social distancing as another worker sat less than 6-feet away . . .

When we went back to talk to the owner, the door was locked and the client that was in the chair avoided our camera, slipping out through the back door.

Another client did too, but we were able to catch up with her. She denied being inside Asia Nails in the 2500 block of North Milwaukee.

Here's the video:

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"Dozens of United Scrap Metal Inc. employees walked out Tuesday morning, asking the company to close the metal recycling plant for two weeks after one of their colleagues died from COVID-19," the Tribune reports.

"Workers want the company to close the facility to deep clean and sanitize the building. They also want to be paid for the two weeks of the plant shutdown, and they want protective gear to be supplied."

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"As companies start planning their reopenings, business groups are pushing Congress to limit liability from potential lawsuits filed by workers and customers infected by the coronavirus," AP reports.

"They appear to have the White House's ear. President Donald Trump has floated shielding businesses from lawsuits. His top economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on CNBC last week that businesses shouldn't be held liable to trial lawyers 'putting on false lawsuits that will probably be thrown out of court.' He said the issue could require legislation, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday that the issue would be a priority when lawmakers return."

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New on the Beachwood . . .

The COVID-19 Death Numbers Are Seriously Undercounted
"One peculiar consequence of this delay-induced error in the numbers is that it distorts our perception of the progress of the epidemic. The misleadingly low numbers announced each day can make it look like we're perpetually about to crest the peak of the epidemic - that is, as if the death rate is leveling off - even when the real toll is climbing unabated."

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Rhetoric Of A Global Epidemic
"In the past 10 years, we have seen great changes in the ways government organizations and media respond to and report on emerging global epidemics."

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The Revolving Door Of Disease Between Humans And Animals
"Infectious diseases don't care which direction they go in. We're concerned about human health because we're humans, but they're just as happy to go in the other direction."

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Dennis Rodman, Tex Winter & The Bulls' Vaunted Triangle
In case you were ever confused, here's how it worked in all its glory, from K-State to Chicago to Los Angeles.

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Pink Floyd's Top 10 Songs
My instinctual, not totally thought-out list.

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Seinfeld: The Video Game About Nothing
Level One: "Jerry is dating a publicist who accidentally reveals his e-mail address to Kenny Bania through a group e-mail . . . "

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Authentic Bulls Fan
It's not about the merch, NBC Sports Chicago.

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ChicagoReddit

[QUESTION] Does anyone have information on Chicago-based Zoom/remote Al-Anon Meetings? from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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A post shared by FRILLZ (@_frillz) on

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ChicagoTube

"Lion Funk" / Chicago the Lion

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TweetWood
A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport.

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The Beachwood Q-Tip Line: L-M-N-O-P.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:30 AM | Permalink

April 28, 2020

Pink Floyd's Top 10 Songs

I'm about to look at a list of Pink Floyd's greatest 50 songs. I made a Top 10 list (quickly) plus one before I look.

1. Wish You Were Here

2. Free Four

3. Mother

4. The Gunner's Dream

5. Us and Them

6. When The Tigers Broke Free

7. Shine On You Crazy Diamond

8. Hey You

9. Time

10. Have a Cigar

11. Echoes

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:25 PM | Permalink

Dennis Rodman Breaks Down The Bulls' Vaunted Triangle Offense

In case you were ever confused, here's how it worked in all its glory, from K-State to Chicago to Los Angeles.


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See also:

"Legendary K-State Men's Basketball head coach Fred 'Tex' Winter teaches the fundamentals and principles behind his Triangle Offense."

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"Tex Winter - Triangle Offense (The Triple Post Offense)."

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"This potent offense is a variation of the renowned triple post attack and a continuity offense."

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The Lakers' Triangle Offense.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:39 PM | Permalink

The Revolving Door Of Disease Between Humans And Animals

When initial reports about what would come to be called COVID-19 made their way around the world in January 2020, the emergence of the novel coronavirus that causes the illness was a mystery. Within weeks, its earliest identified cases were believed to be connected with a live-animal market in Wuhan, China, but the precise path the virus took to infect people in a densely populated city remains unclear.

Charting the animal origins of human diseases like COVID-19 can be difficult and often leads to unexpected discoveries, says Dr. Tony Goldberg, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine. During a January 29, 2020 presentation at the Wednesday Nite @ the Lab lecture series on the UW-Madison campus, Goldberg recounted the growing body of research into pathogen transmission between animals and humans over the past three decades.

"This can be attributed to the remarkable story of the origins of AIDS," Goldberg said in his lecture, recorded for PBS Wisconsin's University Place. "In the early 1990s, we discovered that AIDS was a virus that originated from chimpanzees in Central Africa . . . to me, the HIV pandemic is the mother of all pandemics, and the mother of all diseases of zoonotic origin."

Although the transmission of zoonotic diseases, which are illnesses that move from animals to humans, is a primary focus for many researchers, Goldberg focused on pathogens that can pass from humans to animals and between different species.

While studying a community of chimpanzees at Kibale National Park in Uganda, Goldberg encountered a mysterious respiratory illness that caused numerous deaths within the group's population. Researchers working with the primates initially responded with an abundance of caution and wore protective gear to avoid contracting the potentially zoonotic disease. However, tests revealed the chimpanzees were infected with rhinovirus C, the same type virus that causes common colds in humans. They had likely contracted it due to their proximity to humans.

The ability to identify unknown pathogens has developed alongside genomic research; efforts to map animal DNA have allowed researchers to apply a set of techniques known as metagenomics when faced with an unspecified illness. With a complete genome sequence of an animal, scientists use metagenomics to study a tissue sample and identify everything present that is not part of the animal's genetic code.

"Most of it will be your salamander or your person or your chimp, but hiding in there, kind of the proverbial needle in a haystack, will be the thing you're looking for, and you don't have to have any prior knowledge of what it is," Goldberg said. "These techniques are sometimes called agnostic or unbiased, and they're very powerful. They're the future of infectious disease diagnostics."

Even as identifying infectious agents has grown more common in recent years, tracing paths of transmission remains difficult. Wisconsin River Eagle Syndrome, a set of symptoms that includes sudden seizures and death in the state's bald eagle population, remained a complete genetic mystery for many years. Eventually, using metagenomics, a new illness called bald eagle hepacivirus was identified as a possible culprit.

uplace-health-disease-science-animals-zoonotic-baldeagle-wisconsinriver.jpgBald eagles perch in trees on an island in the Wisconsin River at Prairie du Sac. The Bald Eagle Respiratory Syndrome is a disease that found to infect these birds along the course of the lower Wisconsin River/Al (CC BY-NC 2.0)

While the virus was detected in bald eagles around the United States, those in Wisconsin are nine times more likely to carry the virus, and eagles living along the Wisconsin River 14 times more likely. Researchers largely ruled out genetic transmission from parents to offspring, but suspected local cycles of transmission that Goldberg said appeared to be decoupled from the host birds and instead are related to their surrounding environment.

A variety of parasites and pathogens pass between multiple species as part of their life cycle, with their effects on carriers ranging from harmless and undetectable to highly visible and severe depending on the stage of development and the species infected. One such zoonotic pathogen is Yersinia pestis; the bacteria spreads via the life cycles of host fleas and rodents, and manifests as the historically devastating plague in humans.

As for human actions, global commerce, particularly agriculture and trade in animals, can enable novel transmissions between organisms, Goldberg explained. Unexpected human health impacts that result can be difficult to prevent or trace to their source.

"We really do have to worry about emerging infectious diseases, and there are more and more of them every year. I guarantee you that [COVID-19] will not be the last . . . that any of us see," Goldberg said.

Key Facts

* Zoonotic diseases are illnesses that pass from animals to humans, and the transmission of illnesses from humans to animals is sometimes called reverse-zoonosis.

* Metagenomic techniques involve mapping a full genomic sequence of a species, then sequencing the contents of a tissue sample from an individual of a genetically mapped species and eliminating all of that animal's DNA to identify any foreign genetic material present, including pathogens.

* Chimpanzees are susceptible to multiple human respiratory pathogens. One reason is that the species' genome includes the host cell receptor CDHR3, which all humans have as well. This allele is critical to human health, and has two identified versions. The most common type helps resist infection, but the rare version makes people more susceptible to rhinovirus C infections and comes with a 10-fold increase in risk for developing asthma. Chimpanzees exclusively have the second type.

* Mahal was a 5-year-old orphaned orangutan in the Milwaukee County Zoo who died suddenly of a respiratory illness in December 2012. Goldberg was asked to sequence a tissue sample to uncover the source of infection. He found genetic indicators of a newly discovered South African tapeworm, although the orangutan showed no signs of this parasite in his intestines. Rather, Mahal had died of cysticercosis after ingesting tapeworm eggs shed from an ermine while being transported between zoos.

uplace-health-disease-science-animals-zoonotic-orangutan-mahal-illustration.jpgMahal/Illustration by WisContext; image courtesy the Milwaukee County Zoo

Tapeworm eggs are generally harmless to the mice and other small animals who consume them from the soil, and the mature worms reach their eventual hosts when these hosts are eaten by larger animals. When these predators directly consume the eggs, a stage of tapeworm development is skipped, and can result in the parasites growing out of control in the host and forming fatal cysts. This incident prompted concerns around the threat emerging zoonotic pathogens pose to people.

* Bald eagles are highly susceptible to West Nile virus, and the illness took a toll on these and other birds when the pathogen arrived in the United States in 1999. While human infections are widely caused by bites from carrier mosquitos, bald eagles contract the disease by eating infected eared (or black-necked) grebes, another type of bird.

* Wisconsin experienced an outbreak of monkeypox in 2003. It reached the state when Gambian pouched rats were imported to Texas from Ghana, and then included in a shipment of pets sent to Indiana and Wisconsin.

* Goldberg briefly garnered national headlines in 2013 when an unsequenced species of tick (in the Ambylomma genus) was discovered in his nose. He likely picked up the pest while working with chimpanzees in Africa. After its discovery, he reviewed images of baby chimps and noticed around 20% of them had similar ticks in their noses. Goldberg said this prevalence is likely because social grooming practices among the animals leave ticks vulnerable in fur or an exposed skin, but nostrils provide a warm and blood-rich environment for uninterrupted dining.

Key Quotes

* On the movement of illnesses between animals and humans: "Infectious diseases don't care which direction they go in. We're concerned about human health because we're humans, but they're just as happy to go in the other direction. And they're just as happy to go to other places, like Wisconsin."

* On the variety of emerging pathogens: "I don't want to give you the impression that all emerging infections or all new infections are viruses. These days, listening to stories about [COVID-19], you would think so, or Ebola, but they're not. There are some weird ones out there."

* On lessons from primate research in Africa: "[The chimpanzees have] only recently been exposed to these common cold pediatric viruses of people, and they're exquisitely susceptible . . . This concept is actually called reverse zoonoses . . . there are plenty of diseases that go from people to animals, and they present a global threat to domestic animals and wildlife."

* On working with sick animals: "We recently did an analysis of causes of death over the decades of [the Kibale] chimpanzee population and found that respiratory disease, which was a little surprising to us, accounted for over half of the documented deaths during the time that we've been able to follow these chimps daily . . . Being there, it was very scary because when chimpanzees are coughing and sneezing and dying, you're not sure what's killing them. So in situations like that, you have to be very careful about wearing personal protective gear."

uplace-health-disease-science-animals-zoonotic-chimpanzee-kibale.jpgA mother and infant chimpanzee feed on fruit in a tree during a habituation visit at Kibale National Park in Uganda/Ronald Woan (CC BY-NC 2.0)

* On Wisconsin River Eagle Syndrome: "So where we are right now is sort of in the murky waters of emerging infectious disease. We found an interesting virus in an interesting species, infected or suffering an interesting disease, but we are moving towards testing the idea that this is actually the cause or not. It could be the cause, it could be an incidental finding, but a very interesting virus in an iconic species"

* On preventing pandemics: "It's one of the unfortunate aspects of being an epidemiologist that when you do your job, nobody notices, because if you prevent an epidemic or prevent a pandemic, how does anyone know? It's only when something breaks out that people say, 'Well, you should be doing your job.' Well, I prevented seven pandemics last week, what do you expect of me?"

* On a vaccine for COVID-19: "You may have heard in the news that scientists are rushing to develop a vaccine. That's great, but that's not an outbreak response; that vaccine will be ready for the next outbreak. The honest truth is that there are no magic bullet solutions for halting pandemics in their tracks. Once they've started, they keep going."

This post was originally published on WisContext in a partnership between Wisconsin Public Radio and PBS Wisconsin.

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See also: This Chicago Writer Warned Us 25 Years Ago.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:56 PM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

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P.S.:

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Dart's Disaster
"A federal judge Monday ordered Sheriff Thomas Dart to move most Cook County Jail detainees into single cells to prevent the spread of COVID-19 inside the massive Southwest Side facility that has been identified as one of the nation's top coronavirus hot spots," the Sun-Times reports.

"U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly's 87-page order follows last week's testimony in a class action lawsuit seeking the release or transfer of elderly and medically compromised detainees.

"Dart's lawyers argued Thursday that members of the jail staff were struggling to keep up with changing guidance from federal authorities about how to tackle the contagion."

Really? What part of "keep people at least six feet apart from each other" do they - and Dart - not understand?

"As of Sunday night, 461 detainees have tested positive for COVID-19, and six died from complications related to the virus. More than 300 jail employees, including a corrections officer who died, also tested positive for coronavirus."

Tom Dart, you are Today's Worst Person in Chicago.

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"Dart's office responded to the ruling by noting that the judge declined requests by the detainees' lawyers for additional oversight and inspection of the jails, and said that judge's order 'reinforced the importance of efforts that already are underway and essentially ordered the Sheriff's Office to continue measures we put in place prior to the filing of this lawsuit.'"

it's true that the judge could have - and should have - ruled more aggressively, but the main thing he reinforced is that you have to move most detainees into single cells, especially given that you are now overseeing one of the nation's top coronavirus hot spots. And it didn't become that by accident, but on your watch.

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"We will continue to combat COVID-19, despite the added burden of time and resources needed to defend our practice as the Court recognized 'the immense amount of time and work that the Sheriff and his staff have spent trying to respond to this crisis,'" Dart spokeswoman Sophia Ansari said in a statement.

Really? We'll try to do our best even though we have to spend time and money defending in court what a shitty job we're doing!

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"Testifying at Thursday's hearing, Michael Miller, director of jail operations, said that jail staff had reopened decommissioned sections of the jail - which once housed more than 11,000 detainees - to provide more space to put detainees into single cells.

"The current jail population of 4,166 is a record low, and has declined by some 1,500 detainees since the start of March, after the presiding judge of the criminal courts ordered a review of bond for low-risk inmates. A declining number of arrests and increased use of house arrests has also reduced the number of incoming detainees."

So just to be clear, they've had the extra space to do this all along.

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From the Tribune:

"Dart has repeatedly defended his response and said he was 'ahead of the curve' in recognizing the dangers the growing pandemic in a jail setting."

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Nursing Home Disaster
"Workers at 40 nursing homes across Illinois plan to go on strike May 8, saying that owners of their facilities have ignored pleas for personal protective equipment, safety protocols and adequate hazard pay," the Springfield State Journal-Register reports.

"Strike notices were delivered to Alden Debes Manor in Rockford, Aperion Care Capitol in Springfield, Aperion Care in Galesburg, Sterling Pavilion in Sterling, and Willow Crest Nursing Pavilion in Sandwich along with dozens of Chicago-area facilities."

The workers are represented by SEIU; their current contract expires May 1.

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"The Illinois Association of Health Care Facilities - the organization with which SEIU Healthcare Illinois is negotiating - fired back Monday saying the union is trying to exploit the global coronavirus pandemic with unreasonable demands 'using this once-in-a-lifetime crisis to incite a walk-out and put our seniors at even greater risk.'

"It is extremely troubling that SEIU union leadership would ask front-line nursing home employees to abandon elderly and infirm residents during a pandemic and our residents' greatest hour of need," Bob Molitor, CEO of the Alden Network and a board member of the Illinois Association of Health Care Facilities, said in a written statement released Monday evening.

The paper did not say how much Alden makes or what his history of raises has been, nor what kind of PPE he might have been issued.

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I don't presume that SEIU's strike threat is 100% pure without any notion of exploiting a tragedy, though I certainly don't presume otherwise either, but Alden's facilities, of which there are about 30 in Chicago, are notoriously awful.

Therefore, Bob Moiltor is Today's Worst Person In Illinois. Besides Today's Worst Person In Chicago. I get the problem there.

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According to the law firm Steinberg, Goodman & Kalish, "More than 300 lawsuits have been filed against the [Alden] chain in recent years. These lawsuits run the gamut of offenses including physical abuse, sexual abuse, and financial fraud."

I get that it's a law firm with a vested interest. But it checks out.

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Meanwhile . . .

"A cluster of COVID-19 cases has been reported at a nursing home in west suburban Cicero," ABC7 Chicago reports.

"After mandated COVID-19 testing was done last week, it was discovered, 163 residents have tested positive at City View Multicare Center and 31 staff members have also tested positive."

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CBS2 Chicago:

"Illinois officials announced a jump to 625 deaths from the coronavirus of people who live or work at long-term care facilities. The Illinois Department of Public Health says the state has about 1,200 long-term care facilities. As of Friday, at least 278 facilities had 4,298 cases of residents and workers testing positive for COVID-19."

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ChicagoReddit

This 1930's Flapper's Dollhouse Cost More than Most People's Homes - and it's on display at the Museum of Science and Industry from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

"On The South Side Of Chicago" / Morgana King

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BeachBook

Why Is Everyone Mad At Elena Kagan?

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TweetWood
A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport.

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The Beachwood Q-Tip Line: External use only.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:34 AM | Permalink

Rhetoric Of A Global Epidemic

From 2014:

"In the past 10 years, we have seen great changes in the ways government organizations and media respond to and report on emerging global epidemics. The first outbreak to garner such attention was SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome). In Rhetoric of a Global Epidemic, Huiling Ding uses SARS to explore how various cultures and communities made sense of the epidemic and communicated about it. She also investigates the way knowledge production and legitimation operate in global epidemics, the roles that professionals and professional communicators, as well as individual citizens, play in the communication process, points of contention within these processes, and possible entry points for ethical and civic intervention."

epidemicrhetoric.jpg

"Focusing on the rhetorical interactions among the World Health Organization, the United States, China, and Canada, Rhetoric of a Global Epidemic investigates official communication and community grassroots risk tactics employed during the SARS outbreak. It consists of four historical cases, which examine the transcultural risk communication about SARS in different geopolitical regions at different stages. The first two cases deal with risk communication practices at the early stage of the SARS epidemic when it originated in southern China. The last two cases move to transcultural rhetorical networks surrounding SARS.

"With such threats as SARS, avian flu, and swine flu capturing the public imagination and prompting transnational public health preparedness efforts, the need for a rhetoric of global epidemics has never been greater. Government leaders, public health officials, health care professionals, journalists, and activists can learn how to more effectively craft and manage transcultural risk communication from Ding's examination of the complex and varied modes of communication around SARS.

"In addition to offering a detailed case study, Rhetoric of a Global Epidemic provides a critical methodology that professional communicators can use in their investigations of epidemics and details approaches to facilitating more open, participatory risk communication at all levels."

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Rhetoric of a Global Epidemic: Transcultural Communication about SARS won the National Council of Teachers of English Conference on College Composition and Communication 2016 Best Book Award in Technical and Scientific Communication.

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From Inside Higher Ed:

"It is a work of some factual and conceptual density, but I suspect it will play some role in how information about disease outbreaks will be organized and delivered in the future . . .

"My research," Ding said in an e-mail interview, "shows different values and practices of traditional newspapers housed in Beijing and Guangzhou (mainstream and commercial ones) despite the exertion of censorship during the early stage of SARS."

"The People's Daily, official mouthpiece of the Chinese leadership, remained silent on the health crisis until as late as March 2003. But by January 2003, regional newspapers in small cities began reporting on the panic-buying of antiviral drugs and surgical masks - information that then became known elsewhere in the country, via the Internet, as well as to 'overseas Chinese' around the world, well before the crisis was international news."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:21 AM | Permalink

A COVID-19 Data Lag Is Giving Americans False Hope

The ancients had a surefire way to cut through the fear and unpredictability of an epidemic: A quick visit to an oracle would reveal the nature and course of the disease, and even the cure. After the afflicted citizens followed instructions to sacrifice a youth, recover some old bones, fashion some hemorrhoid-shaped statues out of gold, or whatever else the priests recommended, the plague would be lifted, and life would go back to normal - or so, at least, the thinking went.

Modern-day humans look to scientists rather than sibyls to answer questions about the natural world. But this means that we have to sacrifice the speed and certainty of oracles for the slow, uncertain bumbling of scientific progress. This is the one sacrifice that science requires us to make, and it's what gives scientists their power to understand the natural world in a way that oracles and priests never could. Yet, during the coronavirus crisis, it seems to be hurting us in ways we never expected.

One of the most pernicious ways has to do with the time it takes to tabulate deaths due to COVID-19, especially in jurisdictions where hospitals are overworked. In New York City, for example, some deaths are reported to the city's health department within hours, but others take days - sometimes a week or more - to get tabulated. This delay means that on any given date, when officials announce the daily death toll, they do so having received only a fraction of the death reports that will eventually come in.

On the afternoon of April 1, for example, New York City officials declared that 1,374 people had died of the virus to date. But the accounts of deaths kept coming in. Two days later, the tally of people who had died on or before April 1 had climbed to more than 1,700. By April 5 it stood at 1,878. As of April 9, the official count was 2,253, a roughly 60 percent increase over the initial tally. This number would likely continue to rise, slowly, for several more days.

charwdsS.pngSource: New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Visual: Undark

One peculiar consequence of this delay-induced error in the numbers is that it distorts our perception of the progress of the epidemic. The misleadingly low numbers announced each day can make it look like we're perpetually about to crest the peak of the epidemic - that is, as if the death rate is leveling off - even when the real toll is climbing unabated. It's a cruel deception: The errors give us hope that the worst is over, though the true peak may remain days or weeks away.

And it's not just the staggered death reports. All the numbers - all the data - about coronavirus are tainted with uncertainty in some way. When news outlets announce, as one did on April 9, that the number of cases of coronavirus have topped 1.6 million, that datum has little relationship to reality. That number merely represents the people who have tested positive for the disease. Not only are the tests error-prone (sometimes worryingly so), many people with COVID-19 have yet to be tested for the disease at all.

It's nigh impossible to correct for those inconsistencies, especially given that testing rates and policies differ radically from place to place and day to day. Scientists can't yet say with certainty how many people are really infected: It could be five times, 10 times the official number or even more. Even future historians may one day argue about precisely how many people were infected and when, just as they now do about the 1918 flu pandemic.

It's also inevitable that some deaths due to COVID-19 will be mistakenly attributed to other causes - and vice-versa. Tens of thousands of people die in the U.S. every year from pneumonia or influenza; it's often difficult to tell if a person's demise was due to the novel virus, the ordinary flu, or something else entirely. And not everybody who dies from COVID-19 will die in a hospital where his or her death can easily be counted. New York City officials - who have collected some of the most detailed, trusted data on coronavirus mortality in the U.S. - just reported that hundreds of people are thought to be dying of COVID-19 complications at home each day, and those deaths until recently were not being counted in official tallies. Given that the official daily death tolls in NYC are also in the hundreds, this is likely a huge source of error, and the true death toll could be much higher than previously thought.

Make no mistake: Science is unquestionably the best tool we have for trying to understand the COVID-19 pandemic. But this is the best that science can do right now. Someday, looking back at the pandemic, the numbers will be much clearer. The data will all be in, and we'll be able to more accurately see the outbreak's contours and its course.

But right now, we're at the mercy of Nature to produce the information we need - and Nature will not be rushed. It works at its own pace, and its pace is simply not fast enough to give us the certainty and the peace of mind that an oracle would give us. Confronted with one of the most urgent scientific challenges of our time, however, that's a sacrifice we have to make.

Charles Seife is a journalism professor at NYU, and the author of numerous books, including Proofiness: The Dark Arts of Mathematical Deception. This post was originally published on Undark.

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See also from the New York Times: U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Is Far Higher Than Reported, C.D.C. Data Suggests.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:10 AM | Permalink

Seinfeld: The Game About Nothing

Episode 1: "The E-mail."

"Jerry is dating a publicist who accidentally reveals his e-mail address to Kenny Bania through a group e-mail . . . "

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:07 AM | Permalink

April 27, 2020

The [Monday] Papers

"Meat-processing giant Smithfield Foods is closing two of its facilities in Illinois, its latest moves to shut down meatpacking plants due to the coronavirus pandemic," WBEZ reports.

The Kane County Health Department said Saturday that it ordered Smithfield to temporarily close its plant in west suburban St. Charles, where 325 people make pork products. The department said it took the action after hearing worker complaints that the plant wasn't following social distancing and cleaning guidelines.

Smithfield said it suspended operations at the plant voluntarily and is cooperating with health officials. But a local lawmaker, state Rep. Karina Villa, D-West Chicago, disputed that.

"It wasn't until Smithfield was refusing to communicate with the local county health department that they were mandated to close their doors," she said Saturday.

Smithfield is a repeat offender. In fact, the entire industry is filled with bad actors.

"Three of the nation's largest meat processors failed to provide protective gear to all workers, and some employees say they were told to continue working in crowded plants even while sick as the coronavirus spread around the country and turned the facilities into infection hot spots, a Washington Post investigation has found.

"The actions by three major meat producers - Tyson Foods, JBS USA and Smithfield Foods - continued even after federal guidelines on social distancing and personal protective equipment were published March 9, according to 25 interviews with employees, elected officials, regional health officials, union leaders and federal safety inspectors as well as dozens of documents, including worker complaints filed with local and federal officials."

And don't forget OSI's Rose Packing Company on the South Side - see the item "Meat Packing Mess."

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Back to WBEZ:

"The closing in St. Charles comes after Smithfield announced Friday that it will shutter operations at its Monmouth, Illinois, plant beginning Monday until further notice.

"A 'small portion' of the plant's 1,700 employees tested positive for COVID-19, Virginia-based Smithfield announced."

Don't they have to publicly report just how many people constitute a "small portion?"

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"Smithfield also has closed meatpacking plants in Cudahy, Wisconsin; Martin City, Missouri; and Sioux Falls, South Dakota."

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From the Sun-Times:

"The news comes after a lawsuit filed Thursday in Missouri federal court accused Smithfield of failing to provide employees at a Missouri plant adequate protective equipment, NBC News reported. The lawsuit also alleges that Smithfield refused to give employees time to wash their hands."

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Midwest governors should form a pact to deal with these folks, because this is just downright immoral: Meatpackers' Dilemma: Health vs. Paycheck.

"[Bernabe] Rodriguez immigrated from Mexico to Chicago, but the city's crime rate scared him. His sister, who worked at the plant, suggested he visit in 2001. He fell in love with Columbus Junction's slower pace, raised two children here and started two businesses."

Every night felt like a drawn-out countdown, a staring contest with his alarm clock's red lights.

A mysterious pain shot into Bernabe Rodriguez's chest. He felt cold. A headache pulsed in his temples. Fifteen minutes passed. He turned from his back onto his belly.

Thirty minutes passed. He was afraid to sleep. He wondered if he had an infection. He wondered if he had cancer. Whatever the illness, he wondered if it had already progressed too far. The pain shifted from his chest into his ribs.

"It feels like you put a knife into it," he said. "You have to move in the next direction, hoping it doesn't hurt much . . . I was almost yelling. There was so much pain."

Rodriguez, 52, tested positive for COVID-19, one of 261 cases confirmed in rural Louisa County as of Thursday, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health. He doesn't know specifically how he was infected, though he knows where to look: the Tyson Foods pork processing plant on Iowa Highway 70, one mile north of Rodriguez's used car lot, bar and events hall in the middle of Columbus Junction. Two family members work at the plant. As of last week, he said, eight of his relatives had the virus.

And yet: "Mayor Mark Huston said Tyson has done 'everything they know' to protect workers."

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Meanwhile, in Indiana . . .

"Tyson Foods Inc. announced Wednesday that it will temporarily close its meatpacking plant in north-central Indiana after 146 employees tested positive for coronavirus."

Obviously these aren't isolated incidents but a systemic, company-wide, industry-wide problem. And it didn't just start with COVID-19, though hopefully that's where it will end.

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The related news out of Nebraska: Meatpacking Woes Lead Farmers To Consider Euthanizing Hogs, Holding Back Market-Ready Cattle.

(The same with two million chickens in Delaware and Maryland.)

Of course, a functioning federal government would be on top of all this. Unfortunately, we don't currently have a functioning federal government. As a result, the meat supply in the wealthiest, most powerful nation the world has ever known is threatened.

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"This all could have been prevented," Debbie Berkowitz, a former senior OSHA official who is an expert on meat processing plants, told the Washington Post. "Workers are paying with their lives and their health because their industry decided not to implement basic safety precautions and OSHA decided to bury its head in the sand and tell workers 'You're on your own.'"

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Playing House
So this is still "purportedly" and "apparently" a West Side house party. Let's not report it as real, then, until we know it's real, mmmkay?

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New on the Beachwood . . .

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #301: Ryan Pace's Last Dance
A draft about nothing. Plus: The Latest Last Dance; Cubs Mailbag; The Minnesota Blackhawks; Sky Watch; GRONK!; and the World's Greatest Race Car Driver.

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TrackNotes: Hot Times In Hot Springs
Our man on the rail is quite happy that the postponed Kentucky Derby has recentered the horse racing world.

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Send Everyone A Ballot
It's the only way to guarantee that everyone has the option of voting safely on Election Day, even if in-person voting must be restricted for public health reasons.

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Immigrants And Epidemics
"Throughout American history, one of the themes of American xenophobia has been fear of the foreign-born because they are either disease-bringers to the United States, or else because they come in such poor physical condition that they're going to end up being a public charge, and unable to support themselves and be productive members of American society, in an economic sense. So it's been a key theme throughout our history. And in moments of epidemic, those allegations - that the foreign-born are disease-bringers - become especially salient and significant."

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ChicagoReddit

I've always loved walking by this flowerpot man in Irving Park, a couple of days ago he got a mask! from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

"Only In Chicago" / Barry Manilow

Warning: This is so awful it could cause long-term damage. Listen at your own risk.

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BeachBook

When Bubonic Plague First Struck America, Officials Tried To Cover It Up.

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Cubs Fan Dillinger Played Baseball Before He Robbed Banks.

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Saying Goodbye To The Lovely, Gentle Kizzie.

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TweetWood
A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport.

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The Beachwood Q-TIp Line: People suck. And you let them.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:31 AM | Permalink

April 26, 2020

TrackNotes: Hot Times In Hot Springs

With big-time sports standing on its head, the first Saturday in May roars upon us.

This year, it won't be Kentucky Derby Day. Instead, Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas, will be the center of the horse racing universe. I couldn't be happier, not once, but twice.

Oaklawn has announced that it will split its Arkansas Derby into two races. Its starting gate only accommodating 14 horses, prominent three-year-olds, with nowhere else to go, would have been left out. The sort is made according to earnings to date, so Bob Baffert's wonderful Charlatan would have had to watch the simulcast instead of saddling up. Baffert's Nadal, perhaps the best young colt in the land, will probably run in the other race.

Why am I so happy? There's lots to love.

Sure, Oaklawn and the Cella family dived in to the casino biz full boat, but when you walk into the track, you can't even see the casino and you head past the indoor paddock/saddling area into a big-enough cozy concourse with floors so clean you could eat off them. The ladies in the ticket booths will find you the best box they have - almost all seats are indoors - very much like Hawthorne Race Course. The beer is cold and the food pretty good. Track workers are truly friendly.

The Cella family has demonstrably nurtured racing since 1907, when Louis Cella took over from his partners and had to contend with the moral indecision of spooked politicians. Evil hootch wasn't the only thing the Prohibitionists attacked.

The track features, simply, a one-mile dirt track and no turf course. It famously is known for its connections with Chicago, whether it be our local horses wintering there or mobsters, including Al Capone, enjoying the track and the spas of the springs.

History has been made there. The wonderful fillies Azeri and Zenyatta romped about in the Apple Blossom Stakes. The big prep for the Blossom is The Azeri Stakes. Arkansas Derby winners have included super horse American Pharoah, Curlin, Afleet Alex, Smarty Jones, Lawyer Ron, Elocutionist, Super Chief and Sunny's Halo.

In the past, the Cellas have offered cash bonuses, when the game needed it, to a horse who could win both the Arkansas and the Kentucky Derbies.

Churchill Downs Inc. arbitrarily moved the Kentucky Derby to September 5 without consulting anyone. What makes it think bringing 100,000+ people to the track will be safe then?

Praise Jesus, CDI president Kevin Flanery bestowed the blessing upon Oaklawn's May 2 festivities. "Our prominent partner in Oaklawn Park is in a unique and important position . . . " blah blah blah. The partnership is merely for wagering, and why can't your website spell Oaklawn's name correctly?

Oaklawn has been nearly invisible on racing channel TVG is recent years, showing only stakes races on delay. TVG licks the boots of The Stronach Group's Santa Anita and Gulfstream. Arlington Park is invisible too.

But with limited racing - Tampa Bay is also featured on the FoxSports feed - the boys and girls on the desk have been able to tell some great stories.

Especially Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens, who talked about the time he lit out after a heckling fan in the stands. We all know horseplayers often bitch about the riders.

"My mother said it was difficult to sit in the stands. She said 'That's my son, you know.' This guy was really obnoxious, so I took off after him. I caught him in the first mezzanine (at Santa Anita) and all of a sudden, the jocks' security guard, who is a friend of mine, grabbed my silks by the back of the neck and said 'What in THE HELL are you doing?' I had a temper back then."

As the TV analyst, trainer Tom Amoss, was getting closer to his Serengeti Empress in the gate for the Apple Blossom, anchor Laffit Pincay III asked him if he was nervous.

"Nah."

"Well, the image of Ted Stryker in Airplane! comes to mind, trying to land the plane."

Amoss fired back, "I guess I picked a bad day to quit sniffing glue."

Sunday, after a photo finish, Stevens and Pincay opined on one of the photo jockeys dismounting and the other staying up.

"I never did that," Stevens said. "If I lost the photo, I wouldn't want to be in the saddle if the other horse won, it would be embarrassing."

Pincay stated how jockeys can be very superstitious.

"There was never anybody more like that than your father."

That would be Laffit Pinacy Jr.

Pincay was one of the all-time greats, with 9,530 wins, third on the list. He rode legends such as Affirmed, three straight Derby winners with Swale, Conquistador Cielo and Caveat. And Secretariat's main rival, Sham; John Henry, the Steel Drivin' Horse; Genuine Risk, Bayakoa, Caveat, Chinook Pass and Cougar II.

"My father wore his underwear inside out for at least 15 years. He was in a tough spot once and turned his t-shirt inside out. Whatever it took," Pincay III said.

I've had some fun years in racing, but as a TV consumer, this one has been great. The analysts have had time to tell the stories. Horsey Airlines has made Hot Springs a hub.

I hold out hope that Churchill Downs will be eating mass quantities of instant karma for its inherently selfish ways. It appears the twin spires don't own Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, like they did his predecessor and currently by Moscow Mitch.

But we won't have to worry about CDI for now.

For one more week, the stage lanterns light up Oaklawn Park.

They earned it.

Video Racing
Sunday, FoxSports1 was playing pretend with real NASCAR drivers playing a Talladega video game of a stock car race, which was just as fixed and boring as a real race. I was waiting for the switchover to horse racing.

Jeff Gordon was in the pits, having his car "fixed." Everybody involved was behaving as if it was a real race. OK, cup of tea and all that.

But the race ran long! They shuttled me to FoxSports2 for the horses in order to finish the last few car laps.

I've never played a home video game in my life, so imagine how compelling today's "stock car" race was for me. I remember when you could buy the 440 Hemi Monday that you saw Petty run Sunday.

Yes. It was a video game.

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Tom Chambers is our man on the rail. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:45 PM | Permalink

April 25, 2020

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #301: Ryan Pace's Last Dance

A draft about nothing. Plus: The Latest Last Dance; Cubs Mailbag; The Minnesota Blackhawks; Sky Watch; GRONK!; and the World's Greatest Race Car Driver.

Beachwood Radio Network · The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #301: Ryan Pace's Last Dance

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SHOW NOTES

* 301.

1:18: Q Life.

* "Review is about something, preview is about nothing."

4:21: Ryan Pace's Last Dance.

* Coffman: Don't Draft For Need.

* ESPN: Bears Select Notre Dame's Cole Kmet In NFL Draft, Giving Team 10 Tight Ends.

* 247 Sports Bears New CB Jaylon Johnson Says His Shoulder Is Healed.

* Fox: Eagles Turn Heads With Jalen Hurts Selection, GM Says Quarterback Was Best On Board.

* Bears: "We have signed four players to one-year contracts - OL Jason Spriggs, K Ramiz Ahmed, OL Rashaad Coward and TE J.P. Holtz. We have released TE Trey Burton."

30:31: Around The NFC North.

* Vikings up, Packers down, Lions treading water.

* Coffman: "The Bears are running in place, and that place is last."

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INCOMING TEXT FROM COACH WHILE PREPARING THESE SHOW NOTES:

"Pace has gotta Pace."

ME: So he traded a fourth for a fifth?

COACH: Yup.

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41:31: GRONK!

* Morrissey: Oh Great, Now We Have To Bemoan Tom Brady And Rob Gronkowski Not In Bears Uniforms.

48:48: Cubs Mailbag.

53:59: The Minnesota Blackhawks.

56:15: The Latest Last Dance.

1:03:46: Sky Watch.

* Chicago Sky's Stefanie Dolson Says Entire Family Had COVID-19

* Chicago Sky Pick Oregon Forward Ruthy Hebard In WNBA Virtual Draft.

Born in Chicago.

1:06:33: Stirling Moss, One of the Greatest Drivers of All Time, Dies at 90.

* New York Times: "Known for his brash, puckish persona, he won 212 of his 529 races, including 16 Grand Prix victories, but never won the Grand Prix Championship title."

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STOPPAGE: 9:17

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For archives and other Beachwood shows, see The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

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1. From Tom Chambers:

Running TAG-TEAM, the Packers AND their fans love to love their quarterbacks and they they love to hate their quarterbacks.

* Bart Starr retired probably one year before they would have turned on him. Then, as coach, out of loyalty, they had a bunch of losing seasons and the BIG rumor was that somebody killed the Starr's dog in his front yard.

* Same with Favre. They were in complete denial with his interceptions as long as they won. Then fans and management wanted him out, but he wouldn't leave! Until he signed with the Jets - and then the hated Vikings, which they really hated. That was an era when Favre beat a Percocet addiction, messed around, a lot of them would limo to Chicago on the day off, and their top receiver (I think it was Lofton) was accused of sexual assault, and Mark Chmura cavorted with high schoolers in a hot tub but beat the rap: I don't think he would have today.

* Rodgers. Rumors have been flying a few years that Rodgers is a total ass and prima donna. Where do they come from? Leaks of behavior. The Green Bay media and others (Lee Remmel of the Press-Gazette was on the Packers Board!) This is the classic pattern. Packers did screw up, I could gain 11 yards on those guys. No defense for years.

You're right, Coach, the Rodgers cap problem is huge. Maybe he is a jerk, but he's the second-best QB they've ever had, after Starr.

At least it's easy for Bears fans. We've NEVER had a quarterback.

I know only one or two actually smart Packer fans but you wait, 2-3 and 3-5 or something? They will turn on Rodgers, fueled by ownership.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:09 PM | Permalink

April 24, 2020

Immigrants And Epidemics

As an expert on the history of immigration in the United States, and as a historian of medicine, Alan M. Kraut is all too aware of the complex connections between the arrival of new people on American shores, and the fear of illness and disease - something he explored in detail in his 1995 book, Silent Travelers: Germs, Genes, and the 'Immigrant Menace'.

Kraut, who teaches at American University in Washington, D.C., is currently working on a book about the role of xenophobia and nativism in American history. In 2017, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Immigration and Ethnic History Society.

For this installment of the Undark Interview, I spoke with Kraut about the long and multi-faceted interplay between immigration and issues of health and medicine, from the earliest days of American nationhood to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

UNDARK: It's no secret that immigrants to the United States have faced all manner of racism and hostility over the years - indeed, over the centuries. How much of that hostility has been connected to a fear of illness and disease?

ALAN M. KRAUT: Throughout American history, one of the themes of American xenophobia has been fear of the foreign-born because they are either disease-bringers to the United States, or else because they come in such poor physical condition that they're going to end up being a public charge, and unable to support themselves and be productive members of American society, in an economic sense. So it's been a key theme throughout our history. And in moments of epidemic, those allegations - that the foreign-born are disease-bringers - become especially salient and significant.

So for example, if one thinks about the cholera epidemic of 1832, which hit the East Coast of the United States very hard, one of the themes was that it was the Irish Catholic immigrants, who were coming in ever-greater great numbers, who were bringing the cholera epidemic with them, and who were infectious and spreading the disease.

If you think of the 1900 appearance of bubonic plague in California, especially in the San Francisco area, [there was] an anti-Chinese theme, and at one point a big rope was looped around Chinatown in San Francisco, and the Chinese were not permitted to leave the Chinatown area. And at one point, local officials considered the idea of burning entire thing down.

Other diseases, like tuberculosis - which was a very, very significant killer in the 19th century - were often blamed on Eastern European Jewish immigrants. In fact, the disease was sometimes referred to as the "Jewish disease," or the "tailor's disease."

And so throughout American history, right up to the present stigmatization of the Chinese for the coronavirus, you have this underlying theme. I've often referred to it as the "other pandemic" - a pandemic of hate, a pandemic of prejudice.

UD: Another idea that shows up in your research is that diseases, rather than striking at random, are imagined to indicate some sort of character flaw on the part of the victim. Today this strikes most of us as absurd; it sounds like victim-blaming. How was it justified at the time?

AK: Actually, I think I'm seeing that right now: Some people are hiding their status, if they've tested positive for coronavirus, because there's a stigma attached to it. The great sociologist Erving Goffman said, back in the 1960s, that the body is one of the key focuses for that kind of prejudice. And certainly victim-blaming is a part of that, that somehow it's your fault if you've contracted this disease.

I mentioned the 1832 cholera epidemic: Irish Catholic immigrants were described, in the attacks on them, as particularly ignorant and filthy, and therefore harboring the disease. And so a connection was made between their personal hygiene, and bringing the disease.

Similarly with Eastern European Jews and tuberculosis: You often see, in the descriptions [written by] nativists, discussions of Eastern European Jews as being filthy; their homes and places of businesses dirty and unkempt.

UD: Victim-blaming is bad enough - but it sounds like it also served to shift attention away from issues like clean water, good sewage, alleviating overcrowding, and so on?

AK: Part of the reason that immigrants often lived in poor living conditions, congested living conditions, was, number one, their poverty; they were working usually in labor-intensive jobs, under unhealthy working conditions. And very often the neighborhoods that immigrants lived in were areas that were often untouched by public health.

In the case of the Irish immigrants, they were often subjected to unclean water, and in fact it's contaminated water that causes cholera.

And very often, people were living in neighborhoods that didn't have adequate sewage, or garbage pick-up.

All of the basic elements of public health were often underfunded in areas inhabited by the poor. Not just the immigrant poor, but the poor, generally. If you went into the American South, you often saw the same pattern playing itself out in the areas where free blacks were living, as opposed to whites. Poorer areas got poorer services, or no services at all.

UD: And it's been in the news these past couple of weeks that non-white communities are suffering the worst effects of the current coronavirus pandemic.

AK: This particular virus seems to be victimizing those with pre-existing health conditions. And very often in the African-American community, you have pre-existing health conditions - often the result of poverty and inequality of services.

People who have high rates of diabetes, high rates of high blood pressure, obesity - which contributes to heart disease and high blood pressure and diabetes - and these are all connected.

You can't really pull apart and separate out these conditions from the broader conditions of life that are often responsible for these medical conditions: The absence of money for a good diet; the lack of proximity to stores that sell wholesome foods; and so on. If you exist on a poor diet, and you're obese, and you have high blood pressure because of the diabetes - then you've got the perfect storm in terms of suffering the worst effects of something like this particular coronavirus.

UD: Can you give some example of how immigrant communities took issues of health care into their own hands?

AK: First of all, within the communities themselves, there were often physicians - either physicians who had been immigrants, or those who were second generation and had done their medical training in the United States. So these physicians not only treated members of their community, but became spokespersons, in effect, defending them against the charge of being a danger to the public health, and explaining the poverty and the congestion within these immigrant communities that often led to these health issues.

In addition to that, in moments of crisis, like during an epidemic, you'd have foreign-language newspapers that came to the forefront, trying to persuade members of the community to work with public health officials; to obey public health regulations.

Remember, in a lot if immigrant communities - and this is true today as well - there is a healthy skepticism about things that they're told by authority figures. They're fearful of the police; they're fearful of politicians; they're fearful of those who don't understand their customs. And those who came from totalitarian societies had every good reason to be suspicious of authority, and particularly government authority.

So now you come to a crisis point, where the authority is the commissioner of health, or the board of health, that is issuing orders about how to keep the community safe during a health crisis like an influenza pandemic. And the question is, will the communities conform?

It's sort of like the "stay at home" order that we're all experiencing now. It took awhile until people got the message that, yes, you need to obey this; your health and survival depend on it. People were dying. Now complicate that with language difference, cultural difference, and so on - and you have an extremely urgent but complicated situation. And the immigrant press played a major role, with their articles and editorials, of encouraging their communities to comply.

UD: In those early examples that you mentioned - the early 19th-century cholera epidemic for example - the scientific understanding of disease was nowhere near what it is today. But at the same time, it's not just about science; it's also a question of public policy, and governance.

AK: There's a lot of complexity here. Our modern understanding of disease, as related to micro-organisms, is really a product of the 1880s - the work of Robert Koch in Germany, Louis Pasteur in France, Joseph Lister in England.

Before that, people attributed disease to either noxious eminences within the air - the "miasma" theory of disease - or just plain filth. People thought that filth created disease, rather than being an environment in which certain pathogens could thrive, and disease be caused. So part of the issue, throughout history, is how you understand disease.

The second part of the interplay is who pays for and who is responsible for the public's health? Early in American history, in the early part of the 19th century, for example - that cholera epidemic of 1832 that I mentioned - it wasn't clear that the government had responsibility for the public's health. And it isn't until 1866 that New York, for example, has a permanent sitting metropolitan board of health, with certain powers. It takes a long time to come to that. And when we're talking about the federal government, it takes even longer.

0801850967-silenttravelersbyalanm-191007124840-thumbnail-4-sm.jpg

UD: You wrote Silent Travelers before SARS, before Ebola, and of course before the COVID-19 pandemic. How does the current crisis fit in with these themes that we've been talking about - especially xenophobia and the fear of the "other?"

AK: I would argue that the current situation - and indeed some of the other diseases that you mentioned , SARS in particular - have been blamed on different ethnic groups, and have caused stigmatization and distancing and hatred.

The United States has always had what I call a love-hate relationship with immigration: We need it; we call ourselves a "nation of nations," a nation of immigrants - and yet, when immigrants arrive, they often find themselves engaged in the kind of complex negotiations with the core society . . . So what we're seeing right now with the coronavirus is really an extension of what I call "old wine in new bottles" - and we're watching this theme play out again, sometimes in very violent and horrible ways.

UD: Is there any good news in all of this?

AK: The positive part is that, as each immigrant group becomes absorbed into the American population - or integrated, perhaps that's a better word - the levels of prejudice directed against each group diminishes over time. You don't hear people of Irish heritage stigmatized as they were in the 19th century. You sometimes hear Jews and Asians stigmatized, but again, to a lesser extent.

I would argue that prejudice doesn't go away, but it does assume a different platform, and becomes less tied to issues of health and disease. That doesn't mean that such charges can't raise their heads at particular moments and under particular circumstances; but it is greatly diminished. But I think this situation - the medicalization of prejudice - is certainly something that's been a very important theme in the history of ethnic relations within the United States.

This post was originally published on Undark.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:44 PM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

Click through and read this.

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'This Is A Bloodbath'
"As the numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths in nursing homes climb throughout the United States, staff at some Chicago facilities describe dire work conditions and a lack of transparency about outbreaks, a WBEZ investigation has found.

Workers at three different long-term care facilities describe staffing shortages, inadequate personal protective equipment (PPE), a lack of clarity around the extent of the outbreaks in those nursing homes, and conduct that violates guidelines set forth by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The workers from three Chicago nursing homes - Lakeview Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Lincoln Park, Woodbridge Nursing Pavilion in Logan Square, and Center Home for Hispanic Elderly in Humboldt Park - all asked to remain anonymous for fear of losing their jobs. WBEZ also spoke to a patient at Lakeview who described the conditions at the facility.

Several residents have died at each of the facilities. As one worker put it: "This is a bloodbath. I feel like my heart is breaking."

Also from WBEZ:

* In Cook County, Nursing Homes Account For A Quarter Of COVID-19 Deaths.

* MAP: COVID-19's Deadly Rich Into Illinois Nursing Homes.

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Meanwhile . . .

"After the coronavirus shut down dining rooms at nursing homes, a maintenance worker at Symphony of Joliet took it upon himself to order, assemble and install personal dining tables in more than 40 rooms," the Tribune reports.

"Tragically, though the worker had no symptoms, it was discovered later that he was carrying the COVID-19 virus. By visiting those rooms and through his physical exertion, officials at the nursing home believe, he became a 'super spreader' and infected many of the residents.

"As soon as administrators learned the worker had the virus, they relocated the exposed patients and other workers to another floor. Regardless, 24 residents and two workers - one of them the maintenance worker - died of the disease."

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And . . .

* NBC5 Chicago: 'Worry Like It's Your Mother' - 111 Of 158 Residents At Chicago Nursing Home Test Positive For Coronavirus.

"Another nursing home in the Chicago area has been hit hard by coronavirus, with 70 percent of patients testing positive. NBC 5's Michelle Relerford talked to the daughter of a resident who has a message for state leaders."

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* CBS2 Chicago: Ex-Nurse Blows Whistle On Alleged COVID-19 Failures At Lincolnwood Assisted Living Facility.

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See also:
* Center for Public Integrity: When Nursing Home Workers Feel Like 'Lambs Led To Slaughter.'

"In Chicago, nursing aide Tainika Somerville said: 'I had to find out on social media that a resident I took care of passed away from complications of COVID-19.'"

* AP: 11,000 Deaths: Ravaged Nursing Homes Plead For More Testing.

"Neither the federal government nor the leader in nursing home deaths, New York, has mandated testing for all residents and staff. An industry group says only about a third of the 15,000 nursing homes in the U.S. have ready access to tests that can help isolate the sick and stop the spread. And homes that do manage to get a hold of tests often rely on luck and contacts."

* Fox Illinois: Nursing Home Employees Speak Out About COVID-19 Negligence.

"Shaundria Foster is an aid at Prairie Oasis, a nursing home near Chicago, and said she was told to keep working with residents despite showing symptoms of the coronavirus. She was also told to not speak with any media."

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The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #301
Featuring Jim "Coach" Coffman and all the NFL draft haps as well as news and commentary from the rest of the sports world! We'll actually be recording the 'cast and posting it on Saturday this week, so we can tell you with great clarity why Ryan Pace blew it.

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ChicagoReddit

Video Games from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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See also: The Broom Of Wicker Park.

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ChicagoTube

"Chicago Barn Dance" / Special Consensus

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TweetWood
A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport.

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The Beachwood Q-Tip Line: Q you.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:12 AM | Permalink

Send Everyone A Ballot

No one knows what the coronavirus crisis will bring in November. While medical innovations could dim the threat of COVID-19, experts say the epidemic could persist or reignite, making an ordinary in-person election unsafe.

In the shadow of chaos in Wisconsin and the tragic death of an Illinois poll worker from COVID-19, preparing for every eventuality is imperative. That's why Reform for Illinois, along with its partners the League of Women Voters IL, the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, and the Better Government Association, is advocating for legislation providing for every Illinois registered voter to receive a postage paid ballot in November.

Sending a ballot is the only way to guarantee that everyone has the option of voting safely on Election Day, even if in-person voting must be restricted for public health reasons.

The experiences of jurisdictions like Wisconsin and Los Angeles show that merely promoting mail-in voting is insufficient to expand its use to the extent November's election may require. Sending everyone an application, as some have suggested, would not only maintain an unnecessary barrier to voting by mail, but consume resources that could be better spent on ballot processing.

In addition, commonly repeated concerns about vote-by-mail have been overblown, with research showing vote by mail bestows no partisan advantage and that fraud is "extremely rare."

Illinois' Mail-In Processing Capacity Must Grow

While there are understandable concerns about current mail-in processing capacity, we must take significant measures to prepare for greatly increased vote-by-mail use in November regardless of whether the legislature acts to send everyone a ballot. This means:

* Providing election authorities with additional and/or consolidated mail-in ballot processing capabilities as needed.

* Providing for user-friendly ballot tracking so voters know their vote has been sent, received, and counted.

* Improving remote options for people with disabilities.

* Installing dedicated ballot drop boxes in case of postal disruption and to increase dropoff options for voters.

In-Person Polling Places

While election authorities should plan to keep as many in-person polling places open as possible, any public health-driven consolidation of voting sites must be carefully planned and guided by inclusive decision making and consideration of factors that could impact voter turnout, particularly in historically disenfranchised communities.

Hoping For A Normal Election Is Not An Option

Although key arguments against sending everyone a ballot don't hold up to scrutiny, we understand the very real challenges of implementing this plan including the cost, logistics, and speed necessary to put it into place over the next six months. Time is of the essence in getting our systems up to the task of handling a different kind of election.

Given the steady expansion of vote-by-mail here and across the country, any investments in mail-in infrastructure are likely to reap considerable returns in the future.

More importantly, if we want a safe, robust election in November, we have no choice but to act, and to act fast.

We are heartened by Maryland's and Nevada's recent decisions to send their voters ballots for their June primaries despite having as little as 60 days for implementation. We are also encouraged by efforts in the Illinois legislature by Rep. La Shawn Ford and Sen. Julie Morrison to make sending everyone a ballot a reality.

We know our legislators are facing countless urgent priorities. November's election is among them, and we urge them to act as quickly as possible to secure it.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:23 AM | Permalink

April 23, 2020

The [Thursday] Papers

A PSA From Bloodshot Rob.


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Suburban Mask Map
To follow up on the suburban coronavirus watch item in Wednesday's column, via WGN-TV:

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Indiana Takeover Begins
Chicago Businessman Gene Staples Is The New Owner Of Indiana Beach.

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"The sale hinges of a $3 million loan the county would make available to the new owner," RTV6 in Indianapolis reports.

Oh.

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New on the Beachwood . . .

This Chicago Writer Warned Us 25 Years Ago
Zoonotic transfer of new, lethal viruses (that will wrongly be compared to the flu) made worse through social interdependency . . .

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The Disaster That Led To Earth Day
It happened off the coast of Santa Barbara.

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Chicago Band White Mystery Held A Stay-At-Home Fest
Watch it here - special guests included Fred Armisen, Jason Narducy and Jon Langford (natch).

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Jonathan Pie On Lockdown Pt. 5: One Step Beyond
"Sometimes I find myself changing out of my pajamas before going to bed because I don't want to sleep in my work clothes."

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Beware These Stimulus Check Scams
A message from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

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From The Beachwood NFL Draft Desk . . .

A Last Dance Lesson For Ryan Pace
Never draft for need.

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Is The Wonderlic Worthless?
The answer may surprise you!

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ChicagoReddit

Fellow dog owners of bucktown: from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

"Take Me Back To Chicago."

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BeachBook

'I'm Frightened, Dismayed, Disgusted' - Jenny Holzer On How Artists Can Use Outrage To Expose The Hypocrisies Of Our Time.

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TweetWood
A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport.

What a horrible human being.

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It seems like this should be an obvious problem to a poll like this, but nope!

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The Beachwood Q-Tip Line: Forget it, Jake, it's State Farm.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:19 PM | Permalink

Beware These Stimulus Check Scams

"Scammers are already hard at work to try and get your Economic Impact Payment (or, better known as 'stimulus check'). This video provides important information on these scams. Also visit our website to learn how you can prevent becoming a victim."


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See also:

* The Federal Trade Commission: Coronavirus Stimulus Payment Scams: What You Need To Know.

* IRS: IRS Issues Warning About Coronavirus-Related Scams; Watch Out For Schemes Tied To Economic Impact Payments.

* New York Times: 'Pure Hell For Victims' As Stimulus Programs Draw A Flood Of Scammers.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:01 AM | Permalink

White Mystery's Stay-At-Home 4/20 Fest

Featuring Fred Armisen, Jason Narducy, Jon Langford, Andre Vasquez, Cadien Lake James, Shannon Shaw, realbigsilky, Brian Hurd, Max Hersh, Spacebones, Emily Rose, Bev Rage & the Drinks, Monarchy Over Monday, Neptunes Core and, of course, White Mystery.


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See also:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:42 AM | Permalink

"The Ocean Is Boiling" | The Disaster That Led To The Creation Of Earth Day

"On January 28th, 1969, crude oil and gas erupted from a platform off the coast of Santa Barbara, California. Alarm over the disaster reverberated around the world, energizing the nascent environmental movement and leading to a slew of legislative changes."


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"On this special episode of the podcast, we honor the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day by digging into its oily Santa Barbara origins with local WSL athletes and leaders from Santa Barbara non-profit organizations.

"Explore what led to Earth Day's creation and the positive impact it has had on environmental activism and legislation with Championship Tour surfers Lakey Peterson and Conner Coffin, Executive Director of Santa Barbara Channelkeeper Kira Redmond, Community Environmental Council Program Director Michael Chiacos, and Environmental Defense Center's Chief Counsel Linda Krop.

"For more tips on what you can do this Earth Day, and everyday, visit wsl.tv/earthday."

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See also:

"A recent documentary about the Santa Barbara oil spill, and the power of community."

Click through or watch it here:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:24 AM | Permalink

Jonathan Pie On Lockdown, Pt. 5: Madness Sets In

"Sometimes I find myself changing out of my pajamas before going to bed because I don't want to sleep in my work clothes."


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Previously in Jonathan Pie's Lockdown:
* Jonathan Pie: Lockdown: Low-Footprint Content.

* Jonathan Pie On Lockdown, Pt. 2.: Spare Bedroom Shithole.

* Jonathan Pie On Lockdown, Pt. 3: Tele-Vision.

* Jonathan Pie On Lockdown, Pt. 4: A Trump Drinking Game.

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Previous Pie:
* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Explains The Economy.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! It's Shit Crap News, Tim.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Is Going To Paris.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Grow Some Balls; Tell The Truth.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! MP Is A Wanker Santa.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Merry Fucking Christmas.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! New Year's Rant.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Sexy Skype.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! TTIP Is Boring Shit.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! The Truth About Teachers & Doctors.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Valentine's Day 2016.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! On The 'Environment" Beat.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Political Theater As News.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Charter Wankers International.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! The Panama Papers: They're All In It Together.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Answer The Fucking Question.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Snapchatting The Environment.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Election Fever!

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Day-Glo Fuck-Nugget Trump.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Dickens Meets The Jetsons.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Tony Blair: Comedy Genius Or Psychopath?

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! What Real Business News Should Look Like.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Facts Are No Longer Newsworthy.

* Pie's Brexit.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Real Life Is Not Game Of Thrones.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Labor: The Clue's In The Title!

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! The Pie Olympics.

* Occupy Pie.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Where Is The War Against Terrorble Mental Health Services?

* Progressive Pie.

* The BBC's Bake-Off Bollocks.

* Pie Commits A Hate Crime.

* Pie Interviews A Teenage Conservative.

* Jonathan Pie's Idiot's Guide To The U.S. Election.

* President Trump: How & Why.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! All The News Is Fake!

* Happy Christmas From Jonathan Pie.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! 2016 In Review.

* Inauguration Reporting.

* New Year: New Pie?

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Make The Air Fair.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! A Gift To Trump?

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Strong And Unstable.

* Pie & Brand: Hate, Anger, Violence & Carrying On.

* Socialism Strikes Back!

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Election Carnage.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Papering Over Poverty.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! The Queen's Speech.

* Showdown: North Korea vs. Trump.

* Time For The Royal Scroungers To Earn Their Keep.

* Cricket vs. Brexit.

* The Real Jonathan Pie.

* A Hostile Environment.

* Jonathan Pie | Trump's America.

* Pie: Putin's America.

* Amazon And The Way Of The World.

* Horseface, Ho-Hum.

* Of Turbines, Trump And Twats.

* Breaking: Trump Still Racist.

* It Says Here.

* The Real Climate Crisis Hypocrites.

* Jonathan Pie On The Campaign Trial.

* We're Fucked, Mate.

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Plus:

If Only All TV Reporters Did The News Like This.

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And:

Australia Is Horrific.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:08 AM | Permalink

This Chicago Writer Warned Us 25 Years Ago

Editor's Note: Steve Eckardt, who owns the home I moved into two months ago, dropped this on my "desk" the other day and I was gobsmacked. He wrote it circa 1994 and published it in an obscure corner of the Internet where it is no longer to be found, at least in this form. I'd like to say the prescience is remarkable, but it turns out we were warned over and over that this was on the horizon.

Still, the themes struck here are so eerily familiar - warnings that the viruses under discussion are not simply like flus; the role of social interdependence in their deadly spread; the likelihood of originating from zoonotic transfer - that I thought Eckardt was pranking me; is this how he's been spending his time during the lockdown, I thought?

I've done the slightest bit of editing - adding a few commas here and there - but otherwise I've tried to leave it in its original form just for the sake of it. I'd say "enjoy," but instead you may find yourself weeping in a corner by the time you get to the end. Oh well!

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EXTERMINATION: NEITHER FIRE NOR WATER THIS TIME

By Steve Eckardt

If the four riders of the Apocalypse came spinning out of the turn at Arlington right now, Pestilence would be leading the field. Welcome to the new world of new, lethal viruses - pathogens of such unprecedented virulence that they are poised to wipe out all human life.

This is not a fantasy world, or even just a possible world. A simple review of the scientific literature on the subject will tell you that this is our world. (The best synopsis is an October 26, 1992 New Yorker article by Richard Preston, upon which much of this piece is based. Preston's work is in the process of being released as a Random House paperback entitled The Hot Zone.

Already there have been dozens of outbreaks - including several in the United States - that were contained essentially by freakish luck. Of course that's not to mention one of the viruses - the slow-acting HIV - which, though early in its spread, has yet to become the world's #2 cause of loss of life.

And the news gets worse: it's not just a few viruses, but dozens of them. And that number's almost certain to grow, for the conditions creating them are mushrooming.

And the worst of all, these potentially unstoppable pathogens are the direct, inescapable consequences of the existing international social order. There won't be a sudden rescue or a technological silver bullet. Only a fundamental social and economic restructuring of the world has a prayer of preserving human life on Earth - and it's already very late indeed.

Perhaps that's why the emergence of super-pathogens, along with the real causes of HIV and its relatives, has virtually escaped public notice.

Instead, an uninformed public is transfixed by AIDS - itself unexplained - and is driven to seek answers outside the natural sphere. Rightists pose the vengeful Sword of God, while disoriented leftists seek refuge in blaming allegedly escaped U.S. germ warfare agents.

But while conspiracy theories, scapegoats, and secret "cures" abound - straws grasped by those whose politics (whether left or right) can neither handle nor explain what is happening in the world - the HIV death toll mounts. And as the same time, worse - much worse - organisms teeter on the edge of an international pathogenic Hiroshima.

* * *

Strong evidence suggests that the casues of both HIV and its much more threatening cousins do indeed lie outside the realm of the normal ebb and flow of human pathogens. These super-pathogens are not like especially nasty flus. There are organisms that epidemiologists call "slate wipers" in regards to human life. They have mortality rates of up to 90% - and due to human social interdependence, 40% is considered sufficient for virtual extermination.

Take Ebola, for instance, perhaps the best-known of new, near-Andromeda Strain organisms. Here is an extremely aggressive virus that literally rots the body internally; necrotic discharges stream from every orifice, including the eyeballs and nipples. The walking dead spew putrefaction - any drop of which is sufficient to infect dozens more upon mere contact.

And like all super-virulent organisms, it acts quickly to exterminate the forces capable of opposing it: externally, the medical personnel; internally, the body's immune system.

In fact, Ebola is so virulent that a 1976 outbreak - a simultaneous emergence in 55 Zaïran villages - was probably prevented from international "slate-wiping" only by killing virtually every local - and doing it quickly. It wasn't the last-minute orders to seal the area - only one person made it out anyway - or the imminent halting of all air traffic from Zaire. Nor was it medical measures - there are none.

Radical social health measures may have helped, but they took the form of villagers isolating victims in single huts, pushing food and water to their door with long sticks, and then setting fire to the whole thing when signs of life appeared to cease inside. Meanwhile, moon-suited medical personnel rounded up every person who came in contact with the lone refugee, put them in extreme isolation, and "nuked" the spattered facility in which she perished.

* * *

All this would just be profoundly disturbing news, like discovery of a comet heading toward Earth, except for the suddenly obvious - and chilling - explanation of Ebola's and the other new viruses' virulence.

Ordinarily, diseases and their hosts co-evolve over eons, achieving a certain "healthy" (if occasionally fatal) balance. In other words, being wildly and quickly lethal is against the pathogen's interest since it eliminates the host on which it depends.

For example, if cold viruses were so virulent that they quickly choked off breathing, it would soon be over for both colds and humans. Or if mosquitoes' bites were like cobras', both the little bloodsuckers and their prey wouldn't be long for this world.

Unfortunately this exquisite balance - arrived at over a period of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of years - no longer applies if a pathogen suddenly jumps from preying on its one co-evolving host species to an entirely new one.

Pathogens that do this - jump species - are referred to as "zoonotic" organisms. Such a pathogen, suddenly introduced to a species that is utterly bereft of defenses, poses spectacular dangers.

And that explains why the new viruses are so virulent and so lethal - Ebola, Lass, Marburg, HIV et al are all zoonotic organisms. They operate outside the framework of eons of evolution against a defenseless host - us.

* * *

But what is the source of these pathogens? And why are they emerging now?

Here lies the answer that makes such sudden - and frightening - sense. Ebola, Lassa, Rift Valley, Chikungunya, Kyasanur Forest, O'nyong-nyong, Simliki, HIV (or, if the naming pattern were followed, Kinshasa) are all products of the tropical rain forest or adjoining savanna.

According to Richard Preston, author of what will be the preeminent popular work on this subject (the aforementioned The Hot Zone), "when an ecosystem suffers degradation, many species die out and a few survivor-species have a population explosion. Viruses in a damaged ecosystem come under extreme selective pressure. Viruses are adaptable: they react to change and can mutate fast, and they can jump among species of hosts. As people enter the forest and clear it, viruses come out, carried in their survivor-hosts - rodents, insects, soft ticks - and the viruses meet Homo Sapiens."

Thus "the emergence of AIDS [and its cousins] appears to be a natural consequence of the ruin of the tropical biosphere. Unknown viruses are coming out of the equatorial wildernesses of the earth . . . as a result of the destruction of tropical habitats . . . I tend to think of rats leaving the ship." (Oct. 26, '92 New Yorker, p. 62)

Indeed, according to the August 6, 1993 Science, "four years ago, at a landmark meeting on emerging viruses, it became clear that there was growing evidence that pointed to . . . changing environments as the main cause of emerging infectious diseases." This evidence "made such an impression on the field that by 1992 a panel of infectious disease experts produced a report for the Institute of Medicine stating that 'environmental changes' probably account for most emerging disease.'"

But Preston's characterization of this as "the revenge of the rain forest" - however accurate and compelling - does not go far enough. Massive environmental destruction - earlier ravages of the tropics, for instance, or the ruination of the primeval North American ecosystem - is not a recent phenomenon.

Nor does the argument that "we've created new pathways for these viruses to travel rapidly from place to place" (virologist Stephen Mores, quoted in Science, ibid.) suffice. Massive population influxes both in and out of the rain forest are not truly recent either - take the 16th and 17th century kidnappings of over 40 million Africans for slavery, for instance.

What is a more recent phenomenon is the intensification of exploitative pressure on the Third World by the neo-imperialist powers.

First World-imposed austerity, privatization, soaring prices for finished goods, and plummeting prices for raw materials have created spectacularly grim conditions of starvation, ruination, and internecine butchery in the Third World. "We are the living dead," spoke the Mayan survivors of southern Mexico as they launched their Zapatista rebellion earlier this year. Things are likewise in Africa - the only continent in which the GNP has actually fallen in the last 10 years.

This economic war (what the Zapatistas called "the death sentence") has as its immediate medical consequences the elimination of health services and the weakening of human immune systems. Victims of malnutrition, of unchecked "normal" diseases, of broken and desperate communities are inviting targets for the viral "rats" fleeing the ruins of the rain forest.

So while a healthy male's risk of HIV infection by healthy health male from unprotected intercourse with a positive female is approximately one in 10,000, it's over 1,000 times greater for a poorly nourished male with untreated syphilis.

* * *

Were this the entire explanation it would be compelling enough: the reigning world economic order, by destroying Third World living standards and ecosystems, is creating zoonotic micro-monsters that threaten us all.

But it's even more fiendishly exquisite than that. Environmental devastation and human oppression may still not be sufficient conditions for the emergence of potentially-apocalyptic zoonotic organisms. After all, the European Conquest of the Americas accomplished that without producing a single Andromeda Strain (little comfort to the nearly 90% of the Mayan population that fell victim to smallpox).

It seems that the appearance of "slate-wipers" requires a long, intricate lineup of conditions to occur, like tumblers on a complex lock. (Of course, if it didn't, there'd be no one left to read or write this article.)

Something else is going on. Enter here the work of scientists summarized by Jay Gould in the March 15, 1993 Nation: according to Drs. Andrei Sakharov and Ernest Sternglass, the most widespread - and wildly underestimated - effect of low-level radiation is significant weakening of the human immune system. In fact, "effects of the [distant] Chernobyl accident were even apparent in small but statistically significant excess mortality in the United States in May 1986."

In short, low-level radiation has "lethal effects on the immune system."

And the fact is that atmosphere radiation from bomb tests, bomb-building, and nuclear power vector into the human population almost entirely through rain.

And where is the greatest amount of this? You guessed it: the very rain forests that are birthing - surprise! - the zoonotic slate-wipers.

Yes, HIV, Ebola, Marburg et al come from that area of Africa that "registered the highest levels in the world of strontium-90 [found] in human bone."

* * *

Super-pathogens may be the agents, the but profile - nuclear weapons, nuclear power, environmental pillage, Third World oppression, austerity - gives us the face of the real killer: the existing international and social order. Capitalism has become like the classic Ebola-infected zombie, spewing deadly putrefaction and contagion.

However horrifying this true life Andromeda Strain story may be - and it needs to be taken very seriously indeed - it means both that now everything has changed . . . and yet nothing has. Humanity's chances to survive - and it might well be a slim one - lies as ever in the conscious organization, agitation and education of the majority to take matters into their own hands - to act in their own interests, which are also the interests of humanity.

Of course, how to accomplish this has been the subject of decades of debate and experience. Those concerned about the fate of humanity should be advised - after reading Preston's book - to drop their fixation with the collapse of Stalinism and rethink both Old Masters (say Marx, Lenin, Trotsky) and New (Che, Mandela, Castro).

Or choose their own. For as Preston says, "the presence of international airports puts every virus on Earth within a day's flying time . . . " And if the prospect of human extinction doesn't pose the need for revolutionary change, what does?

Steve Eckardt is a Chicago-based freelance writer best known for his coverage of Mexcico. He thanks Stacy Gordon, M.D., for her assistance in preparing this article.

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Citations:

* Preston, "Crisis In The Hot Zone," The New Yorker.

* Preston, The Hot Zone: A Terrifying True Story.

* Crichton, The Andromeda Strain.

* Gould, "Chernobyl - The Hidden Tragedy," The Nation.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:48 AM | Permalink

Is The Wonderlic Worthless?

Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is slated to be selected Thursday with one of the first 10 picks in the NFL draft.

Like all top prospects, Tagovailoa has been subjected to months of evaluation, with teams' scouting departments measuring his athletic abilities, interviewing his college coaches and researching his personal life.

He's also taken the Wonderlic Personnel Test, which, for about 50 years, teams have administered to prospects. This 12-minute intelligence test consists of 50 multiple choice questions measuring cognitive ability, with the score reflecting the number of correct answers. While all prospects take the test, the scores of quarterbacks - due to the belief that the position requires more brainpower - tend to generate the most media interest. The scores are nominally private, but every year they're leaked and publicly reported on online databases.

Tagovailoa scored a 19 out of 50. Should that be a cause for concern? A debate rages among fans, analysts, players and pundits over the test's usefulness as an evaluation tool.

But there's very little actual research on its effectiveness. So my colleague Brent Evans and I recently conducted a study examining the relationship between a quarterback's Wonderlic score and his NFL success.

The Great Debate

During World War II, the United States Navy famously used the Wonderlic test, which was developed in 1936 by psychologist Eldon F. Wonderlic, to select fighter pilots. Scores were seen as a good indicator of how pilots would perform under pressure.

Like pilots, NFL quarterbacks must routinely make quick decisions under stress. They also need to relay complex play calls, read opponents' defenses and, in response, adjust offensive formations. That's why quarterbacks are often "referred to as field generals."

For these reasons, Dallas Cowboys Hall of Fame coach Tom Landry was drawn to the Wonderlic. Widely credited with introducing the test as an evaluation tool for NFL prospects, Landry won two Super Bowls and appeared in three others in the 1970s.

During that same period the league, following Landry's lead, began administering the test at the NFL Combine, a nine-day annual event in Indianapolis that gives teams the chance to scout over 300 potential draftees.

Yet even though the test continues to be given today, many argue that a quarterback's score doesn't reveal much about his likelihood of NFL success. Even Wonderlic's daughter holds this view.

Those who believe the Wonderlic test is a poor assessment tool for NFL quarterbacks often point to players like Dan Marino, who only scored a 15 on the test but went on to become a Hall of Famer. Then there's Ryan Fitzpatrick, who scored a 48 on the test but has spent his career bouncing from team to team as a journeyman quarterback.

"We're here to tell you what a growing number of NFL executives already know - the Wonderlic is totally worthless," Joseph Stromberg wrote for Vox in 2014. In 2015, NFL analyst Mike Florio described the Wonderlic as "an outdated, irrelevant intelligence exam to which the league clings."

Nonetheless, the test has its evangelists. Clay Travis, founder and lead writer of Outkick The Coverage, maintains that Wonderlic scores matter a great deal. He points out that the New England Patriots - the NFL's most successful team of the 21st century - consistently draft players that score highly on the test. Travis also notes that many star quarterbacks, from Tom Brady to Aaron Rodgers, received excellent scores.

Digging Into The Data

So which camp is correct?

Using a statistical tool known as regression analysis, we were able to control for a large number of variables that might influence a quarterback's performance in the NFL, from his college football statistics, to whether his college coach had experience as an NFL coach, to whether he was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, the annual award given to the most outstanding player in college football. We also controlled for a player's Wonderlic score.

To quantify NFL success, we considered several measures, including - but not limited to - career passing yards, wins and games started in the NFL. Of all the variables included in our regression models, only two were significantly and consistently associated with a quarterback's NFL success: whether he was a Heisman Trophy finalist and his Wonderlic score. This is overwhelming evidence that, all else equal, quarterbacks with better Wonderlic scores enjoy more successful careers in the NFL.

Interestingly, we found that a quarterback's Wonderlic score doesn't have a significant impact on his draft position. This indicates that - despite the fact that test scores are a good predictor of NFL success and receive a fair amount of media attention - teams, by and large, don't give them a lot of weight when deciding whether to draft a quarterback.

Rather, our research indicates that teams mostly focus on variables such as a quarterback's completion percentage in college, and physical attributes such as his body mass index, height and speed.

This doesn't mean that teams should automatically draft quarterbacks with higher Wonderlic scores ahead of quarterbacks with lower ones. The "all else equal" element of the analysis is key. In other words, if two quarterbacks are extremely similar in most aspects, but one has a higher Wonderlic score, our research does suggest that the quarterback with the higher score will enjoy more success in the NFL.

This might sound obvious. But with everything else being equal, other measures you would think might forecast NFL success, such as the quarterback's college statistics and his university's reputation for producing successful NFL quarterbacks, don't have the same predictive abilities about his future NFL success.

To further cement the importance of the Wonderlic, after holding other factors constant, a quarterback's actual draft position is not significantly related to his NFL success. But his Wonderlic score is.

So teams looking for a slight edge on draft day should take their cues from Tom Landry, the Patriots and Clay Travis. A quarterback's Wonderlic score is revealing something important, and the stakes are high: Over half of all Super Bowl MVPs have been quarterbacks, and choosing correctly can set a team up for years of success. And given quarterbacks' astronomical salaries, drafting a dud in the first round is a mistake most teams can't afford to make.

Joshua D. Pitts is an associate professor of Sport Management and Economics at Kennesaw State University. This post is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:24 AM | Permalink

April 22, 2020

For Godsakes, Don't Draft For Need!

Is there anything our man Ryan Pace could learn from The Last Dance as he heads into his sixth draft as general manager of the Bears? A fascinating subplot contained in the first two episodes of the 10-part story of the Bulls' 1997-98 season looked back at the drafting of Michael Jordan in 1984.

The primary lesson to be learned in 1984 was obvious, as it had been many times before. And yet it was ignored by the Trail Blazers that year and it is being ignored again this year by so many of the folks who weigh in publicly on who should be drafted when into the NFL. Portland took Kentucky center Sam Bowie second way back then, allowing the Bulls to take Jordan third. Further study makes it clear that the pick wasn't just terrible on its face, it was worse given several factors that have come to light since then. More on that later.

The overall lesson? Take the best player available! Or trade down for more picks. But yet again this year the vast majority of pre-draft yammering and scribbling focuses on teams' specific needs and how they should fill them with the picks they currently have.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying the Bears should draft a defensive lineman with either of their first couple of picks (numbers 43 and 50). If the Bears end up needing rookie help on a defensive line that should feature veteran talent and depth in the coming campaign they will be lost no matter what else happens. But they can justify taking just about anyone else at any position other than kicker.

One good sign was that Pace tried to teach that "best player available" lesson again earlier this week in an interview with local sports media. He again pointed out that that philosophy that will drive the Bears' picks starting Friday evening. The draft begins with the first round on Thursday, of course, but the Bears' 2020 first-round pick was the final piece of the trade package that brought in Khalil Mack.

Unfortunately, Pace has virtually no credibility left because he already drafted his Sam Bowie. In fact he did it three years ago! And yet he is still employed as the Bears' ultimate decision-maker!

Trying to calm down now but it is difficult because you can make the argument that Pace's selection of Mitch Trubisky in the 2017 draft could very well end up being even worse than the Bowie pick. At least the Blazers could point to the fact that they already had a star shooting guard in Clyde Drexler. In 1984 they needed a center. And Drexler would eventually lead them to the NBA finals in 1992.

The Bears believed the best guy available at No. 2 (we're not going to talk today about the idiot trade with which the team moved up from No. 3) in 2017 was exactly what they needed - a quarterback. And it was! Unfortunately it wasn't who Ryan Pace thought it was. It is now clear after 40-plus starts that Trubisky not only isn't even an average NFL quarterback but also that the guy the Bears should have taken, Pat Mahomes, is slightly better. And another thing . . .

OK, I'm being advised that my blood pressure is reaching dangerous levels. Let's not talk about the Bears' 2017 draft anymore. Let's move on to further study of the Blazers' fateful decision 36 years ago.

I thought former Bulls general manager Rod Thorn was remarkably magnanimous when he said on The Last Dance that he was lucky the NBA draft happened before the Olympics that summer because after the Olympics he thought Jordan's incredible talent and determination could not be denied.

That was nice of Mr. Thorn to say, but it doesn't hold up to scrutiny. When USA Basketball named Bobby Knight the coach of the 1984 team, it acknowledged that Knight was one of the great basketball coaches in America at that point. He was also, as longtime Illinois coach Lou Henson dubbed him, a classic bully. But people didn't care about that sort of thing back then as long as a guy was winning.

And Knight had seen enough of Jordan during the tryouts for the Olympic team earlier that spring/summer to form an opinion. And that opinion was that Jordan "is the greatest basketball player I have ever seen."

In case that wasn't enough, Knight's friend Stu Inman was the general manager of the Trail Blazers. And Knight apparently wasn't shy about telling Inman he would be crazy to take Bowie. In fact, he said, "Make Jordan your center and he'll be the best center in the league!" To their everlasting regret, the Blazers didn't listen.

One more thing: Bowie wasn't just in a different universe in terms of potential than Jordan; he was also a guy who missed two full seasons at Kentucky due to a lower leg injury that stubbornly refused to heal for what seemed like forever. Sure enough, after a decent rookie season, Bowie's pro career would be limited by leg injuries for the rest of his time in Portland (he was traded away in 1989). And we are talking about the Trail Blazers, who had recently wrapped up their Bill Walton era. Walton led them to a championship in 1977 but his career was cruelly limited by numerous lower leg injuries. In other words, if there was one team in the league that should have been leery of drafting an injury-prone big man, it would have been the Blazers.

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Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:10 AM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

"Two months after President Donald Trump took office, U.S. Steel dumped a plume of cancer-causing metal into a Lake Michigan tributary 20 miles away from a Chicago drinking water intake," the Tribune reports.

"The company reported another spill of hexavalent chromium six months later, around the same time public interest lawyers dug up records documenting scores of other clean water violations at the northwest Indiana steel mill.

"Yet Trump appointees at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency declined to punish the company, rebuffing career staff who confirmed U.S. Steel had repeatedly, and illegally, released harmful pollution into the region's chief source of drinking water.

"It makes me want to weep," said Susan MiHalo, who has lived in nearby Ogden Dunes for more than 30 years and chairs the town's environmental advisory board. "In the back of my mind I'm always worried they are dumping pollution into the lake and nobody is going to tell us about it."

"The lack of enforcement against one of the biggest polluters on the Great Lakes marked an early example of the Trump administration's more lenient approach to policing industrial pollution.

"Well before the administration suspended a range of EPA enforcement activities during the COVID-19 pandemic, the downturn under Trump has been striking."

Go read the rest. It will make you want to weep, too.

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Suburban Coronavirus Watch

* Des Plaines Has The Highest Number Of COVID-19 Cases Among Cook County Suburbs.

" Des Plaines had 458 cases. The village of Skokie, which has its own health department and is also able to report the number of deaths, said it had 335 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 15 deaths.

"Other suburbs with high numbers include Cicero with 426 cases, Evanston with 253 and Glenview with 215."

Of course, those are raw numbers, not per capita, and we don't know how many folks have been tested in each town, so I'm not sure if there's any meaning to be derived here.

* Mayor Declares 'Must Wear Mask Order' In Des Plaines.

Park Ridge, too.

Those suburbs join at least eight others with mask requirements: Deerfield, Evanston, Wilmette, Highland Park, Northbrook, Niles, Morton Grove, Skokie, Cicero and Glenview.

* Orland Park Pushes Ahead With Concerts As Other Suburbs Cancel Plans.

"The village's Market in the Park, which features food and alcohol vendors, will launch its season June 4 at the village's Crescent Park, next to the 143rd Street Metra station. Officials also announced a series of concerts at Centennial Park West, beginning July 18 with a lineup of performers that includes Tommy James & the Shondells, Ides of March and The Buckinghams . . .

"[Mayor Keith] Pekau said at Monday's Village Board meeting it would have cost the village more than $200,000 to cancel the bands, which had already been booked, and that if Orland Park had done so it faced the prospect of being 'blackballed' by musical artists in the future."

That's obviously absurd - no band is going to blackball a municipality for cancelling shows amid a global pandemic. Even more absurd is that the Ides of March blackballing your town in the 2020s is a loss.

(Chicago just canceled Blues Fest, Jazz Fest, House Fest and Gospel Fest.)

* Evanston's Popular Farmers Market Leads The Way In Making New Rules For Open-Air Shopping.

"[Chicago farmers markets] awaiting approval for their scheduled May openings include Logan Square, Daley Plaza and Oak Park farmers markets and the Green City Market in Lincoln Park."

The city has not yet decided how to handle outdoor markets.

* The Lake County Boating Season Is Preparing To Launch Amid Coronavirus Uncertainty. Tensions Are High.

"The Fox Waterway Agency has kept the waterways open during the state's stay-at-home order. But that could change quickly if users don't abide by safe social distancing rules. The FWA and law enforcement are keeping a close eye on the waterway."

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The President's Lab Rats
Our very own David Rutter sends in this missive:

You can amaze yourself with new levels of shocked revulsion quite easily these days.

An example. When recent details emerged about testing the Prez's favorite new anti-COVID-19 drug, only three things caught my attention

First: Hydroxychloroquine doesn't work, which makes the time and anxiety of pandemic test subjects even more wasted.

Second: Rather than curing anyone, it contributed to some patients getting much worse. As in deceased. Hydroxychloroquine has perilous side effects, including making your heart stop, which is an eventuality I know something about.

Third: The test subjects were patients at VA hospitals, which means someone thought it was a good idea to try out a presidential crackpot theory cooked up by Fox News and sold to a credulous dope.

That means we as a country allowed those who served us to be sacrificed for Donald Trump's idle curiosity.

As a citizen, I wish to wash my hands even more briskly and frequently than I have been, which was a lot. Letting veterans in our care be harmed this way is a gross violation of our duty to them.

It's not even clear these clinical trials were related to Trump's enthusiasm, though the coincidence seems striking.

Why Trump was pumping the lupus/rheumatoid/malaria drug also remains unclear, though Trump often acts in moments of random inspiration from Fox personalities. Perhaps he only wanted credit for the cure as political coinage. This is not a political jab, only a reflection of known facts.

He's transactional, as we have heard for decades. Used car salesmen are transactional. Pavement princesses are transactional. We don't want the VA to be transactional.

Being given credit for stopping the pandemic is just the sort of transaction that would attract him.

On the other hand, Trump did not invent this potential horror. A quick check of history indicates the federal government has been using VA patients as lab rats ever since VA hospitals were invented after World War II. That started at Hines in Chicago.

To wit:

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ChicagoReddit

FYI: Free Food Distribution on 4/25 from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

When You Meet A Man In Chicago.

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BeachBook

As People Stay Home, The Earth Turns Wilder And Cleaner.

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Beewashing As A Branding Tool.

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TweetWood
A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport.

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The Beachwood Q-Tip Line: State of mind.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:19 AM | Permalink

April 21, 2020

Burrell Communications Group Launches New "Black is Human" Campaign To Address The Disparity Of COVID-19 Impact On The African-American Community

In response to the devastating impact that COVID-19 continues to have on the African-American community, Burrell Communications Group will release a video PSA entitled "For Jason" as part of its "Black is Human" initiative.

The PSA pays tribute to Detroit Transit Authority veteran Jason Hargrove, who died in late March from COVID-19 complications after posting an impassioned plea for public safety via Facebook. The video quickly went viral, garnering more than 805,000 views and 23,000 shares as it brought national attention to the dire need for all essential workers to be armed with personal protective equipment (PPE).

According to the McKinsey & Company report, COVID-19: Investing in Black Lives and Livelihoods, 39% of jobs held by Black workers (seven million jobs in all) are vulnerable as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, compared with 34% for White workers. The majority of Black workers, by the very nature of their jobs, are putting their lives and health on the line to provide necessary goods and services to our society.

"Black is Human" is the Burrell Communications Group community engagement platform created to uplift and empower the underserved in African-American communities. The award-winning marketing communications agency is based in Chicago and has spent nearly 49 years curating targeted creative and community relations programs for major brands like McDonald's U.S.A, Toyota Motors North America, Walmart, Comcast and more.

The "For Jason" PSA will be distributed across top-tier African-American broadcast and digital media outlets, including TV One, Black News Channel, Revolt TV, iOne, Rolling Out and Bounce TV. The campaign's goal is to raise awareness of the severity of COVID-19 within the African American community, and provide streamlined access to critical and relevant information, via the Black is Human webpage.

If interested in supporting the "For Jason" campaign, please follow and like the Black is Human Twitter and Facebook pages and share the video.

For more information on the Black is Human initiative, please visit: www.blackishuman.com.

In an additional effort to support those most severely impacted by this global pandemic, Burrell will provide grocery deliveries to long-time community partner Primo Center. Primo Center is a leader in providing family shelter, permanent supportive housing and other services to homeless families in the south and west sides of Chicago, including North Lawndale, Englewood, and Auburn-Gresham. This week, 64 households - providing shelter for 191 children in the Chicago area - will receive a generous donation of healthy foods and other supplies, courtesy of the agency.

"We are proud to support those most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and hope that other industry leaders will join us in our mission to provide much-needed resources to vulnerable communities," says Fay Ferguson, Co-CEO, Burrell Communications Group.

Burrell provides further community engagement and support through Allies of Innocence. This initiative offers no-cost grief and trauma counseling to children and families affected by gun violence and other challenges.

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See also: If I Grow Up.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:22 AM | Permalink

Dreaming Of Travel And Road Trips To Come? Rand McNally Releases A New Edition Of The Iconic Road Atlas

With the COVID-19 virus keeping most people indoors for an extended period of time, Rand McNally faithfully submits its antidote: A new edition of the classic Rand McNally Road Atlas - for imagining, planning, and ultimately navigating that dream road trip.

The atlas - available at store.randmcnally.com, various online vendors, and soon to be at bookstores and other retailers - contains updated state and province maps and enhanced content. Now in its 97th edition, the 2021 Road Atlas also includes new inset maps of the more recently named national parks.

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"Every year, the new edition of the Rand McNally Road Atlas provides guidance for families, friends, and other travelers to plan their extended road trips as well as weekend getaways," said Stephen Fletcher, CEO of Rand McNally.

"This year, as travel is limited, the atlas continues to serve as a helpful learning resource for kids at home, as well as a guide for planning future trips. And, of course, the atlas has been and always will be a fail-safe backup when you do happen to be on the road."

Each year, Rand McNally cartographers consider locations that may benefit from additional mapping and content - including road changes, new points of interest, and expanding locales. The new 2021 edition is packed with thousands of updates and upgrades, including:

* New inset maps including one of Indiana Dunes National Park, a relatively recent addition to the National Park system.

* Numerous National Monuments added to the state maps including Mill Springs Battlefield in Kentucky, St. Francis Dam in California, and the Jurassic National Monument in Utah.

* New points of interest such as the under-construction Allegiant Stadium, the new home of the Las Vegas Raiders football team.

In addition, the atlas features new overviews of six of Rand McNally's favorite U.S. National Parks. The National Parks section, with essential visitor information and travel tips, details:

* Redwood National Park in California

* Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee and North Carolina

* Arches National Park in Utah

* Olympic National Park in Washington

* Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado

* Indiana Dunes National Park in Indiana

Beyond the classic 11 x 15 ½" Road Atlas, Rand McNally also offers a variety of atlases for travelers and planners, including a version with large scale maps for easier readability, as well as several atlases in smaller trim sizes for packing into tighter spaces.

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Previously: Rand McNally Releases Updated Motor Carriers' Road Atlas Line.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:57 AM | Permalink

Plea To Pritzker: Act On Nursing Facility Deaths

Disability rights advocates from ADAPT and their allies in the Alliance for Community Services are launching an effort to get Governor Pritzker to reduce the dangerous overconcentration of people in institutions, while addressing safety risks faced by consumers and workers.

"The governor has taken some important positive steps in this crisis, but people with disabilities, especially those stuck in unacceptably dangerous institutions, again, seem to be last to be taken into consideration," said Chicago ADAPT Co-Coordinator Noah Ohashi. "Long-term care institutions, like detention centers and prisons, are COVID petri dishes, and the state should accelerate de-institutionalization, while ensuring people with disabilities (PWDs) - in both institutions and on their own, as well as frontline caregivers, have safe, decent environments."

Despite the obvious hazard facing nursing facility residents and staff, and the benefit to decentralizing PWDs, court-ordered programs to transition PWDs to independent living have been put on hold, rather than sped up, and ombudsmen are barred from inspecting facilities.

About a quarter of all Cook County COVID deaths were persons in long-term care facilities. People with disabilities (PWDs) report that many facilities don't have personal Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and have poor safety protocols for both residents and staff. In addition, PWDs living on their own face fewer immediate health hazards but also lack PPE and access to information and support personnel.

Among the campaign's demands:

* accelerate the de-institutionalization process (use vacant CHA or hotel rooms if needed)

* acquire and proved PPE to facility residents, caregivers and PWDs involved in home services programs

* provide communications technology to PWDs

* require facilities to report on cases and deaths, to residents, next of kin and IDPH

* declare ombudsmen and monitors to be essential personnel, provide them the PPE needed to safety inspect any facility

* ensure access to or delivery of food and medicine (Denver's paratransit is acting as delivery program for PWDs), and enable remote use of SNAP (some PWDs have value on link cards, but cannot get to a store)

More of the disability community demands around COVID can be found here.

Chicago ADAPT is a chapter of the national network of direct action disability rights groups. It is a core partner, with community, labor and disability rights groups, in the Alliance for Community Services.

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See also:

The two biggest failures in Illinois - and probably the nation and the world.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:00 AM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

A busy day offline, so "just" this stuff.

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New on the Beachwood . . .

Plea To Pritzker: Act On Nursing Facility Deaths
About a quarter of all Cook County COVID deaths were persons in long-term care facilities.

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For Jason
Paying tribute to Detroit Transit Authority veteran Jason Hargrove, who died in late March from COVID-19 complications after posting an impassioned plea for public safety via Facebook. Part of a larger "Black is Human" campaign responding to the devastating impact that COVID-19 is having on African-American communities.

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The John Oliver Coronavirus Chronicles Continued
The only coronavirus newscast you need. Two new installments!

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The New Rand McNally Road Atlas Is Out
Now in its 97th edition, the 2021 Road Atlas also includes new inset maps of the more recently named national parks, such as the Indiana Dunes.

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ChicagoReddit

Apartment hunting during a pandemic, any advice? from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Chicago's Battered Beaches.

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BeachBook

The NCAA Saved Money In Case Of A Canceled March Madness. Then They Spent It.

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Major League Baseball Players Pitch In For A Major COVID-19 Study.

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TweetWood
A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport.

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The Beachwood Q-Tip Line: Not my fun day.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:38 AM | Permalink

April 20, 2020

The John Oliver Coronavirus Chronicles Continued

The only coronavirus newscast you really need.

See Parts I through III here.

1. Coronavirus IV (April 13).

The unemployed, the essential and Larry Kudlow's closet.


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2. Coronavirus V (April 20).

Don't microwave your mail or buy other people's breast milk, people.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:35 PM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

I Zoomed with a bunch of college friends last night - it was the second time for the core of us - and it was so much fun. I highly recommend it. And if you can, use a laptop or desktop instead of a phone, because apparently on a phone you can't see the whole gallery of folks on the call, and that's half the fun. (And yes, I know Zoom has security issues. Still.)

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PPP Tape
"Small business owners across Chicago have been shut out of the Small Business Administration's Paycheck Protection Program, commonly referred to as the PPP loan," Block Club Chicago reports.

And not just Chicago - all across America!

"The program was launched as part of the $2 trillion federal stimulus package to help small businesses survive the coronavirus crisis. The loans are forgivable if used for payroll and other agreed-upon costs."

A new round of funding is likely to pass through Congress this week, but in the meantime small business folks are needlessly suffering.

"When the program was announced, an arms race erupted between the haves and have nots. Those who had access to resources - accountants, attorneys, reliable and trustworthy lenders - were able to get their applications filed early. Small business owners without those resources were left scrambling, trying to navigate the process with limited knowledge and means.

"Bigger companies 'used up the funding, leaving little left for those without the resources to apply immediately,'" a local accountant told BCC.

To wit:

"Ruth's Chris Steak House has long been known for its beefy portions, including a 22- ounce rib-eye. But lately, the upscale chain is getting more attention for the size of the loan it got through the government's small business aid program," the Wall Street Journal reports.

"Even though loans are generally capped at $10 million, Ruth's Hospitality Group Inc. was able to qualify for $20 million under a provision that allowed it to seek loans for each of two subsidiaries."

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"At least two other restaurant chains took advantage of that provision, public filings and interviews show. Brazilian steakhouse chain Fogo de Chão Inc. also got $20 million, and casual-dining company J. Alexander's Holdings Inc. received $15.1 million."

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Also: Shake Shack, which we can now call Shamed Shack.

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And Chicago's own Potbelly.

"Sandwich chain Potbelly Corp., which had sales last year of $410 million and employed 6,000 people, also received $10 million," Bloomberg reports.

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Here's Potbelly CEO Alan Johnson. He's the one on the right.

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EPeeA
"Chicago's Southeast Environmental Task Force and Clean Power Lake County are among the plaintiffs that have joined the National Resource Defense Council in a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's rollback of reporting and monitoring requirements during the coronavirus pandemic," WTTW-TV reports.

On March 26, citing the COVID-19 outbreak, the EPA issued a memo that relaxed enforcement of "environmental legal obligations" related to monitoring, integrity testing, sampling, laboratory analysis, training, and reporting or certification, retroactive to March 13.

"The agency stated in the memo it would not seek penalties for violations in situations in which COVID-19 is determined to have been the cause of the noncompliance.

"Environmental organizations at both the national and local level denounced the action, which permits a company to document its noncompliance and the reason for it 'internally' and inform EPA about it later. NRDC has dubbed the memo a 'free pass for polluters.'"

Relaxing pollution regulations during a pandemic of a deadly respiratory illness is like, I dunno, cutting off funding to WHO during a pandemic.

Wait, that happened?

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Trump has often claimed to be an environmentalist, at least once citing as proof that as a developer he had filed many environmental impact statements.

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You could hardly do a better job of destroying America than Trump is doing if you actually tried. It really makes you wonder if he's not the world's greatest enemy infiltrator.

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New on the Beachwood . . .

The Universe Is Meaningless
Sorry, folks, it's physics all the way down.

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ChicagoReddit

With no pollution the Chicago skyline is crystal clear, even in a phone shot, across Lake Michigan from New Buffalo, Michigan. from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Chicago Metallic 9" x 13" Slice Solutions Brownie Pan on QVC.

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BeachBook

A Beloved Bar Owner Was Skeptical About The Virus. Then He Took A Cruise.

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How Tobacco Companies Led A Devastating 50-Year Infiltration Into Black Communities.

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Are Basketball Superstars More Loyal To Their Sneaker Companies Than Their Teams, And This Is Really A Statement Not A Question.

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Why Has It Always Been So Hard To Fight The Common Cold?

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Competitive Marble Racing Finds Fans In A World Missing Sports.

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TweetWood
A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport.

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Meanwhile . . .

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The Beachwood Q-Tip Line: Ahoy.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:24 AM | Permalink

April 18, 2020

A Physicist's Grand Tour Of The Universe

If you've been reading popular physics books for a while, then you know the name Brian Greene. The Columbia University professor is known for a series of popular science books, beginning with 1999's The Elegant Universe, that have brought string theory, the nature of space and time, and the question of parallel universes to a wide audience. With his new book, he casts a much wider net, seemingly positioning himself in the territory claimed by the likes of Steven Pinker and Yuval Noah Harari.

With Until the End of Time, Greene is asking Pinker and Harari to hold his beer. The book covers a stunning array of human thought: There's still plenty of physics, but we find that Greene also has a great deal to say about evolution; the origins of human culture; the dawn of art and music and storytelling and religion; the puzzle of consciousness; the paradox of free will. It's an ambitious undertaking, to say the least.

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It is perfectly reasonable to wonder if Greene - or any author - is to be trusted with such a multi-disciplinary project. Take biology, for example. Why do we need a physicist to tell us about the workings of living organisms? Because underneath the biology there is physics. And yet the laws of nature appear to pull on these two worlds in opposite directions.

Physicists tell us that, according to the second law of thermodynamics, entropy - roughly, the amount of disorder in a system - must increase over time. But evolution, which shapes the living world, appears to add to the order and complexity found in nature. Let evolution loose on some organic compounds in a "warm little pond" (to use Darwin's phrase), wait a few billion years, and before you know it, the autotrophs begin to drool.

And yet biology is beholden to physics. How, then, is a rabbit different from a rock? "Life does not and cannot contravene physical law," Greene assures us. "Nothing can." The trick is information. The DNA in the rabbit's cells encodes instructions that tell those cells, and the molecules within, what to do. It guides them, as a waterslide guides a child's descent into the pool - though cells and molecules are utterly oblivious to this guidance. "Life," Greene writes, "is physics orchestrated."

We, of course, are just as oblivious to this orchestration as the rabbit is (or the cell or the molecule, for that matter). Which means that in our daily lives we tell a different story, a "higher-level story" centered on humans and their interactions, without worrying about our component parts.

This idea - that nature offers hierarchical "levels" of description - is hardly new. Arthur Eddington wrote about it in his 1927 book The Nature of the Physical World; Sean Carroll (perhaps Greene's closest competitor in the world of let's-tackle-everything physics writing) explored it in some detail in The Big Picture and Something Deeply Hidden. But where Carroll emphasizes the distinction between the everyday view of reality and the physicist's view (he says there's a "yawning chasm between what we see and what really is"), Greene does not privilege one "story" over the other. We are particles; we are people.

universe-1480x833.jpgNASA

Indeed, there is "little to be gained by physicists clamoring that theirs is the most fundamental explanatory framework or from humanists scoffing at the hubris of unbridled reductionism," Greene writes. Different "levels" require different kinds of explanations, and, with effort, these stories can be woven together "into a finely textured narrative."

Mind you, this leads to the sorts of puzzles that have stymied philosophers for thousands of years. Topping the list is the fact that we don't feel like a bundle of particles blindly conforming to the laws of physics. We seem to be conscious; we seem to have free will. Greene acknowledges that this is "a critical gap in the scientific narrative." We do not have "a conclusive account of how consciousness manifests a private world of sights and sounds and sensations."

Some have suggested that it will take a revolution in thought (perhaps including a profound rethinking of physics) to crack the problem of the mind - but Greene's hunch is that conventional science will do the trick, and that "we will one day explain consciousness with nothing more than a conventional understanding of the particles constituting matter and the physical laws that govern them."

And what of free will? Greene, like Carroll, embraces what philosophers call "compatibilism." This is the notion that you can still make what feel like free choices even though the atoms that make up your brain (and everything else in the universe) are simply responding to the laws of physics. Does that mean that free will is ultimately an illusion? It depends how you look at it. As Greene puts it: "Our choices seem free because we do not witness nature's laws acting in their most fundamental guise; our senses do not reveal the operation of nature's laws in the world of particles."

Greene sees this in a positive light. We don't have the sort of freedom that would override the laws of physics (he is confident that there can be no such thing), but we still have freedom "to exhibit behaviors - leaping, thinking, imagining, observing, deliberating, explaining, and so on - that are not available to most other collections of particles."

Some readers may find this a satisfactory account of free will, but it is the one place where I felt shortchanged, as though I had ordered Shepherd's Pie and was served only the mashed potato. Granted, we have this wide range of behaviors; we can perform actions that no rock will ever be able to muster. Cool. The only catch is that we don't get to choose from this palette of possible actions; in some sense, they just happen, and we are merely along for the ride. (Can we still be held accountable for our actions? I once asked another physicist about this: What would happen if, standing accused in a court of law, one defended oneself by saying, "Sorry; my atoms made me do it." His reply: "No problem. We'll put your atoms in jail.")

There is more. Greene presents the history of the universe, from the Big Bang to the present day, followed by a survey of the various ways in which the universe's long-term future might play out. The most likely scenario, for better or for worse, is the cold, lifeless void that physicists refer to as the "heat death" of the universe. It is, in a nutshell, the second law of thermodynamics' ultimate end-game. (Greene examines the question of whether "thought" could somehow survive this descent into maximum entropy. Spoiler: probably not.)

Meanwhile, we have our stories. We evolved language, and immediately began spinning tales; we became a species enamored with myths and legends. But why do stories hold such power over us? Because they help us survive: "Minds that acquired this power were minds capable of seeing old problems in a new way. They are minds that would innovate. They are minds that, in time, would control and reshape the world."

It is in this realm - where he examines language and culture - that Greene is most firmly planted in territory carved out by Pinker. But Greene has one advantage: He has an extraordinarily deep understanding of the layers that lie beneath. And so we learn about "simple" things like stellar evolution, and also controversial ideas like the multiverse and Boltzmann brains, which he handles with a judicious amount of skepticism.

Greene's biggest challenge - and ours - is to find meaning in a universe governed by unthinking and uncaring physical law. Steven Weinberg put it bluntly in his 1977 book The First Three Minutes: "The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless." Certainly the human experiment is temporary; one of Greene's overarching themes is transience and the search for the timeless. We inhabit "a breathtaking if transient present," Greene writes. By striving to understand the larger cosmos we gain perspective; it shows us "how singular and fleeting the here and now actually is."

Not everyone will welcome the message, but Greene makes it crystal clear: It's physics all the way down. "Particles and fields. Physical laws and initial conditions. To the depth of reality we have so far plumbed, there is no evidence for anything else." And yet we yearn for more. Which means we have to construct our own meaning as best we can. "During our brief moment in the sun, we are tasked with the noble charge of finding our own meaning."

Books that try to cover so much ground can easily falter. Harari, for example, can seem a little too eager to provoke; some writers seem to be overly keen on fitting the available facts to some preferred, overarching theory. Greene, happily, does not fall into either of these traps. He is not selling you anything, he is merely relaying a story. But it is the grandest story one can imagine, told by a master storyteller. And look, you're not going anywhere for a while. Buy this book, and buy Carroll's The Big Picture, and hunker down.

This post was originally published on Undark.

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Previously by Dan Falk: Three New Books On Consciousness To Blow Your Mind.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:08 AM | Permalink

April 17, 2020

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #300: Here's Why Sports Is Not Coming Back This Year

Players aren't going to wear masks and only fans in Red America are stupid enough to attend games anyway. Plus: Michael Jordan Was Singularly Awesome And Also Was (And Remains) A Terrible Person - Just Like Jerry Krause (Though Krause Is Dead Now So He's Only A 'Was' Not A 'Remains'); Time For Wrigleyville To Panic Over Cubs' Bad Start?; The Great Karnak's New Bulls; Our Hapless Athletic Careers; Bears To Sit Out First, Third And Fourth Rounds Of Draft, and more!


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SHOW NOTES

* 300.

* Coffman: "Three-hondo!"

:45: Q Life.

* Not exactly quarantined, but definitely staying at home.

2:54: Coach Coffman's Hapless Athletic Career.

* Too short, too slow.

* Three hits in three years.

* Elbow screw.

* The butterfly.

16:38: Steve's Shining Moment.

* Game-winning goal of co-ed rec league championship with about 15 seconds left on the clock. With a quite deft maneuver!

* Another thrill: Jumping over the boards at the old Williams Arena for my first shift of men's intramural ice hockey at the University of Minnesota - the same place where the actual Gophers played.

* Story not told: One game I took a slap shot straight to the forehead of my helmet that was struck with such force - combined with what little balance I had on skates - that it knocked me over. Everybody stopped play and started to skate over to see if I was alright but, lying flat on my back, I yelled, "Play on!" I was fine, just bad at ice hockey.

22:30: Sports Is Not Coming Back This Year.

* Rutter: "Sports franchise owners and operators - from pros to colleges - particularly pose as if resumption is almost assured, but without any evidence that 'back to normal' has any meaning.

"Those gripped by the psychotic break of hallucinogenic spasms even put dates on the return. Safer to aim for Easter. Next Easter, that is.

"As for Major League Baseball, Opening Day and the Fall Classic can both occur on the same weekend. How about Halloween?"

26:52: A World Without Sports.

* "The current sports stoppage is unprecedented. It touches every level of every game, in every country in the world, from the Olympics down to pick-up basketball."

* The Spanish Flu may have originated in Kansas; almost definitely in North America.

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Baseball players donned masks during the 1918 flu pandemic/George Rinhart, Corbis via Getty Images:

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30:54: TrackNotes: Racing In A Time Of Coronavirus.

* Chambers: "Oaklawn, as pleasurable a track a patron can find, perseveres."

32:17: Rez Golf Amid The Pandemic.

"Rez golf is embedding itself in the Navajo sports culture, one course at a time. There are at least three rez golf courses on the nation's 27,425 square miles spanning swaths of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. The gritty courses, set amid red and gray sands and wind-sculpted cliffs, share the landscape with livestock, coyotes and rabbits. They hold special meaning to many Navajo golfers because they wind through clumps of sagebrush, a plant thought to have physical and spiritual healing power."

* Minnesota Gov. Walz Will Allow Golf Courses To Open, Other Outdoor Activities To Start Saturday.

"Bait shops, shooting ranges, park trails and marina services are also permitted to open or reopen."

* Open Iowa Golf Courses Shut Down To Non-Residents.

* Coach is right: Missouri has a stay-at-home order.

38:26: Michael Jordan Was Singularly Awesome And Also Was (And Remains) A Terrible Person - Just Like Jerry Kraus.

* Golliver, Washington Post: "Practice was over, and Michael Jordan swaggered over to the sideline with a camera crew in tow.

"Chicago Bulls General Manager Jerry Krause was standing near a Gatorade cooler with medicine in hand as players and coaches milled around nearby. Jordan, handsome and cool in a Nike sweatsuit, peered down at the hefty Krause, who was wearing a blue sweater tucked into high-rise pants.

"'Are those the pills you take to keep you short?' Jordan loudly asked, rendering Krause speechless with the withering insult. 'Or are those diet pills?' Jordan walked off, chuckling at his own cruelty. The many bystanders stood in stunned silence, not laughing."

* Parkins: 'Don't we already know Jordan is a terrible person?'

* Coffman: "It's grim."

* Ofman: Jerry Krause Was Right.

* Rhodes: "Jerry Krause was a way better basketball executive than Michael Jordan."

He may have even been better than Theo Epstein.

As objectionable a person Krause was at times, too. Krause and Jordan were both objectionable people - who were both excellent at their jobs.

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* The Last Dance Preview:

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51:20: The Great Karnak.

* Thibs trending. (It was the Knicks, not the Nets.)

* Singer, Denver Post: How The Nuggets Paved Arturas Karnisovas' Path To The Chicago Bulls.

"'I like multi-positional players; I like guys with high basketball IQ that play off each other.'

"Karnisovas elaborated on the culture he had helped build in Denver, how he would fill out a front office that was notoriously thin and his vision for an expanded player development program. The latter point was vital because although the Bulls had drafted well in recent years, their player development, particularly involving former lottery pick Lauri Markkanen, wasn't up to NBA standards.

"'It's an iconic NBA team, and to modernize that situation would be an honor for me.'"

58:59: Sherrick McManis Returns On One-Year Deal.

1:00:09: Kris Versteeg Has Retired.

1:01:59: Drugs And Stunts Cited In Plane Crash That Killed Roy Halladay.

* Clarification: He crashed into the Gulf of Mexico off Clearwater, not in Tampa Bay.

1:06:24: Fantasy Baseball.

* Time For Wrigleyville To Panic Over Cubs' Bad Start?

* Is Kris Bryant Still Batting Leadoff?

* Fire David Ross?

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STOPPAGE: 15:31

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For archives and other shows, see The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:48 PM | Permalink

The Thorne Miniature Rooms

"The 68 Thorne Miniature Rooms enable one to glimpse elements of European interiors from the late-13th century to the 1930s and American furnishings from the 17th century to the 1930s. Painstakingly constructed on a scale of one inch to one foot, these fascinating models were conceived by Mrs. James Ward Thorne of Chicago and constructed between 1932 and 1940 by master craftsmen according to her specifications."

Take a peek!

1. French Salon.


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2. Japanese Interior.

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3. Pennsylvania Kitchen.

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From Wikipedia:

"Narcissa Niblack Thorne (May 2, 1882 - June 25, 1966) was an American artist known for her extremely detailed miniature rooms. Her works depict historical interiors from Europe, Asia and North America from the late 13th to the early 20th century. The Thorne rooms are honored with dedicated exhibits in the Phoenix Art Museum, the Knoxville Museum of Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago, where a special wing was built to house them.

"Thorne was born in Vincennes, Indiana, in 1882; her parents moved to Chicago when she was a child. She was educated partially at home and partially in public school, finishing at the Kenwood Institute. She married James Ward Thorne, an heir to the Montgomery Ward department store fortune, on May 29, 1901; they had been childhood sweethearts. They had two sons, named Ward and Niblack."

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From The New York Times Magazine:

"The Thornes' apartment on Chicago's North Lake Shore Drive was said to be overrun with miniatures.

"Mrs. Thorne compulsively collected over the years old royal dollhouse relics, a number of them purchased from her favorite Parisian antiques shop, a place she refused all her life to identify.

"By designing her own rooms, she now had a way to permanently house those remnants and bestow them to posterity.

"Beginning in 1930, she scoured whatever reference material she could find on period architecture, interior design and decorative arts to flesh out the sketches and blueprints for the different quarters in which such pieces would have once resided.

"She then seized upon the ready availability during the Depression of some of the country's finest architects and interior designers.

"By 1940, Thorne and her team of skilled craftsmen made over 100 pint-size 'period rooms.' They constitute a beguilingly timeless bit of child's play: a series of lushly lived-in pasts, chambers haunted by distant presences you feel certain have just left the premises - or are poised to enter at any moment from a flower-strewed side garden, a rear entrance foyer or the top of a lovely front-hallway staircase."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:39 AM | Permalink

Only Science Will Bring Back Sports

Every story about the pandemic starts with some preamble of "I don't mean to freak you out, but holy, Jumping Jehoshaphat!"

And then the story reveals facts that only an idiot would not transmute into panic.

So I'll uphold our rules about pandemic panic alerts. Yes, be scared bleepless. It's the safer approach.

If they exist, even sober sports fans are edgy, and how much reality can Chicago fans endure before unraveling emotionally?

As an illustration, the pathetically yearning fans of the Chicago Bears, who have barely survived their non-viral version of a pandemic with Mitch Trubisky's quarterbacking, knew this would be the year of redemption and resurrection. Isn't it always? Mitch sits in the corner wearing a Dunce cap, and Nick Foles ascends the quarterback throne and guides Da Bears to 10 victories, two of which will be wins over Green Bay.

This seems logical because Packers' QB Aaron Rodgers turns 83 this year, and might be less effective scrambling and tormenting the Bears than he has been. He now takes direct snaps in a wheelchair.

But I must tell emotionally fragile Bears fan that, and as the lord is my defense lawyer, I don't want to scare you all to death . . . but . . .

There is almost no chance of anything that looks like an NFL season in 2020. The Bears will not beat Rodgers at least until he's 85.

It's the pandemic, of course.

For those keeping track of competing memes, there's the happy-as-porkers-in-mud view that we'll be good to resume our regular lives any day. Let the games begin again. We must reopen because we want to reopen. Who has the nerve to disappoint America's sporting public?

Sports franchise owners and operators - from pros to colleges - particularly pose as if resumption is almost assured, but without any evidence that "back to normal" has any meaning.

Those gripped by the psychotic break of hallucinogenic spasms even put dates on the return. Safer to aim for Easter. Next Easter, that is.

As for Major League Baseball, Opening Day and the Fall Classic can both occur on the same weekend. How about Halloween?

Fans remain hopeful, because hope is a manufactured moonbeam, and fans above all are a hopeful species. There's a high degree of lunar wackiness on display now though we skeptics hope to be wrong. We all own different kinds of hope.

In the other lane of the meme superhighway are the people who know stuff. They have verifiable information, facts, data, medical experience, scientific experiments, disaster management aptitudes, computer projections. These are the people who cured polio and smallpox.

These scientists and senior doctors never are too hopeful about this pandemic unless President Trump is in the room with them, and then they must be irrationally optimistic, because it's a federal law.

With very few exceptions, none of the people gripping facts seem to be speaking for the U.S. government. Two words on that observation: Jared and Kushner.

No baseball or football season, you say? But, but I heard . . .

Never mind that. Panic is more useful.

The Bears season, as well as everyone else's season nudging up to spring 2021, might depend on two related events. Neither of them has occurred, and little suggests their arrival as scientific saviors will be early.

The first necessity is the basic, massive testing of "how many of us are sick; how many of us are infected but show no signs; where is the pandemic going to strike next?"

The tests. We must have the tests.

Will we? Scientists hardly ever amplify answers to such questions with an unadorned "dunno," but that's the essential state of affairs now.

We barely know what we don't know.

This fact-drought means thousands will die because of ignorance. At the irrelevant end of the pool, no team should be designing World Series tickets next month just in case.

All those questions can be answered with specific viral ID tests which, if you've ever taken the SAT, you'll know we're not a country that designs tests very well. This explains the Electoral College.

Iceland and South Korea have figured out the test conundrum, but we play Lower Slobovia in this performance. On tests, the D.C. mob has chosen to go the "no, you do it" cheap way, which is a deadly path.

By one forecast, America may need 35 million Covid-19 tests per day - that's every day for those who weren't listening - before people, including the Bears, Cubs, White Sox, Bulls and Blackhawks can return to work safely.

Right now, however, the U.S. struggles to test even 100,000 people per day. We tested fewer last week than the week before.

And not just one test per person. You must test millions repeatedly, preferably before they die. Being dead is the only way you can guarantee you'll be tested now.

Even if we could launch this full-court press on tests starting today, count on it taking seven months.

The issue of how we're moving ahead with testing seems to bring out the Three Stooges Effect in Washington. Not one of the moonbeamily hopeful, you-can-count us promises has come true.

But only a vaccine for "severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)" will bring fans back for sure. Or perhaps a set of intermediary antiviral drugs will stem the symptoms. After all, we don't really care about cures. We only care about not feeling ill. We don't cure alcoholics; we just demand the imbiber stops drinking.

But conquering the virus is not a matter of our will or preference. We can't beat this mutating microbe because we choose to have a brighter 12-step program. It won't be bullied or bluffed just because we can't visit Wrigley Field.

Only science will bring back sports.

If science fails, maybe ice fishing and the biathlon (ski, shoot, ski, shoot, ski) will become the new national sports. They are one-person-at-a-time experiences that don't need spectators and, in fact, people hanging around the events cause a problem.

Every poll suggests that fans will not go to games staged, even of their beloved teams, without a COVID-19 vaccine in their veins. Who wants to catch a deadly disease just to see the White Sox blow a 9th-inning lead?

The athletes face a considerably higher risk because they sweat, spit, snort, sneeze, bleed and exchange other incidental bodily fluids. They breathe into each other's faces. All that bodily secretion makes athletes the perfect breeding petri dish for the contagion.

Even two occasional but unrelated duffers sitting in the same golf cart are risking death. Is playing a round of 103-stroke golf worth it?

As for football, you can't germ-check an entire NFL team's roster at every quarter timeout just to see if they've been exposed. Games would last 72 hours.

No one would sit with 60,000 other sneezing, coughing, boozed-up, potentially virus-ridden Bears patrons in Soldier Field, even if they get rid of Mitch Trubisky. You can't sanitize an NFL stadium and test 60,000 fans on the same day.

Also, fans can't leave the premises. It's locked down.

Imagine being quarantined at Soldier Field for 72 consecutive hours in January. On hour 73, you get to watch the Bengals. How is that a good trade?

Would the Yankees risk $300 million in talent on the theory that probably no one will get the virus? Players have unions to protect them from such insanity, and no team could rationally coerce players to perform if they felt at risk.

Liability lawyers would go berserk over risk management, and they're not completely stable anyway.

The other necessity is a vaccine that is safe enough and effective enough to make even anti-vax celebs Jim Carrey and Jenny McCarthy shut up.

There are 30 companies and six nations dashing to win the race for a vaccine. What works? As scientists now say: dunno.

Of course we can count on the wisdom, maturity and restraint of the federal government for guidance and protection, right? Nobody in their right minds risks millions of lives for entertainment, games or season tickets, would they?

Dunno.

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Recently from David Rutter:

* Kris Bryant's Future Bar Trick.

* Mansplaining To A Millionaire.

* Status Check: Chicago Sports.

* The Week In WTF Redux: Blago Is Back Edition.

* What Is A Chicagoan Anyway?

* Glenn Beck's Turn In The Volcano.

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David Rutter is the former publisher/editor of the Lake County News-Sun, and more importantly, the former author of the Beachwood's late, great "The Week In WTF" column. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:35 AM | Permalink

Millions Of Essential Workers Are Being Left Out Of COVID-19 Workplace Safety Protections, Thanks To OSHA

As news emerged that the novel coronavirus was infecting hundreds of workers in meatpacking plants, Gregoria Rivas began worrying that her chicken-processing facility in North Carolina wasn't doing enough to protect workers like her from the virus.

There was no social distancing, she said. Everywhere she went at the Case Farms plant, there were dozens of workers crowded into a small space. In the locker room, where everyone put on their uniforms. On the cutting line, where she spent eight hours slicing chicken breasts. In the cafeteria during lunch. Even at break time, when workers lined up to use the bathroom.

"I tried to bring my own face mask that I had bought at the pharmacy, but they wouldn't let me wear it," said Rivas, 31. "When they wouldn't let me wear my own mask, I went to the nurse's station at the plant, and they said there were no masks available."

(Mike Popowycz, vice chairman of Case Farms, said it's taking the pandemic "very seriously" and has taken several measures to protect workers.)

So Rivas said she called the state's Department of Labor with the help of a local worker's center.

Rivas is far from alone. Nearly 4,000 workers from across the country have gone to the federal agency that polices worker health and safety with concerns that their employers haven't done enough to protect them from the coronavirus as of April 3, according to records obtained in a Freedom of Information Act request from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Some 27% of the complaints to OSHA came from the health care industry, from workers on the front lines of providing COVID-19 care. Another 72% came from other types of employees, with large quantities from manufacturing and retail workers, with the remainder listed as unknown.

Even as OSHA has been inundated with COVID-19-related complaints, the agency has issued a series of guidelines that roll back safety standards and virtually eliminate non-health care workers from government protection.

That poses a serious risk to millions of essential workers, many of whom live paycheck-to-paycheck, safety advocates say. Dozens of workers, including meat cutters, supermarket greeters, airport screeners and bus drivers have died as the disease has spread.

And it raises significant questions as President Donald Trump and several governors lay out plans to reopen the economy.

"Workers are getting sick and dying, and the government agency that they have turned to for 40 years to protect them from everything from chemicals in the workplace to unguarded machines to the H1N1 pandemic has said, 'Sorry, you're on your own,'" said Debbie Berkowitz, a former top OSHA policy adviser now at the worker-oriented National Employment Law Project.

A spokesperson for the Department of Labor, OSHA's parent agency, said in a statement: "Since the emergence of COVID-19, OSHA is taking swift and decisive action to protect workers in high-risk industries." The statement continued: "OSHA has a number of tools it can use to protect workers from workplace hazards caused by COVID-19 . . . However, OSHA is providing enforcement discretion to help employers comply with OSHA requirements during the challenging times the pandemic has created and to help ensure that PPE [personal protective equipment] is available in workplaces - including healthcare facilities - where it is needed most."

The government has received a raft of complaints from non-medical workers in an array of non-medical industries.

More than a dozen employees at an Intel computer chip fabrication plant in Oregon filed reports with the state worker protection agency saying they weren't able to maintain a 6-foot distance from their co-workers.

"You have to be literally 2 inches from someone's face or body," said Brent Macias, one of the employees who filed a complaint and developed coronavirus symptoms.

A spokesperson for Intel said the company is taking steps to implement social distancing at its manufacturing sites, such as staggering shift changes and limiting activities that require close proximity.

In Florida, 35 fast food workers at the Orlando airport filed a complaint with the federal OSHA claiming that their employer, HMSHost, sometimes failed to offer hot water to wash their hands and provided them with little protective gear.

"They were not helping us," said Maria Gonzalez, a cashier who made $11.21 an hour before being furloughed in late March. "They were not doing anything - no training, no gloves, no masks, no hand sanitizer - pretty much nothing to protect us."

At least one HMSHost employee at the airport has tested positive for COVID-19, according to a union organizer who spoke with the ill worker.

(Spokesperson Sheila Bliss said HMSHost has implemented protective and safety measures that go beyond recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Our associates and travelers remain our greatest concern and we will take all recommended measures to protect them," she said.)

Over the past two weeks, OSHA and the CDC have issued a series of guidelines and directives that have weakened protections for front-line workers outside the medical field.

For example, the CDC released guidance on April 8 that critical workers who'd been exposed to the coronavirus could return to work as long as they don't have any symptoms and wear a mask. The guidance came despite comments just three days earlier from the government's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, that 25% to 50% of the people with the virus may be asymptomatic. (Everyone else who has been exposed is advised to self-quarantine for 14 days.)

This was followed by directives from OSHA. Last Friday, the agency announced that it would not require employers outside health care, emergency response or corrections to investigate whether COVID-19 cases among employees are work-related unless multiple people in the same vicinity get sick.

Then on Monday, OSHA issued an enforcement directive detailing its approach to handling COVID-19 complaints. Medical workers, who have been heavily affected by the virus, have been prioritized. At least 88 U.S. health care workers have died from COVID-19, according to an unofficial list kept by the website Medscape.

But OSHA said it would not formally handle any complaints about the coronavirus from other essential workers. Instead, the agency will send a letter to the employer, which then has five business days to notify the agency about how it has addressed the complaint. The memo notes that these complaints "will not normally result in an on-site inspection." The agency said it would "consider" an inspection if it believes the response is inadequate.

"It totally excludes everybody but health care," said David Michaels, former OSHA director in the Obama administration. "Everyone else is told that there is nothing that OSHA could do."

But Ed Foulke, who oversaw OSHA from 2006 to 2008, said the agency is correct to establish priorities when there are limited resources and inspectors are working from home.

"This is an unprecedented event and the reasonable approach is to say, 'Where is the greatest need?'" he said. "OSHA clearly cares" about non-medical workers, Foulke said. "An inspector can't be sent out for every complaint. You can't do it. You have to be realistic."

Still, the Trump administration's approach differs from how other infectious diseases have been handled in the past, from the hepatitis B outbreak in hospitals and the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s to H1N1 and the Ebola virus in more recent years, according to longtime industry professionals.

In each of those cases, OSHA issued more forceful enforcement guidance and carried a stronger public presence. Now, the agency isn't even on the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

For example, during the H1N1 flu pandemic in 2009, OSHA took additional steps to safeguard worker health, including issuing a directive that required employers to abide by CDC guidance. By contrast, OSHA's COVID-19 memo states that inspectors should consult CDC guidance and grants them latitude to use discretion even when an employer's measures are not as protective as what the CDC recommends.

In addition, during H1N1, OSHA laid out specific scenarios that could result in violations under the general duty standard, detailing the nitty-gritty of sneeze guards and the setup of "airborne infection isolation rooms."

Today, the Trump administration provides no such guidance for inspectors; in fact, it emphasizes the high legal bar for inspectors to cite employers under the standard.

"It's written to make it much more difficult to issue citations," Michaels said. "It gives the employers certain outs as to why they're not following CDC guidelines."

There have been no inspections resulting from COVID-19 complaints, said one OSHA employee - at least not in the OSHA region the employee works in.

The OSHA staffer added that the agency could be more proactive in its response to these complaints.

"It seems a lot of it is providing workers with information but not trying to address the particular issues people are raising," the employee said. "We should be more forceful and direct in our interactions with the employer."

The OSHA employee asked to remain anonymous because the worker is not authorized to speak with reporters.

OSHA is limited in how it can respond because it doesn't have a regulation it can enforce that's directly related to airborne infectious diseases. (OSHA notes that there are eight regulations that may apply to coronavirus, including provisions related to hand-washing, personal protective equipment and an employer's general duty to provide a safe workplace.)

But there are ways OSHA could have been more active, former agency officials and worker advocates say.

For example, an infectious disease standard was being drafted, but was never completed, during the Obama administration. It was shelved when Trump took office, according to federal rule-making documents.

In late January, as the coronavirus was spreading in China and beginning to arrive in the United States, Democratic congressional aides met with Department of Labor staff to urge them to issue a compliance directive and temporary emergency standard to protect health care workers.

Such a standard could easily be adapted to confront COVID-19, but Labor Department leaders questioned the need, a congressional aide who was at the meeting said.

"There wasn't a whole lot of consciousness about what was going to be coming down the line," the aide said. "I think they weren't taking the disease seriously and they certainly weren't interested in enforcing."

As COVID-19 cases began to multiply in early March, unions petitioned Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia, requesting an emergency standard for health workers.

And House Democrats began drafting language to insert into a coronavirus response bill that was rapidly working its way through Congress.

The legislation would have required health care employers to implement an infectious disease exposure control plan.

But the American Hospital Association said the provision would be "impossible to implement" because of the shortage of N95 respirator masks and would dramatically reduce the number of patients hospitals could treat. Congress stripped it from the bill.

Meanwhile, as America's health care system began raising red flags about the shortage of safety gear, OSHA started issuing the first of several directives, rolling back standards intended to protect doctors and nurses.

In mid-March, the agency suspended annual fit testing for N95 masks in an effort to conserve equipment.

As recorded cases reached the thousands, it issued a packet of tips for employers but emphasized that its recommendations were not enforceable.

In early April, as the supply shortage became ever more critical, OSHA relaxed other rules, allowing for the extended use and reuse of N95s and for respirators certified in other countries.

"Some of these, you are dealing with a crisis situation, they are moving to address the lack of equipment," said Peg Seminario, former health and safety director of the AFL-CIO. "But every one of these is rolling back existing protections and requirements. It's not putting out something new or more."

The agency has been diminished in resources and leadership under the Trump administration, and former OSHA officials say that has dulled the agency's response to COVID-19.

"Their ability to deal with this virus is made even weaker by a lack of resources because the Trump administration has shrunk the agency to the point that they have no ability to respond," said Berkowitz.

At the start of the year, OSHA had 862 federal inspectors, the lowest number in the agency's history, according to data NELP obtained from the agency.

With OSHA playing a passive role, some governors have issued their own worker-safety mandates.

On Sunday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order requiring employers to provide essential workers with masks to wear when they interact with the public.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy went further, ordering retail businesses to cut their maximum occupancy in half and install barriers between workers and customers.

Twenty-two states run their own occupational health and safety agencies for public and private workers, with federal approval, which are required to match or exceed federal regulations and directives. Some of them appear to be taking a more aggressive approach.

In Oregon, where there have been nearly 2,800 COVID-19-related complaints to date, about a dozen inspections have been conducted across a variety of industries.

The state agency is also conducting "spot checks" to ensure that employers who received and sent letters in response to a complaint are following through.

But a patchwork approach to keeping workers safe might not bode well for the plans to reopen businesses. In recent days, many of the largest outbreaks have been at work, highlighted by the spread of the disease to more than 600 workers at Smithfield Foods' pork processing plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

That could raise the prospect of the disease reigniting if more precautions aren't taken, according to public health experts.

"Until there's a real discussion about how workers beyond hospitals are going to be protected," Michaels said, "I don't see how we can be talking about bringing workers back."

And that discussion could mean a lot for workers like Gregoria Rivas. In North Carolina, Rivas said she received little help from the state's OSHA when she called to voice her concerns around the possible spread of COVID-19 at Case Farms.

On the other end of the phone line, Rivas said, an inspector took down her complaint but told her there wasn't much the agency could do because it doesn't have specific regulations for infectious diseases. The agency had made recommendations to businesses, but it had no power to enforce them, the inspector said.

(Natalie Bouchard of North Carolina's Department of Labor said the agency investigates every complaint. In a statement, she confirmed the state has no occupational safety standard concerning COVID-19 but added that "it is the employer's duty to provide each employee with a 'place of employment free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious injury or serious physical harm to his employees.'")

Discouraged by the response, Rivas, who has a 2-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter, decided to quit rather than risk infection.

"I thought I was going to receive some answers that would reassure me," she said. "But from what I understood, it didn't matter what was happening, whether it's a pandemic or not, the plant was going to continue working as normal."

Do you have access to information about how the government is protecting - or not protecting - essential workers from the coronavirus that should be public? E-mail bernice.yeung@propublica.org.

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See also from the Washington Post: Thousands Of OSHA Complaints Filed Against Companies For Virus Workplace Safety Concerns, Records Show.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:10 AM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

Inbox, from BerlinRosen:

Last night, McDonald's workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 outbreak were featured on ABC's Nightline, as anchor Byron Pitts spotlighted the stories of striking food service workers who are saying 'no more' until their voices and demands are met.

"This is life or death," said Adriana Alvarez, a McDonald's worker and leader in the Fight for $15 and a Union who joined hundreds of fast-food workers on strike Wednesday in Chicago.

That rings especially true in Los Angeles: at least three McDonald's workers have tested positive for COVID-19 and one, Sonia Hernandez, is currently fighting for her life on a ventilator.

Sonia's daughter Jenniffer told Nightline, "She's a loving mom. She gave everything for us. She's a single mom. She worked at McDonald's for 18 years."

Like so many low-wage workers across the country, despite feeling sick, Sonia did not have a choice but to report to work. She was not given gloves or masks. An employee at the McDonald's where Sonia Hernandez worked filed a complaint last week with CAL/OSHA regarding working conditions amid COVID-19. Chicago McDonald's strikers also filed an OSHA complaint this week, as filings surged to the thousands across the country.

Fighting back tears, Jenniffer told Nightline what it was like to talk to her mom for the last time before she went on the ventilator. Her mother's last words were, "take care of everyone."

Jenniffer's message to fast-food workers across the country: "Fight for your rights. Today it's my mom. Tomorrow, it could be theirs or it could be them."

Alvarez ended the segment challenging McDonald's executives to think bigger. "If you feel like you're doing the appropriate measures to keep us safe, then come on down and work with us. Come on down and see exactly what we have to go through."

Here's the segment:

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Meat Packing Mess
"Multiple employees at a meat packing plant on the South Side have tested positive for COVID-19," ABC7 Chicago reports.

"In a statement to ABC7 Chicago, Rose Packing's parent company, OSI, confirmed that 21 employees have informed the company they have tested positive for COVID-19."

ABC7 didn't bother to talk to any workers, instead merely repeating the company's assertions that they are acting with an abundance of caution.

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"An anonymous employee contacted NBC 5 and said she and other employees at Rose Packing Company on Chicago's South Side were informed of the 21 confirmed coronavirus cases by plant managers Thursday at a town hall-style meeting," that station reports.

"The whistleblower said the company is now distributing personal protective equipment."

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Also to its credit, NBC5 included this:

"Earlier this week, Smithfield Foods shut down facilities in three different state including it's Sioux Falls, South Dakota location. The plant was shut down after 598 employees tested positive for the coronavirus, as well as an additional 135 people who are not employed by the company, but contracted the virus after they were in close contact with the workers.

"The processing facility supplies 5 percent of the nation's pork supply and the anonymous Rose Packing Co. employee says Smithfield is one of the company's suppliers."

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See also:

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And: Millions Of Essential Workers Are Being Left Out Of COVID-19 Workplace Safety Protections, Thanks To OSHA.

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Some OSI history:

"A Chinese court has fined two domestic units of U.S. food supplier OSI Group up to 2.4 million yuan ($364,875) and handed prison sentences to 10 of its employees over allegations it reused returned food products to avoid losses," Reuters reported in 2016.

"The verdict marks the end of a long-running probe into OSI after a safety scandal in 2014 that hit fast-food giants it supplied - McDonald's and Yum Brands, owner of KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell in China."

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Virtual City Council Reporting
Reader John Kuczaj posted this on his Facebook page about the Chicago City Council's virtual meeting this week and tagged me, so let's address it here:

"The only business was passing legislation to allow future meetings to occur virtually due to the governor's stay-at-home order and to schedule another meeting for April 22 at 10 a.m.," Crain's reported.

Um . . . if it wasn't already legal for the city council to meet virtually and legislation needs to be passed to make it legal, how could they pass that legislation virtually? Doesn't this open them up to court challenges in the future on any business conducted this way?

Good question. Crain's doesn't say, so let's look elsewhere for an answer.

"Rules Committee Chairman Michelle Harris (8th) was recognized and moved that the Council adopt - by voice vote - emergency rules allowing aldermen to conduct substantive city business without meeting in person," the Sun-Times reported.

But retroactively? Doesn't say.

"In March, Lightfoot gaveled in the scheduled City Council meeting because the date had been set by statute. Presiding over a nearly empty City Council chambers, she then immediately recessed it until Wednesday," the Tribune reported.

Okay, but . . .

Also not answered by WBEZ or NBC5 Chicago.

Next up, WTTW.

"Lightfoot said the city's Law Department reviewed Gov. J.B. Pritzker's disaster declaration and determined that the City Council could meet virtually to adopt rules permitting that action and to conduct business during the virtual meetings," WTTW's Heather Cherone reports. Boom!

"I can assure you that our proceedings in this matter are completely legal," Lightfoot said.

Mystery solved.

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Virtual Community Porn
Speaking of virtual civic meetings . . .

"Chicago Police held what was believed to be its first online community policing meeting Thursday, and it was marred by racial slurs, porn, cursing and middle fingers," Block Club Chicago reports.

"A serious community discussion on Zoom about how gang members continue to terrorize the Northwest Side also devolved into people throwing gang signs, hula hooping and getting their cat into their Zoom square."

Wow, go read the rest.

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The President's "Plan"
Capitol Fax impresario Rich Miller says, "It's actually a pretty good plan."

Most of his commenters seem to agree.

"Your thoughts?" Miller asks.

I'll just put this here. It's reflective of what the experts are saying:

C'mon, people.

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P.S.:

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New on the Beachwood today . . .

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #300: Here's Why Sports Is Not Coming Back This Year
Players aren't going to wear masks and only fans in Red America are stupid enough to attend games anyway. Plus: Michael Jordan Was Singularly Awesome And Also Was (And Remains) A Terrible Person - Just Like Jerry Krause (Though Krause Is Dead Now So He's Only A 'Was' Not A 'Remains'); Time For Wrigleyville To Panic Over Cubs' Bad Start?; The Great Karnak's New Bulls; Our Hapless Athletic Careers; Bears To Sit Out First, Third And Fourth Rounds Of Draft, and more!

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This is a really good show, people! And as always, you can just check out the Show Notes if you want too.

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Only Science Will Bring Back Sports
Another brilliantly observed, funny, sad, infuriating, highly quotable read from our very own David Rutter. Highly recommended.

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The Thorne Miniature Rooms
"By 1940, Thorne and her team of skilled craftsmen made over 100 pint-size 'period rooms.' They constitute a beguilingly timeless bit of child's play: a series of lushly lived-in pasts, chambers haunted by distant presences you feel certain have just left the premises - or are poised to enter at any moment from a flower-strewed side garden, a rear entrance foyer or the top of a lovely front-hallway staircase."

Take a peek!

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& ICYMI: OSHA Isn't Even Trying Anymore
"Even as OSHA has been inundated with COVID-19-related complaints, the agency has issued a series of guidelines that roll back safety standards and virtually eliminate non-health care workers from government protection.

"That poses a serious risk to millions of essential workers, many of whom live paycheck-to-paycheck, safety advocates say. Dozens of workers, including meat cutters, supermarket greeters, airport screeners and bus drivers have died as the disease has spread."

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ChicagoReddit

All CPS schools canceled in-person learning for the rest of the school year from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Bus Simulator Ultimate #10 Road to Chicago.

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BeachBook

How Censorship Warped How DC And Marvel Dealt With Heaven, Hell And Jesus.

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The History Of The Hawaiian Shirt.

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Paul McCartney Tells Howard Stern Why The Beatles Were Better Than The Rolling Stones.

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Too Far From Town: The Beloit Snappers.

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Stirling Moss, One Of The Greatest Drivers Of All Time, Dies At 90.

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TweetWood
A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport.

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"Be kind."

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But seriously, a governor having to do this? What an extraordinarily horrible, lethal president.

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The Beachwood Q-Tip Line: Be unkind.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:22 AM | Permalink

April 16, 2020

The [Thursday] Papers

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Illinois' most deadly 24 hours of the coronavirus crisis Thursday, with 125 deaths recorded by state authorities. Of course, for numerous reasons, the death counts are almost assuredly higher than the official numbers, which I'm almost certain Pritzker has acknowledged.

The deaths paired with another 1,140 cases of infection, which is not nearly the highest daily number Illinois has recorded, though it's still . . . an awful lot.

We have no idea if we're at the peak. That's not the sort of thing you ultimately know until you're well past it. Talk of "re-opening" the economy is just nonsense right now.

That doesn't mean Pritzker's efforts forming a Midwestern pact with other states to coordinate "re-opening" is a waste of time right now; to the contrary, like its coastal counterparts, such agreements represent regional power bases to counter the madness coming out of the White House. Planning what needs to happen before the economy is restarted is not a bad idea either; governors can figure out where to put resources and how to get from here to there. But let's face it, reopening is not happening any time soon. That conversation needs to be tamped down.

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Mask Munis
"Officials in at least three Chicago suburbs have issued an order requiring in some form that everyone wear masks in certain public spaces during the coronavirus pandemic," NBC5 Chicago reports.

Skokie, Cicero and Glenview.

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We're just starting to see masks made mandatory. That doesn't signal to me that we're anywhere close to reopening the economy.

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Smoke-Filled Zoom
"Cook County Democrats didn't crowd into a smoke-filled room for their virtual convention Wednesday afternoon, but they still managed to prove that even in a pandemic there's time for politics as usual," the Sun-Times reports.

"Hours after the party's virtual convention was conducted in the increasingly familiar socially distant online style, a smaller group of Democrats gathered in a more typical suburban hall Wednesday evening to pick a replacement for embattled Cook County Commissioner Jeff Tobolski.

"And while the online gathering featured debate about party loyalty and staying true to the slated candidates, the group that met face-to-face later opted to elevate a former Republican state legislator to replace Tobolski on the County Board."

Wait, what?

"Those who were allowed to enter the building - only those serving on the committee or candidates to replace Tobolski were able to do so - were greeted by protesters pleading with them to pick anyone but former Republican state Rep. Frank Aguilar, who represented Cicero in the Legislature.

Police officers and Berwyn Ald. Anthony Nowak (8th) made sure no one else got inside.

Esteban Rodriguez, a member of the Rizoma Collective, a political action committee in Cicero and Berwyn, said the group of about 20 protesters were chanting in the cold to advocate for anyone but Aguilar because of his Republican background and because they were unhappy with his tenure on the board of trustees at Morton College.

"We realize that his track record is . . . dangerous for a role that's as massive as a Cook County commissioner, somebody who has this type of mentality and ideology to lead our jails, our parks, our hospitals, our property taxes - that's just a formula for a very bad situation," Rodriguez said.

Aguilar was the first candidate to make his case to the panel, which included state Rep. Aaron Ortiz, the newly sworn-in 14th Ward committeeperson; Yarbrough, the Proviso Township committeeperson, and Cicero Township Committeeperson Blanca Vargas.

Eight committeepersons were entitled to participate in the selection process, because they represent parts of Tobolski's old commissioner district. But only six were present. One voted by proxy and another was on a conference line, said Nowak, who also coordinated getting candidates in and out of the building.

Aguilar said the protesters have a right to be out protesting against him, but insisted he's no longer a Republican. The former state representative said he'd tried to make "inroads" with Latinos and African Americans but "failed" to do so.

"They have a right to their opinion, and I respect that, but my heart is in the community," Aguilar said.

Despite the protest, sources told the Sun-Times that Aguilar was the committee's pick.

"I'm disappointed that instead of restoring the faith and trust in government, the party committee appointed to fill the replacement did the exact opposite tonight," said Mike Porfirio, the clerk of Lyons Township, who also sought the position.

"By picking a former Republican state representative, the party decided to keep the same old guard of power and leadership. The residents of the 16th district deserve much better. I look forward to giving the voters a voice and a choice in 2022."

Aguilar indeed served one term in the state House.

He was defeated in his re-election bid by a candidate suspected of being put up by . . . Aguilar.

From the Tribune at the time:

Michelle Chavez didn't have any campaign signs in her front yard in Cicero. She didn't pass out fliers. She didn't have a massive political war chest.

But she took Democrats and Republicans alike by surprise in Tuesday's election, unseating Rep. Frank Aguilar (R-Cicero) with 53 percent of the vote and leaving politicians to argue about whether she's the real deal or a ghost candidate who accidentally won.

Chavez, who ran as a Democrat, said Wednesday that she, too, is surprised that she's headed to Springfield. But she insists she's no pawn.

"Time will show," she said.

But House Democrats, who did not support Chavez in the primary, said she was placed on the ballot by Aguilar's supporters to provide token opposition in his bid for re-election.

"There's no doubt she is a shill candidate," said Sen. Martin Sandoval (D-Cicero). "She never campaigned a day in her life and never espoused any beliefs or political values or outlined a political platform."

Chavez was then knocked out after a single term when she lost in the Democratic primary to a former rival - not Aguilar - from her previous race.

And so on. It's too late in the day to follow all the threads. I'm just pretty sure Aguilar is an awful choice.

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Ironically, the Party earlier in the day made it known that loyalty remained its predominant organizing principle.

Back to the Sun-Times:

Cook County Democratic Chair Toni Preckwinkle was unopposed in her bid for another term as head of the party. But when it came time to vote on members of the executive committee, some members voted against the Cook County Board president's picks.

Preckwinkle wanted to dump Ald. Ariel Reboyras (30th) from the party's executive committee and install Northfield Township Committeeperson Tracy Katz Muhl in his place.

Muhl and Reboyras each got a chance to make their pitches, painting themselves as dedicated to the party. Others chimed in favor of either Muhl or Reboyras.

Reboyras ran afoul of Preckwinkle for not backing all of the party's slated candidates in the last month's primary, particularly Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx, Preckwinkle's protegee.

Preckwinkle described Muhl as a strong supporter of the "entire slate in a difficult election," and said that while it's true that not all party members support the entire slate "if you're going to be a leader of the party it seems to me it's your obligation . . . to support our candidates."

This is why Preckwinkle is not the mayor today. She is a Machine politician enforcing the Party Line as chair of the Central Soviet Committee Cook County Democratic Party, the locus of local corruption. There is no evidence she has reformed the party, and her party loyalty explains at least in part her loyalty to the disgraced and disgusting Joe Berrios and her tolerance of Ed Burke all these years. There should no longer be any question about that - though if anyone wants to call the CTU to talk about it, they are welcome to!

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Speaking of the CTU . . .

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New on the Beachwood today . . .

The Solace Of Playing Golf In The Navajo Nation Amid The Pandemic
"Rez golf is embedding itself in the Navajo sports culture, one course at a time. There are at least three rez golf courses on the nation's 27,425 square miles spanning swaths of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. The gritty courses, set amid red and gray sands and wind-sculpted cliffs, share the landscape with livestock, coyotes and rabbits. They hold special meaning to many Navajo golfers because they wind through clumps of sagebrush, a plant thought to have physical and spiritual healing power."

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A History Of Canned Laughter
A divisive and often-misunderstood tool.

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National Dog Bite Prevention Coalition Offers Tips For Safely Sheltering At Home With Pets During The COVID-19 Crisis
It is National Dog Bite Prevention Week.

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ChicagoReddit

I am looking for vegetable seeds! from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Driver John B Rides Chicago.

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BeachBook

The Devastating Decline Of A Brilliant Young Coder.

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Wisconsin DNR Encourages Social Distancing During Spring Turkey Season.

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TweetWood
A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport.

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The Beachwood Q-Tip Line: Ear me out.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:36 PM | Permalink

A History Of Canned Laughter

I don't know about you, but I could do with a laugh at the moment. Any opportunity to watch an entertaining television comedy show could prove the tonic we all need. It might be one of the crucial things to help us see through a very strange period.

However, there is a problem. TV shows and situation comedies are usually broadcast in front of studio audiences, and with this now denied, are the empty chairs and lack of atmosphere going to ruin the experience? "Canned laughter," a divisive and often misunderstood tool, might just help.

The Laff Box

The term "canned laughter" is often attributed to American sound engineer Charley Douglass who devised the technique in the late 50s.

Audiences are unpredictable; they often laugh at the wrong time and sometimes not at all. As the writer Jennifer Keishin Armstrong notes, Douglass got around this in pre-recorded shows by editing and adjusting the recorded laughter, and by repositioning it in just the right places.

Douglass was keen to perfect the method, and is also credited for creating the "Laff Box" - a device that allowed a collection of recorded reactions to be falsely inserted into a show.

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With each press of the button and burst of recorded laughter, audiences at home felt strangely compelled to laugh along. Sophie Scott, a cognitive neuroscientist, explains that "adding laughter to a joke, increases the humor value, no matter how funny or unfunny the joke is."

Scott and her researchers created an experiment using canned laughter and "dad jokes" to make their point. Famously bad, participants found themselves tittering even at the worse ones.

While Douglass may have pioneered a device to please television executives the world over, however, audiences were slowly becoming aware that the laughter was fake.

Fake Laughs

Novelist and scriptwriter Michael J. Buchanan-Dunne suggests that although canned laughter continued to be used through the '60s and '70s, "Canned laughter did not have enough range to authentically convey such a complex human emotion, therefore when it was used it lacked subtlety, spontaneity, naturalism and quite often logic."

For a while, though, the insertion of fake laughter meant writers and producers were guaranteed a response to the material whether it was good or not.

Buchanan-Dunne says that canned laughter is not used anymore, despite many (TV critics included) thinking that it still is. A 30-minute comedy show with a live audience takes hours to be recorded, and the audience is worked hard for their reaction. If anything ends up sounding false these days it is simply because of audience exhaustion. Many shows are recorded "as-live," to be slightly edited and honed for broadcast later. This can lead to a slightly unnatural quality in the sound of the laughs that begin or cut off at the right moment, with everyone laughing perfectly unison. The original intention of Douglass, with precise sound manipulation, lives on.

Channel 4's The Last Leg, a live comedy show that dares to find laughs from weekly topical events, was one of the first to brave the new territory of playing to an empty audience. It's difficult getting laughs from the pandemic, but The Last Leg gave it their best shot and made a Laff Box a very visible part of the show. With host Adam Hill in charge of a series of buttons assigned to laughs, clapping, groans, and cricket sounds, for any jokes that fell flat. It felt like business as usual with laughs a plenty - even when jokes were met with the cricket sounds.

The same cannot be said for the BBC show Have I Got News For You, which felt lost. Without the fullness of audience participation, the topical news quiz show comes across as little more than a celebrity video conference. They've had little choice but to put the show on in isolation and it doesn't matter how charismatic the host, it could do with something extra to help it fare better.

If recorded laughter is indeed going to return temporarily to our screens, it's an unenviable choice facing program producers whether to use it or not. Whatever the case, present circumstances mean we are going to need entertaining shows, and we're going to need laughter, real or canned.

Charlie Watts is a principal lecturer at the University of Portsmouth. This post is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:59 PM | Permalink

National Dog Bite Prevention Coalition Offers Tips For Safely Sheltering At Home With Pets During The COVID-19 Crisis

The coronavirus pandemic has introduced a good deal of uncertainty into our lives, as well as the lives of our pets. As people shelter at home, adopt new pets or foster dogs for sick family and friends, now is the time to reinforce safety and responsible pet ownership.

National Dog Bite Prevention Week (NDBPW) is April 12-18, 2020. Members of the National Dog Bite Prevention Week Coalition include the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), State Farm®, Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.), American Humane, and the Victoria Stilwell Academy for Dog Training and Behavior. The coalition joins forces each year to draw attention to how people can reduce the number of dog bites.

Stress can affect pets and cause them to feel anxiety. In some cases, dogs will exhibit anxious behaviors such as barking, aggressive behavior, or destructive behavior.

According to Victoria Stilwell, CEO of Positively.com and the Victoria Stilwell Academy of Dog Training and Behavior, the coronavirus pandemic has affected pets, too.

"Dogs that are used to kids being at school and adults at work are now finding themselves surrounded by their families 24/7," says Stilwell. "Most welcome the company but some dogs are having a hard time adjusting to the constant noise, attention and lack of space."

Members of the NDBPW Coalition will share information during several webinars this week focused on how COVID-19 is impacting pets and pet owners. Experts will provide safety tips for sheltering at home with dogs, how to support animal shelters and rescues, and release 2019 dog-related injury claims data.

* Wednesday, April 15, 11 AM EST - Zoom webinar for media and bloggers (registration required)

* Friday, April 17, 2 PM EST - Zoom webinar for the general public. The public is invited to join this free webinar to ask questions related to dog behavior, bite prevention, and how COVID-19 impacts pets. (registration required)

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See also:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:48 PM | Permalink

The Solace Of Playing Golf In The Navajo Nation Amid The Pandemic

Every day, Donald Benally golfs.

It takes his mind off the coronavirus outbreak pummeling the Navajo Nation, killing at least 38 and infecting 921 victims as of Wednesday.

Like many Navajo people, Benally wonders whether the dead and afflicted are undercounted. He wonders if the virus had anything to do with the deaths of his 82-year-old uncle and 66-year-old cousin, who both recently died from "heart attacks."

He worries about elders, toughing it out in remote areas without enough food or water or medicine. He thinks about his daughter, Katelyn Rae, huddling in her Northern Arizona University dorm room in Flagstaff. She's so alone, but he can't bring her home. There's no internet in his house in Steamboat, a remote community on the Arizona side of the Navajo Nation.

So Donald Benally plays golf, and the worries diminish for a little while. "I feel like I totally forget about what's going on with this pandemic," he said. "It helps."

Just a few weeks ago, Benally, a 55-year-old project manager for the Navajo Nation, was planning what needed to be done to prepare the Wagon Trail to Lonesome Pine golf course - an expanse of clustered blue sage, rocks, gullies and sand visited by an occasional cow, horse or sheep - for a summer of "rez golf" that would culminate in a popular community tournament. Now the tournament will likely be canceled. And Benally is hunkering down with his wife, Jean, in their house overlooking the 9-hole course he and his friends and family created more than a decade ago.

Rez golf is embedding itself in the Navajo sports culture, one course at a time. There are at least three rez golf courses on the nation's 27,425 square miles spanning swaths of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. The gritty courses, set amid red and gray sands and wind-sculpted cliffs, share the landscape with livestock, coyotes and rabbits. They hold special meaning to many Navajo golfers because they wind through clumps of sagebrush, a plant thought to have physical and spiritual healing power.

"You're physically engaged in golf, but at the same time, without consciously knowing it, you're helping yourself because you're smelling that sage, you're hearing that sage move," said Chinle golfer Olin Littleman, who plays at the Wagon Trail to Lonesome Pine course in Steamboat.

The Wagon Trail to Lonesome Pine course is probably the best known rez golf course because it was featured in a Golf Channel video sponsored by Callaway.

But since the pandemic hit the Navajo Nation, Benally said, he sees only a lone player where there were once many. Benally is a gregarious guy and loves to talk golf, but now he stays inside his house when he spots a golfer on the course.

"I have my family to think about," he says. "I can't just go out there and start socializing with so-and-so and come back here. I mean . . . it's real scary."

Navajo Nation's Andrew Cuomo

The Navajo Nation issued its first warning about the coronavirus on Jan. 26. It has called in the National Guard to assist with setting up a medical facility. It has lobbied Arizona senators to help it free up funding. It has enlisted the help of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. In hopes of keeping the contagion down, it's shuttered chapter houses, the headquarters of local community governments. Schools have been closed for weeks. Rodeos, a marathon and bingo games were canceled. It imposed a curfew for the Easter weekend.

But it's now facing a bureaucratic funding logjam in the federal government, which means the Navajo Nation isn't getting all the financial help it needs to adequately combat the coronavirus.

Amid all this, the Navajo Nation president and vice president both went into self-quarantine on April 9 after meeting with a first responder who later tested positive for the virus.

Jonathan Nez, the president, is a respected leader who has become the Navajo Nation's Andrew Cuomo. A slender, bespectacled guy, Nez wore blue plastic gloves and a black Columbia zippered jacket when he recently took to Facebook to ask his constituency to flatten the runaway curve. He delivered a mixture of hope and bleak statistics. He guilt-tripped, reasoned, and inspired his people to take the virus seriously.

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Only one person from a household goes to the grocery store, he instructed, and please don't leave the Navajo Nation boundaries. Obey the evening curfew. Wash your hands. Practice social distancing. Take care of the elders because they are the teachers.

He invoked Navajo resiliency by referencing the mid-19th century Long Walk, the U.S.
government's forced march of thousands of Navajo people from their homeland to Bosque Redondo, in eastern New Mexico. Thousands perished on the way, and others died in confinement. In 1868, after four years, the Navajo survivors returned to their homeland after signing a treaty that ensured their sovereignty.

But their sovereignty goes only so far. It's limited by a mishmash of historic treaties, federal court actions, and overriding national policies. And now the federal government, which is largely responsible for health care on the Navajo Nation, is slow in delivering necessary funds to deal with the pandemic. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act promises $8 billion to Native American governments for "preventing, preparing for, and responding to coronavirus," according to the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The law took effect March 27. At this writing, the Navajo Nation still awaits its share.

In Arizona, the coronavirus is killing disproportionately in the Navajo Nation. Thirty-nine people have succumbed to the virus in Maricopa County, which includes the Phoenix metro area and has a population of about 4.3 million people. In the Navajo Nation, where close to 174,000 people live, 38 have died.

But no one really knows for sure how many have died of the virus on the Navajo Nation. Myron Lizer, the Navajo Nation's vice president, said in an April 2 phone call with Bureau of Indian Affairs and U.S. Treasury Department officials that he's getting texts that indicate people are dying of the coronavirus but it is not "attributed" to the virus.

The Navajo Nation did not respond to three requests for interviews for this story.

Now, nonprofits and grassroots groups are taking action. No one wants to wait for the federal government to decide how to hand out its relief funds. There's no time. Elders in remote areas are in need of prescription refills, transportation to doctor's appointments, food, water, cooking and heating fuel. Children are hungry.

"If we lose people not to the disease, but to starvation or freezing, it highlights that there is something very wrong in the system," said Brett Isaacs, the CEO of Navajo Power, a solar development company.

Isaacs is collaborating with a local community development group to "bypass" the Navajo Nation government in order to get services to people who need it.

A New 'Long Walk'

Reparata Ben sometimes looks out her window at the rez golf course her family built among the cedars and sagebrush in Low Mountain, Arizona. As I spoke to her on the phone, the April wind rattled a speed limit sign on Navajo Route 65, which winds past her solid block house and cuts through the nine-hole golf course. Tumbleweeds scampered across the empty course, with its white benches and holes made of tin cans.

Ben, 43, is an accountant who graduated from the University of New Mexico and then returned home to the Navajo Nation. Her family created the course for the community and usually holds a tournament in the fall. Food is central to the tournament - pastries and coffee in the morning, filling sack lunches, and an enormous dinner after players have gone around the course twice. The feast changes each year, but there's usually plenty of mutton stew and fry bread, and maybe a roast beef dinner with two salads, mashed potatoes, vegetables, and dessert. The idea is to feed everyone who stops by.

Hunger has always been a problem in the Navajo Nation.

Now, with the coronavirus outbreak, it's getting worse, especially among children. Ambrose Ben, Reparata Ben's 62-year-old father, sees the hunger when he delivers sack lunches to students who used to attend classes at Jeehdeez'a Elementary School. Sometimes the kids stand outside their homes waiting for him.

A traditionalist, he follows the advice of some elders and won't talk about the outbreak directly.

It's taboo, for now. There will be plenty of time to tell stories about the pandemic once it's gone and its lessons become clear. But for now, Ambrose Ben washes his hands, practices social distancing, stays home with his family, and plays rez golf alone on the wind-swept course.

The ancestors endured the Long Walk, is how he sees it.

And now "it's our turn."

This post originally appeared in Future Tense, a collaboration among Arizona State University, New America and Slate.

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Previously: Rez Ball.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:53 AM | Permalink

April 15, 2020

My Shitty Athletic Career

I did actually play some sports in between watching as many games as I could growing up in Chicago in the '70s and '80s. As I look back and try to figure out how it was that I came to care so much about Chicago teams that couldn't have cared less about me, I remember that I was quite the competitive little cuss through eighth grade at least. I would rage against losing back then, especially at dear, old Camp Echo in Fremont, Michigan. It was and is the overnight camp overseen by the Evanston (McGaw) YMCA. How a couple of city kids ended up there with all the youngsters from the suburbs remains a bit of a mystery.

My brother (two years younger) and I were main campers there for month-long stretches in 1977, '78 and '79. The camp went co-ed in 1981 so we got there just in time. It wasn't a sports camp so we focused on stuff like archery and riflery, water skiing and sailing during the weeks. But then on the weekends the camp was divided into teams and we had either Olympic or NCAA competitions (with the teams naming themselves after countries or universities). There was a swim meet part of the event, a massive all over the camp relay race, wrestling (which definitely didn't survive when the place went co-ed) and plenty of other awesome stuff.

The team events included some traditional sports but they also included full contact "water polo" in the shallow portion of the swimming area. A maintenance guy at the camp had welded together pieces of standard piping to make squarish goals with legs that dug into the sand just below the surface and it was the, most, fun game ever. Slightly dangerous, sure, but . . . Of course one of my primary memories from those days was of bawling my eyes out at one point as it became clear our team was going to lose a big game.

That goes right along with my most vivid memory of Little League baseball, which we played at Oz Park for a couple years. It and membership on the Jane Adams Center Hull House swim team were our only organized sports in Chicago before middle school. I remember pitching at one point and losing my control and, shockingly enough, my composure. After I walked in a run a coach finally came out and made a change and moved me out to center field. Literally the next hitter slapped a ground ball single back through the middle. I charged the ball, went to scoop it . . . and missed.

By the time I got the ball back to the infield the batter was crossing the plate for a classic Little League grand slam.

A few last memories of camp: it was big for my brother and I because while we were up there we were smart enough to take a break from competing with each other. That is definitely one of the reasons he didn't hate me later on for the many years I spent taking advantage of being older. Also, a few more words must be said about riflery. The range was a portion of the camp that faced away from everything else and was made up of a long concrete slab with a wooden roof. They kept the .22 rifles that we always used in a shed at the end of the slab. The first awards campers as young as nine could win for marksmanship involved excellence from the prone position. And that meant we would set up on our stomachs on mattresses and fire away at targets set up in front of a large dirt mound about 25 feet away from the slab.

If you won all the awards for prone position shooting, you could move up to shooting from a sitting position and then standing. I don't remember anybody ever officially doing that but we all tried it at some point.

On occasion there would be special programs where we could shoot at things other than paper targets. I once saw a guy explode a tube of toothpaste by hitting it in the top of the cap. It all just seemed like stuff normal people did at normal camps. Of course I can't, in any way, shape, or form, imagine anything even approaching such a scene at a camp affiliated with any part of the metro Chicago area in this day and age. But of course, it was great fun, fun that ended at some point in the' 80s. There was BB shooting there for a while but I'm pretty sure that is long gone as well.

At one point a former counselor who had become a police officer brought a handgun to camp and let us fire away at targets with it during family camp. It was such a cool experience and it was such the sort of thing that would result in parents completely losing their minds in this day and age.

In middle school (at the Latin School of Chicago), we played soccer in the fall, basketball in the winter and baseball in the spring. We never had great teams but it was tremendous fun. Another fun memory: during a break in an otherwise nondescript basketball game, I came to the bench and asked the guy who was keeping stats how many steals I had. He replied with something like three and I argued I had at least five. Sure enough the coach heard me and put me on the bench. He mentioned something about being focused on the team. To tell the truth I don't think the message really resonated. Lame, I know.

In my first year at St. Ignatius College Prep (1980-'81), a couple key things happened. First is, yup, another delightful memory. I started at center mid for the freshman team for much of the fall and we won more than we lost but didn't win a conference crown. One of my teammates (Tim) was one of the sons of my geometry teacher, the legendary Ignatius disciplinarian James Connelly. They had a classic Catholic family eventually featuring double-digit kids. At some point when Tim and I were in high school they had a Connelly in each grade.

We played at Homewood-Flossmoor at one point and late in a tie game, we were awarded a penalty shot. The coach had me take it and I . . . kicked it right to the goalie. The game ended in a tie. In geometry the next day, Mr. Connelly asked me a question and then said something like, "Mr. Coffman, perhaps you can do better on this question than you did on that penalty kick yesterday." Ouch, I know, and again, something that might of caused a major scandal in this day and age. Back then I'm pretty sure I just shrugged it off. That is something I think happened slightly more frequently than it does today.

Then in November I went out for basketball. I was one of the shortest kids at the tryouts and I suffered from something North Side kids have suffered from in Chicago for many a decade. I had been a decent player in Latin's Independent School League. But at the tryout I was facing a whole bunch of guys who had faced much tougher competition in different leagues all over the city.

I didn't make the cut. It was a blessing in disguise because if I had made it I would have been about the 15th guy on the bench and would have served as such without complaint. Instead I went out for the swim team and I was a better swimmer than basketball player.

That didn't save me from one final, humbling situation. Ignatius had gone co-ed a couple years before I got there and in 1980-81 still had a co-ed swim team. I look back on that now and I cannot believe that was still going on three years into the school being co-ed and I can't believe even more that it continued all through my run at the school.

Then again the team at the Hull House had been co-ed too so I don't recall it seeming that weird at the time. My primary memory of that first year, in which we were coached by a poor guy who was deathly afraid of the water (I am not kidding), was of the fact that several of my female teammates were considerably better swimmers than I was and one, Kelly Whelan, could just about swim circles around me.

Fortunately she was much better than a lot of the male swimmers in the Catholic League that year as well. Loyola hosted a freshman-only meet and I think Kelly won two individual races. I never caught up to Kelly but I was elected a captain my senior year. But at that point I was ready to be done with swimming. I went to Haverford College for a lot of reasons but it wasn't a coincidence that the school didn't have a swim team. In fact, it didn't have a pool.

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Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:06 AM | Permalink

He Built A Guitar Out Of 1,200 Colored Pencils

Damn cool. Plus, sale proceeds will go to Feeding America's Coronavirus Response Fund. Bid here.

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See also:

I Built A Guitar Out Of 800 Pieces Of Paper.

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I Built A Guitar Out Of An Old Shovel.

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And more!

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:16 AM | Permalink

A World Without Sports

Opening Day came and went. The Olympics have been postponed. Football in the fall? Don't count on it.

With COVID-19 infections and deaths rising each day, the cancellation of live sporting events might seem like an afterthought. But in the coming weeks and months, their absence will undoubtedly be felt.

This isn't the first time sports have been put on hold. During previous crises and conflicts, sports have been stopped. But in the past, the reprieve was brief; sports went on to act as a way to bring Americans together, helping them persevere and, ultimately, heal.

This time's different.

Sports are so important to so many of us that some have likened them to a modern religion, replete with rituals, saints and shrines.

"Sports are more than games, meets and matches," sociologist Jay Coakley has observed. "They're important aspects of social life that have meanings going far beyond scores and performance statistics."

Research suggests that watching sports can benefit physical well-being. Fandom can also be linked to psychological benefits such as an increased sense of belonging. When spectators experience social connectedness to other fans, it can reduce negative emotions, like depression and isolation.

For these reasons, sports, during times of crisis, often act as a salve.

At the onset of the Civil War, baseball was less than two decades old, and the first two years of the war hit the young sport hard. As several players enlisted and others focused on civilian war efforts, many clubs folded or played reduced schedules.

Still, as historian George Kirsch has noted, baseball "endured the trial of civil war remarkably well, persisting and even progressing under trying circumstances."

Union soldiers brought the game to the battlefield, playing to stay fit and get some much-needed distraction. In the process, they exposed many of their fellow countrymen to the game for the first time. After the war, baseball's popularity boomed.

Sports went on to endure both World War I and the 1918 flu pandemic.

Screen Shot 2020-04-15 at 8.02.17 AM.pngBaseball players donned masks during the 1918 flu pandemic/George Rinhart, Corbis via Getty Images

The ranks of college football players, for example, were vastly depleted, with many student-athletes going into active duty. Others joined the newly established Student Army Training Corps on their campuses and were often kept out of practices and games. Still, the games went on, with freshmen permitted to fill the rosters.

Overseas, in Europe, millions of American troops continued to engage in baseball, football and boxing behind the front lines as a respite from the drudgery of trench warfare. Sports and athletics, according to historian Steve Pope, became "central components of military life."

The first wave of the flu arrived in the U.S. in the spring of 1918, but the second, stronger wave hit right at the onset of the college football season.

Given the shortage of players due to the war, discussions to cancel the 1918 season were already underway when the flu returned.

Michigan had played only one game when the governor shut down public gatherings. A game against rival Michigan Agricultural College - now Michigan State - was postponed for concerns that "prolonged cheering at the games would weaken the throats of the spectators, thus making them more susceptible to the disease." Nationwide, hundreds of college games were canceled.

Nonetheless, as flu cases subsided in November 1918, Michigan was able to play four more games. Undefeated Michigan and Pitt were titled co-champions, despite having played only five games each.

Bringing The Country Together

Following the December 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, some wondered whether it was appropriate to hold sporting events. President Franklin Roosevelt sent the so-called "green light letter" to Major League Baseball commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis in January 1942.

In it, Roosevelt wrote that "it would be best for the country to keep baseball going." The people, he added, "ought to have a chance for recreation." The 1942 season went on as scheduled. Women's-only baseball leagues also became popular during this period. At its peak in 1948, the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League attracted close to 1 million spectators.

More recently, 9/11 presented a major challenge to sports. As sporting events could present perfect targets for terrorists, security concerns and costs skyrocketed.

On the day of the attacks, Major League Baseball immediately postponed all 15 games; over the next six days, 91 games were canceled. The last time the league had canceled games without a player strike had been D-Day in 1944.

Yet games resumed on Sept. 17, and the World Series was played in November. The Super Bowl was also pushed back, but ultimately went on.

According to sports scholar Rebecca Kraus, baseball's return, in particular, "provided an emotional release, sense of hope and a place for the community to gather in its time of need, thus fulfilling its role as the national pastime."

E-sports Into The Void?

The current sports stoppage, however, is unprecedented. It touches every level of every game, in every country in the world, from the Olympics down to pick-up basketball.

In the battle against the coronavirus, sports cannot be relied upon. In fact, sports are among the culprits: Officials have discovered that a February soccer match in Milan, Italy, led to a massive outbreak that accelerated the spread of the virus.

In all of this, there's an important point to consider. We're still processing the many jarring changes to our routines. And when sports return in a year or two, our perception of this strange hiatus will have certainly changed.

We might marvel at how quickly sports bounce back and pick up right where they left off. At the same time, when sports do resume, who could blame fans for being wary about attending games?

Sports shouldn't be taken for granted. In the great scheme of things, organized sports are a relatively recent phenomenon - less than 200 years old in the United States. Who knows what sports will look like 50, 100 or 200 years from now. Starting at about 776 B.C., the ancient Olympic Games lasted for 12 centuries. Today they're long gone.

Could, over time, the steady threat of global calamity also relegate our current conception of sports to ancient history?

Already, one relative newcomer to the sporting scene has filled a void. Despite some initial hiccups, televised e-sport tournaments are still being held as planned.

With 1.3 million viewers following a virtual race, the recent inaugural eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series on Fox Sports became the most-watched e-sport competition in American television history.

Lars Dzikus is an associate professor of sports studies at the University of Tennessee. This post is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:40 AM | Permalink

Abolish Silicon Valley

Wendy Liu grew up deeply enmeshed in technology, writing code for free/open source projects and devouring books by tech luminaries extolling the virtues of running tech startups; after turning down a job offer from Google, Liu helped found an ad-tech company and moved from Montreal to New York City to take her startup to an incubator.

As she worked herself into exhaustion to build her product, she had a conversion experience, realizing that she was devoting her life to using tech to extract wealth and agency from others, rather than empowering them. This kicked off a journey that Liu documents in her new book, Abolish Silicon Valley: How to Liberate Technology from Capitalism, a memoir manifesto that's not just charming - it's inspiring.

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Liu grew up a true believer in "meritocracy" and its corollaries: that success implies worth, and thus failure is a moral judgement about the intellect, commitment and value of the failed.

Her tale - starting in her girlhood bedroom and stretching all the way to protests outside of tech giants in San Francisco - traces a journey of maturity and discovery, as Liu confronts the mounting evidence that her life's philosophy is little more than the self-serving rhetoric of rich people defending their privilege; the chasm between her lived experience and her guiding philosophy widens until she can no longer straddle it.

Liu's remorseless self-examination and willingness to cop to ways that her beliefs suffused her friendships and working relationship with toxicity make an excellent counterpoint to the book's conclusion, in which she reformulates her views on technology and economics and social justice. The last chapter is a set of general policy and economic recommendations on how to orient the tech industry - and the wider economy - around human thriving a sustainable relationship with our planet. These are very good, too, though they have some unexplored contradictions (for example, a demand that software engineers be licensed like other engineers, and also a demand that key software be universally free/open source).

Technologists all over the world are coming to grips with the ethical implications of their work and realizing that no amount of code can substitute for political engagement. Liu's memoir is a roadmap for that journey of realization. It helps that she's a sprightly, witty writer.

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See also:

* San Jose Mercury News: Q&A With Wendy Liu.

* The Guardian: Rebooting Our Reality.

* The Prospect: 'The World Isn't A Logical Proposition.'

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:21 AM | Permalink

Early Impacts Of COVID-19 On The Pet Food Packaging Market

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic - and the worldwide reaction to it - has compelled companies to radically rethink their strategies and the way they operate. We salute the industry experts helping companies survive and sustain in this pandemic.

At MarketsandMarkets™, analysts are undertaking continuous efforts to provide analysis of the COVID-19 impact on the Pet Food Packaging Market. We are working diligently to help companies take rapid decisions by studying:

* The impact of COVID-19 on the Pet Food Packaging Market, including growth/decline in product type/use cases due to the cascaded impact of COVID-19 on the extended ecosystem of the market.

* The rapid shifts in the strategies of the Top 50 companies in the Pet Food Packaging Market.

* The shifting short-term priorities of the top 50 companies' clients and their client's clients.

You can request an in-depth analysis detailing the impact of COVID-19 on the Pet Food Packaging Market.

According to the new market research report "Pet Food Packaging Market by Material Type (Paper & Paperboard, Plastic, Metal), Packaging Form (Bags, Cans, Pouches, Boxes/Cartons), Food Type (Dry Food, Wet Food, Pet Treats), Animal Type (Dog, Cat, Fish, Bird), Region - Global Forecast to 2025," published by MarketsandMarkets™, the Pet Food Packaging Market size is projected to grow from $10.2 billion in 2020 to $12.5 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of 4.2% from 2020 to 2025.

The market is expected to grow in tandem with the growth of the pet food industry across the globe. An increase in the number of pet adoptions is resulting in higher consumption of pet food. Innovations in packaging, simple and convenient packaging designs, innovation in packaging will boost the demand for pet food packaging.

In terms of value and volume, bags is estimated to lead the pet food packaging market in 2019.

Bags, by packaging form, led the pet food packaging industry in 2019, in terms of value and volume. The application of bags in pet food packaging is largest due to ease of handling and low cost of production. Multiple applications of bags made from different materials like paper, plastic, and others offer a wide range of applications in the pet food packaging market.

Dry food, by food type, led the pet food packaging market in 2019, in terms of value and volume. It is the most prominent type of feed consumed. Dry food causes fewer spillages and can be cleared easily. It is easier to handle dry food than wet food, which has a strong smell.

In terms of value and volume, dog food is estimated to lead the pet food packaging industry in 2019.

Dog food, by animal type, led the pet food packaging market in 2019, in terms of value and volume. Dog food consumption is rising due to the higher adoption of dogs. The dog food industry is a huge market with pet food manufacturers spending a significant amount on advertising trying to convince consumers by offering the best products.

The North America region is projected to lead the pet food packaging market, in terms of both value and volume from 2020 to 2025. Increase in demand for pet food due to factors such as convenient and straightforward design, innovations in the packaging designs, and boost in demand for pet food due to growing affection for pets are expected to drive the market for pet food packaging in the North America region.

Amcor Plc (Australia), Mondi Plc (South Africa), Sonoco Products Company (U.S.), Constantia Flexibles (Austria), and Huhtamaki OYJ (Finland) are the key players operating in the pet food packaging market. Expansions, acquisitions, and new product developments are some of the major strategies adopted by these key players to enhance their positions in the pet food packaging industry.

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Previously in markets:

* Global Chewing Gum Market On Fire.

* Global Chainsaw Market On Fire.

* Automatic Labeling Machine Market On Fire.

* Tube Packaging Market Worth $9.3 Billion By 2021.

* Luxury Vinyl Tiles Flooring Market Worth $31.4 Billion By 2024.

* Global Condom Market On Fire.

* Global Sexual Lubricant Market On Fire.

* Industrial Lubricants Market Booming.

* Global Electric Guitar Growth.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:57 AM | Permalink

GOP Tax Provision In CARES Act Benefits - Wait For It - Millionaires And Billionaires

Democratic lawmakers and progressive critics expressed outrage Tuesday after a nonpartisan congressional body found that nearly 82% of benefits from a Republican tax provision in the most recent coronavirus relief package will go to the nation's millionaires and billionaires and cost taxpayers an estimated $90 billion this year alone.

The finding came in a new Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) analysis released by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) detailing the expected impact of the GOP provision, which was part of the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act signed into law by President Donald Trump last month.

"This analysis shows that while Democrats fought for unemployment insurance and small business relief, a top priority of President Trump and his allies in Congress was another massive tax cut for the wealthy," Whitehouse said in a statement. "Congress should repeal this rotten, un-American giveaway and use the revenue to help workers battling through this crisis."

Noting the current health and financial conditions created by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Whitehouse added that "it's a scandal for Republicans to loot American taxpayers in the midst of an economic and human tragedy."

The tax provision in question "temporarily suspends a limitation on how much owners of businesses formed as 'pass-through' entities can deduct against their nonbusiness income, such as capital gains, to reduce their tax liability," the Washington Post reports. "The limitation was created as part of the 2017 Republican tax law to offset other tax cuts to firms in that legislation."

Less than 3% of people set to benefit from the suspension earn under $100,000 per year, according to the JCT. The controversial provision is part of a set of tax changes in the coronavirus package that is expected to add about $170 billion to the national deficit over the next decade.

As the Post reports, the new JCT analysis also "included the impact of another tax change in the coronavirus relief legislation that allows firms to write off 100% rather than 80% of their losses, reversing another change in the 2017 tax law."

The JCT analysis came after Whitehouse and Doggett sent a letter to Trump administration officials requesting information that could help explain the origins of the GOP provisions to the relief package. It also followed reporting that Trump, his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, and real estate investors in the president's "inner circle" could benefit from the legislation's tax giveaways.

Doggett tried to put the impact of the tax changes into context Tuesday by pointing out that "for those earning $1 million annually, a tax break buried in the recent coronavirus relief legislation is so generous that its total cost is more than total new funding for all hospitals in America and more than the total provided to all state and local governments.

"Someone wrongly seized on this health emergency to reward ultrarich beneficiaries, likely including the Trump family, with a tax loophole not available to middle class families. This net operating loss loophole is a loser that should be repealed."

The analysis requested by Whitehouse and Doggett also riled other Democrats in Congress, including Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.) and Rep. Barbara Lee (Calif.).

The JCT analysis was released as the fourth phase of coronavirus relief legislation remained stalled in Congress. Critics of the federal response to the pandemic - which includes "paltry" $1,200 checks to Americans that banks can reportedly seize to pay down outstanding loans and fees - have urged the public to learn from the crisis and push for a major shift in government going forward.

This post is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

Previously in tax scammage:

* McDonald's Breaks Promise To Raise Wages.

* Last Year, Amazon Paid No Federal Income Taxes. Now, It's Trying To Kill A Local Tax That Aims To Help the Homeless.

* Trump Vowed To Punish Companies That Moved Jobs Overseas. Is Congress Rewarding Them?

* After Long Career Bailing Out Big Banks, Obama Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner Now Runs Predatory Firm That Exploits The Poor For Profit.

* Jeff Bezos Just Became The Richest Person Ever. Amazon Workers Just Marked #PrimeDay With Strikes Against Low Pay And Brutal Conditions.

* A Sweet New Century For America's Most Privileged.

* With Nation Transfixed By Kavanaugh Monstrosity, House GOP Votes To Give Rich Another $3 Trillion In Tax Cuts.

* Deepwater Horizon Settlement Comes With $5.35 Billion Tax Windfall.

* Offshoring By 29 Companies Costs Illinois $1.2 Billion Annually.

* Government Agencies Allow Corporations To Write Off Billions In Federal Settlements.

* The Gang Of 62 Vs. The World.

* How The Maker Of TurboTax Fought Free, Simple Tax Filing.

* $1.4 Trillion: Oxfam Exposes The Great Offshore Tax Scam Of U.S. Companies.

* How Barclay's Turned A $10 Billion Profit Into A Tax Loss.

* Wall Street Stock Loans Drain $1 Billion A Year From German Taxpayers.

* German Finance Minister Cries Foul Over Tax Avoidance Deals.

* Prosecutor Targets Commerzbank For Deals That Dodge German Taxes.

* A Schlupfloch Here, A Schlupfloch There. Now It's Real Money.

* How Milwaukee Landlords Avoid Taxes.

* Study: 32 Illinois Fortune 500 Companies Holding At Least $147 Billion Offshore.

* Watch Out For The Coming Tax Break Trickery.

* When A 'Tax Bonanza' Is Actually A Huge Corporate Tax Break.

* The Hypocrisy Of Corporate Welfare: It's Bigger Than Trump.

* Oxfam Names World's Worst Tax Havens Fueling 'Global Race To Bottom.'

* Offshore Tax Havens Cost Average Illinois Small Business $5,789 A Year.

* State Tax Incentives To Corporations Don't Work.

* GOP Tax Plan Would Give 15 Of America's Largest Corporations A $236 Billion Tax Cut.

* Triumph Of The Oligarchs.

* Amazon Short-List Proves Something "Deeply Wrong" With America's Race-To-The-Bottom Economy.

* Apple's $38 Billion Tax Payment Less Than Half Of $79 Billion They Owe.

* U.S. Surpasses Cayman Islands To Become Second-Largest Tax Haven On Earth.

* Less Than Year After GOP Tax Scam, Six Biggest Banks Already Raked In $9 Billion In Extra Profits.

* After Budget Cuts, The IRS's Work Against Tax Cheats Is Facing "Collapse."

* $6.5 Billion: A Low-Ball Estimate Of The Walton Family's Haul After 16 Years Of Bush, Obama And Trump Tax Giveaways.

* Illinois Could Recover $1.3 Billion Lost To Corporate Tax Loopholes.

* Whatever You Paid To Watch Netflix Last Month Was More Than It Paid In Income Taxes All Last Year: $0.

* Number Of U.S. Corporations Paying 'Not A Dime' In Federal Taxes Doubled In 2018.

* It's Getting Worse: The IRS Now Audits Poor Americans At About The Same Rate As The Top 1%.

* IRS: Sorry, But It's Just Easier And Cheaper To Audit The Poor.

* Corporate America's Tax Breaks Have Left Society More Vulnerable To Pandemic.

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Previously in The Paradise Papers:

* 'Paradise Papers' Reveal Tax Avoidance, Shady Dealings Of World's Rich And Powerful.

* Just How Much Money Is Held Offshore? Hint: A SHIT-TON.

* Development Dreams Lost In The Offshore World.

* Keeping Offshore 'Hush Hush,' But Why?

* Tax Havens Are Alive With The Sound Of Music.

* Today In Tax Avoidance Of The Ultra-Wealthy.

* Go To Town With This Offshore Leaks Database.

* The Paradise Papers: The View From Africa And Asia.

* The Paradise Papers: The End Of Elusion For PokerStars.

* The Paradise Papers: An Odd Call From The Bermuda Government.

* The Paradise Papers: Nevis Is An Offshore Haven Of Opportunity

* The Paradise Papers: The Long Twilight Struggle Against Offshore Secrecy.

* The Paradise Papers: A Fair Tax System Will Be Lost Without Public Pressure.

* Item: Today In The Paradise Papers: Through Death Threats And Scare Tactics, Honduran Reporter 'Perseveres.'

* The Paradise Papers: Journalists Flee Venezuela To Publish Investigation.

* Last Stop: Chicago.

* The Paradise Papers: 'Africa's Satellite' Avoided Millions Using A Very African Tax Scheme.

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Previously in The Panama Papers:

* The Panama Papers: Remarkable Global Media Collaboration Cracks Walls Of Offshore Tax Haven Secrecy.

* The Panama Papers: Prosecutors Open Probes.

* The [Monday] Papers.

* Adventures In Tax Avoidance.

* Mossack Fonseca's Oligarchs, Dictators And Corrupt White-Collar Businessmen.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! They're All In It Together.

* Meet The Panama Papers Editor Who Handled 376 Reporters In 80 Countries.

* The Laundromat.

'A widow (Meryl Streep) investigates an insurance fraud, chasing leads to a pair of Panama City law partners (Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas) exploiting the world's financial system. Steven Soderbergh directs.'

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Previously in carried interest, aka The Billionaire's Loophole:

* Patriotic Millionaires Vs. Carried Interest.

* The Somewhat Surreal Politics Of A Private Equity Tax Loophole Costing Us Billions (That Obama Refused To Close Despite Pledging To Do So).

* Fact-Checking Trump & Clinton On The Billionaire's Tax Break.

* Despite Trump Campaign Promise, Billionaires' Tax Loophole Survives Again.

* Carried Interest Reform Is a Sham.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:42 AM | Permalink

Jonathan Pie On Lockdown, Pt. 4: A Trump Drinking Game

Drink every time he lies. Pass out.

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Previously in Jonathan Pie's Lockdown:
* Jonathan Pie: Lockdown: Low-Footprint Content.

* Jonathan Pie On Lockdown, Pt. 2.: Spare Bedroom Shithole.

* Jonathan Pie On Lockdown, Pt. 3: Tele-Vision.

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Previous Pie:
* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Explains The Economy.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! It's Shit Crap News, Tim.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Is Going To Paris.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Grow Some Balls; Tell The Truth.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! MP Is A Wanker Santa.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Merry Fucking Christmas.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! New Year's Rant.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Sexy Skype.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! TTIP Is Boring Shit.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! The Truth About Teachers & Doctors.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Valentine's Day 2016.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! On The 'Environment" Beat.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Political Theater As News.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Charter Wankers International.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! The Panama Papers: They're All In It Together.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Answer The Fucking Question.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Snapchatting The Environment.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Election Fever!

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Day-Glo Fuck-Nugget Trump.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Dickens Meets The Jetsons.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Tony Blair: Comedy Genius Or Psychopath?

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! What Real Business News Should Look Like.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Facts Are No Longer Newsworthy.

* Pie's Brexit.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Real Life Is Not Game Of Thrones.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Labor: The Clue's In The Title!

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! The Pie Olympics.

* Occupy Pie.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Where Is The War Against Terrorble Mental Health Services?

* Progressive Pie.

* The BBC's Bake-Off Bollocks.

* Pie Commits A Hate Crime.

* Pie Interviews A Teenage Conservative.

* Jonathan Pie's Idiot's Guide To The U.S. Election.

* President Trump: How & Why.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! All The News Is Fake!

* Happy Christmas From Jonathan Pie.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! 2016 In Review.

* Inauguration Reporting.

* New Year: New Pie?

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Make The Air Fair.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! A Gift To Trump?

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Strong And Unstable.

* Pie & Brand: Hate, Anger, Violence & Carrying On.

* Socialism Strikes Back!

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Election Carnage.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Papering Over Poverty.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! The Queen's Speech.

* Showdown: North Korea vs. Trump.

* Time For The Royal Scroungers To Earn Their Keep.

* Cricket vs. Brexit.

* The Real Jonathan Pie.

* A Hostile Environment.

* Jonathan Pie | Trump's America.

* Pie: Putin's America.

* Amazon And The Way Of The World.

* Horseface, Ho-Hum.

* Of Turbines, Trump And Twats.

* Breaking: Trump Still Racist.

* It Says Here.

* The Real Climate Crisis Hypocrites.

* Jonathan Pie On The Campaign Trial.

* We're Fucked, Mate.

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Plus:

If Only All TV Reporters Did The News Like This.

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And:

Australia Is Horrific.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:41 AM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

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Predictably, the Chicago media has missed a lot.

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Meanwhile . . .

"The City Council's Committee on Public Safety will hold a virtual meeting at 11 a.m. Monday to consider Mayor Lori Lightfoot's appointment of retired Dallas police chief David Brown as Chicago's $260,044-a-year police superintendent," the Sun-Times's Fran Spielman reports.

"Lightfoot plans to introduce the Brown appointment at Wednesday's virtual City Council meeting being held for the sole purpose of adopting emergency rules that allow aldermen to conduct substantive city business without meeting in person.

"That will set the stage for Monday's confirmation hearing which, like the council meeting, will use Zoom video-conferencing.

"Normally, confirmation hearings for a new police superintendent are command performances for Chicago aldermen. They often drag on for hours with alderman asking tough and sometimes parochial questions about crime in their individual wards."

Huh. I don't remember such hearings being known for aldermen asking tough questions. I don't remember any hearings being known for aldermen asking tough questions. Mayors Daley and Emanuel simply would not allow it.

But maybe I'm remembering wrong.

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"Brown, 59, retired as Dallas police chief in 2016 after a horrific year that saw five of his police officers gunned down in a downtown ambush.

"He made headlines - and generated controversy - when he gave the go-ahead to use an explosive-bearing, remote-controlled robot to kill the gunman.

"Which raises the question that Ald. Jason Ervin (28th), chairman of the City Council's Black Caucus, plans to ask: Why did Brown essentially choose to execute the gunman when he could have chosen a less lethal option?"

I'm not saying that question isn't worth asking, but if Ervin (and Spielman) read Brown's book, he'd have his rationale - which clearly articulates why he didn't think a less lethal option was available. It would have been valuable to include that in the article and even link to one of the dozens of pieces written about it at the time.

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"Noting that CPD superintendent and Chicago Public Schools CEO are 'the two most high-profile things a mayor is judged on,' Ervin said: 'We should give deference to any mayor in their choices for those two top positions.'"

No, alderman. If these are the two most crucial hires a mayor makes, it's up to you to provide the most stringent oversight you can muster.

And here I thought we were in for some tough questioning.

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New on the Beachwood . . .

Ultrarich Get Another Tax Break, Courtesy Of Coronavirus Relief
GOP provision almost wholly benefits millionaires and billionaires.

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His Shitty Athletic Career
Jim "Coach" Coffman tells the tale.

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Jonathan Pie On Lockdown, Pt. 4
Taking a shot every time Trump lies.

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Abolish Silicon Valley
Wendy Liu grows up.

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He Built A Guitar Out Of 1,200 Colored Pencils
And now he's selling it for coronavirus charity.

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Early Impacts Of COVID-19 On The Pet Food Packaging Market
An increase in the number of pet adoptions is resulting in higher consumption of pet food.

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A World Without Sports
"The current sports stoppage is unprecedented. It touches every level of every game, in every country in the world, from the Olympics down to pick-up basketball."

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ChicagoReddit

If you're awake right now, take a step outside. It's so quiet. from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Manila Bulletin: Chicago Plant Retools To Make COVID-19 Field Hospital Beds

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TweetWood
A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport.

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The Beachwood Q-Tip Line: Purge.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:09 AM | Permalink

April 14, 2020

The [Tuesday] Papers

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Hilco Hokum
"Hours after taking office, Mayor Lori Lightfoot signed an executive order stripping aldermen of their unbridled control over licensing and permitting in their wards. On Saturday, the mayor's decision to start delivering on the central promise of her corruption-fighting mayoral campaign came back to haunt the residents of Little Village," the Sun-Times' Fran Spielman claims in her weird, ongoing war against the mayor.

"Armed with a city demolition permit that local Ald. Mike Rodriguez (22nd) was powerless to block, a sub-contractor hired by Hilco Redevelopment Partners demolished a 95-year-old smoke stack at the site of a shuttered coal-fired power plant without abiding by the safety measures it had promised to implement."

In Spielman's (ahistoric) world, aldermen armed with aldermanic privilege for decades used that power to prevent incidents like this from happening. Up until Lightfoot took office, the Crawford Coal Plant and Hilco's redevelopment efforts were pristine models of civic responsibility!

"On Tuesday, Rodriguez said he would have delayed the smokestack demolition if he could have and twice tried to do just that, only to be told by the city the project would proceed."

How interesting that Rodriguez says this today, given what he said in the aftermath of the demolition, as I noted Monday:

"There was no public meeting to warn neighbors. When Ald. Michael Rodriguez (22nd) learned about the planned implosion, he asked Hilco to notify neighbors via letters in English and Spanish. Those notices were mailed earlier this week, Hilco spokeswoman Julia Sznewajs said. Rodriguez did not send his own notice to neighbors.

"A canvass team also dropped flyers at homes near the site on Friday, [Sznewajs] said - hours before the demolition. The developer posted an implosion notice on the project website on Thursday."

It gets worse for Rodriguez:

"Asked why he didn't push to postpone the demolition, Rodriguez, the freshman alderman who represents the area, said 'there was conversation' but with city permits issued, he felt he 'didn't have a say in that matter.'"

Rodriguez told the Sun-Times that "I wish I had communicated it to residents, and I did not. And for that I am very sorry."

I'm sorry, but that doesn't cut it.

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"The city's Department of Buildings gave a green light to the demolition nearly two weeks ago, and local Ald. Michael Rodriguez, 22nd Ward, was on board but didn't inform residents of the event until Friday evening," WTTW-TV reports.

My understanding, based on the reporting, is that Rodriguez didn't inform anyone. But he was "on board."

"I did learn about this incident - this permit - about a week before the events," Rodriguez told Chicago Tonight on Monday.

So he had a week - and did nothing.

"I obtained a commitment from the developer to inform the community of what was about to happen. I acknowledge that once I finalized my research and knew that the city had given this permit and there was no way we could delay or cancel the process, I should've gone online and let folks know what was going on. It was a mistake. It's a mistake I acknowledge. It's something that will never happen again under my leadership."

That's a different tune than Spielman is reporting.

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"Rodriguez also said Hilco assured him the dust was going to be contained."

I'm not absolving Lightfoot or her administration, but that's the same thing they're saying.

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Back to the Sun-Times. Enter aldermen eager to regain their privilege prerogatives.

"[Ald. Brian] Hopkins noted that, during his first-term as alderman, he presided over 'one the most extensive demolition projects" in Chicago's history - on the site of the massive Lincoln Yards project.

"That complex demolition included: Finkl Steel; a 100,000 square-foot fleet maintenance facility with more than 20 underground storage tanks filled with hazardous chemicals; a rubber recycling company; a tannery; and a variety of other large industrial structures.

"I was consulted every step of the way. Involved in the decision-making process. The dust mitigation, the environmental remediation, scheduling it at a time when it would be less disruptive to the neighborhood," Hopkins said Tuesday.

Sure you were, aldermen. You were consulted but Rahm ran the show. That's the same administration, by the way, responsible for General Iron's shenanigans - though it's absolutely true that the Lightfoot administration has let them continue. But let's not pretend aldermanic privilege prevents ill-considered demolitions; far more often it has been a tool of that very thing.

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"Contrast that with the way the city handled aldermanic involvement in this," Hopkins says. "Ald. Rodriguez was merely notified at the last minute."

But he just said he tried a couple times to stop the demolition. And speaking of last-minute notifications, he made none to his constituents.

"He wasn't told he had veto authority. He wasn't asked for permission. He was simply informed this was happening. It's the exact opposite of what I went through."

Good. It's not clear yet to me the extent of Lightfoot's screw-up, but I'd hate to leave this sort of thing in the hands of hack aldermen.

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"An alderman knows that he [or she] will be held responsible for negative consequences of any decision like this. So an alderman is going to approach it much more cautiously," Hopkins said. We use our aldermanic authority to protect neighborhoods. That's been taken away from us."

Just arrive in Chicago, alderman? Because that's exactly the opposite of the damage aldermanic privilege has wrought on Chicago's neighborhoods.

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"When the COVID-19 crisis subsides and there's no longer such extreme justification for mayoral authority to be solely concentrated in the hands of one person, we should go back to the way it's always been in Chicago, where the people who are elected by and accountable to the neighbors are making decisions that affect the neighborhoods."

Steno Spielman publishes this - and her editors allow it - but in the lead of her story she says Lightfoot stripped aldermen of this power within hours of taking office. COVID-19 has nothing to do with this; it's not like she declared emergency powers to weaken aldermanic privilege so she could demolish a smokestack.

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"[Ald. Byron] Sigcho-Lopez argued Lightfoot's decision to 'centralize power' has had 'unfortunate and shameful consequences' in Little Village. The same could happen with a concrete plant in his own ward that he is trying desperately to stop.

"She can try to point fingers all she wants. But at the end of the day, the departments issued the permit in the first place. She has to own this as much as Hilco owns this," Sigcho-Lopez said.

So the city should not have issued permits to demolish Crawford? I thought we wanted that menace destroyed. Issuing the permits was not the problem. The problem is whether any demolition should take place during the coronavirus crisis, and particularly in this case, why Hilco didn't follow its mitigation plan to prevent flooding then neighborhood with dust.

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"The developer whose weekend demolition of a former coal plant in Little Village sent massive dust clouds into the working-class community has acknowledged not following a plan it gave city officials that would've prevented the situation, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Monday," the Tribune reports.

Asked Monday why the city didn't stop the implosion despite some community opposition, Lightfoot said city departments and Little Village Ald. Mike Rodriguez had been in touch with the developer.

"All of us were assured that there was a very specific plan, that there would be water on site, and that they would be using the water before, during and after to make sure that a dust cloud didn't migrate off site," Lightfoot said. "Obviously, that didn't happen. My understanding is Hilco has now acknowledged that they did not follow the plan that they had told us and I think told the alderman. If we had known, obviously, that they weren't going to do what they said they were going to do, we wouldn't have allowed this to go forward."

Is that true? And if so, why didn't Hilco follow the plan?

"The company did not return messages seeking comment over the weekend or on Monday."

You suck, Hilco. I won't even tell you to get it together, I just want you gone.

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P.S.: The mitigation plan should be a public document, right? Why haven't we seen it yet?

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New on the Beachwood . . .

TrackNotes: Racing In The Time Of Coronavirus
The betting windows are still open; the horses go on.

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Trump Sues Wisconsin TV Station Over This Ad
'Exponential Threat.'

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The Worst Movie Ever Made
"It's on another level, man."

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ChicagoReddit

Anyone else see the car who drive into wet cement in the intersection of harrison and Racine? from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

View this post on Instagram

Imperial Hotel, Japan: Lobby Lantern Fragment 1923 (demolished 1965) Frank Lloyd Wright, Architect American, 1867-1959 Stone, Terra-cotta, unglazed brick, and glass; installed with interior light Photo Credit: Alice Lowe for the Illinois Art Crawl at the Architecture and Design, Gallery 200, Art Institute of Chicago #ArtandDesignMatters #FrankLloydWright #ImperialHotel #admMuseumSupport #admIllinoisArtCrawl #architecturedetail #architecture #architect #ArtInstituteChicago #VisitChicago #VisitIllinois #letsgotothemuseum #Chicago #Illinois #ChicagoIllinois #artmuseum #arthistory #arthistorian #architecturehistory #architectureanddesign #artanddesign #architecturefragment #artcurator #museumcurator #artgallery #museumexhibit #hotelhistory #lantern

A post shared by Art & Design Matters (@artanddesignmatters) on

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ChicagoTube

"Chicago" / GODAMN x Makla

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BeachBook

Stockholm's Subway Network Is The World's Longest Art Walk.

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Bears-Inspired Baseball Uniforms.

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TweetWood
A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport.

Is there an incorruptible media organization in all the land? Seems not.

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The Beachwood Q-Tip Line: Outer ear only, please.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:29 PM | Permalink

Trump Sues Wisconsin TV Station Over This Ad

"President Donald Trump's reelection campaign has filed suit against a Northwoods TV station over an ad using the president's words to attack the administration's response to COVID-19," Wisconsin Public Radio reports.

"The Rhinelander-based station WJFW-TV is owned by the small broadcasting company, Rockfleet Communications, which also owns stations in Bangor, Maine. It has aired an ad produced by Priorities USA, a liberal advocacy group not directly affiliated with any candidate or the Democratic Party."

Here is the ad:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:14 PM | Permalink

April 13, 2020

TrackNotes: Racing In A Time Of Coronavirus

The sports world, like the rest of the world, is stalled. Yet, in a limited manner, the Thoroughbreds run on.

But isn't that the way it's always been? Without judgement, for more human history than not, the equine has carried the world on its back. The alleged human(s) in charge who think nothing of watching people die would do well to look a horse in the eye to plead forgiveness.

Oh for two rear horseshoes to the skulls of a number of select individuals to put them out of our misery.

For a few hours Saturday, the racing was on, sprinkled with insights into unseen aspects of the game.

Both FoxSports1 and NBCSportsNet were running coverage of, basically, three tracks: Oaklawn, Gulfstream and Tampa Bay Downs. NBC was running the TVG feed. Los Alamitos and Remington ran quarter horses, the drag racing of horses. They run all out for up to 900 yards and it's fantastic.

Oaklawn, as pleasurable a track a patron can find, perseveres.

I had trouble getting the past performances PDF on the iPad. The promise of sync sank, as always, so I had to e-mail them to myself.

It was a bit scattershot at first, struggling to get in my Oaklawn bets, but Fox analyst and Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens dug on the eight horse, Channel Stuffer, in a mile turfer at Tampa, race nine. "Euro shipper, hasn't run bad, due." Stevens was matter-of fact. $11.00, $4.40, $3.00. Thanks!

Now that I think of it, I wonder why racing analysts don't do this more. Greg Wolf and Michelle Yu first, and then Laffit Pincay III and Stevens, talked about what was really going on in the barns, the "backside." I would have liked more detail about the little people, but they did acknowledge some of it.

Trainer Tom Amoss, who will have his great filly Serengeti Empress running in next week's Apple Blossom, talked logistics.

"Trainers know how to ship. But now, we can ship our horses to Oaklawn, but we can't bring our people. The people the horses know." Pretty much all tracks have banned people moving from track to track.

I wondered: Amoss had one or two horses running Saturday. He's been in his den for three weeks. So who's saddling his horses? My guess is that they're having someone simply on premise doing the job.

It appeared winning horses were simply being walked around the winners circle with perhaps a photographer capturing it. No posing for the connections shot.

By the time I got my wagering tech act together, it was the Oaklawn sixth. the race seemed to have a theme, as the one was Dack Janiel's and the four was Fortheluvofbourbon. The eight was My Friends Beer. I hit for place with Captain Bombastic. Not for nuthin', I often cash a ticket on the first race I play on a day. Don't get me wrong, reality is real, but with no illusions, it still feels good.

In the ninth, the Oaklawn Mile, I knew I knew better than anybody and tried to beat clearly the best horse in the race, Tom's d'Etat. I was wrong, as Tom's class showed, with a twinkle. The undisciplined Bob Baffert trainee Improbable pulled his usual peevishness in the post parade and tantrum in the gate. Bad start and wide trip, he still placed with an impressive run.

"He's his own worst enemy. The energy he wastes in the parade and in the gate probably cost him the race," Stevens said.

I got shut out in race 10, which I had completely "figured out," the damn mouse scroll not even working. That's table-pounding embarrassing and there are only two ways it can go. The one, Prodigious Bay paid $19.60, but I didn't have him or the other two either. But I will tell you this: If one of your picks hits in a shutout, you don't forget that for a long, long time.

Along the way, we were treated to such pleasant featurettes.

Stevens revealed that in the virus state, jocks' room personnel were basically gone. No valets (VAL-ets).

"These guys will sleep well tonight. They have to do everything for themselves, and if you're riding multiple races . . ."

That includes cleaning their own boots, plastic wrapping their goggles when rain comes in, which it did in Hot Springs yesterday, identifying and getting the proper silks which include the proper helmet covering and tending to their tack. The mission of these support personnel is to handle the mundane so that the athletes may focus only on top performance. Seriously.

But things do get serious in the jocks' room and beyond, as we found out Ricardo Santana Jr. will lose his close contention for the Oaklawn riding title after aggressive riding aimed at apparent archival David Cohen, another title contender, earned him a major suspension.

Santana will sit out the remainder of the Oaklawn meet, which not only includes nice purses, but also the Apple Blossom and the Arkansas Derby. Seems counterproductive to me, including trainers harboring doubts, when Santana is a very good rider.

It seems the two don't get along, to put it mildly.

"These two do not like each other," Stevens said.

They showed a clip of the camel-straw infraction and Santana clearly came out to his right and hooked knee with Cohen. Safety, it wasn't.

Stevens described the issue, intimating that the two have come to blows.

"You never settle scores out on the track. You do that in the locker room, although now, they have security guards in there." Old enough, Stevens implied a few fisticuffs usually settled things back in the day.

Stevens said how early on he learned not to take on another rider on the track, naming the great but troubled jockey Pat Valenzuela.

"When you do that, you both take your horse out of the race. Which allows somebody else to jump up. When I saw two other riders feuding, I'd take advantage to get up."

They also had a nice interlude with idled jockey Aaron Gryder, who has taken a job in a supermarket near his Southern California home. It could have been sappy, but Gryder said both that he's happy to help, but also talked about what's in it for him.

"Watching people taking out big bottles or cases of water, I thought, 'The gyms are closed, this could be a good workout.'"

So, Gryder inquired.

"I wanted to see if I could unload trucks and stock shelves. They told me to fill out a job application. I'm almost 50-years-old and I've never filled out a job application, so they had to show me," Gryder said. "I have to ask the boss for (an occasional) break so I can go talk horse racing a couple aisles over."

"We're doing this, but we also have a group that shops and delivers to people who need it," he said matter-of-factly.

Stevens grilled him: "But what about your cardio?!"

"They're letting us run on the (closed) streets up at the Griffith Park Observatory."

Then, the cherry on top.

Race 11, The Oaklawn Stakes, $200,000, 1-1/8 miles, nine furlongs, dirt.

You chase the grits of an Oaklawn bomber. For the life of me, I couldn't find the record, but I was on my way out of Hawthorne Race Course years ago. At the big bar in the main concourse, Oaklawn caught my eye. For nothing and fun, I put two bucks Win Place and hit a 71-1. A track lifer at the bar said, "You had her?!" "Yeah." Timing still perfect, I bought the beer the bartender had just put in front of him.

Saturday, I checked the chemistry of odds, talent and upside and divined on Mr. Big News, the three horse. The Giant's Causeway colt with Galileo his damsire, had all the distance bones. His Beyer Speed Figures rose steadily in his five races but the big slap came when I saw he had consistently improved his position in his last three, including the Risen Star Stakes last out at Oaklawn. The track had been sealed by then under what seems like permanent rain in Hot Springs, so I figured they'd all have a chance to scoot.

In the next gate out was the four, Thousand Words, half brother to American Pharoah, and the 5-2 favorite, not bad, However, the Bob Baffert trainee, Joe Talamo up, stumbled out of the gate, splayed his front legs straight out in front of him and planted them to keep from falling. That's the kind of move that usually slingshots a jockey like the annual pumpkin launch. Somehow, Talamo held on and 'Words recovered nicely. As long as everything was OK, I quickly realized it helped me.

Gabriel Saez on the winner turned to his right at least five times to see that 'Words was OK and to figure out if he was going to make a move. He never did. Gold Street rushed to the early lead while 'News drifted to the back of the pack in the three lane to save some measure of ground. While ninth at three-quarters, 'News was only one length back. He asserted himself once in the stretch and overcame the fading co-favorite, Taishan. Farmington Road spun into the stretch, targeted 'News but could not finish the job. Taishan took Place, 'Words faded to 11th.

After a safe, efficient and mud-splattered trip, our winner paid $95.60, $24.80 and $10.80. Farmington Road paid $8.00 and $5.80, and Taishan paid $3.40. The answer is Yes Across the Whole Board, and not calculator-aided.

Mr. Big News punched two tickets for himself. The Oaklawn Stakes, previously scheduled to run May 2, the old 2020 Kentucky Derby Day, is a traditional prep for The Preakness Stakes, the second jewel of the Triple Crown, which is still seeking its makeup day.

He's also eligible to run in the Arkansas Derby, smartly moved by Oaklawn to May 2. Churchill Downs Inc. moved the Derby back to September 5.

I am perfectly content to settle in on Oaklawn Park from now until meet's end May 2. The Apple Blossom is next week and then we wait for the Arkansas Derby.

It never ends with Churchill Downs, and I'm relieved I won't have to do so much work for a race I don't believe in anymore. My fervent hope is that the Arkansas race draws more attention than usual and that the September 5 Kentucky Derby becomes as anticlimactic as possible.

Servis Industry
Fallout continues after the indictments of 27 racing personnel, including Maximum Security's trainer Jason Servis, over drug skulduggery.

The Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia has frozen all purse money ($20 million) from the Feb. 29th Saudi Cup, won by Maximum Security. While it might be difficult to prove, 'Security quite possibly may have been under the influence of performance enhancing substances.

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Tom Chambers is our man on the rail. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:07 PM | Permalink

The "Chicago Special" '59 Strat

"Outfitted with handpicked specs like an oval, C-shape, Indian rosewood neck with 9.5-inch radius for a comfortable reinterpretation of this historic instrument."


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See also:

"The 1959 Fender Stratocaster saw a lot of changes," writes Michael Gilmer. "It started the year with the maple neck and fretboard. But, by mid-1959 the maple neck and fretboard was changed to a maple neck with a glued on Brazilian rosewood fretboard and the now-famous clay dot fretboard markers. I loved this change, as the sound of the Strat got darker because of the rosewood."

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Nathaniel Murphy's YouTube channel.

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Nathaniel Murphy's Instagram.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:37 AM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

What the fuck happened in Little Village over the weekend?

"On a day of virtual Easter celebrations and a drop in COVID-19 fatalities that signaled hope, the city was investigating a demolition in Little Village that coated the neighborhood in a cloud of dust," the Tribune reports.

"As officials fight to contain the coronavirus, a respiratory illness, the Saturday toppling of a smokestack at the Crawford Coal Plant on the Southwest Side left residents with fear and anxiety.

"A Pilsen-based street photographer who shot the demolition said the dust hurt his chest for about 20 minutes, even after he used his jacket as a makeshift mask. The photographer, Maclovio, asked that only his first name be used out of fear that the now-controversial photos could hurt his daytime job." (I added the link because the Trib didn't provide it to readers.)

"It was totally gray," Maclovio said. "It looked like something out of the movies."

To wit:

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You can find a ton more on Twitter.

And here's the thing:

"The neighborhood near the plant has already had at least 268 people fall ill with COVID-19, according to a Tribune analysis."

COVID-19, of course, is a respiratory virus only exacerbated by fucktons of demolished smokestack dust.

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"Northbrook-based Hilco Redevelopment Partners secured permits in March to demolish a smokestack on the property, at 3501 S. Pulaski Road, city officials said. The site had been shuttered since 2012 after a contentious push by activists who argued the plant near the Latino neighborhoods of Little Village and Pilsen symbolized environmental racism."

I'd say exemplified because there was nothing symbolic about it.

"A video posted Saturday by the Chicago Fire Department showed a tower falling to the ground, releasing a heavy cloud of particles into the air. Photos circulated on social media showed what appeared to be dense dust seeping into residential areas."

Okay, let's not mention the CFD without mentioning this:

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"Mayor Lori Lightfoot ordered Chicago's Department of Buildings to stop any nonemergency demolitions and ordered Hilco to clean up the areas covered with dust.

"This is absolutely and utterly unacceptable," Lightfoot said at a Sunday news conference. "It's unsafe, it's unsanitary. I would not tolerate it in my neighborhood, and we won't tolerate it here either."

"The developer assured the city it had a plan in place to contain the dust, which included water cannons to minimize the spread, Lightfoot said.

"You don't see any of the water that was supposed to be spraying it," Lightfoot said about videos showing the demolition. "They may claim that they were on-site, but whatever they had on-site was woefully insufficient to contain the dust."

WTF, Hilco?

Here's Lightfoot:

Look, even if Hilco had a plan, the city is also responsible. Just look at the CFD's "mission accomplished" proclamation. Somewhere there was a glitch - and now we all may end up paying for it (though none so much as the residents of Little Village).

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Back to the Trib:

"Hilco did not respond to requests for comment by e-mail or phone. The demolition is part of a $100 million project that will redevelop the area into a 1.06 million-square-foot warehouse, which could become the largest in the city."

To that end:

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Now, about Hilco:

"Headquartered in metropolitan Chicago, Hilco Global is the leading international financial services company having completed billions of dollars of transactions around the world."

The chairman and CEO of Hilco Global is Jeffrey B. Hecktman:

"Mr. Hecktman is deeply committed to philanthropy and ardently supports humanitarian and faith-based causes. He's been a benefactor for a major music therapy program and a stem cell research program at the University of Chicago Medical Center and at the United States Holocaust Museum. He is also a passionate supporter of educational opportunities for underserved communities in the United States and around the world. To this end, he has donated his time and financial support to several important educational programs for the children of Illinois and around the world, including the Youth Guidance mentoring programs that work with over 6000 inner city high school age boys and girls; The All Stars Arts and Education Program in Chicago; major disaster relief efforts in Haiti that provide recovery tools and books for children; and the Yemin Orde Youth Village in Israel, which provides support to at-risk and immigrant youth from around the world."

Mind your store, Hecktman.

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Hecktman once complained about litter in an e-mail to Rahm Emanuel's private account:

"Jeffrey Hecktman, chairman and CEO of Hilco Global, wrote the mayor after driving into Chicago on the Kennedy Expressway and being 'appalled' to see a grassy berm between Wilson and Addison 'filled with an enormous amount of litter.'"

Also: Hecktman had Rahm Emanuel's private e-mail address.

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The CEO of Hilco Redevelopment Partners, which seems to be the entity in charge of the Little Village project is Roberto Perez, unless he's been fired by the time I post this:

"Roberto has been instrumental in establishing the current synergistic partnership between Hilo's real estate and industrial businesses, pursuing the acquisition of end-of-life industrial facilities for the purposes of redevelopment to new and more functional uses. Under Roberto's leadership, Hilco is now one of the country's leading buyers of Brownfield sites for purposes of redevelopment."

His bio lists no charitable endeavors.

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Hilco certainly has friends in all the right places. From the South Side Weekly in March 2019:

"Last Friday, City Council's Committee on Economic, Capital and Technology Development voted to recommend that industrial developer Hilco receive a $19.7 million tax break from the Cook County Assessor's Office for its controversial redevelopment plan for the former Crawford Generating Station in Little Village. The meeting was hastily scheduled - chairman Proco Joe Moreno didn't file an agenda with the City Clerk's office until after business hours on Wednesday. (Moreno was ousted by his 1st Ward constituents in last week's election; his office did not respond to a request for comment about how the meeting was scheduled.)

"The proposed tax break, which will likely be considered and passed by the full City Council at its meeting next Wednesday, would allow the property to be assessed at ten percent of its market value for the first ten years, fifteen percent in the eleventh year, and twenty percent in the twelfth year. Industrial properties are generally assessed at twenty-five percent of their market value without this break.

"Hilco bought the property, located in the Little Village Industrial Corridor, in 2017, and plans to spend $100 million to create an approximately one-million-square-foot distribution center, a plan approved by the Plan Commission over community objections in September."

That's the sort of thing that makes giving away toys look like, well, child's play.

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By the way, the tax break passed the full council.

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Ricardo Munoz didn't cover himself in glory, either - showing once again why aldermanic privilege should be assigned to the dustbin of history.

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From the Beachwood last August:

Clear The Air
"Seven years after the closure of the Crawford coal plant in Chicago's Little Village neighborhood, the site is still a lightning rod for neighborhood activism and outrage," Kari Lydersen reports for the Energy News Network.

"At a community meeting Tuesday, residents demanded city and state officials and the global conglomerate that purchased the site install air monitors during remediation slated to start soon.

"When a city public health official stoically explained that air monitoring isn't considered necessary or typical in such situations, residents responded that this is no 'typical' site. Rather, it is a symbol of environmental injustice in a heavily industrial and residential neighborhood where low-income, largely Mexican immigrant residents can't bear any additional health burden."

I would add that residents don't need monitors for symbolic reasons, but because neither the city nor the company remediating the site can be trusted.

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"Residents were angry to hear of Hilco's purchase of the site in 2017, since the firm is known for developing massive logistics hubs. LVEJO, the Natural Resources Defense Council and other groups have argued that hundreds of diesel trucks serving a warehousing center could present a greater risk to public health even than the coal plant."

Great job, everyone.

"Under state law, the site remediation program requires different tiers of cleanup for industrial or commercial versus residential sites, with more stringent requirements for residential reuse."

Residents deserve the most stringent requirements be met, regardless of the law.

"A similar battle over remediation plans is likely to play out about five miles to the east of Little Village in Pilsen, home to the city's other coal plant closed in 2012. Hilco has reportedly also purchased that site, which is also surrounded by homes and across the street from a park."

Now that we have at least a little bit of context, and know that Hilco isn't to be trusted, let's return to the present day.

"City officials on Sunday sought to lay the blame for the massive dust cloud that descended on Little Village on a 'dishonest' developer that demolished an old coal plant smokestack the day before," Block Club Chicago reports.

"But the city had an active role in the demolition, Mayor Lori Lightfoot acknowledged, by approving permits and overseeing the work Saturday."

Yup.

"Activists had begged the city not to allow the demolition, but it instead proceeded with representatives from the city's Department of Health, Buildings and Fire Department on hand to watch."

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Ald. Michael Rodriguez also failed.

"There was no public meeting to warn neighbors. When Ald. Michael Rodriguez (22nd) learned about the planned implosion, he asked Hilco to notify neighbors via letters in English and Spanish. Those notices were mailed earlier this week, Hilco spokeswoman Julia Sznewajs said. Rodriguez did not send his own notice to neighbors.

"A canvass team also dropped flyers at homes near the site on Friday, [Sznewajs] said - hours before the demolition. The developer posted an implosion notice on the project website on Thursday."

It gets worse for Rodriguez:

"Asked why he didn't push to postpone the demolition, Rodriguez, the freshman alderman who represents the area, said 'there was conversation' but with city permits issued, he felt he 'didn't have a say in that matter.'"

Rodriguez told the Sun-Times that "I wish I had communicated it to residents, and I did not. And for that I am very sorry."

But sufficiently notifying residents is only one part of his responsibilties; he also should have stuck his nose in to make sure the demolition was properly mitigated - or demanded that it be postponed during the coronavirus crisis out of an abundance of caution.

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"Sznewajs, speaking for the developer said abatement testing shows no presence of asbestos or lead in the smokestack. The Chicago Fire Department would be on hand with a fire truck to assist with dust suppression, she said."

And indeed, the CFD thought everything went off without a hitch!

"But she told Block Club she could not immediately produce those testing reports, and deferred questions to the city.

"The Chicago Department of Public Health was monitoring the site weekly to ensure abatement work is being done safely at the site, said Susan Hofer, a spokeswoman for the city.

"Hofer said the company was required to provide proof that remediation was completed and appropriate steps were taken to maintain air quality standards. Block Club has asked the city to make those reports public."

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Speaking of which, if the city had enough people on hand to push the paperwork through and show up to the demolition, they can have enough people on hand to process the FOIAs.

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Afternoon Add:

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Today's Coronavirus Novel

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New on the Beachwood . . .

Corporate America's Tax Breaks Have Left Society More Vulnerable To Pandemic
Big business literally kills.

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Recall! Jowett Farms Pork
Includes "Jewel-Osco Sheboygan Brand Bratwurst - Made in Illinois."

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Meet The Worst Movie Ever Made
"It's on another level, man."

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24 Hours With Oxygen
We got the idea after five.

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The Chicago Special '59 Strat
The rosewood makes it darker.

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ChicagoReddit

Air Quality in Chicago over the years. from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Jesse Thornock With Thornock Racing in the C Class of Iracing in a Gander Outdoor Truck Series Truck at Chicagoland Speedway.

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BeachBook

Zuckerberg's Jealousy Held Back Instagram And Drove Off Founders.

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We Ate And Ranked All 35 Pringles Flavors.

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TweetWood
A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport.

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The Beachwood Q-Tip Line: Rules.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:18 AM | Permalink

April 12, 2020

THINGS: Perhaps The Worst Movie Ever Made

'It's on another level, man. None of the characters in the movie care about the actual movie they are in.'


Featuring porn star Amber Lynn as a TV news reporter who keeps her clothes on the entire film.

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"I've seen a lot of craptastic movies in my time, but Things takes the cake." - Rotten Tomatoes

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"This might actually, legitimately be the worst movie ever made." - Something Awful

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:44 PM | Permalink

24 Hours With Oxygen

"Oxygen is an American pay television channel that is owned by NBCUniversal, which is a subsidiary of Comcast. The channel primarily airs true crime programming targeted towards women."

12:30 p.m.: Smiley Face Killers

1:30 p.m.: It Takes a Killer

2 p.m.: Method of a Serial Killer

4 p.m.: Murdered by Morning

5 p.m.: License to Kill

Oh, you get the idea.

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Previously:
* 24 Hours With QVC
* 24 Hours With Tru TV
* 24 Hours With Current TV
* 24 Hours With The Military Channel
* 24 Hours With The Hallmark Channel
* 24 Hours With TVGN
* 24 Hours With Retroplex
* 24 Hours With Penthouse TV
* 24 Hours With The DIY Network
* 24 Hours With BET
* 24 Hours With CNBC
* 24 Hours With WWMEB
* 24 Hours With PRISM TV
* 24 Hours With Al Jazeera America.
* 24 Hours With Fuse.
* 24 Hours With Pop TV.
* 24 Hours With BET Soul.
* 24 Hours With BabyTV.
* 24 Hours With Jewelry Television.
* 24 Hours With XFHS.
* 24 Hours With Freeform.
* 24 Hours With Baby1.
* 24 Hours With RUS-TV.
* 24 Hours With The Esquire Network.
* 24 Hours With Velocity.
* 24 Hours With WYCC.
* 24 Hours With FM.
* 24 Hours With The Great American Country Channel.
* 24 Hours With Lakeshore TV.
* 24 Hours With CAN TV19.
* 24 Hours With The Game Show Network.
* 24 Hours With Bloomberg TV.
* 24 Hours With HGTV.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:22 AM | Permalink

Corporate America's Tax Breaks Have Left Society More Vulnerable To Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic is rocking financial markets, disrupting supply chains and sharply reducing consumer spending. The crisis is hitting the likes of airlines and high street retailers particularly hard, and is decimating many small businesses. Unfortunately, this is proving devastating for millions of precarious and low-income workers across the world.

Many governments have announced fiscal stimulus packages, including tax relief, to individuals and business. Such measures are welcome, but our new research suggests that they should be understood against broader shifts in the tax regime which leave society less able to withstand the pandemic.

As we show by looking at American companies, these shifts reinforce inequality not only between large and small firms but also between high- and low-income households. The result is a fraying social fabric through which the coronavirus can spread rapidly.

The Big Discount

The graph below maps the worldwide effective tax rate - the rate that is really paid as opposed to any rate set by governments - for U.S. non-financial corporations listed on the stock market. The dark grey bars show the average tax rate of the top 10% of corporations ranked by revenues, while the light grey bars show the bottom 90%. The line above the bars shows the ratio of the tax rate of the top 10% relative to the bottom 90%.

Screen Shot 2020-04-12 at 7.08.21 PM.png(ENLARGE)

This shows that the worldwide tax system was progressive in the 1970s, with the largest corporations paying slightly higher rates than the smaller ones. By the mid-1980s, the system had turned sharply regressive and has stayed so ever since. For 2015-18, smaller listed corporations were effectively paying a 41% rate on their profits, while larger corporations paid 28%.

What accounts for this persistent tax advantage for larger corporations? Are they gaming the domestic system? Or do they enjoy a foreign tax advantage because they have the resources to evade taxes and shift profits to low-tax jurisdictions? To address these questions, we compared the tax rate on domestic income to the rate on foreign income.

The graphs below look at how much U.S. corporations really pay in taxes to different authorities. Again comparing the largest 10% corporations with the rest, the top left graph focuses on tax payments in the U.S. as a whole. The top right graph drills down to U.S. federal taxes while the graph on the bottom left is for the total taxes paid to U.S. states. These three graphs show that the entire domestic system of taxes, both federally and at state level, has been persistently biased towards large corporations since the mid-1980s.

Screen Shot 2020-04-12 at 7.11.59 PM.png(ENLARGE)

This is different to what American corporations pay to other countries, as shown in the graph labeled "foreign" in the bottom right-hand corner. This rate has fallen dramatically for larger and smaller corporations alike, fitting the conventional wisdom that tax competition has intensified with globalization. Until as recently as the end of the 1990s, however, the foreign tax structure in the U.S. was progressive, meaning that the largest corporations were paying more. This has now reversed, just like it did for domestic taxes several decades earlier.

Concentration And Inequality

Why should we care if big business has a persistent tax advantage? One problem is that the tax system encourages businesses to concentrate into bigger and bigger entities. In recent years there have been growing concerns about the dominance of big business in advanced economies, including the U.S. Studies show that as large corporations take greater shares of revenues, profits and assets, they also charge higher prices, pay lower wages, provide lower quality goods and services, and scale back innovation and investment.

Most policy debate has focused on governments rolling back antitrust legislation to remedy this concentration of businesses. Our research suggests that, at minimum, corporate tax should be part of this conversation: the global tax system rewards corporations for reaching a size that is actually bad for society. This may include impeding our ability to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.

Take the notoriously concentrated pharmaceuticals sector, which was already being blamed for a growing problem of drug shortages well before the arrival of the pandemic - partly due to business decisions to discontinue old products that wereren't profitable enough. Lobbyists for Big Pharma were also successful in blocking provisions in a new $8.3 billion U.S. coronavirus emergency spending bill that would tackle unfair pricing and thus threaten companies' intellectual property rights over essential medicines.

The tax advantage of big business also helps to widen household inequality. Supporters often claim that tax savings allow business to expand productive capacity, employment and wages, and therefore create widespread prosperity. Yet our research shows that as the rate they effectively pay declines worldwide, large corporations scale back their capital expenditures.

If large corporations aren't using their tax windfall to expand productive capacity, what are they doing with it? According to our findings, they are enriching their shareholders.

In the 1970s, large corporations allocated 30 cents toward dividend payments and stock buybacks for every dollar of capital expenditure. From 2010-18, the amount they spent on enriching their shareholders had jumped to 93 cents.

This surge wouldn't be such a problem if share ownership was widely dispersed, but it's not. The top 1% of U.S. households own, either directly or indirectly, 40% of all corporate shares, and the top 10% of households own 84%.

So the corporate tax regime has fueled inequality, which is an important vector for the spread of the coronavirus. Many people on lower incomes are forced to make the wrenching choice between going into work and potentially contracting and spreading the coronavirus, or staying at home and failing to make ends meet.

The government measures for individuals and small businesses are a welcome - but by no means sufficient - attempt at ameliorating problems that the regressive tax regime has helped to create. Let's also use this crisis as an opportunity to reform the tax system in ways that help tackle inequality and reduce corporate concentration.

Sandy Brian Hager is a senior lecturer in international political economy at City University of London. Joseph Baines is a lecturer in international political economy at King's College London. This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

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See also from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists:

* Crumbling Economies Must Tackle Tax Evasion To Meet Coronavirus Crisis, Experts Warn.

* Global Coalition Calls For Safeguards To Prevent Looting Of Coronavirus Relief Funds.

* Investigating The Coronavirus: Who Is Cashing In?

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Previously in tax scammage:

* McDonald's Breaks Promise To Raise Wages.

* Last Year, Amazon Paid No Federal Income Taxes. Now, It's Trying To Kill A Local Tax That Aims To Help the Homeless.

* Trump Vowed To Punish Companies That Moved Jobs Overseas. Is Congress Rewarding Them?

* After Long Career Bailing Out Big Banks, Obama Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner Now Runs Predatory Firm That Exploits The Poor For Profit.

* Jeff Bezos Just Became The Richest Person Ever. Amazon Workers Just Marked #PrimeDay With Strikes Against Low Pay And Brutal Conditions.

* A Sweet New Century For America's Most Privileged.

* With Nation Transfixed By Kavanaugh Monstrosity, House GOP Votes To Give Rich Another $3 Trillion In Tax Cuts.

* Deepwater Horizon Settlement Comes With $5.35 Billion Tax Windfall.

* Offshoring By 29 Companies Costs Illinois $1.2 Billion Annually.

* Government Agencies Allow Corporations To Write Off Billions In Federal Settlements.

* The Gang Of 62 Vs. The World.

* How The Maker Of TurboTax Fought Free, Simple Tax Filing.

* $1.4 Trillion: Oxfam Exposes The Great Offshore Tax Scam Of U.S. Companies.

* How Barclay's Turned A $10 Billion Profit Into A Tax Loss.

* Wall Street Stock Loans Drain $1 Billion A Year From German Taxpayers.

* German Finance Minister Cries Foul Over Tax Avoidance Deals.

* Prosecutor Targets Commerzbank For Deals That Dodge German Taxes.

* A Schlupfloch Here, A Schlupfloch There. Now It's Real Money.

* How Milwaukee Landlords Avoid Taxes.

* Study: 32 Illinois Fortune 500 Companies Holding At Least $147 Billion Offshore.

* Watch Out For The Coming Tax Break Trickery.

* When A 'Tax Bonanza' Is Actually A Huge Corporate Tax Break.

* The Hypocrisy Of Corporate Welfare: It's Bigger Than Trump.

* Oxfam Names World's Worst Tax Havens Fueling 'Global Race To Bottom.'

* Offshore Tax Havens Cost Average Illinois Small Business $5,789 A Year.

* State Tax Incentives To Corporations Don't Work.

* GOP Tax Plan Would Give 15 Of America's Largest Corporations A $236 Billion Tax Cut.

* Triumph Of The Oligarchs.

* Amazon Short-List Proves Something "Deeply Wrong" With America's Race-To-The-Bottom Economy.

* Apple's $38 Billion Tax Payment Less Than Half Of $79 Billion They Owe.

* U.S. Surpasses Cayman Islands To Become Second-Largest Tax Haven On Earth.

* Less Than Year After GOP Tax Scam, Six Biggest Banks Already Raked In $9 Billion In Extra Profits.

* After Budget Cuts, The IRS's Work Against Tax Cheats Is Facing "Collapse."

* $6.5 Billion: A Low-Ball Estimate Of The Walton Family's Haul After 16 Years Of Bush, Obama And Trump Tax Giveaways.

* Illinois Could Recover $1.3 Billion Lost To Corporate Tax Loopholes.

* Whatever You Paid To Watch Netflix Last Month Was More Than It Paid In Income Taxes All Last Year: $0.

* Number Of U.S. Corporations Paying 'Not A Dime' In Federal Taxes Doubled In 2018.

* It's Getting Worse: The IRS Now Audits Poor Americans At About The Same Rate As The Top 1%.

* IRS: Sorry, But It's Just Easier And Cheaper To Audit The Poor.

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Previously in The Paradise Papers:

* 'Paradise Papers' Reveal Tax Avoidance, Shady Dealings Of World's Rich And Powerful.

* Just How Much Money Is Held Offshore? Hint: A SHIT-TON.

* Development Dreams Lost In The Offshore World.

* Keeping Offshore 'Hush Hush,' But Why?

* Tax Havens Are Alive With The Sound Of Music.

* Today In Tax Avoidance Of The Ultra-Wealthy.

* Go To Town With This Offshore Leaks Database.

* The Paradise Papers: The View From Africa And Asia.

* The Paradise Papers: The End Of Elusion For PokerStars.

* The Paradise Papers: An Odd Call From The Bermuda Government.

* The Paradise Papers: Nevis Is An Offshore Haven Of Opportunity

* The Paradise Papers: The Long Twilight Struggle Against Offshore Secrecy.

* The Paradise Papers: A Fair Tax System Will Be Lost Without Public Pressure.

* Item: Today In The Paradise Papers: Through Death Threats And Scare Tactics, Honduran Reporter 'Perseveres.'

* The Paradise Papers: Journalists Flee Venezuela To Publish Investigation.

* Last Stop: Chicago.

* The Paradise Papers: 'Africa's Satellite' Avoided Millions Using A Very African Tax Scheme.

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Previously in The Panama Papers:

* The Panama Papers: Remarkable Global Media Collaboration Cracks Walls Of Offshore Tax Haven Secrecy.

* The Panama Papers: Prosecutors Open Probes.

* The [Monday] Papers.

* Adventures In Tax Avoidance.

* Mossack Fonseca's Oligarchs, Dictators And Corrupt White-Collar Businessmen.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! They're All In It Together.

* Meet The Panama Papers Editor Who Handled 376 Reporters In 80 Countries.

* The Laundromat.

'A widow (Meryl Streep) investigates an insurance fraud, chasing leads to a pair of Panama City law partners (Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas) exploiting the world's financial system. Steven Soderbergh directs.'

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Previously in carried interest, aka The Billionaire's Loophole:

* Patriotic Millionaires Vs. Carried Interest.

* The Somewhat Surreal Politics Of A Private Equity Tax Loophole Costing Us Billions (That Obama Refused To Close Despite Pledging To Do So).

* Fact-Checking Trump & Clinton On The Billionaire's Tax Break.

* Despite Trump Campaign Promise, Billionaires' Tax Loophole Survives Again.

* Carried Interest Reform Is a Sham.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:03 AM | Permalink

April 11, 2020

Recall! Jowett Farms Pork

Jowett Farms, a Blumenort, Canada establishment, is recalling approximately 42,587 pounds of raw pork trimmings that were not presented for import re-inspection into the United States, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced Friday.

The raw pork trimmings were imported on April 2, 2020 and further processed into sausage products. The following products are subject to recall:

* 20-oz. plastic wrapped tray packages containing sausage links of "Jewel-Osco Sheboygan Brand Bratwurst - Made in Illinois" with a sell-by date of 4/17/20.

* 20-oz. plastic wrapped tray packages containing sausage links of "Jewel-Osco Mild Italian Sausage" with a sell-by date of 4/17/20.

* 20-oz. plastic wrapped tray packages containing sausage links of "Jewel-Osco Hot Italian Sausage" with a sell-by date of 4/17/20.

The products subject to recall bear establishment number "EST. 7779" inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were shipped to retail locations in Illinois and Wisconsin.

The problem was discovered during routine FSIS surveillance activities of imported products.

There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about a reaction should contact a healthcare provider.

FSIS is concerned that some product may be in consumers' refrigerators or freezers or both. Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.

FSIS routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks to verify that recalling firms are notifying their customers of the recall and that actions are being taken to make certain that the product is no longer available to consumers. When available, the retail distribution list will be posted on the FSIS website at www.fsis.usda.gov/recalls.

Consumers and members of the media with questions about the recall can contact Thomas Jowett, Operations Manager, Jowett Farms Corporation, at (204) 326-3252.

Consumers with food safety questions can call the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or live chat via Ask USDA from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday.

Consumers can also browse food safety messages at Ask USDA or send a question via e-mail to MPHotline@usda.gov.

For consumers that need to report a problem with a meat, poultry, or egg product, the online Electronic Consumer Complaint Monitoring System can be accessed 24 hours a day at https://foodcomplaint.fsis.usda.gov/eCCF/.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:43 AM | Permalink

April 10, 2020

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #299: Bulls Get Their (White) Man

GarPax is dead. We think. Plus: Q Life; Baseball Isn't Coming Back This Year, Folks; Bear Crazy; and Transfer Window.


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SHOW NOTES

* 299.

:35: Q Life.

* NBA Horse Participants, Rules, Matchups Revealed.

* Allie Quigley.

* Tamika Catchings.

* Rhodes: "I wonder why they call it Horse and not Loser - it's the same number of letters!"

7:33: Baseball Isn't Coming Back This Year, Folks.

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* NCAA Establishes COVID-19 Working Group To Address Potential Challenges For College Football, Other Fall Sports.

* Wolken, USA Today: Mike Gundy's Latest Ridiculous Comments Out Of Touch With Reality Of Coronavirus.

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* Players From All 30 Teams Form MLB The Show League.

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* Mets Simulation Broadcast Throws Shade At Astros.

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25:35: GarPax Is Dead. We Think.

* Theo Karnisovas.

26:35: Bulls Get Their (White) Man.

* The Undefeated: Black Executives Around NBA Frustrated By Bulls' Front-Office Search.

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* Goodwill, Yahoo Sports: Source: Arturas Karnisovas Plans To Hire Person Of Color To Be Bulls General Manager.

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* Cowley, Sun-Times: John Paxson Willing To Leave Organization.

* Coffman: "Shockingly enough, John Paxson will not be stepping down. He'll still have some sort of role with the Bulls."

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* Collier, Tribune: 7 Things To Know About New Bulls Executive Arturas Karsinovas, Including That Time He Played Against The Dream Team And His Love Of EDM.

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57:28: Bear Crazy.

* Biggs, Tribune: Nick Foles' Crazy Contract.

* Emma, The Score: Robert Quinn's Crazy Coin Flip.

* Biggs: Ifedi Eyes Starting Job.

(Which is kind of crazy.)

* Biggs Time: Does Nick Foles' low salary-cap number make room for more free agents? What if Mitch Trubisky regains his 2018 form? And why hasn't the Jimmy Graham signing been panned more?

1:06:02: Transfer Window.

* "Abby O'Connor, a 6-foot wing who led Loyola University of Chicago in scoring and rebounding the past two seasons, announced she is transferring to Gonzaga."

* "Guard Alan Griffin plans to transfer from Illinois to Syracuse."

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STOPPAGE: 9:50

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For archives and other Beachwood shows, see The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:13 PM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

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"Sherman was originally a collector of vintage jukeboxes, and, frustrated with the limited range of records, he bought Music Products, a pressing plant in Bridgeport, Illinois, to press up tracks for them," the Guardian notes.

"I got tired of listening to the Andrew Sisters and Tommy Dorsey," he said. "So I decided to do things the hard way."

He was then approached by house music artists Jesse Saunders and Vince Lawrence who wanted him to release their music. He pressed up Saunders' On and On - regarded by some as the first house music record - and created the Precision label, before founding Trax.

Via Trax, Sherman released the futuristic, bass-driven music that defined Chicago house style, such as Can U Feel It by Mr Fingers, Your Love by Frankie Knuckles, Bringing Down the Walls by Robert Owens, and Jefferson's Move Your Body.

Phuture's Acid Tracks was released by the label and helped coin the term "acid house", which caused a sensation in the UK in 1988.

But, to be honest . . .

"Sherman was criticized for poor-quality vinyl pressings, missed royalty payments, and a lack of interaction with the artists on his roster . . . DJ Pierre of Phuture once claimed 'Trax never paid me royalties,' and Jamie Principle, who sang Your Love, alleged he wasn't properly signed to the label, saying they 'literally just stole my stuff.'"

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New on the Beachwood today . . .

We're On The Brink Of Cyberpunk
"Cyberpunk speaks to the present because the conditions that inspired it remain largely unchanged."

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The Tornillo Boondoggle
'Over five months, the federal government spent about $66 million to operate the facility, which was built to hold as many as 2,500 detainees; it never held more than 70 and the average daily population for the first three months was 28. That comes out to a cost of about $431,000 per day.'

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How Chinese TV Is Covering Chicago's Coronavirus Crisis
See CGTN's reports.

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Beachwood Sports Radio: Bulls Get Their (White) Man
GarPax is dead. We think. Plus: Q Life; Baseball Isn't Coming Back This Year, Folks; Bear Crazy; and Transfer Window.

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Chicago Guy Says He's Invented A Better Jump Rope
Retractable!

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ChicagoReddit

A detailed history about Starsiak Clothing and the Polish Triangle from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Peggy Macnamara Draws a Golden Jackal at the Field Museum of Chicago.

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BeachBook

Manhattan's DA Just Slammed Christie's With A $16.7 Million Fine For Failing To Collect New York Sales Tax For Years.

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Mort Drucker, 1929 - 2020.

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TweetWood
A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport.

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*

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Maybe the line is: "What's he doing in Joe Biden's basement?"

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The Beachwood Q-Tip Line: Basement tapes.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:01 AM | Permalink

The Tornillo Boondoggle

The federal government wasted millions in taxpayer dollars on food, supplies and personnel during a brief reopening of a West Texas immigration detention facility last year, a government watchdog reported Thursday.

The findings from the Government Accountability Office focus on expenditures from August to December to operate the tent encampment at Tornillo, a rural community in eastern El Paso County. The facility was reopened to hold single adults amid a spike in apprehensions of undocumented immigrants at the Texas-Mexico border. It was previously used in 2018 to detain undocumented immigrant children.

Over those five months, the federal government spent about $66 million to operate the facility, which was built to hold as many as 2,500 detainees. But it never held more than 70 people, and the average daily population for the first three months was 28 people, according to the report.

That comes out to a cost of about $431,000 per day.

During the initial three-month contract - which was later extended for two more months - the GAO found that U.S. Customs and Border Protection spent $5.3 million on food, food delivery and other supplies, enough for 2,500 detainees per day - but averaged just 1% of capacity. The government adjusted food deliveries and reduced those costs during the two-month extension.

Screen Shot 2020-04-10 at 5.04.26 AM.pngTornillo/Ivan Pierre Aguirre for The Texas Tribune

The government spent an additional $6.7 million on 75 unarmed guards to monitor the facility 24 hours a day, and agents from Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Border Patrol, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as well as National Guard soldiers, also were temporarily reassigned to Tornillo. The GAO concluded that with an average daily population of 28 detainees, each detainee was being guarded by four soldiers, three security guards and one CBP officer.

The National Guard soldiers were reassigned in mid-November.

The Tornillo facility was reopened to hold adult migrants after Border Patrol stations in Texas reached or exceeded their capacity last year during a surge of border crossings, mostly by Central Americans seeking asylum. Agents said repeatedly that Border Patrol holding stations were not built to house people for long periods of time and they would need additional facilities if the surge continued.

In its response to the GAO findings, the Trump administration said it didn't have the luxury of hindsight, as did the GAO, when it was operating the facility, and it couldn't predict what effect other border security measures would have on overall crossings.

"In leadership's view, it would have been worse to close facilities such as the one in Tornillo, Texas, too early and be forced again to hold detainees in locations not suited to that purpose than it was to take the risk that CBP would have a level of overcapacity for some time," Jim H. Crumpacker, director of the GAO's Office of Inspector General Liaison Office, wrote to the GAO.

The GAO report also states that local Border Patrol officials tried to alert their superiors that Tornillo was an unnecessary use of resources.

"Border Patrol officials in the El Paso sector told us that the sector recommended to Border Patrol headquarters that the facility be closed and resources reallocated elsewhere for other CBP missions, due to the consistently low numbers of individuals held at the facility and the personnel resource requirements to operate the facility," the report states.

"In contrast, CBP headquarters officials told us, despite the consistently low numbers of detainees held in the Tornillo facility, they decided to continue operations for the 2,500-person facility because they were operating in an environment with considerable uncertainty related to migrant flow and wanted to prepare for the possibility of increased apprehensions," the report says.

This post originally appeared in The Texas Tribune.

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Previously:

* Tent City For Migrant Kids Shrouded In Secrecy.

* Immigration Sins Of The Past And The Forced Separation Of Families.

* Law And Farce: The Forced Separation Of Families.

* Jennings v. Rodriguez And The Forced Separation Of Families.

* Forced Separation Of Families & Forced To-Term Pregnancies.

* Here's A List Of Organizations That Are Mobilizing To Help Immigrant Children Separated From Their Families.

* Separated Migrant Children Are Headed Toward Shelters With A History Of Abuse And Neglect.

* The Shelter For Immigrant Children That Melania Trump Visited Has A History Of Violations.

* U.S. Turned Away Thousands Of Haitian Asylum-Seekers And Detained Hundreds More In Horrific Conditions In The '90s.

* Brazilian Asylum Seeker Released After 11 Months In Detention; Grandson Had Been Held In Chicago.

* Immigrant Infants Too Young To Talk Called Into Court To Defend Themselves.

* E-Mails Show Trump Administration Knew Migrant Children Would Suffer Mental Problems Once Separated From Their Families At The Border. Then They Ramped Up The Practice.

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See also:

* ProPublica: A Defendant Shows Up in Immigration Court by Himself. He's 6.

* The New York Times: The Price Tag Of Migrant Family Separation: $80 Million And Rising.

* 60 Minutes: The Chaos Behind Donald Trump's Policy Of Family Separation At The Border.

* Trump Lying About The 60 Minutes Report.

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Plus:

* Immigration Raids Send Chill Through Little Village.

* This Is What A Deportation Raid Is Like.

* Illinois Immigrant, Labor, Legal Leaders Condemn ICE Raids.

* Chicago Activists Tell Undocumented Immigrants Not To Open Their Doors.

* A Shameful Round-Up Of Refugees.

* U.S. Government Deporting Central American Migrants To Their Deaths.

* Tell President Obama To Stop Deporting Refugees.

* Immigrants Arrested In U.S. Raids Say They Were Misled On Right To Counsel.

* Obama Planning Huge Deportation Sweep Of Immigrant Families.

* Immigrants Deported Under Obama Share Stories Of Terror And Rights Violations.

* Chicago Family Sues ICE & City Over Raid, Gang Database.

* Immigrants In Detention Centers Are Often Hundreds Of Miles From Legal Help.

* Chicago And The Deportation Machine.

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Comments welcome.



Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:04 AM | Permalink

We're On The Brink Of Cyberpunk

Where is the president in Blade Runner?

Beneath the 1982 neo-noir's trappings of genetically engineered human automatons is a story about corporate power over and indifference to life, and alienation in the face of wealthy apathy to the plight of workers.

Replace the Tyrell Corporation with Amazon and reframe the replicants as "essential service employees," and suddenly you have a world of workers terrified that their jobs are inherently a death sentence - moving straight from fiction to reality.

But while Blade Runner's once-distant future of November 2019 feels resonant in so many ways - vast corporate power, persistent surveillance, life in a time of constant crisis - it misses the actual 2019's most salient feature: an inescapable, painful awareness of politics and of the presence or deliberate absence of government in daily life.

Government, as experienced for much of the 20th century, is largely absent from the lives of characters in cyberpunk stories. Police are a durable feature, but government services and functions beyond the security state are absent.

Yet for all the aggressive visibility of politics in our daily lives, we're not that far off from the powerlessness of a cyberpunk future. Cyberpunk speaks to the present because the conditions that inspired it remain largely unchanged.

As the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps through the world, it collides with governments in the West that have spent decades deliberately shedding power, capability and responsibility, reducing themselves to little more than vestigial organs that coordinate public-private partnerships of civic responsibility.

This hollowing of the state began in earnest in the 1980s, and the science fiction of that time - the earliest texts of cyberpunk - imagines what happens when that process is complete.

Cyberpunk is a genre of vast corporate power and acute personal deprivation. The technologies at the center of it are all means of control - control bought by the wealthy or broken by criminals. Where recourse is available, in whatever small way, it's through direct action.

In William Gibson's Neuromancer, characters interact with the government either through past military service or in the law literally made manifest in code. Real power is reserved for entrenched wealth.

For Bruce Sterling's Islands in the Net, politics is visible but driven by corporations either bending states to their will or actively routing around governance. These dystopias are the logical culmination of a political project designed to fundamentally limit what government can do for people and expand what it can do for the wealthy.

"Back in the 1980s, before movies and video games reduced the genre to a mass of unimaginative violence and body modification tropes, cyberpunk was the literary movement that was busy projecting our fears about rampant capitalism, media oversaturation, and emerging computer networks into fictional futures," writes Infinite Detail author and journalist Tim Maughan.

The 2020s are, in a real tangible sense, the conclusion of The Long 1980s. Writing in the 1980s, foundational cyberpunk authors were watching as leaders on both sides of the Atlantic pursued a set of political reforms collectively known as neoliberalism. Prioritizing competition in the market above all else, these reforms were fundamentally a political project, aimed at shrinking the public sphere and undoing many of the commitments to social welfare that had been made in the wake of the chaos, upheaval, and deprivation of the first half of the 20th century. The neoliberal turn was a project of unmaking the state for individuals and communities and remaking it for capital.

Cyberpunk conjured a world at this end state of neoliberal reorganization. Islands in the Net features drone warfare launched against data havens at the behest of corporations. In Blade Runner, the profit considerations of multinational companies determine worker personhood. There is more than a little of the Tyrell Corporation's prudent life expectancy design in how Amazon responds to worker protest over a lack of personal protective equipment. Today, cyberpunk's anticipated neoliberal end state is nothing more fanciful than life as we know it.

What is remarkable is not that writers anticipated how the neoliberal turn would go, but that 40 years and several international economic crises later, politicians still respond to these crises with solutions that prioritize markets over people.

In the United States, greatly decreasing state capacity has been an ongoing bipartisan project since 1981. Even the Affordable Care Act, itself the flagship bill of the furthest-left administration in the United States in a half-century, is fundamentally built around the market first, with the government obliging humans into participating in that market.

It is easy to see health care markets warping into what we see in cyberpunk. The genre is rich with augmented bodies and artificial limbs, available at a steep price - a privilege available to the ultrawealthy or for a tremendous debt that obliges the recipient to a benefactor. It is the promise of the best medical care known to history - and the least affordable means to get it.

Hospitals across the United States are in bidding wars with wealthy enclaves, black market profiteers, and one another for a finite supply of protective equipment. At every point where the supply chain is open to market incentives, companies built to prioritize profit exploit the absence of state control, bogarting lab test contracts and protective mask production lines.

Cyberpunk portrays a world dominated by an insulated wealthy elite, catered to by exclusive services offering premium versions of what governments once offered the public.

In 2019's Alita: Battle Angel, itself a schlocky adaptation of 1990s cyberjunky manga Gunnm, the upper class literally lives in a floating city, where they receive monthly shipments of exceptional organs harvested from the underclass below. It's modern organ transplant disparities blasted to hyperbolic proportions.

That disparity, extended to all aspects of life, is the end stage of a deliberate political process. Historian Nils Gilman describes this policy program as a "plutocratic insurgency," where the wealthy seek "to carve out de facto zones of autonomy for themselves by crippling the state's ability to constrain their freedom of (economic) action." The wealthy do this within elected office and outside it, spending some small portion of their fortunes to ensure politicians meet crises with tax cuts instead of rent freezes.

As the wealthy expand the space where they can act with impunity, they are aided from below by entrepreneurs of crime. In the void where a government once offered protection, financial support, and access to medicine instead thrives an alliance of the rich who believe themselves above the law and their accomplishes willing to flout the law.

What might it mean, say, to experience a pandemic knowing that many of the needed medical supplies are getting bought up for personal use by the ultrarich, or captured by the black market and auctioned off to the desperate?

And, more importantly, what happens next, when companies are free to take over functions that in a previous era would have been taken care of by the government?

Amazon's logistics empire now gets headlines comparing it to the Red Cross, even as warehouse workers protest over lack of personal protective equipment.

While the State of Texas waited until March 31 to issue a stay-at-home order in the face of the pandemic, San Antonio-based H-E-B activated its own Emergency Operations Center on March 4.

By contrast, the Pentagon is still waiting for direction on where to send its 2,000 ventilators.

It is not hard to imagine that after the pandemic, the mishandling of federal resources will be used as a reason to surrender even more state capacity to private companies, which will leave the government even worse-equipped to handle whatever crisis comes next.

A significant strategy of the plutocratic insurgency, after all, as enabled by the neoliberal turn, is to leave the government ill-equipped for a shared crisis.

Rationing once-public goods by wealth is a choice societies make, no matter how much market essentialists portray it as natural.

It is the same logic that deems people ordering goods at home worthy of protection while denying protections to the workers preparing those deliveries.

It is a short hop, skip and jump from Amazon branding the whole of its workforce "essential services" to imagining a future, as envisioned by cartoonist Matt Lubchansky, where "Service Guarantees Free Shipping."

One of cyberpunk's most durable spinoffs is steampunk, which transposes the technological ingenuity and exploration from the imagined near future to an alternate past, from the 21st to the late-19th century.

Steam engines and fantastical contraptions aside, it is telling that the conventions of cyberpunk work seamlessly in the Gilded Age.

The 2020s are hardly the first era of unaccountable corporate power, of deprivation and dehumanization in the name of markets and technological progress.

Escaping a Gilded Age takes more than just clever protagonists who can outwit the cruelties and exploitations of the wealthy few. As insurmountable as the power of robber barons once seemed, cataclysm and political action brought the Gilded Age to a resounding end. The inoculations against another Gilded Age are found far less in the works of cyberpunk and far more in the Works Progress Administration. Escaping a Gilded Age takes an active, collective politics, one that refuses to let governments hide behind algorithms or abdication of responsibility to the market.

Without that politics, we're not just living in the prologue to a cyberpunk future. We're living in the first chapter of a cybourgeoisie reality.

This post originally appeared in Future Tense, a collaboration of Arizona State University, New America, and Slate.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:44 AM | Permalink

Chicago Guy Says He's Invented A Better Jump Rope

"I thought that jump ropes would be more convenient if they were easier to carry and store," said an inventor from Chicago. "This led me to develop an adjustable jump rope that can be taken along anywhere you go."

He created a prototype for the patent-pending RETRACTABLE JUMP ROPE to enable the user to adjust the length of the rope as needed. The accessory is easy to carry and store. The device is easier to use than conventional jump ropes. It is made of durable components. Additionally, the invention promotes physical activity. It can be used by one or three or more people and can extend up to 16 to 18 feet. It can be used for single usage or to jump double dutch.

The original design was submitted to the Chicago sales office of InventHelp. It is currently available for licensing or sale to manufacturers or marketers.

For more information, write Dept. 18-CKL-1276, InventHelp, 217 Ninth Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15222, or call (412) 288-1300 ext. 1368. Learn more about InventHelp's Invention Submission Services at http://www.InventHelp.com.

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Previously:
* Inventor Invents Enhanced Doorknob.

* Stinky Seaweed Spurs Invention.

* Tailgate Kitchen.

* The Chicago Man Who Invented The Remote Control Has Died.

* Pitch-O-Matic: Get Your Invention Seen On TV.

* Inventors Of Sports Bra, Hard Hat & Ibuprofen Among Hall Of Fame Inductees.

* Out Of Broadview: A Breath Sanitizer For Blowing Out Birthday Candles.

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Comments welcome.

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1. From Steve Rhodes:

The problem with these InventHelp press releases is they never show photos - or even just drawings - of the invention at hand. Are they afraid someone will steal the idea? So frustrating.

And they don't name names! I'd like to know who these inventors are.

Then again, InventHelp is probably a scam and maybe I shouldn't post these anymore. They do have entertainment value, though. Limited entertainment value, but still.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:00 AM | Permalink

April 9, 2020

How Chinese TV Is Covering Chicago's Coronavirus Crisis

The China Global Television Network, or CGTN, is producing reports about the coronavirus crisis in America from Chicago. Here's a look.

1. Chicago Businesses Struggle To Cope With COVID-19 Closure. (March 17)

"Some U.S. states are taking drastic steps to curb the spread of COVID-19. California, Ohio and Illinois have closed bars and restaurants, leaving owners and workers wondering how they'll survive financially. CGTN's Dan Williams reports from Chicago."


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2. Family And Friends Turned Away From Nursing Homes In The U.S. (March 20)

"As cases of COVID-19 continue to rise, concerns grow for the most vulnerable populations. Nursing homes across the United States are on high alert. At least 30 people died following an outbreak at a home in Washington State. ​Now, positive tests at facilities in the Chicago area of Illinois are raising more concerns. CGTN's Dan Williams reports."

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3. Illinois Joins Other States Imposing Stay-At-Home Orders. (March 22)

"New Jersey is joining the list of U.S. states imposing stay-at-home' orders. Public gatherings are banned and only essential businesses can stay open. The State of Illinois just began a similar policy after its COVID-19 cases hit nearly 600. CGTN's Dan Williams has more from Chicago."

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4. Life In The Time Of Coronavirus: Chicago, Illinois. (March 23)

"In Chicago, Illinois, restaurants and bars remain closed due to concerns for the coronavirus. Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker ordered closures after many still congregated at public places on St. Patrick's Day, despite government warnings to keep a social distance. Restaurants can still open for takeout business. CGTN Correspondent Liu Xiaoqian talked to some people about the situation in the city."

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5. Chicago Prioritizes Testing First Responders And Medical Workers. (March 27)

"More and more drive-thru test sites are emerging across the United States. In Chicago, first responders and health workers can get priority tests at these makeshift sites."

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6. Plight Of First Responders And Medical Staff In Chicago. (March 28)

"As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to grow, so does concern surrounding the threat to the very people we depend on to protect the front lines - our doctors, nurses and other first responders. CGTN's Dan Williams reports."

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7. What Is A Stay-Home Order Like In Chicago. (March 29)

"Although Illinois was one of the earliest states to implement a statewide stay-home order, as our reporter Liu Xiaoqian finds out, people are still roaming the streets of Chicago."

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8. Here's How A Nurse In Chicago Is Handling The Ongoing Outbreak Of COVID-19. (April 8)

"They are some of the first people working with patients during the COVID-19 outbreak. CGTN's Dan Williams speaks with Patrice Rosenberg, an ICU nurse at Northwestern Medicine, about her experience during the pandemic and what people in the health care industry need to do to continue their difficult work."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:52 AM | Permalink

John Prine In The Beachwood

Geez, I just did a post like this for Bill Withers. The loss of John Prine hurts even more - not that there's a sliding scale.

Like so many others, I was a fan. I can't say I was a huge fan, though that's not because there was anything I didn't like about his work. I just never collected his entire discography; only a few CDs and songs. Now I'm motivated to go back and see what I've missed.

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l always thought "Lake Marie" was overrated, but man, what about these?

He didn't write that song, but he sure does play it.

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Also, "Some Humans Ain't Human."

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And, of course, "In Spite of Ourselves."

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I also had to keep reminding myself over the years that I liked John Prine but disliked John Hiatt; for some reason I confused those two for awhile. I also got tired of reading about how Prine was once a Chicago mailman. That's slightly interesting but man, the media latches onto a piece of biography and can't let go.

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Anyway, here are the appearances Prine has made in the Beachwood since we got started in 2006:


Tell The Band To Go Home, from The Beachwood 24/7 Alt-Country Internet Radio Guide, April 2006:

(CJUM - Winnipeg)

Tell The Band To Go Home is a weekly celebration of great songs and the people who bring them to life. I play songs from some of the greatest songwriters of all time, including John Prine, Lyle Lovett, Fred Eaglesmith, Willie P. Bennett, and many more. Along with the legends, I also focus on the the hottest new writers of today. Every week, I try to have a different musical guest who can give us some insight into their songs and their personality. Previous guests include: David Francey, Gurf Morlix, James McMurtry, Eliza Gilkyson, John Mayer and many more. Also, I'm often joined by local singer/songwriters in the studio for a talk and some live music. Local favorites like Del Barber, JP Hoe, Nathan, The Wailin' Jennys, Scott Nolan and many more have all stopped by. If you're interested in great music on a Sunday afternoon, check out Tell The Band To Go Home every week.

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Also:

Dave's Record Collection w/Dave Sisson

(WMUC MP3 stream)

I'm a father of three teenage boys. I have a massive record collection (3,500+ records & 2,000+ CDs). I enjoy playing a wide variety of music and comedy. Often the shows are thematic: Halloween, Christmas, Mother's & Father's Day, July 4th, etc.

Favorite artists: John Prine, John Hiatt, The Replacements, The Gourds, The Who, The Rolling Stones, Roy Buchanan, The Handsome Family, The Band, Steve Goodman, The Smothers Brothers, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Richard Thompson, The Swimming Pool Q's, Warren Zevon . . .

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Like A Cloud/Playlist, March 2010:

(We're Not) The Jet Set/John Prine & Iris DeMent. Irresistible, no matter who sings it.

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Local Music Notebook: Sasha Go Hard's Nutty World; Fun With Chicago Playlists, August 2013:

"Although a cornerstone of The Bad Examples' hook-heavy sound and energetic live shows from 1988 until his untimely death last week, Mr. Piekarski may best be remembered by those outside of the Midwest for his time with Chicago folk-rock icon, John Prine, whose band came to be called The Famous Potatoes."

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The Weekend In Chicago Rock, March 7, 2013:

John Prine at the Symphony Center on Friday night.

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Local Music Notebook: Born In Chicago, May 2015:

New Bio Does Justice To John Prine.

Prine's entry into the music business seems right out of a novel. A letter-carrier in suburban Chicago writes songs as a sideline and begins performing publicly at 23 on a dare during an open-mic night. He gains recognition through a rave review from a film critic (Roger Ebert). A fellow musician (Steve Goodman) arranges an impromptu concert for him in a Chicago folk club with a popular crooner (Paul Anka) and a rising musical star (Kris Kristofferson) as the audience. The newcomer's songs impress them, and it leads to a trip to New York and a contract with Atlantic Records."

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The Week In Chicago Rock, November 20, 2015:

John Prine and Loudon Wainwright III at the Rialto in Joliet.

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The Weekend In Chicago Rock, November 7, 2016:

John and Billy Prine at the Chicago Theatre.

Kot: "When John Prine's band left the stage for a few songs, time melted away Friday at the Chicago Theatre and he was back at the old Fifth Peg on Armitage Avenue in 1970 with an acoustic guitar around his shoulders while delivering songs that spoke to the times and beyond.

"Or, as Bob Dylan once described Prine's lyrical gift, 'pure Proustian existentialism, Midwestern mind trips to the nth degree.' His songs have not only aged well, the years have added richness and resonance."

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When John Prine Gets To Heaven, October 2019.

He'll have a nine-mile long cigarette waiting for him.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:53 AM | Permalink

FIFA (Allegedly) Still Super Corrupt

"Prosecutors revealed new details of alleged bribes paid to FIFA executive committee members to gain their votes for Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup and charged a pair of former 21st Century Fox executives with making illegal payments to win broadcast rights for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments," the AP reports.

"An indictment unsealed Monday in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn says Nicolas Leoz, then president of the South American governing body CONMEBOL, and former Brazil federation president Ricardo Teixeira received bribes to vote for Qatar at the 2010 FIFA executive committee meeting.

"Jack Warner of Trinidad and Tobago, president of the North and Central American and Caribbean governing body CONCACAF, received $5m in bribes to vote for Russia to host in 2018 from 10 different shell companies that included entities in Anguilla, Cyprus and the British Virgin Islands, the indictment alleged. Guatemala federation president Rafael Salguero was promised a $1 million bribe to vote for Russia, according to the indictment."


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Previously:
* World Cup Politics: Fixed Matches, Fascism & FIFA.

* FIFA's Radio Deals: Rigged?

* The 'Beautiful Game' Turns Ugly: New Mob Museum Display Explores Corruption Of FIFA.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:33 AM | Permalink

The Jesus Myth

While atheists agree that Jesus could not possibly have been the son of an imaginary god, scholars continue to debate whether a historical Jesus ever existed at all. Just in time for Easter, the latest issue of Free Inquiry confronts the Jesus myth head-on, exposing the errors, inconsistencies, and absurdities that run through the Bible's conflicting accounts of the life and deeds of a revolutionary and, ultimately, fictional figure.

"Recognizing that Jesus was a mythical son of God is not just an esoteric question debated by religious scholars," writes Eugene D. "Duke" Mertz. "On the contrary, it is absolutely vital to properly understand and address the appeal of Christianity. While some of these ideas could be considered revolutionary, Jesus was not killed because of them."

freeinqury.png

Mertz contends that disagreements and inconsistencies between and among the Gospels and Epistles should not be brushed aside.

"It makes no sense," he writes, "that the Gospel writers should differ in their description of the Last Supper unless it never occurred."

Mertz says there are no contemporaneous accounts of early Christians outside of the Bible, noting that centuries later, editors of the Gospels erroneously appropriated amalgamations of Greek and Hebrew deities and rites, treating them as the historical records of a single man.

Among the Bible's internal inconsistencies is the notion that Jesus's disciples would have abandoned him in his time of crisis. Loyalty is a subject well understood by retired police captain and leadership scholar Mark Cagnetta, and he finds Christ's followers' spinelessness implausible. How is it possible, asks Cagnetta, that after months of devotion to the miracle-working messiah himself, that these apostles would give new meaning to an old phrase: "When the going gets tough, the apostles get going . . . as far away as they possibly can!"

And if the story of Jesus is the result of exaggeration and embellishment, perhaps there is something to be learned from fishermen. Contributor Mark Kolson connects the stereotype of the exaggerating fisherman to the Jesus myth's need for someone who could spread the news of alleged miracles, "not by marshaling evidence but by using deceptive language to persuade the public that Jesus was a god." That figure was Peter, he who trammeled up 153 Jesus-conjured fish.

Also in the April/May 2020 issue of Free Inquiry: Center for Inquiry CEO Robyn Blumner shows how Attorney General William Barr is casting secular Americans as "enemies of the state;" Mohadesa Najumi recounts how discovering atheism allowed her to reclaim her personhood; Hannah Wallace contrasts Europe's legacy of the Enlightenment with the continued existence of blasphemy laws; Gregory S. Paul offers hope that the 2020s will reflect the secularization of the "roaring" 1920s; and much more.

The April/May 2020 issue of Free Inquiry is coming soon, with both print and digital subscriptions available.

The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and the Council for Secular Humanism. The Center for Inquiry strives to foster a secular society based on reason, science, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:58 AM | Permalink

The [Thursday] Papers

"Across the globe, the coronavirus pandemic is affecting almost all aspects of daily life. Travel is down; jobless claims are up; and small businesses are struggling.

"But not all businesses are experiencing a downturn. The world's largest pornography website, Pornhub, has reported large increases in traffic - for instance, seeing an 18% jump over normal numbers after making its premium content free for 30 days for people who agree to stay home and wash their hands frequently. In many regions, these spikes in use have occurred immediately after social distancing measures have been implemented."

Yes, wash your hands.

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"In the midst of the COVID-19 epidemic, it has become easier to buy alcohol than toilet paper or eggs.

"Across the U.S., governors are terming alcohol sales an essential business and loosening restrictions to permit home delivery and carryout cocktails, throwing an economic lifeline to one group of small businesses.

"Are alcohol sales actually essential? According to the federal government, just over half of Americans age 18 and above (55.3%) drank alcohol in the past 30 days; just over a quarter binged - more than four drinks on an occasion for women, or five for men - and 1 in 17 (5
or five for men - had an alcohol use disorder, ranging from mild to severe.

"For those in this latter group who are actually dependent on it, alcohol may indeed be essential."

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Chicago Doctors Noticing Bump In Injuries From People Cooking, Exercising At Home During The Coronavirus.

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IDES Of April
"Gig workers and other self-employed, independent contractors in Illinois cannot look forward to getting unemployment checks anytime soon - despite a new federal law intended to help them out financially," WBEZ reports.

"The $2 trillion federal stimulus bill that was approved on March 27 cleared the way to expand jobless benefits to many workers who had not previously been eligible, including the vast ranks of drivers for Uber, Lyft and other ride-share apps.

"But nearly two weeks later, the officials who run the unemployment system for Illinois have not come up with a process to accept applications from such workers, much less get the promised money into their pockets."

At least porn is free for 30 days.

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Mayor Mom
"Mayor Lori Lightfoot drove around Chicago during the nice weather Tuesday, yelling at people to go home whenever she saw crowds," Block Club Chicago reports.

This is something I'd like to see. She should wear a body cam.

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Peter Meter
"Long before Peter Navarro's feud with infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci over a possible treatment for coronavirus, the White House trade adviser had a reputation as a political wrecking ball in California - where he ran in a handful of races as a liberal Democrat," Politico reports.

The combative and cocksure approach that mark his arguments for the use of the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine are familiar to California Democrats who assisted Navarro's early political forays in Southern California, when he unsuccessfully ran for office in San Diego five times between 1992 and 2001.

Back then, they recall, Navarro's temper and ego often proved to be his undoing in campaigns where he literally stood alongside Hillary Clinton, railed against then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich as the personification of political evil and positioned himself as a "strong environmentalist and a progressive on social issues such as choice, gay rights, and religious freedom.''

Larry Remer, a veteran Democratic political consultant who ran two of Navarro's campaigns, describes his former client as "the biggest asshole I've ever known.''

Sure, but have you met his boss?

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New on the Beachwood today . . .

Illinois Coronavirus Inbox
Jeffrey Pendleton did not have to die, for one thing.

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The Jesus Myth
"[E]xposing the errors, inconsistencies, and absurdities that run through the Bible's conflicting accounts of the life and deeds of a revolutionary and, ultimately, fictional figure."

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John Prine In The Beachwood
Not John Hiatt.

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How China's State-Owned Media Is Covering The Coronavirus From Chicago
See CGTN's reports.

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FIFA Still Super Corrupt
21st Century Fox, too.

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ChicagoReddit

Is Your Apartment Noise Isolated? from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

King Von (Grandson Of David Barksdale) Could Be Chicago's Next.

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BeachBook

Quarantined Couple Builds Art Museum To Entertain Pet Gerbils.

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TweetWood
A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport.

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The Beachwood Q-Tip Line: Lock. Them. Up.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:49 AM | Permalink

Illinois Coronavirus Inbox: Tuition Strike, Muslim Relief, Preventable Jail Death

1. In Midst Of Covid-19 Crisis, More Than 1,400 Students Urge University Of Chicago To Halve Tuition; Hundreds Prepare To Strike.

From: UChicago for Fair Tuition.

Students across all undergraduate and graduate divisions at the University of Chicago are coming together to urge the University to institute a 50% reduction in tuition and elimination of fees for as long as the coronavirus crisis continues.

The newly established group, UChicago for Fair Tuition, is also urging the University to eliminate advanced residency tuition for doctoral students.

Furthermore, they are demanding that the university release the budget, reinstate part-time status, and institute a long-term tuition freeze. As of 9 a.m. on April 7th, a petition calling for negotiations around these requests garnered more than 1,400 signatures.

As the tuition deadline approaches on April 29th, over 820 students are considering participating in a tuition strike by withholding Spring Quarter tuition should the University fail to negotiate with UChicago for Fair Tuition.

The University of Chicago is the most expensive university in the country, with an $8.5 billion endowment. In February, they announced a 2019 fundraising haul of $5.4 billion, surpassing their original goal by a hefty $1 billion, with the promise to aid low-income students. UChicago has the means and the responsibility to provide financial relief for students during this difficult time.

As the world faces a health and economic crisis, students are extremely vulnerable. Many are experiencing severe financial and housing insecurity; this includes undergraduates who had to move out of their dormitories. Families are struggling with sudden unemployment and facing the prospect of high medical expenses should someone fall ill. And yet, students at UChicago are still being asked to pay exorbitant tuition.

2. Muslim Charity Packing And Distributing Food To Locals Affected By COVID-19.

From: ICNA Relief Chicago.

ICNA Relief Chicago is distributing food boxes to those who have lost their jobs, homebound elderly, widows, and other low-income neighbors.

As we adapt to this new reality, many neighbors are worried about where, when, and how to provide the next meal for their families. "With the recent crisis, the demand has skyrocketed," Dr. Saima Azfar, ICNA Relief's Midwest regional director, said in a statement. "Not only are our clients already low-income wage earners, now they are out of work or have seen their hours dramatically cut. They have nowhere to turn to but us."

We invite the media to witness the distribution of food boxes on Saturday, April 11 from our Rogers Park food pantry (2809 W Devon Ave) as volunteers line up to deliver food boxes to local families in need from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. We also encourage friends to join the national ICNA Relief efforts to share the responsibility of assisting our vulnerable neighbors.

-> Donate.

-> Volunteer.

ICNA Relief is a subsidiary of the Islamic Circle of North America, operating across the nation with programs such as homeless women's transitional homes, food pantries, back to school giveaways, Muslim family services, women's hygiene kits, winter clothing drives, disaster relief, free health screenings, and more.

ICNA Relief, in collaboration with other organizations, announces the opening of free telehealth services helpline to advise patients on non-urgent questions or concerns without having to visit medical clinics or a doctor's office during this COVID-19 health crisis.

3. Cook County Jail's First COVID-19 Death Could (And Should) Have Been Prevented.

From: Sarah Staudt from Chicago Appleseed and the Chicago Council of Lawyers.

Jeffrey Pendleton is the first person known to have died after contracting COVID-19 in the Cook County Jail. His infection and eventual death were avoidable and preventable.

Each and every government actor who objected to his release - or contributed to his incarceration in the first place - played a role in his death. If Cook County officials take his death seriously and respond decisively and quickly, perhaps they will be able to avoid further loss of life. But if they respond with apathy and inefficiency - as they have throughout this pandemic - his death will be the first of dozens, or even hundreds, of incarcerated people who will die needlessly.

Mr. Jeffrey Pendleton died at age 59. The most important thing to remember about him, I'm sure, is not the criminal case against him or the reason he was incarcerated. Like every human being, Mr. Pendleton had family, friends, and a community. He had a life and dignity that should have been respected and preserved. Unfortunately, in his final years, Mr. Pendleton was subjected to the grave injustices of our criminal punishment system - including money bond, overcharging, and pretrial incarceration - and when he asked for mercy and justice in the midst of this unprecedented pandemic, he was denied. Jeffrey Pendleton had been in the Cook County Jail since July 2018. For almost two years he lived in jail while presumed innocent, awaiting trial on charges for which he had not been convicted.

At any time during those two years, Jeffrey could have gone home had he been able to pay just $5,000. On March 26, four days before Mr. Pendleton tested positive for COVID-19, his public defender asked the judge and State's Attorney on his case to reduce that bond - or to, at least, let him be confined at home on electronic monitoring while he awaited the resolution of his case. The judge denied the bond reduction and Mr. Pendleton went back to Cook County Jail, where it was impossible for him to follow CDC guidelines, impossible to keep his hands washed regularly, and impossible to avoid contracting the virus. Less than two weeks later, Mr. Pendleton was dead. He will never see the outcome of the pending federal lawsuit challenging the conditions of his confinement as cruel and unusual under the Eighth Amendment.

For the past several weeks, state's attorneys and Sheriff Tom Dart have repeatedly touted that people charged in "non-violent" or "low-level" cases have been released. Quite obviously, this has been and remains false.

Mr. Pendleton wasn't accused of hurting, threatening, or robbing anyone. While he was accused of crimes that sound particularly dangerous, the behavior he was accused of did not, in fact, hurt any specific person. From the publicly listed charges, it seems he was arrested for allegedly carrying a firearm without a license and possessing, or possibly delivering, heroin. There is nothing in his charging to suggest that he shot anyone or threatened anyone. The "victim" listed in his charges is the State of Illinois. Yet, the state's attorneys decided to charge him with two war-on-drugs-era charges that inflated his possible sentence to a minimum of 21-years.

He was charged under laws from the 1980s and 1990s - laws which the majority of the country no longer support - designed to lock people up and throw away the key, so his case was not considered "non-violent." One of these is the "Armed Habitual Criminal" three strikes law, which imposes a 6-to-30-year sentence for simple gun possession on people with two or more past felony convictions. The other is the Illinois "Armed Violence" statute - an extremely misleadingly-named statue that is one of the harshest gun possession laws in the country. It imposes high mandatory minimums in all cases where a gun is possessed at the same time another alleged, usually non-violent, felony occurs. In Mr. Pendleton's case, it was the supposed delivery of heroin. Because of these draconian laws, Jeffrey Pendleton was facing a 21-year mandatory minimum sentence: a sentence that might have very well led the 59-year old to die in prison.

I'm not going through these details to minimize the crimes in which Mr. Pendleton was accused. We can't know from publicly available documents what exactly the circumstances of his arrest were, but I can say this:

* If Mr. Pendleton could have paid $5,000, he would have been able to go home well before this pandemic began. Our wealth-based system continually uses money bonds to incarcerate the poor and vulnerable while letting those with money go free.

* If the State's Attorney's Office had followed its own touted policies, and not chosen to use outdated charges, Mr. Pendleton likely could have been released before the COVID-19 pandemic began - either pretrial or after finding a reasonable resolution (something other than a 21-year minimum prison sentence) to his case.

* If the Chief Judge of Cook County Timothy Evans, Sheriff Tom Dart or State's Attorney Kim Foxx had directed their offices to respond appropriately to advocates' calls to massively depopulate the jail before the first cases were reported, Mr. Pendleton might have avoided the infection that killed him by sheltering-in-place with his family like other Chicagoans. Because they dragged their feet, used extremely narrow definitions of who was eligible for release, and insisted on lengthy individualized reviews of 5,600 cases while the virus spread like wildfire in the jail, Jeffrey Pendleton was handed a death sentence.

No one is disposable. No one deserves to die of this virus. Every death is worth preventing. No one should be left behind as society comes together to collectively survive this unprecedented crisis, but there are thousands more people still behind bars at Cook County Jail. Very, very few of them are a direct threat to anyone and none of them deserve to die simply because of an accusation or for being too poor to pay a bond.

Many more will die needlessly before this pandemic is over. State's Attorney Foxx, Sheriff Dart, and each judge in Cook County - particularly Chief Judge Evans - have the power to prevent more avoidable deaths. They must exercise that power.

I sincerely hope that Mr. Pendleton's family and community are able to grieve him and, somehow, find peace. I hope that over the next few days, if his family and friends wish, we can all lift up the most important things about Jeffrey Pendleton's memory. I hope that all of us who did not know him will see our responsibility to radically change our approach to the crisis in the Cook County Jail, respect the value of human life, and send home every person we can before more families are robbed of their loved ones.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:00 AM | Permalink

April 8, 2020

Not Quite Monsters

Where to start with the Bears? Where to start the first chapter of "Being A Fan Of The Monsters Of The Midway For The Last 45 Years?"

I think I should go ahead and note that in the year of my birth (1966), the Bears quickly realized they had enjoyed what had the potential to be the greatest-ever first round of an NFL draft the off-season before. I would like to see any single round in any single team's draft history in which it selected more fundamentally diverse talent than the Monsters taking Gale Sayers and Dick Butkus Nos. 3 and 4 respectively in the '65 draft. That was especially the case during pre-Bill Walsh professional football, where year after year the most important capability of successful NFL teams was running the ball and stopping the run.

Two Hall of Famers. Two guys who should have anchored their respective successful sides of the ball for the Bears for a decade or so. Of course, also two guys who weren't a quarterback, but this is the Bears we're talking about. For some reason this franchise has been cursed to wander in the desert for 70-plus years (since Sid Luckman hung up his cleats) in search of a quarterback (Happy Seder Nights on Wednesday and Thursday everybody!) who can give them even three years of greatness. The latest, ever-so-delightful chapter of that story has been the great Mitch Trubisky over-value and flameout of 2017-20.

Now that I think about it, maybe the key for the Bears is to draft another Jewish quarterback out of Columbia, Luckman's alma mater. They haven't tried that since 1940, have they?

Anyway, that thing about the first round of the 1966 draft being the best single round in NFL draft history is probably trumped by the fact that any team taking any future great pro quarterback in whatever round probably beats it. Like, say the Patriots' sixth round in 2000 (again, if you are reading this I'm guessing you know that New England took Tom Brady in that round, but I'm putting this in here just to be sure).

But the Bears took Sayers and Butkus before I was a fan. I wonder if the Mel Kipers of the world would have had a feel for how great that draft potentially was for the Bears, who had plummeted from the heights of a rare NFL championship in 1963 to being one of the worst teams in the league (5-9) in 1964.

Then again, they were decent in '65 (9-5) and respectable with their awesome rookies in '66 (6-7-2) and decent again in '67 (7-6-1) and '68 (7-7). After that, the deluge: the Bears went 1-13 in 1969 and were off and running on a streak of seven straight seasons with a losing record. And that, of course, was the time in which I became aware of the team I quickly became fanatic about.

Any gushing about the Bears' first round picks in 1966 would have very much needed to start with the standard condition that a draft really can't be evaluated until three or even four years down the line. For the Bears, Sayers was magnificent for a season but suffered the first in a series of knee injuries that cut his professional career criminally short. And while Butkus was one of the greatest middle linebackers of all time for a half dozen seasons, he couldn't make up for the team's shortcomings elsewhere. And in that time he was permanently hobbled by knee injuries as well. Butkus was also hobbled by what he believed to be sub-par care from Bears doctors.

My first memory of Bear fandom was from a game I attended with my dad in what, 1973 or '74? It was a game late in another losing season for the Monsters and I have no memory of what happened on the field.

What I do remember was that a crew of fans took it upon themselves late in the game to unfurl a huge sheet/banner that said something along the lines of "Fire Abe Gibron," who was the head coach at the time. I'm sure the language on the banner was more colorful than that but I don't remember it exactly.

The fans then started to parade their banner down a horizontal aisle in the middle of old Soldier Field's lower bowl. But they didn't make it very far before another fan or three grabbed the sheet and pulled it away. A big, honking melee ensued. I feel like in the '70s there were more fights in the stands and on the field, floor or ice than in other decades. It was certainly the height of the "If you don't have enough talent, fight your way to the top" era in hockey, capped off by the Broad Street Bullies aka Philadelphia Flyers winning the Stanley Cup in 1974 and '75.

The fight was far more entertaining than anything the Bears did on the field that year. And it was an exciting time for my brother (Nat, born in 1968) and I to be sports fans because it was the only time our family had season tickets to anything.

Unfortunately, we only had two of those tickets so our memories of going to Bears games are bifurcated. My brother's happiest memory of those days was of attending the game in 1977 (a 10-7 win over the Vikings) in which Walter Payton set the single-game NFL rushing record with 275 yards. He squeaked past the previous record of 273 that had been set by O.J. Simpson a few seasons prior.

My best memory of the Bears also happened that season. The Chiefs had come to town and ended up taking a 27-21 lead in the final minute. The Bears got the ball with less than 30 seconds remaining needing a touchdown. In what has to go down as the greatest game in his career, quarterback Bob Avellini first found running back Robin Earl in the flat and Earl gained more than 20 yards to put the Bears in range for a Hail Mary.

Then, with the clock ticking under 10 seconds remaining, the Bears clustered their wide receivers on one side and sent tight end Greg Latta deep on the other. Latta got some separation and Avellini threw the bomb. The pass was a little outside of perfect but Latta somehow managed to keep his eye on it as it drifted over his head and came down with the ball in stride. The touchdown tied the game and Bob Thomas's extra point gave the Bears the win.

Perhaps the best part of it all was that at least 80 percent of the crowd had fled Soldier Field by the time Avellini threw that first pass to Earl. But we stuck around 'til the end and were rewarded with the win - the most exciting one in any sport that I have ever seen in person. Oh, and that touchdown happened right in front of us (our seats were back in a corner of Soldier Field, which was so well designed (not!) that only 20 percent of its seats were located between the goal lines.

Even though it happened in 1974, I am going to call the hiring of Jim Finks as the Bears' general manager and executive vice president the end of my first chapter. Finks was the first guy in franchise history not named Halas to have final say over Bears personnel. He had built a dynasty in Minnesota in the mid '60s (the Vikings won 11 of 14 Central Division titles starting in 1968 and four NFC championships. They lost all four Super Bowls but still . . . ) and he proceeded to meticulously build the Bears into the glorious teams of the 1980s. Finks started that process by drafting Payton with the Bears' first pick in 1975.

Finks was just like former Blackhawks general manager Dale Tallon in that he was gone from his team-building job before his team won the championship. With the Bears it happened in 1986, of course. The Hawks first won in 2010.

Finks resigned in 1983 when George Halas didn't consult him before hiring Mike Ditka as head coach. I'm not sure but I think my dad may have given up the season tickets in disgust when that happened. And while my dad was never much of a sports fan, he was right on the money with that one, even if it did mean we missed out on so much winning starting in 1984.

Ditka was larger than life in Chicago but he should have won more than one championship with the talent Finks provided. And he only won that championship with defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan, who Halas forced him to keep, in absolute control of that side of the team. Ryan left to head coach the Eagles after that and the Bears haven't won another title since.

Not quite Monsters, eh?

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Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:04 PM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

TIL: Micro Center is an essential business, and therefore open.

I had to go there this morning for an external keyboard and some compressed air (don't ask) after a thoroughly frustrating, counterproductive discussion with Apple Support last night about a MacBook issue I'm trying to solve. It turns out Apple is virtually shut down, at least from a technical assistance view, and including their stores and genius bars.

Micro Center - the one on Elston - said they wouldn't even have an Apple tech available for about two weeks.

Anyway, I got what I needed for a temporary fix, though for a store with social distancing squares taped down at the check out line, limits on how many customers are allowed in at a time, a plastic partition between customer and cashier, and a worker wiping down carts, I was shocked to see customer service and sales reps without masks or gloves - and violating social distancing like the dickens. I suppose you have to stand next to customers to help them, but c'mon!

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Did you know you can buy an external keyboard for $5 - or even less? Not necessarily at Micro Center, despite what one of their repair guys told me, but elsewhere. I spent an entirely reasonable $20 on a Macally that I'm quite happy with so far. It's very Mac-like.

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Anyway, it's my understanding that stores like Staples and Office Max are also considered essential, which makes sense from the standpoint that folks still need their computers to work. Maybe they still need things like envelopes, too, to continue doing business.

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Also, shit's fucked up on the emergency small business loan/grant front.

This is only one small part of it:

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Meanwhile . . .

"Self-employed Illinois workers like Uber drivers and piano teachers who have lost income because of the coronavirus pandemic will have to wait weeks before they can apply for financial assistance under the federal relief law," the Tribune reports.

1. Piano teachers?

2. How long will they have to wait to get through the Trib's paywall to read about this?

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"The $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, which includes benefits for the self-employed, was signed into law March 27. Late Sunday, the federal government provided 79 pages of instructions to states for administering unemployment assistance under the relief act, including aid for the self-employed.

"On Tuesday, Illinois was unable to provide any guidance on when applications will open. Creating a system for the self-employed, who are not usually eligible for unemployment benefits, will take time, Rebecca Cisco, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Employment Security, said in an e-mail."

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Again, because it drives me crazy every time I see it: Was it the reporter or Cisco who didn't have time to pick up the phone and conduct a proper interview?

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Food stuff . . .

Me, March 20:

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Tribune today: Everyone Is Having Groceries Delivered During The Pandemic, But Food Stamp Recipients Still Must Go Out To Shop. Illinois Is Trying To Change That.

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I don't want to be pedantic, but not "everyone" is having groceries delivered - in fact, that's the point of the article!

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Another benefit of making SNAP available for delivery use is that grocery deliveries are pretty costly once you include the fees and - unless you are a monster - a generous tip. For SNAPholders paying their own way to get groceries delivered, it's an expensive proposition.

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Similarly, when WBEZ reports that These Are The Dishes Chicago Craved More Than Usual While Stuck Inside, they are leaving an awful lot of Chicagoans out - those who cannot afford food delivery apps like one cited in the report called Caviar.

One thing's for sure, though: WBEZ is reporting on people like them, and those are the people who make up Chicago in most of the media's mind's eye.

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Chicagoans like red velvet cake!

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Also:

"Independent farmers are feeling the economic impact of COVID-19, which forced a lockdown just before the season began for spring farmers markets. But the Chicago Farmers Market Collective is working to replace that income through a virtual marketplace," ABC7 Chicago reports.

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Drinking and driving . . .

"Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Wednesday a curfew on liquor sales in the city," ABC7 Chicago reports.

Starting Thursday, liquor stores must close at 9 p.m.

"This is not punitive, it's protective," Mayor Lightfoot said. "Nonetheless, as with our lakefront closure, we are putting this curfew in place because too many individuals and businesses have been violating the stay-at-home order."

Apparently too many people were gathering - or shopping - at liquor stores in the evenings. Once again, knuckleheads ruin it for the rest of us.

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"Drivers in Chicago are being warned by police that travel in Illinois should be limited for essential purposes only," NBC5 Chicago reports.

"Chicago police officers began conducting roadside safety and informational check points Tuesday in each police district to provide information to motorists about the state of Illinois' ongoing stay-at-home order."

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I don't know about this - I have a friend (who lives in another state) who drives around for a bit most afternoons just to get out of the house. (Her health problems limit how much walking she can do.)

What's the harm?

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"There's no wandering around or driving around, no going places for no reason. Essential travel only and we will provide that information to people that we stop," police chief Charlie Beck said.

NBC5 says that "Travel is not prohibited during the 'stay-at-home' order, but state officials say that travel can only be done for what it calls 'essential' reasons."

Yeah, not so sure about that.

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New on the Beachwood today . . .

Choose Your Chicago Quarantine House
But choose wisely, my friends, you're gonna be there a long time.

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Not Quite Monsters
Our very own Jim "Coach" Coffman on his Bears fandom.

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ChicagoReddit

This is an actual conversation I just had with my landlord regarding a showing. What are my options here? from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

"Leavin' Chicago" / Metallusionist

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TweetWood
A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport.

They knew in November.

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She (and her cohort) get paid a lot more than I do to be way less right.

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The Beachwood Q-Tip Line: Fish, meet barrel.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:36 AM | Permalink

Choose Your Chicago Quarantine House

Choose wisely, my friends. You're gonna be there a long time.

House Ashland
Rahm
Billy Corgan
Todd Ricketts
Sneed
Pat Quinn

House Archer
Richard M. Daley
Willie Wilson
Dan Bernstein
Ken Griffin
Chief Keef

House Diversey
Bill Daley
The CTU
David Kaplan
Steve Albini
Mary Schmich

House Kedzie
Toni Preckwinkle
Chuck Goudie
Steve Dahl
Chance the Snapper
Liz Phair

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:49 AM | Permalink

April 7, 2020

Where Big Gods Came From

When you think of religion, you probably think of a god who rewards the good and punishes the wicked. But the idea of morally concerned gods is by no means universal. Social scientists have long known that small-scale traditional societies - the kind missionaries used to dismiss as "pagan" - envisaged a spirit world that cared little about the morality of human behavior. Their concern was less about whether humans behaved nicely towards one another and more about whether they carried out their obligations to the spirits and displayed suitable deference to them.

Nevertheless, the world religions we know today, and their myriad variants, either demand belief in all-seeing punitive deities or at least postulate some kind of broader mechanism - such as karma - for rewarding the virtuous and punishing the wicked. In recent years, researchers have debated how and why these moralizing religions came into being.

Now, thanks to our massive new database of world history, known as Seshat (named after the Egyptian goddess of recordkeeping), we're starting to get some answers.

Eye In The Sky

One popular theory has argued that moralizing gods were necessary for the rise of large-scale societies. Small societies, so the argument goes, were like fish bowls. It was almost impossible to engage in antisocial behavior without being caught and punished - whether by acts of collective violence, retaliation or long-term reputational damage and risk of ostracism. But as societies grew larger and interactions between relative strangers became more commonplace, would-be transgressors could hope to evade detection under the cloak of anonymity. For cooperation to be possible under such conditions, some system of surveillance was required.

What better than to come up with a supernatural "eye in the sky" - a god who can see inside people's minds and issue punishments and rewards accordingly. Believing in such a god might make people think twice about stealing or reneging on deals, even in relatively anonymous interactions. Maybe it would also increase trust among traders. If you believe that I believe in an omniscient moralizing deity, you might be more likely to do business with me than somebody whose religiosity is unknown to you. Simply wearing insignia such as body markings or jewelry alluding to belief in such a god might have helped ambitious people prosper and garner popularity as society grew larger and more complex.

Nevertheless, early efforts to investigate the link between religion and morality provided mixed results. And while supernatural punishment appears to have preceded the rise of chiefdoms among Pacific Island peoples, studies in Eurasia suggest that social complexity emerged first and moralizing gods followed. These regional studies, however, were limited in scope and used quite crude measures of both moralizing religion and of social complexity.

Sifting Through History

Seshat is changing all that. Efforts to build the database began nearly a decade ago, attracting contributions from more than 100 scholars at a cost of millions of pounds. The database uses a sample of the world's historical societies, going back in a continuous time series up to 10,000 years before the present, to analyze hundreds of variables relating to social complexity, religion, warfare, agriculture and other features of human culture and society that vary over time and space. Now that the database is finally ready for analysis, we are poised to test a long list of theories about global history.

One of the earliest questions we're testing is whether morally concerned deities drove the rise of complex societies. We analyzed data on 414 societies from 30 world regions, using 51 measures of social complexity and four measures of supernatural enforcement of moral norms to get to the bottom of the matter. New research we've just published in the journal Nature reveals that moralizing gods come later than many people thought, well after the sharpest rises in social complexity in world history. In other words, gods who care about whether we are good or bad did not drive the initial rise of civilizations - but came later.

As part of our research, we created a map of where big gods appeared around the world. In the map below, the size of the circle represents the size of the society: bigger circles represent larger and more complex societies. The numbers in the circle represent the number of thousand years ago we find the first evidence of belief in moralizing gods. For example, Emperor Ashoka adopted Buddhism 2,300 years ago after he had already established a large and complex South Asian empire known as the Mauryan Empire.

Screen Shot 2020-04-07 at 12.16.11 AM.png(ENLARGE)

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Our statistical analysis shows that beliefs in supernatural punishment tend to appear only when societies make the transition from simple to complex, around the time when the overall population exceed about a million individuals.

Screen Shot 2020-04-07 at 12.17.57 AM.png(ENLARGE)

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We are now looking to other factors that may have driven the rise of the first large civilization. For example, Seshat data suggests that daily or weekly collective rituals - the equivalent of today's Sunday services or Friday prayers - appear early in the rise of social complexity and we're looking further at their impact.

If the original function of moralizing gods in world history was to hold together fragile, ethnically diverse coalitions, what might declining belief in such deities mean for the future of societies today? Could modern secularization, for example, contribute to the unraveling of efforts to cooperate regionally, such as the European Union? If beliefs in big gods decline, what will that mean for cooperation across ethnic groups in the face of migration, warfare, or the spread of xenophobia? Can the functions of moralizing gods simply be replaced by other forms of surveillance?

Even if Seshat cannot provide easy answers to all these questions, it could provide a more reliable way of estimating the probabilities of different futures.

Harvey Whitehouse is an anthropologist at Oxford; Patrick Savage is an associate professor in Environment and Information Studies at Keio University; Peter Turchin is a professor of Anthropology, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and Mathematics at the University of Connecticut; and Pieter Francois is an associate professor in cultural evolution at Oxford.

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This post is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:56 AM | Permalink

Bubble Wrap TV

On Roku. Because this is how bored you are.


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See also:

Bubble Wrap TV (Episode One).

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Reliable Carriers.

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Bubble Rap.

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ABC News National Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:52 AM | Permalink

Illinois Coronavirus Inbox: Prisoners & Workers Plead For Protection

1. COVID-19 Outbreak Has Endangered The Lives Of Youth In Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center.

From: The Children and Family Justice Center at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law.

"More than three dozen criminal justice reform and youth advocate organizations have urged court officials to take immediate action to reduce the number of young people detained - and in danger of being infected with COVID-19 - inside the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center.

"Each person held at the detention center should be evaluated for release to allow them to shelter-in-place at home, and immediate release should be granted to those youth already evaluated and determined safe to return home by the Cook County state's attorney and public defender, according to a letter sent to Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Anne M. Burke, Cook County Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans and other court officials.

"'We are aware of several efforts to review youth cases for release to shelter-in-place at home. However, despite an increase in detention review hearings during the last week of March, many youth remain in custody,' the letter states. 'As of April 1, there were still 171 youth detained at the JTDC. A juvenile assistant public defender and a JTDC staff member have tested positive for the virus. It is only a matter of time before the situation becomes untenable and life-threatening for youth, staff, court personnel, and the larger community.'"

2. Federal Lawsuit Demands Release Of People From Cook County Jail To Prevent Coronavirus Deaths.

From: The Chicago Community Bond Fund

"Late last week, the Chicago Community Bond Fund, civil rights law firm Loevy & Loevy, Civil Rights Corps, and the MacArthur Justice Center filed an emergency class-action lawsuit against Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart, asking for the immediate release of medically vulnerable people in the Cook County Jail in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis.

"The lawsuit filing follows three weeks of campaigning after the release of an open letter to Cook County officials endorsed by more than 100 community, policy, and legal organizations demanding the mass release of people from Cook County Jail in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The Cook County Jail is being overrun by COVID-19. Currently, the infection rate inside the jail is nearly 40 times the overall rate in Cook County. And while the rest of us have been able to engage in social distancing to protect ourselves, both detainees and jail staff alike have alerted us that numerous people inside the jail, many with serious medical conditions, are housed in open areas where social distancing is impossible. If something isn't done to reduce the number of people in Cook County Jail, there is every reason to believe that people will needlessly die," said Stephen Weil of Loevy & Loevy.

"The lawsuit also challenges the current conditions of the Cook County Jail, alleging that the jail is unable to provide access to basic hygiene to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 - including means for frequent handwashing with soap and water and the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

"The law is crystal clear on this point," said Charlie Gerstein, an attorney with Civil Rights Corps. "You simply may not jail people in conditions that expose them to an intolerable risk of illness and death, and that's exactly what Dart is doing at this very moment. We've asked the federal court to immediately put a stop to this ongoing crisis."

"The first person in the Cook County Jail tested positive for COVID-19 just two weeks ago on March 23rd. Since then, an entire division of the jail has been quarantined. While at least 234 people jailed and 78 staff have tested positive as of April 5, doctors at the jail's health center estimate that the actual rate of infection is three to four times that amount.

"When COVID-19 spreads inside a jail, both people detained and staff are at risk. Every day, hundreds of jail employees working on three different shifts travel into and out of the jail. Each employee could potentially be carrying and transmitting COVID-19 not only within the jail, but also in their homes and neighborhoods. The rapid spread of infection within the jail also ensures many people become seriously ill at the same time, contributing to the strain on the healthcare system and threatening the well-being of all Cook County residents.

"Thousands of people are caged in Cook County Jail, many simply because they can't afford to pay bond. The living conditions in Cook County Jail are not suitable for human beings; people are living like animals. There is no such thing as social distancing because people are squeezed together like sardines in a can. People's lives are in jeopardy inside the jail. Our elected officials are not doing enough. If we don't do something, people are going to die," said Flonard Wrencher, an advocate with Chicago Community Bond Fund who was previously incarcerated in Cook County Jail.

"In addition to requesting the release of medically vulnerable people in the Cook County Jail, the lawsuit asks that people remaining in the jail be housed in accordance with CDC guidance to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

"There are now 234 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among persons detained in the County Jail, and growing daily," said Locke Bowman, Executive Director of the MacArthur Justice Center. "Cook County Jail has become a petri dish for COVID-19. We are all in this together - those who are free and those being detained. Allowing this outbreak to expand as it has, endangers lives of detainees and jail staff as well as family members, essential workers, first responders, and frontline medical caregivers and all of the rest of us."

The complaint.

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First Life Lost to COVID-19 In Cook County Jail.

"We are deeply saddened to learn that the first person incarcerated in Cook County Jail has died of COVID-19. On March 26th, the individual's public defender filed an emergency motion for bond review in an attempt to secure their release from the jail. That motion was denied - a decision that ultimately became a pretrial death sentence.

"For weeks, more than 100 advocacy, community, legal organizations and unions have called on Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, Chief Judge Timothy Evans, and State's Attorney Kimberly Foxx to support the mass release of people incarcerated in Cook County Jail to protect public health. This death was perfectly preventable. It could have been avoided if our County government would have headed our call, a call echoed by National Nurses United and SEIU Local 73, the Chicago Sun-Times editorial board, former Cook County Jail warden Dr. Nneka Jones Tapia, Reverend Jesse Jackson, and so many others.

"As of Sunday, more than 230 people incarcerated in Cook County Jail have tested positive for COVID-19. The rate of infection inside the jail is almost 40 times the rate in Cook County. While many of us on the outside have the privilege of being able to socially distance ourselves and regularly wash our hands, these simple precautions are impossible for incarcerated people.

"Over the last week, CCBF staff and volunteers have talked to nearly 100 families with loved ones trapped inside the jail in preparation for a federal lawsuit challenging the conditions in which people are being incarcerated in the jail. Time and time again, we heard how people incarcerated in Cook County Jail have not been given increased access to soap (which typically comes in the form of one hotel-sized bar per week), nor any hand sanitizer or cleaning products. People locked in the jail are caged like sardines in a can, forced to share phones, toilets, and showers with dozens and, in some cases, hundreds of people. These conditions are not fit for human beings under normal circumstances, but in the age of COVID-19, they have become a death trap.

"Last week, approximately 1,000 people remained incarcerated in Cook County Jail simply because they could not afford to pay a money bond. With every passing day, more people are placed in that situation as more people are booked into the jail. We have often said that the size of someone's bank account should not determine whether or not they're caged, and it goes without saying that the size of someone's bank account should not determine whether or not they live or die.

"Every loss of life from COVID-19 that occurs in a county jail, juvenile detention center, prison, or immigrant detention center, was a death that was likely preventable. The refusal of elected officials to prioritize safety and health over mass incarceration has ensured that many more people will become infected while incarcerated and suffer from serious illness and death.

"Today, Cook County officials have blood on their hands. We again call on Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, Chief Judge Timothy Evans, and State's Attorney Kimberly Foxx to support a mass release of people incarcerated in Cook County Jail. Anything less is unconscionable. We are in an unprecedented crisis that calls for unprecedented action."

3. Manufacturing Workers Self-Quarantine After Co-Workers Contract Covid-19.

From: Arise Chicago.

"MAT Holdings, Inc. is a $1.9 billion company that manufacturers car parts. The company has offices in Long Grove and manufacturing sites in Romeoville, and across the globe.

"Workers at the MAT Holdings plant in Romeoville report an employee tested positive for Covid-19, and have had unclear information from the company. They are demanding clear communication about health risks, and that the company take proper responsibility for the health of its workers - including professional cleaning and disinfecting of the plant and paid sick time to prevent possible spread of the virus.

"Workers report rather than hire a professional company, MAT Holdings Vice President, Bob Patton and General Manager Jamie offered workers increased pay to do the cleaning themselves, without proper protection. Workers demand two weeks paid time off while they self-quarantine.

"Workers at Raymundo's Food Group in Bedford Park were told by the company, with over a week's delay, that a worker had tested positive for COVID19. Several workers use and touch the same pieces of equipment, and work in very close proximity to each other. The punch-in machine they must touch with their hands is not disinfected. Now, two more cases have been reported, in the same position of the first infected worker. Workers demand two weeks paid time off while they self quarantine."

4. VA Workers Demand Telework For Eligible Employees To Prevent Coronavirus Spread.

From: American Federation of Government Employees.

"Employees of the Edward Hines Jr. Veterans Administration Hospital are speaking out after they discovered new Director James Doelling's plan to revoke telework for all employees in the midst of the global Covid-19 Pandemic. The hospital has already had at least 7 cases of employees and 9 cases of patients contracting the Covid-19 virus.

"VA employees are dedicated to the health of our veterans, which is why we want to reduce the possibility of COVID-19 spreading in our hospitals. We have been working to increase telework for employees who can do their work from home, in accordance with national VA guidelines, which is why this arbitrary and dangerous rule is such a slap in the face." according to Germaine Clarno, president of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 781, one of the unions at the hospital.

"We need to make sure our front line nurses, doctors and maintenance staff have the resources they need to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, but part of that means that employees who don't have to physically be at the hospital at this time of crisis, should be allowed to work from home. It doesn't do anyone any good if a pharmacist, social worker, or Dietitian gets sick from coronavirus and continues to come into the hospital when they could have been working from home. We know that people can be spreading the disease without showing symptoms, and the more we can do to reduce that risk, the healthier our nations veterans will be."

"The local union has started an online petition, 'Do Not Ban Telework' to show support for the social distancing guidelines advised by the CDC.

"The National VA Council of AFGE has filed a national OSHA complaint regarding a shortage of Personal Protective Equipment or PPE's. AFGE has called for the VA to fill the 49,000 vacancies at the VA, 431 at Hines."

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VA Workers Denounce Using Covid-19 To Justify Union-Busting.

"Employees of the Edward Hines Jr. Veterans Administration Hospital are furiously condemning new Hines VA Director James Doelling's illegal refusal to bargain with the local union regarding his plan to revoke telework for all employees in the midst of the global Covid-19 Pandemic. The hospital has already had at least 7 cases of employees and 9 cases of patients contracting the Covid-19 virus.

"VA employees don't want to risk asymptomatic non-essential employees from spreading the coronavirus. When Director Doelling moved to revoke all previously approved telework, in contradiction to AFGE's union contract, CDC guidelines, and national VA guidance, the union requested to open bargaining to discuss this proposed change in their working conditions, with the concern that it would have on veterans health.

"The Director's response was a letter that used the covid-19 virus as an excuse to union-bust, which claimed that 'bargaining over the impact and implementation of operational changes to working conditions may unacceptably stall our response to this healthcare crisis.'

"The fact is unions save lives." according to Germaine Clarno, President of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 781, one of the unions at the hospital. "AFGE is fighting for PPE's for essential hospital staff, and to prevent community spread through social distancing. By refusing to listen to front line employees, Director Doelling is placing the lives of veterans at risk, and prolonging this crisis."

"We will be filing a Unfair Labor Practices claim with the Federal Labor Relations Authority, a complaint with OSHA, and with the VA Inspector General, because the health of our veterans is too important to disregard the common sense safety measures the union is advocating for."

The local union has also started an online petition, 'Do Not Ban Telework' to show support for the social distancing guidelines advised by the CDC. The National VA Council of AFGE has filed a national OSHA complaint regarding a shortage of Personal Protective Equipment or PPE's.

"'AFGE has called for the VA to fill the 49,000 vacancies at the VA, 431 at Hines,' AFGE National Vice-President Dorothy James said, 'We have been calling for the VA to be fully staffed for years, and pandemics like this show the consequences of not fully investing in veterans health and other needs. The Trump administration has been more focused on union-busting, and slashing the federal budget while giving tax breaks to the rich, when it should have been listening to doctors and experts to minimize the spread of this virus.'"

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:20 AM | Permalink

Jesus Didn't Believe In Hell

"Bart Ehrman unveils the history of the afterlife, and what most people don't realize about where our beliefs about eternal torment and reward originated."


Blame Plato.

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From Simon & Schuster:

"In clear and compelling terms, Bart Ehrman recounts the long history of the afterlife, ranging from The Epic of Gilgamesh up to the writings of Augustine, focusing especially on the teachings of Jesus and his early followers. He discusses ancient guided tours of heaven and hell, in which a living person observes the sublime blessings of heaven for those who are saved and the horrifying torments of hell for the damned. Some of these accounts take the form of near death experiences, the oldest on record, with intriguing similarities to those reported today.

"One of Ehrman's startling conclusions is that there never was a single Greek, Jewish, or Christian understanding of the afterlife, but numerous competing views. Moreover, these views did not come from nowhere; they were intimately connected with the social, cultural, and historical worlds out of which they emerged. Only later, in the early Christian centuries, did they develop into the notions of eternal bliss or damnation widely accepted today."

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From Wikipedia:

"Bart Ehrman is an American New Testament scholar focusing on textual criticism of the New Testament, the historical Jesus, the origins and development of early Christianity. He has written and edited 30 books, including three college textbooks. He has also authored six New York Times bestsellers. He is currently the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill."

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NPR: Understanding The Origins Of Heaven & Hell.

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See also from the Spectator: To Hell With Hell.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:07 AM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

"Two weeks ago, French doctors published a provocative observation in a microbiology journal. In the absence of a known treatment for COVID-19, the doctors had taken to experimentation with a potent drug known as hydroxychloroquine," the Atlantic reports.

For decades, the drug has been used to treat malaria - which is caused by a parasite, not a virus. In six patients with COVID-19, the doctors combined hydroxychloroquine with azithromycin (known to many as "Z-Pak," an antibiotic that kills bacteria, not viruses) and reported that after six days of this regimen, all six people tested negative for the virus.

The report caught the eye of the celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz, who has since appeared on Fox News to talk about hydroxychloroquine 21 times. As Oz put it to Sean Hannity, "This French doctor, [Didier] Raoult, a very famous infectious-disease specialist, had done some interesting work at a pilot study showing that he could get rid of the virus in six days in 100 percent of the patients he treated." Raoult has made news in recent years as a pan-disciplinary provocateur; he has questioned climate change and Darwinian evolution. On January 21, at the height of the coronavirus outbreak in China, Raoult said in a YouTube video, "The fact that people have died of coronavirus in China, you know, I don't feel very concerned." Last week, Oz, who has been advising the president on the coronavirus, described Raoult to Hannity as "very impressive." Oz told Hannity that he had informed the White House as much.

Anthony Fauci is not among the impressed. The day the study came out, Fauci, the leading infectious-disease expert advising the White House's coronavirus task force, downplayed the findings as "anecdotal." The report was not a randomized clinical trial - one in which many people are followed to see how their health fares, not simply whether a virus is detectable. And Oz's "100 percent" interpretation involves conspicuous omissions. According to the study itself, three other patients who received hydroxychloroquine were too sick to be tested for the virus by day six (they were intubated in the ICU). Another had a bad reaction to the drug and stopped taking it. Another was not tested because, by day six, he had died.

Nonetheless, the day after Raoult's study was published, Donald Trump tweeted about it: "HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE & AZITHROMYCIN, taken together, have a real chance to be one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine." In the days since, Trump has repeatedly returned to this claim. On Saturday, he said that the term game changer wouldn't even adequately describe the drug: "It will be wonderful. It will be so beautiful. It will be a gift from heaven, if it works." After downplaying the value of ventilators and social distancing, measures that experts overwhelmingly agree are needed to overcome the virus, Trump said the country would procure 29 million doses of hydroxychloroquine for a national stockpile. He said he may start taking the drug himself.

Over the course of these two weeks, the president of the United States has become the world's most prominent peddler of medical misinformation.

So when the media keep citing that French study they should tell the truth.

And every media mention of Dr. Oz should note that he's a fraud. To wit:

* Los Angeles Times: Real-World Doctors Fact-Check Dr. Oz, And The Results Aren't Pretty.

* Science: A New Low For Dr. Oz.

* Health News Review: Pulling Back The curtain On The Doctors And The Dr. Oz Show: What Our Analysis Revealed.

* Live Science: 5 Not-So-Miraculous Dr. Oz Claims.

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New on the Beachwood today . . .

Illinois Coronavirus Inbox: Prisoners & Workers Plead For Protection
Putting the "public" in public health.

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Jesus Didn't Believe In Hell
But Plato did.

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Where Big Gods Came From
'Gods who care about whether we are good or bad did not drive the initial rise of civilizations, but came later.'

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Bubble Wrap TV
Because this is how bored you are.

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ChicagoReddit

"Only two weeks into Illinois' shelter-in-place order, a Chicago Police Department representative reported a 19 percent - 27 percent increase in calls classified as 'domestic violence'" from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

The Chicago Fire Department & The Snorkel (circa 1965).

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BeachBook

Local Guitarists Make Good Use Of Downtime.

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TweetWood
A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport.

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The Beachwood Q-Tip Line: Sour power.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:03 AM | Permalink

April 6, 2020

Government Secrecy Is Growing During The Pandemic

Students at the University of Florida who want to know how they are being protected from the COVID-19 pandemic can't find out.

The university is hiding its emergency response plan under a legal loophole intended to keep terrorists and enemy combatants - not viruses - from exploiting government weaknesses.

Since the spread of coronavirus accelerated in recent weeks, local, state and federal officials throughout the United States have locked down information from the public. Examples include:

* The city of Palestine, Texas, banned a news reporter from a city council meeting on March 23rd, even though fewer than a maximum of 10 people would be in the room, and did not allow the public to listen in on the meeting through a toll-free phone number, as required by state law.

* The Council of the District of Columbia decided on March 19th that district employees do not have to respond promptly to public records requests any more.

* The FBI no longer accepts requests for information online or by e-mail because of the virus. If anyone wants information, they must mail their request, which ironically is more apt to pass along the virus.

Throughout the country, journalists are barred from talking to staff at public hospitals and locations serving the sick. And with administrators limiting access to the hospital itself, journalists are unable to tell the public what is happening. Precautions can be taken to protect the health of everyone concerned and protect the privacy of patients.

'Cloudy Week'?

And this is just in the United States. The Phillipines threatens journalists with prison time for spreading "false news" about the virus, and the Committee to Protect Journalists is tracking the arrests of reporters in Venezuela, Niger, India and elsewhere regarding coronavirus coverage.

Ironically, most of these information crackdowns started in mid-March, during national Sunshine Week, a time when news organizations and others promote citizens' rights to access government information.

Some agencies are making the case that responding to records requests is not an essential need or function. Research suggests that access to government information is indeed essential for our health and well-being. Studies have shown that making government information open leads to cleaner drinking water, safer restaurant food, less corruption and more confidence in government.

Stanford economist James Hamilton has found that for every $1 spent by news organizations on public records-based investigative reporting, the public derives $287 in benefits. The free flow of information makes for a better society and a better economy. It's a smart return on investment.

[Editor's Note: But what about the cost incurred by government itself - salaries and so on? I'm not saying that should matter, but what I'm saying is that I find a strict cost-benefit analysis a rickety leg to stand on. Cost aside, the public derives a massive benefit from the free flow of information: The maintenance of democracy.]

Indeed, businesses use public information more than anyone else - studies have shown that at some federal agencies three-quarters of Freedom of Information Act requests are submitted by commercial interests. Maintaining a free flow of information actually greases the nation's economic machine, which could be more important than ever given its state today.

Crisis As Opportunity

The recent information closures are reminiscent of actions immediately following 9/11, when governments closed massive amounts of information, including records showing the dilapidated conditions of bridges and dams.

Rather than limiting public information, agencies can use this crisis as an opportunity to take governance to the next level - making government even more accessible to the public it serves.

A statement signed by 132 nonprofits from a broad spectrum of industries and political persuasions was issued on March 20th, urging a measured response that serves the public interest.

"We strongly urge government branches and agencies to recommit to, and not retrench from, their duty to include the public in the policy-making process, including policies relating to COVID-19 as well as the routine ongoing functions of governance," the organizations wrote.

The National Freedom of Information Coalition, a nonprofit that provides education and research for citizens in acquiring government information, organized the statement. I serve as the coalition's president, have testified before Congress several times regarding the Freedom of Information Act, teach classes on accessing information and publish research on the state of access in the United States.

Some of the recommendations include:

* Postpone nonessential government business decisions until after the pandemic has subsided, when the public can once again fully engage.

* Move necessary decisions online in live-streamed meetings accessible to all, including opportunities for public input and questions. Record the streams and post the recordings so people can view it later.

* Do not conduct the public's business via private channels, such as social media, texting and phone calls. (This holds true all the time, but especially now.) All official communications should be preserved and made accessible to the public online.

* Post documents and data online as a matter of course so people don't have to request it and government workers don't have to take the time to retrieve and disseminate them.

* Officials can provide journalists greater access to hospitals and other health installations, applying safety precautions and protecting the privacy of victims.

Efforts to make government more accessible now can result in permanent improvements in the future, to better serve citizens who are homebound or too busy with work and child-rearing to attend a local government meeting.

Sometimes it takes a crisis to pull together and move forward, as citizens and government working together, fully engaged and well-informed.

David Cuillier is an associate journalism professor at the University of Arizona. This post is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

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See also: The Coronavirus Human Rights Crackdown.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:19 AM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

"Executive pay keeps climbing at Blue Cross of Illinois' parent company, even as the health insurance giant lays off workers and looks for a new strategy," Crain's reports.

"The 10 highest-paid employees at Health Care Service Corp. got a combined $70 million last year, up 58 percent from 2018. The biggest winner was Paula Steiner, who stepped down as CEO in July. Her total compensation surged 120 percent to $31 million about $12 million of which was severance pay."

Paula Steiner, you are Today's Worst Person In Illinois.

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From Crain's in January:

Blue Cross of Illinois parent Health Care Service Corp. is cutting about 400 employees as it positions itself for growth in a rapidly changing industry.

The layoffs, announced internally today, include middle management positions - mostly employees with senior manager and director titles, HCSC spokesman Greg Thompson told Crain's.

Thompson said the affected employees are based across the company's service areas. HCSC - which owns Blue Cross & Blue Shield plans in Illinois, Texas, Montana, Oklahoma and New Mexico - has about 24,000 total employees. He would not say how many jobs are being cut in Illinois, where the company has about 11,400 workers.

Greg Thompson, you were That Day's Worst Person In Illinois.

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"The layoffs come a month after the company cut 'a few dozen middle-management positions,' and six months after CEO Paula Steiner's departure kick-started a wave of executive exits."

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Back to today's Crain's:

Board member David Lesar, who took over as interim CEO, pocketed $6.2 million; Maurice Smith, who was named president, got $3.6 million; and board Chairman Milton Carroll got a 429 percent boost to $4.9 million.

The massive raises come amid increasing cost pressures and rising uncertainty for the entire health care industry, and HCSC in particular. The nation's sixth-largest health insurer cut "a few dozen" staffers late last year - followed by an additional 400 in January - and needs to step up growth to compete with rivals.

There's always a reason.

Carroll, an energy industry executive, pocketed $4.9 million last year as part of a deal - the terms of which were not disclosed - "to ensure a smooth transition" and provide "proper support" to Lesar and Smith, spokesman Greg Thompson says in an e-mail. Carroll's compensation "reflects the additional time, effort, focus and input during this time of transition."

Caroll's net worth is around $18 million.

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"Thompson did not say how many hours per week Carroll, who is also a director at oil services company Halliburton, devotes to HCSC business. He's not the only high-level connection linking HCSC and the Houston-based energy industry giant."

Thompson gets paid a lot of money to not say.

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"[S]ources say Carroll's arrangement is unusual for an outside director.

Because HCSC is not a public company, "There's very little oversight and very little transparency," Attila Hertelendy, a health care expert and business professor at Florida International University, told Crain's. "Nobody is holding them accountable so, realistically, they can do whatever they want."

Carroll collected $930,347 in 2018, after getting nearly $5 million in each of the two previous years as part of a deal to oversee the leadership transition when Steiner succeeded Hall. Steiner, who spent more than three decades at Blue Cross & Blue Shield companies, left after disagreeing with directors over long-term growth plans.

Carroll's compensation is far more than nonexecutive board chairmen got at comparable publicly traded health insurers. Humana and Cigna, for example, paid their chairmen $544,044 and $575,352, respectively.

Haven't we seen enough of for-profit health care?

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McMasks
"McDonald's plans to donate 1 million N95 masks to health care workers in Chicago and Illinois as concerns mount that hospitals will run out of safety gear to protect those on the front lines fighting COVID-19," the Tribune reports.

I don't want to sound ungrateful, but what took so long?

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"The Chicago-based fast-food giant said it came across and purchased the stash of coveted N95 masks as it searched for nonmedical-grade masks to distribute to McDonald's workers nationwide. The company plans to donate 750,000 of them to the City of Chicago and 250,000 to the State of Illinois . . .

"McDonald's said it has been coordinating with its global network of suppliers to help local communities and was able to procure the masks from a Chinese supplier. The company previously donated $1 million and 400,000 KF94 masks, the Korean equivalent of N95s, to Illinois' COVID-19 relief fund."

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Also:

"McDonald's mask find came as the company sought additional protection for its own workers that continue to serve the public amid the coronavirus pandemic. Most McDonald's restaurants remain open for drive-thru, takeout and delivery, and the company has been criticized by some for not doing enough to keep its workers or the public from getting sick.

"Infrared thermometers are in the process of being shipped to its restaurants across the country so that workers can undergo temperature checks when they clock in, Dave Tovar, vice president of U.S. communications, said Friday. The thermometers will arrive first in markets authorities have designated as hot zones for the virus - New York City, Seattle and San Francisco - and will roll out nationally as supplies become available. Chicago is not currently considered a hot spot . . .

"Employees at a Los Angeles McDonald's went on strike Sunday after a worker tested positive for COVID-19, calling for a two-week quarantine period with full pay. Other strikes took place last week in Memphis, Tennessee; St. Louis; and Tampa, Florida, to demand personal protective equipment, hazard pay and paid sick leave, according to organizers with the Fight for $15, a movement to organize fast-food workers."

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New on the Beachwood . . .

Bill Withers In The Beachwood
Lean on him.

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Trump's Favorite Network (It's Not Fox)
"The whole selling point is that they are Fox News with even less shame and even fewer scruples."

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Government Secrecy Growing During Pandemic
"The recent information closures are reminiscent of actions immediately following 9/11, when governments closed massive amounts of information."

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Beachwood Sports Radio: With All Due Respect, Ed Farmer Was An Awful Announcer And The Media Coverage Of His Death Is Atrocious
The job of the journalist is to tell the truth, not be a clubby insider. Plus: Q Life; Les Grobstein Still Employed - Others Not So Lucky; If You Love Chicago So Much Why Don't You Live There?; Bears Bargain Basement; Dippy DePaul; Ex-Cub Jhonny Pereda Makes Coronavirus History; and How Coffman Denied His Lineage To Become A Cubs Fan.

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The White Sox Report: The Farmer Files
"I can recall barking at my car radio asking him to at least tell me the score. But at least he lived his dreams."

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Saul Tillock's Chicago Blues
"Most people sit down to write the best book ever written. Tillock has somehow managed to write the worst."

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Meet The New Boss: Science Publishing's Revolution
An open-access model very different than what open-access activists envisioned.

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ChicagoReddit

Are there any active Norwegian communities in Chicago? from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

"Never Been To Chicago" / Reformed Faction

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BeachBook

Meet The Bee With The Body That Is Half Male, Half Female.

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TweetWood
A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport.

Fauci should go first.

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The Beachwood Q-Tip Line: Sweet, like sugar.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:02 AM | Permalink

Saul Tillock's Chicago Blues

"Most people sit down to write the best book ever written. Tillock has somehow managed to write the worst."


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Raves:

"Bestsellers aren't meant to be this good. They're meant to be much, much better." - Nic Lender, The View

"I couldn't put it down, because I wouldn't pick it up." - Brioin O'Brioin, The Literary Supplement

"Books like this only come along once in a generation - thank God." - Layla Tyler, Hoopers' Weekly

"In a world of average writers, Tillock stands head and shoulders below them all." - Amy Twee, The Guide

"Tillock has singlehandedly created a new genre: Illiterature." - Liam Walker, Galway News

"A real page-burner." - Andrea Swanson, Boston Review

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See also:

Brilliant Writing Tips From Saul Tillock.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:51 AM | Permalink

Trump's Favorite Network (It Isn't Fox)

"The whole selling point for OAN is that they are Fox News with even less shame and even fewer scruples."


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Previously:

* Meet One America News Network's New Chief White House Correspondent.

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See also:
* Daily Beast: Rudy Giuliani Teams Up With A Seth Rich Conspiracy Theorist to Save Trump.

* Politico: 'Stunning Piece Of Propaganda:' Journalists Blast One America News Series.

* Wonkette: What Is Up With Chanel Rion, Traditional Dinner-Making Fiancée Of Courtland Sykes?

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:23 AM | Permalink

April 4, 2020

A Revolution In Science Publishing Or Business as Usual?

Each year, governments around the world pour vast sums of public money into scientific research - as much as $156 billion in the United States alone. Scientists then use that funding to further human understanding of the world, and occasionally to make compelling discoveries about everything from whale brains to dwarf stars to the genetic underpinnings of deadly cancers.

But often, this research - despite being subsidized with taxpayer money - ends up being published in exclusive journals that sit behind steep paywalls with three- and four-figure subscription fees, accessible to only a tiny fraction of the public.

The power of these scientific publishers - with names even lay readers might recognize: Springer Nature, Taylor & Francis, Elsevier, among a handful of others - is substantial. According to one estimate, just four corporations now publish close to 50 percent of scientific papers. Together, they control the copyright to much of the world's scientific literature, charging billions of dollars each year for access to that body of knowledge - and securing hefty profits in the process.

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Critics have argued for decades that this system is wasteful, and that the public should have access to the scientific literature that its tax dollars support. Scientists, scholars, and public institutions, they say - and not the private sector - should control access to this trove of knowledge.

"The commercial interests of publishers trying to promote their brand should not be what determines what kind of scientific discipline becomes well-funded and well-populated," said Michael Eisen, a biologist at the University of California-Berkeley and a vocal supporter of the alternative model of research distribution broadly referred to as "open-access" publishing, which has long aimed to harness the Internet to make research more widely available - at little to no cost.

The current system, he said, gives a handful of publishers "a disproportionate power to shape the way that science is done."

Recent decades have been, in certain respects, a triumph for supporters of open access. Research funders in the United States and Europe adopted policies to make more of the research they fund accessible to the public. Several open-access organizations now operate thriving journals, and pirating tools like Sci-Hub have made it easier than ever to sneak around publishers' paywalls.

Meanwhile, a group of Europe's largest scientific backers - including the funding agencies of France, Britain, and the European Union as a whole - will soon require all research they underwrite to be openly accessible to everyone. That scheme, called Plan S, may be the most ambitious government-sponsored open-access effort yet - though federal officials in the U.S. are considering a policy that would require immediate open-access publishing for all federally-funded research as well, potentially revolutionizing the publishing industry. "Open Access Is Going Mainstream," the Chronicle of Higher Education announced last year.

These successes, though, have also revealed divisions within the open-access community over two now-familiar questions: Who should run the publishing houses? And who should pay for the whole system? Instead of an open-access commons run by scholars in the public interest, the new open-access revolution increasingly looks like it will depend on the same big commercial publishers who, rather than charging subscription prices to readers, are now flipping the model and charging researchers a fee to publish their work. The result is a kind of commercial open-access a model very different than what many open-access activists envisioned.

Corporate Open-Access

Some advocates see corporate open-access as a pragmatic way of opening up research to the masses. But others see the new model as a corruption of the original vision - one that will continue to funnel billions of dollars into big publishing companies, marginalize scientists in lower income countries, and fail to fix deeper, systemic problems in scientific publishing.

As it stands, all trends point to an open-access future. The question now is what kind of open-access model it will be - and what that future may mean for the way new science gets evaluated, published and shared.

"We don't know why we should accept that open-access is a market," said Dominique Babini, the open-access adviser to the Latin American Council of Social Sciences and a prominent critic of commercial open-access models. "If knowledge is a human right, why can't we manage it as a commons, in collaborative ways managed by the academic community, not by for-profit initiatives?"

Old School

At the center of the debate is a process of peer review and publication with roots in the 18th century. Under this model, when you submit a paper to a journal, it goes to a group of editors, who are sometimes academics receiving little or no pay for this additional editorial work. If the editors think the paper seems promising, they shop it out to peer reviewers, who read the draft, recommend whether to accept it, and offer feedback, sometimes over the course of multiple rounds of revisions. Those peer reviewers typically don't get paid for their work. Instead, they volunteer their time as a service to the field, following centuries-old conventions of scholarly collaboration.

Eventually, the editors bundle those individual articles together into an issue of the journal and send it out into the world.

The journal's publisher does not pay for any of that research, writing, or review. But it still has to coordinate the whole review process, edit the final product, and print and distribute physical copies of the journal. Publishers also assume the responsibility for the content in their journals. To cover those costs, they charge subscriptions to individuals and university libraries, using complex, sometimes opaque methods to negotiate and set price packages with particular institutions.

Before World War II, university presses and learned societies handled most of that labor, often covering their expenses with funding from wealthy patrons, universities, and academic organizations, or from the article's own authors. Their chief goal was to circulate new research rather than make a profit, and they typically published no more than a few journal titles. The arrangement began to change after the war. Eager to build on wartime scientific advances and keep pace with geopolitical rivals, governments infused more cash into scientific research. The budget of the National Institutes of Health, a major U.S. government funder, increased nearly 20-fold between 1945 and 1950 - and then kept growing.

In the 1950s, a group of for-profit publishers began publishing more academic journals. They had capabilities that the old university presses and societies did not. They were nimble, able to identify new fields and start new journals. They could market their journals around the world, fueling the globalization of academic research. And they could keep down costs by developing economies of scale.

By acquiring old journals, starting new ones, and entering revenue-sharing agreements with some academic societies, the most successful publishing houses, like Pergamon Press and Elsevier, eventually came to own or publish hundreds of titles.

Commercial publishers "were entrepreneurial, saw the gaps in the market, created journals, and therefore really helped those fields develop," said Aileen Fyfe, an historian at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland,who studies scholarly publishing.

The new commercial publishers also adopted a similar system of peer review. Academics continued to contribute free labor to the process, as editors and reviewers. What had changed, of course, was that much of that work was now feeding corporate profits - in effect, a massive contribution of free academic labor to a highly lucrative business model.

Tensions began to rise in the 1980s and 1990s, as university library budgets shrank. At the same time, commercial publishers began to merge. Big publishers started ratcheting up prices, placing a crunch on academic libraries. Indeed, between 1986 and 2004, according to one estimate, subscription prices rose by 273 percent, much faster than inflation.

As subscription prices rose, those labor-for-free arrangements began to seem less tenable to some scholars. It was in the early 2000s, Fyfe estimates, that some academics began to complain that their labor was feeding an unfair system a system that, in effect, took research for free, packaged it, and then sold it back to the very institutions that had paid to produce it, while yielding profit margins that, advocates complained, sometimes approached 35 percent.

The Budapest Declaration

With these realities in mind, more than a dozen scholars and librarians issued a manifesto in 2002 - sometimes called the Budapest Declaration - that laid down the principles for the open-access model of publishing, in which all papers would be free for anyone to read. The Budapest Declaration makes two simple observations: While traditional publishers have long argued that vetting, publishing and distributing scientific work is expensive business, the Internet has made it easy and cheap to share that knowledge. As a result, the group reasoned, it should be possible to circulate that scientific and academic research without spending nearly so much money. They imagined a world where scholars controlled their own publishing, putting their work online where it would be available, in perpetuity, for free.

The declaration was and remains a little fuzzy on the details of how, exactly, that new system would pay for itself. Perhaps government and foundation grants would cover the costs? Or universities would chip in for those funds? Regardless, advocates have argued, an open-access world would be worth the cost. Indeed, it would lead to better science, by offering more people access to research, and by freeing scientific publishing from the pressures of the marketplace.

"If we were doing this work for the sake of the discipline, and it was all in a nonprofit kind of world, I don't think we'd be so bothered by it," Fyfe said. "But we do get bothered when we see certain publishers getting money in their pockets as a result of the stuff we're doing for the good of our community."

The Latin American Model

In fact, early open-access advocates in Europe and North America were gesturing toward a system that already existed. In Latin America, universities, academic consortia, and scholarly organizations have always run most of their own publishing, with the online material available to anyone for free. The publication costs per article, advocates say, are a fraction of those of commercial publishers. And those costs are typically underwritten by university budgets and direct government funding.

Written in Spanish and Portuguese, Latin American journals have not historically attracted the interest of commercial publishers. Instead, university-based presses published academic journals as part of their broader, state-funded educational missions. Often, rather than charging subscriptions, these presses swapped titles with other institutions, forming an informal, region-wide system of barter and exchange that, as open-access scholar Juan Pablo Alperin described it, functioned as a kind of "pre-incarnation of open access."

As Latin American journals began to transition online in the late 1990s and 2000s, they brought that knowledge-sharing model into the digital world. That system that remains in place today.

"Our colleagues in Mexico, in Latin American countries - they are way ahead than a lot of the publishing platforms in Europe because they are not stuck in a certain legacy system," said Leslie Chan, a development studies scholar at the University of Toronto-Scarborough and a signatory of the Budapest Declaration.

That economic model reflects deep-seated ideals about the nature of academic inquiry.

"For us, knowledge is a human right," said Babini.

Open access allows all scholars to participate in the conversation without the burden of publication fees.

It was perhaps once possible to imagine that research in Europe and North America would follow this route. Starting in the 1990s and early 2000s, some scientists began starting their own journals and publishing houses. The best known of these, the Public Library of Science, or PLOS, launched its first journal in 2003. Today, it offers several online-only, open-access journals, publishing tens of thousands of articles per year.

For-profit outfits like Ubiquity Press, launched by a trained archaeologist in the U.K. in 2012, also emerged to offer low-cost, open-access options, most of them digital-only. And some university presses in the U.S. began hosting open-access journals.

Same Boss

Analysts predicted that this change would devastate commercial publishers. For example, in 2012, as government funders pushed for more open-access offerings, the London-based industry analysts Claudio Aspesi, Andrea Rosso, and Richard Wielechowski warned investors that the future "would be catastrophic" for Reed Elsevier, now known as RELX Group, which houses Elsevier, the world's largest publisher of academic journals.

Instead, the transition to open access has gone in a different direction - one increasingly dominated by the very commercial publishers that early open-access advocates once hoped to marginalize. These publishers have embraced something called the article processing charge, or APC - a fee charged to the paper's authors in exchange for making their work open access. The APC-centered system allows publishers to make money on the front end (by charging the writer) rather than the back end (by charging the reader).

Smaller open-access presses, including PLOS and Ubiquity, charge APCs. But in the past several years, commercial publishers have entered the APC-funded world with gusto. The main model they use is the hybrid journal, in which some articles are open access, and some are paywalled. The publisher can still sell subscriptions to the journal as a whole, plus they can collect APCs on individual open-access articles.

And those APCs are often lucrative. Costs vary widely but generally top $1,500 per article. In prestigious journals, the cost of an open-access article can be more than $5,000. Nature Communications, a prominent journal, charges an APC of $5,380.

Those kinds of rates infuriate many open-access advocates. Commenting on the Nature Communications APC, paleontologist and longtime open-access advocate Jonathan Tennant acknowledged that the journal's publisher, Springer Nature, has to do the work of sifting through submissions, rejecting papers and lining up peer reviewers. "But at the end of the day, they produce a PDF on a webpage and they archive it," he said. "That's basically it. And it costs the same as a car to do that!"

Rachel Scheer, a spokesperson for Springer Nature, declined to provide a breakdown of how Springer Nature allocates its APC funds. Tom Reller, as vice president of communications for Elsevier, also declined to share a breakdown of APC distribution for Elsevier journals. But, in a detailed e-mail to Undark, he wrote that the average APC for Elsevier's hybrid journals is $2,586. (The average is lower for Elsevier's purely open-access titles).

Reller, who left Elsevier earlier this year, wrote that open access had been "really positive" for the company's business model. "We fully support open access and are one of the largest open-access publishers in the world," he added. Reller also challenged common estimates of profit margins - and, he wrote, "whether or not our margin is 37 percent, or 3.7 percent, we're still charging a competitive rate in the market, and in fact providing more volume, at higher quality and at a lower price per unit each year."

Profit Paradox

Just two years later, Aspesi, the analyst who predicted catastrophe for Reed Elsevier, had reversed his judgement. In a 2014 report, he and a colleague, Helen Luong even suggested that "OA funding may in fact be adding to the profits" of commercial scientific publishers.

Some open-access advocates see this as a valuable compromise. Johan Rooryck, a linguist at Leiden University in the Netherlands and the official "open-access champion" for Plan S, said that, ideally, universities will take the money they spend on subscriptions and gradually flip that cash toward hybrid deals that pay for both subscriptions and APCs - an arrangement called a transformative agreement.

"We are really aiming for cost-neutral transformative agreements," Roorcyk said.

Under these agreements, universities continue to pay large sums to commercial publishers but, over time, more and more of the research they produce will be available to the public for free.

Rooryck acknowledges that such a scenario will not satisfy advocates who envision the wholesale dismantling of commercial publishers.

"I have a lot of sympathy for those people," Rooryck said, praising the work of non-commercial presses. "If we were to redesign academic publishing from scratch, that's how we should do it. But we are not working from scratch. We are working from the reality of today, and, whether you like it or not, the publishers are there, and, whether you like it or not, that's where the researchers like to publish. So what you have to do is see how you can convert the system to a system that is fair enough."

Tennant praised Rooryck and his colleagues, but he worries that Plan S will "maintain the present state of the industry without any financial disruption at all, without any disruption to the ways in which research is evaluated."

(After Undark's interview with Tennant, the open-science organization OpenCon announced that it was expelling him for unspecified violations of its code of conduct. Tennant has both apologized for his actions and contested the decision in posts on his blog.)

The stakes can feel especially high for those in Latin America. Some researchers there say that commercial publishers are now showing more interest in the region, potentially threatening its unique publishing model. And because of the high cost of APCs, some fear that Latin American researchers will not be able to afford publication in for-profit open-access journals.

Pricing Problem

Arianna Becerril-García, a computer engineer at UAEM in Mexico and the co-founder of Redalyc and AmeliCA, two of the largest open-access journal networks in Latin America, said she appreciates Plan S's work but worries that its model will price out researchers in poorer countries.

"We cannot afford, in the past, subscriptions. And now we cannot afford APCs," Becerril-García said. "If we forget about academia taking back control of publishing, we are going to end up in 10 years with another kind of exclusion. We are just transferring this problem into another problem."

For many open-access advocates, the goal is not simply to open up research to a broader readership. It is to remove scholarly inquiry from the logic of the marketplace - specifically, from a system in which publishers compete to have the highest-prestige journals, and in which academics, in turn, compete to publish in those same prestigious titles, which can be critical for career advancement. Many advocates of publishing reform complain that this amounts to what Becerril-García calls a "prestige industry."

Björn Brembs, a neurobiologist at the University of Regensburg in Germany and a vocal critic of the publishing status quo, said that many of his colleagues are overly fixated on publishing in prestigious journals.

"They could cure cancer," he said, and still be disappointed if their work wasn't published in the right journal.

But, in his research, Brembs has marshaled data to argue that science published in the most prestigious journals is not necessarily any more reliable - and, in fact, may be less likely to be replicated.

Eisen, the Berkeley biologist and open-access advocate, is a fierce critic of Nature, Science, and other major journals that, he said, sometimes seem "interested in flash and sexiness rather than scientific rigor and quality."

Eisen compares the current journal model to the Good Housekeeping seal of approval: The journal editors and peer reviewers look at a paper, and then they either accept it or reject it. Accepting it puts that journal's brand on the paper, as a kind of guarantor of quality - a seal of approval, so to speak. Researchers are left to compete for a limited number of slots in the journals with the most prestigious seals.

eLife

Last year, Eisen took over as the editor-in-chief of eLife, a nonprofit, open access, scientist-led site that, according to its mission statement, aims to provide "a platform for research communication that encourages and recognizes the most responsible behaviors in science."

eLife does not have a fixed quota of papers that it accepts each year. Instead of a journal, it's more a scholar-run platform, taking, at least in theory, any paper that meets its threshold for high quality science.

Ultimately, Eisen would like to see an academic publishing system that offers more textured assessments of new research.

"We should be saying what we think about [a paper], not making a kind of hard cut," he said. "There has to be a better, more robust and informative way for us to convey what we think about a paper, rather than just saying 'This is or isn't in the club.'"

Instead of Good Housekeeping, Eisen imagines the future of scientific journals to be like Consumer Reports - offering detailed evaluations, available to everyone, "where we assess papers in their multidimensionality, and report back on what we think about them."

Will that world come about anytime soon? eLife is growing quickly, but for now, it does not offer quite the textured assessment that Eisen envisions. The nonprofit also depends heavily on philanthropic funding, and it charges APCs of $2,500 per paper, waiving that fee for any lab that can't pay.

Post-Budapest

Nearly two decades after the Budapest Declaration, a gulf remains between the messy realities of publishing and visions of reform. Globally, researchers publish approximately 2.5 million scholarly papers each year.. The work of coordinating the submission, review, and publication of that body of knowledge is enormous. Asked whether university presses could take on that role, Nick Lindsay, the director of journals and open access at MIT Press, pointed out that Elsevier likely publishes more journals than every single university press in the United States combined. He said it would require "a tremendous amount of effort to be able to capitalize the university presses to the point at which they could actually ingest all of that work."

And an open-access world poses special challenges. Indeed, part of the irony of the internet age is that, just as low-cost digital tools have raised questions about the value proposition of commercial publishers, they have also, in another sense, made those publishers seem even more essential.

After all, while they may not be able to guarantee good science, major journal publishers do offer some measure of quality control. Their brands signal that journals are legitimate, and help researchers and readers sort peer-reviewed work from junk published by the rising number of predatory journals masquerading as legitimate open-access titles.

"The transition to digital, in the broad sense, led to this naive thinking - that everything was going to be free, everything was going to be available, everything was going to be good," said Kent Anderson, a longtime publishing industry executive and consultant, and the founder of Scholarly Kitchen, a popular industry blog.

Anderson, a vocal critic of the open-access movement, sees things like the Budapest Declaration as one more piece of that early Internet-era, disrupt-the-world naivete.

Anderson rejects the idea that publishers somehow created a prestige market. Prestige, he argued, is embedded in everything from elite universities to Nobel Prizes to all the other ways researchers rank and sort themselves. It's part of the culture of global science and, for better or for worse, everyone in the system has to navigate it.

"Guess what, people!" Anderson said. "Publishers are just part of the same market you are."

Even if prestige does shape global science, some reformers reject the idea that the publishing status quo is somehow an inevitability.

It does not have to be this way, she insisted.

"I am so angry!" Babini said. "It's a lack of imagination."

This post was originally published on Undark.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:49 AM | Permalink

Bill Withers In The Beachwood

"Bill Withers, a onetime Navy aircraft mechanic who, after teaching himself to play the guitar, wrote some of the most memorable and often-covered songs of the 1970s, including 'Lean on Me,' 'Ain't No Sunshine' and 'Use Me,' died on Monday in Los Angeles. He was 81," the New York Times reports."

A onetime Navy aircraft mechanic, ha ha; from the Washington Post: "In 1971, even as his breakthrough hit, 'Ain't No Sunshine,' soared to the top 10 of Billboard's Hot 100 chart, Bill Withers had a backup plan - he was still employed at an aircraft parts company where he made toilets for 747s."

Back to the Times:

His death, at a hospital, was announced by his family. His son, Todd, said Mr. Withers had had heart problems.

Mr. Withers, who had an evocative, gritty R&B voice that could embody loss or hope, was in his 30s when he released his first album, "Just as I Am," in 1971. It included "Ain't No Sunshine," a mournful lament ("Ain't no sunshine when she's gone/And she's always gone too long/Anytime she goes away") that cracked the Billboard Top 10.

Other hits followed, perhaps none better known than "Lean on Me," an anthem of friendship and support that hit No. 1 in 1972 and has been repurposed countless times by a variety of artists.

Withers appeared in the Beachwood a few times over the years. Let's take a look.

Here Comes The Country Sun, March 2007:

"9. Bill Withers, 'Ain't No Sunshine.' Did you know that Booker T. produced and arranged this song? Well he did, and it's pretty near perfection. We all probably pretty much know this song but you should check out the full recording history of Withers - it is really good."

*

Chad Everett: All Strung Out, March 2008:

"Then there's 'Ain't No Sunshine,' which was a then-current hit for Bill Withers. Probably the best thing on this album was the group of (uncredited) black female backing vocalists Tempo assembled for this effort. If it has any saving graces, they are it. They take the signature part of this song, the endlessly-repeated 'and I know, I know, I know . . . ' while Chad cools his tonsils. Thanks, Nino."

*

Bloodshot Briefing, August 28:

"3. William Elliott Whitmore will release his Bloodshot Records debut Kilonova on September 7th.

The 10-song covers record is his first long-form release since 2015's critically acclaimed Radium Death . . .

"This collection is something I've been wanting to put forth for a long time," Whitworth said. "A handful of these tunes I've been doing in my live sets for years, and it just felt right to give them a little home. A place where my interpretations can live and hopefully be enjoyed."

1. Fear of Trains (Magnetic Fields)
2. Busted (Harlan Howard)
3. Don't Pray on Me (Bad Religion)
4. Hot Blue and Righteous (ZZ Top)
5. Five Feet High and Rising (Johnny Cash)
6. Ain't No Sunshine (Bill Withers)
7. One Glass at a Time (Red Meat)
8. Run Johnny Run (Jimmy Driftwood)
9. Country Blues (Dock Boggs)
10. Bat Chain Puller (Captain Beefheart)

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See also: Bill Withers' Songfacts Interview.

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And:

Still Bill, the documentary.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:45 AM | Permalink

April 3, 2020

The Farmer Files

The tributes are pouring in bearing the news of Ed Farmer's death on Wednesday. From Jerry Reinsdorf to Daniel Palka, the White Sox family, the people who knew him, have disclosed details about the team's play-by-play radio broadcaster that were pretty much unknown to those of us who never met the man.

We were aware that Farmer suffered from a genetic renal disease and that he received a kidney, basically saving his life, from a brother a number of years ago. We knew that Farmer was a champion of the organ donor program and that Secretary of State Jesse White visited the radio booth every season touting the program in Illinois.

We didn't know that Farmer's mother died at age 38, and his dad passed at 41. If we ever were aware that Ed appeared before a congressional committee, testifying about receiving a donated kidney, we had forgotten.

Perhaps the most revealing memoir of the man came in the Daily Herald in a piece by Barry Rozner, who knew Farmer quite well. Rozner was able to capture the essence of Farmer's personality, his sense of humor, South Side roots, love of the White Sox, and knowledge of the game of baseball.

For those of us who grew up in the days when sports were just getting started on television, we listened literally to thousands of games on the radio which were much easier to access. Not only the Chicago teams, but the voices of icons like Ernie Harwell (Detroit), Harry Caray (St. Louis; yes, St. Louis), Bob Prince (Pittsburgh), Earl Gillespie (Milwaukee), and Waite Hoyt (Cincinnati) were familiar to us along with the call letters of their local stations.
Not so today.

Truth be told, the times I listened to Farmer over the past 28 seasons usually were in my car. Occasionally we chucked the TV tables and listened on radio during dinner. In all candor, I never was a big fan. Farmer clearly knew the game and his love of the White Sox was front and center, but the dialogue between him and Darrin Jackson for my taste too often dwelled on tidbits having nothing to do with the action, of lack thereof, on the field.

I could make the same comment about many broadcasting duos including the very popular Jason Benetti and Steve Stone. The entertainment for me is the game regardless of the many losses that the Sox piled up the last few seasons. The old-timers described what they saw on the field from the ball being in play to how the pitcher wore his socks. In today's world, with the exception of the recently retired Vin Scully, they no doubt would be fired for excessive boredom.

I can recall barking at my car radio asking Farmer and Jackson to at least tell me the score. Again, this doesn't apply just to them. No matter the game or the announcers, I'm not all that interested in what these guys had for lunch, or how they slept the night before, or what golf course they played that afternoon.

I understand that this banter is aimed at making the people behind the voices more familiar. The interchanges show us that they are regular guys with interests and habits similar to their listeners. My criticism focuses on balance. I hear too much of the "Hey, I'm just a regular guy" at the expense of telling us what's happening in the game.

Many of the ex-players, of whom Farmer and Jackson are two, relish in the fact that they can replay their careers over the airwaves. Aside from Bob Uecker, it's tempting for some of the retired athletes to embellish their feats - or at least add a few points to their .250 lifetime averages. Don't they understand that if we're interested, we have Baseball Reference?

What I do remember about Farmer as a pitcher is that he threw hard, and he certainly wasn't afraid to pitch inside. He also more or less restarted his career after bombing out of the big leagues in 1974. He persevered his way back two seasons later and became the White Sox closer in 1980, recording 30 saves for a team that won a modest 70 contests. That was his best season out of the 11 he pitched in the majors for eight different clubs.

Ed also was the target in what was one of the ugliest incidents on a major league diamond in my memory. On the night of June 20, 1980, the Tigers' Al Cowens, leading off the 11th inning of a tie game, hit a routine grounder to short. Farmer turned to watch the play. Cowens, after taking a step or two toward first base, made an abrupt left turn and ran toward the mound, attacking Farmer from behind and touching off an awful fistfight that lasted about 20 minutes.

The previous season Cowens, playing for Kansas City, had his jaw broken and a couple of teeth dislodged by a Farmer fastball. Apparently Cowens plotted revenge and waited almost a year to get it. Cowens was no run-of-the-mill player. He was second in MVP voting in 1977, but his behavior that night at Comiskey Park was anything but big league.

According to accounts the past couple of days, Farmer filed an assault charge so that Cowens didn't travel to Chicago that August for the next series against the Sox. He remained secure at home rather than getting arrested in Chicago.

Later Farmer withdrew the charge in exchange for a peace-making handshake. Cowens, who died in 2002 at the age of 50, complied.

One other item about the incident is that Farmer remained in the game, facing three more hitters, all of whom reached base, while Cowens was justifiably ejected.

Had the season opened last week sans a world pandemic, the baseball community would have been physically united to grieve, commiserate, and provide group support. Of course, the Sox would have played their regularly scheduled games, but a sadness would have pervaded the clubhouse, offices, broadcast booths, and the ballpark. A moment of silence would be observed, quite possibly in more locales than just the South Side.

It would have been different.

However, what is constant is the fact that Ed Farmer, despite a life-threatening condition, was able to live his dreams, having the thrill of doing exactly what he wanted to do, loving his work and the people around him. May we all be so fortunate.

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Former Bill Veeck bar buddy Roger Wallenstein is our White Sox correspondent. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:21 PM | Permalink

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #298: With All Due Respect, Ed Farmer Was An Awful Announcer

The job of the journalist is to tell the truth, not be a clubby insider. Plus: Q Life; Les Grobstein Still Employed - Others Not So Lucky; If You Love Chicago So Much Why Don't You Live There?; Bears Bargain Basement; Dippy DePaul; Ex-Cub Jhonny Pereda Makes Coronavirus History; and How Coffman Denied His Lineage To Become A Cubs Fan.


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SHOW NOTES

* 298.

:12: Q Life.

* Coach Bowman!

* The Blazing Blue Herons!

* The Portland Herons.

* Forget Instacart, I'm ordering groceries from Instagram. They're really pretty.

* Jim Doolittle.

13:04: With All Due Respect: The Truth About Ed Farmer.

He was an awful broadcaster who made shit up, reportedly grew up in Evergreen Park and lived in Southern California - probably a euphemism for Los Angeles for Chicago sportswriters unable to face the truth.

To wit:

* Paul Sullivan, Tribune: Ed Farmer Will Be Remembered As A South Sider Through And Through.

And by that, he doesn't mean a black man. He means, like others we will also look at, including John Kass, a stand-up working-class white guy, inherently imbued with all the values that once made America great.

* "I loved listening to his old stories, whether they were embellished or not."

Personally, I don't love listening to bullshit - especially on-air from highly compensated announcers. No journalist should.

* "Sometimes they ended differently than the first time you heard it."

Ha ha ha!

* Like the one about the Yankee Stadium security guard. I won't retell it here; you'll have to click through. But in one version, the man is missing fingers. In the version Score honcho Mitch Rosen told on the air, and Kass retold in his column, he was missing his thumb. No version is remotely believable - or reflects well on Farmer if you just stop to think about it.

* "A Sox fan's story, pure 79th and Francisco."

Ah, magical 79th and Francisco. Where men were men. With real values, not like those North Side sissies.

* "Farmer was a homer, no doubt about it."

So, bad at his job.

* "But while Farmer never took himself too seriously, he was very serious about his craft."

From everything I've read, he took himself very seriously: "Eddie was a brilliant guy with an IQ above 150 - he would tell you that in no uncertain terms," The Score's Bruce Levine writes lovingly.

* "Ed knew what was going to happen in a game many times before it happened," [former broadcast partner John] Rooney said. "He knew his baseball, really knew his pitching, and that's what made him a good scout and then a good analyst. He was a quick study on play-by-play as well."

Levine: "The play-by-play work didn't come naturally."

Most objective observers said it didn't come at all.

* "In his final years on the job, Farmer became a target for a vocal minority of Sox fans who didn't like his style. That's an occupational hazard for all broadcasters, though much of the criticism was unnecessarily harsh and personal."

It was hardly a minority. Farmer consistently finished at or near the bottom of various announcer rankings, as we shall see.

* "[A] South Sider all the way through."

And not at all like a Southern Californian.

* Kass, Tribune: The Kid From The South Side And Voice Of The Sox: Ed Farmer, RIP.

* "'Farmio' was from 79th and Francisco, learned to play catch there in the alley with his friend Charlie. He was of St. Thomas More Roman Catholic Parish and loved Notre Dame."

Somehow being of the St. Thomas More Parish and loving Notre Dame imbues you with admirable qualities. Kass would never write what mosque someone was from, or that they loved Evergreen College.

* "If you're from some other place, some Arlington or leafy Bethesda, or sun-cracked Albuquerque or a San Jose, then place markers like 79th and Francisco, and Chicago alleys, parishes and neighborhoods might not mean that much to you. Fat Johnnie's Famous Red Hots might not mean much to you, either."

Because those places aren't special. They don't have alleys, neighborhoods, red hots. They are generic and without values - perhaps like Western Springs, where Kass has lived for at least 30 years.

* "But to many Sox fans that kind of thing means a lot, because it meant Farmer was of here, of the South Side, one of us."

Who is "us?"

* "A kind gentleman and friend to many off the field, he was a battler on the mound. He once broke slugger Al Cowens' jaw (and popped out a few teeth) with a fastball."

That's so South Side!

* "When the Sox were putrid, Farmer would get glum, like Hawk Harrelson would on TV. The sullen broadcast silences and sighs were positively Homeric."

* Yes, Homeric epically childish and unprofessional.

* Teddy Greenstein,Tribune: Ed Farmer And I Had A Beef. But In Our Final Interaction, Thankfully, We Didn't.

* "I began to cover sports media and in 2007 wrote a column grading Chicago's TV and radio broadcast teams.

"I gave the Ed Farmer/Chris Singleton duo a 'D' and wrote: 'This is the most awkward pairing since Mike Ditka and Buddy Ryan. Actually, it's worse. At least Ditka and Ryan were colorful.'

Ah, one of Sullivan's vocal minority!

Farmer was paired with Steve Stone the following season and I described how Farmer kept cutting him off in their debut: "Farmer would interrupt a call from the White House to tell President Bush about his last birdie."

I added: "Stone has a one-year contract to do Sox radio, but it's Farmer who's on the hot seat. If he can't work with Stone, he can't work with anyone."

Two months later I went to Sox Park to interview Ozzie Guillen Jr. about his Sunday night show on WSCR-AM 670. I passed through the clubhouse on my way to the dugout, and Farmer was there, guns blazing.

He berated me, saying, "You don't know baseball," and trying to quiz me on parts of the game. He was trying to intimidate me, but I found it hilarious. Intimidating was Albert Belle screaming, "Did you forget the (bleeping) protocol?"

I asked Farmer if he'd prefer to discuss it on the field, away from the players. Nope, like a manager getting his money's worth with an umpire before an ejection, Farmer wanted to rant before an audience.

The players went from amused - they generally loved seeing critical writers get a dose of their own medicine - to bemused. Farmer had made his point. Could he move on already?

"C'mon, Ed," Paul Konerko said.

* It's all the better because of this 2014 piece by Levine: Sox Play-By-Play Man Ed Farmer Not Sensitive To Critiques.

* Also from that piece: "Ed Farmer is many things to many people. The one thing he most certainly conforms to is giving the most unique, Chicago-style play-by-play with color analyst Darrin Jackson on all of the Chicago White Sox games heard on WSCR radio and the Sox radio network."

I didn't grow up here, though I've lived her for 28 years - longer by a lot than anywhere else I've lived - so perhaps that's why I don't understand what "Chicago-style play-by-play" is. Maybe, "And he hits it over by dere!"

* "The South Side of Chicago native has never lost sight of his roots and the values he learned from his parents and teachers at St. Rita High School."

Again, the roots and values of St. Rita High School are in no way superior to those anyone learns anywhere else - and I'd venture to say, being a Catholic school, perhaps far worse!

* "His monotone broadcasts are not for everyone."

Is a monotone broadcast for anyone?

* "'I call it a Chicago broadcast,' Farmer said, as we sat in his booth he shares with Jackson 81 games a season."

Is that what monotone means?

* "This is the greatest city I have ever been in. The city is easy to get around in. Starting at State and Madison, the city expands north, south, east and west. We have the best and most dedicated police and firemen [and women] in the world."

Yes, the Chicago Police Department has a rich history of St. Rita values. Of course, Jon Burge grew up on the Southeast Side and went to Bowen, so whaddya gonna do.

* From Levine's post this week:

"Living in Southern California with Barbara and Shanda was his great joy. He went home on off days during the season for the last 10 years so he could see his beloved ladies. He did so even if it was for one day. The trip necessitated long plane flights home and back, but those trips meant the world to him."

* Jim Margalus, Sox Machine: "While FanGraphs and Awful Announcing regularly posted annual reviews of the TV broadcast booths, the only radio ranking I can find is from FanGraphs in 2016. It's not kind. Farmer and Jackson ranked 29th out of 30th, and the feedback sounds familiar.

* Matt Fishman, Barrett Sports Media: "Having listened to them a couple of weeks ago, I am again surprised at how embarrassingly awful this broadcast is . . . Ed Farmer was Rooney's analyst and the broadcast worked. Farmer moved over to play-by-play when Rooney went to St. Louis. He wasn't a play-by-play man then, and still isn't one now. He mumbles and stumbles his way through a game with a monotone voice. Additionally, Farmer apparently does little to no prep for his broadcast.

"For example, during a weekend series with the Cubs, he was talking about having seen Cubs reliever Steve Cishek when Cishek was in Minnesota and how he's practically unhittable. Sounds great, except that Cishek has never played for the Twins. Farmer had confused him with former Twins and current Phillies reliever Pat Neshek. Knowing the information is 100% wrong, analyst Darrin Jackson had to correct Farmer on the air.

"To add to the fun there is no chemistry between the two, but they both try to be funny or bust each other. It is so dry and contrived and it nearly always falls flat.Jackson's not going unscathed here as he talked about astronaut and American Hero Jim Lovell as having 'intestical fortitude' instead of 'intestinal fortitude.' It's an embarrassment to a storied franchise that has had some great announcers through the years."

* Finally, a couple writers recalled fondly how Farmer would do a favor for anyone. They also noted, but didn't appear to process, how he would expect the favor returned at a time of his choosing.

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I informally asked some knowledgeable Beachwood sportswriters about Farmer via e-mail. Some responses:

* "My big objection to him was that he should have been a color guy only. He had a lot of intelligent things to say about the game, players, etc., but in describing action (which is the NUMBER ONE requirement of a radio PBP guy) he was just brutal."

* "He didn't paint the radio picture very well and he seemed to luxuriate in the minimal."

* "He was literally the worst announcer I ever heard."

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This all reminds me of the Hawk Harrelson encomiums - and about the time when Adam Hoge praised Hawk for his "good work" in leaving the booth in the middle of a game to run down to the locker room to see how his pal Todd Frazier was after suffering a five-stitch owie.

Chicago-style!

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See also our very own Roger Wallenstein's remembrance: The Farmer Files.

24:47: Les Grobstein Still Employed; Others Not So Lucky.

* Out: Connor McKnight, Julie DiCaro, David Schuster, Rick Kamp, Maggie Hendricks.

"The full extent of the job cuts in Chicago, where Entercom has six other stations besides The Score - WXRT-FM 93.1, WBBM-FM 96.3, WBMX-FM 104.3, WUSN-FM 99.5 and WBBM-AM 780, which simulcasts on WCFS-FM 105.9 - was not immediately known."

31:47: If You Love Chicago So Much Why Don't You Live There?

Apparently grew up in Skokie, got this tattoo in Deerfield.

+

+

* John Kass hasn't lived in Chicago for at least 30 years, if not longer.

* Dan McNeil has lived his whole life in Northwest Indiana.

* The recently departed editor-in-chief (Bruce Dold) and editorial page editor (John McCormick) lived in LaGrange for at least decades.

+

+

=

Plus:

* Rutter: What Is A Chicagoan Anyway?

37:42: Bears Bargain Basement.

* Bears Bring Back DeAndre Houston-Carson.

* Biggs Time: Are You Sure Nick Foles Is The New Starting QB? Will This Be GM Ryan Pace's Last Draft? Is Wide Receiver Really A 'Need' For A Win-Now Roster?

* Finley, Sun-Times: Having missed on so many of his own first-round draft picks, Ryan Pace picks through the remnants of others' first-round mistakes.

The Seahawks decided a year ago not to offer offensive lineman Germain Ifedi a fifth-year option, which would have paid him a staggering $10.3 million. That was an easy call, considering Ifedi led the league in penalties in 2017 and finished in the top 10 in the two years since.

The sixth pick in 2013, outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo was traded by the Browns after only three seasons and seven sacks. Since then, he's played for a new team every year - the Patriots, Colts, Seahawks, Texans and now Bears - and has totaled only four more sacks. He's a draft bust who found a way to stick around the league. He played three quarters of the Texans' special teams snaps last year; after giving him $1.187 million

The 25th pick four years ago, cornerback Artie Burns posted three interceptions as a rookie and started all 16 games the next season. His fall from grace was precipitous - Burns played 99.3 percent of the Steelers' defensive snaps in 2017, then 29.5 percent in 2018 and 6.1 percent last year. The Steelers like to reward their own players as much as any team in the NFL. It's a statement, then, when they decide to let a first-round pick leave after only four years.

49:43: Dippy DePaul.

* DePaul And Dave Leitao Agree To Multi-Year Contract Extension.

* DePaul Junior Forward Paul Reed Declares For NBA Draft.

54:35: Ex-Cub Jhonny Pereda Makes Coronavirus History.

* ESPN: The Inside Story Of The First MLB Player Traded During The Coronavirus Pandemic.

"Pereda doesn't know what he'll do if there isn't more clarity soon. Pereda supplements his baseball salary by herding cattle during the offseason after investing in cows with his signing bonus."

56:10: How Coffman Denied His Lineage To Become A Cubs Fan.

* "In the offseason, Richie Zisk signed with another team and then so did Oscar Gamble, and we weren't thrilled by the attempted compensatory signing of Bobby Bonds. My White Sox affinity died right there."

59:45: How Surfers Saved The Trestles.

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STOPPAGE: 2:40

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For archives and other shows, see The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:12 PM | Permalink

April 2, 2020

How Surfers Saved Trestles

"Learn how the surfing community came together to save Trestles with the Surfrider Foundation leaders that spearheaded the campaign, CEO Chad Nelsen and Coastal Preservation Manager Stefanie Sekich-Quinn.

"With Surfrider and their strong coalition of grassroots organizations, they fought together against big money, big government, and almost impossible odds to protect one of the world's most iconic waves."


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From Wikipedia:

"Trestles is a collection of surfing spots at San Onofre State Beach in San Diego County, California. Trestles consists of, from north to south, Upper Trestles (Uppers), Lower Trestles (Lowers), and Middle Trestles (Middles). North of Upper Trestles is the surf spot called Cottons. South of Middles is the surf spot called The Church. It is named after Trestles Bridge, a wooden trestle bridge that surfers must walk under to reach the beach, replaced in 2012 by a concrete viaduct.

"Lower Trestles consistently has the best waves of the group. For many years there was an WSL World Tour surfing competition held at Lowers every year, as well as the NSSA Nationals. Uppers is less consistent, but it has the potential to be a good wave with a long ride. North of Uppers is Cotton's Point, the location of former President Richard Nixon's home, La Casa Pacifica, aka 'The Western White House,' and the associated surfing spot of Cottons."

*

Also:

Lower Trestles: A Surfline Feature.

*

Lower Trestles Surfing Raw | San Clemente, CA.

*

GoPro: Kelly Slater Surfs Lower Trestles.

*

And:

* Save Trestles.

• The California State Parks Foundation.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:50 AM | Permalink

Jonathan Pie On Lockdown, Pt. 3: Tele-Vision

"Suddenly we're seeing colleagues not just as colleagues but as husbands and wives and parents - parents, it has to be said, to some fucking horrible children. And you realize most of your colleagues have a nicer house than you."


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Previously in Lockdown:
* Jonathan Pie: Lockdown: Low-Footprint Content.

* Jonathan Pie On Lockdown, Pt. 2.: Spare Bedroom Shithole.

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Previous Pie:
* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Explains The Economy.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! It's Shit Crap News, Tim.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Is Going To Paris.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Grow Some Balls; Tell The Truth.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! MP Is A Wanker Santa.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Merry Fucking Christmas.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! New Year's Rant.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Sexy Skype.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! TTIP Is Boring Shit.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! The Truth About Teachers & Doctors.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Valentine's Day 2016.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! On The 'Environment" Beat.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Political Theater As News.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Charter Wankers International.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! The Panama Papers: They're All In It Together.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Answer The Fucking Question.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Snapchatting The Environment.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Election Fever!

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Day-Glo Fuck-Nugget Trump.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Dickens Meets The Jetsons.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Tony Blair: Comedy Genius Or Psychopath?

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! What Real Business News Should Look Like.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Facts Are No Longer Newsworthy.

* Pie's Brexit.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Real Life Is Not Game Of Thrones.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Labor: The Clue's In The Title!

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! The Pie Olympics.

* Occupy Pie.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Where Is The War Against Terrorble Mental Health Services?

* Progressive Pie.

* The BBC's Bake-Off Bollocks.

* Pie Commits A Hate Crime.

* Pie Interviews A Teenage Conservative.

* Jonathan Pie's Idiot's Guide To The U.S. Election.

* President Trump: How & Why.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! All The News Is Fake!

* Happy Christmas From Jonathan Pie.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! 2016 In Review.

* Inauguration Reporting.

* New Year: New Pie?

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Make The Air Fair.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! A Gift To Trump?

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Strong And Unstable.

* Pie & Brand: Hate, Anger, Violence & Carrying On.

* Socialism Strikes Back!

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Election Carnage.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Papering Over Poverty.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! The Queen's Speech.

* Showdown: North Korea vs. Trump.

* Time For The Royal Scroungers To Earn Their Keep.

* Cricket vs. Brexit.

* The Real Jonathan Pie.

* A Hostile Environment.

* Jonathan Pie | Trump's America.

* Pie: Putin's America.

* Amazon And The Way Of The World.

* Horseface, Ho-Hum.

* Of Turbines, Trump And Twats.

* Breaking: Trump Still Racist.

* It Says Here.

* The Real Climate Crisis Hypocrites.

* Jonathan Pie On The Campaign Trial.

* We're Fucked, Mate.

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Plus:

If Only All TV Reporters Did The News Like This.

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And:

Australia Is Horrific.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:26 AM | Permalink

NASA At Home

NASA's new internet and social media special, NASA at Home, will show and engage you in the agency's discoveries, research and exploration from around the world and across the universe - all from the comfort of your own home.

NASA at Home offers something for the whole family. It brings together a repository of binge-worthy videos and podcasts, engaging e-books on a variety of topics, do-it-yourself projects, and virtual and augmented reality tours, which include the agency's Hubble Space Telescope and International Space Station, as well as an app that puts you in the pilot's seat of a NASA aircraft.

nasaathome.jpg

"We know people everywhere, especially students, are looking for ways to get out of the house without leaving their house," said Bettina Inclán, associate administrator for NASA's Office of Communications. "NASA has a way for them to look to the skies and see themselves in space with their feet planted safely on the ground, but their imaginations are free to explore everywhere we go. We've put that information at their fingertips. We hope everyone takes a few moments to explore NASA at Home."

This special also spotlights educational and entertaining resources and activities for families and students in kindergarten and up. Plus, it provides access to everything from formal lesson plans to amazing imagery and stories about how science and exploration help the world.

If you want to practice safe science at home, we have opportunities for citizen scientists to contribute to real ongoing research, from our solar system's backyard to your own backyard. This includes searching for brown dwarfs and planets in our outer solar system and helping track changes in clouds, water, plants, and other life in support of climate research.

NASA at Home will feature ongoing opportunities to interact and hear from agency experts. For example, record-breaking astronaut Christina Koch reads children's books weekdays at 4 p.m. EDT on Instagram live as part of educational and STEM activity for students.

NASA Television also is running NASA at Home-themed programming 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays, as well as broadcasting around-the-clock with recent mission events and news, conversations with astronauts on the International Space Station, educational looks at science, technology and exploration topics, and historical programs from the agency's storied past.

So, check in regularly with #NASAatHome for the latest and greatest the universe has to offer!

For more information all of NASA's programs, projects, and activities, visit: https://www.nasa.gov.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:58 AM | Permalink

The [Thursday] Papers

"The city had received roughly 500 complaints about nonessential businesses operating in violation of the governor's stay-at-home directive as of Tuesday," the Tribune reports.

Five hundred complaints about 500 different businesses? Or 500 people calling about the same five businesses? It makes a difference, because 500 is an awfully large number (to my lights) of nonessential business to be operating, even in a city the size of Chicago.

"Last week, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot called on residents and workers to report such businesses.

"Some complaints are for restaurants, bars, yoga studios, hair salons and other inessential businesses, while some are for businesses such as banks and auto shops that are considered essential," said Isaac Reichman, a spokesman for the city's Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, in an e-mailed statement.

I wonder if it was him or the reporter who couldn't be bothered to pick up the phone.

*

By the way, the commissioner of the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection is Rosa Escareno. She wasn't available?

*

"Businesses that may not be considered 'essential' could face fines up to $10,000 if they remain open."

It's not clear how many fines the city has issued so far, if any, outside of this one:

"Bikram Yoga West Loop was issued a violation notice by the city on Friday. The fitness studio, which said it stayed open because it was a place of 'health and wellness,' faces a fine of at least $500."

I added the link just to shame them in some small way. Namaste!

*

"Workers also are encouraged to report employers that are refusing them sick leave, including companies that are essential. Chicago approved an ordinance in 2016 that guarantees workers the ability to accrue five days of paid sick leave each year."

*

Let's go back now and take a look at the debate surrounding that ordinance. The city council passed it unanimously, but that doesn't mean it was without opposition.

Take the Tribune editorial board, for example:

The sponsor of the ordinance, Ald. Ameya Pawar, 47th, called the proposal a "baseline of decency." He argues all workers deserve the option of taking a day off, caring for a loved one or dealing with a family emergency without losing a whole day's pay or worrying about their job security. His plan would require workers to earn paid time off - one hour for every 40 hours worked. Limited unused sick time could be rolled into the next 12-month period, but even under the most generous of circumstances a worker would get only seven paid days off total.

The proposal wouldn't take effect until July 2017.

It's hard to argue against the concept. Workers in the hospitality and retail industries in particular get hardest hit when they get sick. Many of them don't have workplace benefits that include paid time off. So if they get sick, they come to work unwell, or they miss a day's pay and try to make it up later with an extra shift.

This ordinance, though, cannot be viewed as a stand-alone. It has to be considered within the context of other pressures city government places on businesses. The City Council last fall approved a huge property tax increase that will hit businesses hard. Businesses already pay a greater burden of property taxes in Chicago because of Cook County's property tax structure, which assesses commercial and industrial property at a higher rate than residential properties.

And that property tax increase, which is supposed to pay for police and fire pensions, is only the beginning. The pension fund for teachers is dangerously underfunded, and Chicago Public Schools is struggling to pay for day-to-day operations. Expect additional property tax pressure from CPS.

Businesses already have to contend with an increase in the minimum wage. The City Council approved a higher minimum wage for Chicago workers, from the current $10 to $13, phased in by 2019 and then pegged to inflation. Labor groups continue to push for at least $15 an hour.

Then there's the sales tax. The Cook County Board's most recent increase raised it to 10.25 percent in Chicago, the highest rate in the nation. Businesses that ring the city, especially those that sell big-ticket items, feel the pain of that tax increase. Why buy a car, a dishwasher or even cigarettes in Chicago when you can drive a couple of miles and pay half the taxes?

And don't forget the other costs of doing business in Chicago - parking issues, heavy regulation, bureaucratic hurdles and workers' compensation costs that are higher than those in most Midwest states.

Businesses argue that they keep shouldering the burden of Chicago's revenue shortfalls through higher taxes, coupled with a politically progressive City Council agenda that is out of step with the realities of Chicago's and Illinois' business climate right now.

Question: How many aldermen have visited the South and West Sides lately? Socking economically depressed communities with additional hurdles to attract even mom-and-pop stores further damages the areas that need the most help.

Aldermen should be doing everything they can to entice employers to come here, to grow and to expand. That's how you create more jobs for everyone, including the low-income families this proposal attempts to help.

If the City Council wants to encourage more companies to offer paid leave, it should create a tax credit or other incentive to nudge companies to do it. Aldermen should not shove one more mandate down the throats of businesses that already pay their fair share.

I'd like to think they'd want a do-over today - as well as on opposing the $15 minimum wage now that so many frontline workers are being hailed as heroes - but I know better than that.

*

Others who don't look so good right now:

"Some business groups, including the Illinois Retail Merchants Association and the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, oppose requiring paid sick leave, saying mounting regulations and costs in the city, from tobacco taxes and the plastic bag ban to minimum wage increases, end up hurting jobs," the Tribune reported at the time.

"'There are a number of ways to address paid sick leave, and the city is going about it only one way, which is employer-funded,' Tanya Triche, vice president and general counsel at the retail merchants association, said in an interview."

So Triche preferred paid sick leave to be funded by taxpayers?

*

(Triche reappeared on the issue last month in opposition to a labor coalition's demand that another 10 days be added to the ordinance, saying that "Cooler heads need to prevail here. When the city passed the paid leave law, we took into account what the worst-case scenario could be. Which is, we could be dealing with a pandemic. The discussion was, we should legislate for what was the most common scenario." Am I to understand that the city council contemplated a pandemic when it discussed paid sick leave four years ago?)